1915 David St.

What's a 'Remodel'?

West Campus neighbors want to restart the building permit process for this project at 1915 David St.
West Campus neighbors want to restart the building permit process for this project at 1915 David St.

The disputed "remodel" at 1915 David St. – a project to build two six-bedroom houses on a single-family lot – returned to the Board of Adjustment June 14 for an unusual "reconsideration" after it became apparent that the board's May 10 ruling on the subject had been interpreted in different ways by city staff and stakeholders.

Nuria Zaragoza, who had filed the initial appeal disputing the project on behalf of the Original West University Neigh­bor­hood Association, said she believed the board's May 10 ruling should stop the project from proceeding as a remodel, a status that would grant the developer valuable occupancy of up to 12 unrelated renters. Zaragoza said as she sees it, the board's intent was clear: Start the building permit process over, under more restrictive rules for new construction (which would allow only six people and require sufficient parking).

But Planning and Development Review Department Director Greg Guernsey said he interpreted the ruling differently. If owner-developer Mitch Ely "comes back with a smaller building," he said, "then I would have to look at it; it may be considered a remodel." Zaragoza characterized that interpretation as favoring the developer; Guernsey responded that it was neutral. (A stop-work order remains in effect.)

The board decided to rewrite its motion from May to clearly state that the degree of demolition at 1915-A David St. (where only the foundation and one partial wall remains) prevents it or any similarly deconstructed house from getting grandfathered as a remodel. The board asked Guernsey to respond with a written interpretation of its ruling to ensure that staff and board members agree on its intent. The Board of Adjustment will return to the matter next month.

Meanwhile, Guernsey has drafted a new remodeling ordinance that seeks to establish clearer, more restrictive citywide rules for what constitutes a remodel. City Council gets a first look at it June 24. (For more on this story, see "Showdown at David Street: City Regs Broken at Will," April 30.)

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1915 David St., Board of Adjustment, Nuria Zaragoza, Original West University Neighborhood Association, Greg Guernsey, Mitch Ely

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