CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
MARCH 11, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Long at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Lyon led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present:Commissioners Cartwright, Duran Reed, Lyon, Mueller, Tomblin, and Chairman Long
Absent:Commissioner Cote was excused
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, City Attorney Lynch, Assistant Planner Yu, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed a reduced copy of the plans for Agenda Item No. 1 and two items of late correspondence regarding Agenda Item No. 2.
Commissioner Duran Reed reported that she had attended an HOA meeting where the RV issue was discussed, however she did not think the discussion included anything that had not been heard at the previous meeting or that would be heard at any future meetings.
1.Height Variation, Grading Permit, and Variance (Case No. ZON2002-00199): 31018 Marne Drive
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report. She explained the scope of the project, and explained that staff had determined that one of the nine findings to approve a height variation could not be made to allow the construction of the addition, specifically staff found that the scale, bulk, mass, and architectural style of the proposed structure would not be compatible with the existing neighborhood. She showed slides to show the 10 closest homes in the neighborhood. She explained that staff had received one letter during the comment period expressing concerns in regards to privacy. To mitigate the concerns, the applicant is proposing to plant a hedge along the south side property line. Conducting a site inspection, staff found that a hedge would mitigate the privacy concerns of 6507 Lebec Place. She showed pictures of the areas of privacy concerns. She stated that staff reviewed the grading and found that 3 of the 9 required criteria for granting the grading could not be met to allow the grading in the north side yard. She noted that staff did not have a concern in regards to the portion of the grading which would result in a retaining wall that is similar to the retaining wall that is currently existing. She stated that all findings could be made to grant the Variance application, however the approval of the Variance is contingent on the approval of the Height Variation and the Grading Permit, and since staff is recommending denial of both applications staff recommends the Planning Commission take no action on the Variance at this time.
Commissioner Cartwright discussed the findings necessary for a grading application and asked for a clarification on unusual topography and if there was any unusual topography on the applicant’s property.
Assistant Planner Yu responded that unusual topography was considered when there would be no other way to propose grading in such a way that a cut or fill more than five feet would be required. She noted that staff felt that in this situation there is a way to redesign the addition and reduce the amount of grading, and therefore unusual topography was not an issue in this project.
Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if the Planning Commission could allow a retaining wall in excess of five feet for the enlargement of a home.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it has happened in the past.
Commissioner Cartwright asked what the criteria would be in doing so.
Director/Secretary Rojas responded that the required findings would have to be made for the granting of the permit.
Commissioner Cartwright asked how wide the cantilevered portion of the house was.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that it was approximately 5 feet, according to the second floor plan.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if this cantilevered portion was the sole reason for the construction of the 9-foot wall.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that it was.
Chairman Long noted that this home was set apart quite a bit from the other homes in the neighborhood and asked if that was a factor that the Planning Commission was permitted to consider when assessing whether or not the proposed addition is compatible with the rest of the neighborhood.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that it was a factor the Planning Commission could consider.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Tony Ashai 23670 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, stated he was the architect for the project. He began by explaining the style of the house was not a departure from what was seen in the neighborhood, and that it was considered a modern interpretation of a ranch house style. He noted that natural materials would be used, such as stone and stucco, and that a metal roof would be used however it would be colored to match the existing roofs in the neighborhood. He discussed the 9-foot wall proposed for the rear of the property and stated that it was not due to a cantilever of the home. He explained that the house has a sloped wall that has a master bathroom projecting away from the home. He stated that the wall was needed to maintain the required setback and noted that the wall would be constructed in an area that was hidden and would not be seen by anyone. He discussed the massing of the home and stated that the owners were planning on planting several trees on the property, as they did not want to look down on the neighboring properties. He showed the Planning Commission several drawings of the proposed project as well as a model to clarify his points.
Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Ashai to clarify why the Planning Commission should approve a 9-foot wall, as the Planning Commission has to find that there are unusual topography, soil conditions, previous grading, or other circumstances that make such grading reasonably necessary.
Mr. Ashai answered that there is only a very small portion of the wall that is 9-feet high, and the rest is only 5-feet tall. He explained that this wall would be in the side that has the yard and the Patel’s would do their entertaining. He stated that before the meeting the Patel’s had agreed that if this was the only issue preventing an approval of their project, they would be willing to compromise and push the house back three feet which would then lower the height of the 9-foot wall.
Chairman Long stated that he was having difficulty with the size of the proposed home compared to other homes in the neighborhood, compared to the size of lot, and particularly compared to the size of the building pad on the lot. He stated that the model shown by the architect was helping him understand what a very large portion of the flat space on the lot was going to be consumed by the proposed house. He asked Mr. Ashai if he was aware of any other houses in the neighborhood where such a large proportion of flat space on the lot is consumed by the house.
Mr. Ashai answered that this proposed project is a second story addition, and he felt that the footprint of the house is relatively very close to what it currently is, and therefore they were not consuming more of the flat area of the lot.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked about the galvanized metal used for the roof and if it was going to be a silver/gray color.
Mr. Ashai answered that the roof would not be any color that would reflect. He stated that he was trying to camouflage the house from surrounding neighbors and would most likely paint the galvanized sheet metal on the roof a color that would blend into the neighborhood. He stated that he did not want anything about the house to stand out, and the house would be very natural colors.
Commissioner Cartwright asked how much square footage of the house would be lost if the 9-foot wall were reduced.
Mr. Ashai answered that the house would loose approximately 45 square feet.
Regarding the proposed tree planting and privacy issue, Commission Tomblin asked if the applicant would have a problem if the trees had to go up another foot or so to make sure the windows were covered. He also asked if it would be an issue if the Planning Commission required the trees be planted in the beginning stages of construction to help block any detriment of construction.
Mr. Ashai responded that there was no problem.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked if the mass of the house could be reduced somewhat if the area on the south side were moved back a few feet.
Mr. Ashai stated that the portion of the house on the south side is the only portion of the house that is staying in tact, as everything else was being remodel and rebuilt. He explained that there was concrete and steel beams in that section of the foundation which would be very expensive for the owner to rebuild.
Commissioner Cartwright noted that the staff report indicated staff could support the project if there were changes made in the style, scale, and mass. He asked staff what changes were suggested to the applicant.
Assistant Planner Yu responded that one way to reduce the massing of a structure is to reduce the second story so that the second story is not right on top of the first story. In addition, staff suggested lowering the plate height so that the structure is not as tall.
Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Ashai why he had not embraced any of the staff’s suggestions.
Mr. Ashai answered that he had embraced a lot of staff’s suggestions, as he had been working with staff for the last six months, and noted that the plan before the Planning Commission is 100 percent improved from when it was originally submitted. He explained that he had reached a point where if anything else is taken away from the project, it will severely affect the design. He further did not feel it was the height of the house that caused the massing, but the width of the house.
Commissioner Cartwright asked what the height of the proposed plate heights were.
Mr. Ashai answered that they were 9-feet upstairs and 9-feet downstairs.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if the plate heights were lowered would the width of the structure be decreased.
Mr. Ashai answered that lowering the plate heights would only decrease the height of the house by one foot.
Mr. Patel 31018 Marne Drive (applicant) stated that he and his architect have been working with the Planning staff for almost 10 months to come up with the proposal before the Planning Commission, and that the design has changed and improved quite a bit in that time. He felt that he has worked well with his neighbors and would continue to do so.
Richard Ota 6507 LeBec Place stated that his primary concern with the proposal was his privacy. He felt that as long as Mr. Patel plants trees that are tall and dense enough to hide the new construction he would be satisfied.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Ota if his only concern was privacy, or if he was still concerned with the mass of the structure.
Mr. Ota answered that he felt the structure was massive and would still like to see the ridge height reduced.
Commissioner Cartwright noted that if the proper foliage were planted then all Mr. Ota might have visible from his property would be the roof area, which he did not think was a massive type of structure.
Mr. Ota agreed, however he was concerned that the roofing material might be very shiny above the foliage.
Mr. Ashai (in rebuttal) demonstrated on one of the slides that only a very small portion of the roof would be visible to the neighbor once the foliage has been planted. He did not think it would change by reducing the ridge height of the proposed structure.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Ashai to clarify the size of the balcony on the south side of the addition and if it went along the entire second story addition.
Mr. Ashai clarified that it was only a balcony on the western corner of the home and the rest was a railing outside of a sliding door. He noted that the area was only 42 inches wide and furniture would not fit in that area.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked if there was any region of the home where the height of the ridgeline could be reduced by even one foot, and still maintain the first and second story.
Mr. Ashai answered that the area over the garage could be reduced by approximately one foot.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted that coming in from the driveway one would face a two-story structure, and asked if there was any other design feature that could be added on the west end to soften the appearance of the home from the driveway.
Mr. Ashai felt that reducing the area over the garage by one foot would be very helpful.
Commissioner Cartwright asked how high the proposed foliage line would be.
Mr. Ashai answered that it was approximately 12 feet high.
Commissioner Cartwright asked how much higher the foliage could grow before it would begin to impair the applicant’s view.
Mr. Patel answered that the 12-foot height was the maximum height the foliage could grow before impairing his view.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Duran Reed felt the proposed design was very nice, however she was still concerned with the bulk and mass of the house. She noted that the applicant and architect had made efforts to reduce the bulk and mass, however she was still not comfortable saying that the structure, as designed, would be compatible with the surrounding homes in the neighborhood. She felt that if the applicant would take some of the suggestions provided by staff, there would be more to work with. She felt that in order to be consistent with the Planning Commission’s past decisions, if the second story was not right on top of the first story on the east side, it would be very helpful. She felt that stepping the second story back would reduce the square footage of the second story and that would also be helpful. She felt that would also resolve the grading issues and the requirement for a 9-foot wall. Discussing the privacy issue, she felt that adding the hedge at the height proposed would solve the privacy issues for the Otas.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he originally had an issue with the mass and scale of the project, however after hearing the discussions and viewing the pictures and model presented by the applicant his concerns were not as great. He felt that the style of the house was compatible, as there were many different styles in the neighborhood. Regarding scale and mass, he felt the proposed home was very large, however the home was set back from the street, and planting the foliage across the back would completely mitigate the mass from Mr. Ota’s property. Therefore, he felt the proposed home was consistent and compatible with the neighborhood. He felt the roof color should be non-reflective and should be added as a condition of approval. He felt that the need for a 9-foot retaining wall should be eliminated, as it would be a special grant and it would be difficult to make appropriate findings. He felt the foliage would solve the privacy issues of the Otas and reducing the ridgeline over the garage by one foot would reduce the mass and scale of the project. Therefore, he felt that he could support the project with the proposed changes.
Commissioner Tomblin stated that because of where the proposed structure was located on the lot, he did not have a problem with the addition in terms of the mass and design of the house. He noted that if this addition were proposed anywhere else in the neighborhood he would have trouble with the finding of neighborhood compatibility. He stated that he would approve the 9-foot wall based on the fact that he could not see any other location for the proposed master bathroom. He felt that the Director of Planning should be able to specify the size of the trees, and that they should be planted before construction begins.
Commissioner Lyon felt the architectural style was quite reasonable, as the neighborhood contains many different styles. He noted that the artist renderings presented were a great help in providing the perspective and understanding as to what the proposed home would look like. He felt that the roof color and material was academic, as the roof would not be visible to anyone in the neighborhood. He felt that the only time the roof may be seen would be driving along Hawthorne Boulevard. He agreed that the proposed house was larger than those in the neighborhood, however he did not think that was as important as how the house appears. Regarding bulk and mass, he did not think this home was visible enough from the general public areas or neighboring homes to make it an issue. He felt that the architect had done a good job in stepping back the front of the house to avoid a massive appearance. He did not think that reducing the height over the garage area was necessary or desirable, as that portion of the house is not visible to anyone else. Discussing the grading, he realized that the code was very specific, however he did not see the harm in allowing the 9-foot wall. He acknowledged that he did not know which way he would vote regarding the wall.
Vice Chairman Mueller stated that he liked the design and agreed that there were several varieties of homes in the neighborhood, and noted that his concerns center more on the mass and appearance of the home from surrounding properties and the driveway as one approaches the property. He stated that the existing home is built right up to the edge of the slope, which tends to make the appearance of the home more massive than it actually is. After listening to the architect’s explanation as to why that portion of the home should not be modified, he was comfortable with leaving that portion of the house where it is. He felt, however, that one should be cautious about expanding completely up on the second floor. He felt that the height could be reduced by one foot at the entrance, which would soften the appearance from the street and up the driveway. He felt that the 9-foot retaining wall was only there to support the addition and stairway access, and felt the stairway access could be slightly re-directed and the size of the master bathroom slightly reduced so that the 9-foot wall would not be necessary. Regarding the roof, he felt language should be added to the Resolution to specify the non-reflective nature of the roof.
Chairman Long felt that when there is a project before the Planning Commission where a number of the Commissioners have doubts as whether they can make the necessary findings, the better practice might be to deny the application without prejudice and let the applicant continue to work with staff to see what can be done to bring the project back for approval. He felt that designing the project at the public hearing was not the correct approach. Discussing the Variance, he noted that he had not heard any strong dissent from the Commission or in the staff report, and felt the findings could be made to support the Variance. In reviewing the necessary findings for the Grading Permit to allow the 9-foot wall, he felt the Planning Commission should not abandon the requirements of the Code without some assurance that the proper findings could be made without creating a tendency to allow everyone who wants a 9-foot wall to have one. He stated that he could not make the necessary findings, and was strongly opposed to granting the Grading Permit. In discussing the height variation, he noted that the design of the project was not an issue, but rather the bulk and mass of the project. He noted that what was going to occur on the lot would be set back and be less visible, however the house would be approximately 50 percent larger than the other houses in the neighborhood, and 25 percent larger than the next biggest house, on a lot where what little flat space exists is already largely covered by the existing footprint, and the impact of that existing footprint will be maximized by portions of the second story overhanging the first story. He felt that left him with an impression that the bulk and mass is accentuated and exaggerated by the overhang of the second story, and he therefore did not think one could make the finding that the proposed structure is compatible in terms of structure and mass with existing structures in the neighborhood. However, he did not feel that the proposed design was very far off from being able to make the finding, and he was concerned about debating over the little things that might be done to get there when he was not sure what needs to be done to get there and he was not sure he would be satisfied. His preference, therefore, was to deny the Grading Permit, grant the Variance, deny the Height Variation without prejudice, and encourage the applicant to work with staff and come back to the Planning Commission with a modified height variation application.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the grading application, variance, and height variation with the condition that the overhang area in the rear be modified to the extent acceptable to the Director of Planning, so as to eliminate the 9-foot wall, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.
Commissioner Cartwright felt it would be very difficult, costly, and time consuming to deny the project and have the applicant come back with a re-design, as he felt the project was already very close to approval. He noted that the applicant has already offered to reduce the ridgeline by one foot on the portion to the west and to eliminate the requirement for the 9-foot wall. He stated that he could support the motion if it were amended to include: 1) a one-foot reduction of the ridgeline on the west end; 2) specify that the proposed foliage should run with the land and that the trees should be fairly mature trees when planted; and 3) the roof should be a non-reflective roof.
Commissioner Lyon accepted all three amendments to the motion.
There being no objection from the Planning Commission, the motion was amended.
Chairman Long was concerned that reductions described were enough to achieve a decrease in mass, and felt that what was needed was something that would shrink the second story to the point where it no longer is exceeding the footprint of the first story.
Commissioner Tomblin asked staff if the conditions proposed in the motion address all of the staff concerns for the approval of the project.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff would still have recommended denial of the project in the staff report, however staff has no problem with the conditions suggested in the motion.
Commission Duran Reed explained that even if the second floor were not cantilevered and was straight right on top of the first floor thus eliminating the need for the 9-foot wall, she could not support the project. She noted that the home would be substantially larger than the 10 closest homes and she therefore could not make the finding of neighborhood compatibility.
Commissioner Tomblin noted that Rancho Palos Verdes is very unique in that there are a lot of different types of lots, and if this proposal had been suggested on any other lot he most likely not be able to support the project. However, this lot is unique and it was this uniqueness that would allow the Planning Commission to approve this project.
Vice Chairman Mueller stated the he could support the proposed motion because the concessions being made are sufficient to address his concerns.
The motion passed, (4-2) with Commissioner Duran Reed and Chairman Long dissenting.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that a Resolution would come to the Planning Commission on the Consent Calendar at the next meeting.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:40 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 9:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (CONT.)
2.Proposed Recreational Vehicle Residential Storage and Street Parking Regulations (Case No. ZON2002-00580)
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report stating that in preparing this staff report staff took into consideration comments made at the last public hearing and input from Mr. Giannioses, representing the Good Sam Club, to make sure that the Ordinance was not too restrictive and prohibitive to RV parking on private property. At the same time, staff took into consideration some of the extreme cases that brought this issue to the Planning Commission and City Council. He discussed the proposals in the staff report and stated that staff was also asking for direction on whether the Planning Commission wished to make any recommendations to the City Council with regards to public street parking. He showed several slides which gave examples of what type of parking would be allowed and what types would be prohibited under the proposed ordinance.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if these proposed regulations would also apply to automobiles.
City Attorney Lynch answered that they would also apply to automobiles and explained that staff had tried to deal with any parking of any type of vehicle on private property.
Commissioner Tomblin asked what the city of Costa Mesa does differently in regards to street parking of RVs.
City Attorney Lynch answered that the city of Costa Mesa allows a vehicle to be parked up to 48 hours on the street and the vehicle must be parked on the street directly in front of the residence that owns the vehicle.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted that the wording "fully enclosed structure" is used in the proposed ordinance and asked if that was consistent with the definition of a garage.
City Attorney Lynch stated that it was consistent with the definition of a garage, and further, that the garage door must be closed.
Vice Chairman Mueller discussed the permit parking for visitors, and asked if there was a particular reason the permit was set up for a 14 day period.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff felt that a two-week vacation may be typical during the summer and Christmas season.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked if the Planning Commission could make a recommendation regarding the parking of RVs in a safe manner on the street, particularly regarding intersections and blind corners.
City Attorney Lynch responded that there is already an Ordinance that prevents the parking of over-sized vehicles within a certain distance of intersections.
Vice Chairman Mueller stated that he was inclined to support some recommendation to have the Traffic Committee come up with a policy for safe parking of RVs on the city streets that would include parking on narrow streets and blind corners.
Chairman Long noted that there was not a process in place to grant any type of variance to the proposed RV parking, and felt that there should be some type of variance addressing screening of RVs.
City Attorney Lynch stated that because RVs are vehicles that can be moved, staff felt that coming up with Variance findings would be very difficult, and if anything, she would recommend a Minor Exception Permit where the variance findings would not have to be made.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if a lot with horse stables or corrals would be considered a developed lot.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff would consider a lot with stables on it as developed, and noted that the discussion in the staff report was centered around vacant pieces of property.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Tom Dosdall 3534 Hightide Dr. was pleased at how the process has worked and the proposed ordinance that has ultimately been produced. He felt the proposed ordinance was fair to all involved.
Bob Raab 6302 Villa Rosa referred to one of the slides presented by staff and noted that, although the vehicle shown did not meet the proposed ordinance, it was very neatly stored and was an example of why there should be a variance procedure written into the ordinance. He felt there were many situations in the city where the RV, boat, etc., would not comply with the ordinance as stipulated, but may comply with the intent of the ordinance, and should be granted a variance. He therefore encouraged the Planning Commission to provide a provision for a variance procedure. He also encouraged the Planning Commission to keep the public street parking as is.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that in the particular case shown on the slide, the property owner could currently apply for a minor exception permit or variance to exceed the 50 percent maximum hardscape restriction.
Edward Richardson 3405 Corinna Drive stated that he is an RV owner, but does not park on the street. He asked who would make a decision as to whether or not an RV would have to have a cover. He noted that there are cars parked all over the City that are in disrepair or unsightly, but are not required to be covered, and noted that RV covers can be very expensive.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that currently the city has a property maintenance ordinance which is only enforced on a complaint basis, and that was the intent of how to enforce this ordinance.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if there was an avenue available for an RV owner who has a complaint against him to refute the complaint.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this issue would fall under the code enforcement purview and that if a complaint is received the code enforcement officer would go to the site and if the vehicle was in disrepair a letter would be written to the owner explaining the situation. He stated that there would be repeated attempts with the owner to try to resolve the situation, ultimately concluding in an office conference.
Commissioner Cartwright asked who would determine if the vehicle were "well maintained".
Director/Secretary Rojas responded that it was a subjective decision made by the code enforcement officer and staff, consistent with other subjective decisions called for by the property maintenance ordinance.
Ernie Giannioses 5344 Manitowac Drive thanked the Commission and staff for the common sense approach they have taken in this matter. He knew that the goal of keeping everyone happy was an impossible one, and felt the secondary goal of resolving the parking problems while upsetting as few people as possible had been accomplished. He stated that there were a few cases where he and staff agreed to disagree, and noted that one of those cases was 6(a) discussing storage on undeveloped lots. He felt that in many cases it would be better, aesthetically speaking, to have the RV parked on a vacant lot than a driveway or front yard. He also disagreed with 6(d) which, while not actually stated, the intent was to disallow inoperative vehicles from being stored on private property unless stored in a garage. His belief was that if properly covered and parked as directed by 6(d), one would not be able to tell new Cadillac from the 1938 Buick under the cover. Although minor items, he felt they were still infringements on rights and would affect very few people. He felt that the Planning Commission had listened to everyone regarding this matter, however felt everyone should continue to show up at the meeting to ensure support for their interests. He felt that RV owners must be responsible neighbors and respect the rights and concerns of those who live around them and use common sense on how and where to park and store RVs. If RV owners do this then neighbors will not complain and cities will not have the need to place restrictions on RV owners. For those who do not have RVs and are looking for a pristine neighborhood to live in, he asked that they recognize that those who do have RVs do not consider them visual blights and love the life style no less than the most ardent animal lover, golfer, environmentalist, etc. He asked that if there is a problem with the parking of an RV, to please make the time to discuss it with the neighbor and hopefully common sense and respect for each other’s rights will prevail and a compromise can be reached without involving city hall.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked Mr. Giannioses if he had any comments on the Costa Mesa solution.
Mr. Giannioses stated that the City went to great expense to accomplish the passing of the changes to the State law and what he felt makes the ordinance work is not that the time was reduced from 72 to 48 hours, but that RVs were restricted to parking in front of the owner’s property and then must be moved out of the area. He felt the ordinance would work just as well with a 72-hour restriction.
Chairman Long asked Mr. Giannioses if he felt that, whatever restrictions the city imposes and given the existing state of the rules for parking on public streets, it would be fair to conclude that there would just be more parking on the street.
Mr. Giannioses disagreed, and felt that the way the current ordinance is proposed he did not feel it would drive any RV owner onto the street. He noted that not everyone would be happy, but that this would solve the vast majority of the issues.
Chairman Long asked Mr. Giannioses if the Planning Commission were to make a recommendation to the City Council something like the Costa Mesa ordinance regarding street parking, only a little less restrictive with the addition of some sort of minor exception permit process, did he think that would allow the majority of RV owners to still properly store their RVs the way they wanted to store them and use them the way they wanted to use them, or would it be unduly restrictive.
Mr. Giannioses stated that he would hesitate to answer a question like that without time to think it through. He felt that 72 hour parking was a reasonable amount of time to allow if there was a way to enforce it. He added that a lot of time has been spent discussing street parking and he would hope that the Planning Commission would take care of the private property parking situation and get that issue resolved, and then take up the street parking issue if they chose to at a later date. He felt the on-street parking issue will be very time consuming and possibly take several months, and he felt it was important to get the proposed ordinance passed to resolve the existing issues with private property parking.
Chairman Long stated that he was concerned that solving the private property parking issues without addressing the public street issue may cause a larger problem on the public streets, and that he views the parking issue as a packet and the whole issue should be dealt with at once rather than in pieces.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Giannioses why he was disagreeing with the proposal in the staff report to restrict parking to only developed properties.
Mr. Giannioses gave an example of someone owning his home and the vacant lot next to it. He felt that person should be able to park his RV on the vacant property next to his home.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Mr. Giannioses what his objection was to 6(d) of the proposed ordinance, which proposes that inoperative vehicles be kept in an enclosed space.
Mr. Giannioses explained that it was his feeling that if one has an inoperative vehicle, stored on a lawfully created pad in the side yard and it is covered, then it isn’t unsightly to anyone, as it would be covered like any other stored vehicle.
Ralph Ortolano 3778 Coolheights Drive stated that he has an RV parked on his undeveloped lot and there has never been a complaint on the vehicle since it was first parked there in 1987. He stated that when he asked the Code Enforcement Officer how many complaints the City has received on vehicles parked on undeveloped lots, she could only recall one. He stated that the alternative was that his neighbor would have to park his trailer out somewhere obvious where it would be seen by the neighbors. He explained that the reason his neighbor put the trailer on his lot was because a neighbor on the street complained about seeing the trailer where it was previously parked. He agreed with Mr. Giannioses on his concern with inoperative vehicles, as he felt if a vehicle was covered there is no practical difference between a vehicle that is operative and covered and one that is inoperative and covered. He asked what the definition of inoperative was. He pointed out that not everyone who parks in the City lives in the City and therefore the city would have to have a notice requirement in order to have an enforceable regulations. In order to have a proper notice, signs would have to be posted, which would be extremely expensive.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked if the signs would have to be posted just at the City entrances or on every street.
City Attorney Lynch responded that her recommendation would be that any place the City would want to enforce a parking ordinance would have to be posted with a sign.
Joe Lai explained that before buying his home he checked with his real estate agent as well as the sheriff’s station to make sure he could park his RV on the street, which he was told he could for a period of 72 hours. He also drove around then neighborhoods and noticed several other RVs parked on the street and on the private properties. He noted that the streets in the neighborhood are very wide and it is very safe to park RVs on the street. He explained that he looked for an RV storage lot, but was unable to find one that had an opening. He stated that he uses his RV all of the time so he was not worried about the 72 hour limit on street parking. He stated that his neighbors never said anything about his RV, however the sheriff’s department started showing up and ticketing his RV. He also received a letter from his HOA requesting that he move the RV off of the street. He therefore moved the RV onto the private property where to avoid the ticketing by the sheriff’s department. He noted that it was better to have his RV on the street as it slowed the speeding cars down when they passed his RV.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if this was the RV shown in the photo shown by staff.
Mr. Lai acknowledged that it was his RV.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Mr. Lai if, when he bought his home, he was given a copy of his CC&Rs.
Mr. Lai answered that he did not have a copy of the CC&Rs, however there were many RVs parked on the street.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lai how an RV parked on the street slows down speeding cars.
Mr. Lai responded that the drivers see something big on the street so they slow down so they won’t hit it.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lai if, when he parks his RV on the street, there are two lanes of traffic that can pass.
Mr. Lai stated there were two lanes of traffic that could pass his RV when it was parked on the street.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lai where he would park his RV if the City Council were to pass an Ordinance that made it illegal for him to park his RV in its current location.
Mr. Lai answered that he was not sure where he would park his RV.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Mr. Lai if he had at any time received a formal letter from his HOA that there was some violation regarding his RV based on the CC&Rs.
Mr. Lai stated that he had a letter from the HOA and submitted it to staff.
Anella Dosdall 3534 Hightide Drive stated that she lives next door to Mr. Lai and that she did not have a problem when the RV was parked on the street. However, now that the RV is parked across the driveway it has become an eyesore in the neighborhood, and she felt it was up to the City to do something to prevent such things from happening throughout the City. She was very pleased that the process has proceeded so well and was happy with the proposed language in the staff report.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted that the letter Mr. Lai received from the HOA included a request that he find storage for his motor home off the street. In reading an excerpt from the letter, he pointed out that it was a request or suggestion by the HOA to move the motor home and not a direction to move the RV on to his property as was suggested by Mr. Lai.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if the HOA had anything in their CC&Rs restricting the parking of RVs on the streets.
Chairman Long responded that the streets are public streets and therefore not regulated by the CC&Rs.
Commissioner Tomblin asked staff if there had been input on this issue from the Council of Homeowner’s Associations.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that included in a previous staff report was feedback from the Council of Homeowner’s Association regarding the issue, that supported additional parking restrictions.
Chairman Long stated that he would be interested to see what could be done to modify the Costa Mesa regulations to make them work with the Rancho Palos Verdes ordinance. Further, he would like to see what sort of Minor Exception Permit could be included in the Ordinance, as he was concerned there should be some ability for flexibility. He felt that this item should be continued and ask for staff input on these issues as well as issues that the other Commissioners may have.
Commissioner Lyon stated that he had three specific suggestions for the Ordinance before them: 1) On page 2 of the Ordinance regarding direct access driveways, he suggested adding the word "essentially" so that a direct access driveway means one that is essentially perpendicular to the street and that the door is essentially parallel to the street; 2) He suggested adding an exception to 6(a) which would allow a vehicle owned by the property owner to park on the vacant lot; and 3) Add to the end of 5 wording saying "that are not stored within a fully enclosed structure or effectively covered in some manner acceptable to the Director of Planning."
City Attorney Lynch suggested defining developed properties to include situations where there is a contiguous lot owned by the same person it is all considered developed.
Commissioner Duran Reed felt that Commissioner Lyon’s suggestion for 6(a) would solve the problem of a vacant lot becoming a parking lot. She would like to see the Costa Mesa ordinance adopted in Rancho Palos Verdes with the exception of changing 48 hours to 72 hours, and permit the Director of have the ability to issue either a Minor Exception Permit or some other way to allow an exception for some vehicles to park longer on the street.
Commissioner Cartwright suggested breaking the decision into private property, public streets, and private roads. Regarding private roads, he wasn’t sure what the City could do to regulate the parking of RVs. He liked the Costa Mesa ordinance for public streets, however he felt the Planning Commission needed a lot more information and insight into it before they could consider adopting such an ordinance. He felt the City should be very careful when allowing parking on undeveloped property as it needs to be done so that it is compatible with the rest of the properties in the neighborhood. He stated that this could be the biggest eyesore of them all, as more attention could be focused on the vehicle than if it were on the street or driveway. He was very pleased with the proposed language regarding private property. He felt that it addresses those residents that flagrantly abuse the regulations and chose to permanently store over-sized or poorly maintained RVs, boats, etc., in ways that become eyesores. He therefore felt that the Planning Commission should suggest forwarding the issue of private property parking on the City Council and deal with the issue of street parking at a later date when more information could be made available.
Commissioner Tomblin felt that 5 (the requirement that inoperative vehicles be fully enclosed) and 6(d) (the requirement that unsightly vehicles should be covered) should remain as written by staff. He agreed with the language in 6(a) because he felt that there should be some control over parking on an undeveloped lot. Regarding street parking, he felt that people buy into a neighborhood because they like what they see, and that appearance is in the eyes of the beholder. He felt that it was important for the Planning Commission to maintain the quality of life that people buy into when they buy into CC&Rs, and even though the CC&Rs may be in conflict with what the law is, he felt it was their job to help try to enforce those quality of life issues. He felt that input should be obtained from the Council of Homeowners on the street issue and he supported the Costa Mesa ordinance with the modification of changing the time to 72 hours.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 11:15 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 11:25 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (CONT.)
Vice Chairman Mueller stated that he was satisfied with the language as written in No. 5 (inoperative vehicles) and felt that allowing the covering or screening of inoperative vehicles may lead to the storage of such items in the front or side yard setbacks that could become unsightly. Regarding 6(a), he was interested in the City Attorney’s language regarding contiguous lots owned by the same party, however he was a little concerned about using undeveloped parcels to park vehicles. Therefore, he was reluctant to deviate from the proposal by staff in that area. He liked the suggestions to add the word "essentially" into the language defining driveways. He felt that 6(d) was a good solution in allowing temporary guest parking. He too suggested dealing with the private property issues first and deal with the street parking and private street parking separately. He stated that he was uncomfortable restricting street parking without understanding how it works in various cities.
Chairman Long discouraged his fellow Commissioners from making any recommendations to the City Council at this time. He noted that it was fairly obvious from the staff report that there was very little the City could do on private streets other than describe to the street owners the options that they have. He felt that anything the Planning Commission does regarding RVs on private property will inherently affect what happens on public streets. Therefore, he would like to try to address both issues in a single package, which would necessitate a continuance. He felt there were two areas the Planning Commission needed more input: 1) the need for some sort of Minor Exception Permit or Variance procedure for both private parking and parking on public streets; and 2) more information on the Costa Mesa parking ordinance. He stated that he was undecided on 6(a) and needed more input.
Commissioner Cartwright felt there was a relationship between parking and storage on private property and what happens on the public street, however the representative from the Good Sam Club did not think that was necessarily true. He felt the Planning Commission was in a position to make some decisions on what has been proposed for private property and then discuss street parking at a future date when more information was available.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that there appeared to be a general agreement with the ordinance presented with a few minor revisions, and that there was an opportunity to move this ordinance forward to the City Council. Given the discussions at this meeting, he felt the Planning Commission might want to consider forwarding the ordinance to the City Council with the recommendation that the situation be monitored for a period of six months or one year. This will allow staff to determine whether the ordinance creates a movement of vehicles onto the street and it can then be addressed.
Chairman Long stated the he was unprepared to recommend an ordinance to the City Council without some serious consideration to adding a minor exception permit or variance process.
Commissioner Lyon felt the ordinance should be recommended to the City Council and stated that he was willing to withdraw his suggestions regarding two of the issues and add a suggestion to incorporate a minor exception permit process to address special situations. He felt that could be made part of a motion.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the proposed restrictions fall into the Property Maintenance Ordinance and there is no exception process in the Property Maintenance Ordinance, however she noted that there is an exception process in the Development Code for the lot coverage requirement. She explained that someone could apply for a Minor Exception Permit for lot coverage to allow for the parking of their RV on their property.
Chairman Long felt that would only cover certain issues and there would still be no mechanism to allow for an exception in other instances.
City Attorney Lynch explained that with property maintenance issues which have to go to court to get an abatement warrant or be prosecuted criminally, there must be a set standard, and she would have to give some careful thought as to whether having an exception process would make the property maintenance ordinance less effective and the court may be more reluctant to enforce the property maintenance ordinance. She stated that there was already the Minor Exception Permit process in the Development Code for the lot coverage issue, which she felt would address a majority of the hardship situations.
Chairman Long stated that he would like the City Attorney to give some thought as to whether she could formulate a Minor Exception Permit procedure that would go along with this ordinance that would not magnify the concerns she has articulated, but would give the City some flexibility.
Vice Chairman Mueller felt that it would be more beneficial to enact the ordinance, watch how it works, and learn from it. Without taking that step the City may never know how it works and without dealing with the private property first they won’t know what to do with the street situation.
Commissioner Lyon moved to ask staff and the City Attorney to explore the creation of a minor exception permit process that will be attached to the Ordinance that will not be detrimental to enforcing the property maintenance ordinance; secondly approve the draft ordinance as written with the exception to clarify the terms that address parking essentially perpendicular; and thirdly that the Planning Commission will pursue the issue of public street parking at a later date, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright.
Chairman Long asked staff how soon this item could get on the City Council agenda.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the item could be as early as the April 15 City Council agenda.
Chairman Long asked if staff could get the additional information he requested to the Planning Commission and still have time to get the issue on the April 15 City Council agenda.
Director/Secretary Rojas did not think there was enough time for staff to research the information requested, have a Planning Commission meeting, and still have the item heard on April 15.
Commissioner Tomblin asked about 6(a) and if language should be added about adjoining lots.
City Attorney Lynch stated that language could be added to say that abutting developed and undeveloped lots owned by the same person would be considered developed.
Chairman Long suggested an amendment to the motion in which 6(a) would say that any vehicle shall be parked overnight or stored only on developed properties or contiguous undeveloped properties that are owned by the same person.
Commissioner Lyon accepted the amendment to his motion.
Commissioner Cartwright was concerned that the amendment would allow the storage of watercraft, campers, RVs, etc., on undeveloped property adjacent to the owner’s property and pointed out that there are also other neighbors who are adjacent to that vacant lot who may object to the storage of the vehicles on that lot. He felt that the amendment may encourage people to move their vehicles off of their own lot on to the vacant lot.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted that there has been no limit set to the number of vehicles that can be stored, and felt there was a real possibility that these vacant lots could begin to look like parking lots.
Chairman Long and Commissioner Lyon were persuaded by the arguments and withdrew any support they had to the amendment.
City Attorney Lynch felt that adding a process for a Minor Exception Permit into the draft ordinance was not a good idea. She explained again that this portion of the Municipal Code deals with people who are not maintaining their property properly and is only enforced when staff receives neighborhood complaints. She stated that for other issues such as parking the RV on a paved surface, unique circumstances could be dealt with through a Minor Exception Permit because it is currently in the Development Code.
Vice Chairman Mueller suggested an amendment to the motion to strike the portion directing staff and the City Attorney to explore the creation of a minor exception permit process for this issue, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. The amendment passed by a vote of (4-2) with Commissioner Duran Reed and Chairman Long dissenting, thereby amending the motion.
Commissioner Tomblin suggested an amendment to the motion that the Planning Commission recommend to the City Council to review the Ordinance 6 months after adoption, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. There being no objection the motion was amended.
The amended motion to approve the draft ordinance as written with the exception of adding the language clarifying perpendicular parking, that the Planning Commission will pursue the issue of public street parking at a later date, and that the Planning Commission recommend to the City Council that the Ordinance be reviewed 6 months after its adoption passed by a vote of (5-1) with Commissioner Duran Reed dissenting.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS:
4.Pre-Agenda for the meeting of March 25, 2003.
As it was after midnight, Commissioner Cartwright moved to suspend the rules to discuss this item, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. There were no objections to suspending the rules to discuss this item.
There were no comments on the pre-agenda.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted that he would be out of town and not able to attend the next Planning Commission meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
3.MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 25, 2003
Commissioner Cartwright moved to suspend the rules to discuss the minutes, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. There being no objection, the Planning Commission discussed the minutes.
Commissioner Lyon requested that a phrase on page 7 of the minutes be clarified.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to approve the minutes as amended, seconded by Vice Chairman Mueller. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Duran Reed abstaining since she was absent from that meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:23 a.m.