TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: JULY 5, 2005
SUBJECT: STATUS REPORT REGARDING CONSTRUCTION ISSUES AT 2 YACHT HARBOR DRIVE
Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, aicp, Senior Planner
Receive and file the report on the status of construction issues at 2 Yacht Harbor Drive.
This report provides a status update on the project at 2 Yacht Harbor Drive, including the stonecutting operations; the storage of materials on the "rock mesa" area; the time line for completion of the project; and certification of the re-graded "rock mesa" area.
At the suggestion of Seaview resident Debbie Hansen, Mayor Clark asked for a status report regarding this project to be agendized for the June 21, 2005, City Council meeting. The matter was continued to tonight’s meeting due to the lateness of the hour at the June 21, 2005, meeting.
The City’s Building Official, Roy Bronold, recently met with the construction superintendent for the Johnson project regarding the several construction-related issues. In addition, Staff met with Seaview residents on June 20, 2005, to discuss the certification of the re-grading of the "rock mesa" area.
Stonecutting: As of the date that this report was completed, the stonecutting process continued in the existing garage but was still expected to be done by the end of June. The property owner, Eric Johnson, had previously indicated to the City that he expected the "large scale" stonecutting (i.e. the cutting of rough stone into slabs) to be complete in June. Mr. Bronold confirmed with Mr. Johnson on June 15, 2005, that his crews were still on schedule to be done by the end of the month. However, it is important to note that there is no condition of approval requiring the stonecutting operations to be complete by the end of June, so if this target is not met, it does not constitute a violation of any conditions of approval or other City Code. Mr. Bronold observed that wet saws are still in use to control dust, and he did not observe any dust during his inspection.
Storage of materials on the "rock mesa": In response to recent complaints from some Seaview residents about a large accumulation of debris on the "rock mesa", Mr. Bronold visited the site during the week of June 7, 2005 and spoke with the construction superintendent. The superintendent was told that all material not stored for future installation or use on or in the dwelling would need to be removed from the "rock mesa." Some of these materials were removed within a few days and Mr. Bronold re-inspected the conditions on the "rock mesa" during the week of June 14, 2005 and felt that the extraneous construction material and debris had been removed. However, as a result of a June 20, 2005 meeting with Seaview residents, additional material was removed from the "rock mesa."
Condition No. 18 of P.C. Resolution No. 2001-46 for this project states:
The construction site shall be kept free of all loose materials resembling trash and debris in excess of that material used for immediate construction purposes. Such excess material may include, but not be limited to: the accumulation of debris, garbage, lumber, scrap metal, concrete asphalt, piles of earth, salvage materials, abandoned or discarded furniture, appliances or other household fixtures.
Seaview residents have complained previously about the storage of materials on the "rock mesa," and on several occasions Mr. Johnson was asked by the City to clean up the "rock mesa" area when Staff believed that the condition of the site was contrary to Condition No. 18. Condition No. 18 is a standard condition of approval that is applied to all construction projects. Because all construction projects produce debris, which tends to accumulate on the construction site for some period of time before it is hauled away, building inspectors try to be reasonable when enforcing the condition. If a City inspector sees an inordinate amount of trash or debris while conducting their inspections or if a resident complains about debris that may only be visible from their house, the inspector will verbally ask the contractor to address the problem and then follow-up with a written notice or "stop work" order only if needed. So far with this project, Mr. Johnson has been cooperative in removing material from the "rock mesa" area that is contrary to Condition No. 18 in a timely manner after Staff has asked him to do so.
Completion of construction of the dwelling: According to his construction superintendent, Mr. Johnson currently expects the project to be completed by late October 2005. The building permits for the project are valid for an initial period of 30 months, or until late August 2005. However, the project will be eligible for a 1-time 6-month extension of the permits to allow completion of the project. Such 6-month extensions are commonly granted for a wide variety of construction projects in the City, when the projects are proceeding diligently toward completion. As such, when the project applicant applies for an extension, the Building Official will grant the extension as an administrative action as long as the applicant is working towards completion (which he is). According to the City Attorney, the City may not impose any conditions on the extension of the building permit.
Re-grading of the "rock mesa": As the City Council may recall from our last status report, Mr. Johnson’s civil engineer provided a certification in April 2005 that the "rock mesa" area had been re-graded in accordance with the revised grading plan approved by Staff in March 2003. This certification also covered the installation of the storm drain and the realignment of Yacht Harbor Drive. Subsequent to the "rock mesa" certification, however, Mr. Johnson began to install a concrete drainage swale along the seaward edge of the "rock mesa", which resulted in excavation and alteration of the certified grades. The approved revised grading plan depicted an earthen swale at this location, but not a concrete swale. Staff has instructed Mr. Johnson to stop construction of the concrete swale and submit a revised grading plan, and due to this deviation from the previously-approved revised grading plan and the certified grades, Staff has also informed Mr. Johnson that the finished grade of the "rock mesa" area will need to re-certified after the construction of the swale is approved and completed.
After being informed that Mr. Johnson had provided the City with certification of the finished grade of the "rock mesa," Seaview residents questioned whether or not the grading had, in fact, been done in accordance with the approved revised grading plan, particularly after construction of the concrete swale began. Staff met with a group of Seaview residents on June 20, 2005 to discuss the grading certification. At that meeting, Seaview residents questioned the civil engineer’s authority to certify the re-grading, asserting that the certification of the grading must be done by a licensed land surveyor. However, Mr. Bronold researched the issue and found that a civil engineer has the authority to certify a topographic survey (as opposed to a boundary or property-line survey). It is also the City’s normal practice to accept certifications from licensed civil engineers for such things as grading and infrastructure improvements (i.e., streets, storm drains, etc.). As such, Staff believes that certification of the revised grade of the "rock mesa" by a civil engineer was appropriate, although Staff has not yet accepted the certification as being correct or complete due to the modifications made for the swale. With respect to the certification of the storm drain and the roadway improvements, however, Staff is prepared to accept these as having been completed per plan, based upon the civil engineer’s certification.
Seaview residents have asked for an independent, third party review of the certification of the "rock mesa" grading, and possibly of the storm drain and roadway improvements as well. Requiring such third-party review would be an atypical practice for the City, and Staff believes that it would be unreasonable for the City to expect Mr. Johnson to pay for it. As such, if the City decides to perform a third-party survey of the rock mesa area, it would be necessary for the City Council to formally authorize a budget adjustment to cover the cost of such third-party review. According to the City’s Public Works Department, a surveyor’s services cost about $2,000 per day. Therefore, Staff estimates that it would cost approximately $2-4,000 to certify the grade of the roughly 1-acre "rock mesa". If the City Council desires to have the "rock mesa" grading and/or other elements of the project re-certified by a third-party civil engineer, this matter should be continued to the next available City Council meeting so that Staff can prepare an appropriate budget adjustment resolution for the Council’s consideration and adoption.
Mrs. Hansen and Mr. Johnson were provided with copies of the Staff report for this item, and advised of the City Council’s review of this matter at tonight’s meeting.
Based upon the foregoing discussion, Staff recommends that the City Council receive and file this report.
There is no fiscal impact to the City as a result of reviewing this status report. However, if the City Council authorizes the use of a third-party civil engineer to verify the certification of the "rock mesa" and/or other elements of the project, the costs associated with such certification would be borne by the City’s general fund.
Joel Rojas, aicp
Director of Planning, Building
and Code Enforcement