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OC arrowhead-style roofs going the way of the Dodo

(Nov. 28, 2014) Anyone planning to build a house in a trailer park that looks like a big arrowhead sticking out of the ground – and apparently those numbers are not small – is soon going to be out of luck.

The city council consented to a code revision this week that will prevent homeowners in Mobile Home-zoned districts from building roofs pitched on the length of their homes, instead of the narrowest width.

But in conjunction with the added restriction, interest was also expressed in allowing greater leniency with roof pitch for those on narrower lots, possibly moving the limit for Mobile Home zones up to 9/12 pitch from the current 7/12.

The code change, which will go to ordinance at this coming Monday’s meeting, will add language to define the roof pitch of Mobile Home-zoned roofs as that “which shall be determined by the narrow width (and not the length)” of the building.

This means that roofs cannot be angled beginning at the front and back ends of the mobile home, creating giant peak at the center of the home’s longest dimension. The ridgeline of the roof will have to run along the longest dimension of the home.

This was clearly what the city intended, City Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith said. But at the time the code was developed, no one had expected that space in the city’s mobile home parks would be at such a premium that homeowners would propose bucking the obvious and building such oddly-shaped dwellings.

Several applications to do so have already been received.

“This is a curative measure,” Smith said. “The parks that have sub-standard lots are trying to get more living space, but some of the other residents believe it will be detrimental to light, air and safety to have these.”

Many homes in the city’s Mobile Home districts are not traditional trailer homes, Smith noted. Over the last decade, the city has amended its code for Mobile Home zones to allow for structures to be built in place. Further, such structures may have habitable attic space as long as they meet fire safety code.

Pitched roofs may extend above the regular 15-foot height limit for trailer units, Smith said, but are limited to a slope no steeper than seven feet in vertical span for every twelve feet horizontally.

Basing a 7/12 pitch off the width of a standard 25-foot trailer nets a roof with roughly another eight feet of attic space. Doing so on an 18-foot trailer, which are the widest that could fit in mobile home lots before the city raised the minimum lot size, only yields about five-and-a-half feet of extra height.

To maximize their substandard lots, some owners are proposing to pitch their roofs along the length of their buildings – which on a 65-foot-long trailer would provide nearly 20 feet of extra height at the roof’s ridgeline.

Although receptive to the pre-

ventative amendment, Council­-

man Wayne Hart-

man asked if there was anything that could be done to provide some leniency to those with substandard lots, without creating the opportunity for such outlandish structures.

Both Smith and Hartman agreed that a 9/12 pitch was a more common limit, and 7/12 was comparatively shallow.

“As long as the ridgeline runs the length and not the width, it shouldn’t hurt,” Smith said. “The orientation of the roof is what creates the opportunity for abuse, not as much the pitch.”

A code change to raise the pitch limit for Mobile Home zones would require a further public hearing in front of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. A hearing on the pitch orientation issue was held in August.

“If you were to adopt what is presented, you could always go back and revisit the roof pitch,” Smith said. “The length is the immediate concern.”

Council voted to move the code change through as written, and coordinate with the Planning and Zoning Commission to hear an additional change to loosen the pitch limit.

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