Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

December 5, 2006 RANCHO RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL AGENDA-APPEAL OF DENIAL OF PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00610 (HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW): REQUEST TO OVERTURN THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF 962-SQUARE-FOOT 1ST-FLOOR ADDITIONS, A 1,292-SQUARE-FOOT 2ND-FLOOR ADDITION, A NEW FRONT PORCH AND TWO (2) NEW COVERED PATIOS FOR AN EXISTING 1-STORY SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE December 5, 2006 RANCHO RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL AGENDA-APPEAL OF DENIAL OF PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00610 (HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW): REQUEST TO OVERTURN THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF 962-SQUARE-FOOT 1ST-FLOOR ADDITIONS, A 1,292-SQUARE-FOOT 2ND-FLOOR ADDITION, A NEW FRONT PORCH AND TWO (2) NEW COVERED PATIOS FOR AN EXISTING 1-STORY SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE December 5, 2006 RANCHO RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL AGENDA-APPEAL OF DENIAL OF PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00610 (HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW): REQUEST TO OVERTURN THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF 962-SQUARE-FOOT 1ST-FLOOR ADDITIONS, A 1,292-SQUARE-FOOT 2ND-FLOOR ADDITION, A NEW FRONT PORCH AND TWO (2) NEW COVERED PATIOS FOR AN EXISTING 1-STORY SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE



TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: DECEMBER 5, 2006

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF DENIAL OF PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00610 (HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW): REQUEST TO OVERTURN THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DENIAL OF 962-SQUARE-FOOT 1ST-FLOOR ADDITIONS, A 1,292-SQUARE-FOOT 2ND-FLOOR ADDITION, A NEW FRONT PORCH AND TWO (2) NEW COVERED PATIOS FOR AN EXISTING 1-STORY SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2006-__, denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Commission’s denial of the requested height variation and site plan review (Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610.)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On September 12, 2006, and September 26, 2006, the Planning Commission considered an application for a height variation and site plan review for 1st- and 2nd-floor additions to an existing 1-story single-family residence in the Ridgecrest community. Although Staff recommended approval of the application, the Planning Commission ultimately denied the application without prejudice by a 4-3 vote, solely on the basis that the project was incompatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood. The applicant/appellant filed a timely appeal of this decision on October 10, 2006. Staff believes that there is no new evidence presented that warrants overturning the Planning Commission’s denial of the requested application. Therefore, Staff recommends denial of the appeal.

BACKGROUND

On November 18, 2005, the applicant/appellant, Carmela Bonello, submitted a height variation application (Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610) to the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement. The request was for approval to construct 962-square-foot 1st-floor additions, a 1,292-square-foot 2nd-floor addition, a new front porch and two (2) new covered patios for the existing 1-story residence. The application was deemed incomplete on December 8, 2005, pending the submittal of a site plan review application, additional information, revisions to the project plans and construction of the silhouette. The additional information, revised plans and site plan review application were submitted on December 21, 2005, June 14, 2006, and July 6, 2006. The application was subsequently deemed complete on July 28, 2006.

On September 12, 2006, the Planning Commission opened the public hearing to consider this application, received testimony from the applicant’s architect and concerned neighbors, and continued this matter to September 26, 2006, for further discussion, to allow Staff the opportunity to address some of the issues raised, and to allow the applicant to be present. Discussion at the September 12, 2006, public hearing focused on the Planning Commission’s ability (or inability) to make certain required findings to approve the requested height variation. Specifically, the three (3) findings related to the location of the project site on a ridge or promontory; the compatibility of the project with the character of the immediate neighborhood; and the infringement of the privacy of abutting residents were discussed.

At the September 26, 2006, public hearing, the majority of the Planning Commission found that the project was not compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood, although all of the other findings of approval for the project could be made. Accordingly, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49 denying Mrs. Bonello’s application without prejudice. The vote was 4-3, with Commissioners Perestam, Ruttenberg and Tetreault dissenting.

On October 10, 2006, Mrs. Bonello filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s action. Mrs. Bonello asks that the City Council overturn the Planning Commission’s action and approve the proposed project.

DISCUSSION

Copies of P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49 and the Minutes and Staff reports for the September 12, 2006 and September 26, 2006, public hearings are attached to tonight’s report. As discussed in the Staff reports, Staff recommended approval of the requested height variation and site plan review. In adopting P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49, however, the Planning Commission denied the applications without prejudice solely on the basis that the project was incompatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood. The Planning Commission found that the 2nd-floor addition had not been designed and situated in a manner that integrated it with the overall design of the house and minimized the creation of unbroken 2-story facades. In addition, the addition was not designed so that it appeared similar to the surrounding 1-story residences in the immediate neighborhood.

Mrs. Bonello has appealed the Planning Commission’s action on the basis that it is compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood (contrary to the finding in Section 1.G of P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49), as articulated in the appeal letter of October 10, 2006, that was prepared by her architect.

 The appeal letter states that “the applicant [was not given] an opportunity to comply with any conditions. At the [September 26, 2006] meeting, some commissioners mentioned that an extension should be given to the applicant to respond to those items [of concern to the Planning Commission and the neighborhood]. They also mentioned that the applicant should [be able to] choose to have an extension or not. That choice was not given to the Designer nor to the Owner (applicant).”

Pursuant to the Permit Streamlining Act (Government Code Section 65950, et seq.), projects that the lead agency determines to be exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) must be acted upon by the decision-making body within sixty (60) days of the date that the project was deemed complete. The decision deadline for this application was September 26, 2006, the date upon which the Planning Commission made its decision. Government Code Section 65957 allows a project applicant and lead agency to mutually agree to a maximum 90-day extension of the decision deadline, but does not obligate the lead agency to grant such an extension request. In this case, the majority of the Planning Commissioners found that continuing this matter to allow the applicant to respond further and/or possibly re-design the proposed project would not alter their belief that the proposed project was incompatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood. In addition, since the application was denied without prejudice, the appellant had (and still has) the opportunity to immediately apply for a revised project to try to address the Planning Commission’s and neighborhood’s concerns.

 The appellant and her architect also state that “[they] would like an opportunity to bring before the Planning Commission additional material to show that this project is compatible with other properties in the neighborhood and that [its] size, bulk and mass are in harmony with [its] surroundings.” The appeal letter was accompanied by a large number of photos of other homes and other development projects surrounding the project site.

Staff has reviewed the photographs provided with the appeal letter. Most of these photos do not depict residences that were identified as being within the immediate neighborhood of the subject property, which is defined as the nearest twenty (20) homes. These twenty (20) homes were used as the basis for the neighborhood compatibility analysis conducted by Staff (please see page 6 of the September 12, 2006, Planning Commission Staff report). The photographs depict other residences in the Ridgecrest community that are not in the immediate neighborhood; residences in other neighborhoods in the City that are not subject to the same underlying zoning regulations as the subject property; residences in other abutting jurisdictions; and non-residential structures and development projects. Pursuant to the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines, the analysis of at least twenty (20) homes subject to the same underlying zoning regulations as the subject property is the minimum standard, but more homes could be considered on a case-by-case basis. As such, the City Council might consider additional homes in the Ridgecrest community, as suggested by the appellant, although Staff does not believe that the this project displays any unique circumstances that warrant “widening” the scope of the neighborhood compatibility analysis. Furthermore, the consideration of residences subject to different underlying zoning regulations, residences in abutting jurisdictions and non-residential structures were not considered in or relevant to the neighborhood compatibility analysis conducted by Staff, nor are they relevant to this appeal.

For all the foregoing reasons, Staff believes that Mrs. Bonello’s appeal raises no new issues and provides no new information or evidence that warrant overturning the Planning Commission’s decision in this matter.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Public Notification

On November 1, 2006, public notices were mailed to the applicant/appellant, her architect, thirty-five (35) other property owners within a 500-foot radius of the project site, the Ridgecrest homeowners’ association, and four (4) other interested parties. Public notice of this appeal was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on November 4, 2006. As of the date that this report was completed, Staff had received the attached additional public comments in opposition to and in support of the appeal.

CEQA Compliance

For the reasons discussed above, Staff recommends that the City Council deny the appeal and uphold the Planning Commission’s denial of the project as currently proposed. In denying the proposed project, the Planning Commission determined that this project is categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), pursuant to Section 15301 (Existing Facilities) of the CEQA Guidelines.

CONCLUSION

As discussed above, Staff believes that there is no basis to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision in this case. Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council deny the appeal and uphold the Planning Commission’s denial of the requested height variation and site plan review without prejudice (Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610).

FISCAL IMPACT

The appellant paid the required $1,222.00 appeal fee at the time that the appeal was filed. Pursuant to Section 17.80.120 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code,”[all] appeal fees shall be refunded to a successful appellant” and “[if] an appeal results in modifications to the project, other than the changes specifically requested in the appeal, then one-half of the appeal fee shall be refunded to the successful appellant.” If this appeal is upheld in full or in part, then the appellant shall be entitled to a full or partial refund of the appeal fee. The cost of any such refund shall be borne by the City’s General Fund.

ALTERNATIVES

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

1. Grant the appeal and overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of the requested height variation and site plan review for the project as originally proposed, and direct Staff to prepare a revised resolution for adoption at the next City Council meeting.

2. Grant the appeal and overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of the requested height variation and site plan review for the project in a modified form, and direct Staff to prepare a revised resolution for adoption at the next City Council meeting.

3. Identify any issues of concern with the project, provide direction to Staff and/or the applicant/appellant, and continue this matter to a date certain.

Respectfully submitted:
Joel Rojas, AICP, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Appeal letter
Resolution No. 2006-__
P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49
P.C. Minutes (excerpt) and Staff reports from 9/12/2006 and 9/26/2006
Additional public correspondence
Project plans (reduced) and color photographs provided with appeal letter

 

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 DENIAL OF A HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW (PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00610) WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF 962-SQUARE-FOOT 1ST-FLOOR ADDITIONS AND A 1,292-SQUARE-FOOT 2ND-STORY ADDITION TO AN EXISTING 1-STORY SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE, LOCATED AT 5437 MIDDLECREST ROAD

WHEREAS, on November 18, 2005, the applicant, Carmela Bonello, submitted an application for Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610 for a height variation and site plan review to allow 1st- and 2nd-floor additions to her existing 1-story single-family residence on a flag lot on Middlecrest Road in the Ridgecrest community; and,

WHEREAS, on July 28, 2006, the application for Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610 was deemed complete by Staff; 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 Regulations, 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 the approval of the requested height variation and site plan review would have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, the proposed project has been found to be categorically exempt (Section 15301); 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 September 12, 2006, and September 26, 2006, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence; and,

WHEREAS, on September 26, 2006, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2006-49, thereby denying the requested height variation and site plan review without prejudice; and,

WHEREAS, on October 10, 2006, Mrs. Bonello filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of his request for a height variation and site plan review to the City Council; 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 to consider Mrs. Bonello’s appeal on December 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 City Council finds that Mrs. Bonello’s appeal is unwarranted and is, therefore, denied. The appeal raises no new issues and provides no information or evidence that warrants overturning the decision of the Planning Commission in denying the requested height variation and site plan review for proposed 1st- and 2nd-story additions to the existing 1-story single-family residence.

Section 2: The City Council finds that, with respect to the application for a height variation for the proposed 1,292-square-foot 2nd-story addition, the proposed structure is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood character in terms of the scale of surrounding residences, including total square footage and lot coverage of the residence; architectural styles, including facade treatments, structure height, open space between structures, roof design, the apparent bulk or mass of the structure, number of stories, and building materials; and front-, side-, and rear-yard setbacks. The 2nd-floor addition has not been designed and situated in a manner that integrates it with the overall design of the house and minimizes the creation of unbroken 2-story facades. In addition, the addition is not designed so that it appears similar to the surrounding 1-story residences in the immediate neighborhood.

Section 3: The City Council also finds that, although the proposed 962-square-foot-1st-floor additions to the existing 1-story single-family residence are consistent with the development standards of the RS-2 zoning district and other relevant provisions of the City’s Development Code, the additions are an integral part of the proposed 2nd-story addition, and thus the appeal of the denial of the requested site plan review application is denied as well.

Section 4: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes and other records of proceedings, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies the appeal and upholds the Planning Commission’s denial without prejudice of a height variation and site plan review (Planning Case No. ZON2005-00610) for the construction of 962-square-foot 1st-floor additions and a 1,292-square-foot 2nd-story addition to an existing 1-story single-family residence, located at 5437 Middlecrest Road.

Section 5: The time within which the judicial review of the decision reflected in this Resolution, if available, must be sought is governed by Section 1094.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable short periods of limitation.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this __th day of December 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, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2006-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on ________, 2006.

________________________
City Clerk