01/23/2001 Planning Commission Minutes 01/23/2001, 2001, January, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Chairman Lyon felt that a literal reading of the Development Code leads one to the conclusion that such a use cannot be permitted without a Conditional Use Permit. He stated that the Commercial General language refers back to the section in the Limited Neighborhood Commercial areas that relate to permitted uses without a Conditional Use Permit. He stated that he felt the real issue was whether both the Commercial Limited Zone and the Commercial Neighborhood Zone permitted childcare facilities with a Conditional Use Permit. However, when reading the Commercial General language, it does not mention childcare. He questioned if that was an oversight when the code was written or if that was the intent The 01/23/2001 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, PLANNING COMMISSION,, REGULAR MEETING JANUARY 23, 2001

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

JANUARY 23, 2001

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:00 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Building, 27301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

FLAG SALUTE

 

Vice Chairman Clark led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance

 

ROLL CALL

 

Present:          Commissioners Cartwright, Mueller, Paulson, Vannorsdall, Vice Chairman Clark and Chairman Lyon

 

Absent:           Commissioner Long was absent (excused)

 

Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Fox, Associate Planner Schonborn, and Recording Secretary Peterson.

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Without objection, the agenda was approved as presented.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

 

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed to the Commission: 1) An item of late correspondence regarding Agenda Item No. 2; 2) The City Council policy on travel and meetings related to Agenda Item No. 4; and 3) A video tape of the last City Council meeting, Items 10 and 13, regarding the Long Point proposal.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas reported that at the last City Council meeting the City Council had: 1) Discussed the Long Point project and a tentative time frame for the hearings; 2) Heard and denied the appeal of the Coastal Permit for the CPH observation booths; 3) Approved a one year extension to February 2002 for the Marriott project; and 4) Authorized the submittal of Conditional Use Permits for cell antennas on two City properties (Ladera Linda and City Hall).

 

Chairman Lyon commented that the Planning Commission would fully hear and deliberate on any and all propositions from the public regarding the Long Point project.  He stated that the fact that the Commission was given the videotape did not preclude the Commission from hearing the same or similar proposals from any group or individual.  He emphasized that the Commission would take as much time as necessary to fully hear what the public had to say and to deliberate any and all alternatives brought before the Commission.

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that the public entrance signs at Island View had recently been removed and asked staff to look into the reasons.

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

1.            Minutes of January 9, 2001

 

Without objection the minutes were approved as presented, (4-0-2) with Commissioner Mueller and Vice Chairman Clark abstaining since they were absent from that meeting.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

2.            Appeal of Use Determination No. 4:  Howard Spunt Associates representing Kindercare, 28901 Western Ave #333 (appellant)

 

Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report.  He explained the subject property was in a Commercial General (CG) Zone and that this zone does not specify daycare or nursery type uses either by right or conditionally permitted.  However, there is a section in the Development Code that allows the Director to make a use determination as to whether such a use could be conditionally allowed within the zone after determining that the use was similar and no more intensive than other conditionally permitted uses.  He explained that in November the Director had issued Use Determination No. 4 thereby determining that a childcare use within the CG Zone was inconsistent with the purpose of the CG zoning district and is neither compatible nor conducive with the large- scale development that currently exists at the Terraces.  Further, the project would intensify the already heavy traffic conditions on Western Avenue.  Therefore, staff recommended upholding the Director’s decision, thereby denying the appeal.

 

Chairman Lyon felt that a literal reading of the Development Code leads one to the conclusion that such a use cannot be permitted without a Conditional Use Permit.  He stated that the Commercial General language refers back to the section in the Limited Neighborhood Commercial areas that relate to permitted uses without a Conditional Use Permit.  He stated that he felt the real issue was whether both the Commercial Limited Zone and the Commercial Neighborhood Zone permitted childcare facilities with a Conditional Use Permit.  However, when reading the Commercial General language, it does not mention childcare.  He questioned if that was an oversight when the code was written or if that was the intent. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that his review was limited to a determination of whether the applicant could apply for a Conditional Use Permit for the proposed childcare use in the Commercial General Zone.  In reviewing the categories of conditional uses listed in the Development Code for that zone, it was his conclusion that the proposed use did not fit into any of the categories and therefore was not a conditionally permitted use.  As a result, a Conditional Use Permit application could not be submitted.  The exception would be if a determination were made that the proposed use was similar and no more intensive than the other conditional uses specified in the CG zone.  He further clarified that when the Development Code was amended in 1997 the language for the Commercial General Zone was written so that childcare facilities were intentionally omitted as conditional uses for the zone. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark noted that the Code does allow fitness studios, dance schools, computer schools, and other similar educational activities and uses.  He questioned the interpretation of other similar educational uses and activities and how a childcare facility fit into that interpretation.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas agreed that this was a case of interpretation of a use, and fitting that use into a category.  He stated that his interpretation was that the proposed daycare use clearly falls under the use category found in other commercial zoning districts, which was private educational uses including nursery schools and day nurseries.  He stated that since that specific use category was excluded from the list of conditionally approved uses, such uses were excluded from this zone.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if there were any current child care facilities located along Western Avenue.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the church across the street from The Terraces runs a K-8 school, but is not in a Commercial General Zone, it is in an Institutional Zone.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked how a dance studio or a computer class would differ from childcare.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that such uses could be more flexible in their hours and would not have to operate during a specified daily time period, like daycare.  In addition, such uses are usually conducted on a much smaller scale, are usually conducted indoors, and are usually ancillary to another use.  A daycare use usually involves more students and is required to have an outdoor playground.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if staff’s concerns over childcare on daily basis and outdoor playground activity were equally weighted.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that although the outdoor use requirements present a unique situation, the main concern was the traffic circulation drop-off pattern involved with the use of a daycare school, since all students must be dropped off.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that he felt the merits or lack of merits of whether a particular daycare should or should not be at the site should not be discussed at this meeting.  He stated that the issue at hand was whether or not daycare use in general was a use that could be allowed with a Conditional Use Permit in a CG Zone.

  

Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to open the public hearing, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.  The public hearing was opened.

 

Howard Spunt 6409 Independence, West Hollywood, (applicant) stated that the childcare facility would be located at the southwest corner of the property on the third level.  He stated that the Commercial General Zone was a less restrictive zone than the Limited Area Commercial Zone, which allows daycare. Therefore, if childcare is allowed in the more restrictive zone he felt it should be allowed in the less restrictive zone.  He felt the childcare use would be conducive and complimentary to the shopping center, specifically the location in the shopping center.  He stated that this location was very detached from the traffic on Western Avenue and the in and out traffic pattern of the shopping center.  He stressed again that this use should be allowed in a commercial general zone and asked the Planning Commission to overrule the Director’s decision and allow a Conditional Use Permit to be filed.

 

Nancy Trudeau 23832 Rockfield Blvd #225, Lake Forest (representing Kindercare) stated that Kindercare traditionally liked to be in commercial areas that were in a transition to residential areas.  She stated she was available for any questions.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if there were specific licensing requirements that specified a minimum size for safety for the drop off areas. 

 

Ms. Trudeau answered that the State (California Administrative Code) specifies the minimum areas allowed for specific uses in a childcare facility.  The Code also specifies that each child must be escorted in and out of the building.  She further stated that the Code requires 75 square feet of outside area per child.  She stated the school would have four separate play areas that are age designated.  She stated that Kindercare provided a service for communities that need childcare as well as providing early childhood education when parents cannot afford to stay home with their children.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if any other location in the City had been considered for the school.

 

Ms. Trudeau stated that numerous locations had been looked at.  However they were looking for a commercial area that was adjacent to a residential area.  She stated that commercial centers liked having the Kindercare in the shopping center because many times the person dropping the kids off or picking them up do business in the other stores in the shopping center and therefore generate revenue.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if the number of children at the Kindercare was a function of the size of the facility.  He asked what the maximum number of children would be at the site.

 

Ms. Trudeau stated that it was a function of the size of the facility, applying the State codes.  She felt that 200 children would be the optimum number of children considering the parking, playground area, and number of classrooms.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked where the nearest operating school was located.

 

Ms. Trudeau answered that there was a school on Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance and one in Long Beach.  She noted that both were in strip malls.

 

Sandy Sigel 17791 Ventura Blvd. (owner of The Terraces) stated that the design of the Terraces was very unique and that they were trying to treat each level of the center as a different shopping center within the center.  He felt the Kindercare use would be a very unique use.  He felt that because of the location of the Regal Cinema there were very few uses that could fill that space, as most traditional retail uses will not go into the back of a shopping center that is several levels up and difficult to get to.  With that in mind, he explained that that was a major reason that the Kindercare was such a good solution.  He also explained that it gave them the ability to buffer between the residents behind the center and the commercial use that is in front.  He felt that this use was much less intensive than the previous use.  He noted that the Regal Cinema generates approximately 10,000 car trips per week, the Kindercare would generate approximately 400 trips per day or 2,000 trips per week.  Secondly, from a parking perspective, Mr. Sigel noted that there were 1200 seats in the theatre, as opposed to a maximum of 200 cars driving through the shopping center.  Finally, he felt there was a reduction in noise because the time people would be in the shopping center to use Kindercare would only be during the week during working hours.  He felt that any ambiguity in the Code would favor the unique situation at the Terraces.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked about the Caddington entrance to the shopping center.  He asked if the Do It Center had rights to have ingress and egress to their facility off of Caddington Drive.

 

Mr. Sigel responded that the previous owners had allowed the Do It Center to load and merchandise off of the back entrance.  However, as new owners, they were forcing Do It Center to use primarily the front entrance. 

 

Commissioner Mueller asked if any studies had been done of the traffic that would indicate the number of cars coming in off of Caddington Drive and exiting at the other end of the shopping center.

 

Mr. Sigel stated they had not done a traffic study, but most likely would if they were allowed to apply for a Conditional Use Permit.

 

Commissioner Mueller asked about the traffic pattern in front of Regal Cinema and if it would remain the same.

 

Mr. Sigel answered that Kindercare would not front at the front of the Regal Cinema.  There would be retail shops at the front of the theatre and Kindercare would be the back half of the building.  Therefore, he did not think Kindercare would be impacted by the traffic running along the front of the building.

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated that the Kindercare would be an asset to the City and felt the City should do all they could to help working parents with childcare.

 

Liz Bacalja 28645 Gunter Road stated she was against allowing Kindercare at the site.  She noted that the Kindercare would be on the third level, and on the second level of the area was a sports bar.  She stated that the bar has a happy hour every night from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the peak hours from 4p.m. to 6 p.m.  She also noted that there were between 20 to 50 customers at happy hour.  She was concerned that the hours of happy hour coincided with the hours of pick up from the Kindercare and that there was not a direct access to Western Avenue.  She explained that the patrons of the bar would either exit down the ramp to Western Avenue or up to the third level and out on Caddington Drive to then go north on Western Avenue.  She also noted that peak hours for Bally’s was 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., which would coincide with the Kindercare drop off and pick up hours. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if there were any laws that applied to the location of an educational facility within proximity of a facility that served alcoholic beverages.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that this issue came up in the recent application for the Montessori School.  He stated that staff’s research found that there were no restrictions when a new educational facility locates into an area with existing alcohol sales.

 

Gina Henderson 28319 Pontevedra stated that she currently operates a home childcare facility a few blocks from the Terraces.  She was concerned with the Kindercare commercial environment, as she provided a home environment to children     

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he was having difficulty finding the adverse impact of this project to the City.  Further, he had not heard any strong arguments from the neighbors in terms of impacts on their lives.  He asked staff if there was an adverse impact to the City. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that this use would produce no revenue to the City, whereas a retail or other commercial establishment would, and could possibly produce traffic and noise impacts that the City would have to respond to and address.

 

Vice Chairman Clark read from the introduction to commercial districts in the Development Code.  He felt that a childcare use could easily be considered service to the public and therefore gave the Planning Commission reasonable basis for a foreseeable finding.  Secondly, he felt that the Development Code suggested feasibility of consideration of the use.

 

Vice Chairman Clark moved to overturn the Director’s use determination that nursery schools and day nurseries are not conditionally allowed in the CG Zoning District, seconded by Chairman Lyon.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated the Planning Commission was to determine if this type of use could be considered in the CG Zone.  He stated that whether or not a proposal by Kindercare was the right proposal for this property remains to be seen.  He noted that he had some serious reservations about the Conditional Use Permit and the impacts to the City.  However, he felt that the use was very similar to many of the uses defined under the Commercial Neighborhood and Commercial General zones.  He added that he understood how staff had made their determination, however because of the shortage of quality, affordable childcare was such a problem, and he felt this type of use would be beneficial to the City.  He would therefore be inclined to support the motion.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall agreed with the previous comments and noted that the Planning Commission was a long way from approving this project.  He agreed that there was a need for this type of use in the City, but also had reservations about the actual Kindercare project.

 

Commissioner Mueller supported the establishment of new daycare centers.  However he felt that this site was built in such a way to support commercial use and concurred with the recommendation in the staff report.  He felt that the uniqueness of the entrances and exits and the three layer terrace may cause problems with this type of application.  He explained that he had visited the site at the time parents would be picking up their children from daycare.  He stated that 20 cars went by him in the parking area in a period of 4 minutes, and of those only 3 actually parked.  He felt that putting another 200 cars into the equation could create a huge traffic problem in an area on Western Avenue where the traffic is already heavy. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that this hearing was to determine if a specific use could be allowed in a Commercial General zone, which would be anywhere on Western Avenue.  He noted that the Planning Commission would have the ability to hear a Conditional Use Permit application in the future to determine if this particular use were allowed at The Terraces.

 

Commissioner Paulson agreed with Commissioner Cartwright and felt that, based on the wording of the Development Code, a daycare use could be allowed in a Commercial General zone with a Conditional Use Permit.

 

Chairman Lyon stated he did not like to go against staff recommendations, but in this case he did not feel there was a good enough reason to stop a project without hearing all of the details of the project, which would be done through a Conditional Use Permit.

 

Vice Chairman Clark repeated his motion to overturn the Director’s use determination that nursery schools and day nurseries are not conditionally allowed uses in the CG Zoning District, therefore determining such uses as conditionally permitted uses in this zoning district, which was seconded by Chairman Lyon.  Approved, (6-0).

 

RECESS AND RECONVENE

 

At 8:30 p.m. the Commission took a short recess until 8:40 p.m. at which time they reconvened.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT.)

 

3.       Appeal of the re-issuance of Site Plan Review No. 8630:  Harriett Gralewski, 2274 Sunnyside Ridge Road (applicant); Peggy Pages, 2348 Sunnyside Ridge Road (appellant) 

 

Associate Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  He explained that the item was the appeal of the Planning Director’s decision to re-issue an approval for Site Plan Review 8630, which was to allow the legalization of a 650 square foot patio enclosure.  He explained that the appeal did not pertain to the patio enclosure but to a condition regarding the foliage analysis conducted by staff for the re-issuance.   Mr. Mihranian summarized the background of the project and that staff had, in 1999 and again in 2000, determined the specific foliage needed to be trimmed as part of the project approval.  He explained that the appellant’s appeal pertained to condition no. 11 of the conditions of approval.  The appellant felt that, based on staff analysis, there were trees remaining on the applicant’s property that significantly impair views from the primary viewing area of her residence.  He stated that the Director visited the property to verify the foliage analysis conducted by staff and determined that the foliage in question did not significantly impair a view from the viewing area.  The appellant felt the condition should be modified to include the additional foliage she felt was blocking her view.  Mr. Mihranian stated that staff did not feel the subject trees significantly impair the view and recommended the Planning Commission uphold the Director’s decision in approving the re-issuance of the Site Plan Review.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked staff if a licensed contractor did the addition.

 

Associate Planner Mihranian stated that he did not know and that perhaps the homeowner could answer that question.  He stated that the building and safety division would make all of the necessary inspections, once the building permit was re-issued, to verify that all work was done per the Uniform Building Code.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated he had visited the site and asked staff for clarification on what trees and foliage were in question.

 

Associate Planner Mihranian circulated a photo board to help clarify the foliage at the site.

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that some of the foliage currently did not impact the appellant’s view but most likely would in the next year or so.  He asked how that type of situation was addressed.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the intent of a foliage analysis is to identify foliage that is currently a problem and specify that it will be trimmed and maintained at an appropriate height.  He added that foliage that currently is not impacting a view is not addressed in the foliage analysis or conditions of approval.  In the future, such foliage could be addressed through a View Preservation process.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked for clarification as to how staff determined which trees to include for trimming since the original site visit.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that rather than rely on the original determination of what foliage should be trimmed staff made a second site visit.  He noted that the most current conditions of approval relied on the second site visit and there was a slight difference in the second set of conditions as different trees were addressed. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright wondered why the trees in the original conditions of approval had not yet been trimmed.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Peggy Pages 2348 Sunnyside Ridge Road (appellant) stated that she had bought the home in 1972 for the outstanding, 180-degree view.  She felt that she had lost much of her view and that loss of view would affect her property value.  She stated that she was challenging Condition 11(f) of the Conditions of Approval, which was the trimming of a pine tree.  She was concerned that the condition did not specify how much of the tree should be trimmed, and that the tree blocked her view of the canyon.  She noted that the top branches of the Pepper tree were beginning to grow into her view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge and was not included in the foliage analysis.  She distributed a picture taken approximately 5 years earlier and one taken today showing how much the view had changed.  She stated that there were approximately 8 other trees in a group that are beginning to grow and are blocking a view of San Pedro. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that Ms. Pages had written staff two letters regarding the appeal that were slightly in conflict.  He asked for clarification as to what Ms. Pages was appealing.  

 

Ms. Pages stated that her concern was mainly the current height of the Brazilian Pepper tree, as it grows very rapidly.  She also noted a group of Pepper trees that are crowded together also block her view.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Ms. Pages what she would like to see done with the 30 foot Pepper Tree.

 

Ms. Pages responded that she would like the tree trimmed 6 to 8 feet and maintained at that height.

 

Harriette Gralewski 2274 Sunnyside Ridge Road stated that City staff had visited her property informed her of the foliage that needed to be trimmed before issuance of her building permit.  She produced a letter written by a former a City employee, Eric Smith, stating that they had complied with the tree trimming the City had required.  She explained that the Aleppo pine was trimmed 3 years ago to the point that it went into shock and nearly died.  She has since learned that Aleppo pines are very temperamental and are not suited for trimming or lacing.  She did manage to save the tree, and after speaking to three different tree services, learned that these trees must be trimmed in very cold weather between the months of November and March.  She stated that there was no guarantee that the tree would not die during this trimming, as it had been so severely shocked, however she respected her neighbors request.  She felt she had been a very conscientious neighbor and trimmed her trees on a regular basis in order to maintain her neighbor’s view.  She stated that the Pepper tree in question was in direct view of Ms. Pages patio and she liked to maintain as much privacy as possible, as her jacuzzi was in that area.  She stated that the tree afforded her privacy but she still kept the tree trimmed and maintained on a regular cycle.   

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked about the letter from Eric Smith referred to by Ms. Gralewski.

 

Associate Planner Mihranian read the letter to the Commission which stated that the foliage had been trimmed according to staff recommendations.  He noted that the Aleppo pine had not been trimmed yet since the appellant had until March 2001 to do so.  He also noted that any foliage that had grown beyond what was conditioned was new foliage.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that when staff had become aware that the original permit had expired the required trimming had not occurred.  Once staff had met with the applicant to look into re-issuing the permit the foliage analysis was re-evaluated and new conditions of approval were imposed, which included trimming the Aleppo pine during the cold winter months.  He stated that when he had met with Mrs. Pages her concern was with the trees that affect her view, and therefore that was all he looked at.  Staff did not look at the trees listed in the conditions of approval that affected Mrs. Pages’ neighbor.  He stated that Mrs. Pages had concerns about the trees in the canyon, which he did not feel were significantly impairing a view.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that there were three palm trees that had several dead fronds on them.  He asked how this could be if the trees had been recently trimmed.

 

Mrs. Gralewski answered that the palm trees have been a roost for the American Kestrel for the last several years.  In discussing the trimming of the fronds with Eric Smith and her neighbors, it was agreed that the rodent population had been significantly reduced since the birds had started roosting.  Therefore she worked with Mr. Smith and the neighbors to determine the point where fronds could be left and view still restored. She stated that these trees were not involved in the viewing area of Mrs. Pages.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that he felt that Mrs. Pages was primarily concerned with two issues:  the Aleppo pine tree and the Brazilian Pepper tree. 

 

Howard Nickel 2348 Sunnyside Ridge Road stated that the Pepper tree is over the 16-foot level discussed in the Guidelines.  He stated that when he was sitting at Mrs. Pages’ table and looking out the window there were areas of the tree that were beginning to cover the view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  He also felt that the tree was obstructing her near view. 

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Chairman Lyon asked staff to explain what was a protected view and what was not.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that a “view”, as defined in the Ordinance, involves the protection of both far and near views.  He explained that a near view was a canyon or natural area, but does not include vacant land that is developable.  He did not feel that the view of the homes behind the trees noted by Mrs. Pages was a protected, near view.  He stated that the pepper tree that Mrs. Pages wanted trimmed further is just below the view of the harbor, which is a protected view.   However, he did not feel that view was being significantly impaired.

 

Chairman Lyon asked if the view of the bridge were not impaired, but the rooftops between the property and bridge were impaired, would that be something that the City would take action on.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that the City would not take action if the rooftops were located on the peninsula.

 

Vice Chairman Clark agreed and added that the intent was not to preserve a view of rooftops.  He felt the far view he observed at Mrs. Pages property was readily visible.  He noted that the Aleppo pine was being trimmed to restore the near view of the canyon.

 

Commissioner Cartwright commented that he felt Mrs. Pages was very concerned about the potential loss of her view.  However, he noted as staff has pointed out, that View Preservation would be the correct process to deal with the problem.  He felt the Pepper tree was not significantly impacting Mrs. Pages view, according to the Development Code.  He felt that both the applicant and appellant had expressed a desire to be good neighbors and should work closely together to prevent the tree from becoming a bigger problem. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright moved to uphold the Director’s conditions of approval for Site Plan Review No. 8630.

 

Commissioner Mueller asked staff to explain the intent of trimming the Aleppo pine proposed in the conditions of approval.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that the intent was to be able to see through the tree.

 

Commissioner Mueller asked what percentage of the tree was to be laced.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff did not like to give a percentage on tree lacing because it is very difficult to calculate once the trimming is done.  He explained that staff would instruct the trimmers to do the maximum lacing and trimming possible so that one could see through the tree. 

 

Commissioner Mueller asked what the current agreement was regarding when to lace the tree.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the tree has not been laced and the condition has not yet been met.

 

Vice Chairman Clark had issues with the Pepper tree in terms of potential view obstruction.  He felt that a condition should be added stating the Pepper tree shall be trimmed and maintained to a height so that it does not grow above the view of the railing of the balcony at the appellant’s property.

 

Commissioner Cartwright amended his motion to include the language on the Pepper tree suggested by Vice Chairman Clark.  The motion was seconded by Vice Chairman Clark.

 

Chairman Lyon hoped the two neighbors could work together to preserve a reasonable view.  He did not think a view downward, looking at rooftops was a protected view.  He supported the staff recommendations.

 

Chairman Lyon re-opened the public hearing.

 

Mrs. Pages stated that she was not concerned about her view of rooftops.  She stated that there is quite a bit of commercial property on Western Avenue that gives her a view of city lights in the evenings.  She stated that when the tree comes up to the top of the bridge, as shown in the picture she distributed, that was the highest point.  She stated that there was something below the bridge which she considered part of the far view.

 

Director/Secretary responded that according to the Code, if there is a view of a scene off of the peninsula that consists of city lights, it would be considered a protected view. 

 

Mrs. Gralewski noted that the Pepper tree was trimmed three years ago and has been scheduled to be trimmed in the near future.  She stated that at no time did anyone raise this issue. 

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked Mrs. Gralewski approximately how many feet down she usually cut her tree.

 

Mrs. Gralewski stated that the height of the roof of the jacuzzi was 10 or 12 feet and the trees stick up a little above that height in a round shape.  She cautioned that there is another Pepper tree on a neighbor’s property that is directly behind her Pepper tree that, because of it’s location, can give the illusion that her tree is higher than it actually is.

 

Mrs. Pages objected to a portion of the motion to require that the Pepper tree be maintained no higher than the top of her railing.  She stated that the railing is higher than the tree is right now, which would make the tree higher than 16 feet.

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Commissioner Mueller did not think the height of the railing was the correct benchmark height to use for this particular tree.  He felt the language should read that the tree be trimmed so that it does not impair the view of the City lights, which he felt was a significant view.  He felt that would still place the tree a few feet above the height of the ridgeline.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if the view was taken from a sitting or a standing position.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that this application was under the Height Variation Guidelines which state that a view be primarily taken from a standing position.

 

Vice Chairman Clark felt that requiring the tree be trimmed to the height of the railing the view will always be protected and the privacy issue would be accommodated.

 

Chairman Lyon suggested taking the view from the standing position but require that the view of the city lights not be obstructed.

 

Commissioner Cartwright amended his motion to uphold the Director’s conditions of approval for Site Plan Review with the revision that the Pepper tree shall be trimmed so that it does not significantly impair the view of the City lights located off the peninsula from a standing position, seconded by Vice Chairman Clark.  Approved, (6-0).

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

4.            Registration for the 2001 Planners Institute Conference

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that all reservations would be made the following day and any requests should be to the City first thing tomorrow morning.  He also referenced the policy on travel that was distributed at the beginning of the meeting.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS)

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road discussed the observation towers at CPH and objected to the fact that Robert Katherman was a close friend of the mayor.  She felt it would be very difficult for the mayor to be objective in making a decision regarding the observation towers.

 

Chairman Lyon responded that he felt the mayor was a very ethical person and would have excused herself from the decision had she felt any conflict or perceived conflict existed based on a personal relationship with Mr. Katherman.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to adjourn, seconded by Vice Chairman Clark.  The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

\\MASTADON\Planning\PC\Minutes\2001\20010123.doc