CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
FEBRUARY 27, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:02 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Paulson led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Mueller, Paulson, Vannorsdall, Vice Chairman Clark, Chairman Lyon. Commissioner Long arrived at 7:17 p.m.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Fox, Associate Planner Mihranian, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Without objection, the agenda was approved as presented.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of late correspondence regarding Agenda Item No. 3.
Director/Secretary Rojas discussed the SOC 2 sponsored walkabout on March 17 and how the Brown Act relates to that meeting. He reviewed the City Attorney’s comments on the subject and stated he would put her comments in a memo for the Planning Commissioners.
Vice Chairman Clark reported on the progress that the Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Neighborhood Compatibility had made in working with city staff and staff’s consultant to produce an informational handout for the public.
1. Minutes of February 13, 2001
Without objection the minutes were approved as presented, (6-0).
2. Height Variation Permit No. 919 and Site Plan Review Permit No. 8992: Mr. and Mrs. Daryl Stolz (applicant) 4005 Admirable Drive.
Associate Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He explained the proposed addition and that staff could positively make the nine findings required for the height variation. He stated that staff felt that the second story had been designed to minimize visual impacts to neighboring properties by isolating the addition to the portion of the existing lower level, the garage area, and by expanding the family room in the back of the house to accommodate the entire second story addition. Mr. Mihranian distributed a photo board to the Planning Commission. He explained that staff did not receive any letters of concern or any correspondence from any neighbors regarding the project. He discussed the size of the project and noted that there was a discrepancy of approximately 114 square feet between what was on record in the building permits and what was actually built at the property. He explained that staff asked the applicant to account for the discrepancy as part of this approval. He discussed the issue of privacy and noted that staff recommended the window in the master bathroom be constructed from opaque material and the window within the staircase be at least five feet above the finished floor of the second story. Regarding the second story, staff felt it had the potential to be converted into a second unit. Since the project does not comply with the parking requirement for a second unit, staff imposed a condition that requires a second unit covenant be recorded that prohibits that room from being converted into a second unit. Therefore, staff recommends approval of Height Variation No. 919 and Site Plan Review No. 8992 as conditioned.
Chairman Lyon suggested using the word “translucent” rather than “opaque” in regards to the bathroom window. That would indicate that some light would be allowed to come through the window. Staff agreed.
Vice Chairman Clark asked staff if they had questioned the applicant in regards to the discrepancy in square footage.
Associate Planner Mihranian stated that he did not, but that it was typical for older county issued permits to not accurately indicate the square footage of the garage. The City therefore uses the minimum Development Code standard for garage size that will typically cause a slight variation between what is on record and what is actually at the site. He stated that he had conducted a site visit and did not feel there were any illegal additions to the property.
Commissioner Cartwright asked staff what triggered the need for the second unit covenant.
Associate Planner Mihranian responded that the location of the interior staircase created a potential to enclose a section and add a door for separate access to the room above. The property also does not meet the minimum parking requirements for a second unit.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Darryl Stoltz (applicant) 4005 Admirable Drive stated that he and his wife and child live in this house with his mother-in-law. This addition would be built for his mother-in-law which would provide privacy for her while allowing the family to live together. He felt the addition was designed to not impair any of the neighbor’s views and would fit well into the neighborhood.
Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Stoltz if he had any comments on the staff report or any added conditions that staff recommended.
Mr. Stoltz answered that he agreed with the staff report and felt that staff had added some helpful input to help create a better structure.
Kristi Skelton (architect) 24 Buckskin Lane RHE, stated she was available for questions.
Commissioner Vannorsdall asked if there was a balcony off the second story over the garage.
Ms. Skelton stated that the balcony would help soften the effect of a second story over the garage, plus maximize the view from the second story.
Myrtice Adamson 4005 Admirable Drive stated that she was the second owner of the home and was not aware of any added square footage to the original home.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that the project seemed consistent and compatible with the neighborhood, there were no privacy issues, no view impairment issues, and staff’s concern with the potential second unit was easily solved.
Commissioner Mueller agreed that the architect and owners had done a good job in working the second story into the existing home.
Commissioner Long stated, that while he does not analyze view the same way staff does, he agreed that there was no significant view impairment.
Commissioner Paulson moved to adopt staff recommendation with the one change that the word “opaque” be changed to “translucent”, thereby adopting P.C. Resolution No. 2001-02 as amended, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (7-0).
3. Grading Permit No. 1950-Revision ‘A’, Minor Exception Permit No. 563, and Site Plan Review No. 8310: Mr. and Mrs. Gene Price (applicants), represented by Andrea Wakita, Adyton Design and Construction, 3434 Newridge Drive.
Senior Planner Fox presented the staff report. He explained the three applications and the purpose of each. Regarding the grading permit, he explained that staff could make all of the required findings for the 65 cubic yards of increased grading for the increased height of the retaining wall near the northwest corner of the property. Staff felt this increased grading was necessary for the development of the house, would not adversely affect the use of other properties, and was consistent with city standards for upslope retaining walls. However, he explained that staff believed the 397 cubic yards of new grading for the retaining wall proposed along Newridge Drive was not consistent with the City’s original approval of the grading permit. Therefore, staff recommended approval of only 65 cubic yards of additional grading. With respect to Minor Exception Permit No. 563, Mr. Fox stated that staff believed the increased height of the fence at the pool enclosure was necessary in order to address inconsistencies with the pool fencing requirements. However, the proposed 6-foot tall vehicle gates were necessary only to enclose the motor court and driveway area of the property and staff felt this could be done with a 42-inch high gate that would meet the height limit established for the property. Therefore, staff recommended approval of only the 5-foot tall fencing related to the pool enclosure. Finally, with respect to Site Plan Review No. 8310, staff felt that the proposed swimming pool and equipment were consistent with the RS-2 development standards and recommended approval. Mr. Fox explained that staff had received written comments regarding the project from two neighbors, both of which were attached to the staff report.
Commissioner Cartwright asked why staff recommended denial of the retaining wall proposed along Newridge Drive.
Senior Planner Fox responded that staff did not believe that all of the required findings could be made for the approval of that wall. Further, in the original approval of the project by the Planning Commission, one of the assumptions that approval was based on was that the existing slope along Newridge Drive was not going to be touched.
Chairman Lyon asked if that wall was necessary for the construction of the pool.
Senior Planner Fox responded that he did not believe it was necessary for the construction of the pool.
Chairman Lyon asked what the function of the wall would be.
Senior Planner Fox answered that he did not know and that the applicant might be able to answer that question.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Andrea Wakita (architect) 1379 Park Western Drive, San Pedro, stated that she had no problems with any of the staff recommendations. She stated that the wall on Newridge was not a big issue to the homeowner, and she would be more than willing to have open fencing at that site. She asked if there was a possibility to have pilasters approximately every 10 feet along that wall. She distributed a handout with photographs to the Planning Commission. In reviewing the handout, Ms. Wakita explained that the photographs showed examples of the height of other driveway gates in the neighborhood. She noted that all the gates were between 5 and 6 feet in height. She asked the Commission to consider allowing a gate between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Commissioner Long asked Ms. Wakita if it was correct that she was willing to agree to all the recommendations in the staff report with two exceptions: 1) an entry gate 5 to 6 feet in height, and 2) open fencing along Newridge Drive with pilasters every 10 feet.
Ms. Wakita stated that that was correct.
Commissioner Mueller asked if there had been any discussion on alternate locations for the pool equipment.
Ms. Wakita answered that the reason the pool equipment was placed in its present location was because it was the least obtrusive location. She stated that the equipment would be dug into the ground so that only approximately 2 feet of the equipment would be above ground. Further, she explained that it would be enclosed with a concrete block wall that would be finished with a stone material that matches a stone material already used on the barbecue. This would then be covered with vegetation and landscaping.
Chairman Lyon asked staff to comment on why the neighbor has a seven foot wall adjacent to the applicant’s driveway yet staff was recommending denial of the applicant’s request for a six foot gate on their property.
Senior Planner Fox stated that staff had no information on the history of the wall on the neighboring property. Therefore, staff did not see a need to rely on that wall as a guide for what should be approved on the subject property.
Chairman Lyon asked about the numerous photos Ms. Wakita had distributed showing gates that appeared to be in excess of six feet in height.
Senior Planner Fox stated that staff had no history of any of the gates and whether or not they had been built with proper permits. He stated that in making recommendations, staff must base their decision on whether or not the required findings could be made for a Minor Exception Permit.
Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if the applicant’s suggestion of a wrought iron fence with pilasters was a satisfactory solution.
Senior Planner Fox stated that staff was not concerned with the type of fence proposed, as long as it maintained the 80 percent light and air requirement. He did note that pilasters placed every ten feet may not meet the 80 percent light and air requirement and suggested the pilasters be spaced further apart.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Paulson stated that he understood the staff recommendations, based on the required findings, but he also felt that the Planning Commission could make a different decision. He felt the wrought iron fence with pilasters was a good compromise for the fencing along Newridge Drive. He further did not have any problem with a 6-foot entrance gate at the front of the property. He felt that it was compatible with what was existing in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Long felt that a 3-˝ foot entrance gate would not look acceptable in this neighborhood. Therefore, he felt it was an aesthetic problem which created a practical difficulty and an unnecessary hardship for the property owner.
Commissioner Long moved to adopt the staff recommendations, with two amendments: 1) to permit a 6-foot high vehicle entry gate and, 2) to permit the fence along Newridge Drive to have pilasters spaced to maintain the 80 percent light and air requirements, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.
Commissioner Cartwright felt the fence and entry gate should resemble the sketches distributed by Ms. Wakita.
The Commission agreed.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the height limit on the fence included the height of the pilasters.
Senior Planner Fox stated that the approval of a five-foot fence would include pilasters at height of not more than 5 feet. He noted that any lighting on the pilasters could not exceed a height of 5 feet.
Commissioner Mueller suggested allowing the pilasters to a maximum height of 5 ˝ feet
Chairman Lyon noted that these pilasters would be next to a 7-foot tall, solid wall and felt that it would look better to allow the pilasters to be six feet in height. He also stated that by allowing the pilasters to be a maximum 6 feet in height, it would allow the architect to make them shorter if she felt that would look better.
Commissioner Vannorsdall asked about lighting on the pilasters.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that lights on the pilasters were not to be considered as there was no application for lights and the Commission had specifically asked that the pilasters resemble the diagram that Ms. Wakita had distributed, which did not indicate lights.
Commissioner Long amended his motion to specify that fence was to be 5 feet in height and the pilasters could not exceed a height of 6 feet, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. Approved, (7-0).
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road discussed neighborhood compatibility in Rancho Palos Verdes and asked if anyone could explain to her the difference in neighborhood compatibility in Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates.
Chairman Lyon stated that staff could answer her question, but outside of the Planning Commission meeting.
Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive complimented the Planning Commission of their professionalism when hearing items before the Planning Commission. He felt that residents could feel confident of getting a fair and in depth hearing before this Planning Commission. He urged the Planning Commission to support televising the Planning Commission meetings on the local cable channel. Mr. Redfield stated that when the normal rotation of the chair of this commission is changed, that the Planning Commission make sure that the proper procedures are followed and politics avoided as much as possible. Lastly, he commented that some of the Commission members need to speak a little louder for the audience to hear them.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Chairman Lyon noted that the next Planning Commission meeting would contain the hearing on the Long Point EIR. He reminded the Commission that the purpose of the meeting was to hear public comments on the EIR and not to determine the validity of the basic project.
Vice Chairman Clark moved to adjourn seconded by Commissioner Paulson. The meeting was adjourned at 9:52 p.m.