Like Los Arboles, Greer Park North is dominated by one-story homes developed mid-century by Joseph Eichler. And much like in Los Arboles, residents in this Midtown enclave are concerned that taller homes will affect their privacy and damage the neighborhood's Eichler character. To prevent new two-story homes from entering the area, residents have petitioned for a "single-story overlay," a zoning designation that prohibits two-story homes.
"As a neighborhood, we stand together in a shared desire to preserve the privacy and livability of our single-family Eichler homes by restricting second-story construction," Greer Park North resident David Hammond wrote in the application. "The residents of Greer Park North are comprised of several generations, vary in their years of home ownership, and come from a wide array of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We all share in the appreciation of our Eichler homes and in a commitment to maintaining our privacy as well as the unique design and character of our historical neighborhood."
Normally, a zone change of this sort requires signatures from at least 70 percent of the property owners of the tract. But because the Greer Park North tract includes covenants restricting new homes to a single story, it is subject to the lower threshold of 60 percent. The application from Hammond includes verified signatures from 52 of the tract's 72 homes, a 72 percent rate that exceeds both thresholds.
Despite the high level of support, the project ran into a stumbling block at last month's review in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission. Though the commission voted on Oct. 14 to support the application, it decided to redraw the boundaries where the restriction would apply. Under the commission's recommendation, the overlay would be limited to Moffett and Metro circles, while homes with frontage on Greer Road and Amarillo Avenue would be excluded. This would reduce the number of properties in the new zone from 72 to 47.
In reviewing the request, Commissioner Chair Greg Tanaka argued that the level of support for the zone change on Greer and Amarillo is lower than in the two circles and contended that these properties tend to be smaller, and thus would be more affected by a prohibition on two-story homes.
According to the analysis of the votes, the percentage of property owners favoring the restriction was 74 percent and 75 percent on Metro and Moffett circles, respectively. On Amarillo, which includes 10 homes, seven property owners indicated support (a 70 percent rate), while on Greer, which has 15 homes, the level of support was 66 percent.
"It does seem clear that they're two cohorts, one that is on smaller lots in the periphery, one that are on larger lots in the interior and that they seem to vote differently with respect to this," Commissioner Eric Rosenblum said at the hearing.
Not every Greer Park resident is excited about the change. Metro Circle resident Andrew Vainshtein submitted a letter protesting the process and calling for the council to reject the petition. He said he knows several residents who, like him, "believe that rezoning is unnecessary and restrictive, and will have negative effect on their lives."
"It is a concern of many people that rezoning will unfairly and disproportionally depress the real estate value of our aging houses, especially those properties that are sitting on smaller lots," Vainshtein wrote.
He also argued that the signatures were gathered with the understanding that the new overlay district would cover all 72 properties, not just the 47 in the circles. His house, for examples, faces two neighbors on Metro Circle and has three neighbors in the back who live on Amarillo. Other residents in the two circles have similar situations.
"Rightly or wrongly, the residents of the two circles voted on the original petition to have all their neighbors to share the same house height restrictions," he wrote. "The same people would have voted differently if they knew that their back side neighbor can one day build a two-story house."
On Nov. 30, the council will consider whether to accept the recommendation from the commission to include just the 47 homes in the circles or the full 72. Planning staff are recommending that the zone change cover the entire tract, as requested by residents.
The recent push for single-story overlay districts in Eichler neighbors was spurred by anxieties about Eichlers getting torn down and replaced with two-story buildings. The council's recent decision to waive the roughly $8,000 fee previously associated with the application (though never collected) made it easier for neighborhoods to gather signatures and submit applications.
In addition to Los Arboles and Greer Park North, the residents of the Royal Manor tract have also submitted an application for a single-story overlay, though their request has yet to be reviewed by the planning commission and the council.