Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

DECEMBER 7, 2004 APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF A REVISION TO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 23 AND A GRADING PERMIT (case no. zon2004-00215), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2930 VISTA DEL MAR. (Applicant: Obelisk Architects; Property Owner: Mr. & Mrs. Modisette; Appellants: Obelisk Architects) DECEMBER 7, 2004 APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF A REVISION TO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 23 AND A GRADING PERMIT (case no. zon2004-00215), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2930 VISTA DEL MAR. (Applicant: Obelisk Architects; Property Owner: Mr. & Mrs. Modisette; Appellants: Obelisk Architects)

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: DECEMBER 7, 2004

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF A REVISION TO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 23 AND A GRADING PERMIT (case no. zon2004-00215), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2930 VISTA DEL MAR. (Applicant: Obelisk Architects; Property Owner: Mr. & Mrs. Modisette; Appellants: Obelisk Architects)

Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2004-__, denying the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commissionís denial of a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00215).

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This item is being brought before the City Council for consideration due to an appeal, which has been filed by the applicant, of the Planning Commissionís decision to deny, with prejudice, a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00215). The proposed revision is to allow the vehicular driveway to remain in its current location, which is not the location originally approved by the Planning Commission, in 2003, as part of the original approval. In addition, the proposed revision is to provide a pad area to the rear of the residence to create a useable rear yard for the property. 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 Commissionís denial of the revision. As such, staff is recommending that the City Council deny the appeal.

BACKGROUND

On July 12, 1977, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 77-13, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 23. This Conditional Use Permit allowed the Residential Planned Development, which set forth development standards for the Seacliff Hills community.

On April 8, 2003, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2003-12, thereby approving a Revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00368) for the subject property. This approval allows the construction of a 7,204 square foot single-family residential dwelling unit, 561 cubic yards of grading, and a 7% deviation in the maximum allowable lot coverage (allowable is 30%).

On April 27, 2004, the applicant submitted an application requesting to revise the driveway and create a pad in the rear yard of the approved project. This application was deemed complete by staff on June 15, 2004. After the application was deemed complete, staff was notified by the neighbors that the driveway had already been constructed in the proposed location. As a result, staff issued a stop work order for all construction relating to the driveway and rear yard grading.

On August 10, 2004, after conducting a duly noticed public hearing, the Planning Commission denied, with prejudice, a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00215). Denial of the application meant that the applicant would have to re-construct the driveway in its originally approved location. In accordance with the Municipal Code requirements, a Notice of Decision for the denial was sent to all interested parties.

On August 24, 2004, the appellants filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commissionís decision, requesting that the City Council reconsider the Planning Commissionís denial of the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (see attached appeal letter).

On November 18, 2004, notice of the City Council public hearing was sent to all property owners within 500í of the subject site. Additionally, the notice was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on November 20, 2004.

SITE & PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The subject property is an 18,965 square foot parcel within the single-family residential (RS-1) zone. The currently approved residence, which is under construction, is a 7,204 square foot split-level single-family dwelling unit on the subject property. As part of the approval for this residence, the Planning Commission approved 561 cubic yards of grading, and a 7% deviation in the maximum allowable lot coverage (allowable is 30%).

The applicantís request is to revise the original approval to allow an additional 200 cubic yards of grading (from 561 cubic yards to 761 cubic yards) and increase the lot coverage by 13% (from 37% to 50%). The proposed revision is to allow the vehicular driveway to remain in its current location, which is not the location originally approved by the Planning Commission, in 2003, as part of the original approval. In addition, the proposed revision is to provide a pad area to the rear of the residence to create a useable rear yard for the property.

DISCUSSION

A detailed background, site description, code consideration, and staff analysis of the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and Grading Permit application is contained in the attached Planning Commission staff report, dated August 10, 2004. In addition, the minute excerpts from the Planning Commissionís August 10, 2004 meeting are attached. Therefore, the body of this "Discussion" section will focus on the issues raised at the Planning Commission public hearings.

During the August 10, 2004 public hearing, three people spoke on the project (one in favor and two against). The two people who spoke against the project are adjacent property owners. During the public hearing, the applicant noted that the driveway was redesigned in its current location, as opposed to its approved location, to better accommodate vehicle ingress/egress. The applicant also noted that the rear yard terracing was being proposed to allow some useable rear yard area and to accommodate landscaping to soften the appearance of the rear yard retaining walls. Conversely, the project opponents stated that they were opposed to the changes since they would result in further deviations in lot coverage and high retaining walls adjacent to the driveway. It is the opponentsí opinion that these deviations, particularly the driveway in its current location, will have a detrimental impact to their properties. More specifically, the neighbors expressed a concern about the appearance of the large retaining walls necessary to support the driveway, as seen from the adjoining property (2938 Vista Del Mar).

In the appeal letter (attached), the applicant states that the Planning Commission was confused about the issues that were before them. More specifically, it is the applicantís opinion that the Planning Commission combined the alteration in the driveway footprint and the increase in lot coverage as one topic, when they are two distinct issues. According to the applicant, the revised driveway does not alter the lot coverage of the site. Instead, the increase in lot coverage is a result of the proposed grading of the rear yard of the property. As such, the applicant appealed the decision to the City Council for consideration.

As previously noted, the Planning Commission denied, with prejudice, the request by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Gerstner dissenting. Based on a review of the Planning Commissionís minute excerpts (attached), the Commission deliberated on the driveway and the rear yard grading separately. In their deliberations on the driveway, the Commission expressed concerns about the aesthetic impacts of the driveway retaining wall on the neighbors. With respect to the rear yard grading, it was the opinion of the Planning Commission that the proposed increase in lot coverage is not warranted, thus the additional grading should not be permitted. As a result of the Planning Commissionís denial of the applicantís request, the applicant must remove the driveway and related retaining walls and construct the driveway in the location originally approved by the Planning Commission in 2003. The Planning Commission noted that denial of the applicantís revision request would not deny the applicant the ability to build on their property, since they have an approved residence, which includes an approved driveway that is currently under construction.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Correspondence Received:

Other than the correspondence received prior to the Planning Commission public hearings (attached), staff has not received any correspondence regarding this item since the appeal was filed.

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 appellant, thus the cost of processing the appeals will be borne by the City.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to staffís recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Councilís consideration:

  1. Uphold the appeal, thereby overturning the Planning Commissionís denial of a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00215); 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 August 10, 2004 and April 8, 2003
  • Planning Commission Minute Excerpts, dated August 10, 2004 and April 8, 2003
  • P.C. Resolution No. 2004-32
  • Project Plans
  • Seacliff Hills Development Guidelines

  • 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 COMMISSIONíS DENIAL, WITH PREJUDICE, OF A REVISION TO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 23 AND GRADING PERMIT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00215), FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2930 VISTA DEL MAR.

WHEREAS, on July 12, 1977, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 77-13, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 23. This Conditional Use Permit allowed the Residential Planned Development, which set forth the development standards for the Seacliff Hills community; and,

WHEREAS, on April 8, 2003, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2003-12, thereby approving a Revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00368) for the subject property. This approval allows the construction of a 7,204 square foot single-family residential dwelling unit, 561 cubic yards of grading, and a 7% deviation in the maximum allowable lot coverage (allowable is 30%); and,

WHEREAS, on April 27, 2004, the applicant submitted an application for a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and Grading Permit, requesting to increase the grading and increase the lot coverage for the subject property. On April 30, 2004, staff completed the initial review of the proposed project and deemed the application incomplete due to missing information on the applications and plans. The applicant submitted the additional information to the City on May 27, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, the Revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit application was deemed complete by staff on June 15, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, after the application was deemed complete, owners of neighboring properties advised the City that the applicant had commenced construction of the driveway in accordance with the proposed plans, which had not yet been approved by the Planning Commission; accordingly, Staff issued a stop work order so that the construction of the unapproved driveway could not continue; and,

WHEREAS, on August 10, 2004, the Planning Commission of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes conducted duly noticed public hearings to consider the proposed revision. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Planning Commission denied, with prejudice, the request to revise the original approval to allow an additional 200 cubic yards of grading (from 561 cubic yards to 761 cubic yards) and to increase the lot coverage by 13% (from 37% to 50%) to accommodate the proposed revisions to the driveway and the rear yard of the subject property; and;

WHEREAS, on August 24, 2004, the applicant (Obelisk Architects), filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commissionís action, requesting that the City Council overturn the denial of the revision. The basis of the appeal is to have the City Council reconsider allowing the driveway in the "as built" location and to allow the additional grading in the rear yard of the residence; 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 December 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: The revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 is not warranted because the site is not adequate in size and shape to accommodate the proposed revision to the driveway and to the rear yard. The City Council hereby finds that the revised driveway, along with the increased height of the associated retaining wall, will have an adverse impact upon adjacent properties and will not be appropriately integrated with development on adjacent land and within the neighborhood. Furthermore, the increase in lot coverage that will be caused by the proposed alteration to the rear yard also will have a negative aesthetic impact upon the surrounding area. Thus, the City Council hereby finds that the lot is not of sufficient size and shape to accommodate the proposed revisions.

Section 2: The revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 is not warranted since the proposed revisions will cause a significant adverse effect on adjacent properties or the permitted use thereof. The three proposed retaining walls in the rear yard, in lieu of one, and the requested 7í-6" high combination wall along the driveway, in lieu of a 2í-5" high retaining wall, each would cause a negative aesthetic impact to the surrounding properties. Furthermore, allowing the proposed increase of lot coverage to 50% would be contrary to the intent of the development standards of this subdivision, which is to create properties that are developed in a manner to blend into the natural topography of the area.

Section 3: The revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 is not warranted, since the proposed use is contrary to the General Plan. It is the goal of the General Plan of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes to preserve and enhance the community's quality living environment; to enhance the visual character and physical quality of existing neighborhoods; and to encourage the development of housing in a manner that adequately serves the needs of all present and future residents of the community. The City Council hereby finds that the proposed revision will create a negative aesthetic impact to the neighboring properties; accordingly, the proposed revision will be contrary to this goal of the General Plan.

Section 4: The revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 is not warranted since the proposed use does not comply with all applicable requirements of the Urban Appearance Overlay Control District (OC-3), which has eight performance criteria for any development within this overlay district. After a review of the performance criteria, as discussed in the Staff report that was prepared for this appeal, the City Council hereby finds that the requested revision to the Conditional Use Permit does not meet all of the criteria. Specifically, the proposed revision will result geometrically terraced building sites that are inconsistent with the pre-existing natural landforms, which would create a significant adverse visual impact.

Section 5: The grading and related construction does significantly adversely affect the visual relationships with neighboring properties. The City Council hereby finds hat the three proposed retaining walls in the rear yard and the proposed 7í-6" high combination wall along the driveway each will cause a negative aesthetic impact to the surrounding properties.

Section 6: The nature of the proposed grading does not minimize disturbances to the natural contours, and the finished contours will not be reasonably natural. The proposed three retaining walls will give the rear yard a terraced appearance, which does not minimize the disturbance to the natural contours of the lot.

Section 7: The grading does not take 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. The construction of three retaining walls in the rear yard will give the property a terraced appearance. Furthermore, the use of multiple retaining walls does not take into account the preservation of the natural topography of the lot and does not utilize land sculpting to blend the manufactured slopes into the natural topography of the lot.

Section 8: The grading does not conform to the Cityís standards for grading on slopes and the heights of retaining walls. The proposal includes grading over slopes greater than a 35% gradient, includes three downslope retaining walls (only one is permitted), and includes a 7í-6" tall retaining wall adjacent to the driveway (5í is maximum allowable height). Furthermore, deviations to these standards are not warranted since:

    1. As discussed in Section 4 above and in the Staff reports that were prepared for the Planning Commission and the City Council, which are incorporated herein by this reference, two of the required criteria [(c) and (d)] of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040 have not been satisfied because the proposed revision will result in geometrically terraced building sites that will alter, and are inconsistent with, the pre-existing natural landforms, which would create significant adverse visual impacts; and,
    2. The approval is not consistent with the purpose of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040, because the grading and resulting retaining walls will cause a significant adverse aesthetic impact to the neighboring properties; and,
    3. Departure from the standards will constitute a special privilege with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity, because the other homes on Vista Del Mar were constructed without being granted deviations for the height and number of retaining walls.

Section 9: 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 10: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes and other records of proceedings (dated August 10, 2004 and December 7, 2004), the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies an appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commissionís denial, with prejudice, of a revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit, with prejudice, (Case No. ZON2004-00215).

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 7th day of December 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 December 7, 2004.

_________________________________

City Clerk