CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
APRIL 8, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Long at 7:06 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Director/Secretary Rojas led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Cote, Duran Reed, Lyon, Tomblin, Chairman Long
Absent: Vice Chairman Mueller was excused
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Blumenthal, and Recording Secretary Peterson
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Cartwright moved to amend the agenda to hear items 3, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, seconded by Commissioner Cote. Approved, (6-0).
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed suggested changes to the minutes that were e-mailed to staff by Commissioner Duran Reed.
Commissioner Cote updated the Commission on the General Plan Steering Committee.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS
3. Coastal Permit, Grading, Variance, and Site Plan Review Permit (Case ZON2002-00189): 8 Seacove Drive
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report. He explained the scope of the project and the need for the specific applications. He stated that staff had found that all findings for the applications could be made and therefore was recommending approval, subject to the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Tomblin asked staff if any future restructuring of the property line at the adjoining property would likely trigger the need to expand the driveway.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff felt that since the neighboring property is undevelopable due to the coastal setback line and the Open Space Hazard Zone, there would not be a need to expand the driveway.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if structure setback line ran parallel with the coastal setback line.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that it does run parallel with the coastal setback line.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
William Swank 8 Seacove Drive (applicant) stated that in designing the project the architect had tried to be very sensitive to the character of the neighborhood by just updating the house and not changing it. He stated that he was available for any questions from the Planning Commission.
Eric Lloyd Wright 24680 Piuma Rd stated that he was the architect for the project. He stated that he was very sensitive to the original architecture of the house and worked very hard to not make any noticeable changes. He felt that there was a need to reduce the size of the pool, and did so in a way that was in keeping with the character of the residence and the landscaping. He noted that a spa had been added, and felt that this was a positive move for the property, especially since the pool and spa cannot be seen by any surrounding residences.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he had visited the site and felt that the changes proposed were minimum and in keeping with the current architecture. He stated that he could make all of the necessary findings and therefore supported the project.
Commissioner Cote felt that what was being done to minimize the size of the pool and the added spa was a positive move for the property. She agreed with the staff findings, and stated that she could support the project.
Commissioner Duran Reed stated that in looking at the staff report she was initially concerned about the Coastal Setback Zone, however after visiting the property she agreed that there was unusual and extraordinary circumstances at the property. She did not think that the project would cause any problems, as the project did not encroach onto the coastal bluff area. She therefore could support the project.
Commissioners Tomblin and Lyon and Chairman Long all stated that they could support the proposed project.
Commissioner Cote moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2003-11 thereby approving the Coastal Permit, Grading Permit, Variance, and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2002-00189) as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (6-0).
1. Revisions to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00368): 2930 Vista Del Mar
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report. He explained the scope of the project. He stated that staff had reviewed the six findings required in order to adopt a Conditional Use Permit and felt that all findings could be made. Further, staff felt that all the necessary criteria has been met for the Grading Permit. Therefore, staff was recommending that the Planning Commission approve the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and the Grading Permit subject to the recommended conditions of approval.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked what the reason was for increasing the lot coverage by 7 percent.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the topography on the lot, especially towards the front of the lot, has forced the applicant to push the home a little farther down the slope, causing the need for a longer driveway.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Nagy Bakhoum 3800 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance, stated that he was the architect for the project. He stated that the neighbors have been very amicable to the proposed project. He noted that this is a very unusual lot, as along the front of the lot there is a 10-foot variation, which limits the ability to create a simple driveway and garage. He felt this was a very difficult lot to place a home on.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if there was an active HOA for the area, and if so, and he requested input from the HOA.
Mr. Bakhoum answered that there was an active HOA for the area, and stated that the owners had taken the plans to one of the HOA meetings for everyone to view. He noted that they had not received any negative comments on the proposed residence.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cartwright felt that the proposed project was consistent and compatible with existing Seacliff Hills development, and did not think the additional 7 percent of lot coverage made any significant difference. He noted that there were no view or privacy issues, and he could support the project as proposed by staff.
Commissioner Cote agreed with Commissioner Cartwright’s comments and added that she appreciated staff’s work in the staff report which gave the Planning Commission information on what had been approved on prior lots in the development area. She felt that this information had helped her greatly in making her decision. She stated that she was able to support the staff report and recommendations.
Commissioners Lyon, Tomblin, and Duran Reed all stated that they supported the staff report and recommendations.
Chairman Long stated that his concern would normally have been the lot coverage, however he felt that the extra seven percent in this situation was justified. He therefore could support the staff report and recommendations.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-12 thereby approving the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 23 and the Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00368) as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Cote. Approved, (6-0).
PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)
2. Height Variation and Grading Permit (Case ZON2002-00185): 3290 Via Campesina
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report. He explained the scope of the project, noting that there was an existing home on the lot, which the applicant was proposing to demolish and build a new home at the site. He stated that staff could make all of the necessary findings for the height variation and the grading permit, and therefore recommended approval of the project with the included conditions of approval.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Mark Bednorz 1639 W. 170th Street stated that he was the architect for the project. He noted that the proposed project is a single story home and does not penetrate the envelope more than 3 feet. He stated that he tried to design the house under the 16/20 guideline, but because the home is a single level home it was very difficult to do so.
Mr. Ishimori 4100 Breaburn Drive, Bakersfield (applicant). He noted that the existing home was an older home and that the most efficient way to construct what they wanted was to demolish the home and build a new one.
Chairman Long asked Mr. Ishimori if he agreed with the recommendations in the staff report.
Mr. Ishimori responded that he agreed with the recommendations in the staff report.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Duran Reed stated that when looking at the staff report she was overwhelmed by the fact that the proposed home would be almost 100 percent larger than the existing homes in the neighborhood. However, after visiting the site she noted that the way the house is proposed to be built and the way that it is articulated and set back on the property, that it actually would look smaller than some of the smaller homes along the street. She felt that this was a good example of how a large residence, which usually causes a problem with bulk and mass, can actually be made to look smaller than other homes in the area, and provide the applicant with the amount of space required. She stated that she could make all of the necessary findings for the variance and grading permit, and supported the project.
Commissioner Cote agreed with Commissioner Duran Reed’s comments, as she too was initially concerned with the proposed size of the home. She felt that she, too, could support the staff report and recommendations.
Commissioner Tomblin stated this was a good example for the Planning Commission in terms of understanding the situation of neighborhood compatibility and how the Planning Commission needs to evaluate the circumstances first hand rather than just rely on the square footage numbers in a staff report. He stated that he could support the project as presented in the staff report.
Commissioner Cartwright agreed with the comments of the Commissioners and noted that there had been no negative comments regarding the project from the residents in the neighborhood. He noted there were no view issues or privacy concerns, and he had no problem with the proposed square footage. He therefore felt he could support the project as presented in the staff report.
Commissioner Lyon agreed with the comments of the Commissioners and added that it is really the appearance of the structure that mattered rather than the square footage numbers presented in the staff report.
Chairman Long noted that the lots on Via Campesina are quite large and could support larger homes. He was pleased with the way the home was designed and situated on the lot so that the mass and bulk of the home were minimized. He felt that all of the findings could be made and supported the project.
Commissioner Duran Reed moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2002-13 thereby approving the Height Variation and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00185) as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. Approved, (6-0).
4. Variance, Height Variation, and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00388): 6512 Nancy Road
Commissioner Tomblin moved to waive the reading of the staff report, and continue the item to the April 22, 2003 Planning Commission meeting, seconded by Commission Duran Reed. Continued (6-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 7:55 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:10 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)
5. A proposed code amendment to the City’s neighborhood compatibility and roof deck criteria (Case NO ZON2003-00134): Citywide
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He explained that the code amendment before the Planning Commission was a procedural process that was initiated by the City Council at the February 8, 2003 Joint Workshop. He stated that if the specific code amendment language before the Planning Commission was deemed acceptable, then staff recommends that the attached Resolution be adopted, forwarding a recommendation to the City Council. Using Power Point, Mr. Mihranian briefly summarized the process that had taken place with the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee. He recapped the Steering Committee’s recommendations to the City Council and the Planning Commission at the February 8, 2003 Joint Workshop regarding changes to the City’s current Neighborhood Compatibility process. He discussed the Steering Committee’s proposed changes to the Neighborhood Compatibility triggers and the criteria used in the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis, which would include side and rear yard setbacks. Additionally, Senior Planner noted that the existing Code limits the use of roof decks, which is typically used as a form of articulation between the lower and upper floors of a two-story residence. He noted that the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis is being proposed to replace the existing Code requirement as the review process for roof decks that exceed 80 square feet. He then summarized procedural amendments to the Height Variation Guidelines, as it pertains to defining "immediate neighborhood" from the ten closest to the twenty closest, as well as the adoption of the Neighborhood Compatibility Handbook, which outlines the process, including a voluntary pre-application step, for all residential projects requiring the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis.
Senior Planner Mihranian noted that at the Joint Workshop, the City Council determined that for the purposes of the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis, "immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be the twenty closest homes on the same street or on an intersecting street within the same zoning district." He noted that the word "normally" was added to provide flexibility in increasing or decreasing the number of homes that are included in the analysis. However, he noted that Staff attempted to apply this definition in "real life" scenarios and found it to be limiting because it did not allow the decision makers to go beyond the same or intersecting street. Therefore, Staff recommended that the Commission consider deleting "on the same street or on an intersecting street." As such, the recommended modification would read "The immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be at least the 20 closest homes within the same zoning district." He explained that staff felt this would allow maximum flexibility for the decision makers.
Chairman Long noted to Staff that if a project was located in an area that included two zoning districts, you would not crossover onto the zoning district the project was not located in.
Senior Planner Mihranian agreed.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Staff to explain what are the different types of zoning districts.
Senior Planner Mihranian noted that the typical residential zoning districts range between RS-1 and RS-5 and that the number represented the density per acre, such as RS-5 represents 5 residences per acre. He then cited Commissioner Cartwright’s neighborhood as a good example of an area that is comprised of approximately ten houses in a zoning district that abuts two different zoning districts.
Commissioner Cartwright explained that his tract is a RS-1 zoning district, whereas the neighboring tracts are RS-4 and RS-3 zoning districts. He stated that the differing zoning districts have development standards that are distinctly different from one another.
Chairman Long noted that "normally considered" provided the decision makers with a mechanism to expand or contract the number of homes used in the Neighborhood Compatibility analysis. He referred to the Eric Johnson project on Yacht Harbor Drive and his neighborhood as good examples of unique conditions where the twenty closest houses may not exactly apply.
Commissioner Tomblin asked Staff that in cases where a project was in a RS-1 zoning district and abutted property in the RS-5 zoning district, those residents would not be included in the analysis.
Senior Planner Mihranian agreed and noted that in such a case the Staff Report prepared for a project would explain that the neighboring properties are in a different zoning district.
Chairman Long discussed expanding the definition of "immediate neighborhood" to factor in physical features, such as steep grade differences between properties. He stated that although a project may be located within the same zoning district physical features should be considered in the definition. He also noted that the term "normally considered" may encapsulate these factors.
Commissioner Cartwright cited the water district property as another example of neighboring properties with different zoning districts.
Commissioner Lyon noted that relying on the term "normally" allows the decision makers to take all factors into consideration when defining a project’s neighborhood.
Director Rojas agreed with Commission Lyon and stated that the definition recommended by Staff presents the decision makers with maximum flexibility.
Commissioner Duran-Reed noted her support of Staff’s recommendation and said that upon a site visit, the Commission can determine what is a project’s neighborhood. She also stated that it would be too difficult to capture all possible scenarios in a definition and that Staff’s recommendation provided the most flexibility.
Commissioner Cartwright reminded the Commission that the City Council found the term "normally" to be acceptable.
Commissioner Cote expressed her agreement with Commissioner Duran-Reed. She noted that according to the February 8th Joint Workshop minutes and the Staff Report, the definition of "immediate neighborhood" originated by Commissioner Lyon. She asked Commissioner Lyon what his thoughts were regarding Staff’s recommended change.
Commissioner Lyon noted that he felt that the inclusion of the word "normally" addressed his flexibility concern and that he supported Staff’s recommended change because it did not drastically alter his original intent.
Senior Planner Mihranian continued his presentation by discussing the remaining procedural amendments, such as the imposition of a silhouette requirement for all residential development projects involving Neighborhood Compatibility. He then displayed the process chart prepared by the Steering Committee and presented at the Joint Workshop. He noted that the process chart and Handbook have not changed since the Joint Workshop, except in terms of readability corrections. He noted that the proposed changes to the Neighborhood Compatibility process will be revisited by the Steering Committee after it has been implemented for one year, and this will be an opportunity for the Commission to provide staff and the Committee with feedback on areas that need improvement and/or modification. He concluded by stating that the City Council has accepted the proposed changes presented at the Joint Workshop.
Chairman Long asked staff if the recommendation is for the Planning Commission to adopt the attached Resolution recommending that the City Council adopt the code amendment language and procedural changes to the Neighborhood Compatibility process, which will eventually be adopted as an ordinance by the City Council.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that was correct.
Commissioner Duran Reed referred to page 4, paragraph H of the staff report, and asked staff if there was an example of when the exterior of a structure would not be modified with the construction of a mezzanine.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that in cases where an existing residence had vaulted ceilings and an applicant proposed to construct a small mezzanine within the vaulted area. He stated that this scenario would not result in a modification to the exterior of the residence and could therefore be done without the Neighborhood Compatibility application.
Commissioner Duran Reed proposed the following modification to the trigger language found on page 4 paragraph D: "The cumulative addition to existing single family residence that results in the greater of either a 25 percent or 750 square foot extension." She felt this language did not change the meaning, but rather made it clearer.
The Planning Commission agreed.
Commissioner Tomblin asked staff to reread the suggested modifications to the definition of immediate neighborhood.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated the modified definition would read: "The immediate neighborhood is normally considered to be at least the 20 closest homes within the same zoning district." He then suggested that if the Commission determined the proposed change to be acceptable, that the modified language be read into the record so that a revised resolution would not have to be brought back to the Commission for adoption at a later date.
Chairman Long asked Staff where the proposed change could be captured in the Resolution.
Director/Secretary Rojas suggested that the language could be inserted into Section 9.
The Planning Commission agreed.
Senior Planner Mihranian also noted the suggested change by Commissioner Duran Reed to the triggers on Page 4 paragraph D.
Chairman Lyon moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2002-14 adopting the Resolution with the two changes suggested by the Planning Commission, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. Approved, (6-0).
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
6. Minutes of March 25, 2003
Chairman Long noted that there were proposed changes to the minutes from Commissioner Duran Reed that had been distributed to the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Cartwright felt that there was a little more discussion at the meeting on why insurance was required on tracts, and felt that the tape should be reviewed by staff to get a more complete record of the discussion.
Chairman Long felt the minutes should be continued to allow staff to check the tape and add any additional comments made, and returned at the next meeting for approval.
Commissioner Duran Reed moved to continue the minutes to the next meeting, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Continued, (6-0).
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Commissioners Tomblin and Cote stated that they would not be present at the April 22, 2003 meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.