02/26/2002 Planning Commission Agenda February, 2002, 02/26/2002, Planning, Commission, Meeting, Agenda, Allow the demolition of an existing one-story residence in order to accommodate the construction of a new 3,921 square foot (garage included), two-story, single-family residence, at a proposed height of 26 feet, as measured from the lowest finished grade covered by structure to the highest roof ridgeline. Additionally, the applicant requests a Minor Exception Permit to allow a portion of the proposed balcony to project 1’-9" into the required 20 foot front yard setback, thereby maintaining an 18’-3" setback for the balcony, and a Grading Permit to allow 594 cubic yards of grading (285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction included The 02/26/2002 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Agenda
Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Commission Agenda February 26, 2002
February 26, 2002

DISCLAIMER

The following Planning Commission agenda includes text only version of the staff reports associated with the business matters to be brought before for the Planning Commission at its Regular Meeting of this date. Changes to the staff reports may be necessary prior to the actual Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commission may elect to delete or continue business matters at the beginning of the Planning Commission Meeting. Additionally, staff reports attachments, including but not limited to, pictures, plans, drawings, spreadsheet presentations, financial statements and correspondences are not included. The attachments are available for review with the official agenda package at the Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department.

...end of disclaimer...

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This agenda has been prepared for the orderly progression of Planning Commission business.  The Planning Commission is very interested in hearing your comments and encourages your participation in the meeting.  These agenda instructions are intended to familiarize you with how the meeting will be conducted, what to expect and how to most effectively participate in the process.

Staff Reports

Detailed staff reports on the items contained in this agenda are available from the Planning Department the Friday before the meeting and are posted for public viewing immediately prior to the meeting in the hallway outside the chambers.  The Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department is located at City Hall at 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.  The Department's public counter hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.  The telephone number is (310) 377-6008.

Organization of the Agenda

The Planning Commission agenda is divided into the following sections:

Consent Calendar: This section consists of routine items, which, unless a request has been received from the public, a Commission member or Staff to remove a particular item for discussion, are enacted by one motion of the Planning Commission.
Continued Business:  This section consists of items that were held over from a previous Planning Commission meetings and for which a decision has not yet been made.
Public Hearings: This section is devoted to noticed public hearings which have not been previously heard by the Commission.
New Business: This section is for items that do not require a noticed public hearing.  Pursuant to adopted Planning Commission procedure, the Commission will, except under exceptional circumstances and with the consent of the majority of the Commission, adjourn its meetings on or before 12:00 a.m. and not consider new business items after 11:00 p.m., with any unfinished business being continued to the next regular, adjourned, or special meeting.
Audience Comments: This part of the agenda is reserved for making comments on matters which are NOT on the agenda.  Comments must be limited to matters within the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission.  Due to State law, no action can be taken on matters brought up under Audience Comments.  If action by the Commission is necessary, the matter may be placed on a future agenda, or referred to Staff, as determined by the Commission.

Presentation of Agenda Items

Unless the Chairperson in his or her discretion should direct otherwise, the order of the presentation is generally as follows:

(a) Presentation of staff report, including any environmental analysis or recommendation.
(b) Questions of staff by members of Planning Commission.
(c) Public hearing opened.
(d) Presentation of the applicant(s) or appellant(s).
(e) Presentation of persons in favor of the requested action.
(f) Presentation of persons in opposition to the requested action.
(g) Rebuttal comments by the applicant(s) or appellant(s), if requested.
(h) Closing comments by staff.
(i) Public hearing closed.


How to Speak on an Item

 In order to speak on an item, please completely fill out a Request to Speak form and return it to the recording secretary.  These half-sheet forms (which are printed on colored paper) are available on the table in the hallway outside the chambers or from the recording secretary, who is seated on the left-hand side of the dais (the table with the blue skirt at the front of the meeting room), next to the light timer.  Requests to speak on an item must be submitted to the recording secretary prior to the completion of the remarks of the first speaker on the item.  No request forms to speak on the particular item will be accepted after that time.

 After your name is called by the recording secretary, please approach the lectern and speak clearly into the microphone.  The height of the microphone may be adjusted by hand if necessary.  Before beginning your comments on the item, please state your name and address for the record.

 The length of time that each person is allowed to speak on individual items is determined by the Chairman and is usually based on the number of speakers on the particular item.  Normally, the applicants and appellants are limited to a five (5) minute presentation and a three (3) minute rebuttal (if requested). All other persons are generally limited to three (3) minutes per person. 

 Submittal of Written Correspondence

 You may submit written evidence to the Planning Commission through the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and request that the Commission receive copies of the submitted materials prior to the meeting.  However, such written evidence must be submitted by 12:00 noon on the Monday prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  If any written evidence is submitted after the Monday noon deadline, the Commission will not consider it at the meeting.  However, it will be distributed as part of the agenda packet for any forthcoming meeting, provided that the item is continued.  This does not prevent you from reading written comments that are submitted late into the record as part of oral comments, in accordance with the time limits discussed above.

Conduct at the Meeting

The Planning Commission has adopted a set of rules for conduct during Planning Commission meetings. Although it is a very rare occurrence, the Chairperson may order from the Planning Commission Chambers any person(s) who commit the following acts with respect to a regular or special meeting of the Planning Commission:

1. Disorderly, contemptuous or insolent behavior toward the Commission or any member thereof, which interrupts the due and orderly course of said meeting.
2. A breach of the peace, boisterous conduct or violent disturbance, which interrupts the due and orderly course of said meeting.
3. Disobedience of any lawful order of the Chairperson which shall include an order to be seated or refrain from addressing the Commission.
4. Any other interference with the due and orderly course of the meeting.

Your cooperation in making the Planning Commission meeting run smoothly and fairly for all participants in greatly appreciated.


BEGINNING OF PLANNING COMMISSION AGENDA


RANCHO PALOS VERDES PLANNING COMMISSION

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2002

FRED HESSE COMMUNITY PARK, 29301 HAWTHORNE BOULEVARD

REGULAR MEETING

7:00 P.M.


SCHEDULING NOTES

REQUESTS TO SPEAK ON AN ITEM MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE RECORDING SECRETARY PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE REMARKS OF THE FIRST SPEAKER ON THE ITEM. NO REQUEST FORMS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THAT TIME.

PURSUANT TO ADOPTED PLANNING COMMISSION PROCEDURE, NEW BUSINESS ITEMS NOT HEARD BEFORE ll:00 P.M. WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY CONTINUED AND WILL BE HEARD ON THE NEXT COMMISSION AGENDA.

NEXT P.C. RESOLUTION NO. 2002-02


CALL TO ORDER:

FLAG SALUTE:

ROLL CALL:


APPROVAL OF AGENDA:



COMMUNICATIONS:


Council Policy Items (Excerpt Minutes):

  • None

Staff:

Commission:


CONSENT CALENDAR:



1. MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 12, 2002


RECESS/COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items) at APPROXIMATELY 8:30 P.M.:



CONTINUED BUSINESS:



2. HEIGHT VARIATION PERMIT NO. 930, GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279 AND MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT NO. 596 : 6528 Nancy Road / Letvin (AM)

Requested Action: Allow the demolition of an existing one-story residence in order to accommodate the construction of a new 3,921 square foot (garage included), two-story, single-family residence, at a proposed height of 26 feet, as measured from the lowest finished grade covered by structure to the highest roof ridgeline. Additionally, the applicant requests a Minor Exception Permit to allow a portion of the proposed balcony to project 1’-9" into the required 20 foot front yard setback, thereby maintaining an 18’-3" setback for the balcony, and a Grading Permit to allow 594 cubic yards of grading (285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction included).

Recommendation: Adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002 - ___; approving, with conditions, Height Variation No. 930 and Grading Permit No. 2279 with recommended project revisions, and denying Minor Exception Permit No. 596.


PUBLIC HEARINGS:



3. COASTAL PERMIT, VARIANCE, AND SITE PLAN REVIEW CASE NO. ZON2001-00032: 120 Spindrift Lane / Maniscalco (BY)

Requested Action: A request to allow the construction of a new carport and a 526 square foot addition to an existing single family residence and the replacement of an existing carport with a new 470 square foot carport. The proposed addition is proposed to be located above the proposed carport, at a height of 20.00’, as measured from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade (102.84’) to the top of the highest ridge (122.84’), and 13.52’, as measured from the highest elevation of the existing pad covered by structure (109.32’) to the highest ridge. The proposed addition and carport are proposed to abut the front and side property lines.

Recommendation: Continue this item to the Planning Commission Meeting of March 26, 2002.


NEW BUSINESS:



4. REVIEW PROCEDURE FOR EXTERIOR LIGHTING FOR HOMES ON CURVED ROADS (PC).

A request by the Planning Commission to consider whether a special review procedure should be implemented for exterior lighting for homes on curved roads.


ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS:


Staff



5. PRE-AGENDA FOR THE MEETING OF MARCH 12, 2002.


Commission


ADJOURNMENT:


The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday,
March 12, 2002, 7:00 P.M. at Hesse Park.



AGENDA

RANCHO PALOS VERDES PLANNING COMMISSION

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2002

FRED HESSE COMMUNITY PARK, 29301 HAWTHORNE BOULEVARD

REGULAR MEETING

7:00 P.M.


SCHEDULING NOTES

REQUESTS TO SPEAK ON AN ITEM MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE RECORDING SECRETARY PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE REMARKS OF THE FIRST SPEAKER ON THE ITEM. NO REQUEST FORMS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THAT TIME.

PURSUANT TO ADOPTED PLANNING COMMISSION PROCEDURE, NEW BUSINESS ITEMS NOT HEARD BEFORE ll:00 P.M. WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY CONTINUED AND WILL BE HEARD ON THE NEXT COMMISSION AGENDA.

NEXT P.C. RESOLUTION NO. 2002-02



CALL TO ORDER:

FLAG SALUTE:

ROLL CALL:


APPROVAL OF AGENDA:



COMMUNICATIONS:


Council Policy Items (Excerpt Minutes):

  • None

Staff:

Commission:


CONSENT CALENDAR:



1. MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 12, 2002


DRAFT

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
FEBRUARY 12, 2002

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

FLAG SALUTE

Commissioner Cartwright led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL

Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Long, Mueller, Vannorsdall, and Chairman Lyon
Absent: None

Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Assistant Planner Yu, and Recording Secretary Peterson.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Without objection, the agenda was approved as presented.

COMMUNICATIONS

Director/Secretary Rojas discussed a "Livable Communities" Conference in Torrance on February 28 that was open to all Planning Commissioners to attend. He also explained that the Planning Commission meeting of March 12, 2002 would be a joint scoping meeting with the Traffic Committee for the forthcoming Marymount College EIR.


CONSENT CALENDAR



1. Minutes of January 22, 2002


Commissioner Cartwright clarified his statement on page 7 of the minutes.

Chairman Lyon noted a typo on page 10 of the minutes.

The minutes were approved, as amended, (5-0).


CONTINUED BUSINESS



2. Height Variation Permit No. 938: Jeffrey and Laurie Younggren 4362 Exultant Drive.


Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report. She explained the scope of the project and noted that the applicant had, in order to address concerns raised by the Planning Commission and staff, revised the plan and moved the addition back from the front property line. They also proposed a hip roof rather than a gable roof and lowered the front ridgeline. She explained that, at the request of the Planning Commission, staff included other homes in the Seaview neighborhood when considering neighborhood compatibility. She stated that staff found the scale, bulk and mass, and design of the proposed project compatible with other homes found in the expanded neighborhood. Staff also analyzed the proposed second story addition in relation to the down slope lots and found the proposed second story addition would not overwhelm the down slope lots as it would be set back 34 feet from the rear property line. Further, staff did not feel the second story addition would result in an unreasonable infringement of privacy. Staff, however still felt that views from 4343 Dauntless Drive would be significantly impaired. Therefore, staff was recommending denial of Height Variation No. 938.

Commissioner Long asked if there had been any discussion between staff and the applicant to see if anything further could be done to minimize the view impact from 4343 Dauntless Drive.

Assistant Planner Yu stated that staff had suggested some design changes to the applicant.

Commissioner Long did not feel there was any change in the view impairment when comparing the previous proposal with the new proposal.

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that in comparing photographs of the previous view frame with the current frame there was a difference, however it was very minor. Because the difference was so minor, staff felt the view impairment was still significant.

Commissioner Cartwright asked if the current second story proposal was lower than the original proposal.

Assistant Planner Yu answered that the current plan shows the front portion of the ridge to be lower by two feet, however the rear portion was the same height as previously proposed.

Commissioner Mueller asked if staff wanted the applicant to lower the height of the ridgeline or move the second story further back on the house.

Assistant Planner Yu responded that staff recommended moving the second story further back.

Commissioner Cartwright asked if, at the last meeting, the guidance given by the Planning Commission to the applicant was to both lower the ridgeline and move the second story addition back.

Director/Secretary Rojas confirmed that the direction given was to do both and referenced the minutes from the meeting. He explained that the applicant had lowered the ridgeline and moved the second story addition back, however it was not enough to make a difference on the view impact.

Chairman Lyon did not feel it was appropriate for the Planning Commission to redesign the project. He felt the applicant was entitled to request what they wanted and it was the Planning Commission’s duty to see if that request interferes with the rights of any other property owners or the City’s codes.

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

Gary Lane 500 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, stated he was the architect for the project. He explained that he has reduced the square footage of the project by approximately 200 square feet, set the building back nine feet on the second floor and three feet on the first floor, lowered the ridgeline two feet, and changed the roof from a gable roof to a hip roof to soften the look and reduce the mass. He felt this was a significant change from the original plans. He understood that view impairment was the issue that concerned the Planning Commission but noted that there had been no objections from the neighbors regarding the proposal. He felt that the view that was being blocked had a portion that was currently being obstructed by trees. Further, he felt that view obstruction could be interpreted differently depending on the angle of view.

Commissioner Vannorsdall stated that he had previously suggested rotating the ridgeline ninety degrees. He asked the architect if he had considered that.

Mr. Lane responded that he had considered the ridgeline at many different angles, however he felt that changing the ridgeline took away the softening and blending between the first and second floors.

Jeff Younggren 4362 Exultant Drive (owner) stated that he had attempted to comply, as much as possible, with the direction given by the Planning Commission at the previous meeting. He stated that he had been under the assumption after the last meeting that with minor adjustments to the plans he would have the support of staff. He explained that he had made the adjustments requested, which he did not consider minor. He displayed photographs he had taken of his home and the view from 4343 Dauntless Drive. He felt that the photographs showed that there was some degradation of the view from 4343 Dauntless, however that view impairment was not significant. He also pointed out that the foliage in the neighborhood has grown significantly in the past 30 to 40 years and a majority of residents have lost up to 60 percent of their views from that foliage.

Commissioner Cartwright felt the issue before the Planning Commission was not neighborhood compatibility but rather a height variation, and therefore it was not clear to him what weight the Commission should place on the neighbors’ agreeing that what has been done was the right thing in terms of view impairment. He asked Mr. Younggren what alternatives he looked at, other than what was currently being proposed, to minimize the view impairment and the concerns of the Planning Commission. He also asked Mr. Younggren to address the counter proposal offered by the staff.

Mr. Younggren responded that he had left the previous meeting with the impression that he was to modify the project in accordance with the suggestions, which was what he had done. He stated that the layout of the home does not allow a lot of possible expansions that make sense in terms of the design of the property. He stated he wanted to develop the south end of the home so that there would be a study and master bedroom suite. He felt that tacking this addition on to the western end of the home would be an imposition on the homes below, as the addition would be toward the very edge of the property. He stated that he was not aware there was a proposal from staff until they had recently met with staff. He stated that it was a decision regarding the design of the addition. He felt that his recent proposal represented a moderate compromise. He did not know where an addition could be put that wouldn’t be very spread out and dwarf the lot.

Commissioner Cartwright asked if Mr. Younggren felt he could push the addition back so that the ridgeline was behind the existing ridgeline.

Mr. Younggren answered that he would not be able to have his master bedroom suite if he did that.

Diane Weinberger 4206 Exultant Drive stated she was president of the Seaview Residents Association. She stated that she had not met the Younggrens prior to December when they were going through the initial hearings before the Planning Commission. She stated that she was an unbiased speaker representing the Seaview subdivision and stating her opinion as a concerned citizen of Rancho Palos Verdes. She indicated that she had read the staff report and noted that staff had found view impairment from only one property, 4343 Dauntless Drive. She stated that she walked the entire project and walked the entire perimeter at 4343 Dauntless Drive, and she disagreed with staff’s finding of view impairment. She did not feel the view impairment was significant, and pointed out that 4343 Dauntless Drive has a large improvement above their garage that was much larger than the Younggren’s proposal. She also noted that there was a wall of trees obstructing the view from 4343 Dauntless Drive. Ms. Weinberger noted a project at 4040 Admirable Drive, completed last fall that has a similar façade and is affecting more views from more homes than the Younggren’s project. She also noted the projects approved at 1 Yacht Harbor and 4005 Admirable Drive which impacted several views and felt that there was something unfair about not approving the Younggren’s project which only impacts one view. She felt the Younggrens had significantly modified their plans and moved their addition far enough back on the property that it was not obtrusive from the street. She requested the Planning Commission approve the project, as amended, as the project would be an asset to the Seaview subdivision.

Commissioner Cartwright repeated that this was not a neighborhood compatibility issue, but rather a height variation issue. He noted that the project at 1 Yacht Harbor was not a height variation issue and was not applicable in comparing the two projects. Commissioner Cartwright stated that part of the concern was the cumulative affect that may happen if this scenario were played out on the rest of the street. He asked Mr. Younggren to respond to that concern.

Mr. Younggren He also stated that view impacts affect one or two people, and generally do not affect many people. He stated that this second story addition was in a resident’s protected view corridor, and noted that a height variation does not allow for a second story to be built that significantly impacts the view from any property.

Ms. Weinberger stated that if the addition were to remain single story and the Younggrens took advantage of their maximum lot coverage, the views of more people would be significantly impacted. She referred to the many homes in the subdivision that had a second story addition over the garage.

Commissioner Long stated that a height variation application requires a finding be made that there would be no significant impairment of views, and the Planning Commission does not have the power to ignore the ordinance. He further stated that whether or not the Commission may have misapplied the ordinance on a previous application would not persuade him to misapply the ordinance now. He also noted that these other second story additions in the neighborhood may or may not have needed a height variation.

Commissioner Cartwright asked Ms. Weinberger if she was in disagreement with the Height Variation code that addresses the issue of protection of views, or was she concerned with the staff’s interpretation that this was a significant view impairment.

Ms. Weinberger answered that she was definitely in disagreement with staff’s opinion and she may have some concern over the ordinance.

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

Chairman Lyon began the discussion by stating the issue was whether or not the obstruction of view was significant. He stated that when standing at 4343 Dauntless Drive he saw a horizontal arc of 60 to 70 degrees that comprises the view, which was largely of Catalina and the ocean. He stated that the view was currently significantly obstructed by foliage. He also felt that of the 60 to 70 degree arc that constituted the view, this proposal would only obstruct approximately 10 percent of the total view. Further, of that 10 percent there was a tree that was already obscuring a portion of that view. Therefore, he felt that the extent to which the modified proposal obscures the remaining view of the ocean was quite insignificant. He felt the modification made by the applicant was a sincere attempt to address the issues the Commission raised. He did not object to the project as modified by the applicant.

Commissioner Vannorsdall was concerned about the cumulative impacts. He felt the Planning Commission should expect these types of applications in this neighborhood as the lots could support larger homes and the needs of families were growing. He felt the Commission was going to have to approve these applications, simply for economics. He felt a 1,200 square foot home on a half million-dollar lot was completely out of balance with realism. He felt there must be a house proportional to the value of the lot, and the only way to achieve this was by allowing expansion to the home.

Commissioner Long began with neighborhood compatibility. He was not persuaded, based on going through the neighborhood, that the houses in the expanded neighborhood shown in Table 3 of the staff report were relevant. Therefore, he focused on the houses in the original neighborhood shown on Table 2. Comparing the house with Table 2, he saw that this would be the first house in the neighborhood that will be 2 stories and will end up being approximately 70 percent larger than average and increase its own size by approximately 70 percent. He also noted that none of the houses in Table 2 were two-story homes. Commissioner Long noted that Table 3 included a number of homes that are more distant and there were a great number of two-story homes. He also noted that this home would only be approximately 15 percent larger than the average home on Table 3. He was troubled that the homes on Table 3 were not the homes that were nearby and were elsewhere in the neighborhood. Therefore, he was not convinced the proposal was compatible. However, if he overcame that he was still not convinced that, for a height variation permit, that this proposal has been designed so as to minimize impairment of views. He felt that other than looking at limited suggestions and doing a portion of what staff suggested, the applicant didn’t consider anything else. He felt that the view impairment was significant and he was inclined to oppose the project in its current form. He stated he was more troubled by the neighborhood compatibility issue than the view issue. He felt that further relatively minor changes could deal with the view issue but was not sure if the same was true with the compatibility issue.

Commissioner Mueller agreed that Table 3 of the staff report did not apply in this situation and the neighborhood compatibility should be compared to the 10 closest homes in the neighborhood. Regarding the view issue, he felt this was a view corridor issue. He did not think the foliage was relevant because foliage was not intended to be permanent and there were ways to deal with the foliage. He stated he supported the staff recommendation because he felt there were small changes needed to protect the view and he did not think proper alternatives had been presented to the Planning Commission that would help save the view from 4343 Dauntless Drive.

Commissioner Cartwright stated that neighborhood compatibility was originally a concern of his, however in traveling around the neighborhood he saw other structures that had additions that were very similar in style, size, and mass. He therefore felt this was a neighborhood in transition and there were going to be these types of additions that were going to appear on a block that hasn’t yet been affected by this transition. Therefore, he could agree that neighborhood compatibility was not an issue. He did however have a concern regarding the view. He explained that he tried to put himself in the position of the owner of 4343 Dauntless Drive and in doing so he felt that this addition would cause a significant view obstruction. He was also very troubled by the potential cumulative affect if there started to be second story additions on the south side of street. He didn’t think it would take very long before the view issue would become the concern of not just one home but many. Further, Commissioner Cartwright was not convinced that the applicant had looked very hard at minimizing the view impact. He explained that there was a code the Planning Commission was expected to follow and they really didn’t have the option of much discretion in terms of the code.

Chairman Lyon re-opened the public hearing.

Diane Weinberger stated that the view was a subjective issue and pointed out that the owner of 4343 Dauntless Drive has no objection to the project.

Commissioner Long explained that neighbors do not "sign off" on projects and the Planning Commission does not do planning by voting. He stated the Planning Commission was charged with making fact-findings and making a decision based upon those facts.

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Mueller moved to accept the staff report as presented and adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-01 thereby denying without prejudice Height Variation No. 938 and approve Site Plan Review No. 9202, seconded by Commissioner Long.

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff to clarify what it meant to deny a project without prejudice.

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that to deny the project without prejudice would allow the applicant to submit a new application that would perhaps address the Commission’s concerns. He noted that the new application would require new fees, a new review period, and new noticing. He stated that the applicant could also appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council. Mr. Rojas explained that denying a project with prejudice would mean that the applicant could not submit a new application for at least a one-year period.

The motion passed (3-2) with Commissioner Vannorsdall and Chairman Lyon dissenting.

Commissioner Long noted that he voted in favor of the motion however he did not agree with staff’s conclusions on neighborhood compatibility.

Chairman Lyon noted that the applicant could appeal the decision to the City Council within 15 days or submit a new application which might be more favorably accepted by the majority of the Commission.


NEW BUSINESS



3. Creation of an institutional memory file.


Director/Secretary Rojas presented a couple of ideas for creating an institutional memory file: one being to expand on the current Follow-Up Agenda and present more detailed explanations of Commission decisions, and the other to create a table containing short narratives describing what Commission decisions occurred on what date.

Chairman Lyon felt there was value in this type of table and suggested a summary that contained four things: the subject and category in which the decision falls in, a description of what the request was, a description of the action taken by the Planning Commission, and if appropriate any comments that would convey any special circumstances or conditions that the Commission considered in making their decision.

Commissioner Long liked both of staff’s ideas and felt a more detailed Follow-Up Agenda would be helpful. He discussed ways to write short, detailed paragraphs about the Planning Commission’s decision which included the key points of the decision.

The Commission discussed different methods of how the institutional memory file could be created. They felt that this could be helpful to the City Council, public and staff and only secondarily to the Planning Commission.

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that as long as the memory file system was limited to very brief statements or paragraphs, it shouldn’t be very difficult for staff to implement.

Commissioner Long felt this would help the Planning Commission see what decisions had been made as a whole rather than on a case-by-case basis.

Director/Secretary Rojas felt it was important to focus only on projects that deal with neighborhood compatibility or new homes. The Planning Commission agreed.

After a brief discussion, the Commission felt this was a good idea. Chairman Lyon asked staff to put together a few different versions for the Planning Commission to review at a future meeting.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.


RECESS/COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items) at APPROXIMATELY 8:30 P.M.:



CONTINUED BUSINESS:






2. HEIGHT VARIATION PERMIT NO. 930, GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279 AND MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT NO. 596 : 6528 Nancy Road / Letvin (AM)

TO: CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2002

SUBJECT: HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 930, GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279, AND MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT NO. 596

PROJECT ADDRESS: 6528 NANCY ROAD

APPLICANT:
LARRY PEHA
PEHA AND ASSOCIATES
67-14TH STREET
HERMOSA BEACH, CA 90254

PHONE: 310-372-1755

LANDOWNER:
MR. AND MRS. DON LETVIN
(ANDRE RUGGERI, APPLICANT)
6528 NANCY ROAD
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA 90275

PHONE: 310-221-0011

STAFF COORDINATOR: ARA MICHAEL MIHRANIAN, SENIOR PLANNER

REQUESTED ACTION: TO ALLOW THE DEMOLITION OF AN EXISTING ONE-STORY RESIDENCE IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW 3,921 SQUARE FOOT (GARAGE INCLUDED), TWO-STORY, SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE, AT A PROPOSED HEIGHT OF 26 FEET, AS MEASURED FROM THE LOWEST FINISHED GRADE COVERED BY STRUCTURE TO THE HIGHEST ROOF RIDGELINE. ADDITIONALLY, THE APPLICANT REQUESTS A MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT TO ALLOW A PORTION OF THE PROPOSED BALCONY TO PROJECT 1’-9" INTO THE REQUIRED 20 FOOT FRONT YARD SETBACK, THEREBY MAINTAINING AN 18’-3" SETBACK FOR THE BALCONY, AND A GRADING PERMIT TO ALLOW 594 CUBIC YARDS OF GRADING (INCLUDING 285 CUBIC YARDS OF REMOVAL AND RECOMPACTION).

RECOMMENDATION: ADOPT P.C. RESOLUTION NO. 2002-___; APPROVING, WITH CONDITIONS, HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 930 AND GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279 WITH RECOMMENDED PROJECT REVISIONS, AND DENYING MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT NO. 596.

REFERENCES:

ZONING: RS-3

LAND USE: SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL

CODE SECTIONS: 17.02, 17.48, 17.66, 17.70, and 17.76.040

GENERAL PLAN: RESIDENTIAL 3-4 DWELLING UNIT PER ACRE

TRAILS PLAN: N/A

SPECIFIC PLAN: N/A

CEQA: CATEGORICALLY EXEMPT (CLASS 3)

ACTION DEADLINE: APRIL 4, 2002

BACKGROUND

On May 2, 2001, the subject applications were submitted to the Planning Department by Andre Ruggeri on behalf of the property owners, Mr. and Mrs. Don Letvin, to allow the demolition of an existing one-story, single-family residence, to accommodate the construction of a new, two-story, single-family residence. After an initial review of the project applications and architectural plans, the subject applications were deemed incomplete by Staff, with a request for further information. At the same time, Staff informed the applicants that the City has received several comments from surrounding neighbors expressing concern with respect to potential view impacts and the size of the proposed structure as it relates to the surrounding neighborhood.

On November 5, 2001, the subject applications were deemed complete for processing and the required public notice of the public hearing, was mailed to property owners within a 500’ radius of the subject property, all interested parties, and published in the Peninsula News informing the general public of the proposed project and inviting any comments for consideration. In response, the City received eleven (11) letters from neighboring property owners expressing concern with the proposed project as it pertains to the accuracy of the silhouette, potential view impacts and the proposed residence’s incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. In response to the comments, Staff re-measured the silhouette and determined that the footprint of the silhouette was plotted incorrectly by approximately five (5) feet, which directly impacted the depicted height. As a result, Staff informed the property owners that the public hearing would be continued to the January 22, 2002 Planning Commission meeting to allow ample time to prepare an updated survey and revise the silhouette accordingly so that Staff, the Commissioners and the public could accurately evaluate the proposed project. The property owners indicated that the silhouette will be corrected and agreed to the continuance of the public hearing.

After the public hearing was continued, the applicant worked with Staff in revising the silhouette in time for the January 22nd meeting. On January 7, 2002, the applicant informed Staff that the revised silhouette was completed. Soon thereafter, Staff conducted a site visit to verify the accuracy of the silhouette. Although Staff determined that the revised silhouette accurately depicts the proposed residence, the silhouette was not revised in time to allow surrounding residents ample time to ascertain the potential project impacts. As such, Staff was unable to analyze the proposed project for the January 22nd meeting. Therefore, at the January 22nd meeting, Staff recommended that the Commission continue the public hearing to the February 26, 2002 meeting so that the surrounding neighbors may have ample time to provide new or additional comments pertaining to the revised silhouette, as well as provide Staff adequate time to analyze the proposed project.

It should be noted that Staff advised the property owners to conduct a meeting with the surrounding neighbors to hear the concerns expressed during the public noticing period. As such, the applicant informed Staff that a neighborhood meeting was held on January 24, 2002 at the project site (see attachment). Staff did not attend the neighborhood meeting nor receive revised plans.

After the public hearing was continued to the February 26th meeting, a new public notice, indicating the date, time and location of the public hearing, as well as explaining the cause of the continuance, was mailed to property owners within a 500’ radius of the subject property, all interested parties, and published in the Peninsula News informing the general public of the proposed project and inviting any new comments for consideration. The public notice also indicated that in addition to new comments, all previous comment letters submitted to the City during the earlier noticing period would be provided to the Commission for their consideration. As a result of the re-noticed public hearing, the City received several additional letters from neighboring property owners expressing similar concerns with the accuracy of the silhouette as well as the design of the proposed project and its potential to impact views from neighboring properties (See attachment). The content of their concerns will be discussed in this report.

Pursuant to the Permit Streamlining Act, a decision on the project application would have been required by January 4, 2002, which is sixty (60) days from the date of completeness. However, the action deadline date may be extended provided that a one time ninety day time extension is requested by the applicant. As such, on December 5, 2001, the applicants submitted a ninety day time extension, thereby establishing a new action deadline date of April 4, 2002 (see attachment).

SITE DESCRIPTION

The subject property is located at 6528 Nancy Road, which is in the eastern portion of the City’s Miraleste neighborhood. According to the City’s Zoning Map, the project site is designated as a RS-3 (Single-Family Residential) zoning district and is on an approximately 8,178 square foot "wedge / triangular" shaped lot accessed off Miraleste Drive and Lorraine Drive. The subject property is considered a "building pad" lot in that the proposed developed will occur on a portion of the lot that is less than a 5% slope. With respect to the subject street, Nancy Road is a sloping street that consists of lots developed with single-family residences that vary in age from the 1930’s to more recent remodels. Many of the homes are located on lots that are defined by the Development Code as either a "building pad" or "down sloping" lot. The varying lots provide a unique characteristic to the immediate neighborhood because no two homes are similar. Furthermore, the unique character of the immediate neighborhood is enhanced by architectural standards, also known as "Protective Restrictions," governed by the Art Jury in the City of Palos Verdes Estates.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

According to the applicants’ architectural plans, the proposed project is to demolish an existing 1,522 square foot, single-family residence, constructed in 1939, to allow the construction of a new 3,921 square foot, two-story single-family residence. The proposed residence consists of 1,566 square feet on the lower level, 1,629 square feet on the upper level, and an attached 726 square foot two-car garage. The proposed residence would be constructed at a height of 26’, as measured from the lowest finished grade elevation covered by structure (99.7’) to the highest roof ridgeline (125.7’), and 20’-10" in height as measured from the highest existing grade elevation covered by structure (104.9’) to the top of the highest roof ridgeline (125.7’). According to the Development Code, the subject property is considered a "pad lot" with a "by right" height limit of sixteen (16) feet, as measured from the highest existing grade elevation covered by structure to the top of the highest roof ridgeline, and twenty (20) feet, from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade to the top of the highest roof ridgeline. According to the architectural plans, the lower level consists of a two-car garage and the bedroom area, while the upper level consists of the primary living spaces (kitchen, living room, dining room, and etc.).

In order to prepare the project site for the proposed development, the applicants request a grading permit to conduct 594 cubic yards of grading, consisting of 307 cubic yards of cut, 2 cubic yards of fill and 285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction. Of the proposed grading, 177 cubic yards of earth movement would be under the building footprint and 132 cubic yards of earth movement would be outside the building footprint for the driveway access and yard improvements. Since the grading quantity between cut and fill is not balanced, approximately 305 cubic yards of earth would be exported off-site. The applicants have not indicated where the excess earth would be exported. Additionally, the applicants request a Minor Exemption Permit to allow a portion of the proposed balcony to project 1’-9" into the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

In accordance with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Staff has determined this project to be categorically exempt under Class 3 – new construction or conversion of small structures.

Class 3 exempts from the preparation of environmental documents the construction of single-family residences not in conjunction with the building of two or more such units. In urbanized areas, up to three single-family residences may be constructed or converted under this exemption. Since the proposed project consists of the construction of a new single-family residence within an area developed with single-family residences comparable to the proposed project, Staff has determined that the proposed project is a Class 3 Categorically Exemption.

CODE CONSIDERATION AND ANALYSIS

The following discussion will cover the Height Variation, Grading Permit and Minor Exception Permit applications as they relate to the standards set forth in the City’s Development Code for an RS-3 zoning district. Each subsection will apply the appropriate findings required under that application (bold type) along with Staff’s analysis (standard type), needed to render a decision. Additionally, if applicable, Staff’s analysis will include those concerns expressed in correspondence received during the public notification period under the appropriate finding.

A. HEIGHT VARIATION

Pursuant to Section 17.02.040(C)(1)(e) of the City’s Development Code, in order for the Planning Commission to consider a project that exceeds the sixteen (16) foot "by right" height limit, the following nine findings must be positively made as it relates to the proposed project:

  1. That the applicant has complied with the Early Neighborhood Consultation Process established by the City.

The applicant has completed the Early Neighborhood Consultation process by canvassing property owners within 500’ of the subject property, informing them of the proposed project. Under the Early Neighborhood Consultation process, the applicants are required to obtain signatures from 60% of the property owners within the 500’ radius or obtain signatures from 25% of the property owners within 500’ and 70% within the 100’ radius of the subject property. Based on documentation the applicants provided to the City, Staff determined that 38 of the 69 properties (55%), excluding the applicant, within the 500’ radius of the subject property, and 9 of the 12 property owners (75%) within the 100’ radius, signed the required form. Therefore, the Early Neighborhood Consultation process was adequately completed.

However, it should be noted that after the project applications were deemed complete for processing, the property owners at 6521 Nancy Road informed Staff during the original public noticing period that they would like their names removed from the early neighborhood consultation list because they were not presented with the architectural plans at the time they signed the required form. In an attempt to verify this allegation, Staff contacted the applicants and received conflicting information. Furthermore, according to the Neighborhood Consultation Form, the property owner for 6521 Nancy Road checked "yes" for reviewing the plans (see attachment). Therefore, since Staff has been unable to successfully confirm these statements, Staff is considering the signature as part of the final total, as identified in the previous paragraph. In the event the Commission wishes to remove the signature from the list, this finding cannot be made because the number of signatures within the 100’ radius will fall below the required 70%.

  1. That the structure does not significantly impair a view from the public property which has been identified in the City’s General Plan or Coastal Specific Plan as City-designated viewing areas.

According to the City’s General Plan and the Coastal Specific Plan, the subject property, which is located in a tract off Miraleste Drive, is not in a City designated viewing area. Therefore, the proposed project will not significantly impair a view from public property.

  1. That the proposed structure is not located on a ridge or promontory.
  2. According to the Development Code, a ridge is defined as an elongated crest or linear series of crests of hills, bluffs, or highlands, while a promontory is defined as a prominent mass of land, large enough to support development which overlooks or projects onto a lowland or body of water on at least two sides. The subject property is located on a graded lot that was created when the surrounding neighborhood was developed and is therefore not on a ridge or promontory. Therefore, Staff believes that this finding can be made.

  3. That the structure is designed and situated in such a manner as to minimize impairment of a view.

As indicated in the Background Section of this report, Staff received several comment letters from neighboring property owners expressing concern with the proposed height of the residence and its potential impairment of views (a detailed analysis pertaining to view impacts from specific neighboring properties will be discussed later in this report). Notwithstanding the "by right" limit of 16’/20’, Staff analyzed the design of the proposed residence with respect to the neighbor’s comment letters as well as from conducting numerous site visits. Staff believes that the design of the project may be enhanced in a manner that would further minimize the impairment of a view from neighboring properties. Therefore, as proposed Staff cannot make this finding unless the following recommendations are incorporated into the design of the proposed residence:

    1. Roof Pitch – According to the applicants’ architectural plans, the proposed roof pitch for the residence is a 3¼:12 slope. Staff believes that the overall height of the proposed residence may be reduced by approximately 6-8 inches by lowering the slope of the roof pitch to 3:12, which is the minimum pitch permitted by the Uniform Building Code (UBC) for clay tile roofs.
    2. Grading – According to the applicant’s grading permit request, which will be discussed in detail later in this report, approximately 594 cubic yards of earth movement is proposed to accommodate the residence. Although Staff routinely regulates grading that may be considered excessive, for this project, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission require the applicant to conduct additional grading so that the building pad may be lowered to further minimize an impairment of views.
    3. In order to sufficiently lower the elevation height of the building pad without creating drainage concerns, Staff recommends that additional excavation be conducted so that the overall pad height is reduced by no more than four (4) feet. Although lowering the building pad height will not change the overall height of the proposed residence, it does lower its perceived height. The additional recommended grading will require the preparation of a revised grading plan that will indicate the additional grading quantities, including the amount of export, and the height and location of any additional retaining walls. A detailed discussion on grading is provided in the following section of this report.

    4. Interior Floor to Ceiling Heights – According to the architectural elevations and sections, the proposed lower level would maintain a clearance of 9’-6" from the interior finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate, while the upper level, which consists of a vaulted ceiling, would maintain a clearance of approximately 13’-6" from the finished floor to the exposed ridge beam. It should be noted that the upper level would maintain an interior clearance of 9’-6" at the lowest point of the vaulted ceiling, which is measured from the finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate where the walls meet the ceiling. If the Commission requires the applicant to lower the roof pitch, as previously recommended, the upper level clearance would be reduced by approximately one (1) foot, thereby changing the interior clearance to approximately 12’-6" as measured from the finished floor to the exposed ceiling beam. In order to further reduce the overall height of the proposed residence, Staff recommends that the interior clearance be further reduced for both the lower and upper levels.

As such, Staff recommends that the lower level interior clearance be reduced by 6", to 9’-0", as measured from the finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate. Furthermore, Staff recommends that the upper level interior clearance be reduced by 1’-6", to 8’-0", as measured from the finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate where the perimeter walls meet the ceiling. By requiring the reduction in the interior clearance of both the lower and upper levels as recommended by Staff, the overall structure height would be reduced by approximately two (2) feet.

Staff has contacted the applicants and their architect with respect to the above project modifications. According to the applicant’s architect, many of the recommended project modifications may be feasible but would require further analysis. If time permits, the applicant’s architect will try to have drawings that reflect Staff’s recommendations at the public hearing for further review.

By combining the above recommendations, Staff believes that the design of the proposed residence will further minimize any potential view impairment from a neighboring property because the overall height of the structure will be reduced from 26 feet to approximately 23 feet in height. Furthermore, by lowering the building pad, as suggested by Staff, the structure will sit approximately four (4) additional feet lower than the highest ridgeline of the silhouette. As such, Staff believes with the recommended project modifications, this finding can be made.

  1. That there is no significant cumulative view impairment caused by granting the application.
  2. As previously indicated, the subject property is located in a neighborhood that is comprised of residential lots that vary between "building pads" and "sloping lots". Because of the unique topography of the neighborhood, Staff has determined that "protected views" as defined by the Development Code, vary between lots. As such, several of the existing homes within the immediate neighborhood of Nancy Road are currently developed as two-story residences, but may visually appear as single-story structures from the street because of the "down sloping" nature of these lots. Due to the topography of the immediate neighborhood coupled with the City’s height requirements for "building pad" and "down sloping" lots, Staff believes that future development projects involving an additional story within the immediate neighborhood will be limited. Furthermore, although some future second story additions may result in potential view impacts, the impacts may not be from "protected viewing areas" due to the "by right" height requirements for the varying lot classifications nor considered "significant". As such, Staff believes that the granting of the proposed project will not cause a significant cumulative view impairment and can therefore make this finding.

  3. That the proposed structure, when considered exclusive of foliage, does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another parcel.

The revised project silhouette has allowed Staff to accurately analyze the proposed project as it pertains to view impacts from neighboring properties. The following discussion includes an in depth analysis by Staff and a discussion of the concerns raised by the surrounding neighbors pertaining to potential view impacts.

NORTH – Since Nancy Road is a sloping street, the properties to the immediate north, which are across the street from the subject property, vary in elevation depending on whether the lot is oriented to the east (downhill) or the west (uphill) of the project site. For lots that are directly across and downhill from the subject property, views are oriented towards the north, the opposite direction of the subject property. Therefore, Staff does not believe a view impact will occur from the northern properties.

However, the properties to the north and uphill from the subject property are at a higher elevation than the subject property and maintain views to the north as well to the southeast, laterally over the project site. The following properties have been analyzed for potential view impacts:

    • 6529 Nancy Road (Mr. Alan Klainbaum / 310-374-2524) – According to the property owner’s comment letters, the proposed project may impair views of the harbor and the ocean from his living room. According to Staff’s analysis, the property at 6529 Nancy Road maintains different "far views" from various areas in the home. From the rooms oriented towards the rear yard in the northerly direction, views are of the city basin, which are not impacted by the proposed project. However, from the living room, which is located towards the front of the residence, views of the Pacific Ocean and the harbor are visible when oriented towards the project site. In determining whether the proposed project significantly impairs this view, Staff established a viewing frame from the living room window within the viewing area. As such, the proposed project occupies approximately 5% of the viewing frame, for which the majority of the ocean and harbor views are obstructed by the "by right" height limit, which is depicted by the green flags on the project silhouette. Therefore, although a view impairment exists, Staff does not believe the impairment to be significant. Furthermore, the portion of the proposed structure that exceeds the "by right" height limit of 16’/20’ impairs a view of the sky, which according to the Code is not a protected view.

It should also be noted, that the applicants have offered to remove a pine tree from the front yard of the project site to restore views of the ocean and harbor that may be impaired by the proposed residence (see attachment). Staff recommends conditioning the project so that the pine tree is removed because city basin views may be impaired by this tree from specific properties along Miraleste Drive.

    • 6521 Nancy Road (Mr. and Mrs. Victor Christy Furriel / 310-832-2412) - According to a site visit conducted by Staff, the property has a viewing frame from windows in both the living room and den. These windows are located on the street facing facade and provide views of the Pacific Ocean and the harbor. According to Staff’s analysis, the ocean and harbor views taken from the defined "viewing area" are impaired by the proposed project’s "by right" height limit, as depicted by the silhouette. Therefore, Staff does not believe that the proposed project significantly impairs a view from this property.

It should be noted that the property owners have indicated that there are city light views of the Newport Beach area above the 16’/20’ "by right" height limit. Staff has been unable to document such a view during the course of the site visits. Nonetheless, if such a view exists, it would be significantly impaired by the proposed project unless the overall height of the proposed project is lowered. As such, Staff recommends that the Commission condition the project as suggested in the above Finding No. 4, so that potential view impacts may be reduced to less than significant.

SOUTH – The properties located on Miraleste Drive are to the south of the project site and are at an elevation higher than the subject property. Views from many of these properties are oriented towards the east, which is in the opposite direction of the project site and will therefore not be significantly impaired. However, some properties along this portion of Miraleste Drive have views oriented to the north, laterally over the project site. During the public noticing period, Staff received two comment letters from property owners on Miraleste Drive expressing concerns with potential view impairment. Their concerns are discussed below:

    • 4108 Miraleste Drive (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boyles / 310-519-9316) – According to the comment letter submitted to the City, the property owners claim that the proposed project, as depicted by the silhouette, may partially impair a portion of their city basin view as taken from the rear portion of their property. In response, Staff conducted a site visit and determined that the viewing area contains a viewing frame, which is approximately 160 degrees, and contains a view of the city basin, the harbor and the ocean. As such, Staff believes that the proposed project will impair approximately 5% of the city basin view, which is located towards the lower center portion of the viewing frame. Although the proposed project impairs a portion of this property’s city basin views, Staff does not believe the impairment to be significant. Nonetheless, if the project is conditioned so that the overall height of the structure is lowered, Staff believes that the impairment will be minimized.

    • 4112 Miraleste Drive (Mr. and Mrs. Horst Gerjets) – This property is located to the immediate east of the above property (4108 Miraleste Drive) and is at a slightly lower elevation. According to Staff’s analysis, this property maintains views similar to the above property, as taken from the defined "viewing area", which consists of the city basin, the harbor and the ocean. However, because of the grade difference between this property and the property described above, Staff believes the proposed project will impair approximately 10% of their 160 degree view. Furthermore, Staff believes the view impairment is situated more towards the upper left portion of the viewing frame. As such, although the project would create a view impairment, Staff does not believe the impairment to be significant, because the majority of the defined "viewing frame" will not be impacted by project. Additionally, since the applicants have agreed to remove the pine tree from the front yard of the project site, Staff believes that views impaired by the project may be compensated by the tree removal. Therefore, Staff does not believe the proposed project creates a significant view impairment from this property.

In the event the Commission requires the applicants to revise the design of the project as recommended by Staff, the partial impairment of the city basin view will be further minimized. Furthermore, as previously noted, the pine tree located within the front yard of the project site will be removed to restore city basin views from these properties. Staff believes the subject pine tree is located in the center portion of the defined "viewing frame" from these properties and if removed, will compensate city basin views that may be slightly impaired by the project. Therefore, Staff does not believe the proposed project significantly impairs a view from this property.

EAST – The property to the east is located at a slightly lower elevation than the subject property, with ocean and harbor views oriented towards the southeast, which is in the opposite direction of the subject property. Therefore, the proposed project will not significantly impair views from the east.

WEST – The property to the immediate west is at a slightly higher elevation than the subject property with partial views oriented towards the southeast and the northeast, which is laterally over the project site. During the public noticing period, the City received a letter from the property owners to the immediate west expressing concern with the proposed project, specifically pertaining to potential view impacts, which is discussed below:

    • 6520 Nancy Road (Mr. and Mrs. Al Hutchings / 310-732-1897) – According to the property owner’s comment letter (see attachment), the proposed residence at a height of 26 feet will impair city basin and ocean views from the living room, family room, kitchen and the outdoor deck, which is immediately adjacent to the family room. In response to the comment letter, Staff conducted a site visit and determined that the proposed residence will impair city basin views from the "viewing area", but the view impairment is caused by the portion of the structure that is within the permitted "by right" height limit and is therefore not considered a protected view. Therefore, Staff does not believe the proposed project significantly impairs a view from the property at 6520 Nancy Road.

Notwithstanding, Staff believes that the design of the proposed residence may be enhanced to further minimize potential view impacts. As such, if the Commission requires the applicants to revise the design of the proposed structure, as recommended by Staff, it is believed that portions of the city basin views, that would otherwise be impaired by the "by right" height limit, would be partially preserved from this property.

Based on the above analysis, Staff believes that the proposed project will not significantly impair views from the viewing areas of properties to the north, south, east or west of the subject property. The photographs taken by Staff for use in the above view analysis will be made available to the Commission at the meeting. Therefore, this finding can be made with Staff’s recommended project modifications.

  1. That the proposed structure complies with all other code requirements.

Staff has determined that the proposed project will comply with the current Development Code requirements for residential development. Furthermore, since the proposed project is considered new construction, the City’s Geotechnical Engineer has reviewed the required geotechnical reports and conceptually approved the project in the Planning stage (see attachment).

In addition to obtaining entitlements from the Planning Department, the applicant will be required to obtain approvals from the City’s Division of Building and Safety for compliance with the safety standards of the Uniform Building Code, prior to issuance of building permits. Therefore, Staff believes that this finding can be made in that the proposed addition will be constructed in compliance with the City’s General Plan, Development Code and all applicable State and Federal laws.

  1. That the proposed structure is compatible with the immediate neighborhood character.

Staff has assessed the surrounding neighborhood to determine the compatibility of the proposed addition. In accordance with the Development Code’s definition of "neighborhood character," Staff’s analysis was based on the following criteria:

  1. Scale of the surrounding properties, including total square footage and lot coverage of the residence and all ancillary structures.
  2. The following table outlines the lot sizes, structure sizes and number of stories, along with the average lot and structure sizes, for the ten (10) closest lots located on Nancy Road.

    ADDRESS

    LOT SIZE*

    LOT TYPE

    STRUCTURE SIZE**

    NO. OF STORIES

    4101 Lorraine Drive

    10,210 sq. ft.

    "pad"

    1,965 sq. ft.

    2

    6545 Nancy Road

    16,740 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    2,705 sq. ft.

    2

    6541 Nancy Road

    11,790 sq. ft

    "other"

    2,302 sq. ft.

    2

    6537 Nancy Road

    9,970 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    2,739 sq. ft.

    2

    6533 Nancy Road

    11,510 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    3,300 sq. ft.

    2

    6529 Nancy Road

    11,750 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    1,411 sq. ft.

    1

    6525 Nancy Road

    9,830 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    1,882 sq. ft.

    1

    6522 Nancy Road

    10,430 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    4,170 sq. ft.

    2

    6516 Nancy Road

    10,460 sq. ft.

    "down slope"

    3,057 sq. ft.

    2

    6512 Nancy Road

    17,908 sq. ft.

    "pad"

    2,955 sq. ft.

    2

    AVERAGE

    12,060 sq. ft.

    N/A

    2,649 sq. ft.

    2

    6528 NANCY ROAD

     

    8,178 sq. ft.

     

    "pad"

    1,522 sq. ft.
    Existing Residence

    1

    3,921 sq. ft.
    Proposed Residence

    2


    * The above lot calculations were obtained from the Los Angeles County Tax Assessors information.

    ** Please note that the above calculations for structure size are based on building permits on file with the City and include the garage area, which if not documented on the building permit was calculated based on the Development Code’s minimum dimensions for an individual parking stall of 9’x20’ (180 sq. ft.).

    According to the table on the previous page, the ten (10) closest residences located on Nancy Road range between 1,411 square feet and 4,170 square feet (garage area included), and the residences vary between one and two stories. The subject lot is currently improved with a one-story, 1,522 square foot, single-family residence (garage included). As proposed, the applicants request to demolish the existing 1,522 square foot, one-story, single-family residence to allow the construction of a new 3,921 square foot, two-story, single-family residence. With respect to square footage, according to the table on the previous page, the proposed residence will be 249 square feet smaller than the largest home (6522 Nancy Road) and 1,272 square feet larger than the average total structure size for the ten (10) closest homes on Nancy Road. Although the proposed residence will further increase the average structure size within the defined neighborhood, Staff does not believe that the project creates an incompatible structure within the surrounding neighborhood. By integrating design elements that characterize the Miraleste area, which will be discussed in the next section, and limiting the size of the structure, Staff believes that although the proposed structure will be 1,272 square feet larger than the average structure and slightly smaller than the largest home within the defined neighborhood, that the proposed project meets this criteria.

  3. Architectural styles, including facade treatment, structure height, open space between structures, roof design, the apparent bulk or mass of the structure, number of stories and building materials.
  4. The subject property is located within the Miraleste neighborhood that maintains "Protective Restrictions" governed by the Art Jury for the City of Palos Verdes Estates. Although the City does not enforce the "Protective Restrictions" regulated by the Art Jury, Staff believes these restrictions provide a mechanism to protect the integrity of the Miraleste Neighborhood in terms of architectural style, building materials, and bulk and mass. As such, the applicants have indicated that the design of the proposed residence has been reviewed by the Art Jury and preliminarily approved on May 14, 2001 (see attachment). Notwithstanding, Staff has analyzed the proposed design in relation to the immediate neighborhood. It should also be noted that during the public noticing period, the majority of the letters received by Staff expressed concern with the proposed residence’s compatibility with the character of the immediate neighborhood in terms of architectural style, height, and massing.

    According to Staff’s analysis, the proposed structure has been designed to blend with the immediate neighborhood through the use of similar facade and roof materials, architectural details, and color. As such, the design of the proposed residence is of Mediterranean style that includes the use of 2 piece Mission Style roof tile, exposed roof rafters, smooth earth tone stucco, decorative wrought iron window bars, wood windows and doors, wood railing, and clay pipe attic vents. These architectural elements used on the proposed residence can be found throughout the immediate neighborhood on both older and recently remodeled structures.

    As proposed, the structure will have an overall height of 26’, as measured from the lowest finished grade covered by structure to the top of the highest roof ridge line. Although the proposed height is not uncommon within the immediate neighborhood, Staff believes that to further minimize potential view impacts from neighboring properties the overall height of the proposed residence should be reduced along with the elevation height of the building pad, as recommended by Staff earlier in this report. By modifying the proposed structure as recommended by Staff, the residence will still maintain the distinct character of the immediate neighborhood, as well as enhance the proposed structure’s compatibility with the homes on the opposite side of Nancy Road.

    Pursuant to the RS-3 Residential Development Standards, the maximum lot coverage for the subject property is 45%. According to the plans, the proposed building footprint is 2,292 square feet (garage included) and the parking and driveway area is 391 square feet, for a total of 2,683 square feet of lot coverage. In relation to the 8,178 square foot lot, the proposed lot coverage is 32% of the lot, which is 13% less than the maximum 45% lot coverage allowed.

    With respect to the mass and bulk of the structure, Staff believes that the proposed residence has been designed in a simple rectangular shape, that may appear massive and bulky without integrating architectural elements that may help balance the perceived weight of the structure. However, it is important to note, that although this design is routinely discouraged throughout various neighborhoods within the City, Staff believes that the design of the proposed structure is compatible with the immediate neighborhood because there are at least two (2) other homes within the ten (10) closest homes that also resemble a rectangular shape. These homes do not appear out of character with the existing neighborhood, but rather resemble the "original" Mediterranean feel of the Miraleste area. Furthermore, these homes, as with the proposed residence, are designed with subtle elements that visually soften the massive and bulky appearance of a rectangular shaped structure by using architectural projections such as the proposed balcony along the street facing facade. Furthermore, the proposed structure is designed so that the upper level is not entirely over the lower level and that the street facing facade maintain varying elevation planes providing a perceived depth in the structure’s visual appearance that preserves the character of the Miraleste area.

    Based on the above analysis, Staff believes that after completion of the proposed project, the subject residence will be consistent with the immediate neighborhood.

  5. Front yard setbacks.
  6. The proposed residence has been designed in full compliance with the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback, except for a portion of the proposed upper level balcony, for which the applicants’ request a Minor Exception Permit. A detail discussion on the Minor Exception Permit request may be found later in this report. With respect to the immediate neighborhood, many of the existing homes that were built in the 1930’s appear to maintain a front yard setback of less than the required twenty (20) feet. Nonetheless, the new homes or recent remodels within the immediate neighborhood have been designed with a twenty (20) foot front yard setback. Therefore, as proposed, the structure will be compatible with the required front yard setback set forth in the Development Code for the surrounding neighborhood.

    Based on the above discussion, Staff believes that the proposed addition is compatible with the immediate neighborhood, and can therefore make this finding.

  1. That the proposed structure does not result in an unreasonable infringement of privacy of the occupants of abutting residences.

According to Height Variation Guidelines, "privacy is defined as the reasonable protection from intrusive visual observation." During the public noticing period, the property owners to the immediate west, east and north indicated in their comment letters (see attachment) that the proposed residence will infringe on their privacy.

In regards to the property to the immediate west (6520 Nancy Road), Staff does not believe that the proposed project results in an infringement of privacy because the neighbor’s property is at a higher elevation than the project site. Furthermore, according to the applicant’s architectural plans, the westerly elevation does not contain windows that overlook the neighbor’s property.

As for the property to the immediate east (4101 Lorraine Drive) Staff does not believe the proposed project results in an infringement of privacy. Although this property is at a lower elevation than the project site, the portion of the neighbor’s lot that abuts the common property line and may be viewed from the proposed project consists of a driveway, parking area and garage. Furthermore, the second level windows of the neighbor’s residence are setback approximately sixty (60) feet from the proposed residence and are screened by an existing hedge that is approximately 12 feet in height.

With respect to the property to the immediate east (6533 Nancy Road), Staff does not believe the proposed project results in an infringement of privacy since this lot is located across the street, approximately sixty (60) feet away from the proposed residence. Pursuant to the Height Variation Guidelines, "greater weight is given to protecting outdoor privacy than indoor privacy." As such, the privacy concern expressed by the neighbor pertains to an interior window along the street facing facade that contains window coverings. Therefore, Staff believes that the proposed project will not create an infringement of privacy and can make this finding.

Based on the above discussion regarding the required nine (9) findings for a Height Variation application, Staff believes that with the recommended modifications to the design of the structure (see Finding No. 4), the required findings can be made and is thus recommending approval, with conditions, of Height Variation No. 930.

  1. GRADING

Pursuant to Section 17.76.040(B)(2) of the City's Development Code, the proposed project requires a major grading permit because a total of 594 cubic yards of grading is requested by the applicants, consisting of 307 cubic yards of cut, 2 cubic yards of fill and 285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction. The following discussion consists of Staff’s analysis of the required nine (9) criteria needed for a major grading permit, as stated in Section 17.76.04(E) of the City's Development Code.

1. The grading does not exceed that which is necessary for the permitted primary use of the lot.

The subject property is located in an area designated by the City’s Zoning Map as a RS-3 zoning district. According to the City’s General Plan and the Development Code, a single-family residence is classified as a permitted primary use in the RS Zoning Districts. As proposed, the grading is to allow the demolition of an existing residence to accommodate the construction of a new single-family residence with related site improvements. As proposed, all but 305 cubic yards of the proposed earth movement will be balanced on-site, with the surplus of earth exported off-site. It should be noted that although removal and recompaction is considered by the Development Code as earth movement, the actual amount of earth movement proposed that will alter the topography of the project site is 309 cubic yards. Therefore, based on the above discussion, Staff believes that the proposed grading is considered necessary for the permitted primary use of the lot.

2. The grading and/or related construction does not significantly adversely affect the visual relationships nor the views from neighboring properties.

Staff feels that the subject grading will not adversely impact any views from surrounding properties in that the proposed grading will not raise the height of the existing building pad, but rather cut into portions of the existing building pad to maintain a lower overall building height. According to the applicant’s survey, the subject property is located on a knoll that rises approximately three (3) feet in height from the street elevation along the western portion of the lot and approximately ten (10) feet in height from the street elevation along the eastern portion of the lot. Furthermore, as previously indicated, the subject property is located on a street that slopes uphill from the east to the west resulting in neighboring lots that naturally step with the terrain. With that in mind, the neighboring lots located higher in elevation than the subject property may be adversely affected, with respect to views, by the construction of the proposed project. Furthermore, during the public noticing period, Staff received several comments letters from neighboring property owners expressing concern with the project’s potential to impair views.

In order to minimize potential view impacts caused by the proposed project, the applicant’s request to lower the existing building pad by cutting into the site by approximately three (3) feet with 307 cubic yards of excavation. The majority of the proposed cut is located along the western portion of the lot which abuts the neighboring property that is higher in elevation than the subject property. Although Staff believes that the proposed earth movement will not significantly affect views from neighboring properties, Staff does believe that the height of the proposed structure has the potential to impair views and therefore believes additional grading may be considered to further lower the building pad elevation.

As such, Staff recommends additional grading be conducted so that the building pad is lowered an additional two (2) to four (4) feet. Staff believes that requiring the additional grading will further minimize potential visual impacts from neighboring properties to the west while preventing a significant redesign of the proposed project. It should also be noted that if the building pad were to be lowered more than the recommended four (4) feet in height, it could create problems in that the driveway slope may exceed the Development Code’s maximum 20% slope requirement and drainage issues may result. Therefore, Staff does not recommend that the building pad be lowered more than four (4) feet. With these modifications to the building pad, Staff believes that the subject grading will not significantly adversely affect the visual relationship from neighboring properties.

3. The nature of grading minimizes disturbance to the natural contours and finished contours are reasonably natural.

The proposed grading is located on a portion of the subject lot that was previously graded to accommodate the existing residence. According to the Development Code, the portion of the subject property that is being improved contains a "building pad" that is considered relatively flat. In addition, the majority of the proposed grading will be conducted entirely below the building footprint which will not significantly impact any natural or finished contours. Furthermore, the amount of grading proposed is limited to approximately 594 cubic yards (including 285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction), which is considered minor in nature because it will not drastically alter the topography of the site, but rather lower the elevation height of the building pad to minimize the impairment of views from neighboring properties. In the event additional grading is required by the Commission to lower the height of the building pad, Staff still believes that the additional earth movement to be relatively minor in nature. Therefore, Staff believes that the nature of the proposed grading minimizes the disturbance of the natural and finished contours.

4. The grading takes into account the preservation of natural topographic features and appearances by means of land sculpturing so as to blend any man-made or manufactured slope into natural topography.

The grading request is required to prepare the subject lot for construction by lowering the existing building pad to accommodate the proposed residence. The subject site is currently developed with a single-family residence that is situated on a relatively flat portion of the subject site. In regards to land sculpturing that will blend the man-made or manufactured slopes into the natural topography, the majority of the requested grading will be conducted under the building footprint to create a level building pad elevation that is lower than the existing pad. Although the subject site’s natural contours are relatively flat, the proposed grading will not significantly alter the natural contours. Furthermore, the proposed grading will be supported by an approximately four (4) foot high retaining wall along the western portion of the property. The visibility of the proposed retaining wall from the street will be limited because the majority of the retaining wall will be located in the side yard area, which will not visibly disturb any natural contours. Therefore, Staff believes that this criteria has been met.

5. For new single-family residences, the grading and/or related construction is compatible with the immediate neighborhood character.

The proposed project is for the demolition of an existing residence to accommodate the construction of a new single-family residence in a neighborhood that consists of lots developed with single-family residences similar to the proposed structure. As indicated in the Height Variation section of this report, the project was determined to be compatible with the immediate neighborhood.

6. In new residential tracts, the grading includes provisions for the preservation and introduction of plant materials so as to protect slopes from erosion and slippage and minimizes the visual effects of grading and construction on hillside areas.

This criteria does not apply in that the proposed project is not a new residential tract.

7. The grading utilizes street design and improvements which serve to minimize grading alternatives and harmonize with the natural contours and character of the hillside.

This criteria is intended to apply to new subdivisions, therefore this finding does not apply.

8. The grading would not cause excessive and unnecessary disturbance of the natural landscape or wildlife habitat through removal of vegetation.

The proposed project will not disturb any natural landscape or wildlife in that the proposed grading will occur on a lot that does not contain any natural landscape or protect habitat, as depicted in the City’s Natural Conservation Communities Plan (NCCP). Therefore, Staff feels that the proposed grading will not significantly impact any natural vegetation or wildlife habitat.

9. The grading conforms to the following standards for: grading on slopes, height of cut/fill, and retaining walls.

According to the City’s Development Code, grading on slopes over thirty-five (35%) percent is permitted if the lot was recorded and legally subdivided as of November 25, 1975. According to the grading plans, no earth movement will occur on slopes equal to or greater than 35% nor will the grading result in slopes exceeding a 50% gradient. Furthermore, the proposed access driveway will not exceed a gradient of 20%, the maximum slope permitted by the Development Code. With respect to the depth of cut of fill, the grading conducted outside the building footprint will not exceed a height of five (5) feet. Therefore, as proposed, this criteria has been met because the project grading has been designed to comply with the Development Code.

Based on the aforementioned analysis, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission conditionally approve Grading Permit No. 2279 provided that appropriate conditions are imposed that require the applicants to further reduce the overall height of the building pad elevation by two (2) to four (4) feet in order to further minimize potential view impacts to neighboring properties. It should be noted that in the event the Planning Commission directs the applicants to further lower the building pad elevation, the amount of earth movement described herein will be increased as will the depth of cut. Staff believes that the required findings can still be made if the grading quantities were to increase because the additional grading will further minimize potential impacts to neighboring properties.

  1. MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT

The applicants’ Minor Exception Permit request is to allow a portion of the proposed balcony along the street facing facade to project 1’-9" into the required 20 foot front yard setback. Pursuant to Section 17.66.020(B) of the Development Code, a reduction of no more than twenty (20) percent of any setback requirement may be permitted under the provisions of a Minor Exception Permit, provided that one of following three findings, as listed in Section 17.66.050 of the Development Code, is positively made.

    1. The requested Minor Exception Permit is warranted by practical difficulties; or,
    2. The requested Minor Exception Permit is warranted by an unnecessary hardship; or,
    3. The requested Minor Exception Permit is necessary to avoid inconsistencies with the general intent of this Title.

The City’s Development Code currently established specific setback criteria on all residentially zoned properties based on the zoning designation of the lot and when the lot was originally created (before or after the City’s incorporation). The intent of the setback criteria is to provide an adequate separation between property lines and development for air and light, and to enhance the aesthetic character of a neighborhood by maintaining a feeling of openness between the property lines and the residences.

According to Section 17.48.030(A)(2) of the Development Code, the subject property is located on a curved front property line, which is defined as a "wedge or triangular" shaped lot. Furthermore, the Development Code states that "wedge or triangular" shaped lots may not necessarily contain rear property lines, and any proposed development on such lots must only adhere to the Code’s required front and side yard setback requirements. As such, the applicant’s proposed project complies with the required setbacks for the RS-3 zoning district except for the required 20 foot front yard setback. According to the applicants’, the unique configuration of the subject lot limits their ability to develop the site similarly to the properties within the immediate neighborhood. Therefore, the applicant’s request a Minor Exception Permit to allow a reduction in the required front yard setback to accommodate a balcony.

According to the applicant’s architectural plans, the proposed balcony along the street facing facade projects approximately five (5) feet from the building facade and 1’-9" into the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback. In reviewing the applicant’s request with respect to the required findings, Staff is unable to positively make any one of the required findings in that the request to reduce the required setback is to accommodate a balcony that Staff does not consider an integral component of the proposed structure nor the permitted use of the lot. Furthermore, Staff believes that although the proposed balcony may be considered an inherit component of the residence because it provides articulation and an aesthetic value to the building facade, the balcony is more of a decorative element that may be reduced in size so that it still serves its purpose as a "usable" decorative architectural feature while complying with the required setback criteria. Therefore, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission deny the applicant’s Minor Exception Request and condition the project so that the proposed balcony is redesigned to comply with the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback requirement.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Residential Development Criteria

Notwithstanding the above analysis, Staff has also reviewed the proposed residence for compliance with the RS-3 Residential Development Standards as shown in the table below.

DEVELOPMENT STANDARD

REQUIREMENT

PROPOSED

FRONT YARD SETBACK

20’

20’

REAR YARD SETBACK

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

SIDE YARD SETBACK

5’

7’

MAX. LOT COVERAGE

45%

32%

BUILDING HEIGHT

16’

26’

PARKING

2 Spaces

2 Spaces


Based on the above table, Staff believes that the proposed development, including the construction of a 42-inch front yard wall and a rear yard trellis, comply with the City’s Residential Development Standards for the RS-3 zoning district.

Art Jury

As previously indicated, the subject property is located in the Miraleste Neighborhood which is governed by "Protective Restrictions" that are enforced by the Art Jury in the City of Palos Verdes Estates. According to the applicants, the proposed residence was reviewed and preliminarily approved by the Art Jury on May 14, 2001 (see attachment).

City’s Geotechnical Review

The City’s Geotechnical Engineer has reviewed the applicants’ geotechnical reports and conceptually approved the project in the Planning Stage on November 6, 2001.

Foliage

In regards to foliage, Staff believes the subject property contains a pine tree that may significantly impair city basin views from neighboring properties along Miraleste Drive. As Such, Staff recommends that the Commission require the applicant remove the pine tree within the front yard of the project site. This is the same pine tree that the applicants agreed to remove pursuant to an agreement between the project applicants and the neighbor at 6529 Nancy Road.

Public Noticing

According to the noticing procedure stated in the Development Code, a public notice was mailed to property owners within a 500 foot radius from the subject property and was published in the Peninsula News. During the thirty (30) day noticing period, the Planning Department received several public comments (see attachment). The concerns raised generally pertain to view impacts, structure size, neighborhood compatibility, and the accuracy of the project silhouette. Staff has addressed these concerns throughout the body of this report including the silhouette, which was discussed in the Background Section of this report.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above discussion and analysis of this report, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission conditionally approve Height Variation No. 930 and Grading Permit No. 2279, with recommended project modifications, to allow the construction of a new 3,921 square foot (garage included) single-family residence. Furthermore, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission deny the applicants’ request for Minor Exception Permit No. 596.

ALTERNATIVES

The following alternatives are available for the Planning Commission's consideration in addition to Staff’s recommendation (see page 1):

  1. Deny Height Variation No. 930 and Grading Permit No. 2279 in addition to Minor Exception Permit No. 596; or,
  2. Approve Height Variation No. 930, Grading Permit No. 2279 and Minor Exception Permit No. 596; or,
  3. Identify any additional issues of concern with the proposed project, and provide the applicant with further direction in modifying the project, and continue the public hearing to a date certain to review the project modifications.

ATTACHMENTS:

  • Draft P.C. Resolution and Conditions of Approval
  • Site Plan and Architectural Plans
  • Public Comments
  • Art Jury Approval
  • Geology Approval
  • Neighbors Pine Tree Removal Agreement
  • Neighborhood Consultation Form
  • Silhouette Site Plan


RESOLUTION NO. 2002-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING, WITH CONDITIONS, HEIGHT VARIATION N0. 930 AND GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279, AND DENYING MINOR EXCEPTION PERMIT NO. 596, TO ALLOW THE DEMOLITION OF AN EXISTING SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE TO ACCOMMODATE THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW 3,921 SQUARE FOOT, TWO-STORY, SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE ON PROPERTY LOCATED AT 6528 NANCY ROAD.

WHEREAS, on May 2, 2001 the subject applications, Height Variation No 930, Grading Permit No. 2279 and Minor Exception Permit No. 596 were submitted to the Planning Department by the property owners, Mr. and Letvin of 6528 Nancy Road, to allow the demolition of an existing 1,522 square foot single-family residence to accommodate the construction of a new 3,921 square foot, two-story, single-family residence with 594 cubic yards of associated grading; and,

WHEREAS, on November 6, 2001 the City’s Geotechnical Engineer reviewed and conditionally approved the applicants’ geotechnical reports and studies; and,

WHEREAS, after several meetings attended by Staff and the property owners and their architect, revised plans were submitted and deemed complete for processing on November 5, 2001; and,

WHEREAS, on November 5, 2001, the required public notices for the December 11, 2001 Planning Commission meeting were mailed to property owners within a 500 foot radius of the subject property, and a notice was published in the Peninsula News on November 10, 2001; and,

WHEREAS, in response to the public notice, the City received several comment letters from neighboring property owners expressing concern with the accuracy of the project silhouette. After further investigation, Staff re-measured the silhouette and determined that the footprint of the silhouette was incorrectly plotted by approximately five (5) feet, which directly impacted the depicted height. As such, the public hearing was continued to the January 22, 2002 Commission meeting to allow the applicants to revise the silhouette; and,

WHEREAS, on January 7, 2002 the applicants informed Staff that the project silhouette was revised. Soon thereafter, Staff measured the silhouette and determined it was plotted correctly, accurately depicting the proposed height of the structure. However, Staff was unable to re-notice the public hearing in time for the January 22, 2002 meeting, and therefore the Planning Commission continued the public hearing to the February 26, 2002 Planning Commission meeting; and,

WHEREAS, on January 10, 2002, the required public notices for the February 26, 2002 Planning Commission meeting were re-noticed to property owners within a 500 foot radius of the subject property, and a notice was published in the Peninsula News on January 12, 2002; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of the California Quality Act, Public Resources Code Section 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 Grading Permit No. 2191 would have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore the proposed project has been found to be categorically exempt (Class 3); and,

WHEREAS, after notices issued pursuant to the requirements of Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on February 26, 2002, at which all interested parties were given the opportunity to be heard and present evidence.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE, AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: That in regards to Height Variation No. 930:

  1. The applicants have successfully complied with the Early Neighborhood Consultation process established by the City by obtaining 38 signatures (55%) out of the 69 properties within the 500’ radius, and 9 signatures (75%) out of 12 properties within the 100’ radius.
  2. The proposed structure does not significantly impair a view from public property which has been identified in the City’s General Plan and the Coastal Specific Plan, since the subject property is located in a neighborhood developed with single-family residences that is not in an area designated as a public "viewing area" or the City’s Coastal District.
  3. The proposed structure is not located on a ridge or promontory in that the project site is located on a graded lot that was created when the surrounding neighborhood was development.
  4. Although the proposed project will not create a significant view impairment to surrounding properties, the project could be modified to further minimize any view impacts that may occur. The project, as conditioned, will minimize view impacts from surrounding properties provided that the project is modified to include the following:

    1. Reduce the roof pitch from 3¼:12 to 3:12
    2. Conduct additional grading so that the existing building pad is lowered by approximately 2 to 4 feet
    3. Reduce the height of the interior ceiling for both the lower and upper level so that the overall structure is reduced in height by no less than 2’.

  1. The subject property is located in an area that consists of unique topography that has characterized the existing development within the neighborhood. As such, "protected views" as defined by the Development Code, vastly varies between lots since several of the existing homes within the immediate neighborhood are currently developed as two-story residences, but visually appear as single-story structures from the street because of the "down sloping" nature of these lots. Therefore, due to the topography of the immediate neighborhood coupled with the City’s height requirements for "building pad" and "down sloping" lots, future development projects involving an additional story within the immediate neighborhood will be limited. Furthermore, although some second story additions may result in potential view impacts, the impacts may not be from "protected viewing areas" due to the "by right" height requirements for the varying lot classifications nor considered a "significant" view impact. Therefore, the Commission finds that in terms of cumulative view impacts, the granting of the proposed project will not cause a significant cumulative view impairment.
  2. The proposed structure, when considered exclusive of foliage, does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another parcel since the portion of the proposed structure that complies with the Development Code’s permitted "by right" height limit already impairs views. Views that are impaired by the "by right" height limit are not considered by the Development Code as protected views. Nonetheless, it is determined that the design of the proposed project may be enhanced to further minimize views, as identified in sub-section D of this Resolution, so that those properties which result in a view impairment caused by the proposed project may be partially restored. Therefore, the proposed second level does not create a significant view impairment beyond that which would result from a structure built to the maximum permitted "by right" height limit of 16’/20’. Therefore, the main impact is to "unprotected views," with only insignificant impacts to "protected views."
  3. The proposed structure complies with all other code requirements, as it pertains to the RS-3 zoning district’s residential development standards for lot coverage, setbacks, parking and other code requirements stated in the Development Code. As for those components of the proposed project that the Development Code does not permit "by right," the respective applications have been requested and reviewed according to the appropriate guidelines, as discussed in subsequent Sections of this Resolution. Additionally, further approvals must be obtained from the City’s Geotechnical Consultant in the building stage, and building and grading permits must also be obtained for compliance with the Uniform Building Code, the Development Code and the City’s Municipal Code.
  4. The proposed structure is compatible with the immediate neighborhood character because at 3,921 square feet, it will not be the largest home on Nancy Road and the structure is designed in a manner that resembles the old character of the Miraleste area by integrating architectural features such as clay tile roof, smooth stucco finish, wood doors and windows, and wrought iron. As for the "rectangular" shape of the proposed structure, it is found to be compatible with other similarly styled homes within the 10 closest homes on Nancy Road as well as within the Miraleste area. However, to balance the weight of the structure’s visual appearance, architectural features have been integrated into the design of the residence, such as the proposed street facing balcony, that softens the mass and bulk of the structure.
  5. The proposed structure does not result in an unreasonable infringement of privacy from the immediate neighboring properties because the natural sloping terrain of the neighborhood combined with the winding street configuration results in a staggered placement of neighboring yards and structures. The proposed structure is designed and plotted on the project site so that windows or balconies do not look onto a neighbors yard nor the interior of a neighbors home.

Section 2: That in regard to Grading Permit No. 2279:

  1. The grading does not exceed that which is necessary for the permitted primary use of the lot in that the proposed 594 cubic yards of associated grading is necessary to prepare the project site for the construction of a single-family residence, which is considered the permitted primary use of the property. As proposed, the grading is to accommodate the demolition of an existing single-family residence to allow the construction of a new single-family residence. Furthermore, the grading proposed enhances the structure’s overall appearance in terms of mass and bulk by lowering the building pad.
  2. The grading and/or related construction does not significantly adversely affect visual relationships nor the views from neighboring properties since the proposed grading will not raise the height of the existing building pad, but rather cut into portions of the existing building pad to maintain a lower overall building height. Furthermore, the applicants’ request to grade the project site in order to lower the building pad should be increased so that the existing building pad is lowered an addition 2 to 4 feet in height. Although lowering the building pad an addition 2 to 4 feet in height results in additional earth movement, including export, the change in the building elevation will result in a structure that is more compatible with the character of the immediate neighborhood as well as enhance or preserve views that would be partially impaired by the "by right" height of the proposed structure.
  3. The nature of grading minimizes disturbance to the natural contours and finished contours are reasonably natural in that the proposed grading is to occur on a portion of the project site that was previously graded to accommodate the existing residence. The proposed grading improvements will occur on a defined building pad that is relatively flat and will not require further disturbance to the site’s natural contours or finished contours, which are considered reasonably natural.
  4. The grading takes into account the preservation of natural topographic features and appearances so as to blend any man-made or manufactured slopes into the natural topography in that the majority of the grading requested will be conducted under the existing building footprint to further improve and reduce an existing pad elevation for the proposed structure. Furthermore, the proposed grading does not include any modification to the natural topographic features so that land sculpturing is required.
  5. The grading will not cause excessive and unnecessary disturbance of the natural landscape or wildlife habitat through removal of vegetation in that the proposed grading will be located on a lot that was disturbed at the time of the development of the original tract when the original residence was created on this lot, and is therefore devoid of native vegetation. In addition this project will not impact the bluff where native vegetation may exist. Therefore, the proposed grading will not significantly impact any natural vegetation or wildlife habitat.
  6. The grading conforms with the Development Code’s standards pertaining to grading on slopes, height of cut/fill and retaining walls in that the grading requested is necessary for the development of the subject property and complies with the Development Code’s criteria in that no earth movement will occur on slopes equal to or greater than 35% nor will the grading result in slopes exceeding a 50% gradient. Furthermore, the excavation required for the proposed structure will not exceed a height of five (5) feet.

Section 3: That in regard to Minor Exception Permit No. 597:

Pursuant to the Development Code, a Minor Exception Permit may be requested to allow a reduction in the required setback by no more than twenty (20) percent provided that one of the following findings can be made:

  1. The requested Minor Exception Permit is warranted by practical difficulties; or,
  2. The requested Minor Exception Permit is warranted by an unnecessary hardship; or,
  3. The requested Minor Exception Permit is necessary to avoid inconsistencies with the general intent of this Title.

The intent of the setback criteria is to provide an adequate separation between property lines and development for air and light, and to enhance the aesthetic character of a neighborhood by maintaining a feeling of openness between the property lines and the residences. In reviewing the applicants’ request to reduce the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback to accommodate a proposed balcony, it was determined that none of the required findings can positively be made because the proposed balcony is not considered an integral component of the proposed structure nor the permitted use of the lot. Furthermore, the proposed balcony may be reduced in size so that it still serves its purpose as a "usable" decorative architectural feature while complying with the required setback criteria. Therefore, the Planning Commission hereby denies the applicants’ Minor Exception Request.

Section 4: A Notice of Decision shall be given to the applicant, to all property owners adjacent to the subject property and any interested party informing them of the Planning Commission’s decision.

Section 5: Any interested party may appeal this decision or any portion of this decision to the City Council. Pursuant to Section 17.02.040(C)(1)(j) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, any such appeal must be filed with the city, in writing, and with the appropriate appeal fee, no later than fifteen (15) days following the date of the Planning Commission’s adoption of this resolution.

Section 6: For the foregoing reasons, and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes, and other records of proceedings, the Planning Commission of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby approves, with project modifications as stated herein, Height Variation No. 930 and Grading Permit No. 2297, thereby approving the construction of a new 3,921 square foot, two-story, single-family residence consisting of 1,566 square feet on the lower level, 1,629 square feet on the upper level and a 726 square foot attached two car garage at a height not to exceed 23’, as measured from the lowest existing finished grade covered by structure to the top of the highest roof ridgeline, subject to the conditions of approval in Exhibit "A". Furthermore, the Planning Commission hereby denies Minor Exception Permit No. 594.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 26h day of February, 2002, by the following vote:

AYES:
NOES:
ABSTENTIONS:
ABSENT:


_____________________
Frank Lyon
Chairman

_______________________________
Joel Rojas, AICP
Director of Planning, Building
and Code Enforcement; and,
Secretary to the Planning Commission


EXHIBIT ‘A’

CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL
HEIGHT VARIATION NO. 930 AND GRADING PERMIT NO. 2279


GENERAL

  1. Prior to the submittal of plans into Building and Safety plan check, the applicant and/or property owner shall submit to the City a statement, in writing, that they have read, understand and agree to all conditions of approval contained in this approval. Failure to provide said written statement within ninety (90) days following the date of this approval shall render this approval null and void.
  2. The approval shall become null and void after one (1) year from the date of approval by the City, unless the approved plans are submitted to the Building and Safety Division to initiate the "plan check" review process.
  3. The proposed project shall be constructed in substantial compliance with the plans approved and stamped by the Planning Department with the effective date of this approval.
  4. The Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement is authorized to make minor modifications to the approved plans or any of the conditions if such modifications achieve substantially the same results as would strict compliance with said plans and conditions.
  5. In the event that a Planning requirement and a Building & Safety requirement are in conflict with one another, the stricter standard shall apply.
  6. The hours of construction shall be limited to 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. No construction shall be permitted on Sundays or on legal holidays.
  7. 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 is not 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.
  8. The subject property shall be securely enclosed with a temporary construction fence, not to exceed six (6) feet in height, during the duration of construction.
  9. HEIGHT VARIATION

  10. The proposed structure, as revised by the Planning Commission, shall not exceed 23’ in height as measured from the lowest finished grade elevation covered by structure to the top of the highest roof ridge line. A BUILDING HEIGHT CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED.
  11. The project silhouette shall be removed no later than seven (7) calendar days from the project decision date.
  12. GRADING PERMIT

  13. The grading shall not exceed 594 cubic yards of earth movement, of which 307 cubic yards consists of cut, 2 cubic yards consists of fill and 285 cubic yards of removal and recompaction. The remaining 305 cubic yards of cut shall be exported off-site. In the event the Planning Commission determines that the subject "building pad" shall be lowered an additional two (2) to four (4) feet in height to minimize view impacts from neighboring properties, the applicants shall provide the Planning Department with a revised grading plan that reflects any project modifications to the aforementioned grading quantities for review and approval by the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.
  14. The City’s Geotechnical Consultant shall review the project in the "plan check" stage to determine whether further reports and investigation shall be required prior to issuance of building permits.
  15. The Director of Public Works shall review and approve a haul route for all exported earth prior to issuance of grading permits.
  16. MISCELLANEOUS

  17. The residence shall not exceed 3,921 square feet, of which 726 square feet will be in the form of a two car attached garage, 1,566 square feet will be situated on the lower level and 1,629 square feet on the upper level. A SQUARE FOOTAGE CERTIFICATION PREPARED BY A REGISTERED SURVEYOR INDICATING THAT THE NEW RESIDENCE DOES NOT EXCEED 3,921 SQUARE FEET, SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE BUILDING AND SAFETY DIVISION, PRIOR TO A FRAMING INSPECTION.
  18. The lot coverage requirement for the subject property located in the RS-3 zoning district shall not exceed 45%. The proposed Lot Coverage is 32%.
  19. The following minimum setbacks shall be maintained for the proposed residence:
  20. Front Yard: 20'-0" minimum (proposed: 20’)

    Rear Yard: Not Applicable (wedge / triangular shaped lot)

    Side Yard: 5'-0" minimum (proposed: 7’)

    A SETBACK CERTIFICATION SHALL BE PREPARED BY A LICENSED SURVEYOR INDICATING COMPLIANCE WITH THE APPROVED SETBACKS PRIOR TO A FOUNDATION INSPECTION.

  21. A minimum of a two car garage shall be maintained at all times with a minimum depth of twenty (20) feet, a minimum width of eighteen (18) feet and a minimum vertical clearance of seven (7) feet, as measured from the interior finished walls.
  22. The proposed driveway shall not exceed a maximum gradient of 20%, as required by the City’s Development Code.
  23. The proposed residence shall be finished in an earth tone color deemed acceptable by the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement prior to issuance of building permits.
  24. The proposed trash enclosure shall be visually screened from neighboring properties and the public right-of-way.
  25. The proposed front yard wall shall not exceed 42 inches in height, as measured from the lowest adjacent grade.
  26. All mechanical equipment, including but not limited to the spa equipment and air conditioning condenser units, shall be no closer than three (3) feet from the interior side property line and shall not exceed 6’ in height. Said equipment shall be adequately screened from the neighboring properties and the right of way.
  27. No mechanical equipment shall be permitted on the roof.
  28. All hardscape improvements, including the driveway curb cut, located within the public right-of-way (Nancy Road) shall require review and approvals from the Director of Public Works prior to issuance of building permits.
  29. A Landscape Plan shall be submitted to the Planning Department for approval prior to issuance of building permits. The Landscape Plan shall indicate: 1) The location and type of vegetation proposed for the subject property; and 2) How landscaping will visually screen the westerly facade. Additionally, the plans shall indicate the mature height of all foliage, which shall not exceed sixteen (16) feet in height or the top of the highest roof ridgeline, whichever is lower.
  30. The pine tree located in eastern portion of the front yard shall be removed prior to issuance of grading or building permits.
  31. Prior to issuance of grading permits, the property owner shall obtain approvals by the City of an Urban Stormwater Plan that is in conformance with the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
  32. Prior to issuance of grading permits, approvals shall be obtained from the Los Angeles County Fire Department for the proposed project.
  33. No outdoor lighting shall be permitted that is directed towards a parcel of property other than that upon which such light source is physically located. Additionally, no lighting shall be permitted where the light source or fixture, if located on a building, above the line of the eaves, or if located on a standard or pole, more than ten (10) feet above grade. Individual, nonreflector, incandescent light bulbs shall not exceed 150 watts per bulb or an aggregate of 1,000 watts for a lot.

PROJECT BUILDING MODIFICATIONS

  1. The applicant shall submit revised architectural plans that reflect all project modifications required by the Planning Commission for review and approval by the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.
  2. The proposed roof pitch shall be revised from 3¼:12 to a roof pitch no steeper than 3:12.
  3. The interior clearance between the finished floor and the top of the ceiling plate shall be revised as follows:
  4. Lower Level: 9’ in height as measured from the finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate.

    Upper Level: 8’ in height as measured from the finished floor to the top of the ceiling plate adjacent to the interior building perimeter walls.

  5. The proposed balcony located along the street facing facade shall be modified to respect the required twenty (20) foot front yard setback criteria for the RS-3 zoning district.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:




3. COASTAL PERMIT, VARIANCE, AND SITE PLAN REVIEW CASE NO. ZON2001-00032: 120 Spindrift Lane / Maniscalco (BY)

TO: CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: JANUARY 22, 2002

SUBJECT: VARIANCE, COASTAL PERMIT, AND SITE PLAN REVIEW CASE NO. ZON2001-00032 (MANISCALCO, 120 SPINDRIFT LANE)

Staff Coordinator: Beilin Yu, Assistant Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Continue the item to the March 26, 2002 Planning Commission meeting.

BACKGROUND

On August 21, 2001, Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit No. 41 was approved by the City Council to allow the submittal of the necessary Planning Department applications to request approval for the construction of a 1,179 square foot two-story addition.

On August 23, 2001, the applicant submitted applications for a Variance, Costal Permit, Height Variation, and Site Plan Review to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement for processing. The request was for the construction of a 644 square foot garage and storage addition built to the front property line, and a 535 square foot addition to the residence and over the proposed garage.

On January 28, 2002 the applicants submitted revised plans. The proposed project includes the construction of a new 470 square foot carport at the same location of the existing carport, a 103 square foot crawl space, and a 526 square foot addition to the residence over the proposed carport. Staff deemed the applications complete on February 7, 2002.

On February 7, 2002, the City mailed notices to 55 property owners within a 500-foot radius from the subject property, the Portuguese Bend Club Homeowner’s Association, and the California Coastal Commission. Subsequently, a notice of public hearing was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on February 9, 2002.

Pursuant to the Permit Streamlining Act, a decision must be made by April 5, 2002, which is sixty days from the date of completeness.

DISCUSSION

The applicants met with Staff on February 21, 2002 and as stated in the attached letter, are requesting that this item be continued to the March 26, 2002 meeting. Staff has concerns regarding view impairment and the applicant would like more time to resolve Staff’s concerns.

As such, Staff recommends that the Planning Commission continue the subject application to the March 26, 2002 Planning Commission meeting.


NEW BUSINESS:




4. REVIEW PROCEDURE FOR EXTERIOR LIGHTING FOR HOMES ON CURVED ROADS (PC).

A request by the Planning Commission to consider whether a special review procedure should be implemented for exterior lighting for homes on curved roads.

TO: CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2002

SUBJECT: CREATION OF AN INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY FILE

RECOMMENDATION

Provide Staff with direction.

DISCUSSION

At the January 22, 2002 Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Vannorsdall raised an issue regarding exterior lighting for residences on curved roads and felt that the issue should come before the Commission in the future. Since there was no disagreement from the Commission, this item has been placed on tonight’s agenda for discussion.


ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS:


Staff



5. PRE-AGENDA FOR THE MEETING OF MARCH 12, 2002.

PLANNING COMMISSION
PRE-AGENDA
TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2002


CONSENT CALENDAR:

1. MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 26, 2002
CONTINUED BUSINESS: (NO ITEMS)



PUBLIC HEARINGS:



2. MARYMOUNT COLLEGE FACILITIES EXPANSION – ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT SCOPING MEETING. 30800 Palos Verdes Drive East (AM):


A request to provide a forum for agencies and members of the community to comment on the environmental issues that will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the pending Marymount College Facilities Expansion project which consists of Conditional Use Permit No. 9 Revision "D", Grading Permit No. 2231 and Variance No. 486.


NEW BUSINESS: (NO ITEMS)


*Please note that that the actual Agenda may well expand, or possibly contract, based upon conditions (such as Continuances of public hearings, Withdrawals, etc.) prior to this meeting.



Commission


ADJOURNMENT:


The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday,
March 12, 2002, 7:00 P.M. at Hesse Park.