M I N U T E S
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR MEETING
CITY COUNCIL/PLANNING COMMISSION
JOINT WORK SESSION
FEBRUARY 8, 2003
The meeting was called to order at 9:13 A.M. by Mayor Douglas Stern at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file. After the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT:Clark, Gardiner, McTaggart and Mayor Stern
PRESENT: Tom Long, Chair; Craig Mueller, Vice Chair; Jon Cartwright, Susan Cote, Frank Lyon, and Clara Duran Reed.
LATE ARRIVAL: David Tomblin arrived at 9:40 A.M.
View Restoration Mediators:
PRESENT: Ken Dyda, Neva Drages, Bruce Franklin, Jim Slayden, and Paul Weber
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; View Restoration Planner Trayci Nelson, Senior Planner Ara Mihranian, City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Recording Secretary Carla Morreale.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman McTaggart, to approve the agenda. Motion carried.
Review of the proposed View Restoration and Preservation Guideline revisions. (1806)
View Restoration Planner Nelson presented the staff report and the recommendations to: 1) Review the recommended revisions to the Guidelines that have been forwarded from the View Restoration Commission (VRC), and 2) Provide Staff with any additional input and direction.
Planner Nelson stated that the following issues were discussed by Staff and the sub-committee of the View Restoration Commission:
Planner Nelson stated that the View Restoration Commission also discussed and made minor changes to the Guidelines in areas that were not covered by the eight issues described above. Those changes were:
Mayor Stern suggested a review of each of the "Issues" as listed in the staff report, would be the most efficient review of the changes.
Councilman Clark began the discussion with an explanation of why the word "significant" was added as a judgment qualifier that gave additional discretionary ability to the View Restoration Commission to do its job.
Councilman McTaggart concurred that the word "significant" was added as an amendment to allow the Commission to do their job in a reasonable manner.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright stated that some applicants had come forward who had a180-degree view with just a small amount of foliage growth way off to the side of their view frame. He stated that the use of the word "significant" would allow the Commission some discretion in deciding what was reasonable and what was not.
Councilman Gardiner addressed a question to the City Attorney, asking about changing the language of the original measure.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the ordinance that was adopted by the voters states that the Council may make amendments to the ordinance that furthers the ordinance’s purposes. She stated that the Council and the Commission felt that adding the language "significant" gave the Commission the discretion to better address the competing issues, such as privacy.
Councilman Gardiner commented on the fact that instead of restoring a view the language has changed to make it a "significant" view; the applicant has to determine "the best and most important view;" and the applicant has to pick from which room they want to improve their view. He stated that he felt this was all less than what the voters originally intended.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the phrase "the best and most important viewing area" was in the original ordinance. She stated that if a multi-component view was shared by the living room, dining room, and family room, that the ordinance was amended to address the fact that this would be considered one area. She further stated that if a property had a view of Catalina from the master bedroom and a view of Malibu from the living room, a determination would be made to decide from which room the best and most important viewing area existed; in this case it would typically be the living room because that would be regarded as the most important viewing area.
Mayor Stern stated that he felt that the function of the ordinance was not to be read literally, and that "significant" is the reasonableness standard.
Councilman McTaggart stated that the reasonableness test is something that came along as a result of an application in the Miraleste area that would have caused the cutting of hundreds of trees.
View Mediator Dyda stated that the word "significant" is open to a lot of interpretation. He suggested the use of the phrase "protected view" which he stated is defined in the ordinance as a way to solve the problem of the word "significant" yet still allows for a judgment call. He felt that the right to a "view of 360 degrees" should be removed from the ordinance.
(At 9:40 A.M. Planning Commissioner Tomblin arrived.)
Planning Commission Chair Long stated that because this ordinance has been upheld by a published court decision, the Council should be careful when considering that there be changes made to the original ordinance. He stated that he remembers that the Guidelines were amended to consider features as part of the weighing of "significance."
Planning Commissioner Cartwright stated that his recollection of the 360-degree view issue was that it could only exist from either an undeveloped lot or a roof deck.
Planning Commission Vice Chair Mueller concurred with City Attorney Lynch that in the original ordinance there was the phrase "best and most important view."
View Mediator Franklin stated that the word "significant" was the one and only place in the set of the Guidelines that offers any latitude for common sense and that the word was important to leave in for reasonable judgment.
View Mediator Dyda stated that he was not recommending any changes to the ordinance, but only to the Guidelines; and, that in order to determine what is "significant" the criteria listed in the ordinance that defines what a "protected view" is should be used.
Planning Commissioner Tomblin stated that the word "significant" was used to help negotiate the view restoration process that he recently personally experienced. He stated that the sky is not a protected view, but the ocean is.
Planner Nelson stated that the definition of what a view is does not change but is always determined on a case-by-case basis. She stated that each case is different and, therefore, the significant view in each case will be different, but that the definition of the view never changes.
Mayor Stern stated that he felt because every situation is inherently going to be a little bit different or drastically different, a reasonableness test must come into play.
Gardiner stated that he felt the phrase "protected view" allows a reasonable basis for judgment and that it should be used instead of the word "significant."
Councilman Clark stated that if this issue was clear-cut, a View Restoration Commission would not have been needed, but that he concurred with Planner Nelson and Mayor Stern that each case is different and that the word "significant" be left in.
Planning Commission Chair Long stated that he felt it was a misconception that "protected view" is a defined term in the ordinance. He stated that in his opinion, "protected view" is the view that remains after the factors in the ordinance, including "significance" are balanced and may vary depending on what is impairing the view.
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm the position taken by the View Restoration Commission on Issue One (What is a view and should the significance determination be taken out of the equation). The motion was, seconded by Councilman Gardiner. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Mayor Stern asked for comments regarding Issue Two (Simplify the determination on how often to trim by establishing specific trim levels and allowable growth heights.)
There was discussion regarding the ridgeline height of structures, the trimming of foliage based on the calendar or what is a significant intrusion on the view once it has been trimmed.
View Restoration Mediator Dyda stated that the ridgeline height be used as a guideline, so that when foliage grows up beyond that point it must be trimmed.
View Restoration Mediator Franklin suggested that the Commission be allowed the latitude of either approach, depending on what they thought was most appropriate.
There was further discussion on different types of foliage, growth rates, and significant encroachment on the view by the growth of foliage.
Planner Nelson stated that a condition that would include the determination on how often to trim trees by establishing specific trim levels and allowable growth heights, whichever is less, would be ideal. She stated that there is a provision in the Guidelines that allows for an annual maintenance review built in, but that she feels what View Restoration Mediator Dyda was proposing could eliminate the need for that because it would establish a trimming level and/or a desired schedule that will always have to be adhered to.
Councilman McTaggart suggested that certain species, such as the acacia, not be allowed to remain in the view due to its rapid growth ability in order to further the ordinance.
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm the View Restoration Commission’s recommendation on Issue Two. The motion was seconded by Councilman Gardiner. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Mayor Stern asked for comments regarding Issue Three (Establish deterrents for view enforcement process.)
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm the View Restoration Commission’s recommendation on Issue Three (Establish deterrents for view enforcement process), seconded by Councilman Gardiner. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Mayor Stern began comments on Issue Four (Restrict lacing (a trimming technique) to the left and right edges of a view frame.) He stated that although he felt lacing is probably most appropriate on the edges of a view frame and would less likely be used when foliage is in the center of the viewing frame, the Commission should be allowed the latitude to use this as one of its tools.
Commissioner Mueller asked the View Restoration Mediators why they believed lacing should be allowed in the view frame.
View Restoration Mediator Dyda stated that the problem with lacing is that it encourages rapid growth and results in costing the City additional cost for review, trimming, etc.
There was additional discussion on the benefits, negative impacts, and costs of maintenance of lacing.
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm Issue Four,(To keep lacing as a viable trimming option but to use caution when the trees are in the cluster of the view frame.) The motion was seconded by Mayor Stern. Mayor Stern stated that Issue Four should include the additional comments that if lacing does not work the tree shall be lowered. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm Issue Five (Assure that all work required is done with reasonable quality.) The motion was seconded by Councilman McTaggart. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Mayor Stern asked for comment on Issue Six (Review the tree replacement guidelines).
Planning Commission Chair Long stated that he felt the tree replacement guidelines were an important component of the ordinance.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the guidelines were being modified to clarify that if the City arborist determines that trimming, culling, or lacing a tree will in all probability cause the tree or shrub to die, and the foliage owner chooses not to accept removal and replacement as an option, then the applicant will not be obligated to provide replacement foliage to the foliage owner.
View Restoration Mediator Franklin stated that when topping a tree may kill the tree, the foliage owner is given the option to replace the tree.
Mayor Stern stated that written information should be provided to the foliage owner advising them that the tree will most likely die if trimmed, and offering tree removal and replacement as an option. He stated that the foliage owner would have to acknowledge their decision in writing.
Planning Commission Chair Long stated that if an arborist has advised that topping a tree will not kill it and the tree is topped and subsequently dies, he assumes that tree replacement will remain as it exists now.
View Restoration Planner Nelson stated that it would.
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm Issue Six, which would clarify that a foliage owner would forfeit the right to a replacement tree if a written determination is made by the city arborist that trimming would likely kill a tree and the foliage owner elected to trim the tree regardless and acknowledges said decision in writing, seconded by Councilman McTaggart. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
RECESS & RECONVENE:
Recess and Reconvene: At 10:28 A.M., Mayor Stern declared a recess. The meeting reconvened at 10:35 A.M.
Mayor Stern asked for comments on Issue Seven (Review privacy issues).
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm Issue Seven, to clarify that only preexisting privacy is to be mitigated, seconded by Councilman McTaggart. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Mayor Stern introduced Issue Eight (Improve neighbor contact prior to the pre-application process.)
Councilman Clark made a motion to affirm Issue Eight, that a box on a form checked by the applicant and requiring that a copy of a registered letter be submitted indicating that the applicant had made an attempt to contact the other party before filing a Notice of Intent Application with the City, seconded by Councilman Gardiner. Motion carried as there were no objections noted.
Councilman Clark expressed thanks to the staff and former View Restoration Planning Commissioners on the behalf of the entire Council for working through the proposed enhancements of the Guidelines.
Mayor Stern stated that there were additional revisions suggested by the View Restoration as stated in the staff report. He introduced the first item, regarding the insertion of a Sample View Restoration Private Agreement into the Guidelines.
It was the consensus that Item One was acceptable.
Mayor Stern introduced Item Two, regarding the insertion of the Acceptable Foliage Growth Diagram that illustrates the acceptable growth height of 16 feet or the ridgeline whichever is lower.
Planning Commissioner Chair Long stated that trimming should be directed to the extent necessary to restore the significant view not to exceed trimming to the lowest of 16 feet or the ridgeline of the structure. He felt that the specific question raised by Councilman Gardiner regarding the existence of multiple ridgelines needed to be addressed.
Mayor Stern stated that if the view is impaired by something else, there is no justification for trimming the trees.
City Attorney Lynch suggested adding to the guidelines some language that specifies when foliage is involved, and not structural additions, that the primary residence ridgeline exclude the garage, even if attached.
Councilman Gardiner stated there ought to be an easier way to state that trimming should be to the silhouette of the structure.
There was discussion regarding diagrams drawn and presented by View Restoration Mediator Franklin. The diagrams illustrated numerous scenarios representing foliage growth in relation to the structure on the property and the view blockage such foliage could create for adjacent properties.
View Restoration Mediator Dyda reminded the Council that the view corridors need to be protected.
City Attorney Lynch stated that sections dealing with the trimming to match the silhouette, and the protection of view corridors and setbacks for new developments as well as existing properties would be brought back to the Planning Commission to be resolved. City Attorney Lynch suggested that a footnote be added on the diagrams stating the vantage point of the observer in order to clarify the situation.
Councilman Clark made a motion that staff be directed to return to the Planning Commission addressing the two topics. The motion was seconded by Councilman McTaggart. The motion carried.
Mayor Stern asked for comments on Item 3, regarding the provision of language that deals with Staff and/or the Mediation Planning Commissioner assisting in the preparation of private agreements; and Item 4, regarding minor word additions. There were no comments.
Mayor Stern introduced Item 5, which provides language that describes a policy that is in practice but is not stated in the Guidelines. The policy allows the Commission to require trimming below 16 feet or the ridgeline for aesthetic reasons, but only with the foliage owner's consent.
Councilman McTaggart asked the City Attorney how a City could be allowed to use aesthetics in an ordinance.
City Attorney Lynch responded that basing a decision solely on aesthetics has been problematic, but that she understands the language to say that the aesthetic trimming allows for some balance in the trimming and is done with the approval of the foliage owner. She stated that the language would be changed to clarify the matter.
Councilman Clark made a motion to direct Staff to rewrite and bring back to the Planning Commission Section 5, Paragraph D of the Guidelines to clarify the intent of the discussion requiring the affirmative consent of the foliage owner. The motion was seconded by McTaggart. The motion carried.
Mayor Stern introduced the section containing Staff Suggested Clarifications as listed in the staff report and asked for discussion on these items. There was no discussion.
Mayor Stern thanked the View Restoration Planning Commissioners for their work and time spent on this very important and exceedingly difficult issue for the community.
Mediator Franklin asked for permission to work with the Planning Commission regarding the diagrams.
Mayor Stern gave Council consent.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright had a question regarding the use of the word "eligible" on certain pages of the View Restoration Permit Guidelines Procedures and also pointed out that on certain pages reference was made to the View Restoration Commission which should now be referred to as the Planning Commission.
Director Rojas stated that the word "eligible" was a typographical error and would be removed and the other corrections would be made.
RECESS & RECONVENE:
Recess and Reconvene: At 11:16 A.M., Mayor Stern declared a recess. The meeting reconvened at 11:24 A.M. (Councilman Gardiner absent from the meeting.)
Mayor Stern stated for the record that the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee was in attendance.
Councilman Clark who was Co-Chair of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee stated that all members of the Committee are present except for Co-Chair Gardiner. He acknowledged Ken Dyda, Lois Karp, Vic Quirarte, Don Shults and Diane Weinberger, Don Schulz for their tremendous role in the process. He also acknowledged Planning Commissioners Cartwright and Lyon, and Senior Planner Mihranian for the roles they played in this process.
Proposed amendments to the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility process. (1203)
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report and the recommendations to: 1) Review the proposed amendments to the Neighborhood Compatibility requirements; (2) Review the proposed Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook; and, (3) If the new criteria and process is acceptable to the City Council, direct Staff to initiate amendments to the existing Guidelines and Development Code implementing the revised Neighborhood Compatibility process.
(At 11:31 A.M. Councilman Gardiner returned to the meeting.)
Senior Planner Mihranian identified the tasks and objectives assigned to the Committee by the Council. He briefly explained the City’s current Neighborhood Compatibility process and then summarized the six recommendations the Committee proposes to change to the residential development process, specifically as it pertains to the Neighborhood Compatibility process.
1.Establishment of an Optional Pre-Application Process
2. Expansion of the Number of Neighborhood Compatibility Triggers
3. Inclusion of Side- and Rear-Yard Setbacks as a Part of the Neighborhood
4.Defining "Neighborhood," "Transitional Neighborhood" and "Immediate
5.Requiring the Construction and Certification of a Silhouette
6.Creation of a Process Chart
Senior Planner Mihranian discussed the three components of the handbook that the Committee worked on which included the Policy Administration, Classic Architectural Styles, and Design Tips. He stated that the handbook was prepared by the Committee as a tool that would be made available to the community. He stated that the Handbook should be placed on the City’s web site, at the public counter at City Hall, and given to realtors, as well as Homeowner Associations.
Mayor Stern asked if the silhouettes to be used would be three-dimensional in order to address some of the issues such as bulk and mass. He then asked how the City intends to use the silhouette requirement as a means of encouraging the use of articulation while discouraging a bulky and massive structure design.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the silhouette requirement is similar to the current requirement in the Height Variation process and would be used to not only raise public awareness of a pending project, but to also analyze the mass and bulk of a proposed project.
There was discussion regarding the use of silhouettes as a tool to raise awareness, comparing it to what other communities are doing to address similar issues; their value as view analysis tool; the cost of silhouettes; and, the time period of the raising of the silhouette in relation to the pre-application meeting.
Senior Planner Mihranian reviewed the Single-Family Residential Development Project Process Chart in more detail. The discussion included the following defining steps:
Senior Planner Mihranian reviewed the Committee’s proposed changes to the Neighborhood Compatibility triggers. He identified the existing triggers and then discussed the proposed triggers, which include a modification to an existing trigger with respect to cumulative additions.
He stated that Trigger No. 4 was modified so that cumulative additions that result in an increase of 25 percent of the original structure or a 750 square foot expansion of the original structure would trigger Neighborhood Compatibility.
He explained that Trigger No. 5 pertains to lot coverage that exceeds the maximum allowed; Trigger No. 6 is existing and is regarding any construction of a second or higher story or addition would require Neighborhood Compatibility captured through the Height Variation Guidelines. He continued with Trigger No. 7, a new recommended trigger regarding an addition of a second story deck or balcony 80 square feet or larger in area or projecting more than 6 feet from an existing building. Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the adoption of this trigger may be able to replace the existing "roof deck" requirement. He then continued with Trigger No. 8, regarding the addition of a second story deck or balcony that is located in a required setback area. He stated that this trigger may be unnecessary because the Code prohibits such structures in the required yards and would therefore require a Variance application for review by the Planning Commission. He concluded with Trigger No. 9 regarding a mezzanine structure or proposed mezzanine in whole or a part to an existing structure that modifies the exterior of the structure will trigger Neighborhood Compatibility.
There was discussion regarding the notification requirements of "at least the 20 closest neighboring properties" during the pre-application process.
Planning Commission Chair Long suggested that in some cases "neighborhoods" are very different due to the geography of the area.
Planning Commissioner Lyon suggested that on page 4 of the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook in the paragraph under point 9 the second sentence be changed to read "For the purposes of Neighborhood Compatibility, the immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be at least the twenty (20) closest residences on the same or an intersecting street within the City of Rancho Palos Verdes."
Planning Commissioner Cartwright stated that he recalls that the Director of Planning or the Planning Commission would have the discretion to use either more or less neighboring residences, depending on the situation.
Councilman Clark concurred with Planning Commissioner Cartwright and stated that the minutes of the Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting of Oct 4, 2002, indicate that less than 20 properties can be used if the properties are far apart. He stated the essence of the reason for 20 properties to be considered instead of 10 properties because it was a better benchmark for neighborhood compatibility.
Planning Commissioner Cote asked why the silhouette comes after the pre-application process.
Councilman Clark stated that was because the ideas and plans for the addition may be influenced by the pre-application process and that it may be too costly to revise the silhouette if the plans are modified.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he would be departing during the break, but at this time he wanted to state that he was pleased that he had been able to participate with the steering committee in the work they did regarding the process for defining the Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines.
Recess and Reconvene: At 12:15 P.M., Mayor Stern declared a recess. The meeting reconvened at 12:58 P.M. (Councilman Gardiner absent.)
Senior Planner Mihranian continued his presentation. He reviewed the Recommended Neighborhood Compatibility Criteria which centered on side and rear yard setbacks.
There was discussion regarding the setbacks in relation to the location of the home on the lot. After the discussion, it was concluded that each case would need to be considered individually, depending on the situation and the neighborhood.
Director Rojas stated that at the current time the Code mentions front yard setbacks only, and that if there is a change to include the side and rear yard setbacks, it will be necessary for the Code to be amended.
Committee Member Weinberger stated that the Committee felt it was important when considering neighborhood compatibility to extend the scope of properties to the 20 closest properties to enable staff and the Planning Commission to be able to evaluate the situation most effectively based on the immediate neighboring properties that may extend to at least the 20 closest properties.
Mayor Stern stated that when considering neighborhood compatibility the focus should be on the immediate area of the property that is proposing an addition and then broadening out to additional properties in the larger surrounding community.
Mayor Stern asked for comments on the Item 1, the Establishment of an Optional Pre-application Process.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman McTaggart to approve Item 1. The motion carried
Mayor Stern asked for comments on Item 2, the Expansion of the Number of Neighborhood Compatibility Triggers.
Councilman Clark stated that the triggers are an important component of the Neighborhood Compatibility issue since the next few years will reflect transitions in many neighborhoods within the city.
Councilman McTaggart stated that 2D should reflect the changes discussed earlier with respect to cumulative additions.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright expressed his support to the changes reflected in Trigger No. 7 regarding roof decks.
Mayor Stern stated that Trigger No. 8 should be deleted for clarity.
Councilman Clark made a motion, seconded by Councilman McTaggart to accept Item 2, the proposed Triggers. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Planning Commissioner Tomblin asked for discussion of Item 4, defining Neighborhood, Transitional Neighborhood, and Immediate Neighborhood to help in understanding Item 3.
Planning Commission Chair Long asked about the eventuality of homes growing larger and larger over time and suggested that neighborhood compatibility should reflect a serious effort of density control. He asked if the City should not have a maximum size structure.
There was discussion regarding "outstanding issues" with the Code as it pertains to lot coverage; zoning and setbacks; the mass, bulk and scale of homes; grade elevation changes; and density issues.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright stated that he feels mass and bulk are the main factors that make neighborhood compatibility an issue, rather than actual square footage of a home.
Planning Commission Chair Long suggested that maximum size of a structure be considered for individual lots because it could be a very good way of controlling density.
Councilman Clark made a motion that the Council consider creating another subcommittee to follow up changes that may need to be made to the Code with respect to zoning density, setbacks, and lot coverage in the context of the environment, seconded by Councilman McTaggart. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Planning Commissioner Mueller asked that buildable land area also be considered in relation to lot coverage.
Mayor Stern added that other elements or additional related criteria also be considered.
Planning Commissioner Lyon recommended that in Item 4, the immediate neighborhood be defined as follows: "normally considered to be at least the twenty (20) closest residences on the same or an intersecting street in the same zoning district." He suggested that this change be made to the Handbook as well.
Recess and Reconvene: At 1:50 P.M. Mayor Stern declared a recess. The meeting reconvened at 1:57 P.M.
Mayor Stern asked for comments regarding Item 3, the inclusion of side and rear yard setbacks as a part of the Neighborhood Compatibility Criteria.
Councilman Clark made a motion to accept Item 3, seconded by Councilman McTaggart. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Mayor Stern asked for comments regarding Item 5 requiring the construction and certification of a silhouette.
Councilman McTaggart made a motion to accept Item 5, seconded by Councilman Clark. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Mayor Stern made a motion to adopt the process flow chart, seconded by Councilman Clark. Motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Planning Commissioner Cote felt the pamphlet covering the process flow chart will be a very helpful tool for the community.
Mayor Stern made a motion to adopt the process identified in the flow chart, seconded by Councilman Clark. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner Absent).
Mayor Stern asked for comments regarding the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook.
Planning Commissioner Tomblin asked about how involved the Planning Commission should get with architectural styles and design features.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright and Councilman Clark stated that architectural styles and design features are criteria that are considered by the Planning Commission at the present time.
Mayor Stern stated that architectural style should be a part of the criteria analyzed in neighborhood compatibility.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright noted that the handbook was reviewed by Brian Campbell, Rene Cartwright, and Luis de Moraes prior to today’s workshop. He asked Staff to summarize their comments.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the majority of the changes were readability changes, not informational changes.
Mayor Stern stated that if any changes are substantive suggestions in nature, they should be brought back to Council.
Planning Commissioner Lyon stated that on Page 6 of the handbook in the paragraph under the "Notification to at Least the 20 Closest Neighbors" the fourth line from the bottom should have the words "potentially affected" inserted as footnoted.
Councilman McTaggart made a motion that the handbook be adopted as amended including a one-year follow-up review of the handbook, seconded by Councilman Clark. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Councilman Clark suggested that the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook be taken to the Council of Homeowners Association to brief the leaders of the Association.
Mayor Stern asked for comments on the Necessary Code and Guideline Amendments.
Councilman Clark made a motion to adopt the amendments, seconded by Councilman McTaggart. The motion carried 3-0 (Ferraro and Gardiner absent).
Mayor Stern asked for comments on the Outstanding Concerns.
Councilman Clark reiterated that that the Council consider a subcommittee to take a follow up look at zoning, setbacks, and lot coverage in the context of the environment.
Discussion of the "by right height limit" and other code interpretations that apply to view protection. (1801 x 1804)
Director Rojas presented the staff report and the recommendation that the City Council review the code interpretations discussed and provide Staff and the Planning Commission with direction as noted.
Planning Commissioner Cartwright restated the issues to be the "by right height limit" issue; the second being the issue that when you go above 16 feet, does the initial 16 feet come into play; should the view concerns of the Height Variation be restricted to the viewing area as it is defined in the Code, specifically from the primary living area.
Planning Commission Chair Long stated that an application for a home can be built up to 16 feet "by right" without a Height Variation permit, with no view considerations coming into play. He feels that certain findings need to be made once an application is submitted that exceeds the 16 feet height limit. He stated that the findings that need to be made are the following: 1) the house has to be designed so as to minimize the impact on a view as defined, and 2) the house cannot significantly impair a view from a viewing area. He stated that the question arises when the house built to the initial 16 feet height impairs the view and any additional height up to perhaps 22 feet does not impair the view.
Councilman Clark stated that going above16 feet would not be in his opinion be considered a sliver, but a second story. He stated that it is his understanding that when the City was incorporated, he believes that the core benchmark of being able to build by right was to the 16 feet height limit.
Planning Commissioner Duran Reed stated that she agrees that vacant lots can be built to 16 feet, but questioned if an existing house can be built to 16 feet by right if it will impact a view of a neighboring property, and asked if this is consistent with the General Plan.
(Councilman McTaggart left the room at 2:40 P.M. and returned at 2:43 P.M.)
Planning Commissioner Lyon felt that there was an inconsistency between finding number 4 and 6. He suggested that the wording on finding number 4 be changed to read, "The portion of the structure exceeding 16 feet is designed and situated in such a manner as to avoid unreasonable impairment of a view from the viewing area of another parcel."
Planning Commissioner Chair Long stated that finding number 4 should read, "The structure is designed and situated in such a manner as to reasonably mitigate
impairment of a view." He felt that there should be amendments to the Code that would say that any application for height variation not be necessary for up to the height of 16 feet.
Mayor Stern stated that he felt that because there were only three Councilmembers present that it would not be wise to come to any conclusion on this issue and that there should be discussion and debate on this issue.
Councilman Clark stated that since 1975 the portion of the Code dictating the regulations of the Height Variation have been in place and he wonders how a change to this portion would affect the over 1000 decisions that have previously been made.
Councilman McTaggart stated that the principle employed with in order to come up with the ordinance was that of reasonableness and the ordinance has stood the test of time.
Ken Dyda commented that the discussion that originally existed was to allow for a structure to be built up to 16 feet in height on a vacant lot. He stated that the intent was not for someone who originally built to 9 feet in height to be able to come back and add on to the height of his or her home up to 16 feet.
Planning Commissioner Cote stated that there is obviously a difference in opinion among the Planning Commissioners and the Planning Commission needs clarification on this issue because applications of this nature frequently come before the Planning Commission.
Mayor Stern stated that ultimately the Council will need to define how the ordinance will work and how the Planning Commission will handle this issue.
After length discussion of the matter, Mayor Stern suggested that a policy be drafted on how the ordinance should be handled.
City Manager Evans suggested that after hearing the discussion, Staff has some ideas of what to propose to the Planning Commission that will deal with some but not all of the issues at hand.
Councilman Clark stated that Staff should bring their specific ideas and suggestions to Council at a future meeting.
Mayor Stern invited all of the Planning Commissioners to attend the meeting so that they can participate in the dialogue before a policy decision is reached by the Council.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 3:30 P.M. on motion of Councilman Clark, seconded by Councilman McTaggart.
/s/ Douglas W. Stern
/s/ Jo Purcell
W:\2003 City Council Minutes\02082003 cc mins.doc