Updated Community Standards District Approved for Altadena

Supervisor Barger’s Motion

For over eighty years, illegal fences and hedges have existed in Altadena, to the point that they have become part of the community’s character.  Irregular code enforcement has sparked intense conversations about the County’s approach to illegal fences and hedges.

In recent years, stakeholders continued the discussion, which ultimately resulted in the development of the Altadena Vision Plan in 2012.  The Altadena Town Council established a subcommittee composed of residents, business-owners, community association representatives (such as Altadena Heritage and the Altadena Chamber of Commerce), and other stakeholders to address how best to incorporate the recommendations in the Vision Plan into an update of the Altadena Community Standards District (Altadena CSD).

The Altadena Community Standards District before the Board today is the product of several years of stakeholder discussion and outreach.  Above and beyond the issue of fences and hedges, the CSD updates development standards in residential and commercial zone, amends the CSD for consistency with recently updated Countywide ordinances, and adopts regulations for outdoor dining, signage, and auto service uses.

The Regional Planning Commission conducted two public hearings to consider an update to the Altadena CSD, one in Altadena in July of 2016, and a second in September of 2016 in downtown.  While most of the testimony was supportive of the CSD, the issue of fences and hedges again rose to the forefront.  The community felt that a rigid code enforcement effort would result in the issuance of thousands of notices of violation, and, ultimately, the forced removal of fences and hedges that have come to define the community of Altadena.  It is clear to all parties that such an approach will not work.  Stakeholders and County staff preferred an approach that would afford residents with the opportunity to bring fences and hedges into compliance and/or secure County approvals to enable them to remain.

Based upon this input, I directed my staff to work with Regional Planning and Public Works to develop a fence, wall, and hedge compliance implementation program.  Staff has developed an outline of a program outlined below.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Board of Supervisors to:

  • Find on the basis of the whole record before the Board, that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment, that the Negative Declaration reflects the independent judgment and analysis of the Board; and adopt the Negative Declaration;
  • Indicate its intent to approve the proposed Altadena Community Standards District Update, as recommended by the Regional Planning Commission (RPC);
  • Direct Regional Planning and Public Works staff to finalize the fence, wall, and hedge compliance implementation program with the following parameters; conduct public outreach to educate the community about the program’s requirements; and implement the program going forward; the program will contain the following parameters:
    • Individuals would be given a year to register their fence, wall, or hedge with Regional Planning;
    • Require the submittal of a modest application, plot plan, pictures, and a property-owner agreement.
    • Thereafter, these landowners would have 15 years in which to secure compliance with County codes or secure Regional Planning approval for an exception, modification, or variance; and
  • Instruct County Counsel to prepare the final ordinance for the Altadena CSD and bring it back to the Board for consideration.

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