Tag Archives: public policy

Add Your Name To Riverside Neighbors Demanding Underground RTRP Transmission Lines

RTRP Route Map

At June’s UNA meeting, we will take a vote to submit the following letter on behalf of our neighborhood group, and joining groups from across the city who are demanding a safer, transmission line project.

Thousands of Riverside residents will be affected by higher insurance rates, lower property values, viewshed  destruction, enhanced wildfire risk, other public safety risks, plus the theft of generational equity from some of our most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Dear City Council Members,  I am writing to you on behalf of the University Neighborhood Association with a request to reconsider the  vote to stop the working group from obtaining the  information needed to proceed with a request to  underground the power lines in our city.

As a concerned citizen,  who has witnessed both past and  present  Councils echoing the Community’s voice,  saying that we do  not have enough information or cost data regarding this project, I remain dismayed at the refusal to get that information.

Yet we persist in a course of action we all know is fraught with peril and foreseeable public health and safety risks. The very risks you swore an oath to put foremost in your elected stewardship duties. This is a risk to current and future residents as well as a dire risk to our regional neighbors who expect more from a city always eager to take leadership for innovation.

It is especially dismaying that we are proceeding in spite of State requirements that all new transmission line projects shall be underground. Did we not get the memo?

This is information we do have. We also know the easement needed to proceed is not forthcoming unless this project is underground. We know the longer we delay the greater the fire danger and the costs.

I am wondering if any of you have considered the possibility of having a shovel-ready project in three years and built in five?

What is needed is the political will to request a new EIR or Supplemental EIR to include current conditions. I know that if there was political will, time frames can be shortened.

We also have a mayor who is an expert in this arena and I am urging you Mayor Dawson, to bring the best of your considerable talents, experience, and demonstrated love for Riverside to show up on this.  Your legacy is at risk. Have you considered the optics of having an environmental expert as mayor and proceeding with this monstrosity of a project? Even Edison is telling us to underground everywhere except for the City of Riverside apparently.

Political will  gives us all the information we need and the project ready to submit in less than a year – if we require it. And if this project is as critical to our future as Staff, Edison, SEIU, the Chamber and a host of paid performers, shilling during Council deliberations, have said it is, then it is equally critical to listen to your community.

One of you needs to step up and request a reconsideration to get this rolling. If we are serious about need and the speed, then the shortest time frame starts with a new EIR process. One or all of you newly elected has an opportunity to step up and demonstrate the kind of leadership we have seen from Councilmen Conder, Hemenway and Councilwoman Cervantes.

We expect you to do your jobs and due diligence on this or risk the likely result of being a one term councilman.

Gurumantra Khalsa
Co Chair, University Neighborhood Assn.




Two Renters Or Permit In Riverside

University Neighborhood Activists

August 13, 2013; 06:24 PM


RIVERSIDE: More than two renters may require permit (Aug. 9, 2013)

FRICTION WITH NEIGHBORS: Shift toward rental homes fuels complaints (Aug. 2, 2013)

UCR RESPONSE: University vows to address off-campus problems (July 22, 2013)

Riverside homeowners will now need a permit to rent a house to more than two people, after the City Council voted Tuesday, Aug. 13, to change the rules.

Property owners can still rent homes to as many as four tenants in single-family zones, but only two are now allowed by right.

The city will give owners information about codes and regulations and have them fill out a one-page form to rent to three or four tenants. No fee will be charged.

There’s a need in Riverside both for affordable rental units and better enforcement of existing rules, Councilman Ken Gutierrez acknowledged, and the permit rule won’t solve everything.

“It’s an additional tool that we can use,” he said. “It does no harm. It may help.”

The urgency rule, which the council approved 5-2, takes effect immediately. Councilmen Paul Davis and Andy Melendrez cast the dissenting votes.

The suggestion to require permits for rental houses was one of many ideas city officials have discussed to address complaints about unruly tenants in homes near UC Riverside.

Police have vowed stricter enforcement of noise complaints and underage drinking, and code enforcement officials said they will pay closer attention to code issues in the area. UCR officials have said they’ll work to better control school-sponsored events and educate students about city and school rules.

Davis spoke for many in the audience of about 100 people that included homeowners, students and landlords, when he asked to table a decision and study more alternatives.

“We’re in no hurry here, and I don’t want to look like it’s focusing strictly (on) the students,” Davis said.

Several UCR students and recent graduates told the council that renting a room in a house is the most affordable option in Riverside. They questioned the city’s fairness in making the decision during the summer when few students are in town to have input.

City officials said they were rushing to pass the rule so it would be in place before UCR’s school year begins in September, but they noted that it will apply to any renters in single-family zones citywide.

Two representatives of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County warned the council that the rule could violate state or federal fair housing laws because it could be construed as discriminating against students.

“Let us get together, let us talk about it, let us bring you back some solid recommendations, rather than continue to do the band-aid effect,” Fair Housing Council Executive Director Rose Mayes said.

The new rule is intended to hold landlords more accountable by giving them a permit that could be revoked if there are three code violations on their property in a one-year period. Anyone without the permit would only be allowed two tenants in a single-family home.

Officials said landlords who have existing leases with tenants must still apply for the permits, but the city could not interfere by revoking the permit until any existing contracts end.

Follow Alicia Robinson on Twitter: @arobinson_pe or online at http://blog.pe.com/author/arobinson/

City Room Rental Ordinance Draws Concerns

There are a number of concerns and potential problems with the proposed room rental permit ordinance
Lost in the ordinance maze1.  It gives the City a right it does not currently have: to grant permits to rent rooms.
Now,  the City has no power to give property owners permission to rent to more than four unrelated adults, this will let it do so in the future.

2.  The proposed ordinance currently provides for rentals of up to only four  rooms per house. However the  City could, whenever it wants, having given  itself the right to “permit” rentals of rooms, give itself the power to rent to  more than four unrelated adults, simply by amending this section by a vote.

fraternaty house3.   Would the City do that? Yes.  When have our elected officials not bent over backwards to help UCR? Letting landowners pack in students as densely as possible helps UCR.  This will speed up the process already planned for our
area: denser, multi-story.

4.   Won’t the current laws of  “no more than four unrelated people living in a  house” and the “no boarding house zoning rules” prevent this from  happening?  No.  Why?  See (5)

5.  The City’s Zoning Ordinance allows exceptions to its own zoning rules. Here are how  exceptions work.


 Conditional Use Permits (CUPs)

A CUP lets people do things that aren’t normally allowed in a zone.  The granting of a CUP requires notice to the
public at large because CUPs can only be granted by the Planning Commission, which must publicly notice them as an such agenda items, and  it must send notice to at least property owners who are 300 feet from the property applying for a CUP.

          Minor Conditional Use Permits (MCUPs).

In addition to the Planning Commission, a single person, the “Zoning Administrator,” (ZA) can issue a
MCUP in certain kinds of cases, as long as certain enumerated factors apply.  To issue a MCUP, the ZA must give notice to property owners within 300 feet, but does not give public notice.  This means you can’t easily find  out about these upcoming minor CUPs in your area by, e.g., searching an Planning Commission agenda. (RMC Title 19.730)  of the Riverside

Discretionary Administrative permits.

                    The proposed  “room rental permit”  does not require a CUP or MCUP.  It only requires the issuance of a                      discretionary administrative permit, which can be granted by the ZA, with  no public notice and no notice          even to adjacent property owners.

The proposed ordinance could have included a specific requirement that such  otice must be given.  But it doesn’t.  That right to notice is important, and  it’s going to be more important if the City changes the number of permitted  rented rooms.

right to appeal Notice gives neighbors time to make written objections, to request to be  further notified of actions related to the  permit during a fifteen-day  comment and review period, and to know they have a right to appeal a decision to grant the permit to the City Council.

This right to notice and appeal doesn’t seem so important now, when the City is making it sound like it will be limiting room rentals per house to no  more than four.  But if the City really wants to limit the number of rooms  rented in houses, why is it granting these mini-dorm conversions?  I think it  is to provide more housing for UCR students.  If I’m right, this ordinance  can easily be changed to allow the rental of all the rooms in a  6, 8, or more  bedroom “mini-dorm,” and will be changed, since the City will get $ for   each permit.

Do politicians and their minions plan in advance like this?  Yes, all the time.

If this ordinance is adopted, everyone needs to send the City Clerk a written   Request for notice of any plan to amend this section of the Zoning Ordinance, because all it will take to change this law is to change the phrase “more than  two rooms” to “more than four rooms,” and once that happens, the whole  permit process — with no notice to adjacent property owners, and no  right to appeal –– will kick in, and we’ll be stuck with legal, permitted   mini-dorms everywhere.  

This whole dog and pony show we’ve seen is how unpopular political goals are accomplished.  The government figures out what it wants to have happen, and then it shapes the “fix” it offers you for your problem to carry out its goals.

It claims this will solve the problem, and uses it to try to lull the largest group, who would object to the government’s ultimate goal, into a false sense of security.  Behind the scenes (e.g., in “working groups” with city staff and UCR) it sets the plan into motion, so, with the groundwork already laid,  it can rapidly, with little time to protest, adopt its solution — not yours,  so it can accomplish its goal, not fix your problem. 

This then shifts the burden of getting any real solution — and of preventing the government from implementing its plan if you don’t like that plan — to you.  That burden is the cost and expense of suing your government, which as your government knows, most citizens can’t afford to do.

What’s going on here?

The proposed ordinance makes no logical sense, which means there‘s a hidden agenda.

If an owner and three unrelated adults who are renting rooms from the owner all live in a house, or if an non-occupant owner rents four rooms in the house to four unrelated adults, you end up with the same density already allowed under the “four unrelated adults” rule. 

So what’s the rationale for treating the rental of three rooms as so different than the rental of a whole house that you need to get a permit to do so?  For treating the rental of three rooms as  requiring an inspection of a home rented by the room, but not of houses rented as a whole house? 

There isn’t any logical rationale.  There’s only a not-very-hidden agenda: for the City to give itself the power to allow, by permit, the legal rental of rooms.  Once it has the power to issue permits for the rental of rooms in single family homes, as discussed above, it can amend its ordinance and give itself the power to permit the rental of more than four rooms per house

We need an SLO-type ordinance that addressees (1) density of adults regardless of whether they rent by room or by the house, (2) square footage required per adult tenant, (3) ratio of bathrooms to adult tenant, and (4) parking makes more sense, and that (5) doesn’t give the City power to make it legal for people to rent out more than four rooms.