Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

SEPTEMBER 7, 2004 APPEAL OF A HEIGHT VARIATION (case no. zon2004-00041), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 27010 SPRINGCREEK. (Applicant/Property Owner: Luis De Moraes; Appellants: Steve and Jenny Kikuchi, property owners of 27002 Springcreek; & William and Carol-Ann Hughes, property owners of 26951 Whitestone) SEPTEMBER 7, 2004 APPEAL OF A HEIGHT VARIATION (case no. zon2004-00041), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 27010 SPRINGCREEK. (Applicant/Property Owner: Luis De Moraes; Appellants: Steve and Jenny Kikuchi, property owners of 27002 Springcreek; & William and Carol-Ann Hughes, property owners of 26951 Whitestone)

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: SEPTEMBER 7, 2004

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF A HEIGHT VARIATION (case no. zon2004-00041), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 27010 SPRINGCREEK. (Applicant/Property Owner: Luis De Moraes; Appellants: Steve and Jenny Kikuchi, property owners of 27002 Springcreek; & William and Carol-Ann Hughes, property owners of 26951 Whitestone)

Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2004-__, denying the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00041).

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This item is being brought before the City Council for consideration due to an appeal, which has been filed by two adjacent neighbors, of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve an addition to an existing residence. Based on the analysis in this report, staff feels 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.

BACKGROUND

On June 8, 2004, after conducting duly noticed public hearings on May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004, the Planning Commission approved a Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00041), thereby allowing the construction of a 1,342 square foot addition to an existing 2,106 square foot residence, located at 27010 Springcreek Road. In accordance with the Municipal Code requirements, a Notice of Decision for the approval was sent to all interested parties.

On June 22, 2004, the appellants filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, requesting that the City Council reconsider the Planning Commission’s approval of the Height Variation (see attached appeal letter, dated June 17, 2004).

On July 29, 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 July 31, 2004.

SITE & PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The subject property is a 9,152 square foot parcel within the single-family residential (RS-5) zone. The Height Variation is to allow a 1,342 square foot addition to the existing 2,106 square foot residence. The structure is proposed with a height of 24.5’ as measured from the lowest grade adjacent to the building foundation/slab (100’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence (124.5’), and 20’, as measured from the highest elevation of existing building pad covered by structure (104.5’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence.

DISCUSSION

A detailed background, site description, code consideration, and staff analysis of the Height Variation application is contained in the attached Planning Commission staff reports, dated May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004. In addition, minute excerpts from the Planning Commission’s May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004 meetings are attached. Therefore, the body of this "Discussion" section will focus on the issues raised at the Planning Commission public hearings. As a reminder, to give the City Council more time to prepare for this appeal hearing, the aforementioned Planning Commission staff reports and minute excerpts were transmitted to each Council Member on August 19, 2004.

During the May 11, 2003 public hearing, eight people spoke in favor of the project (including the applicant) and four people spoke against the project (including the appellants). The concerns of the opposition included that the proposed residence was incompatible with the neighborhood and that the addition will cause privacy impacts to the neighbors. During their deliberations, the Planning Commission noted that they felt that the current proposed addition (which was 1,555 square feet) was incompatible with the neighborhood, since it was too large and the design did not sufficiently reduce the bulk and mass of the structure. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Planning Commission continued the item to June 8, 2004 and directed the applicant to address the Commission’s concerns.

On June 8, 2004, the applicant returned with a revised project, which included a reduction of the size of the addition, reduction in the structure height, and an increase in the setbacks. During this public hearing, three people spoke in favor of the revised project (including the applicant) and three people spoke in opposition (including representatives for the appellants). The concerns of the project opponents were still neighborhood compatibility and the privacy impacts caused by the project. During their deliberations, the majority of the Planning Commission noted that in redesigning the project the applicant took sufficient steps to address the Commission’s concerns. However, Commissioner Knight felt that the project was still incompatible with the neighborhood. The Planning Commission approved the project, as modified, by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Knight dissenting.

The appellants filed a joint appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision. A summary of the appellants’ concerns is as follows:

  1. The Kikuchi’s primary concern is the neighborhood compatibility of the structure and the privacy impacts caused by the structure. In their opinion, due to the height, and the bulk and mass of the structure, the proposed addition will result in a loss of sunlight into their home. Furthermore, the Kikuchi’s are concerned about the privacy impacts the proposed addition will have on their backyard.
  2. Staff Response: It is staff’s opinion that applicant has provided sufficient articulation of the structure and has minimized the height in a manner that the proposed addition is compatible with the neighborhood. Furthermore, staff feels that the conditions imposed by the Planning Commission (see Condition of Approval No. 14) reduce any privacy impacts so that they do not create an unreasonable infringement of privacy to the neighbors.

  3. The Hughes’ concern is privacy impacts created by the addition. In their opinion the proposed addition will allow the applicant to clearly view into their rear yard and into their home.

Staff Response: Inasmuch as the Hughes’ property is not abutting the project site, the privacy finding required by the Municipal Code does not specifically apply to this concern. Nevertheless, it is staff’s opinion that the conditions imposed by the Planning Commission (see Condition of Approval No. 14) reduce any privacy impacts so that they do not create an unreasonable infringement of privacy to the neighbors.

As noted above and described in the attached Planning Commission minute excerpts, the Commission voted 3-1 to approve the project. In their approval, the Planning Commission found that the applicant had taken sufficient steps to address the bulk and mass of the structure, thus determining that the proposed addition would be compatible with the neighborhood. More specifically, at the conclusion of the May 11, 2004 Planning Commission meeting, the Commission directed the applicant to minimize the height of the structure and to provide articulation of the northern façade of the structure. Accordingly, the applicant revised the proposal to meet the Planning Commission’s direction, in which the Commission felt that revised project is compatible with the neighborhood. Furthermore, the Commission found that the conditions imposed on the project, which required specific windows to either be removed, be clerestory windows, or consist of translucent glass, reduced the privacy impacts so that they do not create an unreasonable infringement of privacy to the neighbors.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Correspondence Received:

Other than the correspondence received prior to the Planning Commission public hearings (attached), staff did not receive any correspondence regarding this item.

FISCAL IMPACT

The appellants have paid $940.00 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, of the appeal fees ($470.00) 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 Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00041); 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
  • Planning Commission Staff Reports, dated May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004
  • Planning Commission Minute Excerpts, dated May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004
  • P.C. Resolution No. 2004-27
  • Project Plans
  • Correspondence Received

RESOLUTION NO. 2004-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING AN APPEAL, THEREBY UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S APPROVAL OF A HEIGHT VARIATION (CASE NO. ZON2004-00041), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 27010 SPRINGCREEK.

WHEREAS, on February 4, 2004, the applicant submitted an application for a Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00041), requesting to construct a 1,555 square foot addition to an existing 2,106 square foot single-family residence located at 27010 Springcreek. On February 27, 2004, 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. The applicant submitted the additional information to the City on March 5, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, the Height Variation application was deemed complete by staff on April 8, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, on May 17, 2004, the applicant submitted a revised proposal that includes a 1,342 square foot addition to the 2,106 square foot residence; and,

WHEREAS, on May 18, 2004, the applicant granted a 90-day extension to the Permit Streamlining Act (State Government Code Section 65957), thus the action deadline for this request is August 29, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, on May 11, 2004 and June 8, 2004, the Planning Commission of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes conducted duly noticed public hearings to consider the proposed addition. At the conclusion of the June 8, 2004 public hearing, the Planning Commission approved the proposed 1,342 square foot addition to the 2,106 square foot residence, by a 3-1 vote; and;

WHEREAS, on June 22, 2004, Steve and Jenny Kikuchi, property owners of 27002 Springcreek; & William and Carol-Ann Hughes, property owners of 26951 Whitestone (the appellants), filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s action, requesting that the City Council overturn the approval of the addition. The basis of the appeal is that the proposed addition is not compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood and that the proposed addition creates a significant impact to privacy of the neighbors; 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 the Height Variation would have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, the proposed project has been found to be categorically exempt under Class 1 (Section 15301); and,

WHEREAS, after notice was issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on September 7, 2004, at which time all interested parties were given opportunities to be heard and present evidence; and,

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 1,342 square foot addition to a 2,106 square foot residence.

Section 2: The Height Variation is warranted since the applicant has complied with the early neighborhood consultation process established by the City by obtaining 77% of the property owners’ signatures within 100 feet and 26% of the signatures of the property owners within 500 feet of the subject site.

Section 3: The Height Variation is warranted since the proposed addition to the existing structure that is above sixteen feet in height does not significantly impair a view from public property (parks, major thoroughfares, bike ways, walkways or equestrian trails), which has been identified in the City’s General Plan or Coastal Specific Plan, as City-designated viewing areas. There are no public property viewing areas, as designated within the General Plan, within the vicinity of, or that look over, the subject site.

Section 4: The Height Variation is warranted since the proposed structure is not located on a ridge or promontory. The subject property is located within a fully developed single-family residential tract. The tract is not located on a ridge or a promontory, as defined in the Municipal Code.

Section 5: The Height Variation is warranted since the addition to the existing structure that is above sixteen feet in height, as defined in Section 17.02.040(B) of the Municipal Code, when considered exclusive of existing foliage, does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another parcel. If the viewing area is located in a structure, the viewing area shall be located in a portion of a structure which was constructed without a height variation permit or variance, or which would not have required a height variation or variance when originally constructed had this section, as approved by the voters on November 7, 1989, been in effect at the time the structure was constructed, unless the viewing area located in the portion of the existing structure which required a height variation permit or variance constitutes the primary living area (living room, family room, dining room or kitchen) of the residence. Based on an analysis of the area, the only view impairment caused by the proposed structure is from the viewing area of 27016 Springcreek. However, this impairment is not considered significant since it is to the periphery of the view frame and does not impair a major portion of the view.

Section 6: The Height Variation is warranted since view impairment exists from the viewing area of another parcel, but it is determined not to be significant, as described in the previous section, and the proposed addition to an existing structure that is above sixteen feet in height is designed and situated in such a manner as to reasonably minimize the impairment of a view. The applicant has minimized the plate height within the residence and has utilized a low roof pitch, thus minimizing view impairment caused by the structure.

Section 7: The Height Variation is warranted since there is no significant cumulative view impairment caused by granting the application. Cumulative view impairment shall be determined by: (a) considering the amount of view impairment that would be caused by the proposed new structure that is above sixteen feet in height or addition to a structure that is above sixteen feet in height; and (b) considering the amount of view impairment that would be caused by the construction on other parcels of similar new structures or additions that exceed sixteen feet in height. In an analysis of the area, it is found that should the four adjacent parcels build to the same height as the applicant, they would not create any additional impairment due to the topography of the area and the location of the other homes.

Section 8: The Height Variation is warranted since the proposed structure complies with all other code requirements, in as much as the proposal meets all requirements of Title 17 of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

Section 9: The Height Variation is warranted since the proposed structure is compatible with the immediate neighborhood character. 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 10: The Height Variation is warranted since the addition to the existing structure that is above sixteen feet does not result in an unreasonable infringement of the privacy of the occupants of abutting residences. A condition of approval has been added that requires the three windows on the east side of the third floor (within the closets) and the two easterly most windows on the north side of the third floor (above the toilet and in the shower) either be removed, be clerestory windows, or consist of translucent glass. With the implementation of this condition of approval, the privacy impact has been mitigated beyond a level of significance.

Section 11: 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 12: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes and other records of proceedings (dated May 11, 2004, June 8, 2004, and September 7, 2004), the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of the Height Variation to allow for the construction of a 1,342 square foot addition to a 2,106 square foot residence (Case No. ZON2004-00041); 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 7th day of September 2004.

_______________________

Peter Gardiner, Mayor

ATTEST:

____________________
Jo Purcell, 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 September 7, 2004.

_________________________________

City Clerk

Exhibit "A"

Conditions of Approval

(Resolution No. 2004-__)

Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00041)

  1. The approval of a Height Variation is to allow for the construction of a 1,342 square foot addition to the existing 2,106 square foot residence. More specifically, the addition shall consist of a 681 square foot addition on the east (rear) side of the second floor of the residence and a 661 square foot third floor along the north side of the residence.
  2. Approval of this Height Variation 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The approval shall become null and void after one (1) year 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The project shall substantially conform to the plans stamped, and dated the effective date of this approval, approved by the Planning Department.
  8. 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.
  9. In the event that a Planning requirement and a Building & Safety requirement are in conflict with one another, the stricter standard shall apply.
  10. All applicable permits required by the Building and Safety Division shall be obtained by the applicant prior to the commencement of construction.
  11. The approved project shall maintain a maximum 52% lot coverage.
  12. The proposed residence shall not exceed a height of 24.5’ as measured from the lowest grade adjacent to the building foundation/slab (100’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence (124.5’), and 20’, as measured from the highest elevation of existing building pad covered by structure (104.5’) to the highest ridgeline of the residence.
  13. 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 ROOF FRAMING/SHEETING INSPECTION.

  14. The proposed structure shall maintain the following minimum setbacks:
  15. 15’ rear (proposed: 67’)

    5’ north side (proposed: 5’)

    5’ south side (proposed: 10’)

    20’ front (proposed: 20’)

    SETBACK CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED FOR THE NORTH SIDE. 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.

  16. In order to protect the privacy of 27002 Springcreek, the three windows on the east side of the third floor (within the closets) and the two easterly most windows on the north side of the third floor (above the toilet and in the shower) shall either be removed, be clerestory windows, or consist of translucent glass. Prior to the issuance of building permits, the plans shall be modified to reflect the changes to meet this condition of approval.