Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: JANUARY 21, 2003

SUBJECT: CLARIFICATION OF A CONDITION OF APPROVAL FOR GRADING PERMIT NO. 1928-REVISION ‘B’ (ABDALIAN, 30025 CACHAN PLACE)

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Clarify the City Council’s intent and expectation regarding Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’, and determine whether or not the current site conditions are in substantial conformance with this condition so that the building permit for the project can be finaled.

BACKGROUND

On May 13, 1997, the Planning Commission conditionally approved an application by Arik Abdalian and Adelaida Abdalian for Grading Permit No. 1928, via Minute Order. The request was for seventy-seven cubic yards (77 CY) of grading for a new, single-family residence on a vacant lot at 30025 Cachan Place. The project was submitted into Building and Safety plan check on December 8, 1997, a building permit was issued on December 17, 1998 and construction commenced in early 1999.

On May 9, 2000, the Planning Commission approved a revision to Grading Permit No. 1928 (Revision ‘A’) to allow the width of the rear balconies on the house to be increased from four feet (4’) to seven feet (7’). On October 10, 2000, the Planning Commission partially approved a second revision to Grading Permit No. 1928 (Revision ‘B’), thereby approving a request for additional grading on the lower level of the house to increase the habitable living area, but denying a request for additional grading in the rear yard to create a flat pad area on the extreme slope and construct a 6-foot-tall retaining wall. The applicants appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council, but the City Council denied the appeal and upheld the Planning Commission’s action on December 19, 2000. On February 13, 2001, the Planning Commission approved a third revision to Grading Permit No. 1928 (Revision ‘C’) to allow the relocation of two previously-approved retaining walls in the northerly side-yard of the property. The Planning Commission subsequently amended this revision on November 13, 2001 to increase the height of one of the retaining walls in order to satisfy Building Code requirements. A summary of all of the conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 and its revisions is attached to this report.

The Abdalians have nearly completed construction of the house and have requested finalization of the building permit. On December 5, 2002, Planning and Building Staff conducted a preliminary inspection to determine if all of the Planning conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 and its revisions (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’) had been met. Based upon this inspection, Staff believes that all of the conditions have been satisfied, with the exception of Condition No. 5 of Revision ‘B’ regarding the restoration of the slope at the rear of the house. Although the applicants have demonstrated that the 980.0’ benchmark elevation has been restored at the rear of the house, Staff is concerned that there was an expectation on the part of the City Council in approving Revision ‘B’ that the appearance of the slope would more closely match that depicted on the original 1997 plans for the project. To do so would require the placement of additional fill along the rear of the house at the northerly end of the rear facade (see attached rear elevation exhibit and photo). Staff advised the applicants of this situation on January 8, 2003. However, the applicants have asked the City Council to review the current site conditions to determine if this additional fill is necessary to satisfy the City Council’s expectations for the project.

DISCUSSION

The adoption of Resolution No. 2000-88 for Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’ by the City Council on December 19, 2000 included the following condition:

5. Prior to Building Permit final, the applicant shall restore the slope at the rear of the house to its pre-existing condition, consistent with the Planning Commission’s original approval of Grading Permit No. 1928 to the maximum extent practicable. This shall include the restoration of the benchmark downslope elevation of 980.00’ for the finished grade elevation adjacent to the lowest foundation of the house. In restoring this slope, the applicant shall comply with all recommendations and requirements of the City’s Building Official and geotechnical consultant. [emphasis added]

As mentioned above, the applicants restored the rear slope to re-establish the 980.0’ benchmark elevation at the rear of the house, thereby creating a sloped lawn area adjacent to the house. The applicants have also planted evergreen shrubs at the base of the foundation and an oleander hedge at the edge of the lawn to help screen the appearance of the non-habitable, crawlspace level of the house. However, as depicted in the attached exhibit, the current profile of the finish grade line at the rear of the house is basically horizontal, sloping up sharply at the northerly end of the rear facade, while the 1997 elevation showed a more gradual upward slope in the finished grade line.

Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’ required the applicants to replicate the 1997 finish grade and slope at the rear of the house "to the maximum extent practicable." At the time that this revision was under review, the primary concern to Staff was the restoration of the 980.0’ benchmark elevation at the rear of the house, without which the house would have exceeded the maximum 30-foot downslope height limit. Of secondary concern to Staff was the precise location of the finish grade line at the rear of the house. Although the benchmark elevation has been restored, Staff believes that the City Council may have expected the rear elevation of the house to more closely resemble the 1997 plans, so the applicants were advised that additional fill would be required accomplish this. Staff estimates that approximately forty cubic yards (40 CY) of fill would be necessary.

The applicants believe that they have restored the rear slope "to the maximum extent practicable." They have provided the necessary certifications to demonstrate that the 980.0’ benchmark elevation and the maximum ridgeline elevation of the house are consistent with the 1997 approvals for the project. The Abdalians have satisfied all of the other required Planning conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 and its revisions. In all other respects, Staff believes that the finished home substantially conforms to the original 1997 plans. Also, as mentioned above, the Abdalians have landscaped the rear slope area with turf and shrubs to screen the appearance of the home from Hawthorne Boulevard and enhance their privacy. Much of this landscaping would be destroyed if additional fill were placed at the rear of the house. For all these reasons, the applicants respectfully request that the City Council review the current site conditions at the rear of the house and find that they are consistent with the City Council’s intent and expectation, as reflected in the language of Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Abdalians and all interested parties have been provided with courtesy notification of the City Council’s consideration of this matter.

CONCLUSION

Staff was concerned that the existing finish grade profile at the rear of the subject property might not meet the expectations of the City Council, as reflected in the language of Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’. On January 8, 2003, the applicants were advised of the need to place additional fill at the rear of the house to address this issue. However, the applicants have asked the City Council to review the current site conditions to determine if this additional grading is truly necessary to fulfill the conditions of approval for the project.

FISCAL IMPACT

The review of this matter has no fiscal impact upon the City.

ALTERNATIVES

The alternatives available for the City Council’s consideration include:

1. Accept the existing site conditions as meeting the City Council’s expectations and/or the intent of Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’, thereby allowing the applicants to finalize the building permit for the house.

2. Do not accept the existing site conditions as meeting the City Council’s expectations and/or the intent of Condition No. 5 of Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’, and direct the applicants to further modify the rear slope prior to finalization of the building permit for the house.

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

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:
Summary of conditions for Grading Permit No. 1928 and revisions
Rear elevation exhibit showing current and proposed 1997 finished grades
Resolution No. 2000-88
C.C. Minutes and Staff report of December 5, 2000
C.C. Minutes and Staff report of December 19, 2000

SUMMARY OF
CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL
FOR GRADING PERMIT NO. 1928
(30025 Cachan Place)

Original approval (May 13, 1997)

1) The structure shall comply with the following setbacks as indicated on the grading plan (minimum setbacks shown in parentheses):

Front: 25'0" (20'0" minimum)

Sides: 13'0" North and 17'0" South (5'0" minimum each side)

Rear: 33'0" (15'0" minimum)

2) A total of seventy-seven cubic yards (77 ydł) of grading is allowed under this permit, consisting of sixty-five cubic yards (65 ydł) of cut and twelve cubic yards (12 ydł) of fill. The maximum depth of cut shall be three feet (3'0") and the maximum height of fill shall be two feet (2'0").

3) Building height shall be measured from the following elevations, as indicated on the grading plan:

Upslope: 995.2'

Downslope: 980.0'

Maximum Ridge Height: 1009.7'

Ridge height certification shall be required prior to building permit final inspection.

4) The project shall maintain a sixty-nine percent (69%) open space coverage. The minimum allowable open space coverage is sixty percent (60%).

5) Side-yard retaining walls shall not exceed an individual or combined height of three feet six inches (3'6"). There shall not be more than one retaining wall per side-yard.

6) The upslope retaining wall shall not exceed an individual or combined height of eight feet (8'0"), unless located in the 20-foot front-yard setback area, where it shall not exceed an individual or combined height of more than three feet six inches (3'6"). There shall not be more than one upslope retaining wall.

7) The driveway shall maintain a slope of eighteen percent (18%). The maximum allowable driveway slope is twenty percent (20%).

8) No new slopes exceeding fifty percent (50%) may be created, except adjacent to the driveway, where slopes up to sixty-seven percent (67%) may be created.

9) Prior to grading permit issuance by the Building and Safety Division, a plan for haul routes and staging of trucks and vehicles must be submitted to and approved by the Director of Public Works.

10) The hours of grading and construction shall be limited to 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. No grading or construction shall be permitted on Sundays or on legal holidays.

11) All grading activity, including compaction, shall be conducted in accordance with the applicable requirements established by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Building and Safety Division.

12) In the event that any of these conditions conflict with the recommendations and/or requirements of another permitting agency or City department, the stricter standard shall apply.

13) The construction site shall be kept free of all loose materials resembling trash and debris in excess of that material used for immediate construction purposes. Such excess material may include, but not be limited to: the accumulation of debris, garbage, lumber, scrap metal, concrete asphalt, piles of earth, salvage materials, abandoned or discarded furniture, appliance or other household fixtures.

14) There is no existing foliage on the subject property that impairs views from any nearby residences. Therefore, none of the vegetation on the subject lot needs to be trimmed or removed prior to Building permit issuance. However, this determination does not preclude or prevent a property owner from filing for a view restoration permit against the subject property at a future date

Revision ‘A’ (May 9, 2000)

1) As approved by the Planning Commission on May 9, 2000, the two balconies at the rear of the house may be increased from 4’ in width to 7’ in width.

2) Notwithstanding Condition 1 above, all other conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 remain valid and in full force and effect.

Revision ‘B’ (December 19, 2000)

1) This approval is for an additional fifty cubic yards (50 ydł) of grading to convert the non-habitable crawlspaces on the lower level (i.e., adjacent to the rumpus/family room and the second master bedroom) to habitable living area. The proposal for an additional ninety cubic yards (90 ydł) of grading and a 6-foot-tall retaining wall on the extreme slope area behind and below the house is not approved.

2) The maximum additional living area approved by this revision is six hundred ninety-five square feet (695 ft˛), consisting of a 535-square-foot living area (bedroom and walk-in closet) below the garage and a 160-square-foot living area (walk-in closet) below the upper-level master bathroom. These new living areas shall remain fully accessible from the rest of the lower level of the house and shall not be used as a separate dwelling unit. Similarly, the entire lower level of the house shall remain fully accessible from the interior of the upper level of the house and shall not be used as a separate dwelling unit. Prior to Building Permit final, the property owner shall submit a covenant and agreement for recordation to the title of the property that prohibits the use of any portion of the lower level of the house as a second dwelling unit without prior City approval.

3) Unless specifically addressed herein or revised by this or subsequent actions, all conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 (as approved by the Planning Commission on May 13, 1997) and Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘A’ (as approved by the Planning Commission on May 9, 2000) remain in effect and valid.

4) Prior to Building Permit final, the applicant shall modify the remaining crawlspace below the lower level of the house so as to have only one (1) access doorway, which shall not be a "full-height" door. The applicant shall demonstrate, to the satisfaction of City’s Building Official, that the access and interior headroom in the remaining crawlspace will not allow for its use as habitable space. Prior to Building Permit final, the property owner shall submit a covenant and agreement for recordation to the title of the property that prohibits the use of the crawlspace below the lower level of the house for habitable purposes without prior City approval.

5) Prior to Building Permit final, the applicant shall restore the slope at the rear of the house to its pre-existing condition, consistent with the Planning Commission’s original approval of Grading Permit No. 1928 to the maximum extent practicable. This shall include the restoration of the benchmark downslope elevation of 980.00’ for the finished grade elevation adjacent to the lowest foundation of the house. In restoring this slope, the applicant shall comply with all recommendations and requirements of the City’s Building Official and geotechnical consultant.

Revision ‘C’ (February 13, 2001, amended November 13, 2001)

1) This approval is for an additional ten cubic yards (10 ydł) of grading to relocate the approved retaining walls in the northerly side-yard area.

2) The relocated retaining walls shall be located four feet (4’0") from the exterior wall of the house, but not less than three feet (3’0") from the northerly side property line at the closest point.

3) The maximum height of the lower retaining wall shall be three feet (3’0"), and the maximum height of the upper retaining wall shall be five feet nine inches (5’9"). A maximum of two (2) retaining walls are permitted in the side-yard area, but the walls must maintain horizontal separation of at least three feet one inch (3’1") between walls.

4) Unless specifically addressed herein or revised by this or subsequent actions, all conditions of approval for Grading Permit No. 1928 (as approved by the Planning Commission on May 13, 1997), Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘A’ (as approved by the Planning Commission on May 9, 2000) and Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’ (as approved by the Planning Commission on October 10, 2000 and the City Council on December 19, 2000) remain in effect and valid.

5) No final permits will be issued for the house or any related construction on the site unless and until all of the requirements of Condition Nos. 2, 4 and 5 of Resolution No. 2000-88 for Grading Permit No. 1928-Revision ‘B’ are met, to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.