Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - CASE NO. ZON2005-00656 (SITE PLAN REVIEW - APPEAL); APPELLANT: ROLLIN STURGEON; APPLICANT: DOMINGO OTTOLIA SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - CASE NO. ZON2005-00656 (SITE PLAN REVIEW - APPEAL); APPELLANT: ROLLIN STURGEON; APPLICANT: DOMINGO OTTOLIA SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - CASE NO. ZON2005-00656 (SITE PLAN REVIEW - APPEAL); APPELLANT: ROLLIN STURGEON; APPLICANT: DOMINGO OTTOLIA



TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: SEPTEMBER 5, 2006

SUBJECT: CASE NO. ZON2005-00656 (SITE PLAN REVIEW - APPEAL); APPELLANT: ROLLIN STURGEON; APPLICANT: DOMINGO
OTTOLIA

Staff Coordinator: Kristen Sohn, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Deny the appeal and uphold the Planning Commission’s decision to uphold the Director’s conditional approval of a 1,288 square foot one-story addition (Site Plan Review Case No. ZON2005-00656).

BACKGROUND

On December 21, 2005, the applicant submitted a Site Plan Review and a Grading Permit application to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department for processing. The applications requested approval for the construction of a 1,288 square foot room addition to the existing one-story residence and an associated 99 cubic yards of grading. The application was deemed incomplete on January 19, 2006 and upon the submittal of required materials and the inspection of the silhouette frame, Staff deemed the application to be generally complete for processing on March 16, 2006. Additionally, the applicant reduced the proposed grading amount to below the minimum threshold for grading review to 16 cubic yards and a 2’-6” high cut, making the requirement of a grading application no longer necessary.

On March 22, 2006, Staff mailed notice of the proposed project to 94 property owners within a 500-ft radius from the subject property. The notice was also published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on March 25, 2006. Staff received comments about the proposed project from two residents regarding bulk and mass, proposed size, lot coverage, and open space. After reviewing the submitted public comments and the proposed project, the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement conditionally approved the project on May 12, 2006 (see attached May 11, 2006 staff report).

On May 30, 2006, a property owner at 5456 Bayridge Road, Rollin Sturgeon, filed an appeal of the Director’s conditional approval. On June 22, 2006, the City mailed a public hearing notice announcing the appeal hearing to property owners within a 500’ radius of the subject property, which was subsequently published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on June 24, 2006. A public hearing was held on July 11, 2006, at which time the Planning Commission considered the appellant’s request. After hearing public testimony from the appellant, the Planning Commission upheld the Director’s decision (5-0), thereby denying the appellant’s request (July 11, 2006 staff report and approved excerpted minutes attached).

The appellant filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision on July 26, 2006. On August 18, 2006, the City mailed a public hearing notice announcing the City Council appeal hearing to property owners within a 500’ radius of the subject property, which was subsequently published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on August 19, 2006. The appeal is now before the City Council.

DISCUSSION

The original staff report to the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement dated May 11, 2006 (attached) contains a complete analysis of the proposed project. In summary, the Director determined that the proposed one-story 1,288 square foot addition to the existing one-story 1,633 square foot residence would be compatible with the immediate neighborhood, complies with the standards of the City’s Development Code, and appropriate conditions have been incorporated to warrant approval. The attached July 11, 2006 Planning Commission staff report addresses the issues raised by the appellant to the Planning Commission with regards to the Director’s decision. In his appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, Mr. Sturgeon raises generally the same issues. Below is a summary of Mr. Sturgeon’s main issues, as noted in the attached July 26, 2006 appeal letter, followed by Staff’s comments.

Using the 20 closest homes (“immediate neighborhood”) for conducting a Neighborhood Compatibility is inappropriate and contradictory to Proposition M.

Section 17.02.030.B of the City’s Development Code requires the applicant’s proposed addition to be “compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood”. As discussed in the May 11, 2006 and July 11, 2006 staff reports, the 2003 City Council-approved Neighborhood Compatibility Guidebook states that for the purpose of neighborhood compatibility, the immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be at least the twenty closest residences within the same zoning district. The appellant’s reference to “Prop M” is the City’s View Preservation and Restoration ordinance, which was approved by voter initiative in November 1989 and incorporated into Section 17.02.040 of the City’s Municipal Code. There is no definition of an “immediate neighborhood” in the City’s ordinance nor is there any provision that prevents the City Council from designating the 20 closest properties as the immediate neighborhood, as it has done in the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook.

The applicant is proposing to build to the front of the residence, which would result in an unbroken façade that contributes to the apparent bulk of the residence.

As discussed in the July 11, 2006 staff report, residences found in the immediate neighborhood have been constructed with staggered front facades at varying distances from the front property line. In the applicant’s case, the front façade is broken into three segments, each segment a different distance to the front property line. The existing garage is located 18’-2” from the front property line, the adjoining middle segment of the front façade is located 37’-9” from the front property line, and the remaining recessed façade is setback about 59’ from the front property line. The applicant opted to add to the sides of the residence in an effort to preserve a substantial amount of open space in front of the residence. As proposed, the new addition will project towards the front property line setback no more than 1’-9” from the existing living area, thus maintaining a 36’ setback distance from the front property line for a majority of the front façade. While Mr. Sturgeon is correct in that the distance between the furthest existing façade (“third setback”) and the property line will be reduced from 59’ to 36’ to match the location of the existing middle segment, because the proposed project will still maintain a stepped façade, the Planning Commission felt that the proposed project will be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

The proposed project will be constructed up to the required side yard setback area, resulting in a 10’ clearance between the applicant’s house and the neighbor’s house, which is not compatible with the existing minimum 20’ between houses.

As discussed in the May 11, 2006 staff report in the Code Considerations and Analysis section, Staff noted during a series of site visits that residences along Graylog Street, north of the subject site, are situated further apart from each other than the residences along Bayridge Road. Furthermore, the residences on the same side of the street as the subject site (north side of Bayridge Road) are situated closer to each other than the residences along the south side of Bayridge Road. The Planning Commission felt that the proposed side yard setback distances for the project are comparable to the existing setback distances of the adjoining residences.

CONCLUSION

Staff believes that the findings to warrant the approval of the Site Plan Review were made in the affirmative manner by the Planning Commission. As a result of the appeal, the appellant introduced no new evidence or facts to warrant a change to the Planning Commission’s decision. Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council deny the appeal and uphold the Planning Commission’s decision to uphold the Director’s conditional approval of Site Plan Review Case No. ZON2005-00656.

FISCAL ANALYSIS

The appellant paid an appeal fee which covered the cost of processing the appeal to the City Council. In the event the City Council overturns the Planning Commission’s decision, thereby approving the appellant’s request, all appeal fees shall be refunded to the appellant. An appellant is considered successful if a decision by the City Council is rendered granting his appeal. If an appeal results in a modification to the project, other than changes specifically requested in the appeal, then one-half of the appeal fee shall be refunded to the successful appellant.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

On August 28, 2006, Mr. Sturgeon submitted additional comments to support his appeal of the applicant’s project. Mr. Sturgeon’s additional letter goes into greater detail of why he believes the proposed project is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood. Staff is of the opinion that the concerns raised in the August 28, 2006 letter have been addressed by Staff in the May 11, 2006 staff report to the Director, the July 11, 2006 staff report to the Planning Commission, and in the Discussion Section of this staff report.

Aside from Mr. Sturgeon’s appeal, no other letters of concern have been received by Staff. Since the Planning Commission decision, one email from a neighbor at 5507 Bayridge Road in support of the project (attached) has been received.

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 decision to uphold the Director’s approval of Case No. ZON2005-00656, and direct Staff to prepare the appropriate Resolution for consideration at the next scheduled City Council meeting; or

2) Identify any issues of concern with the project, provide Staff and/or the appellant with direction in modifying the project, and continue the public hearing to a date certain; or,

3) Identify any issues of concern with the Planning Commission’s decision and remand the project back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, AICP
Director of Planning, Building
and Code Enforcement

Reviewed,

Les Evans
City Manager

ATTACHMENTS

- City Council Resolution No. 2006-
- Correspondence Received (1)
- Appeal Letters from Rollin Sturgeon, dated August 28, 2006 and July 26, 2006
- Resolution, Minutes, Staff Report, and All Related Attachments for the July 11, 2006 Planning Commission Meeting
- May 11, 2006 Staff Report and All Related Attachments
RESOLUTION NO. 2006-

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL AND UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DECISION TO UPHOLD THE DIRECTOR’S CONDITIONAL APPROVAL OF CASE NO. ZON2005-00656, AN APPLICATION FOR A SITE PLAN FOR A 1,288 SQUARE FOOT ONE-STORY ADDITION TO AN EXISTING ONE-STORY RESIDENCE, RESULTING IN A 2,921 SQUARE FOOT RESIDENCE MEASURING 15.65 – FEET IN OVERALL HEIGHT, AT PROPERTY LOCATED AT 5533 BAYRIDGE ROAD.

WHEREAS, on December 21, 2005, the applicant submitted Case No. ZON2005-00656, a Site Plan Review and a Grading Permit applications for a 1,288 square foot one-story addition to an existing one-story residence; and,

WHEREAS, on January 19, 2006, the project was deemed incomplete pending submittal of additional information; and,

WHEREAS, upon submittal of the required information, the construction of the temporary silhouette and submittal of the silhouette certification form, the case was deemed complete by Staff on March 16, 2006; 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. ZON2005-00656 would have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, the proposed project has been found to be categorically exempt under Class 1 (Existing Facilities) since the project involves an addition to an existing residence; and,

WHEREAS, on May 12, 2006, the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement reviewed and approved Case No. ZON2005-00656, and a Notice of Decision was prepared and distributed to all interested parties; and,

WHEREAS, on May 30, 2006, within fifteen (15) days following the Director’s Notice of Decision, the appellant, Rollin Sturgeon, filed an appeal to the Planning Commission requesting that the Planning Commission overturn the Director’s approval of Case No. ZON2005-00656; and,

WHEREAS, after notice was issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on July 11, 2006 at which time all interested parties were given opportunities to be heard and present evidence; and

WHEREAS, after notice issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on July 11, 2006, at which time the Planning Commission considered the application and denied the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s approval of Case No. ZON2005-00656, and a Notice of Decision was prepared and distributed to all interested parties; and,

WHEREAS, on July 26, 2006, within fifteen (15) days following the Planning Commission’s decision, the appellant, Rollin Sturgeon, filed an appeal to the City Council requesting that the City Council overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s conditional approval of Case No. ZON20054-00656, based upon his belief that the decision made by the Planning Commission does not comply with the intent of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code; and

WHEREAS, after notice issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on September 5, 2006, 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: The appellant’s allegation that using the twenty closest homes (“immediate neighborhood”) for conducting a Neighborhood Compatibility is inappropriate and contradictory to Proposition M is found to be without merit as the 2003-City Council-approved Neighborhood Compatibility Guidebook states that for the purpose of Neighborhood Compatibility, the immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be at least the twenty closest residences within the same zoning district. The appellant’s reference to Prop M is the City’s View Preservation and Restoration ordinance, which was approved by voter initiative in November 1989 and incorporated into Section 17.02.040 of the City’s Municipal Code. There is no definition of an “immediate neighborhood” in the City’s ordinance nor is there any provision that prevents the City Council from designating the twenty closest properties as the immediate neighborhood, as it has done in the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook. The appellant’s allegation that the applicant’s proposed addition to the front of the existing residence would result in an unbroken façade that contributes to the apparent bulk of the residence is found to be without merit as the applicant is proposing to add to either side, not the front, of the existing residence. The proposed project will continue to maintain a stepped façade as seen from the street of access, which is an appearance commonly found in the immediate neighborhood of the subject residence. The appellant’s allegation that the proposed project will be constructed up to the required side yard setback area, resulting in a 10’ clearance between the applicant’s house and the neighborhood house, which is incompatible with the existing 20’ minimum setback distance between houses is found to be without merit as the residences along Graylog Street, north of the subject site, are situated further apart from each other than the residences along Bayridge Road, which is where the subject site is situated. Furthermore, the residences on the same side of the Bayridge Road as the subject site (north side) are situated closer to each other than the residences along the opposite side of the Bayridge Road. The Planning Commission determined that proposed side yard setback distances for the project are comparable to the existing setback distances of the adjoining residences. Lastly, on August 28, 2006, the appellant submitted additional comments, which further explains he believes the proposed project is incompatible with the neighborhood. The City Council hereby finds that the concerns raised by the appellant were fully addressed by Staff in the May 11, 2006 staff report to the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and the July 11, 2006 staff report to the Planning Commission, and for those reasons, the City Council finds the appellant’s concerns to be without merit.

Section 2: The City Council hereby upholds the Planning Commission’s denial of the appeal, thereby upholding the Director’s conditional approval of Case No. ZON2005-00656, and finds as follows: As stated in the Staff Report to the Director dated May 11, 2006; the Staff Report to the Planning Commission dated July 11, 2006; Planning Commission Resolution No. 2006-35; the Staff report that was prepared for the City Council, and the evidence and testimony that was presented to the City Council, all of which are incorporated herein by reference, the City Council hereby finds that the addition and resulting appearance will not significantly change the appearance of the immediate neighborhood and the residence will be compatible with the immediate neighborhood. The architectural style, roofing material, exterior finishes, and building materials will be consistent with other homes in the neighborhood. Although the resulting 2,921 square feet residence will be 861 square feet and 104 square feet greater than the neighborhood average and the largest residence in the immediate neighborhood, respectively, the proposed size is not a substantial deviation from the neighborhood range. Further, the proposed addition to the sides of the property, instead of to the front of the existing property, mitigates the potential concern for creating bulk and mass. Lastly, the building setbacks from the corresponding property lines are found to be comparable with the residences found in the immediate neighborhood. As such, the City Council hereby finds that the 1,288 square foot one-story addition to an existing single-family residence has been designed in a manner in which the proposed scale, architectural style and building materials, and the front, side, and rear yard setbacks blends in with the existing immediate neighborhood, thereby achieving Neighborhood Compatibility.

Section 3: For the foregoing reason and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report to the Director dated May 11, 2006; the Staff Report to the Planning Commission dated July 11, 2006; Planning Commission Resolution No. 2006-35; the Staff Report prepared for the City Council, and the evidence and testimony that was presented to the City Council in connection with this application, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s decision to uphold the Director’s conditional approval of the Case No. ZON2005-00656 for a Site Plan Review application for the construction of a 1,288 square foot one-story addition to an existing one-story residence, with an overall height of 15.65’.

Section 4: The time within which 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.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 5th day of September 2006.

________________
Mayor
Attest:

______________
City Clerk

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

I, Carolynn Petru, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, do hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2006- as duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting held on September 5, 2006.

_________________________
City Clerk