A Feb. 26 Planning Commission meeting dealt with a proposed variance for a single-family home expansion project at 655 Jefferson St. in Santa Clara’s Old Quad neighborhood. The project would expand an existing three-bedroom, three-bathroom home into a four-bedroom, four-bathroom one. On a lot size of 5,000 square feet, the homeowner is planning a 694 square foot addition, which would take the home’s footprint from covering 33.8 percent of the lot to 43.2 percent.
The issue is that this exceeds the planning code’s 40 percent lot coverage maximum for the R1-6L Single Family Zoning District in which the home is located. The code also requires covered parking spots for two vehicles to accommodate the addition, however the home only has a one-car garage currently.
Upon presenting the project, Planning staff expressed that they did not support the variance largely due to the fact that they didn’t identify that the project had any unusual conditions that would warrant exception from the rules. The project applicant stated that the property has a very narrow lot and that neighbors have expressed support for the addition as proposed.
“If our [Zoning Code] Ordinance was in already we wouldn’t be asking for a variance,” said Commissioner Priya Cherukuru. “I think this is a great project.” Cherukuru’s comment was echoed by multiple Commissioners.
The City’s existing planning code ordinance was adopted in 1969 and has not undergone any comprehensive updating since then, leaving staff and Commissioners with an outdated tool with which to make decisions. The update, expected to be completed this year, will include changes to single family home design guidelines including criteria for additions.
Commissioners voted to approve the variance, allowing the project to move forward.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
A restaurant at 2762 Augustine Dr. was approved for an alcohol license. The license was sought due to an expansion of the Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar that will involve the addition of meeting rooms that can be used for weddings and other functions. The alcohol license will cover beverage service for those areas.
Commissioner Suds Jain who has consistently advocated for more live music venues in Santa Clara, broached that topic again, asking whether or not the restaurant’s owners were aware and interested in applying for the bundled alcohol and live music permit, which saves business owners money over applying for each separately. City staff explained that the applicant had not communicated interest and commented that the restaurant was “high-end” and didn’t lend itself to live musical performances.
The Santa Clara Planning Commission will meet next on March 25.