Morro Bay considering building moratorium, or is it?
April 13, 2015
The Morro Bay City Council is set to discuss an emergency citywide ban on new construction, even though no council member supports the proposal, a report prepared by Mayor Jamie Irons states.
Following a public meeting and an email campaign by a citizen group that advocates stricter building codes, Irons placed an item on Tuesday’s agenda that asks the council to consider a request to adopt an urgency ordinance enacting a 45-day building moratorium. If adopted, the ordinance would bar the city from issuing building permits during that span.
Irons’ report on the issue states that, upon receiving the citizen request, no council member asked the mayor to place the moratorium proposal on a council agenda. Irons concluded the report by recommending that the council reject the proposal.
“I do not believe there is a level of urgency to warrant a building moratorium,” Irons wrote.
Rather than approving an urgency ordinance, Irons recommends that the council adopt a resolution committing the city to updating its general plan and local coastal plan in the next three years. The general plan and local coastal plan regulate future growth in Morro Bay.
Irons also suggested the council remain committed to developing neighborhood design guidelines. His report states that, for now, the city should not focus on developing new rules for commercial design or view protection.
On March 25, Irons attended a meeting held by the Neighborhood Compatibility Coalition (NECCO). At the end of the meeting, the approximately 80 people in attendance gave overwhelming support for a building moratorium that would last until new design guidelines take effect, according to Irons’ report.
The potential of new construction blocking existing views is of particular concern to NECCO members. Others argue that Morro Bay needs a building moratorium because of its water shortage and faulty sewer system.
Irons’ report states that, if the city were to adopt the moratorium, it would risk losing development impact and permit fees, as well as sales tax due to reduced or no building.
In order for the city to enact a building moratorium, four of five council members must vote in favor of the proposal. If the 45-day ban is enacted, the council could extend the temporary prohibition to last a total of two years.
The council is schedule to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Morro Bay Veterans’ Hall.