|Back To Agenda||Print Page|
TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: MAY 6, 2003
SUBJECT: ZON2003-00134 (CODE AMENDMENT) – A CITY INITIATED CODE AMENDMENT REVISING SECTIONS 17.020.030 AND 17.020.040 (RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS) OF TITLE 17 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE.
Staff Coordinator: Ara Michael Mihranian, Senior Planner
Introduce Ordinance No. ___, a City initiated proposal to amend Section 17.02.030 and 17.02.040 (Residential Development Standards) of Title 17 of the City’s Municipal Code to implement the new Neighborhood Compatibility and Roof Deck requirements; 2) adopt Resolution No. 2003-__ , thereby amending the Height Variation Guidelines to implement the new Neighborhood Compatibility criteria; and 3) adopt Resolution No. 2003-__ adopting the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook.
On February 8, 2003, a Joint Workshop was held between the City Council and the Planning Commission at which time the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee (referred herein as the "Committee") presented its recommended amendments to the existing Neighborhood Compatibility review process. The Committee also presented a Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook, that includes handouts and a process flow chart that describes the City’s new Neighborhood Compatibility and Residential Development process. At the Joint Workshop, the Council and the Commission reviewed the recommended changes, and suggested specific modifications be included in the proposal, such as amending the City’s Roof Deck requirement, which will discussed later in this report. In general, the Council accepted the Committee’s recommended changes to the Neighborhood
Compatibility criteria and process, and directed Staff to initiate the required Code Amendments, and other Guideline amendments necessary to implement the accepted process.
According to Section 17.68.030 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code (RPVMC), a Code Amendment initiated by the City Council shall be referred to the Planning Commission for its review. The amended text to the Development Code, as well as amendments to the Height Variation Guidelines and the adoption of the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook were reviewed by the Planning Commission at its April 8, 2003 meeting (see attached minutes). The Commission reviewed the related material and slightly modified the definition of immediate neighborhood and one of the neighborhood compatibility triggers, which will be discussed later in this report, and unanimously approved the proposed amendments and forwarded its recommendation for consideration by the City Council.
In accordance with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Staff has determined that the proposed code amendments to the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code will require an addendum to the Environmental Assessment and Negative Declaration prepared and approved by the City Council under Resolution No. 97-25 for amendments to Titles 16 and 17 of the City’s Municipal Code. At the time the City Council adopted the Negative Declaration, it found: 1) that there would be no significant adverse environmental impacts resulting from the adoption of the amendments; 2) that many of the amendments were clarifications and minor non-substantive revisions; and 3) that the substantive amendments would reduce impacts on the environment since the requirements and regulations governing development in the City would generally be strengthened, thereby further reducing any adverse impacts to adjacent properties and the environment.
Staff believes that the proposed amendments clarify the existing Code requirements and provide the decision makers, Staff and the public with clearer direction on how to process residential development applications. As such, Staff is of the opinion that said amendments to the Code will not result in any new significant environmental effects, but rather serve to reduce impacts upon the environment. As a result, no further environmental review will be is necessary other than the adoption of Addendum No. 7 to Environmental Assessment No. 694 and Negative Declaration, as shown in the Ordinance’s Exhibit ‘A’ as Addendum No. 7 (see attachment).
In order to implement the Committee’s recommendations that were discussed at the February 8, 2003 Joint Workshop, the following amendments to Title 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code (RPVMC) are required:
Furthermore, the following amendment must also be made to the existing Height Variation Guidelines:
As such, the following section discusses the Planning Commission’s recommendations pertaining to amendments to the Development Code with respect to the Neighborhood Compatibility and the Roof Deck requirements, as stated above. Furthermore, the following section also discusses the proposed amendments to the existing Height Variation Guidelines reflecting the new Neighborhood Compatibility requirements, as well as the adoption of the newly created Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook.
I. CODE AMENDMENTS
Neighborhood Compatibility Triggers
As a result of the Committee’s recommendations, the new Neighborhood Compatibility triggers proposed to be incorporated into Section 17.02.030(B) of the Development Code are noted below (the underlined text represents added language, while the strike-through text represents deleted language). It should be noted that since the workshop, the triggers have been slightly modified by the Planning Commission and the City Attorney for clarity with no substantive changes made to the intent of each trigger.
If the Council finds the above amendment language to be acceptable, Staff respectfully requests that the City Council adopt said language by introducing the attached ordinance (see attachment).
Neighborhood Compatibility Review Criteria
At the Joint Workshop, the Committee reported its desire to see the criteria used in the analysis of Neighborhood Compatibility be expanded to include side and rear yard setbacks in addition to the Code’s current requirement of reviewing front yard setbacks. As such, the Council accepted the Committee’s recommendation. Therefore, the following text represents the amended language to Section 17.02.030(B)(2)(c) and Section 17.02.040(A)(6)(c) of the RPVMC:
2. As defined in Section 17.02.040(A)(6)(c) of this chapter, neighborhood character means the existing characteristics in terms of the following:
As the Council may recall, Staff raised a concern at the Joint Workshop that it may be difficult to analyze side and rear yard setbacks due to access limitations. As a result, Staff would most likely have to rely on aerial photographs or "eyeball" estimates from the public right-of-way since this information is not generally contained in City and County building permits, nor in the County Assessor’s data. This lack of reliable data may reduce the effectiveness of such an analysis. The City Council recognized Staff’s concern and indicated that Staff’s analysis of the side and rear yard setbacks for the defined neighborhood is not expected to be as precise as the front yard setback, but rather to provide the decision maker(s) with an idea of the current condition of the neighborhood.
If the Council finds the above amendment language to be acceptable, Staff respectfully requests that the City Council adopt said language by introducing the attached ordinance (see attachment).
At the Joint Workshop, the Council directed Staff to modify the triggers so that "roof decks" are included in the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis rather than being limited to a 10-foot projection from an exterior facade. This would allow "roof decks" to be incorporated in the design of a structure, but would also allow the City leverage in regulating their appearance so as not to adversely impact the character of a neighborhood. As such, pursuant to Council direction, the following text amendment is proposed to Section 17.02.030(D) of the RPVMC (the underlined text represents added language, while the strike through text represents deleted language):
2. Decks located upon the roof of a primary building shall be permitted, except for the following decks which shall be prohibited:
3. As required in Section 17.02.030(B)(1)(g), a deck, balcony or roof deck that exceeds eighty (80) square feet in area or that projects more than six (6) feet from the existing building shall not be approved unless determined to be compatible with the existing neighborhood.
Aside from the above amendment, the current "roof deck" standards will remain in full force and effect. If the Council finds the above amendment language to be acceptable, Staff respectfully requests that the City Council adopt said language by introducing the attached ordinance (see attachment).
II. AMENDMENTS TO THE HEIGHT VARIATION GUIDELINES
In order to ensure that the current Height Variation Guidelines are made consistent with the proposed code amendments and the new Neighborhood Compatibility procedural requirements, the City Council will also need to adopt certain amendments to the City’s Height Variation Guidelines. The proposed changes to the City’s Height Variation Guidelines are described below. Staff has attached to this Staff Report the respective pages of the Height Variation Guidelines that show the new language for review (see attachment).
If the Council finds the proposed amendments to the Height Variation Guidelines acceptable, Staff respectfully requests that the Council adopt the attached resolution (see attachment).
III. ADOPTION OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD COMPATIBILITY HANDBOOK
The Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook, which was presented by the Committee at the Joint Workshop, is attached to this Staff Report for further review by the Council. As discussed at the Workshop, the intent of the Handbook is to provide the general public with information regarding the process and requirements of the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis (ie. Triggers), as well as to suggest design tips that can be incorporated into the design of a residential project to ensure its compatibility with existing neighborhoods. As reported at the Joint Workshop, in order to prevent the Handbook from becoming a shelved document, Staff will increase public awareness by making the Handbook available to the general public, architects, real estate professionals, builders, and homeowner associations.
As a reminder, there are some key new concepts developed by the Committee that are contained in the Handbook. It should be noted that the Handbook has been slightly modified with readability corrections since the Joint Workshop to reflect changes suggested by the Council, the Commission, and community representatives. Notwithstanding, no substantive changes have been made to the concepts of the Handbook since the Workshop. The key new concepts are summarized below:
Optional Pre-Application Process
As reported at the Joint Workshop, the Committee felt that since the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis is intended to address a project’s compatibility with the character of a neighborhood, the residents of the immediate neighborhood should be given the opportunity to voice their concerns early in the process. As such, a voluntary "pre-application" step was proposed to be incorporated in the Neighborhood Compatibility process, so as to provide the applicant with an option to either address neighbor concerns early in the process or later. The Council accepted the Committee’s recommendation and felt that the "pre-application" step would most likely save time and money in the long run. The Council also agreed that the choice should be made by the applicant.
The specific tasks that the applicant is encouraged to perform are described on Page 6 of the Handbook (see attachment).
At the Joint Workshop, the Committee reported its inability to properly define "neighborhood." However, the Committee did agree that the immediate neighborhood, for the purpose of performing a Neighborhood Compatibility analysis, should be defined as at least the twenty (20) closest residences by distance (the closest homes could include developed properties behind the subject parcel, as well as those properties on the same street). At the suggestion of Planning Commissioner Frank Lyon, the definition of immediate neighborhood was amended to be "normally considered at least the twenty (20) closest residences on the same street or on an intersecting street within the same zoning district." The Council agreed with Commissioner Lyon that the definition would allow the decision makers flexibility and accepted the modified definition of immediate neighborhood.
At the April 8th Planning Commission meeting, the Commission further refined the definition to allow the decision makers the maximum flexibility to define neighborhoods on a case by case basis. As such, the Commission agreed to recommend that the Council adopt the following definition for immediate neighborhood:
"normally considered at least the twenty (20) closest residences within the same zoning district."
As noted earlier, the new definition of immediate neighborhood is also being incorporated into the Height Variation Guidelines.
The Construction and Certification of a Silhouette
Pursuant to the Committee’s recommendation, the Council decided that similar to the Height Variation process, projects requiring the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis should be required to construct a project silhouette prior to deeming the application complete for processing. Additionally, the Council decided that all project silhouettes must be certified for accuracy by a licensed surveyor prior to deeming a project application complete for processing. Similar to the "pre-application" step, this is a process change that is included in the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook and will become effective upon the adoption of the Handbook by the City Council. As previously noted, the Height Variation Guidelines will also be amended to reflect the certification requirement.
Effective Date of New Process
In the event the City Council finds the proposed amendments acceptable and the proposed code amendment is introduced this evening, the ordinance will be brought back to the City Council for a second reading and adoption at its May 20th meeting. The ordinance would then go into effect on June 19, 2003, thirty (30) days from the May 20th adoption date. It is proposed that project applications that have been submitted, but have not been deemed complete for processing by the June 19th effective date, will have to comply with the new Code requirements. Projects that are deemed complete for processing prior to the time the new Code requirement goes into effect will be processed under the old regulations.
Follow-up of the Neighborhood Compatibility Committee’s Task
It should be noted that in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed changes, it is recommended that one year after the Code changes are implemented and the Handbook is made available to the public, that the Committee reconvene to review the process. To encourage input from residents involved in the revised process, Staff will prepare a questionnaire that will be made available along with the Handbook and related project applications. Based on input gathered from the questionnaire, as well as comments from the City Council, Planning Commission and Staff as applications are processed under the new rules, the Committee will revisit the process and identify any subsequent proposed changes to the process in a follow-up presentation to the Council.
Pursuant to the Development Code, a public notice was published in the Peninsula News on April 17, 2003 inviting public comments on the proposed code amendment. To date, no written or verbal comments have been submitted to the City. In the event the City receives public comments after the transmittal of this Staff Report, Staff will present the comments at the May 6th public hearing.
The City’s website has been updated to include a link to the proposed amendments to the Neighborhood Compatibility requirements. Upon the adoption of the new code language and Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook, said documents will be made available on the City’s website. Furthermore, Staff is currently preparing revised project applications that will also be accessible on the City’s website.
The following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration in addition to Staff’s recommendation:
It is Staff’s belief that the proposed changes will affect the amount of time it takes Staff to process a Neighborhood Compatibility application. This is partly due to the increase in the analysis criteria from the ten (10) closest to the twenty (20) closest residences, as well as the proposed inclusion of the side and rear setbacks into the review criteria. However, the "pre-application" step and the requirements to construct a project silhouette may result in a reduction of Staff time that is typically spent on analyzing a project. This is because the "pre-application" process is designed to address neighborhood concerns prior to formally submitting an application to the City. However, since this is a voluntary step, not all applicants will complete this step. Therefore, at this time it is unknown whether the change in Staff review time will require an amendment to the application filing fee. Therefore, if the proposed changes to the Code are adopted by the Council, once the changes are implemented, Staff proposes to monitor the time involved in processing a Neighborhood Compatibility application in relation to the relevant costs to determine whether a fee increase is warranted.
As such, at this time fiscal impacts that may result from the proposed changes to the Neighborhood Compatibility process are unknown. Therefore, Staff recommends that the revised process be monitored for one year after implementation to assess the possible fiscal impacts on the City’s General Fund. If after a year it is confirmed that the revised process increases City costs to process applications, Staff will recommend that the Council consider an amendment to the application filing fees involving the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis.
Based on the foregoing discussion, Staff recommends that if the Council deems the proposed amendments acceptable: 1) to introduce Ordinance No. ___, a City initiated proposal to amend Section 17.02.030 and 17.02.040 (Residential Development Standards) of Title 17 of the City’s Municipal Code to implement the new Neighborhood Compatibility and Roof Deck requirements; 2) to adopt Resolution No. 2003-__ thereby amending the Height Variation Guidelines to implement the new Neighborhood Compatibility criteria; and 3) to adopt Resolution No. 2003-__ adopting the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook.
ORDINANCE NO. ___
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING CHAPTER 17.02 (SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS) OF TITLE 17 OF THE CITY’S MUNICIPAL CODE TO MODIFY THE NEIGHBORHOOD COMPATIBILITY AND THE ROOF DECK REQUIREMENTS FOR CITYWIDE RESIDENTIAL ZONED NEIGHBORHOODS.
WHEREAS, on December 4, 2001, the City Council established a Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee (referred herein as "Committee") assigned with the task of reviewing the City’s current Neighborhood Compatibility requirements and create a publication that conveys the process and procedures to the general public; and,
WHEREAS, between February 15, 2002, and December 6, 2002, the Committee convened, during which time improvements to the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility requirements were considered and a new Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook was prepared; and,
WHEREAS, on February 8, 2003, the Committee presented its recommended changes to the City Council and the Planning Commission at a Joint Workshop; and,
WHEREAS, at the February 8, 2003 Joint Workshop, the City Council and Planning Commission reviewed the Committee’s recommendations and accepted the proposed changes with slight modifications and directed Staff to initiate the necessary code amendment proceedings; and,
WHEREAS, on March 22, 2003, a notice was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News; and,
WHEREAS, after notices issued pursuant to the provisions of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, the Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on April 8, 2003, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence regarding said amendments to Title 17 as set forth in the Planning Commission Staff Report of that date; and,
WHEREAS, the Planning Commission reviewed and considered the proposed code amendments to Title 17 and adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2003-14 forwarding its recommendations to the City Council for its consideration; and,
WHEREAS, on April 17, 2003, a notice of a public hearing on this code amendment was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News; and
WHEREAS, after notices issued pursuant to the requirements of Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on May 6, 2003, at which time all interested parties were given the opportunity to be heard and present evidence:
NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE, AND ORDER AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1: The City Council has reviewed and considered the amendments to Chapter 17.02 of Title 17 of the Municipal Code.
Section 2: The City Council finds that there is no substantial evidence that the amendments to Title 17 would result in new significant environmental effects, or a substantial increase in the severity of the effects, as previously identified in Environmental Assessment No. 694 and the Negative Declaration, adopted through Resolution No. 97-25 in conjunction with Ordinance No. 320 for amendments to Titles 16 and 17 of the Municipal Code, since the new amendments are clarifications and minor non-substantive revisions to the Development Code. An Addendum (No. 7) to the prior Negative Declaration has been prepared and is attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A’. The City Council hereby finds, based on its own independent review, that the facts stated in the Addendum are true because the minor revisions to the Development Code will strengthen the Code and lessen potential environmental impacts of future development in the City.
Section 3: The City Council finds that the amendments to Title 17 are necessary to preserve the public health, safety, and general welfare in the area.
Section 4: Paragraphs B and D of Section 17.02.030 of Title 17 are hereby amended to read as follows:
17.02.30 Development standards.
B. Neighborhood Compatibility.
1. The following
2. As defined in Section 17.02.040(A)(6) of this chapter, neighborhood character means the existing characteristics in terms of the following:
3. As required in Section 17.02.030(B)(1)(g), a roof deck or balcony that exceeds eighty (80) square feet or projects more than six (6) feet from the existing building shall not be approved unless determined to be compatible with the existing neighborhood.
4. The following standards shall apply to all permitted roof decks:
Section 5: Paragraph A of Section 17.02.040 of Chapter 17.02 of Title 17 is hereby amended read as follows:
6. "Neighborhood character" means the existing characteristics in terms of the following:
Section 6: The rights given by any approval granted under the terms of Title 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code prior to the effective date of this ordinance shall not be affected by the amendments to Title 17 by this ordinance and shall continue in effect until and unless they are modified, revoked, expired or are otherwise terminated according to the terms of the approval or the terms of Title 17, as they existed prior to the effective date of this ordinance.
Section 7: The amendments to Title 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code as identified herein shall apply to all development applications submitted after the effective date of the adoption of said ordinance and to all development applications that have not been deemed complete prior to the effective date of the adoption of said ordinance.
Section 8: The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this ordinance and shall cause the same to be posted in the manner prescribed by law.
PASSED, APPROVED and ADOPTED this 6th day of May, 2003.
State of California )
I, JO PURCELL, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Ordinance No. ___ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on April 18, 2000.