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Zoning front and center at Council meeting

Tehachapi City Council Update

The Development Services Department presented the major issues at the September 7 Tehachapi City Council meeting. Director Jay Schlosser presented several items adjusting the Tehachapi Zoning Code, all of which were approved by the Council.

Schlosser presented an amendment to the City zoning code, replacing a section that deals with signs. He explained the required changes were primarily due to a Supreme Court decision rendered in 2015 in a case called Reed et al. v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona et al. The Court determined that it is unconstitutional to regulate signs on the basis of content. Schlosser said that this decision has had wide ranging affects on municipal regulations across the United States.

The City contacted Lisa Wise Consulting who authored the 2014 Zoning Code to update the code so as not to conflict with the Reed decision. As a result Article 7 of the Tehachapi Zoning Code dealing with signage would have to be rewritten to be in compliance. The City has five years to comply with any signs that are non-compliant. As a result of the Reed decision, the City has decided to move away from downtown billboards, many of which are currently under contract. When existing contracts are fulfilled, the billboards will be removed.

Schlosser introduced an ordinance that amended the City Zoning Code to regulate accessory dwelling units and junior accessory units to align the City code with a series of bills passed by the California legislature in 2019 and became law in 2020. Schlosser said that these laws require cities to permit accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units in spite of local laws.

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is described as a secondary or additional dwelling that is subordinate to a primary dwelling like a single family home. It must be under 850 square feet and built to code. It can be added to an existing unit or be separate from it. A Junior ADU is a smaller space that shares a bath with the main household and may or may not have a full kitchen.

Also getting final approval was a 65-foot-tall unmanned telecommunications facility designed as a mono-pine with 12 new panel antennas and 36 remote radio units to be located on the edge of the TUSD maintenance yard on Valley Blvd. The unit owned by AT&T is expected to increase AT&T service throughout much of downtown Tehachapi.

Included in the zoning updates were those required for Sage Ranch, the new 138 acre housing development on Valley Blvd. The Council also voted (with the recusal of Councilwoman Christina Scrivner) to adopt the final approval of the new development.

The Tehachapi City Council meets on the first and third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. Currently they are meeting at the BeeKay Theater located at 110 S. Green St.