CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
FEBRUARY 22, 2005
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Tetreault at 7:03 p.m. at the City Hall Community Room, 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Mueller led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Gerstner, Karp, Knight, Mueller, Perestam, and Chairman Tetreault.
Also present were Deputy Director Pfost, Senior Planner Fox, Associate Planner Schonborn, Associate Planner Blumenthal, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Tetreault noted that because of the change in the location of the meeting some people may be a little late, and therefore suggested beginning the meeting with the review of the minutes to give people a little more time to arrive.
Commissioner Karp suggested moving Agenda Item No. 4 to be heard after Agenda Item No. 1.
The Planning Commissioner unanimously agreed.
Deputy Director Pfost reported that at the last City Council meeting, the City Council adopted some revised City Tree Review permit procedures and established a fee for the process. He also reported that the City Council has not interviewed all of the candidates for the vacant Planning Commission position, and continued that to March 15th.
Deputy Director Pfost also distributed two items of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 4 and noted that for Agenda Item No. 7, staff was not able to provide the update to those minutes and suggested the Planning Commission continue the item to the next meeting.
Commissioner Mueller congratulated Chairman Tetreault on becoming the new Chairman of the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Mueller noted that he also received a late correspondence delivered to his home regarding Agenda Item No. 4. The other Commissioners noted that they received the same correspondence.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
6. Minutes of January 25, 2005
Commissioner Karp moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Mueller abstaining since he was absent from that meeting.
7. Minutes of February 8, 2005
Commissioner Karp moved to continue the minutes to the next meeting, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, (6-0).
1. SELECTION OF THE VICE CHAIR
Commissioner Mueller nominated Commissioner Knight for the position as Vice Chair.
Commissioner Knight accepted the nomination, and Chairman Tetreault seconded the motion.
Commissioner Gerstner nominated Commissioner Karp for the position as Vice Chair.
Commissioner Karp accepted the nomination, and Commissioner Knight seconded the nomination.
Commissioner Knight was selected, by ballot, as the Vice Chairman. (4-2)
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items):
4. General Plan Amendment, Zone Change, and Environmental Assessment (ZON2003-00520): 30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30672, 30678, 30680, 30682 Palos Verdes Drive East; and 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2845 San Ramon Drive.
Commissioner Perestam recused himself from this item, as he lives within 500 feet of the properties.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining this is a City initiated General Plan Amendment and Zone Change for the upper San Ramon Canyon area. He noted that the City Development Code does not allow for any additions or new residences to be constructed on properties that are zoned Open Space Hazard (OH). He explained that in June 2003 the City completed the Upper San Ramon Canyon Landslide and Stabilization project, and as a result of that, in September 2004 staff forwarded a General Plan Amendment initiation request to the City Council. He explained that the City Council directed staff to proceed with the more formal process of a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change process. He explained the properties involved and staffís recommendation that the area be rezoned and the Open Space Hazard Line be redrawn to follow the head of the canyon, which also follows the top of the Upper San Ramon Stabilization project. He stated that staff conducted an Environmental Assessment and Initial Study and determined that the zone change and General Plan amendment would not create any significant impact to the environment and was consistent with land use and planning policies. Regarding geology, he noted that the area in question is upslope from the area where the City completed the stabilization project and the rezoning would not impact that in any way. Therefore, based on the Initial Study, staff was recommending the Planning Commission forward to the City Council a recommendation certifying the Negative Declaration. Regarding the General Plan Amendment, he explained the proposal would change the General Plan land use designation from natural environment/hazard to residential. He explained that the area has been developed with residential structures since prior to the Cityís incorporation, and that the engineering firm of record and the city Geologist have concluded the stabilization projected in that area and the existing site conditions of the Upper San Ramon Canyon are not consistent with the existing OH land use designation. Therefore, staff believes the General Plan Amendment is warranted. In regards to the Zone Change, he explained that it is necessary to bring the zoning into consistency with the General Plan land use designation, which is a requirement of the General Plan law. He explained that changing the zoning to RS-2 would allow the property owners in that area to request additions, if they so chose to, in the future. He concluded by stating that staff was recommending the Planning Commission forward a recommendation to the City Council to certify the Negative Declaration, and approve the General Plan amendment and zone change.
Commissioner Mueller asked the Commissioners about the late correspondence received at their residences. He noted that it came very late on Monday and that he had only a very brief opportunity to review the correspondence.
Deputy Director Pfost noted that City offices were open on Monday, and the deadline for late correspondence is noon Monday, and the policy of the Planning Commission is not to consider correspondence received after the noon deadline.
Commissioner Karp moved to suspend the rules to allow this correspondence to be considered, seconded by Chairman Tetreault.
Commissioner Mueller stated that his concern was whether or not the Planning Commissioners can actually use the information in the correspondence to help make their decisions.
There was not objection to suspending the rules to allow consideration of the material that was personally delivered to the Planning Commissionerís homes the night before.
Commissioner Gerstner left the meeting at 7:30 p.m.
Vice Chairman Knight asked staff if there would still be some parcels that will have dual zoning.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that was correct, noting it would be primarily those properties at the head of the canyon that would continue to maintain dual zoning. He stated that the portions of the properties that would continue to maintain the OH zoning would be from the top of the slope downward.
Vice Chairman Knight asked staff how many properties would have a dual zoning.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that four properties would have dual zoning.
Commissioner Karp asked if any of the residences on Calle Aventura were affected by this proposal.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that those properties on Calle Aventura already have their flat areas in the RS-2 zone, and the areas on the slope are designated OH.
Commissioner Karp referred to the staff report, and asked staff to explain a 1.5 safety factor.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that the City Council has determined that a 1.5 safety factor is the minimum number necessary to classify a lot as developable.
Vice Chairman Knight explained that 1.5 is a ratio between the driving force to the resistive force, and it is necessary to have 1-Ĺ times the resistive force to driving force.
Commissioner Mueller noted that the staff report indicates the City has approved some modifications to the properties in question, and asked staff how this would change if the designation changed to RS-2.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff identified one property that is completely located in the OH zone, which was allowed an addition to the property. He stated that the OH designation was most likely overlooked when this addition was approved in the early 1990s.
Commissioner Mueller asked if this type of addition would be allowed if the designation were changed to RS-2.
Associate Planner Schonborn replied that the addition would be allowed under the RS-2 zone and that these properties would be subject to the same restrictions that other RS-2 designated properties in the City have.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if these new RS-2 lots would be subject to geological review when proposing additions.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that these lots would be subject to the same criteria as any other RS-2 property in the City. He stated that for most additions the City Geologist will, as a minimum, conduct a site visit to determine whether or not a geologic report will be necessary.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if the permits for a house at 30650 Palos Verdes Drive East are still valid.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that building permits for that house have not been issued and are on hold pending the decision on this project.
Chairman Tetreault asked if this area was zoned OH when the area was governed by the County.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that it was not zoned OH with the County, and was designated OH in 1975 after the City incorporated.
Chairman Tetreault asked staff if they knew why the OH line was determined and placed where it is, noting that there are properties where an entire home was placed in the OH zone.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that staff believed the creators of the zoning map looked at canyons to put in the OH zone since they probably believed that the entire canyon went all of the way through to Palos Verdes Drive East.
Deputy Director Pfost added that when the City first incorporated the City created a General Plan and General Plan map, and that mapping system looked at areas that are canyons and designated them as hazard areas, and from that map created a zoning map. Thus, some of the lines on the map are broad strokes and not very specific.
Chairman Tetreault asked staff if they were aware if any of the homes within the OH zone of the San Ramon Canyon have suffered structural or foundation damage from soils movement.
Associate Planner Schonborn replied that the only damage reported was due to the heavy rains in 1998.
Chairman Tetreault asked what prompted this consideration of the General Plan amendment and re-zoning of this area.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that the driving force was the completion of the San Ramon Canyon stabilization project.
Chairman Tetreault asked if soils reports submitted for proposed new homes or additions are specifically for the home and whether or not it can meet the 1.5 factor of safety, or does the report also address the affects of construction upon neighboring properties.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that geotechnical reports are site specific and do not address the broader neighborhood.
Chairman Tetreault asked if a final decision on this item would be made before the City Council, and if the Planning Commission was an advisory board to the City Council, and whatever is done by the Planning Commission will then be reviewed by the City Council.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that was correct.
Vice Chairman Knight referred to the geology report prepared for the San Ramon Canyon Stabilization project and noted that there is a disclaimer which states the report does not address specific developments in the area. He asked staff to clarify that.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that the Geologist was hired specifically to review the change in designation only and the report does not mean that individuals who want to do work on their property will not have to get independent reports which covers the specific work proposed for their property.
Commissioner Karp noted that in the correspondence received it was implied that if one builds in this area it will cause adverse activity to the slide area, and asked staff if this were true.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that site-specific geotechnical reports prepared for proposed additions would determine that.
Commissioner Karp stated that right now the City can say, from the best scientific knowledge from the geologist, that the canyon has been safely re-built to current standards and unlikely to have more sliding or erosion.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that was correct. He noted that not only did AMEC prepare the report regarding the canyon, but also the City Geologist reviewed the information and concurred.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
James Reed 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that he strongly opposes the re-zoning of the San Ramon Canyon from Open Space Hazard to Residential. He stated that his wife had circulated a petition to stop the rezoning and that 70 people had signed the petition. He noted that 10 people whose homes are entirely within the San Ramon Canyon oppose the rezoning, and he was unable to contact three people and one was undecided. He did not think it was within the Cityís best interest to rezone the area against peopleís wishes. He stated that the area has been zoned Open Space Hazard for almost 30 years and questioned why there is now a big push to rezone. He stated that not only are the residents opposed to the rezone, but a former Planning Commissioner and a resident who works for the Cityís Public Works Department. He noted that all of the work done by the City was on the lower portion of the canyon and none was done on the upper portion near Palos Verdes Drive East, however some of those homes are directly affected by the rezoning. He felt that AMEC deemed the land safe based on data obtained from a limited number of observations and site visits. He felt this was a conflict of interest to have AMEC, who was hired by the City, to tell the residents whether this area is safe or not. He felt that a third party should be hired to determine the safety of the area. He was concerned that if a resident loses their home due to the failure of the canyon, that neither the City nor AMEC will be held responsible, only the landowner. He stated that 30650 Palos Verdes Drive East has had damage to it since it was built, and it is obvious to anyone who looks at it. He stated that residents in the area can still get permits to build on their property, citing an example at 2829 San Ramon Drive, who had an addition done to their property in the Open Space Hazard area. He asked the Planning Commission to consider leaving the zoning as it is.
Commissioner Knight asked how land failure on a property with Open Space Hazard zoning would be any different than land failure on a property with RS-2 zoning.
Mr. Reed felt that changing the zoning to Residential would encourage residents to build larger homes than originally anticipated on the pad. With that in mind, he felt that residents would build larger homes that went closer to the edge of the pad or down into the canyon, which disturbs the land and may cause a disturbance to the landslide.
Commissioner Mueller noted that changing the zoning would allow the residents to have the same rights to build on their land as the rest of the City currently has, and questioned Mr. Reed if he was suggesting leaving this area as Open Space Hazard and leaving everything the same, which would not allow the residents in this area to add on to their homes.
Mr. Reed replied that was not what he was suggesting, as he felt the residents can build as much as they want on their property, within reason according to their pad size. He felt that keeping the OH designation would limit people from building over-sized homes that should not be there.
Commissioner Mueller stated that his understanding of homes in the Open Space Hazard Zone was that the residents could not add on to their homes, but can do maintenance and replacement on existing pads. He asked staff if the Open Space Hazard Zone was therefore more restrictive than the Landslide Moratorium area.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the Open Space Hazard Zone is more restrictive than the Landslide Moratorium area.
Commissioner Mueller then stated that by not changing the zoning in this area, the residents would be under stricter regulations than any other area in the City, including the Landslide Moratorium area, and asked Mr. Reed if this was what he was proposing.
Mr. Reed answered that was not what he was proposing, as he believed those residents with land in the Open Space Hazard Zone could still add on to their homes.
Commissioner Karp asked, if an addition weighing 5,000 pounds is built to the back of a house, and 5,000 pounds of dirt is taken away to build the addition, isnít the net effect the same? He felt that there would be no net difference to the pressure on the slope.
Mr. Reed felt that the fact that land was taken away and disturbed could cause the landslide to reactivate.
Clara Duran Reed 30652 Palos Verdes Drive East referred to the petition, noting that there are over 70 people who do not want this area rezoned. She did not think it was prudent, regardless of what the geologist say, to take an area in a known landslide area and rezone it to residential. She distributed photographs that were taken by AMEC at the start of the remediation, and pointed out that at one time there were utility poles whose lines were well above where they should be. She explained that at that time there was a request to build a home at the end of the Tarapaca area, which was approved by the Planning Commission and then went before the City Council. She stated that the residents convinced the City Council to come to the area to look at the conditions, and after a brief site visit the City Council determined that it was not in the Cityís best interest to approve the proposed residence. She stated that if one were to look today, those same utility lines are approximately 4 feet off the ground. She felt this indicated tremendous sinking of the area. She referred to the area by Marymount College referred to as the Southshore Landslide. She noted on a map the close proximity of the San Ramon Canyon repairs to the Southshores Landslide. She questioned how anyone could say that it was a good idea to build in this area. She noted that the geologists have said this area is safe to build on, however she referred to Anaheim Hills where three geologists and the City geologist said it was safe to build, and the area slid. She concluded by stating that she did not think it was a good idea to allow building in an area that is declared stable but is surrounded by landslides, and in an area where the residents do not want building to be allowed. She asked the Planning Commission to deny the General Plan amendment and the rezoning request.
Commissioner Karp asked what the nexus is between the Southshores Landslide and the Sam Ramon Canyon landslide.
Ms. Duran Reed clarified that what she was saying was that because the area in the San Ramon Canyon is in such close proximity to the Southshores Landslide and the Tarapaca Landslide, how will the landslides be affected if there is new movement in any one of the three landslides.
Commissioner Karp asked Ms. Duran Reed if she knew her house may be affected by the San Ramon Landslide when she bought the house.
Ms. Duran Reed answered that she was not aware of that when purchasing the house.
Commissioner Knight stated that he did not see in the petition where the concern regarding stability is expressed.
Ms. Duran Reed replied that in the petition it states that the rezoning is not in the best interest of the residents and is against the General Plan. She stated that when she was collecting signatures on the petition every person who signed stated they were concerned about the safety of the area. Regarding the General Plan, the General Plan provides that is the goal of the City to conserve, protect, and enhance its natural resources, beauty, and open space for the benefit and enjoyment of its residents. She did not think this rezoning was for the benefit of the residents.
Commissioner Mueller asked Ms. Duran Reed if she was not comfortable with the geotechnical reports that have been done for the area.
Ms. Duran Reed answered that she was not comfortable with the geotechnical reports done for the area, primarily because if AMEC were to claim the land was not stable they would be opening themselves up to liability and breech of contract.
Commissioner Mueller noted that the Open Space Hazard is restricting the homes in that area from doing any additions or increasing the square footage of the original house size, which is even more restrictive than those in areas of the City where there is land movement in the Landslide Moratorium area, and he asked Ms. Duran Reed if she felt the Open Space Hazard area gives more of a problem to the City than the Landslide Moratorium area.
Ms. Duran Reed stated that the Open Space Hazard area has been designated and been in place since the residents purchased their homes. She did not feel these people are restricted to the building of their homes, noting that many properties have quite a bit of space to build before reaching the OH zone.
Commissioner Mueller noted that there are homes that are completely in the Open Space Hazard area and that these residents are not free to add on to their homes, and changing the zoning to RS-2 will give these residents the same rights to build as everyone else in the City.
Ms. Duran Reed stated that these residents do not want those rights, noting they signed the petition and prefer to keep their homes as is.
Commissioner Mueller noted that not all of those residents signed the petition and felt that some of the residents may want the right to add on to their homes in the future.
Ms. Duran Reed stated that the people whose homes are totally in the OH zone have already built as much as they can on their lots. She explained the problems with each residence in the OH zone.
Commissioner Mueller felt that the Wolf residence has room to build and is in the OH zone.
Ms. Duran Reed stated that the Wolf residence suffered geologic harm, and according to the Code, that residence can be rebuilt.
Commissioner Mueller stated that the question is not whether he can rebuild, which is something allowed to all Rancho Palos Verdes residents, but rather if he can build a new structure or add on to the home. He asked Ms. Duran Reed if that was the real issue she had with the rezoning.
Ms. Duran Reed answered that her concern is the entire area, and if that were her concern she would have made that argument. She noted, however, that if Mr. Wolf does expand it will be onto an area directly below an area of her property that is fill. She felt that if anything happened to his land, it would not only be her land that would be affected, but several other properties in the immediate neighborhood.
Commissioner Mueller asked Ms. Duran Reed if she was suggesting that the land designation of RS-2 versus OH should be used to prevent what ordinarily most residents are able to do, which is to come to the City and provide a plan, an adequate geological report, and apply to add on to their homes.
Ms. Duran Reed stated that the issue is that this area is already designated Open Space Hazard, the residents are aware of that designation, and, with the possible exception of one homeowner, the residents do not want the zone change. She stated that she was not trying to restrict anything that is outside of the Code. She stated that the issue here is safety, and that is what her concern is.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that Ms. Duran Reed is concerned with geologic safety in the neighborhood, and asked how the difference in zoning would make any difference in terms of the stability of the land.
Ms. Duran Reed echoed the previous speakers response to the question, that RS-2 designation may allow additional building which may allow a larger structure to be built, which could create land instability. She stated that there are a lot of short cuts being taken all of the time, and the factor of the unknown is a concern to her. She stated that she has seen too many experts state something is stable and safe when it is not, citing Ocean Trails as an example.
Vice Chairman Knight again stated that the change in zoning does not change the gross stability of the land, and did not understand the objection to the change in zoning. He asked if it was the fact that someone could build a larger home, which may create instability of the land.
Ms. Duran Reed explained that her concern was not only that someone could build a larger home, but also the home can be reconfigured and relocated on the lot.
Vice Chairman Knight understood the concern, however he noted that these residents, as with any other resident in the City, would have to have a geotechnical report for their property and proposed construction before they are given any approvals. He asked Ms. Duran Reed if her objection was that she did not trust the opinions of the geologists.
Ms. Duran Reed answered that with her experience as a litigater she felt that one can hire anyone to say anything, and use whatever statistics they want to make the decision favorable. She stated that AMEC was hired to stabilize the land for the purpose of keeping it safe from water seepage and damage and further soil erosion, not to make the landslide stable so that the area could be rezoned RS-2 and new homes could be built on it.
Chairman Tetreault stated that AMEC has submitted their report which says it is appropriate to make the General Plan and zoning change. He noted that Ms. Duran Reed does not feel comfortable with that report and asked if she would feel more comfortable with a third party review by someone who was not involved with the stabilization project. He asked if that third party review came back favorable, would she still oppose changing the zoning.
Ms. Duran Reed answered that she would still oppose the zoning change because the residents do not want the change, and she did not think the residents should be forced into changing their homes. She did not think that one additional report would change the minds of 70 residents.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:45 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 9:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (cont)
Vice Chairman Knight began by explaining that the San Ramon Canyon stabilization was for the drainage and stabilization of the canyon, and each individual home would still have to have a geotechnical report prepared to say that their area is safe to build on. He then discussed the Negative Declaration, noting that the document states there are no impacts to vegetation. He stated that he had the opportunity to read the Natural Communities Conservation Plan that describes the San Ramon stabilization project had two acres of on site native re-vegetation, and asked why that was not included in the Negative Declaration.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that there is a native re-vegetation plan in place, however it is not in the location of the zoning change being proposed.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that one of his concerns regarding having a very clear Negative Declaration was that the City is at a very critical point with the resource agencies to purchase some land in the Portuguese Bend area and he wanted to make sure that everything is done correctly so that nothing is jeopardized with the resource agencies. He stated that he noticed in the sloped area into the canyon, which is in the proposed re-zoned area, there are quite a few Artemisia bushes, and asked why these were not included in the Negative Declaration.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that in the maps staff consulted the plant communities were in the canyon itself, which will remain Open Space Hazard, and none were identified in the flat portion of the project area.
Vice Chairman Knight asked staff what maps they consulted.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff looked at the NCCP maps.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if there was another biological report done for the Negative Declaration in terms of identifying any plants in the rezoned area.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff relied on the existing maps.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that the Negative Declaration states that the project will not conflict with the NCCP. He stated that there are certain sections in the NCCP that deal with neutral lands with Open Space Hazard, which could be potential habitat restoration and conservation easements, and felt this rezoning could possibly have some affect on that. He felt it may not be significant, but needs to be identified. Regarding the geology report, he asked staff to identify the boundaries of the report in regards to the canyon and rezoning area.
Associate Planner Schonborn displayed an aerial map which identified the boundaries of the study for the stabilization project.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if AMEC did additional studies for the zoning change, or if their opinion was based on the studies for the stabilization project, as the map did not include the areas where the zone change is requested.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the opinions were based on the report as well as observations in the field. He noted that the report includes research of both tracts in the area when they were first developed. He also noted that the City Geologist, Zeiser Kling, has reviewed the AMEC reports and reviewed the areas that are proposed to be rezoned, and agrees that the area can be rezoned.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that the geology report has some concerns with lots 3 and 4 and the drainage benches, and asked staff how these issues would be addressed by the City.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that these issues would not be handled through the General Plan and zone change, but rather through the Public Works Department, as they are issues raised regarding the stabilization project.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that his concern was that some of these things may be overlooked and questioned how the City, if this request goes forward, would address the concerns raised by the geologist. He asked that staff research to see if there has already been a system put in place to address the concerns or if something will be done to flag these concerns.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that a condition cannot be added to a zone change, and he was not sure how the City plans to move forward with the considerations brought up in the geology report. He stated that staff would have to consult with the Public Works Department.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that he had a little difficulty with this being left up in the air.
Commissioner Mueller felt that when a geotechnical report is submitted to the City for proposed construction on a lot, the geologist would also consult with the AMEC report and any other existing reports on file.
Chairman Tetreault asked staff what they were looking at when they prepared the Environmental Assessment. He asked if it was prepared with the view towards the zone change and what affect that alone would have on the environment or was staff looking at the ultimate impact that can occur from people who live in that area taking advantage of the RS-2 designation to remodel their homes.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that staff focused on the actual zone change itself, and everything else was considered secondary because if construction were to take place in the area then further geotechnical reports would be prepared. He also noted that the area is already built out and it is not an issue that the zone change would bring in any additional houses.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that the geology report states there are slope inclinometers in place near lots 3 and 44 and asked if they were still in place and if the City was going to monitor these inclinometers.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that as far as he knew the inclinometers were still in place and, since this was a Public Works project, the Public Works Department would take the lead on this issue.
Commissioner Karp appreciated the tiereny of the majority that so many homeowners oppose the zone change, however he had a suspicion that they donít truly understand the scope and conditions of the zone change. He stated that if the properties remain in the current OH Zone, only repairs and maintenance can be done to the homes, and no expansion or additions are allowed. He noted that approximately 70 percent of the residents, according to the petition, seem to agree to this however it does not include the needs or wants of the other 30 percent of the residents and what is best for them. He also discussed that if one wished to add on to their homes a geotechnical report would have to be prepared, and if that report was negative, the City would not allow the addition. He felt the City has to rely on the experts when it comes to the geology and stability in the canyon and whether or not to allow proposed construction on individual properties. He stated it was his inclination to agree with staffís recommendation, as he did not see any down side to the rezoning. He did not think the world is risk free and he did not think the arguments heard from the public were based on sound logic and sound facts.
Commissioner Mueller was concerned about the issues raised on this rezoning. He noted that the areas to be rezoned are not in the San Ramon Canyon, but directly adjacent to it. He noted that very few of the properties have room to make an addition, however if they chose to do so under the current zoning, it would not be allowed. He stated that this is an area where quite a bit of work has been done to stabilize the canyon and the geologist have stated there is a safety factor of 1.5 on the building areas. He felt that it would be inconsistent of the City to come to a conclusion that for some other reason, perhaps that the area is zoned OH and therefore should always be zoned OH, that the City should overlook this change that has been happening in this particular area. He felt this would be restricting the homeowners in that area to even more restrictive regulations than the City does in the Landslide Moratorium area. He therefore did not see any issues with rezoning the area to RS-2, which would give the residents the same rights as everyone else in RS-2 zoned areas. He felt that the City has to rely on the experts when reviewing the geology for the area. He concluded by stating that he would be in favor of the staff report and the recommendation to the City Council to rezone this area from OH to RS-2.
Commissioner Knight understood the concerns of the land stability noting that he has seen instances where the geologist has stated an area is stable and then due to extraordinary circumstances the safety factor is reduced to less than 1.0. He felt that geologist do their best to calculate the factor of safety at a given site, at a given time. He explained, however, that the issue at hand is a zone change and the underlying geology will do what it is going to do whether the land is zone OH or RS-2. He stated that the only change this rezoning will have is it will possibly allow slightly larger buildings or buildings on different pad locations. He did not think that small of a change on such a small number of lots probably would not have any affect on any land movement. He felt the major issues affecting the land movement were water and drainage, and the stabilization project should have taken care of the drainage issues. He requested that staff pass on to the City Council his concerns about cleaning up the Negative Declaration and to look at the geology report and the individual specific recommendations made, and somehow make sure those recommendations are implemented.
Chairman Tetreault stated he has feelings in both directions on this subject. He stated that on one hand property owners have certain property rights that are not subject to a community vote. However, at the same time he recognizes there is a considerable amount of concern for oneís home. He stated that these residents have gone through the land failure and the remediation process of the San Ramon Canyon, and could understand and was sympathetic to how they may be fearful that something like this may happen again. However, he felt the City should not put undo restrictions on the use of property when there is no good reason for it. He stated this area has already been developed as if it were zoned RS-2 and there does not appear any evidence of slope failure after the heavy rainstorms over the past two months. He noted, however, that he was not totally comfortable having a geology report for the rezoning that was prepared by a company that was hired to stabilize the slope, and felt that there was an inherent conflict in having the engineer of record certify their own work. He felt he would be more comfortable if there was an independent review by someone not involved with the project. He did not consider the Cityís geologist to have satisfied that, as their report was so minimal as to not be very comforting, as it did not appear they spent much time preparing their one page report. He also felt there should be a waiting period of 90 days past the rainy season to see how the area holds up.
Commissioner Mueller did not think waiting 90 days would make much of a difference, and questioned if the City waited 90 days and it didnít rain, would they then move forward. He didnít think the City would get any more information in 90 days than they already have. He was not convinced that a third party review would help the situation, and that the City Geologist did a reasonable job in reviewing the work done by AMEC. He felt that the Planning Commission was being asked not to put conditions on the project, but rather to make an opinion as to whether or not the Planning Commission recommends the proposal based on what was heard and discussed at the meeting, and that there will be other questions asked and other decisions made by the City Council.
Commissioner Mueller moved to approve the staff recommendation and recommend to the City council to certify the Negative Declaration and approve the General Plan amendment and zone change, with the addition that any future geotechnical report should refer back to the AMEC report to address the concerns on the individual lots, seconded by Commissioner Karp.
Commissioner Knight asked that as part of the motion that the Negative Declaration address the issues he raised and that the staff and City Council look at ways of implementing the geologists recommendations in the AMEC report. He also suggested a recommendation be made that the water and sewer lines in the area be checked to make sure there are no leaks.
Commissioner Mueller accepted the amendments to the motion, seconded by Commissioner Karp.
In addressing Chairman Tetreaultís concerns, Commissioner Karp noted that it will most likely be 60 to 90 days before the City Council hears this matter, as it will have to be agendized and noticed.
The motion to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2005-09 recommending to the City Council certification of the Negative Declaration, and adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2005-10 recommending to the City Council approval of the General Plan amendment and Zone Change, as amended was approved, (3-1-1) with Chairman Tetreault dissenting and Commissioner Perestam recused.
2. Three month review of lighting at Wayfarerís Chapel (Case No. ZON2005-00015): 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report explaining a condition of approval of the parking lot lights, the Planning Commission required a three-month review of the lighting. He stated that staff has reviewed the placement of the lights and confirmed they are 45 inches tall, they are located at their approved locations, and all other conditions of approval are being complied with. He also noted that no complaints have been received by the City regarding the lights. Therefore, staff was recommending the Planning Commission approve the three-month review via minute order.
Commissioner Mueller stated that the original approval was for lights at a height of ten feet, and asked staff what prompted the applicant to lower the lights to a height of 45 inches.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the main reason for lowering the height of the lights was Building and Safetyís requirement of a geology report and requirements for foundations, which then made the project cost prohibitive.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Rev. Harvey Toffel 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South stated that he didnít really have anything to say to the Planning Commission other than the lights work and there have been no complaints received on the lighting. He felt that the lights add to the aesthetics of the property as well as to the safety.
Commissioner Mueller stated that the applicant has installed lights that are very aesthetically pleasing and satisfy his concerns.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp moved to approve the three-month review via minute order as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Perestam. Approved, (5-0)
3. Height Variation Permit and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00539): 4369 Dauntless Drive
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation and Grading Permit. He explained that there was a previous house on the property that was demolished in the 1990s due to damage from the Klondike Canyon Landslide that traverses the subject property. He explained that there have been numerous geotechnical reports submitted over the last several years and has now been approved by the City Geologist. Regarding the Height Variation, he stated that staff was able to make all of the necessary findings to approve the application. Regarding the Grading Permit, he explained that staff could also make the necessary findings required for remedial grading and was recommending approval of the project subject to the conditions presented.
Commissioner Perestam stated that 20 years ago he had rented a home four houses away from the subject property and asked what has changed since the original house was damaged and demolished, and also is the design of the house and garage in response to accommodating the Klondike Canyon movement.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that what has changed is that there is now a method in which to safely construct a house on the property. He displayed a photograph of the property and showed how the Klondike Canyon plane traverses the property at a diagonal, and the design incorporates detaching the garage from the house so that the residence is on one side of the property where the slide has not occurred and the detached garage is on the portion that is, according to the geologist, moving at a rate of approximately one inch every ten years. Additionally, with appropriate remedial grading there is a solution to successfully mitigate any impacts to the structures proposed to be built on the property.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if this proposed residence, the grading, and method of grading has been reviewed and approved by the City Geologist.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that all new residences must have their geology approved prior to approval by the City, and in this particular case there is almost 15 years worth of geology review to come up with a suitable design in terms of a foundation system and remedial grading.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if the cut and fill were balanced.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that there will be more fill than cut since the transitional slope behind the residence is currently a 1:1 slope, which will change to a 2:1 slope with the construction of the residence to comply with UBC requirements for fill slopes.
Vice Chairman Knight asked how close this lot is to the NCCP boundaries.
Associate Planner Schonborn did not know how far the property is from NCCP boundaries.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that the staff report discusses an inclinometer on the property and asked who will be responsible for monitoring that.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated the inclinometer will be installed as part of the project and that he is not sure who will monitor the inclinometer, noting that it is a condition of the geology approval.
Commissioner Karp asked what the purpose of the inclinometer is.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated it is a safety issue and will monitor if the slide is moving at a faster rate than it currently is.
Commissioner Karp felt that in theory itís a good idea, but questioned the practicality and what the City would do with the information.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that the slope of the roof would require a cap sheet, and asked how much of the cap sheet would be exposed to the street.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that staff did not think the cap sheet would be apparent from the street.
Vice Chairman Knight referred to the Resolution, and asked if it needed to be clarified that the windows requiring the frosting are on the second floor.
Associate Planner Schonborn agreed that change should be made to the Resolution so that it is consistent with the Conditions of Approval.
Commissioner Mueller asked if construction on this property is limited or restricted by the provisions of the Landslide Moratorium.
Associate Planner Schonborn explained that the property is within the Landslide Moratorium boundaries, however it is within an area that allows for development of a new structure.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if drainage is reviewed by the Building Department.
Associate Planner Schonborn acknowledged that the Building Department will look at drainage as part of plan check.
Chairman Tetreault asked if there has been any review on what affect this construction will have on neighboring properties that are affected by the Klondike Canyon land movement.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that geotechnical reports are site specific, but do take into account an approximate 10 foot area beyond the property line to make sure there are no adverse impacts to the neighboring properties.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing, and there being no speakers, closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Perestam asked how long the current owners have owned this property.
Associate Planner Schonborn answered that they have owned the property since 1992.
Commissioner Perestam asked if there have been any reports of damage to any of the homes in the Klondike Canyon area that would add any concern to this project.
Associate Planner Schonborn replied that there was none.
Commissioner Mueller felt that even though this proposed residence is larger than the others in the neighborhood, because of where it is located and the way it is positioned on the lot, it appears to him that it will not present a mass and bulk issue. He stated that, though he is troubled by the area in general and that a Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit had to be applied for, the applicant has satisfied all of the criteria required by the City and he was therefore inclined to take the project on itís merits and recommend approval of the project.
Chairman Tetreault stated that he had the same thoughts as Commissioner Mueller. He felt the proposed residence was compatible with the neighborhood and he was able to make all of the necessary findings.
Vice Chairman Knight was also able to make the necessary findings, noting that the house will be larger than the others in the neighborhood, but since it sits farther back on the lot with the foliage in the front, the mass and bulk of the house was not apparent from the street. He stated that he was concerned about the geology and the amount of grading necessary, but he acknowledged that this was done with geotechnical reports that have been reviewed and approved by the City Geologist. He therefore felt he could make the necessary findings to approve the project.
Commissioner Perestam was still struggling with this project, having lived in the area and knowing the history of the area. However, because of the extensive geology review he felt that he could recommend approval of the project.
Commissioner Mueller moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2005-012 thereby approving the Height Variation and Grading Permit, with the revision to add language to the Resolution which specifies that the windows on the second story be frosted, seconded by Vice Chairman Knight. Approved, (5-0).
5. Conditional Use Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00666): 500 Silver Spur Road
Deputy Director Pfost presented the staff report explaining the item is for a proposed tutoring center with a maximum of 30 students at one time with 5 instructors, and will be located in an existing office space. He stated that the project meets the current code requirements for parking on the site and staff does not anticipate any potential parking impacts related to the use. Additionally, there is a drop off area for students to be dropped off at and students will not be allowed to linger in the hallways that would disrupt the office uses on the site. Based upon that staff feels all of the findings for the Conditional Use Permit can be made and recommends approval of the project.
Commissioner Perestam asked staff how they reached the maximum number of students as 30.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that the applicant provided that number to staff.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if any of the parking spaces were shared with other buildings.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that he believed that one could also park in the parking lots of the surrounding buildings, however the parking spaces for this use and for the entire building does meet the required number of parking spaces.
Vice Chairman Knight was concerned about the safety issues in allowing students to wait for their rides in the center or in the parking lot. He did not feel waiting for rides in the parking lot was particularly safe and asked staff if they had considered a safe place in the parking lots for the students to wait.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that the intent was that the students are not waiting inside to address the noise issues, but to congregate outside the entrance.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if the CUP was transferable.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that the CUP is for the Princeton Review.
Commissioner Karp asked if the owner of the building is aware of this application for a CUP.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that the owner has signed the application.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the hours of operation were consistent with other commercial uses in the area.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that the hours are consistent with other uses in the area, however the applicant will be speaking to request a change in the hours of operation.
Chairman Tetreault asked if there will be a review period associated with this Conditional Use Permit, and how will complaints and the enforcement of these conditions be handled.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that the Conditional Use Permit conditions will be enforced on a complaint basis. He felt that it was important to note that the prior tutoring center located in the building received no complaints and therefore staff did not feel the need to include a review period in the Conditional Use Permit.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Abby Kanarack, Mission Viejo, stated that she is an officer of the Princeton Review. She clarified the concerns about where the students may congregate while waiting for rides by explaining that the office is at the end of a corridor and there is a hallway there where the students can wait. She stated that there is not a common hallway in that area where other businesses may be disrupted. She stated that when she applied for the Conditional Use Permit the Planner had asked for an attachment describing the hours of operation. She explained that the hours of operation change during the school year and during the summer. She stated that when staff wrote up the Conditional Use it reflects only the first page of her application, which are the operating hours on weekdays in September through mid June. She stated that the second page, which was not included, was operating hours for weekdays and weekends mid June through August, and the hours of operation change slightly since the students are not in school. She was requesting the Conditional Use Permit reflect the two different hours of operation as reflected on her application.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Knight asked staff if there would be an issue with changing the hours of operation.
Deputy Director Pfost stated that staff does not anticipate an issue with changing the hours of operation.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2005-12 thereby approving the Conditional Use Permit, seconded by Commissioner Perestam. Approved, (5-0)
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
8. Pre-Agenda for March
Deputy Director Pfost stated that one item may be added to the Agenda regarding a General Plan consistency finding relating to Trump National Golf Course.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m. HeHe