HESPERIA — The City Council discussed at length a proposed ordinance that would revise the minimum floor area requirements for multiple-family units during Tuesday’s meeting.
During the first reading of the ordinance, which came via Frontier Communities’ submitted request to reduce minimum floor area sizes for multiple-family units, Council members heard public comments and shared their own concerns.
Frontier has proposed a 168-unit apartment project consisting of a 754-square-foot, two-bedroom unit and a 910-square-foot, two-bedroom unit. Proposed sizes for the “market rate” units are 16 percent and 30 percent, respectively, below the city’s standard of 1,075 square feet for two-bedroom dwellings, according to a staff report.
The Frontier project is not intended to be deed restricted for senior or low-income units, which include area requirements of 750 square feet for two-bedroom units.
In the end, the Council voted 3-2 to lower the minimum on apartment sizes. Some revisions for minimum floor space include 550 square feet for a studio and 850 for a one-bed, two-bath unit. Councilmen Eric Schmidt and Mike Leonard were the dissenting votes.
Leonard, who has nearly 30 years in the fire service, said in his experience “when people live that close you will have a problem. A reduction is asking for heavy service calls for police and fire.” He added that he can see some reduction in the proposed reductions, but “not this low.”
Mayor Bill Holland and Leonard agreed that good apartment management is key to keeping problems to a minimum, with Holland adding that many of the apartments on Sequoia Avenue are well managed.
“The majority of product on Sequoia Avenue are Rim Properties,” Holland said. “I would say in the years of covering that area as a deputy, I can count on one hand calls for service. Management is key.”
Councilman Russ Blewett said he doesn’t like four-plex apartments because, unlike a multi-unit complex, smaller units don’t have onsite management. He remarked, “Cities spend ten of millions of dollars correcting mistakes.”
Schmidt said he’d like the city to add a rental space category, “something between a multiplex arrangement like single-family dwelling, but not apartment style.” He added that the new rental category would also include a common wall, enclosed garage and backyard.
“I’m OK with a small deduction in space,” Schmidt said. “I’d like to see a reduction on square footage, with a single family carport.”
Schmidt admitted, “I don’t like apartments,” but said he realizes that the city needs to provide a spectrum of opportunities for those residing in Hesperia.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Russ said the city has not built an apartment complex in 20 years, adding that, “We have kids coming out of school that don’t want to live with their parents” and don’t want to move into a single-family home.
Blewett said after studying demographics, about 35 percent of all dwelling units are occupied by one person. He also discovered that in 10 years, 50 percent of all dwelling units are expected to be occupied by one individual.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.