City stops giving permits to add extra bedrooms
Riverside will temporarily halt new permits to convert garages to living space, turn living rooms into bedrooms and otherwise modify single family homes in the University neighborhood and part of Canyon Crest.
The City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5, approved the 45-day moratorium came after months of lobbying from homeowners, who complained of sometimes overcrowded rental homes where unruly tenants – often students at UC Riverside – throw noisy parties, clog street parking, litter and drive recklessly.
A handful of UCR students at the meeting criticized the council for not including them in discussions that led to the moratorium, and for passing rules they consider discriminatory, including one approved in August that requires owners to get permits to rent homes to more than two people.
The permit rule “wrongfully targets students and perpetuates a negative view of the UCR community,” said Breana Ross, the local affairs liaison for Associated Students of UCR.
The permit stoppage, which the council unanimously approved, runs counter to City Attorney Greg Priamos’ earlier advice to the council. He told council members in June that if someone wants to turn a living room into extra bedrooms, for example, the city “cannot refuse to approve those plans as long as they meet the required codes.”
During the moratorium, city officials will study a long-term solution to problems of crowded rental homes that residents say are changing the neighborhood’s character. The city’s tentative suggestion is an overlay zone for the university neighborhood that would put new requirements on property owners who want to add more bedrooms than a house was designed for.
“It’s not single families who are applying for permits to cut up the houses, for the most part. It’s investors who want to make a profit at the expense of the residents and the rest of the city,” resident Gurumantra Khalsa said.
Some students and fair housing advocates have argued that renting a home with several other students is one of the most affordable options in Riverside, and they’ve decried policies they say unfairly target students. Other recent rule changes have been effective citywide, but the moratorium only covers the University and Canyon Crest areas.
Councilman Mike Gardner said this will be a test case.
“The problem is not limited to the neighborhood. I think our ultimate solution, whatever comes out of the discussion on this moratorium, will apply in a broader area,” he said.
The moratorium also could be extended for up to a year with another vote of the council. It was immediately in effect once the council approved it.
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