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Home-raising red tape cut in Long Beach

Long Beach officials have passed an ordinance that

Long Beach officials have passed an ordinance that will allow some city residents to cut through red tape to raise their homes above flood elevation. Above, a street in Long Beach after superstorm Sandy on Oct. 31, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Long Beach City Council members passed an ordinance last week that will allow some city residents to cut through red tape to raise their homes above flood elevation.

Under the new ordinance, certain variances will no longer be required for homes in the city’s West End neighborhood. For example, homeowners will no longer have to get zoning approval to raise their homes as well as to add staircases, porches and decks where front and side doors previously existed at ground level.

Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo said the previous zoning code required a variance to build those staircases. The variances also required attendance at a city Board of Zoning Appeals hearing to discuss those plans. That requirement has now been waived.

“We wanted to expedite the process a month or two for residents and save them money with an architect or a lawyer,” Eramo said.

The Long Beach Zoning Board of Appeals has approved variances to raise 90 homes in the West End since superstorm Sandy struck in late October 2012.

The change in the zoning code only applies to homes in The Walks, a neighborhood between New York Avenue and Lindell Boulevard and from West Park Avenue to West Beech Street. It also applies to homes in the West End between New York and Nevada avenues and from West Park to Oceanview avenues.

The zoning code states that all pre-existing one- or two-family homes in the same size and dimensions should have a front yard at least 10 yards from the street line and a side yard at least 4 feet from each side of the building except for pre-existing entrances.

Under the change, the front yard can now include a front porch and the side yard can include a wooden staircase and landing.

Eramo said the large number of homes being raised and erected in those neighborhoods with NY Rising funding required zoning changes.

Residents have appealed to the city to make the new zoning changes citywide, but the West End was a priority given the large number of variance requests, Eramo said.

“We’re still looking at other changes to the whole city,” Eramo said. “This is not something we do lightly.”

The City Council also approved a zoning change to close a loophole defining what constitutes a building and a single-family home.

City Council members passed a measure responding to complaints about two buildings at 535 W. Market St. that are adjoined at the rooftop by a catwalk. The new zoning code states that a single-family home must be built on a single foundation.

The property on Market Street was purchased in 2014 by Kamran Pourgol, who said it was approved by the city under a previous zoning code.

“It’s just the way it looks. What I did was within my legal rights,” Pourgol said. “I asked for city approval and they agreed for the home to be built this way, and that’s what we built.”

WHERE NEW ZONING APPLIES

The Walks, a neighborhood between New York Avenue and Lindell Boulevard and from Park Avenue to Beech Street. It also applies to homes on the West End between New York and Nevada avenues and from Park to Oceanview streets.

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