CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
DECEMBER 10, 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.
Vice Chairman Long led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Duran Reed, Lyon, Mueller, Vice Chairman Long, Chairman Cartwright. Commissioners Cote and Tomblin arrived at 7:08 p.m.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Blumenthal, Assistant Planner Luckert, Assistant Planner Schonborn, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Mueller moved to approve the agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. The agenda was approved without objection.
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that at the last City Council meeting the City Council selected Mr. Stern as the Mayor and Ms. Ferraro as the Mayor Pro-Tem. He also reported that the City Council was accepting applications for the Chairman positions for the different Commissions and Committees.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed three items of correspondence relating to Agenda Items Nos. 3, 5, and 7.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS)
1. Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00062): 30822 Rue de la Pierre
Chairman Cartwright recused himself from this item as his residence is within 500 feet of the property.
Commissioner Mueller noted several changes to the Resolution. He began on page 2 of the Resolution, and noted that there was no WHEREAS clause discussing the Planning Commission request to have the City’s structural engineer inspect and make a recommendation on the wall. He suggested the following language on page 2: WHEREAS the City requested that a City structural engineer review the application and the drawing and concluded, based on a letter, that "there was not any structural reason that the top 18 inches of the upper wall cannot be removed. The pool and the planter box are not an integral part to the retaining wall. It is recommended that the wall be saw cut, not jack hammered, to lower the wall."
Commissioner Mueller continued that in Section 2 on page 2, he would like to re-write the second sentence to say: "Once the existing 8 foot 6 inch high retaining wall is lowered to 7 feet as directed by the Planning Commission, it will not be . . . "
Commissioner Mueller noted that in the Conditions of Approval, Exhibit A, Condition No. 5 should have the following words added to it: "The applicant shall remove 1-foot 6-inches of the freeboard off of the top of the entire length of the existing taller retaining wall." He noted that in sentence no. 4 that his motion was to adopt the staff report which was to leave a small amount of freeboard wall behind the planter. He felt that the existing sentence has another extension which goes beyond the motion and did not feel that was part of the motion or the staff recommendation and he felt that part should be stricken.
Commissioner Mueller reviewed Condition No. 7 and acknowledged that the Planning Commission should give the staff some leeway and the Director some ability to implement the decision, however he did not want to see additional modifications made to the wall that do not need to be made. His understanding was that the direction was to remove the freeboard area and install the 1-foot wrought iron fence on the top, and anything beyond that he felt should be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that regarding Condition No. 5, it was staff’s recommendation at the last meeting to leave a middle portion of the wall to not affect the existing planter structure. He felt that the existing language allows for some type of space between the actual planter and the cut of the freeboard portion of the wall, as well as recognizing the aesthetic concerns of the wall. Regarding Condition No. 7, he explained that it was a standard condition that is placed on every Planning Commission approval, which was a mechanism to allow any minor changes to be approved by the Director. He noted that any substantial change would be brought back to the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Mueller understood that minor modifications should not have to be brought back to the Planning Commission, however he felt that what a small amount is should be defined. He suggested a foot on either side would be appropriate.
Vice Chairman Long felt that the suggestion by Commissioner Mueller to add an additional "Whereas" clause might actually be better included as a finding.
Commissioner Mueller agreed that a finding would be appropriate.
Commissioner Lyon asked if the appeal period had started for this project.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the appeal period would not start until the Resolution was adopted.
Commissioner Lyon noted that the City Council has recently put an emphasis on being resident friendly, and he could not remember a more resident unfriendly action made by the Planning Commission, and nit-picking at the wording was out of place.
Vice Chairman Long stated that the Planning Commission was charged with enforcing the City Ordinances and not voting on projects based upon a standard of whether or not they liked it. He did not think that being resident friendly meant ignoring the rules established by the City. That being said, he asked if there was anything else in the Resolution that anyone felt needed to be changed to reflect the decision made at the prior meeting.
Commissioner Duran Reed agreed with Commissioner Mueller’s suggestions to modify the Resolution. She added a suggestion that in the WHEREAS clause a sentence be added to read: "The Commission received such information and then continued the item to a date uncertain."
Commissioner Cote stated that she was absent from the meeting of November 26, and even though she had reviewed the video of the meeting, she did not feel she could vote on this matter, and therefore recused herself from the hearing.
Commissioner Mueller stated that in no way was this decision intended to be resident unfriendly and he felt his job with the Planning Commission was to adhere to the code and make the findings in the staff report.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to accept the Resolution as modified by Commissioner Mueller to add a finding that at the November 26 Planning Commission meeting staff presented the requested information, including the findings of the City’s structural engineer; A new Section 1 be included with the wording from the structural engineer’s letter stated earlier; the new Section 2 second sentence will have the added words that once the existing 8-foot 6-inch high retaining wall is lowered to 7 feet; Exhibit A, Condition 5 should have the words "entire length of the existing taller wall" at the end of the first sentence between "the" and "existing"; correct the spelling in the fourth sentence and in the sixth sentence replace the words "small amount" with "up to one foot of freeboard", seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. Approved, (5-0-2) with Commissioner Cote abstaining and Chairman Cartwright recused.
2. Sign Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00448): 28500 Western Avenue
Assistant Planner Luckert presented the staff report. He explained that the proposed sign program would replace the existing program in place since 1992. He stated that the new sign program was being proposed so as to have a more up to date and comprehensive program available and to provide storeowners more accurate and precise guidelines as to what signs can be allowed. He noted that the applicant was proposing two monument identification signs at two of the three Western Avenue entrances where previous monument signs existed, to replace current block lettering with individual illuminated channel letters, and to replace the identification signs at Wells Fargo and Smart N’ Final. Except for one of the proposed signs, staff felt that sign program does not present a hardship on neighboring homes nor to visitors to the shopping complex and was consistent with criteria listed within the City’s Development Code. Mr. Luckert Mr.MMr. Mr. explained that the one exception was the Smart N’ Final sign which was no consistent with the Development Code. He explained that the sign was proposed to be 130 square feet, where the Development Code allowed only 100 square feet in size in Commercial General zones. Staff did not see any reason to allow such a sign, as proposed. Therefore, staff was recommending the Planning Commission adopt the Resolution approving the sign program with the modification that the signs be no larger than 100 square feet.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Jack Fovell 1540 Commerce St, Corona, stated that he was with the sign company and representing the owners of the shopping center. He stated that he agreed with the staff report with a few exceptions. He noted a discussion that referred to a monument sign as being non-illuminated. He clarified that both monument signs were intended to be illuminated. Secondly, he discussed the 130 square foot monument sign. He explained that the previous Albertson’s marked was issued permits for signage exceeding 150 square feet. In allowing the sign and based on the existing sign program, the City felt that the sign was appropriate based on the size of the building. He stated that based on what was previously allowed for Albertson’s he was requesting that the sign be allowed to a maximum of 130 square feet.
Vice Chairman Long asked what in the Development Code would give the Planning Commission authority to increase the size of the sign.
Mr. Fovell answered that there may not be anything in the Development Code, however he was requesting the Planning Commission take into consideration that the current Albertson’s sign, which was approved by the City, is 157 square feet and he was requesting only 130 square feet.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the pre-existing Albertson’s signs were approved by the City
Vice Chairman Long asked if the sign was larger than the Code allowed, and if so, how that happened.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the signs are larger than permitted by Code, and recalled that the old Code had a process for approving signs exceeding the size limitation if the Planning Commission made certain findings, and noted that such a process no longer exists.
Jeff Forman 800 Citadel Drive, Commerce stated that he was representing Smart N’ Final and was very anxious to open their store on Western Avenue. He explained that Smart N' Final had assumed that they could continue with the 150 square foot sign and noted that there were other signs that were 150 square feet on Western Avenue. He asked that the Planning Commission understand their position and to consider their request on the size of the sign.
Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the City specifically approved a sign of 154 square feet for Albertson’s.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the County had originally approved a 150 square foot sign for the existing Lucky’s store and when the City incorporated and Lucky’s changed to Albertson’s the City considered it a legal non-conforming sign. As long as Albertson’s was not expanding the non-conformity the City approved a sign no bigger that what was there and the County had approved.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the Planning Commission should consider this sign a replacement sign.
Director/Secretary Rojas felt that this should be considered a replacement and as long as the size of the new sign did not exceed the size of the existing sign, it was not intensifying the non-conformity. Therefore, under the current code, if the Planning Commission found that this was a replacement sign there was a provision to approve the sign.
Vice Chairman Long asked if the situation was analogous to what the Planning Commission looked at when reviewing Golden Cove.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it was similar.
Vice Chairman Long stated that the Planning Commission had decided at Golden Cove that the sign was a replacement sign, and because it was no larger and no more intense in use that the previously existing sign, the Planning Commission was empowered to approve the sign under the existing Code. He asked staff if this proposed sign was no bigger than the previous existing sign and merely a replacement, would they be comfortable with the sign if the Planning Commission could make the necessary findings.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff would be comfortable as long as there was no physical change, enlargement, extension, or reduction which increases the degree or extent of a non-conforming structure.
Vice Chairman Long asked how the Planning Commission could write the limitation into the approval that would achieve that.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the Planning Commission would have to make a finding that the new sign is a replacement sign and does not increase the non-conformity of the pre-existing sign.
Commissioner Cote stated that even though there is a pre-existing sign, as there was at Golden Cove, the Planning Commission is considering a new sign program and she did not feel that there was a requirement for the Planning Commission to consider the pre-existing sign.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed and added that part of the review of the sign program was to find that there was not a proliferation of signs and if the Planning Commission felt that allowing the non-conforming sign to stay, along with the other signs, was a proliferation, there was some discretion when considering the new sign program. He cautioned, however, that the applicant could argue that there were some non-conforming rights that they had towards that sign.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that the 133 square foot sign was not obtrusive and was balanced and symmetrical and fit well in the shopping center.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the 157 square feet was a single Albertson’s sign or if it included all of the other smaller signs.
Assistant Planner Luckert answered that the 150 square feet included the sign and logos.
Commissioner Cote felt that this was an opportunity to discuss the entire sign program in terms of aesthetics, size, color, etc., and make any necessary changes. She did not feel that it was necessary to approve the larger sign just because it was a pre-existing sign.
Vice Chairman Long felt that in the future when sign programs are brought before the Planning Commission, even if the focus of the applicant is narrow, it would be helpful to have staff’s recommendation on the sign program as a whole in the sense of should the Planning Commission amend any other portion of the program and if so why, and if not why not.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to accept the staff’s recommendations to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-34, thereby approving the requested Sign Permit with the modification to allow the Smart & Final sign to be considered a replacement sign and shall not exceed 133 square feet in size, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. Approved, (6-1) with Commissioner Cote dissenting.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:05 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:15 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
3. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00249: 30778 Ganado Drive
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, stating that the request was to construct a 642 square foot addition to an existing 2,664 square foot, two-story residence and to encroach 2-feet 4-inches into the front yard setback. He stated that staff has reviewed all of the findings for the height variation and noted that the residents at 30770 Ganado Drive had expressed concerns regarding the loss of a portion of their view. Staff conducted a view analysis of the property and noted that there were two views from the residence, one from the dining room located on the front side of the residence overlooking the ocean, and one from the living room which includes the ocean, Catalina Island, and a small canyon to the rear of the property. He explained that staff determined that the living room contains the best and most important view and therefore the analysis conducted from this room. He stated that although the project would impair a portion of the ocean view, it was staff’s opinion that the proposed addition had been designed to minimize the view impairment and will not result in significant view impairment to the property. He circulated a picture board for the Planning Commission to review, which showed the subject property along with pictures taken from the views at 30770 Ganado Drive. Regarding the Minor Exception Permit, he explained that staff has reviewed the project and did not think there was an unnecessary hardship, practical difficulty, or inconsistency with Title 17 and as such staff felt the project could be redesigned to meet the front yard setback requirement. With that, he stated that staff was recommending the Planning Commission approve the height variation and deny the minor exception permit subject to the recommended conditions of approval.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he had discussed the project with a neighbor and asked, on the neighbor’s behalf, if the flags on the lot had been verified that they were at the correct height and represented the correct and current plan.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the height and location of the flags had been verified and reflected the current plan.
Commissioner Lyon stated that there was a significant difference in quality of view from the three upstairs bedrooms compared with the downstairs rooms in the house next door to the subject property. He noted that staff had selected the primary view from one of the windows back in the corner of the living room, which he did not feel had much of a view at all. He asked if there were any circumstances under which a second story view could be considered a primary view.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the City Council had adopted the Height Variation Guidelines, and those Guidelines do allow views to be looked at from the second floor only if it is a gathering area and if it did not require the approval of a height variation. Because these second story rooms are bedrooms and because construction of that second story today would require a height variation, the Guidelines state those rooms must be excluded when considering primary viewing areas.
Commissioner Cote asked why this particular project was before the Plannning Commission, because the height of the proposed addition does not change the current height of the existing structure.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that when any portion of a structure that exceeds 16 feet in height and is closer than 25 feet to the front property line the Planning Commission is required to review the project. He noted that in this proposal the second story addition also covers the garage and second story coverage over first story coverage would have required Planning Commission review.
Commissioner Mueller asked if staff took into account when doing their analysis the fact that the house next door to the subject property is a single story residence and what affect that would have on other homes views if that house were to also add a second story.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that the closest single story residence was on the corner of Bendigo Drive and Ganado Drive, and because of the topography of the area he did not think that any type of second story addition to that home would be visible from this property.
Commisioner Mueller asked about the house next door, downslope, and if they were to add a similar addition if staff would take cumulative view impairment into account.
Associate Planner Blumenthal responded that because of the property location and because of where the view analysis was taken from, he did not think there would be any view impact by any second story addition to the other home.
Vice Chairman Long discussed finding no. 4, and noted that it required the structure be designed and situated in such a manner as to minimize impairment of a view, which does not refer to a view from a viewing area. He asked staff, if when analyzing finding no. 4, the staff did consider the impact on the view from the upstairs bedrooms.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the view was analyzed from the viewing area only.
Vice Chairman Long asked, if one were to analyze the view from the upstairs bedrooms, does staff have an opinion as to whether or not there are different designs of the project that would be practical that would lessen the impact on the view from those bedrooms.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that because the roof height was limited and there is a hip roof rather than the typical gable roof, it pushes the front of the roof back. He felt that the only other potential to minimize the view would be to put a flat roof on that part of the project, creating an issue with neighborhood compatibility.
Vice Chairman Long asked if it would make a difference in the views from the upstairs bedrooms if the pop up addition were placed over the other portion of the structure, as opposed to over the garage.
Associate Planner Blumenthal felt the impact would be approximately the same.
Chairman Cartwright asked if view impairment would be mitigated if the addition were placed more towards the rear of the property rather than at the front of the property.
Associate Planner Blumenthal responded that if the addition were put at the rear of the property there may be potential impairment to the view of Catalina Island.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Alexandra Sverdlov 30778 Ganado Drive (applicant) stated her family size has increased since purchasing her home 14 years ago, and she has run out of room. She stated that the four upstairs bedrooms discussed in the staff report are actually three bedrooms and a 9 ½ x 10 ½ open alcove that was enclosed and turned into a loft. She noted that all of those rooms share only one upstairs bathroom. She explained that once the decision to add on had been made she spoke to the Planning Department where it was explained to her how the viewing area would be determined. Since her neighbor’s primary viewing area was not on the second floor she thought it would be safe to proceed with her proposed project. She explained that in designing the addition she and the architect had looked very carefully at the other houses on Ganado Drive. In discussing the Minor Exception Permit, she noted that she was not changing the existing setback on the garage level and only asking to extend the setback above the garage, she asked the Planning Commission to consider an approval. She has discussed with her architect moving the project back approximately one foot, which she felt could be done.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that the height of the ridgeline, which blocks the water view from the neighboring property, consists mostly of attic space. He wondered if there was a way to cut down the ridgeline from an architectural standpoint.
Mrs. Sverdlov stated that the Catalina view is not obstructed, and that view is from a small guest bedroom that is rarely used. However, she did not have a problem losing her attic space if that would help with the approval of the project.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked Mrs. Sverdlov if there was any way to add on to or reconfigure the home on the ground floor as opposed to making the addition on the second floor.
Mrs. Sverdlov answered that her backyard is almost all downslope area.
Commissioner Duran Reed clarified that there is an area in the home currently where there is no furniture and does not look used that might be reconfigured into useable area.
Mrs. Sverdlov explained that the area is used and she was in the process of getting new furniture for the area. She added that she would prefer to have her bedroom on the same floor as her children.
Chairman Cartwright asked Mrs. Sverdlov if she disagreed with the staff’s findings that there is the Minor Exception Permit could not be granted because there was no unnecessary hardship and avoids inconsistency with the Development Code.
Mrs. Sverdlov did not disagree with the findings made by staff, she was only hoping that she could have a little extra room in her home.
Joan Barry 30770 Ganado Drive stated that she has three major concerns with the proposed project. She stated that the first concern was the loss of a view that she has enjoyed for 23 years. She disagreed with the staff report that states the proposed addition does not significantly impair the view from her residence. She also disagreed that significant views are only taken from the living area, as her workroom and master bedroom are upstairs and she and her husband do a majority of their work in these two rooms. She stated that the proposed addition would significantly impair their view from the rooms in which they spend the majority of their time. Her second concern was the value of her property, as she felt that it would be adversely affected. She stated that she had spoken with a real estate agent who indicated that her real estate value would definitely be adversely affected by the loss of her upstairs view. Her third concern was the loss of privacy in her yard because of a proposed side window which would look directly down on her side yard. She discussed the necessary findings for a height variation and noted that finding no. 4 which states the structure shall be designed in such a way as to minimize impairment of view. She did not think this was done and felt that there was a more compatible way to design the proposed addition, perhaps on the first floor. She discussed finding no. 8 that the proposed is compatible with the immediate neighborhood. She did not think this proposed addition would follow the scale and architectural style of the ten houses immediately surrounding the home. She felt that the proposed addition would make the home significantly larger than the surrounding homes. She submitted a petition signed by several neighbors who agree with her objections to the project. She agreed with staff that the frontyard setback of the addition should be the required 20 feet, as seen in all of the surrounding homes. She felt that it was imperitive the Planning Commission see the value in protecting her upstairs view, as once it is gone it will be gone forever, and hoped that the height variation request would be denied.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Mrs. Barry if she would be opposed to the project if the roofline were lowered so that it fell within the ridglines of some of the houses down slope.
Mrs. Barry answered that if she could maintain her ocean view she would be happy with the lowering of the ridgeline.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the proposed addition would restrict her view of Catalina Island.
Mrs. Barry answered that the proposed addition would restrict a portion of the ocean view and shipping lane, but not Catalina Island.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the proposed side window discussed earlier were to be transluscent, if that would satisfy her concern with privacy.
Mrs. Barry felt that a transluscent window would be helpful.
John Dailey 30753 Ganado Drive stated that the houses in the neighborhood were placed on pads so that no house would obstruct a view from a neighbors house. He felt that it was wrong to allow a proposed second story structure to block any view from a neighboring home that was built specifically to enjoy the views. He felt that there must be some way for the applicant to enlarge their home without blocking the view from the Barry’s home, and suggested a first floor addition at the rear or front of the property. He wondered if the silhouette erected accurately measures the exact view loss to the Barrys and suggested it be remeasured for accuracy.
Chairman Cartwright noted that the architect was not present at the meeting and stressed to staff that it was very important to have the architect present for these types of cases, as it may help clear up many questions raised by the Planning Commissioners.
Mrs. Sverdlof (in rebuttal) stated that it should not be difficult to lower the height of the addition by a foot or so, and agreed to making the bathroom window in question transluscent. She stated that there was no place in her backyard to add on, as there was only eight to nine feet before the property began to slope down into a canyon.
Vice Chairman Long explained that the Planning Commission is required to make certain findings, and if these findings cannot be made the project should be denied. He explained that at this point he was doubtful that he could make all of the findings without some additional information from the architect, and asked Mrs. Sverdlof if she would be willing to agree to a continuance so that her architect could be present at the next meeting.
Commissioner Tomblin agreed with the Vice Chairman and felt that the ridgeline could lowered, and did not think he could support the project as submitted.
Commissioner Lyon agreed that the ridgeline needed to be lowered and wondered if the project could be approved with the condtion that the ridgleine be lowered three feet.
Commissioner Duran Reed also could not make two of the findings for the height variation. She too felt the project could be redesigned to reduce the view impacts to the Barry’s home. She felt it was important for the architect to be present to discuss the possibilities of lowering the ridgeline or redesign of the proposed addition.
Commissioner Cote agreed with the comments of the Commissioners and stated that she would be very open and willing to look at design alternatives that would minimize the view impact to the Barry’s home.
Commissioner Mueller also had trouble making the required findings. He felt there was a problem with cumulative view impairment. He felt that neighborhood compatibility was an issue, and stated that without the architect present he was not comfortable making decisions about the design of the house.
Chairman Cartwright did not think there was a significant view impairment as defined by the Code, however he was not convinced that the proposed structure has been designed in a way to minimize view impairment. His primary question was if there was space above the ceiling that could be reduced to lower the ridgeline, and to answer this he felt the architect needed to be present. When visiting the site he did not have an issue with cumulative view impact, however after hearing the concerns of the other Commissioners, he felt it was something that should be addressed.
Commissioner Duran Reed stated that if the architect were to redesign the proposed addition so as to lower the ridgeline, she felt it was important to have a new silhouette erected that accurately reflected the changes.
Chairman Cartwright cautioned the applicant that agreeing to a continuance would not mean that the Planning Commission would approve her project.
Mrs. Sverdlof did not want to have the item continued, but understood that the project may be denied unless there was a continuance. She therefore agreed to the time extension for the continuance.
Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cote moved to continue the public hearing to January 28, 2003, to allow the applicant to consider the input of the Planning Commission and staff and to consider other design options in order to minimize the impairment of the view from the neighboring property, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (7-0).
4. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00366): 30486 Ganado Drive
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report. He explained the scope of the project and noted the application was before the Planning Commission because the area of the structure which exceeds 16 feet in height exceeds 75 percent of the first floor footprint. He noted that staff has determined that all findings could be made and recommended approval of the project.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Greg Kennedy 30486 stated that he and his architect were available for questions.
There being no questions, Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the project as presented by staff, thereby adopting P.C. Resolution 2002-35, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.
Commissioner Duran Reed noted that currently there is no foliage obstructing neighbors views, however she felt a condition should be added that the foliage on the property should remain at a height that would not obstruct the neighbor’s views.
Vice Chairman Long asked what this would add to what the existing view ordinance already provides.
Commissioner Duran Reed felt that this way the neighbors would not have to go through the view preservation or restoration process.
Vice Chairman Long explained that new growth would be a code enforcement issue, rather than view restoration or preservation, and explained that preservation or restoration would come into the picture only when there is a current foliage problem.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed that there was already a process in place to deal with foliage, and could not recall this type of condition being placed on a project since the view preservation process was established.
Commissioner Cote asked if there was specific foliage on the property that was a concern to Commissioner Duran Reed.
Commissioner Duran Reed answered that there was not, however her concern was that if there was a condition on the approval that limits the height of the trees in the backyard to 16 feet, then the portion above the trees would be protected.
Vice Chairman Long felt that there may a danger in this type of condition since the view ordinance specifies that the foliage can be trimmed to either 16 feet or the ridgeline.
The motion to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-35 was approved, (7-0).
5. Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00419): 29081 Palos Verdes Drive East
Vice Chairman Long stated that he had made several attempts to find this address, but was not able to find it. He stated that he read the staff report, but asked the Commission whether they felt viewing the site was important and if he should therefore recuse himself.
The Planning Commissioners all expressed their difficulty in finding the property, and agreed that the Vice Chairman need not recuse himself.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He discussed the project, which was the construction of a new single-family residence, and noted that staff felt the amount of grading being proposed was necessary for the primary use of the lot and that all necessary findings could be made in a positive manner. He explained that there is an adjacent residence located upslope from the subject property that it is located in the City of Rolling Hills. He noted that staff has concluded, based on the topography and the location of the property, that the home will look over the proposed new residence and there would be no significant view impairment. He stated that one letter of correspondence was received from residents at 28981 Palos Verdes Drive East. In reviewing their comments and concerns, staff determined that there was confusion as to which lot was being developed, and in further discussions with the residents determined that their concerns were not valid for the subject property. Therefore, based on staff analysis, staff was recommending Planning Commission approval of the project subject to the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Mueller asked staff if there was any way to put a condition on either of the subdividided lots or was the Planning Commission limited to only putting conditions on the lot in question.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the Planning Commission was limited to putting conditions on the lot in question and explained that as per the Parcel Map a new lot was created and is considered a separate entity.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Frank Balogh 23404 Dorset Place, Harbor City, stated he was the architect for the project. He stated that he agreed with the staff report and the findings and added that the applicants had shown the drawings for the proposed residence to all of the immediate neighbors, all of whom reviewed and agreed to the plans.
Commissioner Tomblin asked where the driveway was proposed for the project.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that as part of the approved parcel map, there was an easement that allows access over a portion of the existing lot for a driveway.
Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Mueller moved to approve the staff report as presented, thereby adopting P.C. Resolution 2002-37, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. Approved, (7-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 9:50 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 10:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)
6. Conditional Use Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00553): 28924 Western Avenue
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He explained that the application was a request for the existing medical office to keep surgical patients overnight to ensure proper recovery. He noted that the purpose of the use is to perform out patient surgical procedures, and no patient would stay longer than 24 hours. He explained that staff believes the applicable findings for the Conditional Use Permit can be made to warrant approval of the project.
Commissioner Mueller asked if staff had considered in their noise analysis, the medical center staff and the hours that they would be coming and going.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that with labor laws and other factors the medical center staff would have to have breaks and it would be very difficult to require staff members not leave the building for breaks during the night. However, given the number of working staff, staff did not feel this was a problem.
Commissioner Mueller noted the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours and asked if it would be proper to put into the conditions that the surgery would only occur during those hours.
Associate Planner felt that the condition could be added to the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked what type of surgery would be performed at the site.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that he would have to let the applicant answer that question.
Commissioner Duran Reed noted that the applicant proposes to incorporate two additional off street parking spaces, and asked how the applicant intended to do that.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that there was an area near the rear of the building that was currently grass, and the applicant was proposing to utilize some of the grass area to provide two additional parking stalls.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked how many staff members would be at the site during the night.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that it would vary, but would be between one and four staff members, depending on the number of patients.
Chairman Cartwright asked if there were any other businesses in that immediate area that were open 24 hours.
Associate Planner Schonborn was not aware of any other facility in the immediate area that was open 24 hours, as they were mostly offices.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Jerry Rodin 29000 Western Ave, #408 stated that he was the architect for the project and was available for any questions. He clarified on the plan where the two additional parking spaces would be and explained that they would be providing six handicapped parking stalls.
Chairman Cartwright asked if the applicant also had a medical building across the street and asked what that was used for.
Mr. Rodin answered that the applicant did have an office across the street which was used as more of a sports outlet.
Kenneth Futch stated that he was the business manager for the proposed surgery center. He stated that the applicant did have a surgery center across the street which did very limited services, where patients were in and out in fifteen minutes or so. He explained that the applicant was proposing to build out the second floor of the subject building to widen the scope of services provided. He explained that these services would include things such as carpel tunnel release, scoping the shoulders and knees, and minor plastic procedures. He explained that no patient would stay more than 24 hours, as that would then mean they would be considered a hospital, and they did not want to be a hospital.
Commissioner Mueller asked Mr. Futch if he would be opposed to a condition limiting the hours of operation and surgery from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mr. Futch was not opposed to such a condition.
Richard Reamer stated that he was the design architect for the project, and was available for questions.
There being no further questions, Chairman Cartwright closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the staff recommendations, with the additional conditions that the business hours be limited to 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and no surgeries shall be performed after those hours, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.
Commissioner Tomblin noted that the Resolution should be changed to reflect the hours of operation are Monday through Friday, rather than Monday through Thursday as currently stated.
Commissioner Lyon agreed.
P.C. Resolution 2002-37 was approved, (7-0).
7. Proposed recreational vehicle residential storage and street parking regulations: Citywide
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, explaining it was an issue regarding RV parking on private property and on public streets that was brought before the City Council earlier in the year. He stated that when the item was taken to the City Council, both items were discussed, and the City Council directed staff to take the item to the Planning Commission for review and recommendations. The City Council also directed staff to work with the Council of Homeowners to receive their input and stressed that what was under the pervue of the Planning Commission and what staff would take to the City Council was how to deal with RV restrictions on private property. He explained issues of parking RV’s on public streets is a Public Works Department issue, and an item that the Traffic Committee may address at a future meeting. He explained that the Code currently allows residents to park and store RV’s on private property, provided it is on a lawfully paved surface. He stated that staff has done research to find out what restrictions other cities have regarding RV’s and spoke to RV dealers to get an idea of the different sizes and classifications of RV’s. He stated that it was clear that the majority of complaints received are with regards to the oversized RV’s. Taking all of this into account, staff has developed some suggestions the Planning Commission may want to explore, if they feel it is important to add additional conditions to the current code. He discussed the different suggestions, as outlined in the staff report, and presented a power point presentation which depicted several of the situations discussed.
Commissioner Tomblin asked who was responsible for dealing with RV parking on private streets.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that a private street is not private property so it would not come under the current Code or revisions to that Code. At the same time, it is not a public street, so it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department. He explained that private streets are usually maintained and paid for by a homeowners association, and therefore they have the ability to regulate the parking of RV’s. He stated that under the California Vehicle Code, the City cannot regulate a private street. He noted that there is a current problem with an RV parked on a private street, which he discussed with the City Attorney. The City Attorney explained that while there may not be an organized HOA, there is still someone who contributes money to maintain the roads and there are CC&R’s, and there is nothing to prevent those neighbors from organizing and coming up with regulations of their own.
Commissioner Mueller asked staff if they were concerned with the situation where a resident could change the shape of their driveway to possibly a T shape so that the RV would then be legally parked over a paved surface.
Director/Secretary Rojas acknowledged that was a concern, however he noted that there were specific limits on how much space could be used as driveway and still allow access to the garage.
Chairman Cartwright opened the public hearing.
Sally Adams 5 Surrey Lane stated that there was currently a motor home that had been parked for two years on her small private street, and the residents have not been able to have it moved. She felt that the California Vehicle Code was ineffective, as all the owner had to do was move the vehicle a few feet every couple of days. She was anxious for someone to come up with an idea on how to regulate a private street in terms of RV parking. She asked that the City provide her with a copy of the section of the California Vehicle Code that restricts the City from regulating the street.
Director/Secretary Rojas responded that he would contact the City Attorney and forward a copy of the appropriate section of the California Vehicle Code to Ms. Adams. He recalled a provision in a section of the Code that states that a certain majority or percentage of residents on the private street can agree to subject themselves to the City’s regulations for public streets. However the City would not be able to regulate the RV’s unless the City Council were to adopt a citywide ordinance relating to parking RV’s on public streets.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the homeowners association could regulate what happens on the private street.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the HOA could regulate what happens on a private street, however it would depend on how the CC&R’s are written. He noted that the City could not go in and enforce the HOA’s regulations.
Vice Chairman Long stated that even if the HOA goes through this process, it would become an issue for the Public Works Department or the Traffic Committee, and not the Planning Commission, as the Planning Commission should be focusing their attention on what can be done on private property.
Tom Dosdall 3534 Hightide Drive and noted that he is the neighbor of the large RV that was shown in one the slides. He explained that this was a 31-foot motor home that has been parked in the driveway for two years without moving. He stated that the motor home was permanently hooked up to the house electricity and is used daily as an office. He noted that the motor home overlaps on to the lawn by over nine feet. He explained that the motor home was an eyesore to the neighborhood and many neighbors have asked the owner to move it, but he has no intention of doing so. He therefore strongly supported some type of regulations prohibiting parking such large motor homes on private property.
Commissioner Cote noted that the Palos Verdes Estates Development Code has some specific occupancy restrictions on RV’s on private property, as it could not be used for dwelling or sleeping purposes, cooking purposes, and not permanently connected to water, electricity, or sewer lines.
Mr. Dosdall felt this was a good regulation, however noted that it would be difficult to prove the motor home is permanently hooked up to electricity, as the owner could simply unplug it at any time.
Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive stated that he was representing the Mediterranea HOA, and felt that everyone working together could find a solution to this problem. He felt, however, that there was the possibility that the City would regulate the parking on private property in such a way that the owners of the RV’s would simply move the vehicles out onto the street. He stated that the problem that the Homeowners Association brought before the City Council was not only RV’s but other vehicles that are parked on the street for months without moving.
Vice Chairman Long stated that he had reviewed the Palos Verdes Estates Ordinance and was very pleased with its contents. He wondered if an Ordinance such as this would just force all of the vehicles back on to the street, and without getting input from the Traffic Committee to know how much they can do to get the vehicles off of the street, felt it was rather difficult to make recommendations. He felt that the Planning Commission recommendations should somehow fit in with the Traffic Committee recommendations.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that there were many RVs and boats parked throughout the City which the City has not received complaints about, and he cautioned that being too restrictive with private property parking regulations may cause many of the RV and boat owners to come before the City Council complaining that there was never a problem until the City stirred up the issue. Therefore, it appears that the biggest problems seem to come from the oversized RVs and he felt that was the issue to start addressing.
Vice Chairman Long responded that the balance could be through discretionary enforcement, where enforcement action would not be taken until there was a complaint about the vehicle.
Commissioner Duran Reed suggested that the RVs be parked offsite rather than on the private property or on the public streets.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 11:20 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 11:25 p.m. at which time they reconvene.
7. Proposed Recreational Vehicle Parking (cont)
Chairman Cartwright suggested that the Planning Commission focus their discussion on the parking of RVs on private property, recognizing that there needs to be a lot more discussion in the future regarding parking on the public streets.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that staff was seeking direction, if the Commission felt it was warranted, as to what type of amendments to the Code they would like to see and the staff would bring the language to the Commission at a future meeting.
Commissioner Cote did not feel the staff recommendations addressed the issue of RVs parked in the driveway, particularly in the front part of the house. She noted that the Council of Homeowners Associations had recommended limiting the parking to overnight or 24 hours. She also discussed the approach of screening the RVs or restricting the height and length of RVs allowed to be parked on private property. She felt the structure of the Palos Verdes Estates code section was very good, though the content may be too restrictive for this City.
Commissioner Lyon felt the City should establish a comprehensive set of rules that govern the parking of RVs on private property, and would not worry about being too restrictive. He also felt the City should establish and enforce regulations regarding parking of RVs on City streets. He suggested a parking permit process where the owner of an RV would have to get a permit to park on a City street, and part of the permit approval process would be input from the neighbors. He felt that taking a fair, but strong approach was appropriate.
Commissioner Mueller felt that it was important to establish a definition of an RV, as he noted that many SUVs and vans were over six feet in height. He felt that the Palos Verdes Estates Code was a little more restrictive than he felt was necessary for this City, especially considering the number of complaints received per year in this City. He liked staff’s recommendation that RVs be parked over paved surfaces and those surfaces must conform to all City setback and Code requirements. He was not inclined to become involved with something as restrictive as parking permits, and felt that some leeway should be allowed for those who choose to park on the street. He stated that he agreed with staff’s recommendations with a few minor modifications to broaden the categories.
Commissioner Duran Reed felt that problems occur when people park their RVs in the driveway or front of their homes and leave them there for so long they are becoming permanent additions to the property. She noted that these types of additions would not be approved by the City or conform to the Building Codes. She felt it was important to indicate to the Traffic Committee that the Planning Commission would like to see some type of parking restrictions on public streets. She agreed that there should be some sort of definition of a recreational vehicle. She specifically liked Section 8.40.100 of the Palos Verdes Estates Code regarding occupancy of RVs and would like to see that regulation incorporated into the Rancho Palos Verdes Ordinances. She also liked the language from the Rolling Hills Code which prohibits storage of recreational vehicles within 50 feet of the road. She suggested adding language that if a trailer, camper, etc., is higher than six feet, it shall not be located in either the side yard or front yard setback area. She explained that her reasoning for that was a safety issue, as it could prevent neighbors from backing out of their driveways safely.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that one of the unique qualities of the City was the many different types of lots that could be found, and he felt it may be difficult to fairly apply these types of regulations to all of these different lots. He stated that every action has a reaction, and he was concerned that the City was trying to piecemeal this process and was not a process of looking at all of the components. He liked the Palos Verdes Estates Code, as it addresses all of what he felt were the necessary issues. He felt if the Palos Verdes Estates Code were incorporated into our Code along with components from the Traffic Committee regarding both public and private streets, then the Planning Commission would have something to look at and modify if necessary.
At this point, Chairman Cartwright suggested finishing the comments of the Commissioners and continuing this item to the next meeting, which would allow staff to prepare a staff report taking into account all of the comments of the Commissioners.
Vice Chairman Long also liked the Palos Verdes Estates Ordinance as a starting point for the Rancho Palos Verdes Ordinance. He too felt that the Traffic Committee should be exploring means of limiting the parking of RVs on public street, and not doing it on a case by case basis. He was also interested in what, if anything, the City could do regarding private streets. He suggested a language be added that no RV shall be connected to electric, water, or sewer lines for any purpose other than recharging a battery or draining the sewer lines. He felt that the problem should be dealt with at the front end, and noted that whatever restrictions are established, the Planning Commission should then recommend to the City Council that it make it a misdemeanor to advertise property as having RV parking when it does not have RV parking that complies with the City codes. He felt there should be substantial fines for violations and to aggressively enforce it against real estate agents and sellers who insist upon advertising their property as having RV parking when, in the City’s judgment, it does not have suitable RV parking. He felt it was going to be very difficult to get current RV owners to surrender their RVs altogether, and in all likelihood some sort of compromise with many of them will have to be reached.
Chairman Cartwright agreed with much of what had been said. He felt that it was important to look at what was being done on the public streets, as he did not feel it was working. He felt the definition of an RV should be broadened to include boats. He too liked parts of the Palos Verdes Estates Ordinance.
Vice Chairman Long moved to continue the item to the meeting of January 28, 2003, with direction to staff to provide an amended or supplemental report taking into account the comments made by the Commissioners, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (7-0).
Commissioner Duran Reed moved to suspend the Planning Commission rules to allow the meeting to go past midnight so as to hear Item No. 8, seconded by Vice Chairman Long. There being no objection, it was so ordered.
8. Site Plan Review and Sign Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00579): Southeast corner of Via Capri and Hawthorne Blvd.
Vice Chairman Long moved to waive the staff report, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. There being no objection, the staff report was waived.
Commissioner Mueller asked what the maximum allowable sign size was.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the maximum allowable size was 20 square feet, and the only variation in the Code was the height within the visibility triangle.
Commissioner Mueller asked if there was a reason in the application that the sign was proposed as large as it was.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that there was no reason, and noted that the height was reduced to meet the 20 square feet limitation.
Commissioner Mueller asked if there were any examples of signs in the City to residential areas that were this large.
Associate Planner Blumenthal could not recall any, but felt there were other Homeowners Association signs that were this large.
Commissioner Mueller asked why this sign was before the Planning Commission.
Associate Planner Blumenthal responded that the Code states anything over 30 inches in the intersection visibility triangle must be brought to the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the project, via minute order, as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (7-0).
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the City Attorney would be present for the January 14, 2003 meeting and staff would be giving the Planning Commission an orientation on the view restoration process.
Commissioner Duran Reed noted that she may not be at the next Planning Commission meeting, and asked if Item No. 3 under New Business on the pre-agenda could be continued until the second meeting in February.
Chairman Cartwright stated that his only concern with continuing that item was if the City Council were to determine they wanted a joint workshop with the Planning Commission prior to the time Commissioner Duran Reed returns, then it was important that the Planning Commission discuss this issue at the January 14 meeting.
Vice Chairman Long understood Commissioner Duran Reed’s request, however he felt it was premature to continue the item at this time. He suggested that at the January 14 meeting the Planning Commission will be in a better position to know if they can continue the item or if they should discuss the item at that meeting. He felt that if it was at all reasonably possible, the item should be continued until Commissioner Duran Reed returns, but that should be determined at the next meeting.
The Planning Commission agreed to wait until the meeting of January 14, 2003 to determine whether or not to continue the item.
The Planning Commission all thanked Chairman Cartwright for his hard work and help during his tenure as Chairman of the Planning Commission.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:05 a.m.