(June WSB photo of Ponderosa Pine at 3038 39th SW)
Two weeks after the city announced it would grant a “special exception” permit for a house to be built on a 3,166-sf lot at 3038 39th SW [map], taking out a Ponderosa Pine acknowledged as an “exceptional tree,” two appeals have just been filed with the city Hearing Examiner. This one is from a neighbor, making the argument that the lot previously used as a “side yard” had not been established as a buildable lot:
The online file for that one is here.
We first reported in June about the neighborhood’s campaign to save the tree. Since the appeals have just gone into the system, no hearing date is set yet.
SIDE NOTE: While working on this, neighborhood advocates have been talking with Councilmember Lisa Herbold about a larger issue – the city’s requirement of a minimum payment for staff time to work on requests for interpretations, saying the resulting multi-thousand-dollar minimum can be onerous; as discussed briefly in today’s morning session of the Budget Committee, her proposal for a rule to require that requesters are charged only for the time needed:
Accompanying the budget, SDCI has submitted a bill that would adjust fees and charges (see the introduction for more details). This action would amend the bill to reduce the minimum number of hours charged for a code interpretation letter. A code interpretation is a process whereby someone can request a formal decision on the meaning, application, or intent of any development regulation in the Land Use or Environmentally Critical Area code. Examples include questions of how structure height or setback is properly measured, or how a proposed use should be categorized. Failure to request an interpretation can preclude raising the issue on appeal. Today, a request for a code interpretation letter is charged, at minimum, for 10 hours of work; hours worked beyond the minimum are charged the Land Use hourly rate (currently $280/hour; proposed to increase to $315/hour). The average number of hours charged for interpretations is 31.25 hours, however, in the rare case where the number of hours is less than 10, this change would ensure that the requesting party is only charged for time needed to produce the letter.
The proposal is not specific to this case; its fate will be determined when the budget is finalized in November.