City votes to delay decision on carports

By Jack King

The city Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday to delay a decision on whether to allow prefabricated carports in city limits, saying a survey by the city planning department was not yet complete.
On a motion by Commissioner Bill Bollinger, the commission voted to hold a public meeting on the subject within 30 days and to ask the City Commission to extend for an additional 30 days a moratorium on citing residents who have the carports in their front yards. The moratorium was due to end Aug. 21.
City Manager Raymond Mondragon said he will take the request to the City Commission Thursday.
The city Inspections Department began sending letters this spring to owners of the carports, telling them they are violating city codes on building and permitting carports. The Commission placed a moratorium on the enforcement action June 19 after being told by several homeowners they could not afford to follow the city rules and had not been when they put in the carports they were violating city codes.
Planning Department Director Louis Gordon said he and Inspections Department staff have surveyed every part of the city except its southwest quarter and have found 69 of the carports that have been placed in front yards, in violation of a city ordinance.
Gordon said the staff has developed a list of recommendations for changing the ordinance. They are:
n Complete a survey of the carports.
n Any carport currently installed must go through the steps to be properly zoned.
n Property owners should be given 30 to 60 days to apply for rezoning.
n If owners do not apply for rezoning within the deadlines, they will be required to take down the carports.
n The city should amend the current carport zoning designation and construction standards to group the structures in two categories: class A carports that meet current standards; class B that will be prefabricated, portable and all other types of structures.
n Whenever rezoning is approved from the class A carport district to the class B carport district, both classes will be allowed within the new zoning district.
n Adopt construction standards for premanufactured carports to include a requirement for professional seals when the structure uses structural steel members or steel pipes. Also foundation plans for anchoring the structure to a permanent foundation must be submitted by a licensed engineer. The structures will not be exempt from the permitting process.
n The carports must not be enclosed. No obstruction to view shall be located between three and one half and six and one half feet above the grading along the carport’s exterior. No obstruction to view shall be located within a 30 degree sight triangle on either side of the carport.
Bollinger said the proposed guidelines would allow any type of carport to be built in the city.
“There’s a gentleman here who has said to me, ‘It’s unfair to me and others who did a nice (carport) for the city to change the rules and allow this trash to come into our neighborhood,’” Bollinger said.