CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
May 9, 2006
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Knight at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Tetreault led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Lewis, Perestam, Ruttenberg, Tetreault, Vice Chairman Gerstner, and Chairman Knight.
Also present were Director of Planning Building and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Mihranian, Senior Planner Alvarez, and Associate Planner Dudman.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Perestam suggested hearing Agenda Item 6 before Agenda Item 5. The Planning Commission unanimously agreed.
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that at the last City Council meeting the City Council heard the appeal of the Planning Commission decision for the new house on Ocean Terrace Drive. He explained a new plan was presented to the City Council, and the new design was such that the City Council remanded the application to staff for a decision.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items)
1. Time extension (Case No. ZON2005-00060): 29605 Grandpoint Lane
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, explaining the applicant was asking for a one-year extension to the Planning Commission approval due to scheduling difficulties with the structural engineer, and staff was recommending approval of the request.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Patty Mahaffey (applicant) stated she was available to answer any questions.
Chairman Knight asked Ms. Mahaffey why there was such a long delay in working with her structural engineer.
Ms. Mahaffey explained that she was required to have a soils report for her project and her architect would not submit her plans to Building and Safety until the soils report was approved. She stated that when the soils report was approved her architect was then too busy to work on her project, so she hired a new architect. She also explained that her structural engineer worked much slower than expected.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to grant the requested one-year time extension, seconded by Commissioner Lewis. Approved, (6-0).
2. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2005-00074): 29225 Oceanridge Dr.
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report, reviewing the previous plan presented to the Planning Commission at its February 28th meeting. He mentioned staff’s and the Planning Commission’s concerns with that original submittal. He explained the revised plans currently before the Planning Commission. He stated that, based on the three concerns that staff had originally had and the direction given by the Planning Commission at the February 28th hearing, staff believes all of the concerns have been adequately addressed and was therefore recommending approval of the project.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that in the previous staff report, staff was not too concerned with the size of the proposed home with regards to neighborhood compatibility. He asked staff, if it weren’t for the other factors identified in the original staff report, would the size alone of 4,900 square feet in an area of 3,000 square foot homes be a concern.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the size alone would not have been a concern for staff.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if it was staff’s view that mere size is not sufficient to create neighborhood incompatibility.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that, in terms of the structure size, it is a component that is looked at by staff in terms of compatibility. However, in this project staff felt that the majority of the addition was situated in the back of the house where it was not too visible from the street and therefore the size did not create concerns to staff.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked, given that the new project is still 4,655 square feet in size, which is 50 percent bigger than the average size of the homes in the neighborhood, whether the size of the proposed structure would still not be a concern to staff.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that it would not.
Chairman Knight referred to the revised site plan and the proposed wall and asked what the setback for that wall would be from the property line.
Senior Planner Mihranian estimated the wall to be set back approximately 2 feet from the property line, and noted that staff was able to make the appropriate findings for that wall.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Don Ritter 29225 Oceanridge Drive (owner) stated that he tried to do everything he could to address the concerns of staff and Planning Commission and was available to answer any questions.
There being no questions, Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that most of his concerns have been addressed by this revised design. He referred, however, to a second story element above the garage which is set back five feet from the front of the existing garage. He stated that in going through the neighborhood there are many two-story homes, but the second stories are set well back from the street. He felt this proposed design would be different from the other two-story homes on the street, thus having a lot of mass towards the street.
Commissioner Lewis stated that his major concern had been with the fourth garage, which has been eliminated. Therefore, he was satisfied with the new proposed design and was inclined to agree with staff’s recommendations.
Vice Chairman Gerstner stated that he liked the house that was originally submitted and likes the revised one as well.
Commissioner Ruttenberg felt the house is a little large, however the Planning Commission’s concerns have been addressed and there have been no concerns or complaints from the neighbors.
Commissioner Perestam appreciated the changes made by the applicant and was able to support staff’s recommendations.
Chairman Knight referred to the proposed entrance and asked staff if there were any other similar architectural features in the neighborhood, or if this loft entry would be introducing a new feature into the neighborhood.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that there are other two-story entries in the neighborhood. He noted that, even though this feature is slightly different, it is softened by the roof element and architectural details.
Chairman Knight agreed there is enough articulation at the front entry so that the architectural features do not stand out. He felt the applicant has made the appropriate changes, and agreed with the staff’s recommendations of approval.
Vice Chairman Gerstner moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-23 thereby approving the Height Variation as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Lewis. Approved, (6-0).
3. Height Variation Permit, Grading Permit, and Variance – Time extension (Case No. ZON2003-00465: 4348 Via Frascati
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, noting that the owner is out of town and has requested the item be continued to May 23, 2006 so he can be in attendance at the meeting.
Chairman Knight noted that the Planning Commission had requested a written explanation for the requested time extension and had not requested the applicant attend the meeting. He asked if staff had requested he attend the meeting or if this was something the applicant felt he needed to do.
Director/Secretary Rojas did not know the reason the applicant felt he needed to attend the meeting.
Vice Chairman Gerstner did not feel much has changed since the last meeting, other than he still requested to have a written request for the time extension.
Commissioner Tetreault clarified that the Code requires evidence of some hardship when requesting a time extension. He stated that at the last meeting the architect had asked for a time extension without any real reason, which he did not think met the requirement of the Code. He stated that he did not need the applicant to explain his reason in person, but merely submit a letter stating his reasons.
Chairman Knight agreed, adding that he felt it was important to have something in writing on record in order to grant the extension request. He stated that he was in favor of continuing the item to the next meeting, but wanted to make it clear that the applicant was not being asked to give his reasons in person.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to grant the applicant additional time, until May 23rd, to submit a letter of explanation as to why it is he needs a one year extension, and there will be no further continuances, seconded by Vice Chairman Gerstner. Approved, (6-0)
4. Height Variation (Case No. ZON2005-00409): 30831 Rue Langlois
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, stating the applicant has requested a continuance of the public hearing to June 27th, as the architect has not been able to produce the drawings in time.
Vice Chairman Gerstner moved to continue the public hearing to June 27th as requested by staff, seconded by Commissioner Tetreault. Approved, (6-0).
6. Height Variation (Case No. ZON2005-00636): 30612 Via Rivera
Associate Planner Dudman presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation. She explained there are nine required findings for a Height Variation and staff was able to make all nine of the findings. In discussing neighborhood compatibility, she noted that the average house in the neighborhood is approximately 3,100 square feet and the resulting project will develop a 3,950 square foot home. She explained that staff felt the resulting home will be slightly larger, but not significantly out of scale. Therefore, staff was recommending approval of the Height Variation, as conditioned by staff.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing, and there being no speakers, closed the public hearing.
Commissioners Perestam, Ruttenberg, Lewis and Vice Chairman Gerstner all stated that they were able to make the necessary findings and were in support of the project.
Commissioner Tetreault stated he was also in favor of the project, however he noted that the entire mass of the proposed second story traverses the width of the existing home, which is a situation the Planning Commission often frowns upon. He stated, however, that in this situation the house is on a flag lot and is very secluded, which makes this proposed second story acceptable where it may not be on a different lot in a different location.
Chairman Knight agreed. He stated that his concern revolves around the height of the roof, noting that there is attic access shown on the plans. He stated that he would like to see some type of condition on the approval that the attic area not be habitable space and if it is used for storage, it comply with all Building and Safety requirements for attic storage area.
Chairman Knight moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-24 thereby approving the Height Variation as amended to prohibit the use of the attic as habitable area and if the attic is used for storage it comply with Building and Safety requirements, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg. Approved, (6-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:05 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:15 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (cont)
5. Proposed View Restoration and Preservation Guidelines amendments
Senior Planner Alvarez presented the staff report, reviewing the three remaining issues of concern the Planning Commission discussed at the last meeting and how they were addressed in the draft Guidelines. He stated that staff was recommending the Planning Commission review the recent changes and forward the draft Guidelines to the City Council.
Commissioner Perestam asked how stump grinding is addressed in the Guidelines, and how it fits in with the removal of trees. He asked how stump grinding, if requested, is part of the removal of a tree.
Senior Planner Alvarez explained that tree removal typically means removal of the tree and either flush cutting to grade by grinding the stump down and not removing the root ball and root system. Therefore, grinding is implied when discussing removal.
Commissioner Perestam asked if the tree services bill the foliage owner immediately after performing the service or is a bill due within 30 days.
Senior Planner Alvarez explained that it varies between tree vendors, but typically if it is a large job the tree service will ask for payment within 30 days, while smaller job orders may request payment on site.
Chairman Knight referred to page 17 of the draft Guidelines regarding the language which states that if a tree dies within one year of being laced or trimmed. He asked if the language was implying that the tree died because of poor workmanship or if it died due to the fact it was laced or trimmed. He felt that the language was slightly confusing.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this language has been in the in the Guidelines for quite some time and that there has been no confusion as to the intent or meaning.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Michael O’Sullivan 30466 Via Cambron thanked the Planning Commission for changing the language from "view owner" to View Restoration "applicant". He discussed the language regarding root removal on page 17. He recommended the additional wording regarding root removal be removed especially the language referring to erosion control. He doubted whether erosion control is a serious consideration in more than a small fraction of the cases. He felt the wording was offensive and leaving it in is very transparent, as the intent is to reduce the cost to the applicant. He referred to the section regarding replacement foliage and stated that he did not find the change of language to "similar" satisfactory. He stated that he would like to see the wording restricting a replacement tree to a 15-gallon tree or 24-inch box eliminated and the wording of "reasonably comparable" replacement tree reinstated. He asked if there was going to be any provision added to the Guidelines addressing what would happen if a staff member fails to comply with the Resolution. He also asked if the City Attorney has had a closed session meeting with the City Council to address the issue.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Chairman Knight asked staff if a foliage owner wishes to include larger replacement trees in the work estimate, it that could be done as an option.
Senior Planner Alvarez answered that the foliage owner can choose larger foliage, however the costs of the larger foliage will be borne by the foliage owner.
Commissioner Ruttenberg referred to Mr. O’Sullivan’s comments regarding the language on page 17 referring to erosion control, and agreed with his comments. He did not feel there was any need to keep language which expresses what the Planning Commission’s reasons are for removing a root system and the Planning Commission may be criticized if their statement is not accurate. He suggested the wording "since it usually assists in erosion control" be removed. Referring to Mr. O’Sullivan’s comments regarding "comparable" and "similar" in regards to replacement foliage, he felt that similar is preferable given the limitations and suggestions about size. He felt the Planning Commission expressed at the previous meeting why the word "comparable" is preferred over "similar". He stated that while "similar" is probably a better word, he did not have strong feelings about it one way or the other.
Commissioner Tetreault agreed with Commissioner Ruttenberg’s comments regarding omitting the language referring to erosion control. He discussed the size of the replacement foliage, and felt the proposed language gives the Planning Commission the discretion to order something bigger than 15 gallon or 24 inch box size if warranted under exceptional circumstances.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to approve the draft Guidelines, as modified to remove the language regarding erosion control, and forward the recommendation for adoption of the updated Guidelines to the City Council, seconded by Commissioner Perestam.
Commissioner Ruttenberg suggested amending the motion to change the word "similar" to "comparable" in the discussion regarding replacement foliage.
Commissioner Tetreault accepted the amendment, seconded by Commissioner Perestam.
The motion to forward the draft Guidelines, as amended, to the City Council was approved, (6-0).
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
7. Minutes of April 25, 2006
Commissioner Tetreault moved to adopt the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg. Approved, (6-0).
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
8. Pre-Agenda for the meeting of May 8, 2006
The Planning Commission reviewed and approved the pre-agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:08 p.m.