A four bedroom suburban home in Northwood converted into a six-bedroom house for boarders with room for cars parked in the front yard?
“We don’t do this in Irvine,” wrote Eddie Howell, a neighbor of the house at 12 Bunker Hill who was among many who attended the June 19 Planning Commission meeting to oppose the homeowner’s application for a conditional use permit.
Neighbors complained when it appeared that spaces in the house were being converted into bedrooms, prompting a code enforcement investigation. That led to the homeowner seeking official approval to have a boarding house.
It would have been the first boarding house in Irvine since the city approved its ordinance in 2005 allowing for homeowners to rent houses to five or more separate individuals with an approved conditional-use permit.
The Planning Commission denied the permit 5-0. The homeowner would still be able to rent to four unrelated people based on the wording of the ordinance.
Eric Lin, an architect representing the owners of 12 Bunker Hill at the Planning Commission meeting, said they had tried to minimize the impact to neighbors and maintain the character of the neighborhood with their proposal.
Neighbors who spoke after Lin were clear in their opposition to the project. There were concerns about public safety – not knowing who might be sitting in the car out front late at night, if it was a resident or a visitor – and the neighborhood’s character, trash produced by the residents, the street parking and property values.
“You have a right to be emotional. This is your home. This is your backyard,” commission Chair Anthony Kuo told them. “Some people don’t like it when I say this. We have different standards in Irvine.”
Anne Jones, the director of education programs for UC Riverside’s extension program, lives in the house next door. She said that at first, while the homeowners still lived there, it wasn’t so bad.
But when the rooms were rented out to boarders and the owners were nowhere to be found, the house fell into disrepair.
“There’s been just a complete disregard for taking care of the property,” she said. “That’s the part that’s not okay.”
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