JANUARY 27, 2004



The meeting was called to order by Vice Chairman Mueller at 8:35 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard. The meeting was called to order after the conclusion of an orientation session for the new Commissioners, which began at 7:00 p.m. with the swearing in of the five new Commissioners.


Commissioner Tetreault led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.


Present: Commissioners Gerstner, Karp, Knight, Tetreault, Van Wagner, Vice Chairman Mueller

Absent: Commissioner Cote was excused

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


Commissioner Karp moved to approve the agenda as presented, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, (6-0).


Director/Secretary Rojas welcomed the new Planning Commissioners, and the new Commissioners introduced themselves.

Director/Secretary Rojas reported that at the February 3rd City Council meeting an appeal of a previous Planning Commission decision regarding a new house on Calle de Suenos will be heard by the City Council. He noted that, from previous City Council direction, if the Chairman of the Planning Commission wishes to attend the meeting to clarify any previous decision, he is welcome to do so.

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of correspondence regarding agenda item no. 1.




1. Grading Permit (Case ZON2002-00239): 30120 Cartier Drive

Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Grading Permit. He stated that staff has reviewed the nine required findings necessary to approve the Grading Permit, and feels all findings can be made. He noted that staff did not feel the proposed grading was excessive since the grading has been limited to under the building footprint, providing access around the house, and providing for the driveway. Regarding views, staff noted that this property is not within the view corridor for the homes on Cartier Drive, and that there is sufficient elevation difference from Matisse Drive that this project does not create any type of view impairment from Matisse Drive. Regarding neighborhood compatibility, he noted that the house is larger than the other homes in the area, however staff felt that the size of the residence is compatible with the neighborhood since the applicant has taken necessary steps to reduce the appearance of the structure. He discussed the heights of the proposed retaining walls, noting that the height does exceed the actual standards within the Municipal Code, however the Code does allow the Planning Commission to approve deviations in heights of retaining walls providing that the necessary four findings can be made. He explained these four findings, noting that staff felt these findings could be made. Therefore, staff was recommending approval of the proposed residence, subject to the recommended conditions of approval.

Commissioner Knight referred to the letter distributed to the Planning Commission and the concerns expressed regarding the runoff and the geologic conditions of the project, and asked if the geologist took these type of concerns into consideration.

Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that that the geology report does take into consideration runoff for the project during and post-construction. He explained that these types of issues are usually addressed during the Building and Safety phase of the project.

Commissioner Knight asked staff to clarify the condition requiring landscaping to help mitigate the appearance of the retaining walls, and if the 9-foot retaining wall along the driveway was included in that condition.

Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff does not anticipate there being enough landscaping to hide the entirety of the 9-foot wall along the driveway, the intent is to use landscaping to reduce the appearance of the walls from the street. He used a power point presentation to show pictures of different homes in the neighborhood with similar walls and driveways, and how the landscaping has helped to mitigate the appearance of the walls from the street.

Commissioner VanWagner asked if the geology report was typically made a part of the staff report. He felt that including the geology report, in some instances, could help the Planning Commission understand the geologic issues of the site a little better

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that staff does not usually include the geology report with the staff report, as many times this report can be very large and full of calculations and technical aspects that staff is not qualified to interpret. He stated that if it would help the Planning Commission to attach the geology report, staff could do that in the future, but noted that staff summarizes the geology report in the staff report.

Commissioner VanWagner asked if there was any way the Planning Commission could review drainage plans as part of their review.

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that drainage plans are typically reviewed during Building and Safety plan check, and that the Code does not require a drainage plan be submitted before the project goes before the Planning Commission.

Commissioner VanWagner noted that this proposed house is substantially larger than the other homes in the neighborhood, and would therefore increase the average size of the homes in the neighborhood when staff next does an analysis for the neighborhood.

Director/Secretary Rojas acknowledged this point, and noted that with almost every application the proposed house is larger than the average in the neighborhood, as the needs today are much different than when houses in the neighborhood were originally built. He explained that, although a new house may be bigger than the average, it may be designed in a manner where the size is not apparent. He noted that staff will have a concern when a proposed house size is significantly above the average and the structure will appear bulky and massive. In such instances where staff feels the findings canít be made regarding bulk and mass, they will point these issues out to the Planning Commission. He noted that there is a cap on how large a home can be, as there are restrictions on lot coverage, height, and setbacks that limit the overall size of a structure. He added that the City Council has appointed a committee to look at the development standards to see if they need to be adjusted.

Regarding the geology reports, Commissioner Karp felt it would be helpful to have some type of summary of the report included with the staff report. He discussed the chart included in the staff report which summarizes the average size of homes in the neighborhood, and felt it would also be helpful to include the information in a statistical distribution curve which would include the median and mean, as well as the average size of homes.

Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the Code requires staff, in a neighborhood compatibility analysis, to examine different components of a project, one of which is size. Because size is the only component that can be easily quantified there is a lot of focus on square footage. He explained that the table in the staff report was to help give some perspective on the average size of homes in a neighborhood, however when looking at them from the street they may not appear to be any larger than the other homes in the neighborhood.

Vice Chairman Mueller felt that the way the table is presented in the staff report it is very easy to compare the 20 closest homes in the neighborhood and it is very easy to drive down the street to look at these homes and visualize how the proposed project would appear from the street and how it will fit into the neighborhood.

Commissioner Karp asked if the height of the chimney is included in the height calculations in the staff report, as it appears to extend approximately 3 feet above the ridgeline.

Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the chimney is not included in the height calculations, as the Development Code allows chimneys to exceed the 30-foot height limit, as well as the Building Code minimum requirements

Vice Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.

Sid Khajaui 4040 Palos Verdes Drive North, PVE, (architect) stated he was available for any questions from the Planning Commission. He explained that he has had a complete soils and geology report done for the property and it has come back very favorable, noting that there will be no need for caissons for the new home. He stated that the soils report was very specific regarding the drainage recommendations for the property, which will be incorporated into the plans.

Commissioner Knight asked if the soils report took into consideration the runoff coming from the street above.

Mr. Khajaui answered that the soils report addresses the drainage issues for the property and not the street above.

Mr. Bandari 6120 Scotmist Drive (owner) felt that the soils report was very thorough and that the property was safe to build his home on, and noted that he would not want to build his home on a piece of property that was not safe to build on.

Vice Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.

Commissioner VanWagner moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2004-04, thereby approving the Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2003-00239), as presented, seconded by Commissioner Tetreault. Approved, (6-0).



2. Appeal of View Restoration Permit No. 63: 15 Diamonte Lane

Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report, explaining staff was recommending the item be continued to February 10 to allow the new Planning Commissioners time to review the project and to visit the site.

The Planning Commission unanimously continued the item to the February 10, 2004 meeting.


3. Minutes of January 13, 2004

Director/Secretary Rojas noted that since none of the Planning Commissioners other than the Vice Chairman attended the meeting, only the Vice Chairman would be voting on the item.

Vice Chairman Mueller noted a clarification to page 1 of the minutes and then stated that he would prefer to wait until the next meeting when Commissioner Cote would be able to make any comments she may have regarding the minutes. Therefore he asked the minutes be continued to the February 10 Planning Commission meeting.


Vice Chairman Mueller briefly discussed the pre-agenda for February 10.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.