CITY OR RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
FEBRUARY 24, 2004
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Mueller at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Gerstner led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Gerstner, Karp, Knight, Tetreault, Van Wagner, Chairman Mueller. Commissioner Cote arrived at 7:35 p.m.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Blumenthal, Associate Planner Schonborn, and Project Coordinator Alvarez.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Van Wagner requested that Agenda Item No. 1 be removed from the Consent Calendar for discussion, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved without objection.
Director/Secretary Rojas congratulated Chairman Mueller on his appointment as Chairman and that a Vice Chairman would be selected at the next Planning Commission meeting. He reported that at the last City Council meeting there was direction given to proceed with a code amendment related to neighborhood compatibility, which staff will present to the Planning Commission in April. He also explained the code amendment that was adopted by the City Council as an Urgency Ordinance regarding the height variation findings, noting that the Planning Commission will be hearing two items on the agenda that will be subject to the new finding.
Chairman Mueller asked the Planning Commissioners if they knew the Ordinance had changed and if they had received a copy of the Urgency Ordinance.
The Planning Commissioners were not aware that the Ordinance had changed and had not received a copy of the Urgency Ordinance.
Regarding the two height variations on the agenda, Chairman Mueller asked staff if they had notified the residents in the 500-foot radius of the change to the Ordinance.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the City Council had adopted the Urgency Ordinance at their last meeting and staff would not have had time to notify the residence in the 500-foot radius of the two projects, and noted that it is not required to notify the residents.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS
1. Grading Permit (Case ZON2003-00458): 3837 Crest Road
Commissioner Tetreault disclosed that the applicant for this item is his mother-in-law and therefore recused himself.
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, explaining that several years back the permit for this new home was never finaled and expired, and that in situations such as this staff does not make the individual go through a new process, as in most instances the project is done. Therefore, staff has brought this before the Planning Commission since they were the body that originally approved the project. He explained that staff was recommending the Planning Commission issue a new grading approval that allows the applicant to get her final permit, adding that staff was not recommending the Planning Commission impose new conditions on the project. He stated that staff and a building inspector have been to the property and in their judgment the house has been built in accordance with the approved plans.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked if staff was aware of what outstanding inspections were required to final this project.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that, though staff no longer has the approved building plans, there is a record of inspections that have been performed and it appears that all required inspections have been done other than the final inspection.
Commissioner Karp asked if there was a statue of limitation regarding expired permits.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that there is no statue of limitation regarding unpermitted construction and that when something is built without a permit it will become a code enforcement case.
Chairman Mueller stated that he agrees with the staff recommendations and did not feel it would be necessary or fair to impose any additional conditions on the project.
Commissioner Knight noted that there were six conditions attached to the original approval, and asked if all of those conditions will be met.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff will verify that all conditions are met before a final inspection is given.
Commissioner Knight agreed with the staff recommendations to re-issue the Planning Commission approval.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Rod Peveler 4203 Spencer Street, Torrance (representing the owner) stated that the current owner bought the house several years ago not realizing there was not a final building permit on the home. He explained that when he came to the City to get a permit for repair work he was going to perform on the property the Building and Safety Department discovered at that time that the permit for the house had expired. He stated that the building inspector has been to the property and has gone through the home to look for safety issues and code violations, and determined that the house was built to code.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Knight moved to approve the Grading Permit, thereby approving the re-issuance of the June 10, 1987 approval of Grading Permit No. 913, which allowed the construction of the new residence, seconded by Commissioner Van Wagner. Approved, (5-1-0) with Commissioner Tetreault abstaining.
Commissioner Cote arrived at 7:35 p.m.
2. Grading Permit, Conditional Use Permit, and Site Plan Review Permit (Case ZON2002-00595: 20 Headland Drive
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining that the applicant has withdrawn the application.
Commissioner Cote moved to receive and file the request to withdraw the application, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Accepted, (7-0).
3. Height Variation Permit and Site Plan Review (Case ZON2003-00452: 30003 Matisse Drive
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, giving a brief history of the project and the reason for the continuance. He explained that the layout of the addition has not changed since the last meeting, however the design has changed to address the concerns raised by staff and the Planning Commission, presenting power point slides to show the original design and the new proposed design. He stated that staff felt that the applicant has addressed staff’s concerns and recommends the Planning Commission approve, as re-designed, the Height Variation Permit and Site Plan Review. He explained that staff spoke with the property owner across the street who had raised issues with the original project, and he indicated that issues have been addressed by not raising the ridgeline elevation and he no longer has any objections to the project. Mr. Schonborn noted the section in the staff report which addresses the new findings for height variations recently adopted by the City Council. He explained that for the purposes of this application, staff was able to make these findings and, using power point, explained how the findings could be made.
Commissioner Knight discussed the new balcony and addition in relation to the neighbor’s property and felt that the balcony and addition may look into the neighbor’s home. He asked staff if they had done an analysis to determine if there was a privacy issue with the neighbor.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that because of the differences in topography and the transitional slope along the side yard there was fencing and foliage in place which hinders direct observation into the neighbor’s home, and staff therefore concluded that the addition would not create a privacy infringement issue.
Chairman Mueller asked if a view analysis had been done to verify that a portion of the entry and the first story addition do not impair a view.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff had done a view analysis and was satisfied that there would be no view impairment. He explained that staff had notified the neighbors of the change in the findings, however none of the neighbors had an objection to the proposed addition.
Chairman Mueller discussed the new ordinance, specifically finding no. 4, and asked if he now has to consider the view over the re-built ridgeline of the applicant’s home and make the appropriate findings.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the intent of the finding was to assess the view from the proposed new addition on a property, although he acknowledged that the way the finding was written, one could interpret it in a much more stringent way.
Chairman Mueller was concerned that the way the finding was written, if one were to demolish a portion of their home and rebuild it to a certain height, it was not clear that they could rebuild it to any height because it may interfere with a view from another parcel.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the intent was to compare what is at a property now versus what will be there after the proposed addition. He noted that he will discuss the issue with the City Attorney and possibly suggest some clarifying language to the City Council or perhaps some clarification for the Guidelines.
Commissioner Van Wagner did not think the language in the finding was intended to create new views.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed that the intent of the City Council was to compare what is there now with what the result will be.
Commissioner Tetreault noted that this is an Urgency Ordinance and that changes could be made to the final Ordinance, and wondered if the Planning Commission would be making findings and decisions based on language that could possibly be changed in the weeks ahead and no longer be included in the final Ordinance.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it was possible, however he did not foresee any change, other than possibly clarifying language, between the Urgency Ordinance and the final Ordinance.
Commissioner Cote agreed that there could be some confusion regarding the interpretation of the Ordinance and the language should be clarified, however she agreed with the Director regarding the intent of the City Council in that the purpose of the finding was to compare the existing views available to what views will be existing after the proposed additions.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Kurt Beckmeyer 1151 El Centro Street (architect) appreciated the concerns raised by the Planning Commission and did not think it was fair to an applicant to entertain the possibility of having to create new views after having come this far and worked so hard to reduce the proposed addition and address the concerns raised by the Planning Commission at the previous meeting. He felt the current proposal satisfies the concerns raised at the last Planning Commission meeting and asked if there were any questions regarding the project.
Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Beckmeyer how he addressed the concern previously raised regarding the height of the ceiling in the entryway.
Mr. Beckmeyer explained that he lowered the floor level of the entry, lowered the framing, lowered the ceiling height of the mezzanine, and reduced the thickness of the roof construction.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp was satisfied that there would be no view impairment caused by this proposed addition to any of the neighbors and supported the project.
Commissioner Tetreault agreed with Commissioner Karp’s comments and felt that the new Ordinance does not impact this project. Further, he felt that if there is any ambiguity in the Ordinance, the Planning Commission should be able to make a reasonable interpretation of the Ordinance.
Commissioner Cote complimented the architect and the applicant for listening to the concerns of the previous Planning Commissioners and addressing those concerns in this redesign of the project.
Commissioner Knight agreed that there would be no impact to views from this proposed addition, and that there needs to be clarification in the language of the Ordinance.
Chairman Mueller noted that his concerns had to do with the Ordinance and not the project. He too felt that the architect has found a very good solution to preserving the view over the property and was satisfied that the concerns raised by the previous Planning Commission had been addressed.
Commissioner Cote moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-06, thereby approving Case No. ZON2003-00452 for a Height Variation and Site plan Review, as presented, seconded by Commissioner Van Wagner. Approved, (7-0).
4. Appeal of View Preservation Permit No. 63: 15 Diamonte Lane
Commissioner Cote stated that she had not had the opportunity to visit the site as required, and therefore would recuse herself from this item.
Director/Secretary Rojas polled the Planning Commission, and the remaining Commissioners had visited the site.
Project Coordinator Alvarez presented the staff report with a power point presentation, giving a history of the project and recapped the concerns expressed by Dr. Kaye in his appeal. He stated that staff has found no basis contained in Dr. Kaye’s appeal, and was recommending the Planning Commission dismiss the appeal and affirm the Director’s decision.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked staff if Dr. Kaye was disagreeing with the staff recommendation.
Project Coordinator Alvarez explained that Dr. Kaye has appealed the decision based on the grounds that there is not a significant view impairment and that the Director’s decision to trim the trees will damage the trees.
Chairman Mueller asked staff if both Dr. Kaye’s arborist and the city arborist were saying that the tree in question could be trimmed without harming the tree.
Project Coordinator Alvarez stated that both arborists agreed the tree could be trimmed down, and noted that the City is recommending the trees be trimmed during the cooler months of the year, November through March.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff to clarify what view is being restored.
Project Coordinator Alvarez stated that the view beyond the subject trees is the city light view and the harbor view.
Commissioner Karp asked if trimming the trees would be detrimental to Dr. Kaye’s property in terms of shade or landscaping.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there is a difference between view preservation and view restoration in that in view preservation there is no language regarding balancing shade or landscaping with that of trimming.
Project Coordinator Alvarez stated that Dr. Kaye had expressed the concern that if the tree is trimmed down 10 feet, it would leave the tree unsightly. However, he noted that condition no. 1 states that the tree should also be laced and shaped to maintain the integrity of the tree structure, which he felt would mitigate Dr. Kaye’s concern.
Commissioner Karp asked if any consideration had been given to the fire hazard the tree may present to the community or Dr. Kaye’s house.
Project Coordinator Alvarez answered that staff had not taken that into consideration.
Commissioner Tetreault questioned the amount of time that had taken place since the baseline photos were taken in 1989, and asked if there was any consideration in staff’s review as to the amount of time that transpires and how much growth has taken place when making recommendations.
Project Coordinator Alvarez answered that when staff goes to a property to analyze the situation there has to be a significant view impairment occurring and five years ago the trees may not have impaired the view at that time.
Commissioner Knight asked staff to clarify how they measured 1/3 of the tree when discussing the trimming.
Project Coordinator Alvarez explained that 1/3 of the crown is approximately 10 feet, and 10 feet from the top of the crown is the area that should be trimmed. He felt there may have been some confusion between Dr. Kaye’s arborist and staff’s recommendation, where Mr. Kaye believed 1/3 of the entire tree was to be trimmed.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Paul Kaye 9 Diamonte Lane explained that the reason he appealed the decision was that it is very important to him that the trees remain healthy. He stated that the trees are over 40 years old and it would be a shame if the trees are over trimmed and die. He stated that the trees dominate the entire yard and are a very important part of the ambiance of his yard. He stated that he would like a resolution to this situation as soon as possible, as if he has to trim the trees he would like to do so during dormant period. He asked that the Planning Commission accept his arborist’s recommendations as to how the trees should be trimmed.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked Dr. Kaye if he was in agreement that 10 feet be cut from the top of his tree and the tree be laced.
Dr. Kaye answered that there is a difference between chopping off the top of a tree and trimming and lacing a tree. He felt that the less that is taken off the less damage that will be done to the tree.
Angus Lorenzen 15 Diamonte Lane stated that over the last 15 years he has made every effort to resolve the issue of the foliage with the Kayes, and this is the first time that Dr. Kaye has shown any flexibility. He stated that Dr. Kaye’s position in the past was that he would not cut any trees because once he trimmed the trees, he would continue trimming them. Secondly, he noted that canary island pines are very amenable to shaping and pruning. He felt that the foliage should be returned to the baseline level of 1989. He stated that the point is not how much you take off of the tree and high the tree is, but rather do you take off the foliage that is causing a significant view obstruction. He felt the trees block his view of downtown Long Beach, the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the harbor, the curve of the bay, and the city lights and felt this constitutes more than a significant view obstruction. He felt there was a problem with lacing the trees because the three trees are very close together and when lacing trees, the trees grow back very rapidly. He distributed several pictures showing the trees from his property. He added that there is a melaleuca tree and some birch trees on Mr. Kaye’s property which the City has not recommended trimming because they do not significantly impair the view. He noted, however, that once the subject pine trees are trimmed the melaleuca and birch trees will become prominent in the view frame.
Commissioner Knight asked Mr. Lorenzen if he had read the staff report and asked him if he felt that trimming 10 to 12 feet from the trees would restore his view.
Mr. Lorenzen answered that he had read the staff report, but was unsure if trimming 10 to 12 feet from the trees would restore his view, as he did not understand where 10 feet would be on the tree. He felt that if the trees were trimmed according to the staff recommendation as shown, and also trim down the sides, that he would be satisfied.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lorenzen if he agreed with the line represented on the photographs that staff was representing at the level the trees should be trimmed down to.
Mr. Lorenzen agreed with the level to which the trees should be trimmed but added that trimming alone would not restore his view.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lorenzen if he was opposed to lacing the tree but supported trimming and shaping the tree.
Mr. Lorenzen responded that shaping the tree was very important to keep the tree looking graceful and keep the side branches out of the view area.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Lorenzen if trimming the melaleuca tree down to the same level as the pine trees would be appropriate.
Mr. Lorenzen felt that would be appropriate, as it was only a matter of a few feet.
Dr. Kaye (in rebuttal) stated that the trees on his property are mature, 42 year old trees, and to now try to shape them would be difficult. He felt that lacing the trees was appropriate and easier on the trees. He realized the trees would have to be trimmed and urged the Planning Commission to utilize the recommendations of his arborist, stating that he was anxious to have this matter settled and he was willing to have the trees trimmed to give the Lorenzens as much view as possible without doing serious damage to his trees.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Tetreault felt that the conditions in Exhibit A of the staff report are a bit ambiguous and could be cleaned up somewhat. Specifically, he referred to the language stating the trees should be trimmed approximately 10 to 12 feet to reflect the conditions shown in the documentation photograph dated November 1989. He felt that this type of language might lead to some dispute in the field when the trimming is being done and suggested the language be more definitive.
Director/Secretary Rojas suggested the Planning Commission may consider amending the condition to direct that 10 feet be trimmed from the overall height of each tree or to the red line shown on the attached photograph, whichever is lower.
Chairman Mueller asked staff if the language presented in the Conditions of Approval Exhibit A covers what the Planning Commission can do as far as view preservation, or is the Planning Commission allowed to go beyond that to shape the tree in any way.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the language presented includes shaping the tree.
Commissioner Gerstner asked, to remove the ambiguity, if the wording could be that the trees be trimmed 10 feet, but no lower than the red line depicted in the photograph.
Director/Secretary Rojas felt that would be appropriate language.
Commissioner Karp felt that the issue before the Planning Commission was whether or not to overturn the Director’s findings on a View Preservation Case, and felt the Planning Commission was now discussing how to rewrite the recommendations, which is not what should be discussed.
Chairman Mueller disagreed, stating that it was up to the Planning Commission to review the Ordinance and make a determination on how to enforce the Ordinance, and therefore it is never as simple as saying yes or no to staff’s decision since it is ultimately the responsibility of the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Karp asked how the tree trimmers will know where the red line is when they are trimming the trees, and if the trees are trimmed to the red line what will happen in two years when the trees begin growing.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it is the responsibility of the foliage owner to keep the trees maintained at the 1989 level. He noted that there is language in the conditions of approval that the trees will have to be trimmed on an annual basis to keep them at the appropriate level.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he was having trouble ordering trimming the trees to the red line without knowing if that would exceed one third the crown length, which is the area that the city arborist felt was safe to cut the tree.
Commissioner Gerstner moved to order the tree be trimmed 12 feet or to the 1989 level as represented by the red line in the photograph, whichever is less, and that the tree shall be laced or shaped per Dr. Kaye’s arborists recommendations and the tree shall be trimmed annually as described in the staff’s recommendations, seconded by Commissioner Knight.
Commissioner Karp moved to amend the motion that the red line be established using the best scientifically available methods agreed to by both parties, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if the amendment to the motion was something that could be done by staff.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff could not measure the height of the red line, however could require that the tree trimming crew along with the foliage owner and applicant agree on the height of the red line.
Chairman Mueller felt that if the two parties could come to an agreement, they would not be before the Planning Commission with this appeal. He asked staff if the Planning Commission was still allowed to require these two parties to agree where the red line is, as he felt the red line was documented by the photograph from the view owner’s property that was performed per the City’s regulations.
Director/Secretary Rojas felt that it was important for the City to determine where the red line is as opposed to the applicant or the foliage owner. He understood Commissioner Karp’s point that the level of the red line should be determined and suggested adding a condition of approval that once the trimming is completed to the satisfaction of the Director the applicant determine the height of that red line through a survey report and submit the information to the City.
Commissioner Karp’s amendment to the motion failed, (1-5) with Commissioners Tetreault, Van Wagner, Knight, Gerstner, and Chairman Mueller dissenting.
Chairman Mueller moved to amend the motion to require the trees be shaped rather than laced or shaped as suggested in the original motion, seconded by Commissioner Tetreault. The amendment to the motion passed, (6-0).
Director/Secretary Rojas clarified that the motion on the floor is now to dismiss the appeal and uphold the Director’s decision with the amendment to trim 12 feet off of the overall height of the trees or to the 1989 level of the foliage as depicted by the red line of the attached photograph, whichever is lower and to shape the sides of the trees to reflect the conditions in 1989.
Commissioner Karp asked how the level of the red line will be determined in the field.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the red line will be determined by visual observation of someone standing where the photograph was taken and directing the tree trimmers where to trim.
Commissioner Karp questioned whether that person will be 6 feet tall or 5 feet tall, standing or sitting, using a wide-angle camera or a narrow angle camera. He felt the idea is good but there is not a methodology in place.
Commissioner Tetreault asked for clarification on the wording of the motion which states that the trees will be trimmed 12 feet or to the red line, whichever is lower. He asked if this meant lower to the ground or the amount of trimming.
Commissioner Gerstner responded that the intention of the motion was to trim the trees 12 feet or to the 1989 level, whichever was the least amount of trimming or whichever is higher from the ground. He stated that he did not want to recommend trimming the trees greater than the level that the arborist had suggested to keep from killing the trees.
Commissioner Tetreault noted that in the original motion Commissioner Gerstner had stated whichever is less rather than whichever is lower.
Commissioner Gerstner suggested clarifying the motion to say whichever is less trimming.
Chairman Mueller stated that because of the wording that the trees be trimmed to 12 feet or the 1989 level whichever is the least amount of trimming, he was inclined not to support the motion as stated as he did not think that it would preserve the view from 1989, which the ordinance directs be done.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked if it was also part of the Planning Commission’s job to maintain the health of the tree in the trimming, and was concerned about trimming lower than 10 to 12 feet of the tree.
Chairman Mueller felt that it was part of the Planning Commission’s job, however he felt this was done by looking at the trees at the 1989 level. He stated that it was hard for him to believe, based on evidence stated at this hearing and in other cases, that trimming one or two feet more would harm the tree.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked Chairman Mueller how he would like to see the motion stated.
Chairman Mueller answered that he thought it would be better worded to trim the trees 10 to 12 feet or the level of the red line, whichever is lower.
Director/Secretary repeated the motion to trim 12 feet off of the overall height of each or the 1989 level of the foliage as depicted on the photograph, whichever results in less trimming and to shape the trees.
The motion failed on a vote of (3-3) with Commissioners Karp, Knight, and Chairman Mueller dissenting.
Commissioner Karp stated that he could not vote for the motion because he felt that the trees should be trimmed down to the red line shown on the photograph, which may be more than 12 feet.
Commissioner Gerstner asked if the Planning Commission felt comfortable recommending an amount of trimming greater than what the arborist has stated the tree can stand.
Commissioner Karp answered that he is more interested in preserving the view. He did not think that trimming the tree slightly less than 12 feet would kill the tree and he was willing to take that chance.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he is not an arborist and does not know what the tolerance is for these trees and trimming beyond the recommended one third. He also stated that he had been to Dr. Kaye’s property and noted that these are not trees that are on a slope surrounded by other trees, but rather Dr. Kaye has built his patio and other improvements in his backyard around these trees. He felt if these trees die and have to be removed will be a considerable impact to Dr. Kaye’s trees. He therefore was uncomfortable suggesting the trees be cut below what the arborist has recommended.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this is a view preservation case and that the way the Ordinance is written is that if trees grow over the documented 1989 view and are blocking that view they have to be lowered, and view is the controlling factor. Further, the Ordinance does not address the issue of the trees if they are harmed or die because of the trimming.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that if the Ordinance does not take into consideration the health of the trees and is wholly the preservation of an existing view from 1989, he will reconsider his position.
Commissioner Knight moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-07; affirming the decision of the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement and approving View Preservation Permit No. 63 as suggested by staff, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (6-0)
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 9:50 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 10:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
5. Revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 185 (Case ZON2003-00683): 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining the request was to install 13 light standards in the parking lot at Wayfarer’s Chapel. He explained that Wayfarer’s Chapel was requesting the lights standards be a maximum height of 13 feet 6 inches, however he noted that the Municipal Code limits the light standard height to 10 feet unless the Planning Commission can make a finding that a deviation in the height is required for public safety. He added that staff has not received any information that the addition of 3 foot 6 inch height would be required for the public safety of the property. He explained the design of the light standards and the amount of light they will project, noting that staff does not feel there will be any projection of light off of the property. He noted a change to page 2 of the Resolution, which says that the parking lot light standard maximum height is 13 feet 6 inches. He stated this should read 10 feet to incorporate staff’s recommended condition of approval. He stated that staff was recommending the Planning Commission approve the revision to the Conditional Use Permit, subject to the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Cote disclosed that she was copied on an e-mail correspondence to Commissioner Knight from a neighbor of Wayfarer’s Chapel who had objections to this proposed project.
Commissioner Knight explained that the neighbor’s concern was that the wattage in the bulbs will affect the night sky and what they can see from their house at night. Commissioner Knight noted that he had recommended to this person that he contact the Planning Department with his concerns.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if the Resolution specifies that the bulbs will be 50 watts or that the lighting fixture will have a maximum rating of 50 watts.
Associate Planner Blumenthal responded that condition 9 of the Conditions of Approval specifies that the bulbs cannot exceed 50 watts.
Commissioner Cote questioned whether the Planning Commission could restrict the lighting fixtures to 50 watts, but higher wattage bulbs could be installed.
Commissioner Gerstner noted that something like that could occur, however it would be unlikely as it would create a hazard.
Chairman Mueller asked if the lowering height of the light standards below 10 feet could adequately light the parking lot.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff had not analyzed lowering the lights below 10 feet.
Commissioner Karp asked if the request for lighting an indication that there will be more evening events at Wayfarer’s Chapel and are the evening events permitted under the Conditional Use Permit.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that in 2002 the Planning Commission approved a revision to the CUP to allow additional events in the evening, and because of these additional evening events Wayfarer’s Chapel feels they need additional lighting in the parking lots for security purposes.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Reverend Harvey Tafel 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South appreciated the Planning Commission’s help with the problem they are having at the Chapel with the darkness in the parking area and he felt that the lights will go a long way to help the people walk the premises in safety. He stated that the 10-foot height limit was acceptable and will abide by the decision of the Planning Commission.
Eric Wright 24680 Piuma Road, Malibu (architect) stated that he was accepting staff’s recommendations to limit the height of the light standards to 10 feet.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Wright to comment on limiting the wattage of the fixtures as well as the wattage of the bulbs.
Mr. Wright responded that he will comply with staff’s recommendations regarding the wattage of the bulbs, however limiting the fixture wattage would most likely involve having to manufacture special fixtures, as fixtures are not made to limit to a certain size wattage, especially lighting for parking.
Commissioner Tetreault asked what security issues were involved prompting the request for more lights.
Mr. Wright answered that the main issue was people going to and from their cars and walking through a dark parking lot.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Knight stated that he was uncomfortable with the fixtures not having some type of limitation on the wattage, but understood the applicant’s statement that it was not feasible to limit the wattage of the fixtures. He asked staff how the community will be assured that the wattage of the fixtures will be maintained.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff could not assure the community that the wattage will remain at a set wattage, however he noted that there is a condition in place that is binding and the applicant is on record that they will abide by the condition, and if there are any complaints brought to staff, staff will investigate and take action.
Commissioner Knight asked if there was any analysis done on the cumulative impacts of all of the different portions of the Conditional Use Permit as to lighting.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there was not.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-08 thereby approving the revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 185 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Van Wagner. Approved, (7-0).
6. Height Variation Permit (Case ZON2003-00599): 2027 Delasonde Drive
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for a Height Variation Permit. He stated that staff could not make the necessary findings regarding view impairment and privacy issues to approve the height variation, and showed slides on a power point presentation which depicted the proposed addition. He also stated that staff was concerned there would be significant cumulative view impairment caused by granting the application. He noted that the parcel next door to the subject property currently maintains a one-story residence and if they were to propose a second-story addition, the cumulative view impairment that would result would be significant. He stated that this application was also assessed using the guidelines under the new Urgency Ordinance and staff determined that the one-story portions of the addition which are tied into the second-story addition do not result in any view impairment. He stated that staff could not make all of the findings in a positive manner, and staff was therefore recommending denial without prejudice of the proposed project.
Commissioner Cote asked staff how they came to the conclusion that the proposed project was compatible with the neighborhood.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that, as viewed from Delasonde Drive, staff believes the second story design is integrated with the existing one-story structure by creating gable roof elements that slope into the structure and have shorter second-story facades that help articulate the second story. He stated that dividing up the ridge lines breaks up the appearance of the façade, creating three façade elements along the front. Because of this design, staff felt the proposed addition does not look massive or bulky and the additional square footage is not evident.
Commissioner Cote asked if the neighborhood compatibility assessment was done just from Delasonde Drive.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that most of the neighborhood compatibility assessment was done from Delasonde Drive, however some was done from a section of Montereina Drive as well.
Commissioner Van Wagner asked staff if there had been an attempt to work with the applicant to mitigate some of the concerns raised in the staff report.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that before the application was deemed complete staff had done several site visits, and determined that there were view impairment and privacy issues that would lead to staff not supporting the project. He stated that these concerns were conveyed to the applicant, however the applicant felt they could make a case to the Planning Commission as to why they did not think there was significant view impairment or privacy issues. He noted that the applicant has been very receptive throughout the project but wanted to bring this design before the Planning Commission to get, if nothing else, some type of feedback.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Mark DiBacco 578 W. 18th Street, San Pedro, stated that he is a general contractor working with the applicants and that prior to submitting the application they had been working with staff and had received no negative feedback about the project. However, after submitting the formal application it was apparent there was some view impairment and privacy issues raised by staff. He stated that he and the owners have only recently received the staff report and the letters from the neighbors and that the owners are more than willing to attempt to accommodate the things that are causing opposition.
David Galuppo 28709 Montereina Drive stated that he is against the two-story addition because of privacy impact to his backyard. He stated that one of the reasons he bought his house was because of the privacy in the backyard area.
Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Galuppo to identify what specifically concerned him regarding the issue of privacy.
Mr. Galuppo responded that he was concerned that windows on the second story could look directly into his backyard.
Vicky Barreda 28032 Calzada Drive stated that she recently purchased her home and did so because of the view and the privacy that the house has. She was very disappointed that the second story of the proposed addition blocks so much of her view, and urged the Planning Commission to deny this application.
Commissioner Cote asked what specific viewing area the picture in the Power Point presentation was taken from.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered the picture was taken from the living room/dining room area, which was determined to be the primary viewing area.
Bob Barreda 28032 Calzada Drive stated that he currently enjoys a 180-degree view from his family room and living room, noting that it is a multi-component view as he has a view of the ocean, Vincent Thomas Bridge, and downtown Long Beach. He stated that the proposed second story addition obstructs the view, from the north point of the silhouette to the south point of the silhouette. He requested the Planning Commission support the staff recommendations and deny the project as submitted. He distributed several photographs taken from his property showing the existing view and how the silhouette cuts through his view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge
Commissioner Cote asked Mr. Barreda what, if any, recommendations he had to mitigate the impact of the addition to the views on his property.
Mr. Barreda did not know of a way to mitigate the view impairment from his property, as he did not think the second story could be lowered enough to allow the view.
Joan Bell 28203 Montereina Drive stated that her view is a pastoral view that goes out the back, as there are no rooftops to the right of her or behind her. She stated a neighbor built a 13-foot wall without permits that blocks a portion of her view, and now this addition will further enclose her property. She felt the silhouette looks directly onto her property and her pool, and the proposed balcony will also look directly into her property. She felt this proposed addition will cause her to lose her pastoral view, her sunsets, and her privacy.
Commissioner Cote asked staff to clarify where the proposed addition was in regards to the Bell property.
Associate Planner Schonborn showed a photograph taken from the Bell property, showing where the proposed balcony would be located.
Carl Bell 28203 Montereina Drive stated that he is not an engineer, however he was concerned that the new structure may cause more pressure against his patio area, as it is above his property, which may cause additional cracking to his pool and patio area.
Mark DiBacco (in rebuttal) stated that the owners are willing to make adjustments to the proposed project and take into consideration the neighbor’s concerns, in an effort to do some type of addition on the property.
Commissioner Gerstner asked Mr. DiBacco if he has considered a single story addition rather than a two-story addition.
Mr. DiBacco answered that the addition is only increasing the lot coverage from 20 percent to 30 percent and noted that the majority of the lot is not flat. He noted that hillside construction, which is what will be involved with a single story addition, will be significantly more expensive.
Commissioner Gerstner asked Mr. DiBacco if he was sure hillside construction would be involved.
Mr. DiBacco answered that he was willing to evaluate all of the options at this point.
Commissioner Knight asked if it was feasible to lower the ridgeline of the roof so as not to impair the neighbor’s view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge and flexibility in terms of the balcony and windows to address some of the privacy issues.
Mr. DiBacco felt that both lowering the ridgeline and changing some of the windows and balcony were possible.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cote stated that she agrees with staff in that she cannot make the necessary findings for view and privacy and was very concerned with the cumulative affect of the proposed addition on the neighborhood. She was pleased that the applicant has expressed a willingness to work with staff and the neighbors to address the concerns raised. She added that she was concerned with neighborhood compatibility in terms of the bulk and mass of the proposed addition, but if the view impact related issues bring the overall height of the project down it might address her overall concerns with neighborhood compatibility.
Commissioner Cote moved to support the staff recommendation to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-09 denying without prejudice the proposed Height Variation, seconded by Commissioner Knight.
Commissioner Karp stated that this project as proposed is totally incompatible, unworkable, and impacts so many other people that he cannot support it, and therefore he supports the motion made by Commissioner Cote.
Commissioner Gerstner agreed with Commissioner Cote, adding that this is a predominately one-story neighborhood and because of the topography of the neighborhood it will be extremely difficult to build a two-story residence that will not block someone else’s view. He was pleased that the applicant is willing to work with the neighbors and staff and felt that there is significant opportunities to solve the problem and satisfy everyone’s concerns.
Commissioner Knight agreed with Commissioner Cote’s statements, especially those concerning neighborhood compatibility with respect to bulk and mass.
Chairman Mueller also agreed with the comments of the other Commissioners adding that he felt the view impairment to the neighbor above is significant and doing a second story addition of any size on this property will be difficult. He felt the way the proposed addition is designed is to maximize the square footage of the house, however the design is imposing on other properties in terms of privacy and view impairment. He agreed with the staff recommendation to deny the project without prejudice to allow the applicant to work with the neighbors and staff and redesign the project.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that staff found that the neighborhood compatibility findings could be made, and that adopting the motion as stated would include that finding. He stated that the Planning Commission could ask staff to change that finding if they felt the finding could not be made.
Chairman Mueller moved to amend the motion to approve the staff report, with the exception of the neighborhood compatibility finding, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner. The amendment to the motion was approved, (7-0).
The amended motion to support the staff recommendation to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-09 with the exception of the finding for neighborhood compatibility, thereby denying without prejudice the proposed height variation passed, (7-0).
7. Planning Commission’s presentation to the General Plan Update Steering Committee
Commissioner Cote explained that she was requesting a replacement for herself on the General Plan Steering Committee, as it has been difficult for her to attend the meetings due to an increase in responsibility associated with her job. She explained the responsibilities of the General Plan Update Steering Committee and the sub-committee that she was a part of.
Chairman Mueller suggested that Commissioners Karp or Knight, who were at one time on the General Plan Steering Committee, it they would be interested in representing the Planning Commission on this committee.
Commissioner Karp responded that he would be happy to represent the Planning Commission on the General Plan Steering Committee.
Commissioner Knight responded that he would like to be on the committee, however there is the possibility of another committee being formed that he would prefer to be a part of and therefore suggested Commissioner Karp represent the Planning Commission on the General Plan Steering Committee.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved Commissioner Karp to represent the Planning Commission to the General Plan Steering Committee.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
8. Minutes of February 10, 2004
Commissioner Knight noted that on page 14 of the minutes a question he asked staff had been left out of the minutes and requested it be included.
The minutes were approved as amended, (6-0-1) with Commissioner Cote abstaining since she was not present at that meeting.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
9. Pre-Agenda for the meeting of March 9, 2004
Chairman Mueller noted that the selection of a Vice Chairman should be added to the March 9 agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:55 p.m.