CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
AUGUST 27, 2002
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Cartwright at 7:00 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Lyon led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cote, Duran Reed, Lyon, Mueller, Tomblin, Vice Chairman Long, and Chairman Cartwright.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, City Attorney Lynch, Director of Public Works Allison, Senior Planner Mihranian, Assistant Planner Luckert, Assistant Planner Yu, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The Agenda was unanimously approved as presented.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed four letters regarding Agenda Item No. 3, three letters regarding Agenda Item No. 2, one letter regarding Agenda Item No. 6, one piece of correspondence from firstname.lastname@example.org, and one letter from Mr. Freeman regarding public records requests.
Commissioner Tomblin report that he had a business meeting at California Water Service and at that time the subject of the proposed future development was briefly discussed.
Commissioners Cote and Duran Reed stated that they had read the minutes and reviewed the video of the last meeting and felt they could participate in the items discussed at the meeting at any future Planning Commission meeting.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE
1. Minutes of July 23, 2002
Commissioner Lyon noted changes on pages 13, 20, 32, 33, and 35 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Long noted changes on page 11and 28 of the minutes.
Commissioner Mueller noted that he had emailed several changes to the Recording Secretary. He specifically noted a change on page 17 regarding the wall at 30822 Rue de la Pierre. He felt that the minutes should reflect that Mr. Schneider stated that the pool was engineered for both a six-foot and an eight foot wall and all calculations were submitted to Building Department.
Because of the number and type of changes to the minutes, Vice Chairman Long suggested continuing the minutes to the next Planning Commission meeting. The Commission unanimously agreed.
2. Appeal of Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00062): 30822 Rue de la Pierre
Chairman Cartwright recused himself and turned the chair over to the Vice Chairman.
Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report. He explained that at the last meeting the Planning Commission took action and approved the applicants request to allow the existing retaining wall to remain and requested the wall be modified by the removal of the 1foot-6 inch portion of the top of the retaining wall, and directed the item come back with a Resolution for adoption. He explained that after the meeting staff received information from the applicant that he believed reducing the retaining wall 1-1/2 feet would affect the structural integrity of the swimming pool. He noted that the applicant explained to him that he did not feel he had enough information during the meeting to raise the issue of the structural integrity of the pool. Director Rojas noted the letters from the engineer that were distributed to the Planning Commission, and that the engineer has concluded that reducing the wall 1-1/2 feet would affect the structural integrity of the pool. He explained that it was staffs opinion, given this new information, that the Planning Commission re-open the public hearing to consider this information. He stated that staff was recommending the item be re-noticed and re-heard by the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if the City Engineer had reviewed this information.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that this information had just recently been received by the City and not been reviewed.
Vice Chairman Long asked if there were any consequences to the applicant or anyone else when they provide information to the Planning Commission that is inaccurate or untrue.
Director/Secretary stated that he had spoken with the applicant regarding the new information, and the applicant explained that he is not a structural engineer and it was his understanding that there would be no input to the pool and that he now has a determination of the wall by a structural engineer.
City Attorney Lynch added that there could be consequences to providing inaccurate or untrue information to the Planning Commission if the Commission was basing a final decision on the erroneous information. Fortunately, in this situation, she felt the applicant was correcting the information prior to the Commission taking final action.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he would be interested in some sort of definite analysis by a structural engineer representing the City. He asked if the City would use their own engineering staff to determine if the wall structurally supports the pool.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the City does not perform their own independent survey, however he will discuss the situation with the Building Official to confirm whether the applicants statement is plausible.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the fountain was considered in staffs analysis.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that the fountain was not considered in staffs analysis and was not included on the plans.
Vice Chairman Long questioned why the applicant did not raise his concerns regarding the wall during the public hearing at the last meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas clarified that the applicant noted to him after the meeting that he was not an engineer and that he may have taken a position during the public hearing that he probably shouldnt have.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if there was a mechanism in place that would allow for the applicant to bear the costs associated with the City review of the engineering design.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the City does have a mechanism in place where the applicant can establish a trust deposit to pay for services rendered by the City.
Commissioner Mueller moved to re-open the public hearing at a later meeting as suggested by staff, and direct staff to use a City structural engineer to evaluate the application and have the costs associated with the time borne by the applicant, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed.
Commissioner Lyon asked to amend the motion to delete the requirement that City hire a structural engineer, as a certified structural engineer has already stated removal of a portion of the wall may affect the integrity of the swimming pool, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.
Commissioner Mueller felt it was important to have an objective opinion regarding this case, and he felt the only way to go about that was for review by an independent City consultant. He stated that he would give much more weight to the consultants opinion than he would to an engineer who has a financial interest in the project. Therefore, he did not accept the amendment.
Vice Chairman Long agreed that he was not inclined to rely on the expert of choice of the applicant and would want to get an independent opinion.
Commissioner Lyon asked if it was customary for the City to hire a separate consultant to certify the position of another engineer.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that this was not customary, and noted that permits are issued on the applicant submitting certification from their engineer.
Commissioner Lyon clarified that the City was asking an independent engineer to review he height reduction of the present 8-foot wall, and not asking a structural engineer to assess the structural integrity of the original proposed 6-foot wall or the existing 8-foot wall.
The Commission agreed.
The amendment to the motion failed by a vote of 1-5 with Commissioners Duran Reed, Mueller, Tomblin, Cote, and Vice Chairman Long dissenting.
The motion made by Commissioner Mueller to re-open the public hearing at a later date and use the Citys independent structural engineer to evaluate the applicants structural engineers position regarding the reduction of the wall, with the cost to be borne by the applicant passed by a vote of 6-0.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 7:45 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
3. Height Variation No. 899, Grading Permit No. 2151, Minor Exception Permit No. 573, and Environmental Assessment No. 745: 3787 Coolheights Drive
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He briefly summarized the project. He explained that, in response to concerns from a neighbor regarding view issues, the applicant has agreed to set the structure back two feet from where the existing silhouette is located. Further, to ease the neighbors concerns regarding landscaping blocking any view, staff has added a condition so that any landscaping in the area indicated would be no higher than one foot and consist of ground cover and low shrubs. Mr. Mihranian had a power point presentation which showed the ten alternatives for the turnaround at the end of Coolheights and briefly explained each of the alternatives. He noted that the Fire Department has reviewed each of the alternatives and deemed all ten to be acceptable. He stated that Mr. and Mrs. Ortolano Sr. as well as Dr. and Mrs. Farooq are in support of Alternatives 4 and 5. With that in mind, the applicant has indicated interest in regards to those alternatives, however still prefers the "S" shape as his most preferred design. Senior Planner Mihranian stated that staff believes the preferred design would be either Alternative 4 or 5.
Chairman Cartwright asked, if the City were to choose an option that involves Mr. Ortolano Jrs property, would that require an amendment to the Settlement Agreement.
City Attorney Lynch explained that it would not require an amendment to the Settlement Agreement, but if any of the options chosen impact any of the adjacent properties, there must be an agreement with each of the parties involved. She noted that Condition 36 was added so that if the Planning Commission chooses a cul-de-sac design, the trail easement would be shifted so that five feet would be on the applicants property, rather than Mr. Ortolano Jr.s property.
Chairman Cartwright asked the Director of Public Works if he would be satisfied with any of the designs as long as the Fire Department was satisfied.
Director Allison responded that Public Works would be satisfied with any of the designs as long as it was acceptable with the Fire Department.
Chairman Cartwright noted that the staff report stated that if requested to do so, the Citys Public Works Director is prepared to identify the optimal design alternative from an engineering perspective. He asked which design alternative that would be.
Director Allison responded that he felt it was Alternative 4 or Alternative 5.
Commissioner Lyon asked why staff chose alternative 1 in the staff report as the alternative that would be built if agreements were not executed by the neighbors, rather than alternative 7, which was the applicants preferred alternative.
City Attorney Lynch responded that it could have been alternative 7, as staff was trying to assure that if there was no final agreement amongst the neighbors as to the turnaround, there would be some design that the applicant could construct solely on his property and still meet the fire department turnaround requirements.
Commissioner Lyon felt that it should be alternative 7 rather than alternative 1.
Director Allison commented that if a fallback alternative was required he felt it should be one that is more inviting to the public to use. He felt alternative 1 did a slightly better job of announcing itself as a turnaround than alternative 7.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Joe Nassiri 6910 Los Verdes Drive (applicant) stated that he has compromised quite a bit, as he is giving quite a bit of his land for easements for trails, open space, and the turnaround. Further, he has agreed to move the proposed residence two feet towards the north to open up a view for Dr. Farooq. By doing that he feels he has lost a section of his coastline view. He felt these compromises show he is trying to be a good citizen and a good neighbor. He felt that the original turnaround, Alternative 7, was the best design. He felt it was easy for large trucks to turnaround, was more cost effective to build, and did not involve any of the neighbors property. He was concerned about the privacy of his family and questioned the requirements for low shrubs and groundcover on portions of his property. He noted that there were several areas in the front yard that were not in the neighbors view and felt he should be able to plant small trees and vegetation that are taller than one foot in height. He asked that he be allowed a six-foot high fence and the shrubs be allowed to a height of five feet.
Senior Planner Mihranian clarified on the power point presentation the area Mr. Nassiri was discussing.
Commissioner Tomblin recognized that Mr. Nassiri preferred alternative 7, but asked what he preferred given the choice of alternatives 4 or 5.
Mr. Nassiri responded that he preferred alternative 5 over alternative 4.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the views that staff was attempting to protect were considered protected views.
Director/Secretary Rojas responded that the views were not protected views, as they were over portions of the property that could be developed with a structure. However, because this was a discretionary application, from the onset staff had taken the position that the proposed residence should be towards the back of the property to not block the views.
Chairman Cartwright asked how high one could build a fence in the area in question.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that a fence up to six feet in height could be built, however a fence wall and hedge permit would be required and staff would have to verify that no views would be significantly impaired.
Sidney Croft 3858 W Carson #127, Torrance stated he was the attorney for the applicant. He stated that the applicant strongly favors Alternative 7, as it was the best design for the area. Given the choice between Alternatives 4 and 5, he preferred Alternative 5. He asked that if the cul-de-sac design were chosen, that the alternative design be Alternative 7 rather than Alternative 1.
Ralph Ortolano Sr. 3776 Coolheights Drive stated that between Alternatives 4 and 5, he preferred Alternative 5 as it had the least square footage impact to the applicant and the surrounding neighbors property. He also felt that Alternative 5 was the least costly of the 10 alternatives. He stated that Alternative 4 was his second choice.
Joan Ortolano 3776 Coolheights Drive stated that she, as well as the other neighbors on Coolheights Drive, were strongly opposed to Alternative 7, and felt that Alternative 1 was a better fall-back design. She was confident that the Public Works Director and the Planning Department staff have properly focused on the issues involved and presented the Commission with the best possible choices. She noted that these choices were not her first choices, but they were choices she could live with.
Joan McGovern 3807 Pirate Drive stated that in the many discussions of brush clearance on the Coolheights property there has been no mention of role the brush plays in water runoff. She stated that without proper attention water from a heavy rainfall will run down the canyon, which is adjacent to the Coolheigts property, and the mouth of the canyon is directly behind her home. She felt the removal of brush could create a possible flood condition on her property. She asked the Planning Commission to address the issue of drainage from the Coolheights property as well as the prevention of erosion due to brush clearance, replanting, and the swale construction. She asked what provisions have been made for water runoff from this property, especially with the Jacuzzi proposed next to the canyon.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that drainage is a concern and that staff has been in communication with Mrs. McGovern. He stated that staff recognizes that if brush clearance does occur there may be drainage issues at her property. As such, the conditions of approval include a condition (condition 53) which references the brush clearance and requires the applicant to submit a drainage plan to the Director of Public Works for his review and approval.
Barbara Sattler 1904 Avenida Aprenda stated that she was speaking on behalf of the California Native Plant Society. She stated that she was generally very pleased with the conditions, however had a couple of outstanding issues. She noted that Condition No. 35 required a temporary trail to be used during construction, and she wanted to make sure the same concerns apply to the temporary trail that applies to the permanent trail. She also noted that Condition No. 51 requires a survey of vegetation and she felt that the botanical survey be done in the Spring.
Chairman Cartwright asked staff if there was any reason why the botanical survey could not be done in the Spring.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the only affect would be that waiting until Spring could delay the construction of the project.
Vice Chairman Long suggested that the condition be modified to state that the survey shall be conducted in a manner that staff determines is as reasonably quick as possible, to allow the applicant to complete his project in a timely manner, but nevertheless will accurately enable the plants specified to be surveyed.
Commissioner Lyon agreed with Vice Chairman Longs suggestion, however he was reluctant to put a condition on the applicant that delays his project for some time. He wondered if a qualified botanist could identify plants that are not in bloom.
Vice Chairman Long felt that the determination should be made by staff.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the plants in question were endangered.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that they were not federally protected plants, but rather considered special status plants.
Chairman Cartwright asked how the City typically handled special status plants.
Director Secretary Rojas answered that the City was not required under any state or federal mandates to protect these plants, however members of the community raised a concern over these plants and the City does have the ability to protect these plants, and has done so in the past.
M. Farooq 3777 Coolheights Drive stated that he preferred Alternative No. 5. He discussed the fence between his property on the north side and the applicants property and felt that it was alright to leave the fence at 6 feet in height at that location. He discussed the fence on the other side, and stated that from that side he looks at the ocean from his living room and all of the view would be blocked by the fence. He stated that a small three-foot high fence he can look through, though it impacts the view, however a taller fence would impact his view and allowing shrubs along the fence would block his view.
Senior Planner Mihranian distributed photographs of the view from Mr. Farooqs living room and clarified the fences in question.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if the tree on the Ortolanos property was going to be removed, and if so would that open up additional viewing areas for Mr. Farooq.
Mr. Farooq answered that the tree was going to be removed and he would get some view once the tree was removed.
Commissioner Cote stated that when she was visiting Mr. Farooqs home she asked what his wife considered their primary viewing area, and at the time she stated the view out of the dining room window. She asked Mr. Farooq if he and his wife still considered this their primary view.
Mr. Farooq stated that he did not consider this his primary view, as there was only a small view from that window.
Commissioner Cote stated that the applicant had agreed to move his proposed residence back two feet so as not to impair the view from the dining room and she questioned why Mr. Farooq did not consider this his primary view.
Mr. Farooq explained that the dining room window was the only window that provided a small view of the coastline.
Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Farooq what he considered his primary or best and most important view.
Mr. Farooq answered that it was very hard to answer what his best and most important view was.
Vice Chairman Long stated that the view that Mr. Farooq wanted to enjoy by asking that the vegetation be kept low so as not to block that view, and the view that the applicant agreed to move his house back two feet so as not to impair were two different views, and he too asked which was the most important view.
Mr. Farooq answered that if he had to compromise on the view he would have to discuss it with his wife.
Chairman Cartwright asked staff if they had made a determination as to which was the best and most important view from Mr. Farooqs property.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that taking the living room and dining room into consideration, staff determined that the primary or best view is taken from the living room.
Mr. Farooq stated that upon consultation with his wife, that the primary view was from the dining room.
Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Chairman Cartwright suggested discussing and making a decision on the turnaround and then discussing the view and privacy issues of the application. The Planning Commissioners agreed.
Commissioner Duran Reed discussed views from the living room and dining room windows and asked if a Fence, Wall, and Hedge Permit would apply regarding the foliage along the proposed fence.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that the application before the Planning Commission was a Minor Exception Permit, which allows the proposed fence to go higher than the 42-inch requirement.
Commissioner Lyon discussed the turnaround options and explained that he eliminated four of them as being unreasonable. He stated that his top choice was Alternative 5, his second choice was Alternative 7, his third choice was Alternative 4, and his fourth choice was Alternative 6. He strongly suggested changing Condition No. 37 to make the fallback position Alternative 7. He felt this was most likely meaningless because the three parties involved were very motivated to come to an agreement.
Commissioner Mueller discussed the condition regarding the fallback alternative and asked why such a condition was necessary. He felt that if the Planning Commission were to decide on an optimum design, why is a fallback position necessary.
City Attorney Lynch answered that it has sometimes been difficult to ensure whether there is a clear understanding as to what any parties intent or concerns are. Therefore, staff felt it was important to have a fallback position to allow the applicant to go forward, assuming there is not agreement between the three parties.
Commissioner Mueller stated that his concern was to keep the size of the cul-de-sac to a minimum and he was a little uncomfortable with Condition No. 37, as he did not think it addresses the concerns that the Planning Commission has been dealing with. He felt that one party could not sign the agreement, causing the hammerhead design to prevail, which he did not think was the choice of the neighbors or the City.
Commissioner Duran Reed stated that her first option was Alternative No. 5. She explained that it had less encroachment onto all the neighbors property and it was smaller in radius yet trucks could still turn around on it.
Commissioner Tomblin stated that he had no problems with any of the alternatives as long as the parties agreed. He noted that all parties seemed to agree to Alternative No. 5, and therefore he would support this alternative. He felt that Alternative No. 5 was the most cost effective and had the least amount of encroachment onto the neighbors property. He suggested using Alternative No. 1 as the backup alternative.
Commissioner Cote stated that she was pleased the neighbors could come to an agreement regarding the cul-de-sac shown in Alternative No. 5, and therefore supported the alternative. With respect to Condition No. 37, she felt it was a wise condition and, based on the Director of Public Works recommendation, supported Alternative No. 1 as the backup.
Vice Chairman Long felt that to depend upon the agreement of the neighbors for the success of the project could be a recipe for failure. He too shared Commissioner Muellers concerns regarding Condition No. 37. He felt that Alternative No. 5 was the best alternative and that Alternative No. 7 was completely unacceptable and he did not want in any way to be associated with recommending it under any circumstances. He felt Alternative No. 1 was, at best, marginally acceptable. He was very disinclined to agree to it as a backup option in the event the parties do not agree, because he did not think the parties would agree. He wondered if it were in the power of the Planning Commission to approve a Resolution which requires Condition No. 5 and if the appropriate agreements are not made between the parties, that it would be the recommendation of the Planning Commission that the City Council take steps to impose Alternative No. 5. He was convinced that Alternative 5 was the best decision for the neighborhood as a whole, and he did not trust that the three property owners at the end of the street have the best interest of the neighborhood as a whole in mind. He therefore, did not believe that all three neighbors would ultimately agree and sign the agreement. He asked staff if there was a mechanism by which the Resolution could be written so that it would reflect his recommendation.
City Attorney Lynch answered that the condition could be written that Alternative No. 5 was the choice of the Planning Commission, and it could state that if the other property owners do not convey the portions of their property as they have represented that they would, it would then be the recommendation to the City Council to initiate eminent domain proceedings to acquire those small portions of the Farooq and Ortolano Jr. and Ortolano Sr. properties. However, if there is no money in the budget for this type of action, it could work as a delay for the applicant to begin his project.
Commissioner Duran Reed felt that by not adding Condition No. 37 it may encourage the parties not to agree to Alternative No. 5, because if there is eminent domain the City will have to pay the parties for their portions of the property that they are currently willing to donate.
Vice Chairman Long understood Commissioner Duran Reeds concern. He added that if the Condition were written that either the parties collectively agree to Alternative No. 5 or Alternative No. 1 will be constructed, he felt the odds were very strong that Alternative No. 1 will be the choice. He did not like the idea that the four property owners at the end of the street were the ones making the decision for the street as a whole. He felt that if anyone were to make a decision for the street as a whole, it should be the City Council.
City Attorney Lynch suggested amending Condition No. 37 to read that if the property owners do not agree and if the City Council does not authorize the funding necessary to acquire the offsite areas necessary to construct Alternative No. 5, then the fallback alternative shall be whatever alternative the Planning Commission determines.
Chairman Cartwright felt that the parties involved have worked long and hard to find a turnaround that is acceptable to the majority of the people on the street. He felt the overriding consideration was safety. He noted that the street has been safe for as long as anyone can remember, and anything done will only make the street safer. He felt this was a classic example of where the Planning Commission should be attempting to balance the rights of the property owner with the concerns of the neighbors and the interest of the City. He did not agree that the City Council should be asked to make a decision on this matter, as it was before the Planning Commission, and he felt that the City Council had made its feelings known at the time of the Settlement Agreement, that a hammerhead turnaround was their choice. He felt that it came down to which options seem to be the best fit for the neighborhood, and he felt that Alternative No. 5 was the option. He felt very strongly that there should be a fallback alternative and felt the language proposed by the City Attorney may be the language used for Condition No. 37.
Vice Chairman Long asked if there were any provisions in the Settlement Agreement requiring any particular end for the street, such as a hammerhead.
City Attorney Lynch answered that there was no such provision.
Vice Chairman Long asked if there was any provision in the Settlement Agreement by which the City waives its rights to eminent domain.
City Attorney Lynch answered that there was not.
Vice Chairman Long asked if there was any statement in the Settlement Agreement of the City Councils preference or desire for a particular ending on the street.
City Attorney Lynch answered that there was an indication by the provision of the agreement that precludes Mr. Ortolano Jr. from objecting to the turnaround, and there was an implication it would be constructed. Further, staff had discussed with the City Council the fact that a hammerhead turnaround would be one way of designing for the ability for fire trucks to turnaround without overly impacting the developabilty of the property.
Vice Chairman Long asked if the City Council held a public hearing or adopt a Resolution expressing its intent or preference for a hammerhead turnaround.
City Attorney Lynch answered no to both questions.
Vice Chairman Long asked the City Attorney if any of the alternatives presented breach the Settlement Agreement.
City Attorney Lynch did not think any of the alternatives breach the Settlement Agreement.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that the neighbors had worked closely with staff and the applicant and after much compromising have reached an agreement on a cul-de-sac design. He did not think the City should put the applicant through any further delays in terms of a condemnation action. He felt a condemnation action would be very costly and impractical. He felt that the Planning Commission should allow the project to move forward and support the recommendation of the two alternatives.
Vice Chairman Long was concerned that many of the neighbors on Coolheights have expressed an opinion on the type of turnaround they wanted, however for those neighbors who do not own property at the end of the street and do not have to enter into an agreement to give up property, their opinion is nothing more than an opinion. The ultimate decision will be made by the four property owners at the end of the street. He felt that by adopting Condition No. 37 the City was abdicating the decision of what the public street will be to interested private parties. He did not think this was the proper means of planning. He felt the Planning Commission should make the best planning recommendation, which seemed to be Alternative No. 5, and if that planning recommendation cannot be implemented, the Planning Commission should urge the City Council to consider the alternatives of either implementing it in ways that the Planning Commission cannot, or choosing another alternative.
Commissioner Cote stated that throughout the hearings many neighbors had expressed their strong desire for a cul-de-sac design and in recommending Alternative 5 she took those comments into consideration. She felt that if the neighbors could not agree on Alternative No. 5 it may be the time for the City Council to hear from the public on their desire for the cul-de-sac.
Commissioner Lyon felt that the Planning Commission would be abdicating its responsibilities to the City Council if they could not make a reasonable decision on this matter. He felt the Planning Commission has accommodated the desires of the three neighbors by recommending a cul-de-sac design, which they very strongly want. He felt the staff and City Attorney had done the proper thing in regards to Conditions 36 and 37.
Commissioner Duran Reed stated that the Fire Department has determined that all 10 alternatives are acceptable, and therefore it was the role of the Planning Commission to choose which of the alternatives was the best. She noted that the neighbors, planning staff, and Planning Commissioners agreed that Alternative No. 5 was the best choice for the turnaround. She felt that Alternative No. 1 was also acceptable, reasonable, safe, and sound and that to her knowledge the Planning Commission did not have any objections to the previously submitted hammerhead plans. Therefore, she felt it was perfectly acceptable to make a resolution that Alternative No. 5 be used, and if the neighbors did not all sign the agreement, then Alternative 1 will be used. She did not think it was necessary to further delay the project by sending it to the City Council.
Chairman Cartwright agreed with Commissioner Duran Reeds statements and added that the Planning Commission and staff had looked at this project in great detail and did not think there was anything the City Council could consider that the Planning Commission has not already looked at.
Commissioner Mueller stated that in looking at the alternatives, his goal was to find the one that was best for the neighborhood and felt the neighbors have done a very good job. He had reservations about a back-up alternative and felt that a hammerhead turnaround was unusual and there currently were no others in the City.
He therefore was inclined to support the Vice Chairmans approach that rather than have a back-up alternative, to put a condition on the project that would remand the project to the City Council if the neighbors could not reach an agreement on Alternative No. 5.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to adopt Alternative No. 5 as the preferred turnaround, and if Alternative No. 5 is not agreed upon by the neighbors that Alternative No. 1 be used, seconded by Commissioner Lyon.
Chairman Cartwright asked the City Attorney if she had any additional input.
City Attorney Lynch responded that the Planning Commission could add language stating that if the City Council does not authorize City funding to acquire the portions of the other properties by eminent domain then the applicant shall construct Alternative No. 1. She also added that there was still the opportunity for an appeal of the project to the City Council if anyone was opposed to the decision.
Commissioner Lyon felt that in every respect statistically Alternative No. 7 was superior to Alternative No. 1. He noted that Alternative No. 1 was 2.2 feet away from the structure, while Alternative No. 7 was 6.3 feet away from the structure. In terms of area required of the applicants property, Alternative No. 1 requires 2,319 square feet, while Alternative 7 requires 1,979 square feet. He stated that both provide the needed service for large trucks to turn around and the applicant prefers Alternative No. 7. He therefore proposed an amendment to the motion to change Alternative No. 1 to Alternative No. 7.
Commissioner Tomblin accepted the amendment to change Alternative No. 1 to Alternative No. 7.
Chairman Cartwright asked the Director of Public Works if he had any comments regarding Alternatives 1 and 7.
Director Allison stated that both alternatives were safe and acceptable. He felt that the difference between the two was what one would look at at the end of the street, and his opinion was that a person driving down the street would recognize Alternative No. 1 as a turnaround a little bit better than Alternative No. 7, however he did not think this made a big difference.
The motion to adopt Alternative No. 5 as the preferred alternative with Alternative No. 7 as the backup failed on a vote of 3-4, with Commissioner Duran Reed, Mueller, Cote, and Vice Chairman Long dissenting.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve Alternative No. 5 as the preferred turnaround with Alternative No. 1 as the alternate design, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. The motion passed, 4-3 with Commissioners Mueller, Cote, and Vice Chairman Long dissenting.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 10:40 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 10:50 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (continued)
Commissioner Lyon moved to accept all of the staff recommendations and conditions proposed by staff, with the exception of Condition No. 51 which addresses the botanist and the timing of identifying the plants. He suggested adding the wording given by Vice Chairman Long earlier in the meeting and adding language stating that reasonable action will be taken to identify and preserve these specific plants. Secondly, he moved to amend Condition No. 48 by changing the one-foot height limitation to five feet, seconded by Chairman Cartwright.
Vice Chairman Long suggested an amendment to the motion. He felt that Condition No. 51 should read: Prior to issuance of a Grading Permit a qualified Botanist, at the expense of the applicant, shall perform a botanical survey of the project site as soon as reasonably possible to permit the project to proceed, consistent with the needs of the applicant and consistent with the needs of the botanist to be able to identify the plants. The survey shall examine the site for any special plants limited. He stated that the remainder of the condition would then remain unchanged.
City Attorney Lynch suggested adding wording to the end of the condition "subject to Fire Department approval." She explained that the Fire Department has the ultimate say so regarding fire hazards.
Vice Chairman Long agreed to the City Attorneys wording.
Commissioner Cote asked if Condition No. 25 also needed to be changed to go along with Condition No. 48, as it addresses the same subject.
Commissioner Lyon agreed that Condition No. 25 would have the same wording as Condition No. 48.
Commissioner Mueller moved to amend the motion regarding Conditions 48 and 25 to change the height of five feet to forty-two inches, seconded by Vice Chairman Long.
Senior Planner Mihranian noted that there was an error in the conditions, and that Condition No. 25 should have read forty-two inches.
After some discussion, Commissioner Lyon suggested wording the condition to say that the height of the vegetation shall be limited to a height that does not unreasonably obscure a view from neighboring properties while providing reasonable privacy to the land owner, as determined by the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement.
Commissioner Lyon repeated his motion to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-22 thereby accepting staffs recommendations with the exception of a modification to Condition No. 25 to change the height of the foliage from one foot to forty two inches and to modify Condition No. 48 which addresses the yard area with language that says the foliage can be at a height to be approved by the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement that provides reasonable privacy to the applicant without unreasonably restricting the view from neighboring properties. Further, Condition No. 51 would be modified as amended earlier by Vice Chairman Long. Approved, 7-0.
Vice Chairman Long clarified that he felt this was an exceptional circumstance and should not be interpreted as a precedent.
4. Height Variation and Conditional Use Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00010):
2 Burrell Lane
Vice Chairman Long recused himself from the public hearing as he was absent during one of the meetings this item was discussed, and although he read the minutes he still did not feel qualified to address the issues. He also noted that the applicant lived on a gated street, and though he attempted to contact the owner, he was never able to gain access to the property.
Commissioner Duran Reed also recused herself and noted that she had read the minutes of the meeting she had missed, but also had not been able to visit the site.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to waive the reading of the staff report, seconded by Commissioner Lyon.
Chairman Cartwright asked staff to explain what was different with this project as opposed to the original projected that was before the Planning Commission.
Assistant Planner Luckert explained that the applicant shortened the project by three feet, thereby taking the addition completely out of the extreme slope area.
Commissioner Mueller moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-23, thereby approving the requested Conditional Use Permit and Grading Permit (Case No. Zon2002-00010) as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (7-0).
5. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00183): 28424 Meadowmist Drive
Assistant Planner Luckert presented a brief staff report. He explained the scope of the project. He explained that all findings could be made, there was no view impairment to neighboring properties, and the design is compatible to the neighborhood. Therefore, staff was recommending approval of the height variation.
Chairman Cartwright asked if there were any letters supporting or complaining about the project.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that staff had not received any letters regarding the project.
Chairman Cartwright asked if all of the Planning Commissioners had visited the site, which they had.
Commissioner Mueller moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-24 thereby approving the requested Height Variation application (Case No. ZON2002-00183) as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. Approved, (7-0).
6. Variance and Exotic Animal Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00296): 1985 Avenida Feliciano
Commissioner Tomblin stated that he had not visited the site, but felt he could still participate in the public hearing.
Assistant Planner Luckert presented the staff report. He described the project, and noted that in reviewing the application staff felt there were no exceptional or extraordinary circumstances on the property, as it appears there are other options available to the homeowner to comply with the Citys Development Code. In addition, staff felt that the applicant could lower the proposed trellises so as to comply with the 6-foot height requirement for accessory structures within the rear and side setback areas. In looking at the specific requirements for the Exotic Animal Permit staff felt the site was not adequate in size or shape to accommodate the proposal. Further, the loud noises and squawks produced by the birds do affect the neighboring properties. Staff felt that if the birds were to be moved inside the residence, then staff would be able to make the findings for this permit. Staff felt that if the existing trellises were lowered and/or remove them out of the side yard setback area, then a Variance application would not be needed. Nonetheless, as proposed, staff recommends denying without the prejudice the Variance and Exotic Animal Permit.
Vice Chairman Long asked staff to clarify which, of the many birds on the property, were considered exotic birds.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that it was the five large birds.
Vice Chairman Long stated that when he visited the site the larger birds were relatively quiet, however on the west side of the house there were a number of small birds outdoors that were extremely noisy. He noted that there were other birds in the house that were also extremely noisy. He asked staff if they knew which birds caused the noise complaints. He also wondered if any permits were required for the extremely noisy small birds. He also asked what the definition was of an exotic animal.
Assistant Planner Luckert explained the Citys Development Code describes what animals are subject to an exotic animal permit and also referred to the Los Angeles County Code for a definition of "wild animal". He read the definition of a wild animal from the Los Angeles County Code.
Chairman Cartwright agreed that the larger birds seemed fairly quiet, while the small birds were extremely noisy. He asked if there was any type of limit on how many birds could be kept on a residential property.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that there was no specific maximum or minimum number of birds allowed, according to the Development Code.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the existing block wall met planning standards.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that it measured six feet on one side and eight feet on the other, which did comply to City code.
Chairman Cartwright asked if there was a point where the number of birds on the property would change use of the property from residential to something else.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that if the birds were being kept at the property for a commercial venture, a Conditional Use Permit would be required because it would be a non-residential use. In the case where it is non-commercial and there are a lot of pets on the property, it falls in the realm of the Exotic Animal Permit. He explained that staff concentrated on the five large birds, as they seemed to be the source of the noise. However, if the Planning Commission believes that the multiple smaller birds were also creating a noise problem, they too could be considered a part of the Exotic Animal Permit request.
Chairman Cartwright asked staff if they had asked if the birds were being kept for commercial purposes.
Assistant Planner Luckert responded that staff had asked that question and the applicant had responded that they were not being kept for commercial purposes.
Commissioner Mueller did not think he could make a determination as to which were the noisier birds from his brief site visit. He felt that the Planning Commission should rely more on the speakers in the neighborhood and the applicant.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Norma Bauer 1985 Avenida Feliciano (applicant) stated that she had read the staff report and was not in support of the recommendations. She understood the concerns of the trellis where the exotic birds would be located and she could lower the trellis, however she would need about a foot higher than the top of the cages. She stated that birds became noisy when there were strangers or animals in the yard, but she could build an enclosure to keep the birds and nobody would be able to hear them. She stated that she had neighbors that bring their children and grandchildren to her home to visit her birds and she could not please all of her neighbors. She stated that she could not keep the large birds in the house.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked Ms. Bauer if she was only going to put the small birds in an enclosure.
Ms. Bauer stated that she was planning to put the small birds in an enclosure and in the area where the larger birds were she was planning to put tropical plants and trees to block the noise.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked how many birds were currently inside the residence.
Ms. Bauer answered that there were approximately 26 canaries and finches in the house.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if it were possible to build an enclosure on the east side of the residence for the larger birds.
Ms. Bauer felt it would be possible to build some type of enclosure for the larger birds.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked Ms. Bauer which of the birds were the noisier birds.
Ms. Bauer answered that the noisy birds would be the cockatoos, which are located on the east side of her residence.
Chairman Cartwright asked Ms. Bauer if she raised these birds for sale.
Ms. Bauer stated that she used to sell the birds but now she has the birds for a hobby and gives the birds away.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that to build an enclosure or several enclosure to mitigate the noise from the birds could be very expensive, and asked Mrs. Bauer if she would be willing to make the substantial improvements necessary.
Ms. Bauer answered that she was prepared to do what was necessary.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the City had any type of Ordinance regarding animal noise.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there was a provision in the Municipal Code about disturbing the peace which states that no person shall permit any animal that is kept or maintained upon premises to emit any persistent sound, cry, or other noise which disturbs the peace, quiet, and comfort of any residential neighborhood.
Arnold Oksenkrug 1979 Avenida Feliciano stated that his property abuts the east side of the applicants property. He felt the trellis was much too big and comes right up to the property line. He stated that the big birds can be very noisy and most of the noise occurs early in the morning and in the evening. He stated he would like to see the structure either removed or lowered, as well as set back from the property line.
Mrs. Oksenkrug 1979 Avenida Feliciano stated that there were property line walls separating the properties and the trellis was higher than the wall and right up against the wall.
Vice Chairman Long asked if they would be satisfied if the height of the trellis were reduced to the level of the top of the wall.
Mrs. Oksenkrug answered that it would be fine provided the trellis was outside of the required five foot setback. She stated that allowing the trellis to abut the property allowed them to hear the birds.
Commissioner Cartwright asked the Oksenkrugs if noise was an issue.
Mr. Oksenkrug answered that noise was very much an issue and they have been tolerating the noise for quite a while because they wanted to be good neighbors.
Don Shults 2129 Velez Drive stated that his concern was that the trellis was illegal and should be changed to be made legal. He was also concerned with the noise of the birds and how they disturbed the neighbors. He stated that there was enough problem on the hill with the peacocks and he didnt want to see the cockatoos and sparrows on their side of the hill keeping everyone awake at night. He felt the problem was how to keep the birds quiet, and he didnt know how to go about that.
Chairman Cartwright asked Mr. Shults if he was representing the homeowners association.
Mr. Shults answered that he was not representing the homeowners association.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the CC&Rs addressed this type of situation.
Mr. Shults did not think they addressed the birds, or the number of animals.
Chairman Cartwright asked if this complaint has ever come to the HOA before.
Mr. Shults was not aware of any past complaints.
Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that there were two findings necessary to approve an Exotic Animal Permit and these findings had to do with adequate size of the lot and impacts to public health and safety. He stated that the Planning Commission could factor the noise of the birds into these findings. He noted another issue was whether the Planning Commission wanted to add the other small birds into the Exotic Animal Permit request.
Vice Chairman Long stated that even if the Exotic Animal Permit applied to only the large birds, there was still a mechanism in the Municipal Code for the neighbors to complain about the smaller, noisy birds.
Chairman Cartwright asked staff to clarify their position regarding the five large birds.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that staffs position was that staff could not justify keeping the five large birds outdoors. Therefore, by following through on staffs recommendation, the applicant would not be allowed to keep the five birds outdoors. He stated that staff was not addressing the smaller birds, and they would be allowed to stay outside.
Vice Chairman Long stated that he would be inclined to follow staffs recommendations regarding the large birds and let the neighbors and HOA decide if the small birds are really even an issue.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if the outside aviaries were enclosed so as not to disturb the neighbors, couldnt finding no. 2 be made. She felt that if the applicant were to take the time and bear the expense to lower the trellises and enclose the birds, there should be something the Planning Commission or staff could do to see if this solves the problem.
Vice Chairman Long felt that staffs recommendation to deny without prejudice achieves that, so that the applicant could reapply for the permit once the enclosure has been done.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if the permit were denied, would there be a time limit placed on the applicant as to when she would have to move the birds inside or apply for another permit.
Vice Chairman Long felt that denial of the permit without prejudice would not allow the situation to remain as is and that the applicant would have to move the birds indoors.
Director/Secretary suggested the Planning Commission may want to approve the Variance to allow the applicant to modify the enclosures with the conditions that the birds must be enclosed and a six-month review to assess the effectiveness of the situation. At the six month review the Planning Commission could then re-evaluate their decision.
Commissioner Cote stated that it was hard for her to make a decision without actually seeing the new enclosure. By denying the permit, the Planning Commission at least solves the issue regarding the noise. This will allow the applicant to move the birds inside, construct the enclosures, and apply for a new application.
Commissioner Cote moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-25 thereby denying, without prejudice, the requested Variance and Exotic Animal Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00296), seconded by Commissioner Mueller. Approved, (7-0).
Commissioner Duran Reed encouraged the applicant to speedily finish the enclosure on the west side of her property for the small birds so that the Planning Commission and staff can have something to compare it to.
Chairman Cartwright strongly recommended that the applicant work with staff to come up with a revised plan and application for the Planning Commissions review.
7. General Plan Annual Report
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report. She explained that the annual report lists activities that the City had implemented during the year. According to the report the Citys General Plans goals and policies continue to be implemented because the actions taken by the City balances between the needs and property rights as well as the health and welfare of the City.
Commissioner Lyon moved to accept the staff recommendations and forward the Citys Annual Report to the City Council, seconded by Commissioner Mueller, which was unanimously approved.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 a.m.