CONCORD -- The Concord City Council amended the city's relatively new development code to clarify issues in both residential and commercial areas.
"These changes are a response to applying the new development code to real-world situations," said Concord Planning Manager Carol Johnson. "We are actively incorporating lessons we have learned into these revisions in order to make the development code that much better."
The ordinance, corrects omissions, makes minor code corrections, amendments, and expands and clarifies some provisions.
"I told you that we would have to make amendments," senior planner Cathy Mueneke reminded council members during her preliminary presentation.
The following is a sampling of code clarifications: duplexes are not allowed in single-family residential districts; two covered parking places are required for new homes; drive-through facilities are permitted in commercial mixed-use areas; there is no longer a maximum front yard setback for the West Concord Mixed Use District; and all accessory structures of 120 square feet or more must be removed or permitted by the city.
The accessory structure rules are aimed at a local proliferation of shipping containers used for storage. They can still be permitted if they appear to be an integral part of the main building or are on a foundation and are covered with siding compatible with the main building.
Smaller prebuilt storage structures are still allowed as long as they conform to regular setbacks. Rear yard setbacks are measured from the back of primary building.
Mueneke said the changes "will have a beneficial fiscal impact on the city as it provides more flexibility to business regulations and supports new auto dealerships."
The new rules expand the type of temporary signs new car dealerships can use and allows them to have giant inflatable signs for a maximum of 10 days per year with a permit.
Planners are still working with small business owners and the Planning Commission on new citywide, temporary sign regulations.
"It is good news that the city is moving forward with looking to small business community input to help them change the temporary sign ordinance," said Virginia Thomas, Concord Small Business Association president.
"Our points are simple: Keep the fees down on getting a temporary permit. Set up simple sign standards. Set up alternating display times or give businesses who comply a chance to have signs up longer without cause," Thomas said.
Businesses and other entities with six or more signs on a site must file a master sign plan reflecting a unified architectural statement. That differs from a sign plan, which is required for two to five signs on a property, and allows staff to approve a 25 percent deviation from current regulations.
There are new limits on where auto body work can be done, new provisions for mobile food vendor group sites and many more adjustments.
Property owners who plan to renovate, change a use or build may want to recheck the Concord Development Code, online if possible.
The "cleanup" code changes were reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and found to have no significant negative impacts.
Reach Dana Guzzetti at email@example.com.