Below the Barn

July 11, 2006

One of the herd asked us to report on the Planning Commission meeting on Basements for which we had posted a Belle Cow alert.

Planning Staff brought its new methodology for which basements will be counted as floor area to the Planning Commission on May 17th. See attached report below. While most of the changes do not seem like anything to swallow your cud over, there is one part that doesn’t make any sense to us ordinance grazers. Here’s what staff will start to use when calculating floor area.

1. Light wells and stair wells that are the minimum size required by California Uniform Building Code will not be considered as creating a new finished grade. Therefore, minimal-sized light wells and stair wells will not contribute to plate heights and will not contribute to the floor area.

No problem here — it’s what staff does now.

2. When a subterranean building wall is exposed in excess of what is required by the building code for light, ventilation, and egress, the floor area will be calculated.

This methodology is stated as being intended to only treat the percentage of the subterranean structure that is “exposed” as contributing to the structures floor area. We don’t understand the rational for this. It should be that when a subterranean building wall is exposed in excess of what is required by the building code for light, ventilation, and egress and can be seen from off site, the floor area shall be calculated. If you can’t see it from off site then why would it count?

That just seems silly — the ordinance for counting floor area was created to reduce bulk/mass viewed off site. So why does anyone care about what can’t be seen?

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