Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: FEBRUARY 3, 2004

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF A GRADING PERMIT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW (case no. zon2003-00039), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 30637 CALLE DE SUENOS. (Applicant: Tomaro Architecture; Property Owner: Jody and Ilka Rice; Appellants: Anshoo Gupta, Property Owner of 30621 Calle de Suenos, & Carl Steadly, Property Owner of 30615 Calle de Suenos)

Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2004-__, denying the appeal thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039) to allow the construction of a new single-family residence at 30637 Calle de Suenos.

BACKGROUND

On July 16, 2003, the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement, after a duly noticed public comment period, approved a Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039) to allow the construction of a new residence on an undeveloped lot. In accordance with the Municipal Code requirements, a Notice of Decision for the approval was sent to all interested parties.

On July 31, 2003, the appellants filed a timely appeal of the Director’s decision, requesting that the Planning Commission reverse the approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (see attached appeal letter, dated July 30, 2003).

On October 14, 2003, the Planning Commission conducted a duly noticed public hearing to consider the appeal of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039). After considering all oral and written testimony, the Planning Commission denied the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review, by a 3-1-2 vote with Commissioner Duran Reed dissenting, Commissioner Cartwright and Chair Long abstaining, and Commissioner Cote being absent (see attached Planning Commission minute excerpts, dated October 14, 2003).

On October 24, 2003, the appellants filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, requesting that the City Council reverse the Planning Commission’s approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (see attached appeal letter, date stamped October 14, 2003).

On January 15, 2004, notice of the City Council public hearing was sent to all property owners within 500’ of the subject site. Additionally, the notice was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on January 17, 2004.

SITE & PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The subject site is an unimproved 37,084 square foot downsloping parcel, located at 30637 Calle de Suenos, which is in the RS-1 (Residential –Single Family, 1 unit/acre) zone. The Grading Permit and Site Plan Review are to allow a 9,206 square foot residence and a swimming pool, with related equipment on the subject property. The structure is proposed with a height of 15.75’, as measured from the average elevation of the front setback (545.25’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence (561’), and 29.5’, as measured from the lowest grade adjacent to the foundation/slab (531.5’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence. In addition to the residence, the project includes 821 cubic yards (731 cubic yards cut, 90 cubic yards fill, and 641 cubic yards of export) of grading.

DISCUSSION

A detailed background, site description, code consideration, and analysis of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review applications is contained in the attached Staff Report, dated July 9, 2003. Additionally, staff’s analysis of the appeal to the Planning Commission is contained in the attached Planning Commission Staff Report, dated October 14, 2003. Therefore, the body of this "Discussion" section will focus on the issues raised at the Planning Commission public hearing.

During the Planning Commission public hearing, both of the appellants spoke against the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review and five people spoke in favor of the proposal, which included the applicant and property owner. The specific concerns raised by the appellants were related to view impairment and neighborhood compatibility. More specifically, in their appeal letter to the Planning Commission the appellants’ stated:

  1. Our issues remain the same as we previously informed the city, i.e., primary view obstruction, setback issues, and the way the house is situated on the lot.
  2. Our concerns have not been adequately addressed in the sense that the [staff] report clearly indicates that our view of Catalina Island is eliminated or severely impaired. However, this was overruled because 30637 Calle de Suenos is considered to be a separate housing district and as such, is considered to be a separate neighborhood and not subject to having to deal with our view issues, neighborhood compatibility, etc. even though our houses are right next door and severely impacted. We do not agree with this.

Staff’s summary response to these issues is contained on Page 3 of the Planning Commission Staff Report, dated October 14, 2003 (attached). As previously noted, after considering all written and oral testimony, the Planning Commission denied the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review, by a 3-1-2 vote. In reviewing the appeal, the Commissioners who voted in favor of the project (Lyon, Mueller, and Tomblin) determined that since the residence is within the allowable 16’/30’ building envelope for downsloping lots, the view impairment caused by the structure is not significant. Furthermore, the Planning Commission acknowledged the structure size is larger than the other homes in the area, but felt that reducing the size will not have a major impact on the appearance of the structure, as viewed from the street, thus will not alter the neighborhood compatibility of the structure.

Notwithstanding this, Commissioner Duran Reed, in her dissention, felt that the proposed home is significantly larger than the other homes in the area, thus is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood’s character. Furthermore, Commissioner Duran Reed felt that while the applicant is constructing the residence within the allowable 16’/30" building envelope, the view impairment caused by the structure is significant to the home at 30621 Calle de Suenos and additional design work could be done to minimize this impact.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Correspondence Received:

All correspondence received as a result of the original public notice and the public notice for the Planning Commission’s consideration of the appeal are attached hereto and are summarized in the respective staff reports dated July 9, 2003 and October 14, 2003.

As previously noted, a new public notice regarding the City Council public hearing was sent to all property owners within 500’ of the subject site and was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on July 17, 2004. As a result of this notice, the following correspondence was received prior to the printing of this report:

  • Palos Verdes Panorama Owners Association – The Homeowners Association states that they feel that the proposed residence will be compatible with their neighborhood.

Staff Response: Staff would like to acknowledge the receipt of this letter. However, since this letter does not raise any new issues, staff feels that no response is necessary.

  • Renee Cartwright, 30630 Calle de Suenos – Ms. Cartwright states that she is supportive of the project since it leaves a view corridor between the residence and adjoining properties. She further states that the current design provides a less massive appearance for the residence.

Staff Response: Staff would like to acknowledge the receipt of this letter. However, since this letter does not raise any new issues, staff feels that no response is necessary.

  • Jon Cartwright, 30630 Calle de Suenos – Mr. Cartwright states that he is in support of the proposed house since the location of the home aligns it with the other homes on the same side of the street; the residence is being proposed within the "by right" 16’/30" building envelope, thus view impacts should not be taken into consideration; and even though the residence is the largest in terms of square footage, it is not the largest in terms of building footprint.

Staff Response: Staff would like to acknowledge the receipt of this letter. However, since this letter does not raise any new issues, staff feels that no response is necessary.

  • Raleigh Steinbach, 30646 Calle de Suenos – Mr. Steinbach states that he is in support of the proposed project since it leaves a view corridor between the proposed house and the adjoining property. Furthermore, he states that it is his opinion that the size of the home is compatible with the neighborhood.

Staff Response: Staff would like to acknowledge the receipt of this letter. However, since this letter does not raise any new issues, staff feels that no response is necessary.

CONCLUSION

Considering the discussion above and the discussions in the previous staff reports (dated July 9, 2003 and October 14, 2003) staff is concluding that there is no new evidence or information provided by the appellants to warrant overturning the Planning Commission’s approval of the project. As such, staff is recommending that the City Council deny the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039)

FISCAL IMPACT

The appellants have paid a total of $1,400.00 in appeal fees to cover the cost of processing the appeal. Should the City Council uphold the appeal, these fees will be refunded to the appellants, thus the cost of processing the appeals will be borne by the City. Additionally, should the City Council revise the approval, ½ of the appeal fees ($700.00) will be refunded to the appellants.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to staff’s recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:

  1. Uphold the appeal, thereby overturning the Planning Commission’s approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039); or,
  2. Identify any issues or concerns with the proposed project, and provide the applicant with direction in modifying the project, and continue the hearing to a date certain.
  3. Identify any issues or concerns with the proposed project, and remand the project back to Planning Commission for further review and analysis.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed:

Les Evans, City Manager

 

Attachments:

  • Draft Resolution No. 2004-__
  • Letter of Appeal
  • Staff Report, dated July 9, 2003
  • Planning Commission Staff Report, dated October 14, 2003
  • Minute Excerpts for Planning Commission meeting on October 14, 2003
  • P.C. Resolution No. 2003-46
  • Project Plans
  • Correspondence Received

RESOLUTION NO. 2004-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL, THEREBY UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S APPROVAL OF A GRADING PERMIT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW (CASE NO. ZON2003-00039), WHICH ALLOWS THE CONSTRUCTION OF A 9,206 SQUARE FOOT SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE ON A 37,084 SQUARE FOOT UNIMPROVED PARCEL, A SWIMMING POOL WITH SPA AND RELATED EQUIPMENT, AND 821 CUBIC YARDS OF GRADING, FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 30637 CALLE DE SUENOS.

WHEREAS, on January 27, 2003, the applicant submitted an application for a Grading Permit and Site Plan Review requesting to construct a 9,206 square foot single-family residence on a 37,084 square foot unimproved parcel, a swimming pool with spa and related equipment, and 821 cubic yards of grading. On February 26, 2003, staff completed the initial review of the proposed plans, at which time the application was deemed incomplete due to missing information on the project plans and/or applications. This additional information was submitted to the City on May 6, 2003; and,

WHEREAS, on May 15, 2003, the applications for Grading Permit and Site Plan Review were deemed complete by Staff; and,

WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code Sections 21000 et. seq. ("CEQA"), the State's CEQA Guidelines, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 15000 et. seq., the City's Local CEQA Guidelines, and Government Code Section 65962.5(f) (Hazardous Waste and Substances Statement), Staff found no evidence that Grading Permit and Site Plan Review, will have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, the proposed project has been found to be categorically exempt under Class 3 (Section 15303); and,

WHEREAS, on July 16, 2003, after a duly noticed public comment period, the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement approved the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039). In accordance with the Municipal Code requirements, a Notice of Decision for the approval was sent to all interested parties; and,

WHEREAS, on July 31, 2003, the appellants (Anshoo Gupta and Carl Steadly) filed a timely appeal of the Director’s decision, requesting that the Planning Commission reverse the approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review. The basis of the appeal is that the approved project causes significant view impairment and is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood character; and,

WHEREAS, on October 14, 2003, the Planning Commission of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes conducted a duly noticed public hearing to consider the appeal. After considering all written and oral testimony, the Planning Commission denied the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s approval, by a 3-1-2 vote, with Commissioner Duran Reed dissenting, Commissioner Cartwright and Chair Long abstaining, and Commissioner Cote being absent; and,

WHEREAS, on October 24, 2003, the appellants (Anshoo Gupta and Carl Steadly) filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, requesting that the City Council reverse the approval of the Grading Permit and Site Plan Review. The basis of the appeal is that the approved project causes significant view impairment and is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood character; and,

WHEREAS, after notice issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on February 3, 2004, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: That the approved project includes the construction of a 9,206 square foot single family residence on a 37,084 square foot unimproved parcel, a swimming pool with spa and related equipment, and 821 cubic yards of grading.

Section 2: The grading does not exceed that which is necessary for the permitted primary use of the lot, as defined in Chapter 17.96 of the Municipal Code. The permitted primary use of the property is single-family residential. The grading permit is to allow the construction of additional area for a single-family residence. Furthermore, the requested 821 cubic yards of grading is consistent with the grading quantities of other homes in the area.

Section 3: The grading and/or related construction does not significantly adversely affect the visual relationships with, or the views from, neighboring properties. The view impairment caused by the structure is not considered significant since the residence will be constructed within the allowable 16’/30’ building envelope for downsloping lots and the applicant is grading down to set the structure into the hillside.

Section 4: The nature of the grading minimizes disturbances to the natural contours and finished contours are reasonably natural. The applicant has minimized the grading to areas under the building footprint and terraced area to the west side of the residence to allow for a useable rear yard area. The remaining portions of the property will be left in an undisturbed state.

Section 5: The grading takes into account the preservation of natural topographical features and appearances by means of land sculpturing so as to blend any man-made or manufactured slope into natural topography. As noted in the previous section, the applicant has minimized the grading to areas under the building footprint and terraced area to the west side of the residence to allow for a useable rear yard area. The remaining portions of the property will be left in an undisturbed state.

Section 6: The grading and all related construction is compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood. Based on an analysis of the area, it is found that the proposed structure is consistent with the character of the immediate neighborhood with respect to architectural style and materials, bulk and mass, number of stories, structure size, front, side, and rear yard setbacks, and open space between structures.

Section 7: The grading will not cause excessive and unnecessary disturbance of the natural landscape or wildlife habitat through removal of vegetation. The vegetation that exists in the proposed grading area consists primarily of ivy and grass, which is not considered part of the natural vegetation of the area and does not serve as a wildlife habitat.

Section 8: The grading conforms to the standards for grading heights of cut and fill since the maximum depth of fill is 5’-9", which is necessary because the existing slope of the lot causes the need for the excessive height of fill in order to create the useable rear yard area. However, portions of the proposed grading will occur on slopes that exceed a 35% gradient and will result in retaining walls that have a maximum height of 5’-9", both of which exceed the Municipal Code allowances.

Although the proposed retaining walls and grading on slopes do not meet all of the criteria required for approval of a Grading Permit, pursuant to Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040(E)(10) the deviation in the criteria is warranted and the project is approved because:

  1. The first eight criteria of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040 have been satisfied.
  2. The approval is consistent with the purpose of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040. The purpose of the chapter is to provide reasonable development of land, ensure the maximum preservation of the scenic character of the area, ensure that the development of properties occurs in a manner harmonious to adjoining properties, and that the project complies with the goals and polices of the General Plan. A condition of approval requiring the applicant to submit a landscape plan prior to the issuance of building permits has been imposed on the approval, which requires use of shrubs to minimize the appearance of the larger downslope retaining wall. Additionally, the grading on the extreme slope, is so minimal (30 square feet) that it does not alter the scenic character of the area
  3. Departure of the standards will not constitute a special privilege with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity. The proposed deviation in the retaining wall height and grading on extreme slope are requested to provide sufficient rear yard area to accommodate the swimming pool, which other homes in the vicinity have. These deviations are not considered a special privilege since it provides the property owner a substantial property enjoyment, which other property owners have.
  4. Departure from the standards will not be detrimental to the public safety, nor to other property. Prior to issuance of building permits, the applicant is required to engineer the retaining wall to meet the requirements of the building code. These requirements are implemented for all retaining walls with a height greater than three feet. Additionally, the applicant has prepared a geology report, which has been reviewed and approved by the City’s Geologist, which states that the proposed project can be safely constructed. As such, deviating from the standards does not alter the City’s review of the structural and geological aspect of the wall.

Section 9: The Site Plan Review is warranted since the proposed pool with spa and related equipment meets all of the requirements of Title 17 of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

Section 10: The time within which the judicial review of the decision reflected in this Resolution, if available, must be sought is governed by Section 1094.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable short periods of limitation.

Section 11: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Reports (dated July 9, 2003, October 14, 2003, and February 3, 2004), Minutes and other records of proceedings, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of a Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039) which allows for the construction of a 9,206 square foot single family residence on a 37,084 square foot unimproved parcel, a swimming pool with spa and related equipment, and 821 cubic yards of grading, subject to the conditions contained in Exhibit 'A', attached hereto and made a part hereof, which are necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare in the area.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 3rd day of February 2004.

 

_______________________

Mayor

 

 

 

ATTEST:

 

____________________
City Clerk

 

State of California )
County of Los Angeles ) ss
City of Rancho Palos Verdes )

I, JO PURCELL, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2004-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on February 3, 2004.

_________________________________

City Clerk

Exhibit "A"

Conditions of Approval

(Resolution No. 2004-__)

Grading Permit and Site Plan Review

(Case No. ZON2003-00039)

General

  1. Approval of this revision to Grading Permit and Site Plan Review shall not be construed to mean any waiver of applicable and appropriate zoning regulations, or any Federal, State, County, and City laws and regulations. Unless otherwise expressly specified, all other requirements of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code shall apply.
  2. The applicant/property owner shall submit to the City a statement, in writing that they have read, understand and agree to all conditions of approval listed below. Failure to provide said written statement within ninety (90) days of the effective date of approval shall render this approval null and void.
  3. The approval shall become null and void after 180-days from the date of this approval unless the approved plans are submitted to the Building and Safety Division to initiate the "plan check" review process, pursuant to Section 17.86.070 of the City’s Development Code. This approval shall become null and void if, after initiating the "plan check" review process, or receiving a building permit to begin construction, said "plan check" or permit is allowed to expire or is withdrawn by the applicant.
  4. The Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement is authorized to make minor modifications to the approved preliminary plans or any of the conditions if such modifications shall achieve substantially the same results as would strict compliance with said plans and conditions.
  5. Permitted hours of construction are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No work is permitted on Sundays or legal holidays.
  6. The project shall substantially conform to the plans stamped, and dated the effective date of this approval, approved by the Planning Department.
  7. The construction site, adjacent public and private properties 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, appliances or other household fixtures.
  8. In the event that a Planning requirement and a Building & Safety requirement are in conflict with one another, the stricter standard shall apply.
  9. All applicable permits required by the Building and Safety Division shall be obtained by the applicant prior to the commencement of construction.
  10. Grading Permit

  11. The approval of a Grading Permit is to allow 821 cubic yards of grading, which includes 731 cubic yards of cut and 90 cubic yards of fill. Additionally, the Grading Permit allows the construction of a 9,206 square foot single-family residence on the site.
  12. The proposed structure shall maintain the following minimum setbacks:
  13. 20’-0" front (proposed 20’)

    15’-0" rear (proposed: 142’-3½")

    10’-0" one side, 25’ total (proposed: 15’ on north, 13’-7½" on south)

    SETBACK CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED. A LICENSED CIVIL ENGINEER OR SURVEYOR SHALL PREPARE THE CERTIFICATION. CERTIFICATION SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE CITY’S BUILDING OFFICIAL FOR REVIEW AND APPROVAL PRIOR TO THE POURING OF FOUNDATIONS.

  14. The proposed residence shall not exceed a height of 29.5’ from the lowest elevation where the finished grade is adjacent to the building foundation/slab (531.5’) to the highest roof ridgeline (561’), and 15.75’ from the average elevation of the front setback (545.25’) to the highest roof ridgeline.
  15. BUILDING HEIGHT CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED. A LICENSED CIVIL ENGINEER OR SURVEYOR SHALL PREPARE THE CERTIFICATION. CERTIFICATION SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE CITY’S BUILDING OFFICIAL FOR REVIEW AND APPROVAL PRIOR TO THE BUILDING PERMIT FINAL.

  16. The maximum height of retaining walls, not under the building footprint, shall be as follows:

    • Downslope retaining wall located to the rear of the residence: 5’-9"
    • Retaining walls within the side yards: 3’-6"

There shall be no retaining walls in the front yard.

  1. Prior to building permit issuance and/or commencement of grading, whichever occurs first, the applicant shall obtain approval of a haul route from the Director of Public Works.
  2. Prior to building permit issuance and/or commencement of work within the public right of way, which ever occurs first, the applicant shall obtain an encroachment permit from the Director of Public Works.
  3. Prior to the issuance of building permits, the applicant shall submit a landscape plan to the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement for review and approval. The landscape plan shall include the following.

    1. The use of vines and/or hedges to screen all of the retaining walls. If hedges are utilized, the hedges shall be maintained at a height of no greater than 42", or the top of the retaining wall, which ever is less.

Site Plan Review

  1. The approval of the Site Plan Review is for a swimming pool with spa and related equipment. The pool and spa shall be located in the pad area to the rear (west) of the residence. The equipment shall be located beneath the rear yard pad.
  2. Street Easement

  3. Based on the letter from the Land Surveyor of Record (Mr. Robert Herkus), dated October 3, 2003, the submitted survey and site plan do not show the proper location of the street in comparison to the street easement. According to Mr. Herkus, the street is located two feet farther to the east than originally approved under Tract Map No. 33034. As such, prior to the submittal of plans to Building and Safety Plan Check, the applicant shall revise the plans to indicate the correct location of the street and the street easement. If the revised plans indicate that the proposed residence does not have the minimum required 20’ front yard setback, the applicant shall take one of the following actions before plan check submittal is permitted.

    1. Relocate the residence in order to meet the front yard setback.
    2. Apply and obtain approval of a Minor Exception Permit for the reduced front yard setback.
    3. Apply and obtain approval of a Tract Map Amendment to adjust the location of the street easement line. Please be advised, this alternative requires the Homeowner’s Association to be the applicant of the Tract map Amendment.