CAPITOLA -- A preview of possible changes in the city's zoning ordinance, including allowing three-story buildings in Capitola Village, will be presented to the City Council on Thursday night.
A report prepared by general plan coordinator Susan Westman lists a dozen ways to update the existing ordinance, which she said has sections that are inconsistent or hard to understand or enforce.
These represent only "a small portion of the changes which will be proposed," she noted, adding that all the concepts being presented Thursday "are preliminary at this point."
"As many of the taller buildings are often mentioned as the buildings people like in the village, it makes sense to again allow that type of construction."
Her report singled out the Superintendent's Building, a landmark at 201 Monterey Ave. as one built before the two-story height limit.
Another proposed change would support development of a hotel on the former theater property on Monterey Avenue by allowing construction that is taller than other buildings but 10 to 12 feet below the bluff top.
Westman suggests using square footage rather than seats to determine parking requirements for eateries, noting that take-out establishments tend to eliminate seats when city staff visit for an official count.
All of the village commercial area is within the coastal zone, so the city can't make zoning changes without approval from the state Coastal Commission.
Another streamlining proposal would have an architect look at new construction or larger residential and commercial developments but not require every sign or single family remodel to go to the architectural and site review committee.
Some architects and designers have lobbied for taller buildings in the R-1 single-family residence district, and Westman is evaluating the impact of raising the height limit from 25 to 28 feet.
Improvements at nonconforming buildings have posed a challenge for city staff to determine how much of the building must retain before it must be brought up to code. The dollar value in the existing regulations has created confusion, Westman said.
She suggests neighborhood guidelines for single-family homes, noting that a requirement for a 5 percent setback for a second story is "not so important" for Cliffwood Heights, where lot sizes are larger.
The neighborhood residential zone along Capitola Road is proposed to be combined with the neighborhood commercial zone along Capitola Avenue, Westman said, noting that the new general plan will allow a bed and breakfast or boutique hotel if small lots in these areas are combined.
A new sign ordinance is being developed with the help of a consultant, Westman said, with the goal to make it easier for staff to approve replacement signs.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz on Twitter at Twitter.com/jondigumz
IF YOU GO
Capitola City Council meeting
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Capitola City Hall, 420 Capitola Ave., Capitola