Dealing With Disappointment

One of the projects in my studio has hit a road block.

The minor variance we applied for has been denied.

We had the backing of the planning staff. All we wanted to do was extend an existing non-conforming condition upwards. The existing garage is built right up to the property line. We wanted to expand the 2nd floor of the house out over the top of the existing garage.

The problem is that there is a required set back of 4-feet. We are allowed to leave the non-conforming garage. However, apparently, even with the support of the staff planners, the Board will not allow us to extend the non-conforming condition to the 2nd floor.

This is the design which was denied. We were going to extend the 2nd floor over the garage. This can be seen on the far left of the house.
Image is copyright 2018, David Locicero, architect

It took 6 months for the City of Oakland to make this decision.

The project has been on hold until the variance was granted.

Now we have two options: appeal the decision, which could take another 4 to 6 months to resolve – and the answer may still be “no”; or go back and redesign the 2nd floor addition so it meets the set back requirement on the 2nd floor.

My clients discussed these options and have decided to redesign. It is the faster road to getting their addition built.

When applying for a variance, the answer will sometimes be “no”. Everybody, architect, client, and contractor has to be prepared for a negative outcome.

I will meet with the clients shortly and will sharpen my pencils and we’ll see how we can achieve their goals in a smaller area. That may mean they’ll have to make some compromises and address their priorities.

But that’s what happens when we meet a road block: adjust and keep on moving.

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