A project that encroaches into the required building setbacks cannot be approved until an application for a variance is considered by the Planning Commission. Specific findings listed in MMC Section 8.12.130 are necessary for a variance to be approved. The findings are difficult to make and relatively few variances are approved. Unless there are physical constraints on a project site that prevent an applicant from building within the required setbacks and the approval of the variance will not constitute a special privilege, applicants are well advised to avoid seeking a variance. Variance applications are available at the Planning Department Office at:329 Rheem BoulevardMoraga.
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Modifications to any exterior feature of a home or any new construction for building additions, pools, spas, decks, gazebos, etc, must be approved by the Town of Moraga Planning Department prior to application for a building permit. Exterior modifications would include design changes such as enlargement of existing windows.
If the proposed improvements conform to the required building setbacks, applicable Municipal Code requirements and the Town’s Design Guidelines, then the project may qualify for Administrative Design Review (ADR) by the planning staff. If an ADR application is complete, the approval process takes approximately 60 days. For all above ground exterior alterations, the Moraga Municipal Code requires 10-days notice to neighbors before approving a project and then there is a 10-day appeal period after the project has been approved.
ADR applications are available at the Planning Department Office at 329 Rheem Boulevard in Moraga. The telephone number for the Planning Department is 925-888-7040.
For more information, please refer to the Town of Moraga Design Guidelines document.
Design Review Board (DRB) review and approval is required for all new homes. DRB approval is also required if an applicant is seeking one or more exceptions to the Town’s Design Guidelines. The most common requests for exceptions include homes that exceed the maximum floor area under the Towns floor area ratio (FAR) guidelines, and additions or decks on hillsides where the floor elevation is more than 4-feet above grade
Design Review Board approval takes about 90 days on average. The Board generally meets on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month, but applications need to be filed at least 20 days prior to a meeting date. Ten days prior to the meeting the public meeting notice is mailed to all property owners within 300-feet of an applicant’s property. DRB applications are available at the Planning Department Office at:329 Rheem BoulevardMoraga, CA
The maximum building height cannot exceed 35 feet or two stories, except at Saint Mary’s College and in the Moraga Center Specific Plan Area. The building height is the maximum vertical distance between any point of the roof or parapet walls and the existing grade directly beneath. The total or "aggregate" building height for structures on hillside lots cannot exceed 45 feet, measured from the highest point on the roof or parapet wall to the lowest point of the foundation at the approved grade.
On padded lots total building heights greater than 28 feet for two-story homes and 19 feet for single story homes shall require Design Review Board approval and special siting or design treatment to mitigate height (Design Guidelines SFR1.4).
Not necessarily. Many second story additions have been approved with the Administrative Design Review process. A second story addition to an existing one story home will require Design Review Board approval if the second story addition will result in more than two 2-story homes on adjacent lots (Design Guidelines SFR1.1) or if the second story addition can be seen from a designated scenic corridor (MMC Section 8.132.040-A-2). Second story additions that exceed the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) on lots 40,000 square feet or smaller will require Design Review Board approval.
An accessory building is a subordinate detached building the use of which is incidental to that of a primary building on the same lot. All accessory buildings must conform to the required building setbacks for principal structures unless the Planning Commission grants a variance. There is an exception to this setback requirement for any shed, greenhouse or playhouse not exceeding a total of 120 square feet in floor area, with a height of no more than eight feet. A structure or building that meets that description may be located anywhere within a required side or rear yard, provided that it is reasonably screened from view from the front of the property by a fence, building, or landscaping.
Examples of accessory buildings include, but are not necessarily limited to:
A building permit is not required for an accessory building that is less than 120 square feet and has no electrical power or plumbing installed.
An accessory structure is a subordinate structure the use of which is incidental to that of a primary building or structure on the same lot. Accessory structures must be set back at least 50 feet from the front property line. Accessory structures that are 8-feet or less in height may be constructed 3-feet from the side and rear yard property lines. A single arbor-style entry element in the front yard setback of a residential property is permitted if it is located over a walkway or pathway and does not exceed nine feet in height, five feet in width, three feet in depth and provided that such entry element does not create sight obstructions.
The Design Review Board may approve a minimum 3-foot side or rear yard setback for an accessory structure higher than 8-feet. Accessory Structures 15 feet or taller require Design Review Board approval. Examples of accessory structures include, but are not limited to, a pergola, arbor, trellis, patio cover, outdoor kitchen, deck, and cistern.
Decks require a building permit and a railing is required if the deck is 30-inches or more above the ground. Design Review Board approval is required for decks supported by posts that are 4-feet or higher. If the overall height of a deck above the ground exceeds 6-feet the Design Review Board would need to make a design guideline exception. (Design Guidelines SFR2.10). Photographs must be submitted to the Planning Department prior to an application for a building permit for replacement or reconstruction of an existing deck, which may be legally non-conforming to the Town’s Design Guidelines.
Any open, uncovered deck 24 inches or less above existing grade may extend into the minimum required building setback if the design and setbacks conform to Section 8.70.040 of the code. Expansion of an existing deck that does not conform to the Town’s Design Guidelines will require Design Review Board approval. Any deck with a floor higher than 24 inches above existing grade shall comply with the setbacks of the primary building, except that a new or expanded deck attached to a residential building, where such building does not conform with current setback requirements, shall be subject to the provisions of Section 8.20.060. Decks that exceed 6 feet in height shall be substantially screened by landscaping.
The Design Review Board may require the property owner to enter into a landscape installation and maintenance agreement with the Town (Design Guidelines SFR2.12a). Decks built on slopes that are 20% or steeper will also require a Hillside Development Permit and generally required a geotechnical report with slope stability analysis.
An accessory dwelling unit can be fully enclosed within an existing residence or accessory building or attached to or detached from a existing primary single family dwelling. An accessory dwelling unit provides complete independent living facilities, including sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation, on the same parcel as the existing primary single family dwelling. The Town’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance provides for the ministerial approval of accessory dwelling units by the Planning Director provided that the application is consistent with all the criteria in MMC Sections 8.124.060 and 8.124.070.
Accessory dwelling units cannot exceed one story or more than 19-feet high and cannot be built over a garage or basement. The interior living area must be between 150 and 800 square feet. One off-street parking space may be required for an attached or detached accessory dwelling unit, in addition to the two covered parking spaces required for the primary residence. Ministerial approval requires that all the requirements listed in Moraga Municipal Code Chapter 8.124 must be met, certain exceptions may be allowed through approval of a Conditional Use Permit.
Some uses are not permitted within a public street such as installation of basketball standards, banners over streets and signs, except for traffic control and directional signs as specified in the Town’s sign ordinance (MMC Section 8.88.210).
Children’s outdoor play structures should follow the regulations that pertain to accessory buildings and accessory structures.