Excessive Building Height
February 4, 2008, 1:13 AM
Filed under: Beach, Development, Downtown

February 4, 2008

Hollywood’s zoning code sets height limits for new construction.  These vary depending on the location.  For example, the height limitation in central beach is now 50 feet (5 stories), while buildings around Young Circle may rise to 150 feet (15 stories).

Given these limits, how can a developer build a 26-story building on the southeast side of Young Circle?  And how could a developer be permitted to build a 6-10 story building on the beach despite the 50 foot limit there?

One way a developer can get out from under height limitations is to build a “planned development” known as PD.  The other way is to receive a “variance” from the city that will allow greater height.

Planned Development (PD)

PD is a zoning category that allows a property owner to escape the height restrictions of the zoning code.  CRA staff recommended that the southeast Young Circle property be rezoned to PD so it would not be subject to the 15-story limit in the zoning code.  By this device, a 26-story tower is permitted on Young Circle, and more to come unless the city commission takes action now to restrict the use of PD downtown.

On the central part of Hollywood Beach, the City Commission recently approved a master plan that does not allow for PD zoning.  As a result, a developer who wants to build higher than the allowable 50 feet on central beach must receive a height variance.


The zoning code contains criteria that must be applied to any request for a variance.  However, in 2001, the City Commission voted to loosen the variance criteria so that almost any request for a variance has been  granted since that time.  The result is over-building and relentless loss of green space.  Before this change, city staff were denying about 90% of variance requests.

The city’s current variance criteria are out of step with accepted norms. They are so subjective as to be meaningless.  Bernard Zyscovich, whose architectural/planning firm the city has hired for numerous projects, told the city commission in December that we should change our variance criteria to bring them in line with widely accepted standards.  We believe Mr. Zyscovich is right.  Such a change is urgently needed and will clarify that a variance is the unusual exception and not the general rule.

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