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RP's new municipal regulations will try and curb parking problem

By: Katherne Minkiewicz
March 2, 2018

The Rohnert Park City Council voted to make several changes to the city’s municipal code in regards to bedroom and sleeping space additions, where residents will now have to submit plans of their addition for an administrative permit, as well as submit plans for off street parking that does not encroach too far on a driveway or front yard. These new provisions are in an effort to curb parking eyesores, such as having a tenant park their car on a lawn or having an excessive number of cars parked on the street and to ensure that tenants of bedroom additions in a single- family home have an adequate place to park.

Due to an increase in family homes being turned into rental properties or granny units, the city has recently received several complaints about on-street parking in residential neighborhoods across Rohnert Park. The increase in rental units stems from Sonoma State University’s small number of on-campus housing. 

“SSU’s enrollment is nearly 9,500, yet there is only enough on-campus housing for approximately 3,100 students. This means roughly 6,000 students are housed off campus in Rohnert Park, Cotati and the surrounding communities,” says the agenda item report by City Planner Zach Tusinger.     

So to address the community concerns the city council directed staff at a Nov. 28, 2017 meeting, to create a new zoning code that would allow for bedroom addition proposals to be reviewed by the city.

According to the report, “A significant issue the council was trying to deal with is that currently the off-street parking standard for a single family residential home is two (covered) garage spaces per unit. This standard does not change as the number of bedrooms increases.”

Meaning with an increase of occupants in a single family home there is an increase of cars and not enough designated proper spots for those cars. And the goal of this new amendment is to change this standard and increase the number of off-street parking with that of the number of bedroom additions. And this increase in parking spots cannot merely move to a front lawn. There instead should be designated off-street parking.

Yet according to the agenda item, “Many of the city’s neighborhoods already face significant parking challenges in terms of the availability of off-street parking.” 

More often than not, it’s common to drive down residential streets and see lines of cars parked on the street as well as sometimes even an extra RV or other type of vehicle resting upon a front yard or squeezed in an already crowded driveway. Even the street that the Community Voice is located on — Professional Center Drive has a few cars parked along the street despite it being a commercial and business area.

However, the passing of the new ordinance will hope to solve this parking dilemma. The ordinance will now require homeowners who want to add bed spaces beyond an existing five or more bedrooms will need to submit their plans to the city along with an idea for assigned parking which cannot exceed 40 percent of the front yard. The plans will then be reviewed by city staff in an administrative permit process.

Notices of the bedroom addition and parking proposals will go out to neighbors adjacent to the property proposing the expansion and if anyone objects to the application then the issue will be referred to the city’s planning commission. 


‘Curb parking’ see page 14

‘Curb parking’ Continued from page 1

The percentage of yard space allowed for parking was reduced from 50 to 40 percent upon direction from the planning commission and a Jan. 25 public hearing that discussed the idea to restrict yard parking size.

“The associated reduced lot coverage for parking ensures that larger homes with six bedrooms have sufficient light and air and prevent nuisances to neighboring residents… The proposed 40 percent coverage standard also will contribute to the continued preservation and attractiveness of the city’s existing single-family residential neighborhoods,” the report says.

The ordinance amendment for parking also laid out the requirements for off-street parking spaces for various residences. Convalescent homes will get one parking spot per three patient beds, residential day cares will get one spot per assistance, mobile home parks will have 1.5 spaces per unit (one must be covered), multifamily residential homes will receive one space per studio/one bedroom apartment, two spaces per two bedroom units, 2.5 spaces per three bedroom units and one guest space for every four unites for a four bedroom apartment or larger. Whereas, off campus student housing spaces will get .75 spaces per bedroom unit or occupant. Residential care facilities will get one per 500 square feet and senior housing will get one covered space per unit. 

An attached home will be allotted two spaces per unit, where one will be required to be covered, plus one space per four units for guests. And lastly, a detached single-family home will have two spaces per unit in a garage.

Other changes to the municipal ordinance include limited garage conversions to one room only.

There were no public comments heard during the hearing. However, council members, who’ve often grappled with creating a sound solution for the parking dilemma, showed unanimous support for changing the ordinance and the resolution passed 5 to 0.

“This has been a glaring problem,” noted Council member Jake Mackenzie. “And while we actually park our cars in the garage, I know this will continue to be a problem with other motor vehicles being stored on city streets. But this is good to make room for people who need the housing.”

Council member Gina Belforte, who has often kept the attractiveness of neighborhoods a high priority, said that this was a fine solution and thanked city staff for tackling the issue.