CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
JULY 8, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Long at 7:03 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Recording Secretary Peterson led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Duran Reed, Lyon, Tomblin, Vice Chairman Mueller, and Chairman Long
Absent: Commissioner Cote was excused
Also present were Director of Planning Building and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Schonborn, Assistant Planner Yu, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Cartwright moved to approve the agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. Approved, (6-0).
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that at the July 1 City Council meeting the View Restoration Guidelines had been formally adopted. He stated that staff could now begin scheduling View Restoration cases to the Planning Commission. He also reported that the RV Ordinance had not yet been adopted, but should be at the next City Council meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 2 and one item for Agenda Item No. 9.
Commissioner Lyon suggested the Planning Commission re-think the idea of putting the minutes at the end of the Agenda and Chairman Long suggested considering making this an agenda item for discussion when the Commission was discussing items for future agendas.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE
1. Re-Scheduling the August 12, 2003 Planning Commission meeting
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that a majority of the Planning Commissioners had indicated they would be on vacation during the August 12 meeting and therefore there would not be a quorum for the meeting. Therefore, staff was suggesting the Planning Commission consider moving the meeting to August 6 so that applications could continue to be processed in a timely manner.
A poll of the Commissioners showed that only two Commissioners present were available for the August 6 meeting, one Commissioner was uncertain if he could be there, and it was unknown if Commissioner Cote would be available. Therefore, it was unknown if there would be a quorum for the August 6 meeting.
After discussing several options, Commissioner Tomblin suggested re-scheduling the meeting for Wednesday, July 30.
Commissioners Lyon, Cartwright, Tomblin, and Chairman Long stated they could attend the July 30 meeting, which made a quorum.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to re-schedule the August 12 meeting to July 30, 2003, seconded by Commissioner Lyon. Approved without objection.
2. 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.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he was not present at the meeting when this item was initially heard, however he has read the minutes and reviewed the tape and feels he can participate in this hearing.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining that the applicant has requested continuing the item to the next available meeting to allow him the time to review the approved minutes of the June 10 meeting to more adequately address the comments that were raised by the Planning Commissioners.
Vice Chairman Mueller stated that the applicant was requesting a continuance based on several issues, one of which was that the applicant was going to prepare and submit a new plan to the Planning Department. He asked if the applicant has submitted a new plan to the City.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the applicant had not submitted a new plan to the City, and that the applicant was waiting to get a little more direction with the official minutes.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked if the applicant had been provided with a draft copy of the minutes.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff had not provided the applicant with a copy of the draft minutes.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the draft minutes are available on the City’s website.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff if the applicant has met with the concerned neighbors and reached any agreement.
Associate Planner Schonborn felt that the applicant was preparing to address the concerns of the Planning Commission regarding the project, however he had no knowledge of whether the applicant had met with the appellants or not.
Vice Chairman Mueller discussed the e-mail from the appellant received by the Planning Commission and asked staff if they had any comments regarding the e-mail, especially the requested change to the minutes regarding the change to the wording of the motion.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the minutes are still in draft form and that the recording secretary had reviewed the tape section regarding the motion and found that the language proposed by Commissioner Duran Reed was included in the motion made at the meeting.
Vice Chairman Mueller discussed the comments in Commissioner Duran Reed’s e-mail that the applicant’s plans should be reviewed and approved by the Reeds prior to being submitted to the Planning Department. He asked staff if it was their understanding that the motion included a requirement that the applicant have the appellant’s approval prior to submitting plans to the Planning Department.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it was his understanding that the Planning Commission expressed certain concerns with the project and directed the applicant to try to address those concerns. However he felt that the Planning Commission should clarify the motion and direction to the applicant.
Vice Chairman Mueller did not think that the Planning Commission was in any way requiring the applicant to have the plans approved by the appellant before they were submitted to the City.
Chairman Long stated that when an item is continued and the Planning Commission expresses a desire that something happen during the continuance, the Commission has no authority to require that the applicant do anything other than submit applications to staff. He did not think the Planning Commission had any authority to require the applicant and appellant to meet with one another, nor would it be proper for the Planning Commission to abdicate its authority to approve plans to an appellant and to have the appellant approve the plans before they are submitted to the City. He stated that his recollection of the purpose of the motion was that a number of issues were discussed and a proposal was made for a continuance to allow the applicant to address the concerns expressed by members of the Planning Commission in whatever manner he saw fit, understanding the applicant may or may not succeed in addressing those concerns. He agreed with the Vice Chairman in that he did not want anyone to have the impression that the Planning Commission was leaving it up to the appellant to make any decisions for the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Tomblin noted that the applicant was not present at the meeting and asked staff if the applicant would be made aware of the original intentions of the Planning Commission.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that it is the practice of staff to inform the applicant of what transpires during the meeting in regards to their project.
Commissioner Lyon stated that he was the one who made the motion and he did not remember his exact wording of the motion. He did not have any objection to the suggested change to the minutes, however he was curious as to what he said and asked what the tape indicated.
Recording Secretary Peterson stated that the tape indicates the motion as suggested by Commissioner Duran Reed.
Chairman Lyon noted that the motion was to give the applicant and the appellant the opportunity to work out the issue. He did not think this meant the Planning Commission was directing approval by the appellant or that any meeting has to take place.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Clara Duran Reed 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that in many issues the Planning Commission has asked people to work out the issues and come back with a design that is satisfactory to both. She did not think this, in any way usurped the role of the Planning Commission otherwise there would only be mediation processes and the Planning Commission would have no role. She felt it was important for the applicant and appellant to work together on this issue, and realized that compromises will have to be made on both sides, and that the final word will come from the Planning Commission. She felt that one must be careful in telling people the Planning Commission can’t tell people to work together as neighbors. She stated that there was another plan for the property being developed that is completely different from the original one presented to the Planning Commission with different elevations and grading such that it will now be considered a new plan. She asked for direction and answers on whether a new silhouette would be required, will there be notification to the neighbors, and will the new neighborhood compatibility guidelines be in effect. She asked how this would affect the appeal and if the appeal will then be considered moot, will it be upheld, or does it make a difference. She asked that this item be continued to a date when she will be in town and stated she has given the dates she will not be available. Lastly, she noted that there is a large dumpster on the Wolf’s property that has been there since May 2000 and asked that the dumpster be removed.
Chairman Long asked staff what date they anticipated scheduling this hearing for.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the first available date was August 26 and Ms. Duran Reed answered that she would be available for that meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that for project revisions to be considered the applicant would first have to withdraw the current application and replace it with a new application. Otherwise, changes to the existing application would not be considered a new application. A new application would have to go through the new neighborhood compatibility process.
Chairman Long added that it was very difficult to give a definitive answer to a question regarding a plan that nobody has seen.
Regarding the suggested changes to the minutes that she submitted, Ms. Duran Reed stated that she had reviewed the tape several times and felt that the language she submitted was correct, and asked that these suggested changes be incorporated into the minutes.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Lyon moved to continue the item to the Planning Commission meeting of August 26, 2003, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Duran Reed abstaining.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff if the applicant will be available for the August 26 meeting.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that he will discuss the date with Mr. Wolf and if Mr. Wolf is unavailable on that date he will bring it to the Commission’s attention as soon as possible.
3. Coastal Sage Scrub Habitat Protection Ordinance
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this item had previously been before the Planning Commission and was continued to allow staff to research questions raised by the Planning Commission, and to allow for this the City Council extended the Urgency Ordinance adopted on May 20. As a result, staff will be discussing the contents of the Ordinance with some of the parties who raised issues and working out issues with the City Attorney. Therefore, staff recommendation was for the Planning Commission to table the item to allow it to be brought back at a later date. He noted however, that staff was anticipating being able to bring the item to the July 30 meeting, in which case the Planning Commission could continue the item to a date certain.
Commissioner Cartwright noted that there was no noticing period required for property owners affected by the proposed ordinance, and felt it would be a good idea to notice the affected parties as a common courtesy. He felt it would be a shame not to alert these parties since there are criminal penalties involved.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this was a topic he would be addressing with the City Attorney.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to continue the item to the meeting of July 30, 2003, seconded by Vice Chairman Mueller. Approved, (6-0).
4. Clarification of the 16-foot height limit and other related view protection provisions of the Development Code.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that at the last meeting staff had been directed to do research and prepare a much more comprehensive staff report. He stated that the item is on the agenda for informational purposes to explain to the Planning Commission that Councilman Clark has requested an item be placed on the July 15 agenda to discuss the 16-foot height issue. He explained that the item has been agendized and staff is preparing a report for that meeting, which is different from the draft report that was previously presented to the Planning Commission, and is more focused on what staff understands to be Councilman Clark’s intent to be, which is discussion of the 16 foot height limit. He explained that the staff report will summarize different issues the Planning Commission has discussed as needing clarification and will provide background on the 16 foot height limit and how it fits into the code. He noted that Councilman Clark has invited individual Commission members to attend the hearing and give their individual viewpoints on the matter.
Chairman Long asked if the report would be available to the Commission before the City Council meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the staff report will be available on the website on the Friday before the meeting.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked staff if they knew what the intent of the City Council was to hear this issue piece meal rather than waiting to have the benefit of the entire staff report at a later date.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff was making no recommendations in the staff report other than to seek direction, and felt that Councilman Clark wanted to talk about the issue because of the publicity it has been receiving and to clarify how the 16 foot height limit has been applied through the history of the City.
Commissioner Cartwright expressed concern that the more comprehensive staff report may not be necessary if the City Council was ready to discuss this issue in July without the benefit of the report and did not want to have staff prepare a report that may not be necessary.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that in this new staff report he would explain that the Planning Commission had directed staff to prepare a more comprehensive report and requested further review of the contents of the report.
Chairman Long felt that after the City Council meeting staff would have direction as to whether or not to proceed with the report and will be able to report that to the Planning Commission at their next meeting.
Commissioner Duran Reed moved to continue the item to August 26, 2003, seconded by Vice Chairman Mueller. Approved, (6-0).
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report explaining that the request was to continue the item to the July 30, 2003 meeting to allow the applicant time to address some issues that have been raised by staff.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to continue the item to July 30, 2003, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (6-0)
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the height variation. He stated that all findings for the height variation could be made and staff was recommending the approval of the project.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2003-30, thereby approving the Height Variation (Case No. ZON2003-00143), seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (6-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:15 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:30 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the height variation. She stated that staff could make all of the necessary findings for the height variation, and was therefore recommending approval of the project.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
Emil Sunjara 928 Hamilton Ave #B, San Pedro, stated that he was the architect for the project and was available for any questions.
Chairman Long asked Mr. Sunjara if he had reviewed the staff report and if he agreed with the recommendations of the report.
Mr. Sunjara answered that he had read the report and agreed with the recommendations.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked Mr. Sunjara why they had chosen to add a second story rather than add additional square footage to the ground level of the home.
Mr. Sunjara explained that his clients wanted to add an additional entertainment area to their home and the layout of the first floor was not suitable for their purposes.
Chairman Long closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Lyon moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2003-31 thereby approving the height variation (Case No. ZON2003-00099), seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (6-0).
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, explaining that this case involves the monopole located at City Hall. He explained that the monopole is owned by Spectrasite Communications, which is seeking to make changes to the monopole. However, when the City Council authorized this application to be submitted, it also authorized that a third party review of the technical information be performed. He explained that there was some question as to whether or not the antenna could be lowered or other adjustments made to minimize the look and height of the antenna tower. He stated that the consultant hired has not been able to perform the work and a different consultant must be retained. Therefore, more time is needed for this project, and Spectrasite has agreed to grant a 60-day extension.
Chairman Long opened the public hearing.
William Bennett 2301 Dupont Drive, Irvine, stated he was representing Spectrasite Communications. He explained that Spectrasite has requested a 60-day rather than 90 day extension, as they felt another 60 days would be more than sufficient time. He stated that he was available for any questions.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if Spectrasite was considering any other type of pole or design for the existing pole at the site.
Mr. Bennett answered that the City Council has looked at other stealth type designs and has not considered this an issue at this time.
Commissioner Tomblin asked if this lease would conflict in any way with any of the plans being discussed by the Open Space Task Force for the City Hall site.
Director/Secretary Rojas did not believe there was a conflict but stated he would check and discuss it in the staff report. He also stated it was his understanding that the City Council sub-committee had looked at different ideas for the monopole, however the City Council did not formally look at the issue, and the Planning Commission does have the ability to look at changes under the Conditional Use Permit process.
Vice Chairman Mueller moved to continue the item to a future meeting, seconded by Commissioner Duran Reed. Approved, (6-0).
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
9. Minutes of May 27, 2003
Commissioner Cartwright moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (3-0-3) with Vice Chairman Mueller abstaining since he was absent from that meeting and Commissioner Duran Reed and Chairman Long abstaining since they left the meeting early and were therefore not present for the entire meeting.
10. Minutes of June 10, 2003
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the City Attorney has recommended that because the minutes include a discussion on an item that involves Commissioner Duran Reed as an appellant, and that because a final decision has not been rendered on the issue and it is still open, that Commissioner Duran Reed cannot participate in the discussion of these minutes. Commissioner Duran Reed was therefore excused from the room during the discussion
Vice Chairman Mueller noted clarifications on pages 3, 4, 6 and 8 of the minutes.
Commissioner Lyon felt that a paragraph on page 24 of the minutes did not make sense and asked staff to listen to the tape to clarify the statement.
Chairman Long noted that Commissioner Duran Reed had written a request to change the wording of the motion on page 24 of the minutes. He asked staff to review the tape and make the appropriate changes.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the last page of the draft minutes contained the suggested changes by Commissioner Duran Reed and asked the Planning Commission if they wanted to incorporate these changes into the minutes.
The Commission agreed that the suggested changes should be made to the minutes, with the exception that staff review the tape for the exact wording of the motion.
Commissioner Lyon moved to approve the minutes as amended, seconded by Commissioner Tomblin. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Duran Reed abstaining.
11. Minutes of June 24, 2003
Commissioner Duran Reed noted a clarification in the statement made by Chairman Long on page 1 of the minutes.
Chairman Long noted a typo on the vote on page 2 of the minutes.
Commissioner Tomblin asked that the tape be reviewed, as he felt there should be some comments he had made included on page 4 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Mueller asked staff to clarify a statement on page 6 of the minutes.
Chairman Long recalled a statement he had made regarding the guidelines and did not see it in the minutes. He asked staff to review the tape and add the comments to the appropriate section of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Mueller stated there were a series of questions he had asked Mr. Dyda that he would like included on page 8 of the minutes.
Commissioners Tomblin, Cartwright, and Duran Reed asked that their comments to Mrs. Barry be included on page 9 of the minutes.
Commissioner Cartwright made clarifications to his comments on page 11 of the minutes.
Commissioner Duran Reed asked that changes and clarifications be made to her statement on page 11 of the minutes.
Commissioner Tomblin noted changes to his comments on page 11 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Mueller noted a modification to his statement on page 12 of the minutes.
Chairman Long noted changes to his statement on page 12 of the minutes and asked staff to review the tape for confirmation of the proposed changes.
Commissioner Tomblin asked that a comment he made be added to page 13 of the minutes.
Even though there were extensive proposed changes to the minutes he noted that these minutes were needed for the City Council discussion of the 16-foot height issue, and asked staff to carefully review the tape for the proposed changes.
Commissioner Tomblin moved to approve the minutes as amended, seconded by Vice Chairman Mueller. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Lyon abstaining since he was absent from that meeting.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Commissioner Duran Reed distributed photographs she had taken of residents’ hedges and asked that on a future agenda there be a discussion included on the definition of a hedge. She noted it would be important to understand the exact definition of a hedge when discussing future view restoration issues.
Director/Secretary Rojas felt this issue could be on the August 26 agenda.
Commission Lyon suggested adding to the next agenda a discussion on how the Planning Commission might improve their treatment of the minutes.
Chairman Long stated that he would like to include a discussion on a future agenda on whether the Planning Commission can get the agenda earlier. He appointed a sub-committee of Commissioners Cote and Cartwright to work with staff to see if there is an alternative way to get the packages earlier and report back to the Planning Commission their findings.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.