Napa to Allow Larger Footprints for Homes

September 28, 2015 9:57 pm

By Howard Yune, Napa Valley Register

Napa is allowing builders to spread some future homes outward, to make it less likely they will need to go upward.

An ordinance change approved this week by the City Council raises the maximum area houses can cover on lots larger than 10,000 feet. Homes can now occupy as much as 40 percent of such properties, up from the previous 30 percent cap.

City planners supported the change, first proposed by the developer Lafferty Communities and supported by the Planning Commission in June, as a way to remove a roadblock to creating new housing large enough to sell easily. Allowing larger home footprints also should avoid forcing builders into creating too many two-story homes in neighborhoods and eroding the privacy of those living in nearby single-floor houses, said Michael Walker, city senior planner.

City ordinances govern how much of a residential plot can be covered by living space, garages, patio covers and other structures, except for eaves.

Under the old ordinance, a 10,000-square-foot property would be granted only 3,000 square feet for all structures. When garages and other accessories are considered, the old limit effectively would cap a one-story residence at about 2,200 square feet, tempting more builders to add second floors in order to produce a salable home, Walker told the council in June.

Allowing building coverage to reach 40 percent permits one-story homes on a 10,000-square-foot site to enclose up to 3,200 feet, a step city planners hope will make houses in older neighborhoods a better match with their mostly single-floor neighbors.

Browns Valley architect Chris Craiker supported the move toward larger house footprints, but said the shift could do more good in Napa’s downtown and Old Town areas, where land is at an even greater premium.

“This might be a good step, but we need to look at all of our zoning, and allow more coverages to be increased,” he said.

The increased coverage limit follows a similar change the city approved two years ago for smaller lots of 7,000 square feet or more, according to Walker.

City rules governing a new home’s ratio of floor area to lot size remain in place, partly to prevent two-story houses from hulking over smaller, neighboring homes. When a proposed house’s floor area exceeds 35 percent of the parcel it sits on, that project is flagged for greater scrutiny before being considered for approval.

See original article at Napa Valley Register