Our objective with the survey was to collect the responses and present the results to the City Council and the Task Force considering this issue so that our neighborhood’s preferences are fully considered. We can now report the preliminary results of the survey.
Of the initial 3000 surveys that were distributed, approximately 300 survey responses were submitted. Given the abbreviated survey period (just over a week), the resulting response rate (approximately 10%) was quite good, and was in line with the survey response rates seen in other City survey efforts.
In response to the first survey question, 84% of the survey responses agreed that more effective enforcement was needed of the existing Code requirements (such as impervious cover limits), regardless of whether new compatibility standards are incorporated into the Land Development Code.
In response to the second survey question, 78% of the survey responses agreed that some type of permanent residential compatibility standards should be enacted to prevent the construction of very large houses that dominate or overwhelm nearby houses. This percentage in support (78%) is almost exactly the same as obtained in an earlier email survey. The percentage of survey responses that did not support some type of permanent residential compatibility standards (22%) included survey responses that did not answer the second survey question.
In response to the third survey question,
· 76% of the survey responses agreed that new homes that are too tall;
· 80% of the survey responses agreed that new homes that are too close to their side neighbors;
· 79% of the survey responses agreed that new homes that are too big for the lot;
· 77% of the survey responses agreed that new homes that have too much impervious cover; and
· 72% of the survey responses agreed that new homes that are too close to the street in comparison to the nearby/adjacent neighbors. Again, these survey responses were calculated to take into account survey responses that did not answer the third survey question.
As for the fourth survey question, the survey requested that five possible building rule changes be ranked for inclusion (or exclusion) in the permanent residential compatibility standards. These building rule changes included:
(1) Increased side yard setbacks for second and third stories. For example, a sideyard setback of at least nine feet could be required for any second or third floor story.
(2) Limit gross floor area based on size of lot. For example, the gross floor area could be limited to a percentage (e.g., 40%) of the total lot size, so that a 4000 sq. ft. house could be built on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot.
(3) Lower impervious cover limit. For example, the total impervious coverage limit could be lowered to 40%.
(4) Impose front yard setback limits based on front yard setbacks of nearby/adjacent neighbors. For example, the front yard setback could be based on the average setback of the nearby or adjacent neighbors.
(5) Lower height limit. For example, the building height limit could be lowered to 30 feet.
Remarkably, 86% of the survey responses indicated that at least one of the five building rule changes should be included, while 14% of the survey responses indicated that none of the five building rule changes should be included. Somewhat surprisingly, there was significant and substantial support for each of the proposed building rule changes, with each proposed building rule change having between 70-80% support from the survey responses. According to the survey results, the highest priority building rule changes were for (1) increasing the sideyard setbacks and (2) limiting the gross floor area.
Finally, for the fifth survey question (which sought the neighborhood’s response to WANG’s recommendation of adding a adding a two-prong incentive-based compatibility standard to the existing Land Development Code to balance the need for larger homes/duplexes that are compatible with the existing neighborhood), 28% of the responses were neutral to WANG’s recommendation, but for the balance of the responses, the ratio of support to opposition was 3.5 to 1. In other words, 56% of those responding to the fifth survey question agreed with WANG’s recommendation, 28% were neutral and 16% opposed. The two-prong, incentive-based model would begin with a “Base Size” (e.g., a 40% floor-to-area ratio limit with upper story side yard setbacks) so that any home/duplex on a lot could be built up to said Base Size, no questions asked, but if a larger home/duplex were desired, the Base Size could be increased (up to a Maximum Size) by including predetermined compatibility-friendly design features (e.g., increased setbacks, drainage protections, lower heights, front porches, sloped roofs, tree protection, offset windows, recessed garages, maintaining relative scale at front of house, recesses/contours in sidewalls or other neighborhood-based details.).
February Email Survey: An (admittedly imperfect) email survey of the neighborhood in early February shows that there is strong neighborhood support for some type of residential compatibility standards and protections:
1. Some type of permanent residential compatibility standards should be enacted to prevent the construction of very large houses that dominate or overwhelm nearby houses.
RESULTS (220 responses) -
· Agree: 78%
· Disagree: 20%
· Neutral: 2%
2. Temporary development regulations should be enacted to maintain the status quo and prevent overdevelopment while the permanent residential compatibility standards are prepared.
RESULTS (220 responses) -
· Agree: 74%
· Disagree: 24%
· Neutral: 2%