Home Rental Changes Urged By Planning Commission

July 18, 2013; 03:27 PM

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the number of tenants in homes owned by Joanne Pease-Simpson. She has three renters in one house and one in her other house.

Owners of single-family properties in Riverside could be limited to two renters in a home, down from the current four, if the City Council agrees with the planning commission’s Thursday, July 18, recommendation.

City officials are trying to address UC Riverside-area homeowners’ complaints that some rental homes are packed with out-of-control tenants who throw noisy parties, damage property and drive drunk. City leaders have promised to do more to enforce existing rules with police and code enforcement, and they’re also considering an array of policies used by other cities.

UCR officials also are working to address neighbors’ concerns, because in some cases the problem renters are students.

Officials and residents seem to agree that the problem is complex and will require cooperation to solve.

Commissioners on Thursday heard about a variety of policies the city could use to address parts of the renter issue, but the main focus was the number of renters allowed in areas zoned for single-family homes.

Currently, owners can rent a home to up to four unrelated adults. Having five or more tenants triggers special “boarding house” rules, and those are not allowed in single-family zones.

Commissioners suggested reducing the number of single-family renters to two. They left out a previously discussed provision that three or four renters would be allowed with a city permit, but planning officials said later that council members still could add that provision if they choose.

Some of the discussion focused on whether the city’s policies make it too easy for absentee landlords to subdivide homes to add extra bedrooms so they can bring in more renters.

“I and other residents of the University neighborhood are not willing to continue to subsidize the profits of speculators who often don’t even pay business tax,” Jane Block told the commission.

Commissioners also asked for more information at a future meeting on other possible rental restrictions, such as requiring additional parking and business tax certificates for some property owners who don’t currently need them.

Residents have asked for a moratorium on city building permits to subdivide living rooms into bedrooms and one commissioner brought up the topic, but it went nowhere. The city attorney has said such a moratorium is not legal.

Some city officials and residents have called for a crackdown on property owners who don’t control their tenants. But as the commission’s proposal moves to the council, the city is likely to hear concerns from people like Joanne Pease-Simpson, a Riverside resident who owns two rental properties near UCR.

Pease-Simpson said there are three tenants in one of her two rental houses and one in the other house. She has had her share of problems with tenants, including one group that caused $16,000 of damage to the house. With taxes and maintenance, and the city now looking at fining landlords for tenant misbehavior, Pease-Simpson said it would be hard to manage with fewer renters.

“To limit it to two people is very hard on us mom-and-pop types,” she said.

Other thoughts on the planning commission workshop:   FYI, at the Planning Commission meeting on the rental permit ordinance (which I attended and objected to the proposed ordinance), the Commission APPROVED sending the ordinance to the City Council, and then it said it was going to hold a workshop on our problems and requests for a moratorium.

That makes sense; they approved the proposed ordinance, so they didn’t need a workshop on it.
Notice that somewhere along the line, staff of the Planning Commission or both changed the workshop to one about the rental permit ordinance, and NOT the moratorium and related issues!

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