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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: JUNE 6, 2006
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF THE PENALTY FEE RELATED TO AN AFTER-THE-FACT VARIANCE TO LEGALIZE A NON-PERMITTED DETACHED GARAGE (PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2006-00078)
Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Associate Planner
Grant the requested penalty fee waiver in the amount of $1,482.00.
In order to proceed with a desired addition to their home, the applicants must also receive after-the-fact approval of a variance for the existing, detached garage that was built at least thirty-three (33) years before they purchased the property. The applicants have asked for the penalty fee for the variance to be waived on the basis of financial hardship. Staff believes that the request is warranted and should be granted.
On February 7, 2006, the applicants, Mike and Mary Kucura, submitted applications for a minor exception permit and site plan review to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department. The purpose of these applications was to construct a 285-square-foot addition to their home, which is non-conforming as to maximum lot coverage in the RS-4 zoning district. In reviewing the City’s files for the property, Staff determined that the existing garage/workshop in the rear yard was non-permitted and not in compliance with current setback requirements. The garage was existing when the applicants purchased the property in 1998. In fact, based upon the City’s records, the garage appears to have been built between July 1958 and October 1965.
Pursuant to the City’s Development Code, the applicants were informed that Staff would be unable to process their home improvement applications unless the issue of the non-permitted garage was addressed. On May 10, 2006, the applicants applied for a variance to legalize the garage “after the fact,” and paid the $1,482.00 application fee and $1,482.00 penalty fee. The applicants also requested a waiver of the $1,482.00 penalty fee (see attached letter).
Pursuant to Section 17.78.010(B) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code (RPVDC), the City Council may grant a request to waive the fees associated with a development application if it finds that:
1. The applicant or the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed by the applicant is a nonprofit corporation registered with the State of California; or
2. The use or activity proposed or the activities of the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed are charitable, educational or otherwise provide a substantial benefit to the public; or
3. The applicant has demonstrated a financial hardship, as determined by the City Council, on a case by case basis.
As discussed in the applicant’s letter, the fees for Planning review alone of this project are now approaching $5,000.00. The applicants assert that this poses a financial hardship for them. The applicants “inherited” the non-permitted garage when they purchased the property, and have worked very cooperatively with Staff to find a mutually–acceptable resolution to this issue. Therefore, Staff believes that the applicants’ request for a waiver of the penalty fee is warranted as a financial hardship and should be granted.
The applicants have been advised of the City Council’s consideration of this request at tonight’s meeting, and have been provided with a copy of the Staff report.
Staff believes that the applicants’ request for a waiver of the penalty fee associated with the variance to legalize their existing garage (Planning Case No. ZON2006-00078) is warranted, based upon the required findings under RPVDC Section 17.78.010(B). Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council grant the applicants’ request.
The approval of the requested fee waiver will result in the City refunding the $1,482.00 penalty fee that was paid by the applicants on May 10, 2006. Even with the waiver of the penalty fee, however, the City’s costs associated with the processing of this application will be offset by the $1,482.00 application fee that was paid (and for which the applicants are not requesting a waiver).
In addition to Staff’s recommendation, the alternatives available for the City Council’s consideration include:
1. Deny the requested waiver of the penalty fee.
2. Grant a reduction in the penalty fee, in an amount to be determined by the City Council.
3. Grant a waiver and/or reduction of both the application and penalty fees.
Fee waiver request