CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 28, 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 Karp led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Karp, Knight, Gerstner, Tetreault, and Chairman Mueller.
Vice Chair Cote arrived at 7:17 p.m.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Blumenthal, and Associate Planner Schonborn.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The agenda was unanimously approved as presented.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed four letters for Agenda Item No. 1, five letters for Agenda Item No. 2, and comments from Commissioner Knight regarding Agenda Items 6 and 7.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items)
Mike O’Sullivan 30466 Via Cambron discussed a very large deck at a neighboring home and that he believes the deck may be non-complying to the City codes. He explained that he recently was before the Planning Commission with a view restoration case and was directed to remove a tree. He felt that the removal of this tree will cause further privacy issues from this deck. He stated that he has a handout for the Planning Commission, which includes excerpts from the staff report that he believes are erroneous. He asked that the Planning Commission and staff review this information and requested this item be put on a future agenda for the Planning Commission.
Chairman Mueller felt it was appropriate for the Planning Commission to receive the written comments from Mr. O’Sullivan.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if this was something the Planning Commission could take action on.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered this request is not in the Planning Commission’s purview to direct staff to investigate issues on properties that are not before the Planning Commission. He noted that this was an issue brought before the City Council during the appeal, and the City Council did not direct staff to look into the issue.
Chairman Mueller asked staff if this issue was brought before the City Council during the appeal and if Mr. O’Sullivan was informed at that time of what his options were.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that he has met with Mr. O’Sullivan since the City Council decision.
Mr. O’Sullivan stated that the City Council determined that the deck was not an issue in regards to the view restoration case, however he has met with some members of the City Council since the meeting and it was suggested that he address the deck as a separate issue before the Planning Commission.
Chairman Mueller explained that the Planning Commission does not have the authority to take on a particular case and require the staff to investigate, unless it was before the Planning Commission as a formal application.
Mr. O’Sullivan explained that staff performed a code compliance investigation, however he does not feel that investigation was thorough. He asked if there was no means of appeal for such investigations.
Chairman Mueller stated there was no mechanism to appeal this before the Planning Commission.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that any resident who is not happy with an action staff has taken on an issue can go to the City Manager or the City Council and raise the issue.
1. Equestrian Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00264)
Commissioners Knight and Gerstner recused themselves from the public hearing and sat in the audience, as they both live within the equestrian overlay district.
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining the Equestrian Committee had requested the City Council initiate a code amendment to require all properties within the Equestrian Overlay District have an area that corresponds with the minimum horse keeping area required by the Development Code. He explained that the purpose of the code amendment is to require property owners within the four Equestrian Overly Districts in the City to maintain an 800 square foot area for the keeping of large domestic animals, whether or not animals are currently been kept on the property. Additionally, staff has taken the opportunity to clarify some ambiguous language in the required 35-foot setback for the animal keeping areas. He explained that the Equestrian Committee was concerned that properties in the Equestrian Overlay District were being improved and developed by non-horse owners in a manner that would preclude future horse keeping areas. He stated that the Equestrian Committee also felt that requiring this 800 square foot area would ensure that future horse keeping could be possible on lots currently owned by non-horse owners, would maintain the rural atmosphere of the City, maintain an equestrian lifestyle within the equestrian district, and ensure that properties within the district do not lose the opportunity to keep horses. He explained that staff has included proposed language that would allow property owners to landscape, build detached patio trellises, gazebos, portable spas, barbeques, and other non-habitable structures in this 800 square foot area, as these are easily removable. He stated that staff was recommending the Planning Commission review the proposed code amendment language, hear public testimony, and take an action they deem appropriate.
Commissioner Karp asked if the 800 square feet could be in front of the residence, rather than behind the residence.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the 800 square feet could be in front of the house if the house is set back far enough from the street.
Commissioner Karp stated that he did not see a definition of the required dimensions of the 800 square feet in the proposed code amendment.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff did not determine actual dimensions of the area and suggested the Planning Commission question the members of the Equestrian Committee about the proposed dimensions during their public testimony.
Commissioner Karp asked staff if they had reviewed any of the deed restrictions of these properties to see if it is already required to keep an 800 square foot area of equestrian use.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff had not reviewed the deed restrictions of the properties.
Commissioner Tetreault noted that there is currently a Second Unit Ordinance within the City and asked how this proposed ordinance would work, and which ordinance would predominate, as this proposed ordinance could prohibit the building of a second unit on a property.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the proposed ordinance would not have an affect on the second unit ordinance, since second units are required to meet all of the zoning requirements of the area.
Commissioner Tetreault commented that he had raised a concern that this proposed ordinance could be considered a taking or inverse condemnation of property, however he received a response from staff that the City Attorney did not feel this was the case.
Vice Chair Cote noted that the cities of Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates have similar requirements and asked staff to compare and contrast those similar requirements, and what was the basis behind the decision to establishing these requirements.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the proposed code amendment was requesting a minimum 800 square foot area left on all parcels in the equestrian overlay district. He stated that the Rolling Hills Estates code states that no permit shall be issued that would preclude keeping or eliminate the implementation of the standards within the horse districts of the city, and does not define the minimum amount of square footage. He stated that the code for Rolling Hills requires there be an area available for corral and stable areas and there be a vehicle access area to these corral and stable areas. He further stated that staff was unsure of decisions behind those ordinances.
Commissioner Tetreault noted that the ordinance in Rolling Hills Estates does provide for hardship cases and this City’s proposed ordinance has no such provision. He asked why there was no provision for hardships included in this proposed ordinance.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the ability to apply for a Variance to deviate from any standard in the development code is already in place and staff felt it was redundant to place this in the proposed ordinance.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Madeline Ryan 28328 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that over 200 signatures have been submitted in support of this proposed code amendment. She explained that in 1997 the City Council voted to change the maximum number of large domestic animals that could be kept on any of the larger parcels in the equestrian district to four. She stated that reduced the number of horses on her property by 50 percent. She explained that the space the Equestrian Committee was asking for on a property is a little more than the area of a 2-car garage, and did not think the code amendment was going far enough. She reminded the Planning Commission that the City is very protective of views and vistas and open space and the characteristics of the equestrian district is another amenity of the City and deserves equal protection.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that the issue he was struggling with was the balance of property interests of the individual who may not have any desire to have a horse on their property versus others who want to have the look and feel of a rural community around them. He asked Ms. Ryan why she felt, in balancing those property interests, it was more important to recognize the interests of those who may already have horses on their property and requiring the neighbors who may not have horses on their property to keep an area open for horses, when in doing so does not inhibit the horse owners rights in any way.
Ms. Ryan explained that the City recognizes the areas being discussed as equestrian overlay zones and anyone moving into those areas should be aware of the zoning, and the City has an obligation to maintain the area as an equestrian overlay zone. She stated that the proposed amendment was not prohibiting property owners in these areas to build, only requiring that a minimum of 800 square feet be set aside.
Richard Bara 1 Peppertree Drive explained that this proposed code amendment was not intended to put aside 800 square feet so that the area will look and feel rural, nor is it being proposed for the present horse keepers in the City, but rather it is being suggested for the benefit of the city of Rancho Palos Verdes to keep it a semi-rural area and for the future owners of homes in the equestrian overlay district. He explained that a future owner may want to keep horses on his property in the equestrian district but cannot do so because there is no area left on the property to keep a horse. He felt that as more and more construction is done on a lot, more and more horse property is being lost.
Commissioner Karp asked what dimensions are necessary to successfully keep a horse in an 800 square foot area.
Mr. Bara did not know what the proper dimensions should be.
Vice Chair Cote asked Mr. Bara if he knew what the thought process was when the equestrian overlay district was originally created and what is currently in the plans from a guidance perspective.
Mr. Bara was not sure if the equestrian zone was originally established with the county or after the city incorporated. He explained there was a procedure for making the area an equestrian zone and the areas were written into the city laws.
Director/Secretary Rojas added that he believed that under the County there were horse keeping areas within the City and when the City incorporated these horse-keeping areas remained in place.
Commissioner Tetreault asked Mr. Bara if he had any idea approximately how many horses were currently being kept in the city’s equestrian district.
Mr. Bara estimated there are at least 300 horses in all of the equestrian areas.
Charlene O’Neal 38 Headland Drive stated that there is a minimum width needed to keep horses, which is 10 feet. She felt that to preserve the areas as horse keeping, space must be preserved for equines now and for future use. She noted that only 800 square feet was being requested for this use, and that the cities of Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills both have similar codes. She stated that she heartily supports the code amendment and hopes the Planning Commission sees the advantages and necessity to support it.
Kay Bara 1 Peppertree Drive read a statement from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horseman’s Association stating the Association supports the proposed code amendment for the protection of horse property. They felt that imposing the code amendment will preserve large animal properties and protect the equestrian zone; not protecting these properties from further development could jeopardize the overlay zone and have a major negative impact on the value of horse keeping properties. Ms. Bara stated there are 1,067 horse properties in the city, and she did not see this code amendment as a taking, but rather a giving or protecting of what is or should already be in place.
Dan McCaskill 28630 Rhone Road stated that he has great respect for horses and lives in the equestrian overlay district. He also encourages and supports maintaining the horse community and trails in the city, however he has some concerns about mandating his property rights. He is also concerned that the subject draft proposal seeks to introduce an equestrian preserve on private property, while the city has a conflicting history of not maintaining trails or nurturing the equestrian community. He appreciated and supported the exemptions added to the city staff’s draft and would like to see the exceptions stay in some form in the document.
Sunshine 6 Limetree Lane stated that felt that this code amendment would help promote the relaxed rural atmosphere that is referred to in neighborhood compatibility, and a neighborhood is more comfortable if the neighbors are on the comfortable with each other. She stated that it was difficult when new residents move into the equestrian district and want to build a tennis court and become annoyed when the neighbors have horses, and reminded the Planning Commission that the horses were here first. She explained that the three suggestions she sent to the Planning Commission are based on preserving the specialness of the horse communities.
Commissioner Karp asked if it was possible to traverse from one equestrian area to another within the city.
Sunshine answered that there are trails that connect all of the equestrian areas.
Chairman Mueller asked Sunshine if any special permission was needed to use the trails that go through Rolling Hills or Rolling Hills Estates.
Sunshine explained that there is no permission needed in Rolling Hills Estates, and Rolling Hills only asks that a rider sign a liability waiver and wear an identification badge when riding through their city.
Chairman Mueller asked Sunshine how she felt about the suggested setbacks in the staff report.
Sunshine explained that she was in favor of a setback of 35 feet from the structure, but not necessarily 35 feet from an adjoining setback, noting the problem is the undeveloped property.
Chairman Mueller asked Sunshine if the suggestions she made in her memos were addressed to the Equestrian Committee before the amendment was drafted.
Sunshine felt that as equestrians and horse keepers these ideas would have been thought of, however since they weren’t she felt she should include them in her memos.
Bill Gerstner 5317 Rolling Ridge Road stated that incorporated districts generally do not provide for farm animals to be kept in the City, however Rancho Palos Verdes created an Equestrian Overlay District to allow the keeping of large animals under strict conditions. It does not, however, require the keeping of horses and cows. He felt this permitted use makes sure the residents in the equestrian district understand their neighbors may keep these large equine animals and should expect all that comes with this permitted use. He felt the proposed code amendment shifts this zoning premise from a permitted use to a required use. He felt that the allocation of land to equestrian uses could and will preclude other permitted uses. Finally, he felt the proposed amendment significantly reduces the land available for a house, as the area required for the proposed equestrian facility could cut the amount of buildable land in half. He felt this would result in a significant rezoning of these properties, would reduce the available options for homeowners, and could create significant problems for homeowners wanting to add on to their home. He felt if the City was afraid of losing residents who may want to keep horses, it should focus on the positive side of the equations by improving the trail network and connecting the equestrian districts throughout the peninsula.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Gerstner if he felt it was better to leave the current zoning plan in place and perhaps increase the setbacks or was he agreeable to the proposed amendment which measures the horse keeping facility from the setback.
Mr. Gerstner felt that it if something like this were to be passed it would be important to measure from the setback lines to the adjacent properties, otherwise it would be restricting the neighbors use of their property. He noted that Rolling Hills Estates has much larger properties and it is much easier to accommodate these facilities on larger properties.
Vice Chair Cote asked Mr. Gerstner to clarify why he felt the equestrian overlay district permits a resident to do certain things and how this new set of restrictions would make it a required use.
Mr. Gerstner explained that currently one is allowed to have horses in the equestrian district and if one chooses to have horses, they can have horses. However, under this code revision a resident in the equestrian district would have to allocate a portion of their property for this use, and this use only, in perpetuity. He felt that improving a property is not a permanent thing and if one wanted to have large animals on the property, the property can be changed to accommodate that use.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioners Gerstner and Knight left the room during the Planning Commission deliberation of the application.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:40 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:50 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (cont)
Vice Chair Cote asked staff about the comments that were submitted by Commissioner Knight and if staff believes clarification is necessary.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that if Planning Commission recommends the code amendment be forwarded to the City Council that language be added to require the minimum dimension of the horse keeping area to be ten feet.
Vice Chair Cote asked if someone could be denied a permit for development if the area on their property is too steep for horse keeping. She noted that Commissioner Knight had offered a solution that the maximum slope percentage be 25 percent, and asked staff their opinion.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that, as currently written, staff did not address the maximum slope so that theoretically someone could place their 800 square foot area on a steep slope, even though horses may never be kept there.
Vice Chair Cote asked staff, with this potential change to the code, would a new district actually be created because of the required or mandatory use of the land.
Director/Secretary Rojas did not believe the proposed ordinance would create a new district, as zoning deals with the land use and the equestrian areas would still be residential land use. Further, the city is allowed to create restrictions to further the city’s goals in the General Plan, and horse keeping is a use allowed in this zone. Therefore, staff feels that this restriction, from a City land use perspective, is simply another ordinance that promotes horse keeping on those lots.
Vice Chair Cote understood the concept of having permitted uses on property within the City and anyone moving into an equestrian community would understand that horses can be kept on the properties, however she felt it was interesting for the City to create something that is for the future use rather than for the current property owner’s use.
Director/Secretary Rojas acknowledged that this is a new concept involving the regulation of future land use and is not an easy issue. However, he feet that the proposed code language has been written in a manner, in working with the City Attorney, that someone can’t argue that it precludes someone from using their property for residential use as the zoning intends it to be.
Commissioner Tetreault asked if it would be possible to make such an ordinance that it would become effective upon the transfer of the property.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff would be concerned with the issue of how to track when properties in the equestrian district are transferred, however he could discuss this with the City Attorney.
Chairman Mueller asked staff what percentage of the City is located within the overlay district.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that within the four equestrian zones there are just over 1,100 parcels, or approximately 7 percent of the total number of parcels within the City.
Chairman Mueller was concerned about this code amendment superseding the building of second units on the property, and wondered if the state would challenge this amendment if someone were not allowed to build a second unit on their property because of the new requirements for the equestrian use.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that staff has discussed this with the City Attorney noting the current laws require the City to have a non-discretionary process for second units, which the current codes do have. He explained that there is a possible new law which will place further restrictions on the City to allow second units, however all second units will still have to comply with the current zoning on the property. Therefore, the City Attorney feels that because this is a developmental standard under the zoning it will not conflict with the existing laws or the possible future law.
Chairman Mueller asked staff if a barn would be subject to the rules and regulations of a height variation, including neighborhood compatibility.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that detached accessory structures are allowed to be built to a height of 12 feet, and one could apply for a discretionary permit if they wanted to exceed that 12-foot height limit.
Commissioner Tetreault discussed a scenario where a property owner is unable to build into their backyard because they have to preserve this 800 square feet for equestrian use, and therefore have to build up, and in so doing may impair someone’s view. He asked if at this point the Planning Commission would then have the discretion to grant a variance if the Commission felt this was a hardship and allow encroachment into the equestrian area so that a neighbor’s view is not blocked by the second story addition.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that in those types of cases it would be the discretion of the Planning Commission as to whether or not a variance is warranted.
Vice Chair Cote asked if staff or the Equestrian Committee had considered not applying these restrictions to all of the properties in the equestrian district, as there appears to be areas such as Via Campesina where there is only one property that keeps horses on the property.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that staff and the Equestrian Committee have always looked at treating all of the equestrian districts equally, however the Planning Commission can make the recommendation to the City Council to exclude certain equestrian areas from their recommendations.
Commissioner Karp moved to deny the proposed code amendment, seconded by Chairman Mueller.
Commissioner Karp explained that he is not opposed to homeowners having horses on their property; however, he felt this was a very badly written ordinance. He felt this was a classic example of a law of unintended consequences, noting that if 800 square feet is required it may force property owners to build a second story in order to add on to their homes, and the height variation may be denied because the addition would be blocking someone’s view. He did not feel horse owners were losing their rights to own horses on their property and what they were trying to do was preserve the right for possible future owners. He explained that, while technically this may not be considered inverse condemnation, in his opinion it is condemnation. He felt that there is one group of property owners wanting to impose their wishes on someone else’s property.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he appreciates the fact that there is an equestrian district in the city and enjoys the rural atmosphere that comes with that. However, he sees this issue as a balancing of rights and interests. He explained that the rights are those of the individual homeowners in the equestrian overlay district as to what it is they want to do with their property. He felt that this proposed amendment could very seriously restrict the property owners’ present rights to do with their property what they perhaps envisioned several years ago when they purchased it. He further explained that the interests would be perhaps of their neighbors who would like to think that in years to come their children or others could come to this community and have a thriving equestrian community. He stated that this has been a very difficult issue for him, as he sees valid points on both sides of the issue. He stated that after discussing the issue with staff and the City Attorney he does not feel this is an issue of a taking or inverse condemnation. He was concerned that there are only 200 to 300 horses presently in the equestrian overlay districts and estimated there are only 10 percent of the available homes that are actually using their property for the purpose of housing horses. However the restriction would be imposed on all of the properties in the overlay district. He stated that the rejection of this ordinance would not negatively affect the rights of the people who have horses on their property to maintain these horses on their property. However if the proposed ordinance were to pass it could have a significant impact on residents who bought their homes some years ago and are considering expanding their homes. He concluded by stating that it is possible that another attempt can be made at this amendment which would address his concerns, but as it is now he is opposed to the proposed amendment.
Vice Chair Cote agreed with several of Commissioner Tetreault’s comments. She felt there needed to be a closer look at the amendment with respect to the equestrian overlay district. She stated that she has great respect for the Equestrian Committee, however this committee is populated with members that own and have horses within the community, and felt there needed to be a more balanced look at the amendment with respect to what should be done with the overall issues of zoning and neighborhood compatibility. She noted that there is another committee currently in place that is looking at zoning related issues and this may be something that their expertise could add to this issue for a more balanced amendment to the code.
Chairman Mueller explained that his reason for seconding the motion was to initiate some discussion on the issue. He felt that this proposed amendment is trying to place restrictions on the horse keeping properties in terms of placement of the homes and the setback allowances. He did not want to see all of the improvements proposed in the overlay district become height variations because property owners could not build out on their property and felt they had to build up. He explained that the Development Code Steering Committee is currently grappling with setback requirements and lot coverage proposals, and was unsure how this would affect the proposed code amendment. He was not convinced that the proposed amendment, as written, was something the Planning Commission should support; however, he felt the Planning Commission, rather than deny the proposed amendment, could make recommendations on how to modify it.
Commissioner Tetreault added that he recognizes the concerns of the equestrian community in that they can envision a trend where the horse keeping rights are eventually pushed entirely out of the City, and felt there should be a way to address that concern. He did not feel, however, that the current proposed amendment correctly and adequately addresses that concern, and that even though he supports the equestrian community, he does not feel this is the right vehicle to address the concerns.
Vice Chair Cote offered a suggestion that the City Council explore the possibility of creating a committee that could develop some type of equestrian compatibility guidelines that would deal with certain issues to make sure the uniqueness of the equestrian community is preserved.
Vice Chair moved to amend the motion to deny the code amendment and suggest that the topic of creating a set of equestrian compatibility guidelines be directed to the Residential Development Standards Committee as a special topic for them to consider, and utilizing the Equestrian Committee as a resource as those guidelines are developed, seconded by Commissioner Tetreault.
Commissioner Karp did not think the Planning Commission could mandate this to another Committee and felt the proper procedure would be to deny the proposed amendment and the Planning Commission recommend to the City Council that the subject be referred to the Residential Development Standards Committee for their review and input.
Vice Chair Cote modified her amendment to deny the code amendment and suggest that the Residential Development Standards Committee take up the issue of the equestrian overlay district, specifically Development Code suggestions to deal with equestrian compatibility, seconded by Commissioner Karp.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the amendment.
The amended motion was approved, (4-0) with Commissioners Knight and Gerstner recused.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the Resolution to deny the proposed code amendment would be brought to the Planning Commission for approval at their next meeting.
Commissioners Gerstner and Knight re-entered the room.
2. Grading Permit / Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2002-00507): -----------------------------------------
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and noting that staff could make all of the necessary findings. She stated that staff was recommending approval of the height variation and grading permit subject to the conditions of approval presented by staff.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if they felt the proposed deck would be set back far enough from the neighbor’s window so not to create a privacy issue for the neighbor.
Assistant Planner Yu stated that staff felt the view from the proposed deck would not look directly into the neighbor’s backyard.
Commissioner Knight asked staff what generated the need for a height variation for this project, as the ridgeline of the home will be below 16 feet in height.
Assistant Planner Yu explained that the Development Code allows buildings in the City to be 16 feet in height measured from the existing highest elevation of the existing building pad and 20 feet as measured from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade. She noted that this residence will measure 20.2 feet as measured from the point where the lowest foundation meets finished grade, and therefore subject to a height variation application.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if they were using the benchmark of 100, as shown on the plans, to take their measurements from.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that was correct.
Commissioner Knight noted that the garage will be slighted elevated above the house and asked if the backyard will step down to a flush pad or will it also be slightly elevated.
Assistant Planner Yu noted that the plans indicate the backyard will sit level with the house pad elevation.
Commissioner Knight asked if this property is in the landslide moratorium area.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that the property is in the moratorium area and the applicant did apply for and receive a Moratorium Exception Permit.
Chairman Mueller asked staff to clarify a statement on page 6 of the staff report where staff states the cupola will be below the horizon line as viewed from the viewing area of properties located on Exultant Drive. He felt this statement was misleading, as it indicated to him that no sky view would be blocked, however being below the horizon line, some ocean view may be blocked.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that staff used the horizon line to gage where the ocean is, and the extension of the building is substantially below the horizon line, therefore blocking very little ocean view.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
-------------------- --------- (applicant) stated that he submitted a supplemental letter which briefly discusses the four year development which has led up to the current plans submitted to the Planning Commission. He stated his primary concern has been to submit a proposal that does not impinge on the rights, especially the view corridors, of his neighbors. He felt that the current plans are a result of the hard work of his architect, detailed input from staff, and the fact that his lot is a sloping lot that allows him to grade down to the curb level. He explained that the result is that there will be an increased setback on both sides of his adjoining neighbors is increased and the roof ridgeline on the southwest side will be slightly lowered in height which will increase the ocean view of the neighbors on Exultant Drive. He also stated that he has discussed the privacy issue with his neighbor and reported that an amicable resolution has been reached with window deletion, the increased setback on the side of the house, the opaque window, and the placement on the balcony. Further, both he and his neighbor are in agreement that they want to plant foliage to help shield the upper story. He stated that he was respectfully requesting the Planning Commission follow staff’s recommendations and approve the proposed project.
Russ Barto 3 Malaga Cove Plaza, PVE stated he is the architect for the project. He felt that this design is a win-win design as it not only does not impinge on the views of neighbors but also improves many of the neighbor’s views. He stated that Commissioner Knight had expressed concern regarding the slope of the roof and the use of the tile roofing material, and explained that a tile roof can be installed on a roof with a pitch of less than 3:12. He also stated that Edison has reviewed the plans and given their approval in terms of the existing utility lines.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Vice Chair Cote felt the applicant has done an outstanding job in working with his neighbors and addressing all appropriate City codes, and can support the staff recommendations.
Chairman Mueller wanted to make sure that any modifications discussed by the owner are included on the plans and captured in the Resolution.
Assistant Planner Yu stated that the plans are correct and the Resolution does reflect all of the changes.
Commissioner Knight agreed with Vice Chair Cote’s comments, however he still had a problem with the architectural style, as he did not feel the spanish style roof and turret match the ranch style homes in the neighborhood.
Vice Chair Cote moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-37 thereby approving the Grading Permit and Height Variation as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (6-0)
3. Minutes of August 10, 2004
Commissioner Knight moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner. Approved, (5-0-1) with Vice Chair Cote abstaining since she was absent from that meeting.
4. Minutes of August 24, 2004
Commissioner Tetreault moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, (6-0)
5. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00285): 28631 Quailhill Drive
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project. He stated that staff could make all of the necessary findings and therefore recommends approval of the Height Variation.
Commissioner Knight asked what the setback is from the new addition to the rear yard.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that the setback is approximately 30 feet.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Dave Klashman 28631 Quailhill Drive (applicant) stated he is available for questions.
There being no questions, Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Knight moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No 2004-38 thereby approving the Height Variation as presented by staff, seconded by Vice Chair Cote. Approved, (6-0)
6. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00270): 2043 Beecham Drive
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for the height variation. She noted that this application is a revised project from a previous application that was reviewed by the Planning Commission. She stated that the Planning Commission found in its previous review of the application that the proposed project was not compatible with the immediate neighborhood due to the bulk and mass of the structure. She explained that the applicant has redesigned the first story addition and lowered and set back the entry feature. Based on the changes staff is of the opinion that the proposed structures bulk and mass will be more in keeping with the bulk and mass of the homes in the immediate neighborhood, will not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another parcel, and will not result in an unreasonable infringement of privacy from abutting residences. Therefore, staff was recommending approval of the proposed height variation.
Commissioner Knight asked if the neighbors have had a chance to view the revised plans.
Assistant Planner Yu suggested that the Planning Commission ask the applicant that question, however she noted that staff had not received any comments from the neighbors regarding the project.
Chairman Mueller asked staff for clarification on how the entry had been revised.
Assistant Planner Yu displayed a picture of the original plan and the revised plan and pointed out the revisions on the new plan.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Kristi Skelton 24 Buckskin Lane, RHE (architect) stated that she and the owner have made a concerted effort to work with staff to address the concerns of the Planning Commission. She felt that she the revised plan has addressed those concerns and stated she was available for any questions.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he had a concern regarding the east wall on the original plan, as it looks very imposing and is considerably higher than the home next to it. He did not feel this was in character with the neighborhood and asked the architect to comment on why the current proposal has the same characteristics.
Ms. Skelton answered that the new plan has more articulation added to this wall, noting that the neighbor on the east supports the project. She also felt that this wall is consistent with other homes in the neighborhood.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Knight again expressed his feeling that the architectural style is not consistent with the neighborhood, especially the turret feature. He felt, however, that the original concerns expressed by the Planning Commission have been met.
Commissioner Tetreault expressed his concerns with the east wall, and even though the neighbor does not seem to mind the wall. He felt that the wall appeared to be very high and looming five feet from the property line.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2004-39 thereby approving the height variation as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner.
It being after 11:00 p.m. Chairman Mueller suggested the Planning Commission suspend their discussion of this item to discuss whether or not to hear new items after 11:00, as per the Planning Commission rules.
Commissioner Gerstner suggested suspending the rules and not take new business after 11:30 and continue with the item at hand. The Commission unanimously agreed.
Chairman Mueller reviewed the plans specifically regarding the east wall, noting that he somewhat shared Commissioner Tetreault’s concerns and asked Commissioner Tetreault if he had any suggestions on how to modify the wall.
Commissioner Tetreault felt it would be helpful to have the second floor on the east wall step back three feet so that there will not be the sheer wall coming straight up and not be as imposing to the neighbors.
Chairman Mueller asked if the home to the east is a single story or two-story home.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that the house to the east is a single story home at a lower elevation than the subject house.
Commissioner Gerstner noted that the front elevation is now pushed back farther and asked staff if the flat façade on the east is now shorter.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that was correct, that the east façade is now shorter by approximately five feet.
The motion to adopt P.C. Resolution 2004-39 as presented was approved, (5-1) with Commissioner Tetreault dissenting.
7. Revision to Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00366): 6512 Nancy Road
Director/Secretary Rojas suggested that if the Planning Commission is considering continuing the item, as it is after 11:00, the Chairman should open the public hearing to ask the applicant if they are willing to grant a 90-day extension to staff.
Commissioner Karp asked staff, if the item is continued, will it be on the agenda for the next Planning Commission meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that if the Planning Commission decides to continue the item to the next meeting, it will be the second item on the agenda.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Leslie Tillman 6512 Nancy Road stated that she is the architect and resident of the property. She explained that her mother cannot move into the house until she is able to build an elevator, and felt that granting a 90-day extension was too long.
Chairman Mueller asked Ms. Tillman if she would be willing to grant the City a 90-day extension, noting that without that extension the Planning Commission must hear the item at this meeting.
Ms. Tillman was concerned that if she grants the extension the item still may not be heard at the next hearing.
Chairman Mueller stated that the Planning Commission cannot guarantee that the item will be heard at the next meeting, however it will be on the agenda for the next meeting. He noted that the Planning Commission has no control over how long any item before this one will take and cannot guarantee the item will be heard.
Ms. Tillman stated that she will grant the 90-day extension with the guarantee that the item will be on the next agenda.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Knight moved to continue the public hearing to the October 12, 2004 Planning Commission, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (6-0)
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
8. Minutes of September 14, 2004
Continued to October 12, 2004
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
9. Pre-Agenda for the meeting of October 12, 2004
The agenda was reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 p.m.