FEBRUARY 1, 2005 APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S 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) FEBRUARY 1, 2005 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: FEBRUARY 1, 2005

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S 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 Commission’s 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 Commission’s 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. At the request of the City Council, the applicant has provided additional plans that demonstrate the differences between the "as approved" and "as built" driveways. 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 denial of the revision. As such, staff is recommending that the City Council deny the appeal.

BACKGROUND

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 Commission’s decision, requesting that the City Council reconsider the Planning Commission’s denial of the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and a Grading Permit (see attached appeal letter).

On December 7, 2004, the City Council conducted a public hearing to consider an appeal of the Planning Commission denial of 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 (project was originally approved as Case No. ZON2002-00368). At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Council continued the hearing and directed the applicant to work with staff and prepare visuals to accurately reveal the differences between the approved plan and the "as built" plan.

DISCUSSION

In response to the Council’s questions and discussion on December 7, 2004, the applicant submitted revised plans to staff on January 19, 2005. The revised plans indicate a revision to the lot coverage, provide an overlay of the "as approved" versus "as built" driveway, provide four cross sections of the "as approved" versus "as built" driveway, and provide an oblique view (longitudinal section) of the two versions of the driveway.

The two main issues that concerned the Planning Commission and contributed to their denial of the applicant’s current request involved the increase in lot coverage and the view of the driveway retaining walls from the adjacent property. As a result, staff’s discussion of the revised plans is focused on these two issues.

Lot Coverage

Within this tract, lot coverage consists of the structure, hardscaping, and softscaping that is not returned to the natural grade. A breakdown of the lot coverage for the subject project is as follows:

 

As Approved

As Built

Building Footprint

4,523 s.f.

4,523 s.f.

Driveway

1,547 s.f.

1,599 s.f.

Softscape and Hardscape

1,018 s.f.

931 s.f.

Total

7,088 s.f.

7,053 s.f.

Lot Coverage Percent

37.3%

37.1%

As noted above, the area of the "as built" driveway is slightly larger than the driveway originally approved by the Planning Commission. As a result, the overall lot coverage increased slightly. This is one of the reasons for Staff’s and the Planning Commission’s concern with the applicant’s request. However, in the most recently submitted plans, the applicant is proposing to convert more softscaping to natural grade. This would result in an overall reduction in lot coverage as indicated in the breakdown above. With this change (that was not presented to the Planning Commission), staff feels that the concern with increased lot coverage has been addressed.

Retaining walls

The second main concern raised by the Planning Commission in their denial is the appearance of the driveway retaining walls, as viewed from the adjoining property. More specifically, the Planning Commission felt that the "as built" driveway results in taller, more visible, retaining walls than the "as approved" driveway. At the December 7, 2005 City Council meeting, the applicant informed the Council that one of the existing "as built" walls had been reduced in height and as a result the existing wall would be no more visible than the previously approved wall. As such, the City Council directed the applicant to provide additional plans with cross sections and elevation callouts so the Council could determine whether the revised plan would cause a greater impact to the neighbors and if that impact is significant. Accordingly, the applicant provided four cross sections and an oblique view of the "as approved" and "as built" driveway.

According to the submitted cross-sections, the portion of the "as approved" driveway that is closest to the street is steeper than the "as built" driveway. Conversely, the gradient of the "as approved" driveway levels out more than the "as built" driveway as it approaches the residence.

This change in gradient results in the top of the retaining wall for the "as built" driveway ranging from two feet to nine inches higher than the "as approved" wall. Additionally, due to changes in the adjacent finished grades, the exposed portions of the "as built" retaining wall range from two inches less than to ten inches greater than the "as approved" wall. In general, the "as built" retaining wall would be slightly higher than the originally approved wall and the "as built" wall would result in slightly more exposed wall, as seen from the neighbors property. Based on this analysis, it is staff’s opinion that the submitted plans support the Planning Commission’s action and that there is insufficient new evidence to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of the request.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Correspondence Received:

Other than the correspondence received prior to the December 7, 2004 City Council public hearing (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 staff’s recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:

  1. Uphold the appeal, thereby overturning the Planning Commission’s 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:

RESOLUTION NO. 2005-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING AN APPEAL, THEREBY UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S 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 a duly noticed public hearing 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 Commission’s 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, on January 19, 2005, the applicant submitted revised plans to the City that withdrew the request to allow the additional grading in the rear yard of the residence and the increase in lot coverage. As such, the revised request is for the driveway to remain in the "as built" location only; and,

WHEREAS, after notice was issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held duly noticed public hearings on December 7, 2004 and February 1, 2005, at which times 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. 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. More specifically, the "as built" driveway will result in the top of the retaining wall being two feet higher than the "as approved" wall. Therefore, the City Council hereby finds that the "as approved" retaining wall is more conducive to the size and shape of the lot. As such, the lot is not of sufficient size and shape to accommodate the proposed revision.

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 top of the "as built" retaining wall will be two feet higher than the "as approved" retaining wall. The City Council herby finds that this two-foot increase will have a significant visual affect on the neighboring property (2938 Vista Del Mar).

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 in the top of the "as built" retaining wall being two-feet higher than the "as approved" retaining wall, which would create a significant adverse visual impact to the adjoining parcel.

Section 5: The grading and related construction does significantly adversely affect the visual relationships with neighboring properties. The top of the "as built" retaining wall will be two feet higher than the "as approved" retaining wall. The City Council herby finds that this two-foot increase will have a significant adverse visual affect on the neighboring property (2938 Vista Del Mar).

Section 6: The grading does not conform to the City’s standards for grading on slopes inasmuch as the northeast (front) of the property exceeds a 35% gradient and the deviation to this standard is not warranted since:

    1. As discussed in Section 5 above and in the Staff reports that were prepared for the Planning Commission and the City Council, which are incorporated herein by this reference, one of the required criteria (c) of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040 has not been satisfied because the proposed revision will create significant adverse visual impacts to the neighboring property; and,
    2. The approval is not consistent with the purpose of Municipal Code Section No. 17.76.040, because the resulting retaining walls will cause a significant adverse aesthetic impact to the neighboring properties; and,

Section 7: 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 8: 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, December 7, 2004, and February 1, 2005), the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies an appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s 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 1st day of February 2005.

______________________________

Mayor

ATTEST:

____________________
City Clerk

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

I, __________________, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2005-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on February 1, 2005.

_________________________________

City Clerk