APRIL 19, 2005 CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject Property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive Lot 20, Tract 31617 (Thomas Guide Page 822, J-3). APRIL 19, 2005 CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject Property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive Lot 20, Tract 31617 (Thomas Guide Page 822, J-3).

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: APRIL 19, 2005

SUBJECT: CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject Property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive Lot 20, Tract 31617 (Thomas Guide Page 822, J-3).

Staff Coordinator: Eduardo Schonborn, aicp, Associate Planner

This item was scheduled to be heard by the City Council on March 15, 2005. However, at the March 15th meeting, the City Council agreed to continue the public hearing at the request of the applicant’s neighbor, to the April 19, 2005 meeting so that all Council members could be present to consider the item.

The Staff Report for the item was hand-delivered to each Council member on March 1, 2005, in advance of the March 15, 2005 public hearing date. Shortly after the Staff Report was made available, but before the scheduled March 15th public hearing, a letter was submitted from the applicant’s attorney which was responded to by the City Attorney. Further, on April 11, 2005, a letter was submitted from the neighboring property owners, indicating their position on the item. Attached are the applicant’s attorney’s letter (dated as received on March 2, 2005); the City Attorney’s response (dated March 3, 2005); the neighboring property owners’ letter to the City Council (dated as received on April 11, 2005); followed by the March 15, 2005 Staff Report in its entirety.

Attachments:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: MARCH 15, 2005

SUBJECT: CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject Property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive Lot 20, Tract 31617 (Thomas Guide Page 822, J-3).

Staff Coordinator: Eduardo Schonborn, aicp, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2005-__, approving Amendment No. 2 to Tract 31617 and a revision to Height Variation No. 884.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Case No. ZON2004-00409 includes 1) a revision to an approved Height Variation that allowed the construction of a new single-family residence, and 2) an amendment to Tract 31617 that contains specific conditions regarding the minimum setbacks required for development on certain lots within the tract. This item is before the City Council because the project includes an amendment to a Tract Map that was approved by the City Council in 1979. The amendment is a result of constructing a portion of a new two-story residence in a location that encroaches into a required setback that was established by the Tract’s conditions of approval. This amendment was reviewed by the Planning Commission, which has recommended that the City Council conditionally approve Case No. ZON2004-00409 provided that the balcony be modified to ensure compliance with the required setback.

BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION

The subject property is located within Tract 31617, which was conditionally approved on April 5, 1977 by the City. The tract contains development standards for certain properties that require a minimum distance from a trail easement that traverses certain properties. For this property, the minimum setback from the trail easement line is 15-feet. Further, the tract established a "building/grading restriction" line (BGR line) for certain properties in the tract, which restricts development of structures and grading past the BGR line.

Although a more detailed historical account can be found in the attached Staff Report to the Planning Commission, dated October 26, 2004, since many activities have transpired to this point, Staff has provided an historic breakdown of the events leading to the item being before the City Council:

On October 26, 2004, the Planning Commission considered Case No. ZON2004-00409 for a Height Variation revision and Tract amendment, to 1) acknowledge the location of the new residence approved under Height Variation No. 884; 2) allow encroachments into the required 15-foot rear setback; and, 3) allow encroachments beyond the established Tract BGR line. At the October 26th meeting, the Planning Commission agreed to continue the item to the November 23, 2004 meeting to allow the Commissioners and Staff time to conduct a site visit to the adjacent property at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive (owned by Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth). Further, the Commission requested that Staff include a formal view analysis in the Staff Report regarding the potential impact resulting from the structure’s current location upon the view from the Butterworth’s viewing area. Lastly, the Planning Commission requested that the owner of the subject property (Mr. Ahamed) obtain and submit information regarding the impacts to the existing residence if the balcony were to be removed.

On November 23, 2004, the Commission determined that the balcony results in an unreasonable privacy infringement upon the adjacent residence to the east (owned by Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth). To address the privacy infringement, the Commission has recommended City Council approval with a condition requiring removal of that portion of the balcony that encroaches into the required 15-foot setback so that all portions of the balcony would maintain the required 15-foot setback, and a condition requiring that two of the second story windows along the eastern façade contain translucent glass. Additionally, the Commission has recommended City Council approval of Amendment No. 2 to Tract 31617 and a revision to Height Variation No. 884. Amendment No. 2 allows two balcony support columns to encroach beyond the BGR line, and allows grading on a slope greater than 10-percent on Lot 20 (the subject property). The revision to Height Variation No. 884 acknowledges the new location of the two-story residence, and requires that the second story balcony be reduced to ensure compliance with the Tract setback requirement.

To provide the Council with additional background and analysis, Staff has attached the Staff Reports to the Planning Commission, dated October 26, 2004 and November 23, 2004, and has attached excerpts of the approved minutes of the October 26, 2004 and November 23, 2004 meetings.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The subject property contains a dedicated trail easement that serves as the trailhead for the McBride Trail. This dedicated trail easement resulted from a condition of approval of Tract 31617. The trail easement extends from Ocean Terrace Drive at the front property line, down the hill along the side property line, then along the southern rear property line that is adjacent to the Upper Filiorum property. Although this is a recorded easement, the physical path created by trail users has not been contained within the established easement. When construction of the residence commenced, trail users realigned the physical path to its current location, which follows a portion of the established easement from Ocean Terrace Drive at the front property line and down the hill along the side property line, but crosses the rear of the property at the southwest corner and onto the Upper Filiorum property that is owned by York Long Point Associates (YLPA). The physical trail then goes uphill on the Upper Filiorum property adjacent to the subject property to access and continue within the McBride Trail easement along the rear of the Ocean Terrace Drive properties.

Since YLPA was concerned with the grading and trail that encroached upon the Upper Filiorum property, Mr. Ahamed tried to resolve the issue directly with YLPA, including trying to negotiate a purchase agreement for a portion of the Upper Filiorum property where the grading and trail have encroached. Ultimately, there was no resolution between the two private parties to address the issue.

Since the trail encroaches onto the adjacent southerly property owned by YLPA, and since the City is actively pursuing acquisition of the Upper Filiorum property (which would remain as open space and would not be developed) Staff and the City Attorney drafted an agreement stipulating courses of action that must be done to address the grading and trail issues on the Upper Filiorum property. The potential acquisition would affect and determine how the trail and grading issues are ultimately addressed. If the City is successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property within two years of the approval of this application, the trail can remain in the same general location with some necessary modifications to address erosion control issues and screening from Mr. Ahamed’s residence. However, if the acquisition does not occur within two years of the approval of this application, the trail will have to be relocated onto Mr. Ahamed’s property. Although the agreement is between Mr. Ahamed and the City, it affords Mr. Ahamed (and YLPA) the opportunity to continue to negotiate an agreement between the two parties without the City. Nonetheless, if negotiations continue to fail and no agreement between Mr. Ahamed and YLPA can be reached, then other options contained within the agreement would be implemented to address the encroachment of the trail and grading onto the YLPA property. These options include purchasing an easement for the City, relocating the trail, and removal of the illegal grading. As such, the agreement, as written by the City Attorney, can adequately address the issues of the grading and trail by providing options given the uncertainty of if and when the City will acquire the Upper Filiorum property. Therefore, a condition of approval is included to require Mr. Ahamed to enter into a private agreement with the City to address the trail issue.

Lastly, as of the preparation of this Staff Report, Staff received one correspondence in response to the Notice. The Butterworths, owners of adjacent property to the east at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, submitted a letter supporting the Planning Commission’s recommendation and urges the City Council to approve Case No. ZON2004-00409 per the recommendations of the Planning Commission.

FISCAL IMPACT

None

ALTERNATIVES

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

  1. Identify any issues of concern and continue the request to a future meeting to allow Staff and/or the applicant to provide additional information; or,

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 APPROVING CASE NO. ZON2004-00409, FOR AMENDMENT NO. 2 TO TRACT 31617, ALLOWING LOT 20 TO HAVE TWO BALCONY SUPPORT COLUMNS THAT MEASURE GREATER THAN 30-INCHES IN HEIGHT TO ENCROACH BEYOND THE BGR LINE, AND GRADING ON A SLOPE GREATER THAN 10-PERCENT, AND A REVISION TO HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 884 TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE NEW LOCATION OF THE TWO-STORY RESIDENCE AND REQUIRE THE REMOVAL OF THE SECOND STORY BALCONY TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE TRACT SETBACK REQUIREMENT, FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 6270 OCEAN TERRACE DRIVE (LOT 20/TRACT 31617).

WHEREAS, on April 5, 1977, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 77-22, thereby approving Tract No. 31617 and establishing a BGR line in the rear yards of the eighty (80) single-family residential lots. The purpose of the BGR line was for "grading and visual" purposes to articulate the view of the development as seen from below and to prevent grading and construction from encroaching into the slope and the trail easement located at the rear of the properties; and,

WHEREAS, on October 5, 1993, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 93-86, Amendment No. 1 to Tract No. 31617 to allow at-grade accessory uses outside the BGR line; and,

WHEREAS, on August 24, 1999, the Planning Commission approved Height Variation No. 884, allowing the construction of a new two-story, single-family residence with attached garage measuring a total of 6,696 square feet, on a vacant parcel located at the end of the Ocean Terrace Drive cul-de-sac. The proposed height was 22’-3" as measured from the highest pre-construction (existing) pad elevation on the lot (rear) to be covered by the structure to the ridge line of the structure, and 25-feet high as measured from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade to the ridge line of the structure for property located at 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive (Tract 31617/Lot 20); and,

WHEREAS, consistent with the Tract’s requirement for development of the subject property, the residence was conditioned to maintain a 15-foot setback from the 15-foot wide trail easement along the south rear property line; and,

WHEREAS, on October 20, 1999, the City issued a building permit for construction of the new residence; and,

WHEREAS, as the site was prepared for construction of the new residence and the foundation was being prepared, the applicant’s Registered Engineer of record, submitted certified documentation attesting that he had measured features of the new residence and certified that the building location was consistent with the approved plans. Further evidence, in the form of an inspection report from the Engineer’s firm conducted on December 21, 1999, confirmed that "set backs are per approved plans and construction staging by this firm". Since the documentation prepared and certified by the applicant’s Engineer stated that the improvements to this property were per the approved plans bearing the stamp of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the Building and Safety Division conducted the required inspections related to plumbing, mechanical, electrical and structural throughout calendar year 2000; and,

WHEREAS, on January 27, 2000, Grading Permit No. 2154 was approved by the Planning Commission during construction of the residence for a total of 1,616 cubic yards of remedial grading under the building footprint, which included 856 cubic yards of removal, 760 cubic yards of re-compaction and 96 cubic yards of export; and,

WHEREAS, during final inspection, it was noticed that the building pad was not in compliance with the approved plans. It was then requested that the owner, Sal Ahamed, prepare and submit an as-built plan; and,

WHEREAS, on March 2, 2001, Mr. Ahamed submitted an as-built plan prepared by his Engineer, and it was discovered that the extent of grading went beyond the approved property onto an adjacent property that was not covered under the approval. It was also discovered that the house encroached into the setback from the trail easement and a rear balcony extended beyond the tract’s building/grading restriction (BGR) line; and,

WHEREAS, it was also determined that the existing trail (i.e., McBride trail) was not located within the established trail easement on the subject property, rather it traversed the adjacent, separately owned, Upper Filiorum property; and,

WHEREAS, the subject property owner submitted the necessary applications and fees on July 28, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, the City deemed the applications complete on August 12, 2004; 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 Regulation, 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 Case No. ZON2004-00409 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) since the project does not intensify the use of the lot since the property is currently developed with a single-family residence; and,

WHEREAS, on September 14, 2004, after notice issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Planning Commission continued the item to October 26, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, on October 26, 2004, the Planning Commission continued the item to the November 23, 2004; and,

WHEREAS, on November 23, 2004, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence; and,

WHEREAS, on November 23, 2004, the Planning Commission found that since the balcony encroaches into the required setback, the location results in an unreasonable privacy infringement upon the residence at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, that the two southernmost windows along the eastern façade of the second story contain translucent material, and that the balcony support columns and grading beyond the BGR line were appropriate. As such, conditions were incorporated to remove that portion of the balcony that encroaches into the required 15-foot setback and require that all portions of the balcony maintain the required 15-foot setback, and require the two most southerly windows along the eastern façade of the second floor to be modified to contain translucent glazing; and,

WHEREAS, on December 14, 2004, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2004-51 and 2004-52, recommending that the City Council approved Case No. ZON2004-00409 for a revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617, provided that the balcony be modified to ensure compliance with the required setback from the trail easement, provided that the two southernmost windows along the eastern façade of the second story contain translucent material, and provided the applicant enter into an agreement with the City; 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 March 15, 2005, 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: Although the residence was constructed 15-feet farther towards the rear, the residential structure continues to be compatible with the immediate neighborhood. Further, the new location of the residential structure does not result in significant view impairment from the viewing area of another parcel.

Section 2: Since the balcony and residence encroach into the required setback, the location results in an unreasonable privacy infringement upon the residence at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive. As such, a condition has been incorporated to remove that portion of the balcony that encroaches into the required 15-foot setback and require that all portions of the balcony maintain the required 15-foot setback. A condition has also been incorporated to require the two most southerly windows along the eastern façade of the second floor to be modified to contain translucent glazing.

Section 3: The Tract Amendment request will not alter any right, title or interest in real property reflected on the recorded map. The amendment to the tract would be specific to Lot 20 only, and would allow the construction and encroachment of two balcony corners and grading to remain outside the BGR line.

Section 4: The proposed Tract Amendment to allow the two balcony support columns and related corners of the balcony, and the grading on the slope greater than 10-percent, will not create a geotechnical hazard to the property or to adjacent property as determined by the City’s Geotechnical Consultant, when the balcony support columns are underpinned and the fill is compacted, pursuant to condition no. 3 in the attached Exhibit "A".

Section 5: If the City is successful in acquiring and obtaining title to the adjacent Upper Filiorum property within two years of this approval, then there are no concerns with the trail. However, if the City does not acquire and obtain title to the Upper Filiorum property within two years, the trail will be relocated to be within the easement on the applicant’s property and will be graded down so that the structure is not readily visible from the trail. An Agreement has been drafted to address the responsibilities of the property owner and the City, depending on the outcome of the acquisition of the Upper Filiorum property. If the City is successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property, the trail can remain in its existing general location with some necessary modifications to address erosion control issues and screening from Mr. Ahamed’s residence. However, if the acquisition does not occur, the trail will have to be relocated onto Mr. Ahamed’s property, which, would be relocated entirely within a relocated easement that traverses Mr. Ahamed’s property. As such, the Draft Agreement, as written by the City Attorney, adequately addresses the issues of the grading and trail at this time since it is not certain when and if the City will be successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property.

Section 6: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes and other records of these proceedings, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby approves Case No. ZON2004-00409, thereby allowing two balcony support columns that measure greater than 30-inches in height to encroach beyond the BGR line and grading on slope greater than 10-percent on Lot 20, and approve a revision to Height Variation No. 884 to acknowledge the new location of the two-story residence and require the removal of the second story balcony to ensure compliance with the Tract setback requirement, 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.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 15th day of March 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 March 15, 2005.

_________________________________

City Clerk

 

Exhibit "A"

Conditions of Approval

Case No. ZON2004-00409

  1. Unless specified below, all conditions of approval associated with Tract No. 31617 (illustrated in Resolution No. 77-22) and associated with Amendment No. 1 to Tract No. 31617 (illustrated in Resolution No. 93-86) shall remain in full force and effect.
  2. Lot 20 is allowed to maintain the following improvements beyond the BGR line:
    1. Two balcony support columns located at the southwest corner of the balcony, that measure greater than 30-inches in height.
    2. Grading on a slope at the southwest corner of the pad that was greater than 10-percent.

    3. The two balcony support columns beyond the BGR line shall be underpinned and the fill compacted. All permits, reports, or other documentation to conduct the underpinning and compaction shall be obtained and/or submitted prior to commencing the work. Further, said work shall commence within 180 days from the date of this approval.

  3. If the City is not successful in acquiring and obtaining title to the Upper Filiorum property within two years of this approval, the property owner shall plant and maintain foliage along the upslope side of the trail to screen the structure and to provide the occupants of the structure with privacy, to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.
  4. All conditions of approval associated with Height Variation No. 884 and Grading Permit No. 2154 shall remain in full force and effect, unless modified herein.
  5. All conditions associated with Tract No. 31617 shall remain in full force and effect.
  6. The balcony shall be removed or modified such that the balcony maintains a minimum 15-foot setback from the trail easement line, which is equivalent to a 30-foot setback from the rear (south) property line, as such line existed at the time the Planning Commission approved Height Variation No. 884 (August 24, 1999), within 180 days of this approval.
  7. The two most southerly windows along the eastern façade of the second floor shall be modified to contain frosted/translucent glazing within 90 days of approval, subject to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.
  8. Approval of this Revision shall be contingent upon the owner entering into an agreement with the City that sets forth alternate solutions for relocation of the trail easement and trail, depending on whether the City is successful in acquiring the adjacent Upper Filiorum property within two years of this approval.

TO: CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: OCTOBER 26, 2004

SUBJECT:CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 \9REVISION TO HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 884, AND TRACT MAP NO. 31617 AMENDMENT NO. 2)

PROJECT ADDRESS: 6270 OCEAN TERRACE DRIVE - (THOMAS GUIDE PAGE 822, J-3)

APPLICANT:SAL AHAMED
6270 OCEAN TERRACE DRIVE
RANCHO PV, CA 90275

PHONE: (310) 541-3139

LANDOWNER:SAME

PHONE:SAME

THOMAS GUIDE PAGE 822, COORDINATE: J-3

STAFF COORDINATOR: EDUARDO SCHONBORN, AICP, ASSOCIATE PLANNER

REQUESTED ACTION: ALLOW A REDUCTION IN THE REQUIRED TRACT SETBACK FROM 15-FEET TO 5-FEET BETWEEN THE EXISTING RESIDENCE AND THE TRAIL EASEMENT ALONG THE REAR, THEREBY ALLOWING THE RESIDENCE TO REMAIN IN ITS CURRENT LOCATION. IN ADDITION, ALLOW TWO BALCONY SUPPORT COLUMNS THAT ARE GREATER THAN 30-INCHES IN HEIGHT TO ENCROACH OUTSIDE THE ESTABLISHED BGR (BUILDING/GRADING RESTRICTION) LINE.

RECOMMENDATION: ADOPT P.C. RESOLUTION NO. 2004-__, CONDITIONALLY APPROVING CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 FOR A REVISION TO HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 884; AND ADOPT P.C. RESOLUTION NO. 2004.__, RECOMMENDING THAT THE CITY COUNCIL CONDITIONALLY APPROVE AMENDMENT NO. 2 OF TRACT 31617.

REFERENCES:

ZONING: RS-2

LAND USE: SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE

CODE SECTIONS: 17.02, 17.76.040

GENERAL PLAN: RESIDENTIAL 1-2 DU/ACRE

TRAILS PLAN: McBRIDE TRAIL

SPECIFIC PLAN: N/A

CEQA STATUS: EXEMPT (CLASS 1)

ACTION DEADLINE: JANUARY 9, 2005

P.C. MEMBERS

WITHIN 500’ RADIUS: NONE

BACKGROUND

On August 24, 1999, the Planning Commission approved Height Variation No. 884, allowing the construction of a new two-story, single-family residence with attached garage measuring a total of 6,696 square feet, on a vacant parcel located at the end of the Ocean Terrace Drive cul-de-sac. The proposed height was 22’-3" as measured from the highest pre-construction (existing) pad elevation on the lot (rear) to be covered by the structure to the ridge line of the structure, and 25-feet high as measured from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade to the ridge line of the structure.

On January 27, 2000, Grading Permit No. 2154 was approved by the Planning Commission during construction of the residence, allowing a total of 1,616 cubic yards of remedial grading under the building footprint, which included 856 cubic yards of removal, 760 cubic yards of re-compaction and 96 cubic yards of export. This remedial grading became necessary after a considerable amount of uncompacted fill was discovered on the site during construction of the project.

The residence is located within a residential tract that was approved on April 5, 1977 by the City with specific conditions of approval. Consistent with the Tract’s requirement for development of the subject property, the residence was conditioned to maintain a 15-foot setback from the 15-foot wide trail easement along the south rear property line.

On October 20, 1999, the City issued a building permit for construction of the new residence. As the site was prepared for construction of the new residence and the foundation was being prepared, the applicant’s Registered Engineer of record, submitted certified documentation (Exhibit A) attesting that he had measured features of the new residence and certified that the building location was consistent with the approved plans. Further evidence, in the form of an inspection report from the Engineer’s firm (Exhibit B) conducted on December 21, 1999, confirmed that "set backs are per approved plans and construction staging by this firm". Since the documentation prepared and certified by the applicant’s Engineer stated that the improvements to this property were per the approved plans bearing the stamp of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the Building and Safety Division conducted the required inspections related to plumbing, mechanical, electrical and structural throughout calendar year 2000.

During final inspection, it was noticed that the graded building pad location was not in compliance with the approved plans. It was then requested that the owner, Sal Ahamed, prepare and submit an as-built plan. On March 2, 2001, Mr. Ahamed submitted an as-built plan prepared by his Engineer, and it was discovered that the extent of grading went beyond the approved property onto an adjacent property that was not covered under the approval. It was also discovered that the house encroached into the setback from the trail easement and a rear deck extended past the tract’s "building/grading restriction" (BGR) line (this is discussed later in this report). Ultimately, the house was completed but a final certificate of occupancy was not issued. A temporary certificate of occupancy was issued with the provision that a final not be issued until the issues, including the incorrect residence location, are addressed.

The abutting property to the south that the applicant’s grading mistakenly encroached upon is referred to as the Upper Filiorum property and is owned by York Long Point Associates (YLPA). Once confirmed by Staff, YLPA was notified of the grading that had inadvertently been conducted on the YLPA property during construction. While researching the grading issue, it was also determined that the existing trail (i.e., McBride trail) was not located within the established trail easement on the applicant’s subject property, rather it traversed the Upper Filiorum property near the common property line.

Along the north, west and south property lines (within a restricted use area), the subject parcel contains a dedicated trail easement that serves as the trailhead for the McBride Trail (Exhibit C). The trail easement extends from the terminus of Ocean Terrace Drive at the front, down the hill along the side, then along the southern rear property that is adjacent to the Upper Filiorum property. Although this is a recorded easement, the physical path created by trail users has not been contained within the established easement. For example, prior to the construction of the residence on the subject property, trail users created a physical path from the end of the Ocean Terrace Drive cul-de-sac that traversed through the level building pad area to access and continue along the established trail along the rear of the properties on Ocean Terrace Drive. At this point, the existing trail is contained within the trail easement that traverses the rear of these properties. Once construction of the residence commenced, trail users realigned the trail to its current location, which follows the established easement from Ocean Terrace Drive at the front, down the hill along the side, and crosses the rear (south) property and onto the Upper Filiorum property where the physical trail goes uphill to access and continue within the McBride Trail easement along the rear of the Ocean Terrace Drive properties. Thus, it is important to note that the City did not construct the existing trail; rather it was established over time by continual public use of the trail.

Since YLPA was concerned with the grading and trail that encroached upon the Upper Filiorum property, Mr. Ahamed tried to resolve the issue directly with YLPA, including trying to negotiate a purchase agreement for a portion of the Upper Filiorum property where the grading and trail have encroached. Ultimately, there was no resolution between the two private parties to address the issue.

Since the City is actively pursuing the acquisition of the Upper Filiorum property as part of the City’s proposed NCCP, Staff believes that issues involving the encroachment of the grading and trail on the YLPA property could be resolved if the City is successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property. However, if the City is ultimately not successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property, then Staff believes that Mr. Ahamed should be responsible for realigning the trail so that the trail does not cross over onto the Upper Filiorum property since the trail easement is on his property. As such, the City Attorney has drafted an agreement (Exhibit D) between the City and Mr. Ahamed, where each party’s responsibility to address the trail and grading issues, depending upon the outcome of the acquisition, is listed. This agreement is discussed in greater detail later in this Staff Report.

After the drafting of the agreement, Staff was able to accept an application by the property owner to attempt to legalize the constructed house in it’s existing location. As a result, the subject property owner submitted the necessary applications and fees on July 28, 2004. The City deemed the applications complete on August 12, 2004, and the required notice was mailed to the 27 property owners within a 500-foot radius from the subject property, including York Long Point Associates, and published in the Peninsula News on August 14, 2004. Staff received one letter in opposition to the requested Height Variation revision from the adjacent property owners to the east (Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth) at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, whom have expressed concern with privacy infringement from the new location of the residence. This issue will be addressed below. Lastly, although this item was scheduled for the September 14, 2004 Planning Commission meeting, it was continued to this meeting.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

In accordance with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Staff has determined this project to be categorically exempt under Class 1 – Existing Facilities.

Staff concluded that the project does not intensify the use of the lot since the property is currently developed with a single-family residence. Therefore, no further environmental review is required.

SITE AND PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The subject property is located at the end of the Ocean Terrace Drive cul-de-sac. The parcel slopes up gently from the street of access to a building pad, where the new 2-story residence is located. From the building pad down to the northern, western and southern property lines is the restricted use area of the property, which is largely a result of the steep sloping topography. Along the north, west and south property lines (within the restricted use area established by the conditions of the tract), the parcel contains a dedicated trail easement that serves as the trailhead for the McBride Trail. This dedicated trail easement resulted from a condition of approval of Tract 31617.

The applicant is requesting a revision to Height Variation No. 884. When the Planning Commission approved said height variation the plans illustrated the residence maintaining a 20-foot setback from the trail easement line, but conditioned the structure to maintain a 15-foot setback to be consistent with the Tract conditions. Unfortunately, the residence was constructed with a 20-foot setback from the property line rather than from the easement line, resulting in a structure that is 15-feet closer to the rear and set back only 5-feet from the easement line. The applicant is also requesting an amendment to Tract No. 31617 to allow the structure’s balcony to encroach 10-feet into the required 15-foot setback and maintain a 5-foot setback from easement line, to allow two balcony support columns at the southwest corner of the balcony that are greater than 30-inches in height to encroach outside the established BGR (building/grading restriction) line, and allow grading to remain on a slope greater than 10-percent. Since these are conditions established by the approval of Tract No. 31617, no modifications to the physical layout of the tract need to be submitted or recorded with the Los Angeles County Recorders office.

Lastly, since a portion of the physical trail is not within the established easement, Staff and the City Attorney have drafted an agreement, which stipulates courses of action that must be done to address the grading and trail issues. Staff is recommending that the revised project be conditioned so as to require that the applicant enter into a private agreement with the City. It will ultimately be up to the City Council to review and accept the terms of the proposed agreement.

ANALYSIS

Revision to Height Variation No. 884

The project includes a request to acknowledge the new location of the two-story residence approved by the Planning Commission. When Height Variation No. 884 was processed, an assessment was conducted to determine whether the new residence would create significant impacts upon the neighboring properties. The project was determined to not significantly impair a view from public or private property; to be designed in a manner that minimizes view impairment; to not be located on a ridge or promontory; to not create significant cumulative view impairment; and to not create an unreasonable infringement of privacy of the occupants of abutting residences. Therefore, the project was approved and subsequently constructed. Although the residence was constructed closer to the rear (south) by 15-feet, based upon the previous assessment and upon the existing development, Staff believes that the Height Variation findings related to view impairment and neighborhood compatibility can continue to be made in a positive manner.

However, with regards to privacy infringement, Steve Kaplan, representing Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth (property owners of the abutting property to the east at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive) has submitted a letter in opposition to the granting of the revision unless mitigation measures are incorporated to address privacy infringement created by the structure in its current location. Specifically, the Butterworth’s believe that the balcony being 15-feet closer to the rear allows for greater direct visibility into their residence from the second story balcony. As such, they have requested that approval of the height variation revision include a condition that requires removing the southeastern portion of the balcony.

Staff visited the Butterworth residence to conduct a privacy assessment, and has determined that the new location of the balcony results in privacy infringement upon the Butterworth residence. When the original project was assessed, Staff had raised a concern that the south-eastern portion of the balcony may create privacy infringement to the deck area at the rear of the easterly adjacent property at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, which is now owned by Bill and Jennifer Butterworth. Ultimately, Staff concluded that the existing foliage along the common side property line was at a height that provided screening from direct intrusive visual observation. However, since the residence has been constructed 15-feet farther towards the rear, the balcony is now in a location that affords direct visibility onto the deck areas of the Butterworth property because the balcony is more in line with the deck. The Butterworth’s have planted additional foliage to mitigate the visibility onto their property that is afforded by the balcony, but the foliage has also impacted their view towards the northwest. Staff believes that providing a roof element at the southeastern portion of the balcony so that the far end of the balcony closest to the Butterworth’s is not a usable gathering space will mitigate privacy infringement. Therefore, Staff recommends that the project be conditioned so that the southeast portion of the balcony be modified with a roof element to the satisfaction of the Director to mitigate privacy infringement.

Therefore, Staff believes that based upon the previous assessment, and with modifications to address the new privacy infringement, the revision to Height Variation No. 884 can be approved.

Tract Map No. 31617 – Amendment No. 2

The applicant is also requesting an amendment to Tract No. 31617 to allow the structure’s balcony to project into the required 15-foot setback from the trail easement, and maintain a 5-foot setback from the easement line. In reviewing the Tract files and minutes of the public hearings for Tract No. 31617, it is not clear the intent of the required 15-foot setback for the subject property, since the required setback for the other properties on Ocean Terrace Drive is 10-feet. It is Staff’s conclusion that the 15-foot setback requirement was in part due to lessen the appearance of the structures along the top of the slope above the Upper Filiorum property, in part to allow for private rear yard areas for the residences on the south side of Ocean Terrace Drive, and in part to buffer the residences from the trail. Staff believes that the balcony softens the rear façade of the residence and creates some open space opportunity for the residence. Since the balcony maintains a 5-foot setback from the trail easement and projects 15-feet from the main residence, the main residence actually maintains a 20-foot setback, thereby complying with the 15-foot setback requirement.

If the City is not successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property, the relocated physical trail will be 5-feet from the balcony, as illustrated in Exhibit E. The trail location was determined with the help of an engineering firm with input from Staff, to ensure that the location would continue to provide the same trail experience with regards to vistas and level of difficulty. Since the relocated trail would be closer to the residence and balcony, the trail will be graded down so that the trail slopes down from east to west. Thus, to screen the structure from the trail and to create a sense of openness that the existing trail provides, Staff believes that a condition should be incorporated into the revision and amendment that requires the planting and maintenance of foliage along the upslope side of the trail to screen the structure and to provide the occupants of the structure with privacy. However, if the City is successful in acquiring the upper Filiorum property, then there is no need to plant and maintain foliage since the existing physical trail would be maintained on the City-owned property, farther downslope from the residence so as to not change the trail experience.

The amendment is also to allow two balcony support columns that are greater than 30-inches in height to encroach into the established BGR (building/grading restriction) line. The BGR line was established for the tract due to geotechnical concerns and to minimize structures in close proximity to the slopes. However, Mr. Ahamed provided geotechnical information addressing the two columns being within the BGR line. The information was reviewed by the City Geologist, who has concurred that these support columns, if underpinned, can remain in their present locations beyond the BGR line, and that they do not present any geotechnical concerns. Thus, Staff believes that the support columns can remain in their present locations if underpinned as recommended by the Geotechnical Engineer and concurred by the City’s Geologist.

Agreement between Mr. Ahamed and the City

As noted above, the City is actively pursuing acquisition of the Upper Filiorum property, which would remain as open space and would not be developed. However, whether the acquisition occurs and when it occurs is still not a certainty. The potential acquisition will affect and determine how the trail and grading issues are ultimately addressed. If the City is successful in acquiring the Upper Filiorum property within two years of the approval of this application, the trail can remain in the same general location with some necessary modifications to address erosion control issues and screening from Mr. Ahamed’s residence. However, if the acquisition does not occur within two years of the approval of this application, the trail will have to be relocated onto Mr. Ahamed’s property, which, as illustrated in Exhibit E, would be located entirely within the established easement that traverses Mr. Ahamed’s property. Although the agreement is between Mr. Ahamed and the City, it affords Mr. Ahamed (and YLPA) the opportunity to continue to negotiate an agreement between the two parties without the City. Nonetheless, if negotiations continue to fail and no agreement between Mr. Ahamed and YLPA can be reached, then other options contained within the agreement would be implemented to address the encroachment of the trail and grading onto the YLPA property. These options include purchasing an easement for the City, relocating the trail, and removal of the illegal grading. As such, Staff believes that the agreement, as written by the City Attorney, can adequately address the issues of the grading and trail by providing options given the uncertainty of if and when the City will acquire the Upper Filiorum property. Therefore, Staff is proposing that a condition of approval be included to require Mr. Ahamed to enter into a private agreement with the City to address the trail issue.

CONCLUSION

Based upon the above analysis, Staff has determined that the revision and amendments can be approved, subject to modifications to the balcony, and recommends that the Planning Commission conditionally approve Case No. ZON2004-00409, and recommend that the City Council conditionally approve the proposed Amendment No. 2 to Tract 31617.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to Staff’s Recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the Planning Commission’s consideration:

  1. Identify any issues or concerns with the proposed project and require that the applicant revise the project accordingly, provided that the applicant submits a time extension; or,
  2. Deny Case No. ZON2004-00409, and direct Staff to prepare the appropriate Resolution for consideration at the next scheduled Planning Commission meeting.

Please note that the applicant has agreed to, and granted a one time 90-day extension of the processing deadline imposed by the State’s Permit Streamlining Act, which results in an action deadline of January 9, 2005.

TO:CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

FROM:DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE:NOVEMBER 23, 2004

SUBJECT:CASE NO. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject Property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive Lot 20, Tract 31617 (Thomas Guide Page 822, J-3).

Staff Coordinator: Eduardo Schonborn, aicp, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-__, conditionally approving Case No. ZON2004-00409 for a revision to Height Variation No. 884; and adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-__, recommending that the City Council approved amendment no. 2 to Tract 31617.

BACKGROUND

On October 26, 2004, the Planning Commission considered Case No. ZON2004-00409 for a Height Variation revision and Tract amendment. At the October 26th meeting, the Planning Commission agreed to continue the item to allow the Commissioners and Staff time to conduct a site visit to the adjacent property at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive (owned by the Butterworths). Further the Commission requested that Staff include a formal view analysis in the Staff Report regarding the impact resulting from the structure’s current location upon the view from the Butterworth’s viewing area. Lastly, the Planning Commission requested that the owner of the subject property (Mr. Ahamed) to obtain and submit information regarding the impacts to the existing residence if the balcony were to be removed. The Commission agreed to continue the item to November 23, 2004, to allow time to address the issues discussed by the Planning Commission. Excerpts of the approved minutes of the October 26, 2004 meeting are attached.

On November 10, 2004, Staff conducted a site visit to the Butterworth property to conduct the view analysis, which will be discussed in further detail below; while on November 12, 2004, information was submitted by Mr. Ahamed that was compiled by a structural engineer regarding the impacts upon the residence from removal of the balcony.

ANALYSIS

The project initially approved by the Planning Commission in 1999 was determined to not significantly impair a view from public or private property. Specifically for the adjacent property now owned by the Butterworths:

"…Staff conducted a view analysis from the adjacent residence to the east and concluded that no significant view impairment would result from the proposed residence. The viewing area was determined to be from the living room area, located on the upper-floor (western) portion of the residential structure. From the viewing area, the residence maintains an unobstructed, 180-degree, view. From east to west, the features within the view corridor enjoyed from this property include the Portuguese Bend area, the Hon property, Santa Catalina Island, Long Point, and additional ocean views to the west. Staff found that the new residence would slightly project into the periphery of their view corridor, and this obstructs a very small section of the ocean view towards the west. However, a structure at 16-feet height at the same location would result in this same minor view obstruction. Therefore, Staff has concluded that the proposed residence on the subject property will not significantly impair the view enjoyed from the viewing area of the property to the east since the protected features of the view will not be obstructed." (excerpted from the July 27, 1999 Staff Report to the Planning Commission)

As requested by the Planning Commission at the October 26th Planning Commission meeting, Staff has included a formal view analysis for the existing structure. Staff conducted a site visit to the Butterworth residence and conducted an updated view assessment from the viewing area that was established in 1999, which has also been agreed to by the Butterworths. Since view impairment was raised as an issue, Staff has included only the Height Variation findings that involve view impairment. The assessment is as follows (Development Code language is boldface, followed by Staff's analysis in normal type):

  1. The proposed new structure that is above sixteen feet in height, when considered exclusive of existing foliage, does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another parcel.
  2. Staff continues to conclude that the structure does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of the residence at 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, owned by the Butterworths. From the viewing area, the Butterworth residence maintains a panoramic view from east to west. Panning from east to east, the features within the view corridor include the eastern portion of the peninsula, White Point along the coast in San Pedro, the shoreline below the Ocean Trails development, the Pacific Ocean, Portuguese Bend, Inspiration and Portuguese Points, Abalone Cove shoreline, Santa Catalina Island, Long Point, and additional ocean views to the west. It is in this western periphery of the view that the residence encroaches into a small portion of the Pacific Ocean towards the west. However, as concluded in 1999, Staff does not believe that this small amount constitutes significant view impairment.

    The Butterworths have expressed concern with the view impairment caused by the location of the current balcony, which they believe would not result had the residence been constructed in the approved location. Staff acknowledges that the balcony, which measures 15-feet in height to the top of the clear plexi-glass guardrail, encroaches into the westerly periphery of the Pacific Ocean view. However, Staff does not believe that the impairment is significant because the balcony, which measures less than 16-feet in height, projects into the lower portion of the view frame of the Pacific Ocean at the western periphery of the view.

    Therefore, Staff has concluded that the as-built location of the residence and balcony on the subject property does not significantly impair the view enjoyed from the viewing area of the Butterworth’s property, and this finding can continue to be made.

  3. If view impairment exists from the viewing area of another parcel but it is determined not to be significant, the proposed new structure that is above sixteen feet in height is designed and situated in such a manner as to reasonably minimize impairment of a view.
  4. As indicated above, the balcony encroaches into the westerly periphery of the Pacific Ocean view; however, it is less than 16-feet in height and it projects into the lower portion of the view frame of the Pacific Ocean at the western periphery of the view. Thus, since it is less than 16-feet in height, and due to the location of the structure in relation to the view frame, view impairment is minimized, and this finding can be made.

  5. 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; and (b) considering the amount of view impairment that would be caused by the construction on other parcels of similar new structures that exceed sixteen feet in height.

The structure does not result in significant cumulative view impairment since there are no structures located downslope of the Butterworth residence. As such, this finding can be made and adopted.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Agreement between the City and Mr. Ahamed:

As explained in the previous Staff Report, Staff is recommending that the balcony be allowed to remain because Staff believes that the balcony does not create a significant view impact nor an unreasonable infringement on the privacy of the abutting neighbor (with modifications). In order to mitigate the close proximity of the existing balcony and the public trail, Staff is recommending that the approval be contingent on the applicant entering into an agreement with the City to improve the public trail experience for the general public. Specifically, the applicant would be required to move the trail path farther down the slope (away from the residence) and improve the trail if the City is successful in acquiring and obtaining title to the Upper Filiorum property (currently owned by York Long Point Associates) in the next two years, which is the property on which the current trail path is located. On the other hand, if the City is not successful in acquiring the property, the applicant would be required to accommodate the trail completely on his property. To achieve this and improve the usability of the trail by the public, the applicant would be required to relocate the trail easement to follow a more moderate grade, construct an improved trail and provide a buffer between the trail and his residence by grading the trail down and providing vegetation for screening. The trail easement would need to be relocated since requiring the trail to be confined to the existing easement would force trail users to descend a slope and then ascend a very steep slope. Therefore, Staff believes that the provisions of the draft agreement not only mitigate the impacts of having a balcony closer to the public trail than originally expected, but also provide an opportunity to improve the trail experience for the general public.

Requests from the Butterworths:

Lastly, the Butterworths submitted a letter to Staff on October 27, 2004, regarding the view assessment. In addition to making themselves available to the Planning Commissioners for a site visit, the Butterworths asked that, if possible, all Commissioners be present during a view assessment to resolve any conflicts that may arise. Staff did not coordinate this request because: a) the Planning Commission continued the item to November 23, 2004 to allow each Commissioner ample time to personally visit the Butterworth residence; and b) there are Brown Act limitations that would not allow such a meeting to occur without adiditonal public notice and further continuance. Further, flagging of the balcony railing was not required as requested by the Butterworths since it is evident where the railing is located since it is physically on the balcony.

CONCLUSION

Based upon the above analysis, Staff has determined that the revision and amendments can be approved, subject to modifications to the balcony, and recommends that the Planning Commission conditionally approve Case No. ZON2004-00409, and recommend that the City Council conditionally approve the proposed Amendment No. 2 to Tract 31617.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to Staff’s Recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the Planning Commission’s consideration:

  1. Identify any issues or concerns with the proposed project and require that the applicant revise the project accordingly, provided that the applicant submits a time extension; or,
  2. Deny Case No. ZON2004-00409, and direct Staff to prepare the appropriate Resolution for consideration at the next scheduled Planning Commission meeting.

Please note that the applicant has agreed to, and granted a one time 90-day extension of the processing deadline imposed by the State’s Permit Streamlining Act, which results in an action deadline of January 9, 2005.