Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

MEMORANDUM

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: OCTOBER 15, 2002

SUBJECT: GENERAL PLAN INITIATION REQUEST AND FEE WAIVER (CASE NO. ZON2002-00378) (Applicant: Robert C. Haase, Jr.; Property Owner: Robert C. Haase, Jr.)

Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

1) Provide feedback to the applicant regarding the proposed change in General Plan Land Use Designation for the subject site from Commercial Office to Residential (2 to 4 dwelling units per acre); and a proposed change in the zoning from Commercial Professional (CP) to Single Family Residential (RS-4); and 2) deny the applicant's request for a fee waiver for the aforementioned "GPAIR" and any future applications related to changing the Land Use Designation and zoning of the property.

BACKGROUND

On June 26, 1975, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 75-43, thereby adopting the General Plan of the City of Ranch Palos Verdes. With the adoption of the General Plan, a land use designation of Residential (2-4 dwelling units per acre) was applied to the subject property. Subsequently, the property was zoned Single Family Residential (RS-4). As such, the existing commercial gas station, which was located on the site prior to the City's incorporation, became a pre-existing nonconforming use.

On December 19, 1978, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 78-81, which adopted the Costal Specific Plan, thereby setting forth a land use designation of Residential (2-4 dwelling units per acre).

On March 4, 1997, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 97-17, which adopted a Negative Declaration, and approved General Plan Amendment No. 23, and Coastal Specific Plan Amendment No. 6, thereby changing the General Plan Land Use Designation of the subject property from Residential to Commercial Office. Furthermore, the City Council approved Ordinance No. 321 (second reading was on April 1, 1997), which approved Zone Change No. 25, thereby changing the zoning of the subject parcel from Single Family Residential (RS-4) to Commercial Professional (CP).

On July 26, 2002, the property owner submitted an application for a General Plan Amendment Initiation Request (GPAIR) for the subject property. The application was deemed complete on August 27, 2002.

Pursuant to Council Policy No. 33 (see attached), notice of the GPAIR was sent to all 24 property owners within 500 feet of the subject site on September 26, 2002. Additionally, notice was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on September 28, 2002.

SITE DESCRIPTION

The subject site is a 16,984 square foot parcel, which is located on the southwest corner of Palos Verdes Drive South and Seacove Drive. The site is accessed from a single driveway on Seacove Drive. The site is currently surrounded by a six-foot tall block wall. Additionally, the subject site is located within the non-appealable area of the coastal zone.

Currently, the property is improved with a 1,500 square foot single story building, which was previously used for a commercial service station, but since has been converted to an office building. The building, which is located along the south property line, does not presently have an enclosed garage.

Other land uses in the vicinity of the project site are as follows:

South: Single-family residential (Seacove Drive).

West: Office (Wayfarers Chapel West) and Institutional (fire station).

North: Single-family residential (Arrowroot Lane).

East: Abalone Cove Park.

Inasmuch as the site was previously a commercial gas station, the site had underground gasoline storage tanks. However, the applicant has provided a letter (see attached) from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, which states that the site has been remediated and no further action is required on the site.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Staff has reviewed the proposed application for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Upon completion of this review, it has been determined that this request is categorically exempt from CEQA, pursuant to Guideline Section No. 15301 (Existing Facilities).

Categorical Exemptions are projects, which have determined not to have a significant effect on the environment and have been exempted from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. Section 15301 (Class 1 Exemption) includes the permitting and operation of use that involves no expansion of the use. It is Staff's opinion that since the GPAIR does not change the General Plan or zoning of the site, there is no change in the use; therefore, the proposed application meets the requirements of a Class 1 exemption. It should be noted, that if the applicant decides to apply for a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change an Environmental Assessment would be required.

DISCUSSION

Council Policy No. 33 establishes the process for General Plan Amendment Initiation Requests. This policy makes the GPAIR an option that applicants can pursue prior to the submittal of a formal application of a General Plan Amendment. This process serves as a benefit to applicants since it allows the applicant to gauge the City Council's outlook on a proposal.

General Plan Considerations

The applicant is requesting to change the General Plan Land use designation of the site from Commercial Office to Residential (2 to 4 dwelling units per acre). This change would bring the site into consistency with the residential properties along Seacove Drive.

The General Plan states, "The predominance of residential use is based on several factors: the ability of residential activity to produce low environmental stress, the geographical location of the community with no major transportation facilities, lack of market potential for any major commercial, and need for support facilities only to meet the community's demand." It is staff's opinion that to modify the land use designation to allow the property to be converted to a residential dwelling unit would be consistent with this statement since residential uses provide the least environmental impacts and this site has not been a viable commercial site in the past few years.

Alternatively, the General Plan states, "Commercial uses tend to have environmental impacts unless small in scale and very carefully designed." Since the site is a small scale commercial site, it is staff's opinion that continual operation of commercial uses at the site would cause de minimus environmental impact to the area. However, staff believes that the impacts caused by residential uses would be less than those caused by commercial uses on the site.

As noted above, it appears that a residential land use at this location would likely result in less impacts than a commercial land use. Notwithstanding in 1997, the City Council determined that the land use designation for this property should be commercial. Given the previous City Council determination on this property, staff is seeking Council direction whether to revert the land use designation for this property back to residential.

It should be noted that a change to the General Plan Land Use Designation would also require an amendment to the Coastal Specific Plan.

Zoning Considerations

In order to bring the zoning in compliance with the requested General Plan land Use Designation, the applicant is requesting to modify the zoning of the property to Single Family Residential (RS-4). According to Municipal Code Section No. 17.02.010, the purpose of the single-family residential district (RS) is to provide for individual homes on separate lots, each for the occupancy of one family, at various minimum lot sizes, to provide for a range of yard and lot sizes which are based on the general plan of the city, and to provide for other uses that are associated and compatible with residential uses designated in this title.

By changing the zoning, the subject property would be consistent with the other properties along Seacove Drive. The change in zoning would leave the property located to the west of the project site, the Wayfarers Chapel parcel, as the only property in the vicinity with a CP zone.

The minimum lot size in the RS-4 zone is 10,000 square feet. The subject site is 16,984 square feet, and therefore meets this minimum lot size. However, should the zone change be approved, the applicant would have to address several non-conformities on the property, prior to converting the building into a habitable area. This would include providing a garage on the site and reducing the height of the existing six foot block wall along Palos Verdes Drive South and Seacove Drive to 42-inches.

Fee Waiver

According to the Development Code, the City Council may, at its discretion, approve a fee waiver if one of the following three conditions is met:

  1. If the use benefits a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation.
  2. Staff has not been provided with any evidence that the applicant is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. However, even if such evidence were to be provided, changing the General Plan Land Use Designation and zoning on the subject property would not benefit a non-profit corporation. As such, staff believes that this provision has not been met.

  3. If the use benefits a charitable organization or is for educational purposes.
  4. It is staff's opinion that converting the site from commercial to residential will not serve to benefit a charitable organization or provide an educational opportunity. As such, staff believes that this provision has not been met.

  5. If the applicant can provide evidence of a financial hardship, taken on a case-by-case basis.

In his letter requesting the fee waiver, the applicant has stated that the fees paid for the 1997 change in land use designation and zoning was $4,700.00. The applicant has further stated that since no physical change has occurred on the site he is requesting a fee waiver. However, staff has not been provided any other evidence that a financial hardship exists for the applicant. As such, staff feels that this provision has not been met.

Since staff does not believe any of the three conditions can be met, staff recommends denial of the fee waiver request.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

As noted above, notice of the GPAIR was sent out to all property owners within 500 of the subject site on September 26, 2002. As of the date this report was prepared, there was no correspondence received on the request.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above analysis, staff believes that the applicants request has merit and that it would be appropriate for the applicant to submit a formal application for a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change. It should be noted, should the City Council advise the applicant to submit an application, it does not guarantee that the General Plan Amendment and Zone Change would be approved.

However, staff has found that none of the three conditions required for a fee waiver have been met by the applicant. As such, it is staff's opinion that the fee waiver does not have merit.

FISCAL IMPACT

Should the City Council approve the fee waiver the cost of processing the applications would be paid from the general fund.

ALTERNATIVES

The following alternatives are available for the City Council's consideration:

  1. Approve the GPAIR and deny the fee waiver request.
  2. Approve the GPAIR and approve the fee waiver request.
  3. Recommend that the applicant not pursue the proposed General Plan Amendment and Zone Change and deny the fee waiver request. If this alternative is chosen, however, the applicant and/or property owner may still proceed with an application for a General Plan and related development approvals, pursuant to City Council Policy No. 33.

Respectfully submitted:
Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

  • City Council Policy No. 33
  • Letter requesting Fee Waiver, dated September 13, 2002
  • Letter from California Regional Water Quality Control Board, dated December 10, 2001