06/10/2003 Planning Commission Minutes 06/10/2003, 2003, June, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining that the item had been continued from the May 13th meeting at which time the Planning Commission denied the Variance and continued the Height Variation and Grading Permit to allow the applicant to redesign the project without the need for a variance application. He explained the new project, noting that the new project no longer increases the degree of non-conformity that currently exists in the overall height of the home; however, it does not include a reduction in the structure size. He explained that it was not uncommon for new or remodeled residences to be substantially larger than the neighborhood average and still found to be compatible with the immediate neighborhood. He stated that because of discussions at the previous meeting regarding the overall size of the project The 06/10/2003 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

JUNE 10, 2003

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Long at 7:08 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

FLAG SALUTE

Director/Secretary Rojas led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ATTENDANCE

Present: Commissioners Cote, Duran Reed, Lyon, Tomblin, and Chairman Long. Vice Chairman Mueller arrived at 7:15.

Absent: Commissioner Cartwright was excused.

Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Blumenthal, Associate Planner Schonborn, Assistant Planner Luckert, and Recording Secretary Peterson.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Cote. Approved without objection.

COMMUNICATIONS

Director/Secretary Rojas reported that the City Council was still discussing some of the language regarding the RV issue and therefore the Ordinance had not yet been adopted.

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed 2 items of correspondence relating to Agenda Item No. 6 and one item regarding Agenda Item No. 5. He also distributed an item of late correspondence for Agenda Item No.5 and one item of late correspondence for Agenda Item No. 6.

COMMENTS FROM AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items):

None.

CONSENT CALENDAR

1. Site Plan Review Permit (Case ZON2002-00528): 75 Narcissa Drive

Director/Secretary Rojas reported that this was the Resolution reflecting the Planning Commission decision at the last meeting regarding the approval of the project at 75 Narcissa Drive.

Commission Tomblin moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 20030-25 thereby approving Site Plan Review Case No. ZON2002-00528, seconded by Commissioner Cote. Approved, (5-0-1) with Vice Chairman Mueller abstaining since he was absent from that meeting.

CONTINUED BUSINESS

2. Height Variation and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00388): 6512 Nancy Road

Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining that the item had been continued from the May 13th meeting at which time the Planning Commission denied the Variance and continued the Height Variation and Grading Permit to allow the applicant to redesign the project without the need for a variance application. He explained the new project, noting that the new project no longer increases the degree of non-conformity that currently exists in the overall height of the home; however, it does not include a reduction in the structure size. He explained that it was not uncommon for new or remodeled residences to be substantially larger than the neighborhood average and still found to be compatible with the immediate neighborhood. He stated that because of discussions at the previous meeting regarding the overall size of the project, staff felt there may have been some expectation that the modified project would ultimately reduce the structure size. Therefore, staff was seeking direction on the issue on whether the resulting size of the structure satisfies the neighborhood compatibility finding, and if so, staff recommends the project be conceptually approved with a Resolution to be brought back to the Planning Commission for approval.

Chairman Long felt that the existing structure is not compatible with the neighborhood; however, the proposed addition does not make the structure any less compatible with the neighborhood than it already is. Given that, he did not know if he could make the finding that the proposed project was compatible with the neighborhood, and if that finding couldn’t be made was he then saying that nothing could ever be done to that particular home.

Commissioner Cote stated that the current structure is part of the neighborhood, and did not feel that it should be considered non-conforming, but rather a part of the neighborhood that should be considered when looking at neighborhood compatibility.

Commissioner Lyon stated that by definition the existing home is compatible with the neighborhood because it is in the neighborhood and helps establish a character of the neighborhood. He did not think that an existing home could be deemed incompatible with its own neighborhood.

Commissioner Tomblin agreed, and added that the beauty of the City as a whole is that it is unique. Further, if this home were found to be incompatible with the neighborhood then his definition of compatibility would have to be rows of tract houses, all looking the same.

Commissioner Duran Reed stated that she was not at the meeting where this case was discussed; however, she had the opportunity to visit the home and review the minutes, and felt that she could participate in this hearing. She agreed that the existing home was part of the neighborhood and should be looked at as such.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked for clarification on what had changed with this project to eliminate the need for the Variance.

Associate Planner Schonborn explained that fill has been proposed around the perimeter of the addition, raising the grade elevation and making it equivalent to what the existing lowest point is on the property.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff why they had felt the size of the addition would decrease in size when the application was revised to avoid the need for a Variance.

Associate Planner Schonborn stated that staff had an expectation that in order to design an addition that would not necessitate the need for a Variance, it would be necessary to concentrate the addition to the raised patio area in the rear of the residence. If the addition had been fully concentrated in that area it would have resulted in a smaller addition and subsequently a smaller structure size. He explained that the applicant had, however, found a method to grade up around the perimeter of the addition and the garage to no longer require the need for a Variance.

Chairman Long opened the public hearing.

Christine Rich 6512 Nancy Road (applicant) stated that she felt it was important for the Planning Commission to note some of the facts that the staff had brought up in their report. As noted in the report, the adjacent properties would not be affected by the proposed addition and therefore there is no impact resulting on the surrounding properties. She quoted from the staff report that "the addition will not negatively impact the visual impact of the Nancy Road neighborhood". She stated that her home has wonderful character and that it is compatible with the neighborhood because of its unique character. She stated that it was important that the proposed residence be compatible with the neighborhood, which is why they have taken so much time and put in so much effort in the design of the project. She stated that no matter how small they had made the addition, it would have required a variance application, and that the only reason it no longer needs one is because they are knocking down the garage and building a new one. She noted that the staff report states that the proposed second story addition will not significantly impair a view from any other viewing area or any other parcel in the neighborhood, the existing residence complies with all other City development standards for lot coverage and setbacks, and that the proposed addition will increase lot coverage to 40 percent which is still under the 45 percent maximum allowed in the zoning district. She therefore requested the Planning Commission approve the project as submitted.

Raul Podesta 797 Miraflores Ave, San Pedro, stated that he is the architect for the project and available for any questions from the Planning Commission.

Jerry Yutronich 4109 Lorraine Road stated that his backyard goes back to the Rich’s backyard, and felt that the Rich’s have done a good job in working with all of the neighbors while designing the project to make sure that all of the concerns were addressed. He felt that the Rich’s home was very compatible with the neighborhood and that the lot was a perfect lot to put this type of addition on. He noted that all of the neighbors are behind the addition 100 percent.

Chairman Long closed the public hearing.

Vice Chairman Mueller discussed the proposed addition and asked, if the original house was built to existing city codes, would the proposed addition most likely be approved in terms of height and size.

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that he felt the addition would be approved, as the height would be at 26 feet.

Vice Chairman Mueller noted that if the existing home was built to city codes, it would have been built as a two-story home. He went on to ask if there were other three-story homes in the City.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there was not an inventory, but there were some in the City.

Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the project as submitted, and direct staff to return with a Resolution at the next meeting, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.

Commissioner Duran Reed stated that she could support such a motion, as one could not see the addition from the street and that there were no objections to the project by any of the neighbors.

Vice Chairman Mueller stated that the square footage had not changed between the original proposal and this one, and he was concerned that this home would be 50 percent larger than the largest home in the immediate neighborhood. He was also concerned that this was the only three-story home in the neighborhood and that the bulk and mass of the home had not been significantly reduced, and therefore was having trouble making the finding that the proposed addition would be compatible with the neighborhood. He felt that if this project were approved that there could be a number of proposals to dramatically increase the sizes of other homes in the neighborhood. He did not think he could make the finding for neighborhood compatibility.

Commissioner Cote stated that she was pleased with the way the architect had addressed the issues brought up by the Planning Commission at the previous meeting. She stated that when visiting the lot and noting the size of the lot and the way the addition was situated on the property, that she could make the finding for neighborhood compatibility. She noted that the lot was almost twice the size of some of the other lots in the neighborhood and the addition, even though it is quite large, does not appear large or stand out in the neighborhood.

Commissioner Tomblin agreed with Commissioner Cote’s comments. He noted that if a home of this size were put on a smaller lot it would not be compatible, however with this large lot and the placement of the addition he was able to make the findings and support the project.

Chairman Long agreed with the Vice Chair’s comments, but noted that this was a very difficult, close case to decide. He noted that in one sense the project was compatible with a house in the neighborhood, because it is compatible with itself, and it will look much as it does now to the rest of the neighborhood. He stated that even when not considering the smallest house in the neighborhood, this house will still almost double the size of the average home in the neighborhood. He stated that he was inclined to vote against the motion as he felt that the project was too large and bulky and gave the appearance of not fitting in well with the neighborhood. He recognized, however, that the addition was not making the house any less compatible than it already is.

The motion to approve the project passed with a vote of (4-2) with Vice Chairman Mueller and Chairman Long dissenting.

3. Coastal Permit, Height Variation, and Grading Permit (Case ZON2002-00272): 5 Packet Road

Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining that the item had been continued at the May 13 Planning Commission meeting in order to obtain a clarification from the City Council regarding the application of the Development Code view protection finding. However, at this time it does not appear that the City Council is going to consider the view protection finding issue until late July or August, and as such staff felt it would be an unfair burden upon the applicant to continue the item any further. Therefore, staff is recommending the Planning Commission consider the application with staff’s original recommendation in tact and deny without prejudice, the Height Variation, Grading Permit, Minor Exception Permit, and Coastal Permit.

Commissioner Duran Reed asked if there were a 16-foot structure toward the back of the lot, if this would obstruct the view from 3 Packet Road.

Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that because of the way the lot slopes and the configuration of the lot, a 16-foot structure towards the back of the lot would obstruct the views from 3 Packet Road.

Commissioner Cote asked staff to clarify the issues with grading and view impairment regarding this project.

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that there was a grading application with its view findings and a height variation application with its view findings, and they are not the exact same findings. He stated that because staff felt the grading finding is more broad staff has typically applied this finding very conservatively; whereas, the height variation finding has the guidelines which specifies what views are to be considered and from where. Therefore, if this application was before the Planning Commission with only the grading application finding, staff would be recommending that the finding could not be made. However, if the application were before the Planning Commission with only the height variation, staff would be recommending that the finding could be made.

Commissioner Cote asked if this finding for the grading couldn’t be made because the grading was being done to lower the level of the lot.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the Code does not differentiate between grading to lower or raise the pad.

Commissioner Tomblin asked staff which would have the most negative impact on the view from 3 Packet Road; an addition built at 16-feet in height with no grading or the currently proposed plan.

Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that if one were to propose a single story house at the 16-foot height limit the impact to the view at 3 Packet Road would be the entire loss of the view of Catalina Island. He stated that the current proposal blocks approximately 25 percent of Catalina Island.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff about how they reached their conclusions regarding the height variation and grading permit findings. Specifically, he was interested to know which of the two findings would take precedence in this application. He was also concerned with staff’s conclusion that a blockage of 25% of Catalina Island was not considered to be significant in the view finding.

Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff felt there was a potential to build a house up to 16 feet in height that does not require grading. He stated that the finding that 25% of Catalina Island was not significant was based on the possibility that an applicant could propose building a 16 foot high home on the lot and block the entire view of Catalina.

Chairman Long stated that the reason the view impairment was not considered significant was the hypothetical possibility that an even worse view obstruction could occur from a hypothetical application not before the Planning Commission, involving a 16-foot high home without grading. He further stated that, for the purpose of the height variation permit, staff disregards whatever portion of the view there is below 16 feet. However, at the same time, for the purpose of the grading permit, staff does consider the view taken below 16 feet.

Chairman Long opened the public hearing.

Frank Bostrom 205 Ave I, Redondo Beach stated that he is the architect for the project. He explained that he has redesigned the project several times and worked closely with the neighbors to minimize view impairment from the neighbor’s home. He explained that there were geotechnical problems on the lot regarding the grading, and noted that there was very extensive fill on the back of the lot. He stated that he was proposing to grade the lot down, and the level chosen was to allow the natural sheet flow from the rear of the lot to the front of the lot and to go any lower would require something to get the water off of the lot and on to the street which was not something the civil engineer or the geotechnical engineer recommended. He felt that he had done a good job canvassing the neighborhood trying to find out what all of the concerns were, met all of the concerns of the applicant, as well as the concerns of the geotechnical engineer. He stated that he and the applicants have been very upfront with all of the neighbors in regards to what would be placed on the lot, where, what materials would be used, and what the house will eventually look like.

Commissioner Tomblin asked if there were any other letters in opposition to the project, other than what were in the staff report.

Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the only letters received were included with the staff report.

Commissioner Duran Reed asked Mr. Bostrom if he had considered any other design that would further minimize impairment of the views.

Mr. Bostrom answered that he had considered a design at the back of the house, however when the geotechnical engineer came to the property to do the test borings, he was told that it would be prohibitive to build on that section of the lot.

Commissioner Duran Reed asked Mr. Bostrom if he had considered other designs on the section of the property he was currently proposing to building on.

Mr. Bostrom answered that he had not because he and the applicant had met extensive with the neighbors and felt that this was the best proposal.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Bostrom what he had done to address the concerns of architectural style of the proposal as far as changing the types of material of color of the project.

Mr. Bostrom answered that the applicant was flexible on that and would be willing to work with the neighbors as far as roofing material, color of the home, and even landscaping to help soften the affect of the home.

Joanie Schoemaker 3 Packet Road stated that the architect and applicant have worked extremely hard with her and her husband to minimize any view impacts to her property. She strongly urged the Planning Commission to approve the current proposal, as losing her view would be devastating.

Chairman Long closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Tomblin felt that the one fact at issue with the project was the best way to preserve the most amount of view at 3 Packet Road. He appreciated the conflict that staff had to work through with the grading permit and the height variation. He noted that the Planning Commission spends a lot of time listening to public testimony on what the neighborhood wants, whether it be RVs or views or whatever impacts should be considered. In this situation the neighbors have all worked together and agree on and support the proposed project. Therefore, in listening to the neighbors and the fact that the project was most likely conserving the best view possible, he could not see any reason to let the conflict in the applications be a detriment to the applicant. He therefore supported the proposed project.

Commissioner Duran Reed stated that when considering a two-story home the Planning Commission should make sure that impairment of the view is minimized. She felt that this finding has been made under the height variation permit. However, she was having difficulty with the grading permit finding, and felt that 25 percent loss of a view was significant. She did not think the finding for the grading permit could be made, as the finding was very specific, not ambiguous, and very clear. She also did not think the architectural style was compatible with the neighborhood and for these reasons could not support the project.

Commissioner Lyon felt that in this case the neighbors had worked out the problem of view impairment and the architect has gone through considerable means to accommodate those concerns. He stated that in this case there was nobody objecting to the project and for the Planning Commission to find a reason not to approve the project was contrary to their obligation to do what is right for the public. He had no problem with the compatibility issue and architectural style and supported the project.

Commissioner Cote stated that the three issues for her were neighborhood compatibility, the height variation, and the grading permit. With respect to neighborhood compatibility she had initially been concerned that the neighbors had not seen the rendering, however it had been verified that the neighbors had seen the rendering. She felt that since the neighbors had seen the rendering and materials being used, and the many redesigns that had been done to address the neighbor’s view issues, she felt that even though the design may not be ideal she has come to the conclusion that the home is compatible with the neighborhood. When looking at the height variation and the view impact she could, based on the staff recommendations in the staff report, make the required findings. She explained that the hardest decision was the grading permit and staff’s interpretation with respect to view impairments. She was having difficulties agreeing with the staff recommendations regarding the grading permit and view findings.

Vice Chairman Mueller was disappointed that the height issue had not been presented to the City Council and felt their guidance was critical in how the Planning Commission approach these types of applications. He was not inclined to disagree with staff on their approach to this application. He felt that there was enough diversity in the neighborhood that this project could be considered compatible with the neighborhood. He was trying to balance the findings of the grading permit in regards to view impairment with the particular problems and concerns on the applicant’s property.

Chairman Long shared the Vice Chair’s frustration on the lack of guidance from the City Council. He felt that the neighbor at 3 Packet Road may be under the misimpression that there is an absolute right in this City to build up to 16 feet in height. He did not feel there was this right since it was stated nowhere in the Code. In the end, however, he was not sure that differences of opinion about what scope of view one considers or what the interpretation of the Ordinance is makes much difference. He stated that 25 percent of the view of Catalina sounds significant, however looking at the loss of the view in the context of the overall impact of the view was not significant in this situation. He was also inclined, in this case, to give deference to the homeowner whose view is affected.

He too felt that that the findings for neighborhood compatibility could be made. Therefore he was inclined, albeit reluctantly, to support the project. He emphasized that he was not, in any way, accepting any of the staff’s reasoning in the staff report or in Agenda Item No. 8 without taking a hard physical look at it and reaching his own conclusions.

Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the project as requested and direct staff to present to the Planning Commission a Resolution reflecting this decision at the next Planning Commission meeting, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (6-1) with Commissioner Duran Reed dissenting.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

4. Height Variation Permit (Case ZON2003-00097): 28704 King Arthur Ct

Assistant Planner Luckert presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for a height variation. He stated that staff could make all of the necessary findings for the height variation and therefore recommends that the Planning Commission approve the request.

Chairman Long opened the public hearing.

Jerry and Rose Anne Redman 28704 King Arthur Court (applicants) felt that their proposal was an enhancement to the neighborhood and asked that the Planning Commission support their project.

Comingo Ottolia 715 Silver Spur Road, Rolling Hills Estates, stated that he was the architect for the project and that he was available for any questions.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked what percentage of the garage is being covered by the second story addition.

Assistant Planner Luckert answered that approximately 55 percent of the existing garage would be covered, however only 40 percent of the proposed garage would be covered.

Chairman Long closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Duran Reed moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2003-26 thereby approving the Height Variation (Case ZON2002-00097) as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Cote. Approved, (6-0).

RECESS AND RECONVENE

At 9:15 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 9:30 p.m. at which time they reconvened.

PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)

5. Site Plan Review Permit – Appeal (Case ZON2002-00001): 30650 Palos Verdes Drive East

Chairman Long noted that the appeal involves Commissioner Duran Reed, and pursuant to a newly passed State law, she was not permitted to be in the room except when speaking, and therefore was excused from the room.

Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, giving a brief history of the project and noting that the single story design for a new home was approved by the Director after many revisions made by the applicant and his architect. He explained that an appeal was filed on the decision, and according to the appellant, the appeal was based upon the belief that the Director erred in his decision to approve the project. He explained that the appeal was based upon the intent of the Development Code with regards to the 16-foot height limitation, referenced in the General Plan, the intentions of the original builder of the subject property, and bulk and mass issues of the proposed residence.

Associate Planner Schonborn explained that under the existing Code new residences and additions proposed to exceed16-feet in height must go through a height variation process, which includes findings to protect views from surrounding properties. Conversely, new homes or additions up to 16-feet in height may be built without a height variation permit and are therefore not subject to view protection findings. He explained that the existing Development Code does not contain provisions requiring view impacts be considered for residential structures proposed up to16-feet in height, and the proposed project does not require a height variation; therefore, the Director believes the project complies with the standards of the Development Code for Site Plan Review applications. He discussed the appellant’s point that the legislative intent of the Development Code is to permit new 16-foot high homes to be built on new vacant lots, not for existing lower height homes to be increased in height upon developed lots. He stated that the City has reviewed development proposals for new residences consistently and has not discriminated between vacant lots and developed lots when applying the maximum permissible structure height. He stated that the Code standards do not contain language that differentiates between vacant lots versus developed lots for purposes of applying the 16-foot height limitation. He stated that the Director believes the proposed project is consistent with the actual language of the Development Code, which does not prohibit existing lower height homes from being increased to 16-feet in height.

Associate Planner Schonborn discussed the appellant’s contention that the subject property was built to a height of 13 feet to protect the views from the Reed residence. He stated that the Director and staff could not attest to why an existing residence was constructed in a manner in which it exists today, especially a home constructed in 1961 under Los Angeles County codes. However, notwithstanding the existing construction, review of the proposed development is based upon specified findings contained within the application and subject to the development standards of the City’s Development Code. Therefore, based on the discussion, evidence, and analysis described within the staff report and February 27th memorandum, the Director found that the proposed project complies with the applicable findings of a Site Plan Review and staff recommends that the Planning Commission deny the appellants’ appeal and uphold the Director’s conditional approval of the project.

Commissioner Tomblin expressed concern regarding the size of the driveway and did not feel it was large enough. He asked if there were concerns from staff or the Fire Department in terms of cars parking in the driveway that block fire equipment.

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that LA County Fire requires a minimum of 20 feet in width for access to properties. With respect to cars parked on the easement, a condition was incorporated into the approval that would prohibit any parking in front of the garage.

Commissioner Tomblin asked how that condition would be enforced.

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff required the applicant provide for some guest parking spaces at the side of the house. However, in terms of enforcement, staff would have to be made aware of any violations at which time they could contact the property owner.

Commissioner Tomblin asked for clarification on the issue of being allowed to build up to 16 feet by right.

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that structures proposed over 16 feet in height must go through a height variation permit process which requires certain findings be made, including neighborhood compatibility and view analysis. However, if an application is submitted that is up to16-feet in height and it requires no grading, there are no view findings that must be made, and it is able to be approved at the staff level. He explained that is why, over time, that has been referred to as a "by right" height, because even if neighbors objected, it meets the 16-foot height limit and there is no grading involved and there are no view findings.

Commissioner Cote asked staff if this was considered a new home rather than a tear down and rebuild.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff uses the criteria in the non-conformity section of the Code which states that when one removes at least 50 percent of the existing walls, then it is considered a new home.

Commissioner Cote asked staff if they therefore felt this project was a new home for development or an addition.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff considers this project a new home. He explained that the intent of the original code most likely was directed towards new homes on vacant lots, however the original code language was changed to add the language "any individuals or persons desiring to build a structure or an addition to an existing structure".

Commissioner Cote asked staff to clarify the size of the actual building pad, as there are so many extreme slopes on this property.

Associate Planner Schonborn stated that, in scaling out the area and doing his own calculations, he felt the flat area on the lot was approximately 12,000 square feet.

Chairman Long opened the public hearing.

Clara Duran Reed 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East (appellant) requested 9 minutes to speak, which was granted by the Planning Commission. She began by stating there were two issues: whether a home that is lower than 16 feet may be increased in height to 16 feet when it blocks a view and whether the proposed house is compatible with the neighborhood. She felt that the answer to both of these questions was no. As the appellant, she was asking that the house not be built above the height that it currently exists and that the size of the home be decreased so that it can be moved laterally and her view corridor can be preserved. She showed several photographs depicting her current view and what the view would be with the proposed structure in place. Discussing the issue of "by right" building, she stated that the Code is silent on the issue, but is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation. She noted that the Planning Commission has debated the issue several times without resolution. She stated that the General Plan dictates much of what is in the Development Code, and the General Plan prohibits encroachment on existing scenic views reasonably expected by neighboring properties. She stated that her home has existed since 1961 and has had a view while the home in front of her, belonging to Mr. Wolff, has existed since approximately 1972.

Ms. Duran Reed felt that when a Code is silent, and one does not know exactly how to interpret the Code because there is an ambiguity, one must look at legislative intent. She stated that she had provided the Planning Commission with information and case law that requires one to look at legislative intent, extrinsic aids, and the surrounding circumstances behind the Development Code. She played an excerpt from a tape recording of Ken Dyda, one of the founders of the City and extremely instrumental in the drafting of the Development Code and General Plan, in which she feels he discusses the legislative intent of the Code. Mr. Dyda is heard stating on the tape recording of the February 8, 2003 Joint Workshop of the Planning Commission and City Council, that the intent of the code in 1975 was that people had a right to build new single-family homes up to 16 feet in height. However, to preserve corridor views there had to be the ability to more the homes laterally across the lot so that corridor views from the neighbors could be preserved. In the excerpt of the tape recording, Mr. Dyda is heard stating that what was not anticipated was that people who built 9-foot high homes would come back and say they have a right to build up to 16 feet in height. He stated that the intent, as he remembers, was to never have a by right height up to 16 feet, but rather to have the ability to build up to 16 feet for a new home on a vacant lot.

Ms. Duran Reed felt that this statement from Mr. Dyda showed intent of the legislatures who brought forth the Development Code, which was to allow a 16 foot high home only if it was a new home built on an undeveloped vacant lot and to have the ability to take this home and move it laterally across the lot in order to preserve view corridors. She stated that some Commissioners may be worried about setting precedence. She felt that the Commissioner’s role was to follow the law, and if the law is silent, unclear, or ambiguous the Commissioners are required to look at the legislative intent and the extrinsic surrounding circumstances that follow the Development Code. She felt that if precedence is a concern, the Planning Commission has a right to go to the City Council with a code amendment to change the code. However, what is now before the Planning Commission is the existing legislative intent, the existing code with dubious interpretations. She felt that the legislative intent says that this house does not have a right to increase to 16 feet in height.

Regarding neighborhood compatibility, Ms. Duran Reed stated that there is a long-standing policy in the City to limit density, which comes directly from the General Plan. She felt that this includes not having a house built on every portion of the buildable lot. She stated that if this house were to be built there would be hill and a house that goes straight up. She felt that the design of the home, though not too much of an importance to her, will look like the massive homes at Oceanfront Estates. She showed on a slide the view that she wants to maintain: hills, valley, canyon, and ocean. She stated that she moved to her home for the view and paid a premium for this view, and she did not think that her neighbor should capture that view.

Commissioner Tomblin asked Ms. Duran Reed what view she would most want to protect.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that she wanted to protect all of her views, however if forced to choose she would want to keep the view to the left of the valley and the ocean.

Chairman Long stated that Ms. Duran Reed had indicated that one should look to a legislative intent if an ordinance is unclear, ambiguous, or silent. He too was at the meeting where Mr. Dyda discussed the intent of the Ordinance and he felt that, while not said, Mr. Dyda was implying that nobody at the time felt that anyone would want to take a 9-foot house and increase it to 16 feet. He felt this was an admission that the original intent was that a rule was passed to limit the height to 16 feet, and below that a requirement was not imposed because nobody thought one was needed. He therefore did not think there was a section of the Code that could be considered unclear or ambiguous, only silent on the issue.

Ms. Duran Reed felt that the code was both ambiguous and silent, and the ambiguity is in the way it was being interpreted in terms of the height variation.

Chairman Long stated that he was not looking at interpretation, but rather what section and what exact language was ambiguous.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that the Code was ambiguous because it was silent.

Chairman Long stated that in a legal sense as opposed to a layman’s sense, ambiguity is not just that something is confusing and difficult to understand but rather it is capable of being interpreted more than one way reasonably. That being the case, he felt there must be language in the Code on the issue being discussed that was ambiguous. He asked Ms. Duran Reed what language specifically was ambiguous.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that the language in the height variation was ambiguous.

Chairman Long stated that he was not aware of any authority that would allow him, in interpreting statue, to instead of taking a specific piece of language and using intent to interpret that language, would allow him to instead use intent to interpret silence. Therefore, if he concluded that the ambiguity Ms. Duran Reed was relying on was silence, he could not take the intent into account.

Ms. Duran Reed agreed with the Chairman’s statement, and noted that the ambiguity came from the language in the height variation. She explained that the height variation language is general; however it is being interpreted in various ways, and this is where the ambiguity comes into play.

Chairman Long asked which words in the height variation were ambiguous.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that it was the entire height variation section which provides that homes can go higher than 16 feet and will require a view analysis has been interpreted differently by members of the Planning Commission.

Chairman Long agreed, but questioned what specific language establishes the ambiguity as to whether or not one has to get the height variation permit if one is only building up to 16 feet in height. He did not think there was any ambiguous language in the height variation process, but felt there may be ambiguous language on what happens if you exceed 16 feet and what fact-findings must be made.

Ms. Duran Reed stated that it was the fact that it has been interpreted in different manners that makes it ambiguous.

Commissioner Lyon felt that the Development Code was like the law, in that it says what one cannot do. He stated that the Development Code clearly states what one cannot do without a permit and describes the procedure to get a permit. Therefore, he felt that by implication it was extremely clear that if it is not prohibited then it can be done. He did not think the Code has to say one can go up to 16 feet in height because it says that one is prohibited from going over 16 feet in height without a height variation.

Ms. Duran Reed responded that it may be clear, but it has been subject to different interpretations.

Chairman Long asked where he would go for guidance on what was considered a reasonable expectation of a view.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that the General Plan was implemented in 1975 and if existing homes had certain views that existed at the time the General Plan was implemented, then those views would be reasonably expected. Also, she noted that in this particular case her home had a tremendous view before the Wolf property was built. She felt that when the Wolf property was built the intent was to make sure that the home behind the Wolf property (her home) had a view. She felt this was true because at the same time the Wolf property was built there were three two-story homes built behind the Wolf property and if the developer did not intend to protect the view from her home he would have built a two-story home at the Wolf property. She therefore felt she had a reasonable expectation to maintain the view.

Commissioner Tomblin stated that each time he has bought a home in Rancho Palos Verdes he has gone to City Hall to check all of the permits and to find out what he can add to the house and what the neighbors could add on to their homes, and each time over the years he was told that he could build up to 16 feet in height without the height variation process. He clearly felt that the intent has been that one can build up to 16 feet in height.

James Reed 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that he was against the project as it impacted his view of the ocean and the canyon. He felt that the proposed residence was incompatible with the surrounding homes and was too large and bulky for the lot. He stated that Mr. Wolf is in the process of developing an alternate design which will be lower in height but require more grading. He stated that he would prefer the design of the alternate plan which he felt would satisfy both Mr. Wolf’s requirements and his requirements. He stated that the Wolf home was built to a height of 13 feet so that the ocean view from his home would not be blocked, and he encouraged the Planning Commission to reject this current proposal.

Pat Mathiesen 30543 Santa Luna Drive stated that he was not directly affected by the project but he is a member of the Homeowners Association and lives in the neighborhood. He stated that one of the draws to this City is the wonderful views, and there is a desire in the community to try to protect those views. The way he interpreted this was that he shouldn’t do anything to his property that would infringe upon the rights of others or impair their views. He stated that he would be the last one to try to take away anyone’s rights to utilize their property in a way they best see fit, however he strongly objects when it infringes on a neighbors view. He felt that the parties involved should work together to find a solution that was fair to everyone.

Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Mathiesen if he was representing the HOA or himself at this meeting.

Mr. Mathiesen stated that he was representing himself.

Keith Reynolds 30745 Tarapaca Road stated the he opposed the project because it is a substantial impact to the Reed family from their house. He did not think anyone has a right to build up to 16 feet and that the Planning Commission has the power to set reasonable limits to maintain reasonably expected view corridors and open space. He strongly urged the Planning Commission to uphold the appeal and deny the project.

Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive stated that he was speaking on behalf of a citywide coalition as well as the Mediterranea HOA. He stated that he feels very strongly about preserving view corridors and views that people paid premium prices to enjoy. He commented that he has spent many years listening to this Planning Commission as well as the previous Planning Commission argue the merits of the right to build to 16 feet and the different interpretations of the Code. He therefore did not think it was appropriate for the Planning Commission to do anything but support the appeal, not because there is another solution, but because the City Council will have to clarify this issue. Mr. Redfield explained that he had met the Reeds and they had asked if he could supply some technical expertise on this issue. He wanted to get an opinion from someone the Planning Commission respected, and therefore contacted Don Vannorsdall for his opinion. He also noted that there is a family that lives on the cul-de-sac that looses more of their view than the Reeds, however they did not want to get involved in this issue. He stated that Mr. Vannorsdall was horrified about the loss of the view.

Commissioner Tomblin stated that in his mind if he supports the appeal then it will jeopardize the rights of thousands of property owners to add on to their homes. He asked Mr. Redfield how the Planning Commission should work with this problem.

Mr. Redfield answered that he truly believes that the Wolf residence was only built to a height of 13 feet to protect the view from the Reeds home. Whether the Planning Commission and staff can sort the intent out is unknown, but he did think it should be sorted out. He felt that homes that are currently built should not be allowed to add on to their home and destroy a view from a neighboring property.

Marie Bowers 30529 Santa Luna Drive stated that she too lives in a home with a canyon, harbor, and ocean view so she fully understands someone wanting to have their view protected for both emotional and financial reasons. She felt that to lose a view to a massive roof that isn’t needed is totally unacceptable, and the Planning Commission would be setting up a precedence that others will try to follow and ultimately more people will lose their views.

Gregory Lash 2829 San Ramon Drive felt that the City Council’s guidance on this issue was critical. He felt that this home would not be compatible with the neighborhood and appeared quite massive because of the many slopes on the property.

RECESS AND RECONVENE

At 11:10 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 11:15 p.m. at which time they reconvened.

PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)

Chairman Long noted that it was after 11:00 p.m. and the Planning Commission rules state that no new business will be heard after 11:00 p.m.

Commissioner Cote moved to abide by the Planning Commission rules not to take any new business after 11:00; therefore the remaining items on the Agenda (Items 6, 7, 8, and 9) will be continued to the next meeting, seconded by Vice Chairman Mueller. Approved, (5-0).

5. Site Plan Review Permit (continued):

Nagy Bakhoum 3800 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, stated that he was the architect for the project. He gave a brief history of the project, noting that there is a significant amount of uncompacted fill on the property. This has resulted in the home being 13 feet tall at one end and 12 feet 6 inches at the other end due to differential settlement. Because of this, he advised his client to do one of two things: leave things as they are or be prepared to do significant work on the house. To justify the expense of what the owner is going to have to put in the ground to stabilize the site Mr. Wolf felt it would be most cost effective to have a new home designed. He explained that he has worked very closely with the planning staff and has had neighborhood and HOA meetings, which has resulted in the elimination of the height variation application. He stated that when he designed the home he was sensitive to the concerns of the neighbors, and what was not mentioned was the significant amount of roof movement that has been designed. He stated that a majority of the roof is below 13 feet in height and there are pinnacles or points that are at 16 feet. He discussed the concern mentioned about the lack of a 20 foot driveway and noted that there are other homes in the community that do not have a 20 foot driveway, and therefore felt he was consistent with the other homes. In discussing the 16-foot by right issue, he felt that the reality is that regardless of the size of the home an appeal would have been brought forward. He felt that the desire to limit this house to a height of 13 feet was an arbitrary rule and an arbitrary measurement because that is what the existing house is. He stated that nobody knows what the intent of the designer of the home was. He further noted that the Wolf home was most likely built in 1962 or 1963 as they had found some etchings in the concrete that say 1963, and he was presuming they did not get there before the house was there.

In discussing view blockage, Mr. Bakhoum acknowledged that the proposed home would block a small portion of the view from the Reed residence. He explained that the flags currently on the property were for the home that was much larger. He stated that he left the flags up to help people envision the approximate scale of the new home. Therefore, the pictures that the Reeds showed earlier were not an accurate depiction of what the home will be doing. He noted that the ridge depicted in the pictures that obstructs a majority of the point and touches the harbor has been moved laterally which will change the potential view obstruction. He also noted that the original proposed home was 6,800 square feet in size and this current proposal is 3,200 square feet including the garage. He understands the neighbors concerns and felt that Mr. Wolf has more than compromised on the size of the home being proposed. Finally, Mr. Bakhoum explained that there is an appeal to the project asking that the house not be allowed to be built to 16 feet based on legal issues that he cannot address. He stated that staff has approved this project and he asked the Planning Commission to deny the appeal and uphold the Director’s decision to approve the project.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Bakhoum what he was proposing to do with the area of the lot that is on uncompacted fill.

Mr. Bakhoum answered that he was proposing to put caissons down into bedrock. He was also considering reintroducing a design with a sub-terranainian garage and remediating the area.

Commissioner Tomblin stated that he was a strong supporter of the right to build to 16 feet. However, in looking at the entire neighborhood he did not think the house and the design of the house was compatible with the neighborhood. Secondly, he still has a problem with the 20-foot driveway, as he did not feel the proposed driveway was compatible with the neighborhood. He also felt that the proposed house was too big and too bulky for the neighborhood.

Mr. Bakhoum explained that the owner has a like, and that like is to design a home in the style presented. He felt that there could be some variations in that style, but the style is a direct like of the owner. With respect to the driveway, he noted it is not a street but rather a private driveway that grants easement to other properties and therefore there will be traffic on that driveway other than that of the residents. He stated that this driveway meets and exceeds all guidelines of the Fire Department.

Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Bakhoum if the silhouette shown in the pictures is a true reflection of what will be built at the property.

Mr. Bakhoum answered that it is not.

Chairman Long asked staff if they could verify that the silhouette is not what is shown on the current proposal.

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the silhouette does not correspond to what is shown on the plans, and that the applicant had opted to leave the silhouette, but it was not a guide to where the current proposed roof lines would be placed.

James Wolf 30650 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that he had read the staff report and agreed with the staff recommendations. He felt that property valuation was a subjective concept, but generally speaking it is a common experience that when one property is significantly improved it raises the values of all of the properties near it. Therefore, he felt that a project such as his would have an overall favorable impact on the neighborhood. He also felt that denying a project that conforms to the building codes would negatively impact property values in the entire city, as every property owner has the right to improve their property. He further stated that if the Codes are complied with in both the planning and building departments, however the project is denied because someone dislikes the project for whatever reason, the right to build is diminished which will diminish all of the property values in the city.

Commissioner Tomblin stated that he agreed with Mr. Wolf’s comments regarding property rights, however he was still concerned with the design and mass of the house, which he did not think was compatible with the neighborhood. He felt that if it could be slightly redesigned to help preserve some view corridors and reduce the bulk and mass he could support the project. He was also concerned with the driveway and encouraged Mr. Wolf to redesign the driveway.

Mr. Wolf noted that he has provided extra parking, which has not been done by anyone else on the street. He also stated that the Fire Department has no problems with the current proposal. Regarding bulk and mass, he stated that there were homes in the neighborhood that are 6,000 square feet in size.

Commissioner Tomblin clarified that he was not concerned about the size of the home, but rather the bulky appearance of the home.

Gary Chaffin 30648 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that he lives directly opposite Mr. Wolf’s property. He explained that he will be looking directly at the proposed home and appreciates the time and effort that Mr. Wolf has given to design a home that he will be able to live across from. He did not think the size of the house was too large and that the house is compatible with the neighborhood. Regarding reasonable expectation, he felt that Mr. Wolf had the reasonable expectation to build a home up to 16 feet in height, as is done all the time in the City.

Clara Duran Reed (in rebuttal) addressed the flags referring the Planning Commissioners to the previous proposal which is only a few inches taller than the current proposal and that it was represented to her that there would not be a difference in the flags between what was originally proposed and what is currently proposed, other than there is now no underground garage with the Director approved project. She therefore felt that the pictures she showed to the Planning Commission accurately reflected the proposed height of the home and the view that would be blocked. She noted that there are houses on Calle Aventura that are lower than 16 feet so that the houses across the street have a view over the rooftops. She explained that if those houses were to go over 16 feet then all of the houses along Calle Aventura on the north side would lose their view, and that is not what the City wants to do in terms of setting a case precedence. She felt that this current proposal was being used as leverage against the neighbors so that even if the Planning Commission were to deny the project the applicant already has another plan being prepared for the property. She stated that the gazebo towards the left of the property is totally incompatible, and if taken out would help considerably in her view. She stated again that when she moved into her home she had a reasonable expectation that the Wolf home would not block her view.

Commissioner Tomblin asked Ms. Duran Reed if the Wolf’s redesigned the residence to be a single story home with a subterranean garage, if she would still oppose the project.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that she would not as long as the height was thirteen feet and she maintained her view corridor. She explained that she had originally been concerned with stability, however Mr. Wolf has stated that he will provide insurance to all of the surrounding homes to make sure there will be no problems.

Vice Chairman Mueller noted that the architect had indicated that the existing house is thirteen feet tall in some areas and 12 feet 6 inches in others, and asked Ms. Duran Reed if she agreed with that statement.

Ms. Duran Reed answered that she was not sure, that she had assumed the house was 13 feet high. She added that there had been a previous concern by a Planning Commissioner that fire codes may become involved. She stated that she called the Fire Department and there are no minimum height requirements for homes, only what the Building Code requires.

Vice Chairman Mueller expressed concern that it was difficult to determine what views would be lost if the current silhouette was not correct and the actual house would be lower than what was represented with the silhouette.

Ms. Duran Reed asked the Commissioners to look at page A200 of the plans and pointed out the height of the currently proposed structure as opposed to the previously proposed structure and noted that there was very little difference in elevation. She therefore felt that the flags at the property accurately reflected the proposed ridgeline.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff if the current flags on the property are outlining the previous proposal or if they are accurately reflecting the current proposal, and if so, what is the difference.

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the flags were intended to outline the previous proposal. He noted that this proposal does not require flags to be erected because there is no required view assessment. The applicant, however, chose to leave the flags in place as a guide.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked the architect to explain the difference between the previous proposal and the proposal currently before the Planning Commission, especially in terms of the flagging on the property.

Nagy Bakhoum explained that the owner did not anticipate the project being appealed, and not having the requirement to provide the flags on a project that is 16 feet tall or less, they had no reason to relocate the flags to the accurate location to depict what was currently being proposed.

In looking at the plan, Vice Chairman Mueller stated that it appeared the currently proposed home and the previously proposed home were basically the same height except for some decrease in height near the center of the home. However, for the most part the outer two thirds of the home follows the same height as the previous design.

Mr. Bakhoum agreed that the two designs are very close in height, however he noted that the 16-foot ridgeline has been shifted over approximately 4 feet. He wanted the Planning Commission to understand that what is currently flagged is not what is represented on the plans before the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Lyon asked if the roof pitch on the proposed residence was as low as it can get.

Mr. Bakhoum answered that for this style of architecture it is consistent with a 3:12 pitch and anything lower would create a near flat roof, which he did not feel was very aesthetically pleasing. He stated, however, that the pitch could be lowered.

Commissioner Lyon was not sure that from a distance the difference in pitch would be very apparent, however from the Reed’s home a lower pitch may make a difference in their view. He asked if the pad could be lowered a couple of feet.

Mr. Bakhoum answered that the pad could be lowered a few feet, however in doing so it would require significant grading. He noted that the additional grading would require additional applications and additional review processes.

Chairman Long closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Lyon began by stating that he has heard many allegations by the appellant that she believes to be true, and he does not blame the appellant for trying to create a situation that would make it likely that the Planning Commission would uphold the appeal. However, he did not believe that what someone says at a workshop has any credible resemblance to what the intent was when the code was first written. He stated that codes are not written by one or two people, but rather approved by an entire City Council. He stated that for many years there has been a consistent common understanding and interpretation of the Code, which is the Code he has followed for as long as he has been on the Planning Commission. He felt the Code was clear, but agreed that the wording in the Code could make its intent a little clearer than it is. He reiterated that the Code tells people what they cannot do without a permit. Therefore, he has not been bothered by the fact that the Code does not explicitly say that one has a right to build up to 16 feet in height, as it is clearly implied by the requirement that to go over 16 feet must be done with a permit. He felt that it was in everyone’s interest to find some way of being reasonable and trying to accommodate the differences of opinions and desires. He would like to see the Reed’s view maintained and there may be a way to do that which isn’t a terrible burden for the Wolfs. He stated that he does not like to tell an applicant or an architect how to design a house because they are the experts. He stated that he does not see a problem with the mass of the house, noting however that it would not be something that he would design. Therefore, he did not have a problem with the compatibility issues. Regarding the parking issue, he noted that there are three parking areas outside of the garage that most residences do not have. He stated that he would like to see a little more work done to try to accommodate the Reed’s concerns, however if that was not possible he felt he would have to deny the appeal based on the rules that the Planning Commission must follow.

Commissioner Cote stated that she was having difficulty with the neighborhood compatibility finding. She felt that due to the extreme slopes and the limited amount of buildable lot area as well as the architectural style selected, the proposed residence appears to massive and bulky for the area. She felt comfortable, however, with the parking areas proposed. Discussing the view issues, without the additional guidance from the City Council, she currently could not support the appeal with respect to the view issues. Therefore, she felt that she would support the appeal on the basis of neighborhood compatibility but not views.

Commissioner Tomblin stated that he agreed with the comments made about neighborhood compatibility. He agreed that architectural design is in the eyes of the beholder, and did not have a problem with the size of the proposed home. Regarding the bulk and mass of the home, however, did not think that the home fits into the neighborhood. Regarding the garage, he felt that the garage looked as if it had been jammed onto the lot, and he still had a problem with the 20-foot driveway. He felt that with a few minor modifications the house could be redesigned to be less bulky and fit into the neighborhood better, as well as help maintain view corridor from the Reed home. He was very clear that he did not want to support anything that may give any indications that the 16-foot by right issue was being addressed in this decision. He stated that he would support a continuation of the project to address the neighborhood compatibility issues.

Vice Chairman Mueller agreed with Commissioner Lyon’s comments regarding Mr. Dyda and felt that, after listening to Mr. Dyda’s comments, it was hard to jump to the conclusions that because one or two of the original Council members remember things about the intent, it was very clear to him that they had not thought of everything when enacting the Code. He felt that the only legislative intent was to maintain peace, health, safety, and welfare of the community and there is nothing in there trying to limit homes built below 16 feet to increase the size of the house to 16 feet. He acknowledged that there was a concern about views, however he did not think the Code gave the Planning Commission much latitude in this situation. Regarding neighborhood compatibility, he stated that the size of the home meets the requirements of the lot size, the height of the home meets code requirements, and the architectural materials are compatible. He felt that if the Planning Commission used the same yardstick used for all other cases before the Planning Commission it would be difficult for him to find a problem with neighborhood compatibility. Regarding the view issues, he felt that the architect could look for slight modifications to lower the ridgeline of the home, however he cautioned that the Planning Commission should not use different criteria when looking at this case than they use with other cases before the Planning Commission. He therefore was reluctant to go down a path that starts to modify the design of the house or require the ridgeline to be lower because, as it is currently designed, the house meets the requirements of the Code.

Chairman Long stated that he agreed with the comments made by Commissioners Tomblin and Cote regarding neighborhood compatibility, and would be inclined to vote to uphold the appeal for neighborhood compatibility issues. Regarding the view issues, he shared the appellants general concern that perhaps the ordinances that exist do not go far enough to serve the purpose of the General Plan which is to preserve reasonably expected views. He felt that the body that has the power to modify the Ordinances, which is not the Planning Commission, should consider doing so. However, regarding the issue of view, he did not think that there was an ambiguity on the issue that this application is bringing before the Planning Commission. He stated that this application was not bringing forth the questions of how to evaluate the fact-findings of a height variation permit, because there is no height variation permit associated with this application. Further, the application was not bringing forward the ambiguities associated with the findings for a grading permit, as there is no grading permit associated with the project. Therefore, since this application is not seeking either of the permits that trigger a view analysis, he did not think there was anything in the Code that would allow the Planning Commission to look at the view issues. Therefore, he did not think intent was relevant because there is nothing ambiguous to be interpreted with the intent. He stated that in upholding the appeal he would be doing so strictly in terms of neighborhood compatibility.

Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff if the Planning Commission were to only uphold the neighborhood compatibility portion of the appeal, could the view issues be separated from the rest of the appeal.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that, in staff’s opinion, view is not an issue in this appeal, however neighborhood compatibility is a finding and if the Planning Commission can either give the applicant some direction for a re-design or the Planning Commission has concern with neighborhood compatibility, the Commission can uphold the appeal thereby denying the project, at which time the applicant can appeal this decision to the City Council.

Vice Chairman Mueller cautioned that if the Planning Commission were to agree that there is no view issue, and continue the item based on the neighborhood compatibility issues, that the Commission ought not go down the path of redesigning the home to modify the design to eliminate the view problem. He stated that if there were architectural problems with the home or problems with the size of the home, that is direction that should be given to staff and the applicant. He did not think that the ridgeline or pitch of the roof should be lowered if there is not a view issue. He felt that the architect and applicant should be given specific concerns regarding neighborhood compatibility that they could work with to modify the design of the home.

Commissioner Lyon noted that neighborhood compatibility was not the primary concern raised by the Reeds, and that their primary concern was their view. He felt upholding the appeal on the basis of neighborhood compatibility would not solve any of the issues raised by the Reeds.

Chairman Long agreed that the concerns regarding neighborhood compatibility have been voiced by the Planning Commission and that the applicant should address these concerns.

Commissioners Tomblin and Lyon stated that they did not have a problem with the proposed square footage of the home.

Commissioner Cote stated that her problem was not so much the square footage, but given the dynamics of the lot she felt that it needed to be re-looked at to see if there were ways in which the appearance of the mass and bulk can be reduced. She felt that if the mass and bulk could be reduced and the square footage maintained, she would be satisfied. She felt that the house needed more articulation.

Commissioner Lyon moved to continue the item to the first meeting in July to give the appellant and the original applicant the opportunity to work out the issues discussed by the Planning Commission to their satisfaction and that of the Planning Commission, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin.

Vice Chairman Mueller felt there should be an amendment to the motion to limit the discussion to the issues of neighborhood compatibility.

Commissioner Lyon stated that, technically, the Planning Commission could not discuss the view issues per their own rules. He did not want to exclude it, even though he did not want to emphasize the issue either.

Chairman Long felt that the motion is stating that the Planning Commission is continuing the item, the applicant has heard the concerns voiced by the Planning Commission, and the applicant should do whatever he feels appropriate to present to the Commission in July.

The motion to continue the item to the July 8, 2003 Planning Commission was approved, (5-0).

6. Grading Permit – Appeal (Case ZON2001-00213): 2700 ˝ San Ramon Drive

Continued to the meeting of June 24, 2003.

7. Zone Text Amendment Pertaining to Density Bonus Provisions (Case ZON2003-00235): Citywide

Continued to the meeting of June 24, 2003

NEW BUSINESS

8. Clarification of the 16-foot height limit and other related view protection provisions of the Development Code: Citywide

Continued to the meeting of June 24, 2003

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

9. Minutes of May 27, 2003

Continued to the meeting of June 24, 2003

ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS

Commissioner Lyon stated that he would not be at the June 24, 2003 meeting.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 12:56 a.m.