CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
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 Ruttenberg led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Lewis, Perestam, Ruttenberg, Tetreault, and Chairman Knight
Absent: Commissioner Karp and Vice Chairman Gerstner were excused.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Associate Planner Fox, Associate Planner Sohn, and Recreation and Parks staff Matt Waters and Karen Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The agenda was unanimously approved as presented.
Staff distributed two items of correspondence for Agenda item No. 5 and two late items for Agenda item No. 5 (distributed with Planning Commission approval). Director/Secretary Rojas noted that an appeal of a Planning Commission View Preservation decision is scheduled to be heard at the next City council meeting and reminded the Planning Commission about the upcoming Visioning Workshop on June 3rd.
Chairman Knight noted that he attended the Mayor’s Breakfast and the May asked him to look into green design standards and incentives.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-agenda items)
1. Time Extension (Case No. ZON2003-00465): 4348 Via Frascati
Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report, explaining the Planning Commission had requested more detail on the reason for the time extension request, and the owner is present to explain the need for the extension.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Darnell Johnson 4348 Via Frascati explained that because of recent divorce and the need to scale down the size of the project he is requesting a time extension of the Planning Approval.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commission Tetreault moved to grant the applicant’s request for a one-year time extension, thereby setting the final expiration date to April 12, 2007 with all conditions of approval remaining in full force and effect, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg. Approved, (5-0).
2. Height Variation Permit, Grading Permit, and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2005-00514): 6733 Abbottswood Drive
Associate Planner Fox presented the staff report, explaining that in preparing the analysis of the project staff determined that the project would result in significant view impairment from surrounding properties. As a result, the applicant and architect have decided to revise the project to address the issues. Therefore, the applicant has requested a continuance to June 13, 2006.
Commissioner Perestam moved to continue the public hearing to June 13, 2006, seconded by Commissioner Tetreault. Approved, (5-0).
3. View Restoration Permit No. 123 – Annual maintenance review
Director/Secretary Rojas presented the staff report, noting the foliage owner has requested a continuance, and staff is recommending the hearing be continued to July 11, 2006.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to continue the public hearing to July 11, 2006, seconded by Commissioner Perestam. Approved, (5-0).
4. Height Variation Permit, Grading Permit, and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2005-00370): 4206 Exultant Drive
Associate Planner Fox presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation, Grading Permit, and Site Plan Review. He stated that staff was able to make the necessary findings for approval of the Height Variation, however several neighbors have expressed concerns regarding view impairment, neighborhood compatibility, and privacy. He explained that staff determined the project does not exceed the 16-foot by right height limit for a single family home, and therefore the resulting structure will not result in a significant view impairment as defined in the Development Code. He also noted that the proposed home will be slightly lower in height than the existing home. Regarding neighborhood compatibility, he explained the proposed project will result in a home that is seventy one percent larger than the homes in the neighborhood, however because of the excavation of the garage and basement, more than ¼ of the proposed square footage would be below grade and the single story portion of the project will be comparable in size to other single story homes in the neighborhood. Therefore, staff believed the resulting apparent structure size would not be out of character. Regarding privacy, staff did not feel the location of the doors and window on the west and south facing façades present any significant privacy infringement that currently does not exist. Therefore, staff is recommending approval of the Height Variation, Grading permit, and Site Plan Review as conditioned in the staff report.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff to clarify why a Height Variation Permit application is required if the height of the house will not exceed 16 feet.
Associate Planner Fox explained that the by-right height limit for a house on a pad lot is 16 feet from the highest point of the pad covered by the structure and a maximum of 20 feet from the lowest point of the pad covered by the structure. He stated that, not withstanding the area being graded down for the garage entry, the envelope of the proposed house falls well within that by-right envelope. He explained that if there were no grading being proposed, the same house could be built with the same view impairment and there would be no consideration of the impairment whether significant or not.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if the fact that the property is for sale will affect their decision, as the permit runs with the land and not the owner.
Associate Planner Fox agreed, adding that if there is a change in ownership the new property owner will have to put something in writing that they consent to this proposed project for it to move forward.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked, in regards to soils and geology, if further approvals are still necessary.
Associate Planner Fox answered that the project has received an in-concept approval, which allows the project to move through the Planning Department. He noted that further soils approvals are still necessary before a building permit can be issued.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if any public input is allowed during this soils and geology approval.
Associate Planner Fox explained that this process is a matter of making sure that what is proposed is consistent with the Code and generally accepted practices for construction. He noted that the reports are a matter of public record.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if the neighbors would have the opportunity to point out particular concerns in regards to the stability of the soils and geology on the property to make sure it is looked at carefully.
Associate Planner Fox answered that if it is the Planning Commission’s wish to approve the project a condition can be added that notes specific concerns that the Planning Commission would like to see the City’s geotechnical consultant look at closely before granting final approval.
Commissioner Ruttenberg referred to the privacy issue in regards to the neighbor and asked if the fact that there is a hedge between the property was a consideration for staff when looking at privacy.
Associate Planner Fox answered that it was not, explaining that the hedge is on the neighbor’s property and could be cut down. Further, since there is only small window and two doors facing towards that side of the house and not towards the living room, staff did not feel there would be a privacy impact.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if the size of the chimney is larger than the minimum required for a chimney.
Associate Planner Fox answered that, per the Building Code, the top of the chimney must be two feet higher than the closest point of the roof to the chimney. He stated that the plan shows the chimneys are two feet above the roof.
Chairman Knight asked staff to clarify the non-compliant aspects of the grading and how the Code addresses the non-compliance.
Associate Planner Fox explained exceptions that need to be made in the findings, the first being the maximum depth of cut. He explained the maximum depth of cut is 5 feet maximum with 9 feet proposed for the basement. He noted, however that the increased depth of cut can be approved upon a finding that unusual topography or soils conditions or other circumstances make the additional depth of cut reasonable and necessary. He explained that the additional depth of cut is to support the basement and garage within the building footprint, and the Development Code considers excavations less than 10 feet in depth for foundations or footings to be exempt from grading approval, therefore staff felt that the 9 foot depth was warranted. He discussed the deviation of the number and height of the retaining walls adjacent to the driveway. He explained that within the setback area the retaining walls will be limited to 42 inches in height and will increase in height as they go back towards the house. He stated that since the walls will be to Code in the setback areas where they are most visible and only get taller as they go back towards the house, staff was satisfied.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Nagy Bakhoum 3800 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, stated he is the architect for the project. He discussed the question of stability to the site, noting it is not his intention, nor the owners, to destabilize the property or any properties around the subject property. He stated he will follow the recommendations of the soils engineer and geology to the letter. Discussing grading, he noted there is a significant amount of fill on the property and one of the advantages of creating the basement is to remove much of the undesirable soils conditions. He discussed the size of the structure, explaining that over 1,000 square feet of the house will be subterranean which will make the appearance of the house that of a single story home. He explained that the style and materials used for the house are consistent with those used in the neighborhood. He stated that he and the owner tried diligently to do their best to reduce the overall impact to the home in terms of bulk, mass, and views. In terms of privacy, he noted that there is a wall behind the hedge previously discussed, and therefore if the hedge is removed there would still be the wall in place.
Chairman Knight asked if there is a reason the wall at the visibility triangle needed to be at 36 inches.
Mr. Bakhoum felt it would be possible to comply with a 30-inch wall at the visibility triangle. He noted that the reason for the wall is to keep people walking on the sidewalk from falling down into the property.
Chairman Knight asked if the sewer lines will be connected to those on Schooner Drive or Exultant Drive.
Mr. Bakhoum answered they will be connected to the sewer on Schooner Drive, and will be a gravity feed.
Commissioner Perestam asked if the chimney is at the minimum height and width, or if they can be reduced.
Mr. Bakhoum answered the chimneys are as narrow as possible and at the minimum height.
Marilyn Hauge 4212 Exultant Drive stated that she was concerned that the development of this project could have a destabilizing affect during the grading phase. She was concerned that, since her property is built on fill, that there may be some damage to her property and home. She stated that if this project is approved, she would like to see some on going responsibility for the integrity of the retaining wall that separates the properties. She explained that the former owner had the retaining wall inspected by at least two structural engineers and found to be sound. She also felt that the proposed home will impinge upon her privacy and changes what she will see out of her two bedroom windows.
Chairman Knight asked if her concerns would be satisfied if she were allowed to review the geotechnical reports and a qualified engineer has said it would be safe.
Ms. Hauge stated her concern was what will happen if the wall is not safe and who will pay to rectify the problem. She was very concerned that the size of the proposed home and the proposed grading will affect the integrity of the retaining wall either during the construction or after.
Ruth McConnell 4129 Exultant Drive stated she is opposed to the project for the similar reasons presented by Ms. Hauge. She was very concerned about the amount of land being moved and the size of the proposed home.
Mary Gioiello 4207 Exultant Drive stated that she too is very concerned about the stability of the soils and what will happen during the grading. She also stated that a portion of her view will be taken from her master bedroom. She did not feel the project was compatibile with the neighborhood and was too big for the neighborhood. She was concerned with the chimneys and vents that may obstruct the small view frame from her home.
Commissioner Ruttenberg stated that in the letter sent in, one of Ms. Giello’s complaints was view obstruction from multiple trees on the applicant’s property, and asked her to explain what she is referring to.
Ms. Gioiello explained that currently there are trees on the applicant’s property that obstruct her view from the east end of her property and she is unable to see the silhouette and where it sits on the property and how it affects her view.
Associate Planner Fox stated that the tree being referred to is a palm tree in the right-of-way, which the applicant has already volunteered to have removed with permission from the City.
Nagy Bakhoum (in rebuttal) reiterated that it is not his intent or desire to destabilize the property or cause any damage to neighboring properties, and as a result consultants have been hired who he very strongly feels will do an excellent job. He noted that the geotechnical reports are also reviewed by the City consultant and has every confidence that the work will be done safely and correctly. He stated that the retaining wall in question is fully on the applicant’s property and belongs fully to the applicant. He stated that the wall is currently cracking, and though it is their intention to keep the wall, it may need to be removed and replaced. He stated that he will be willing to remove the palm tree if it is necessary, noting that he doesn’t want to remove the tree unless it is absolutely necessary due to view impairment.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Perestam asked what the usual procedure is when there is some damage done to a neighboring property during the construction period.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that soils and geology is a very serious issue to the City and explained that the City geologist has reviewed this project and the reports submitted by the applicant’s soils engineer. He explained that so far there have been no issues of concern raised by the City Geologist regarding the project and the stability of the land. He also noted that throughout the construction the city building inspectors will be inspecting the project at every phase to ensure the house is being built per the plans and the Code. However, if something does happen to go wrong it is the applicant’s responsibility to deal with any damage caused to neighboring properties.
Commissioner Tetreault asked what neighbors should do if, during construction, they notice cracks in the wall or feel there has been damage done to the wall.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that they should contact the City so that the building inspectors and/or the City Geologist can examine the wall and direct the appropriate action. He also suggested the neighbors photograph or video tape all of their walls and property before the construction begins. He added that approved soils reports are public information and anyone can come to the City to review the approved reports.
Commissioner Perestam felt that digging down deeper for the foundation will help stabilize the condition on the house, noting that Klondike Canyon is in very close proximity to this residence. He felt that this design was a good alternative to a second story addition. He stated he would like to see a condition added that no current or future foliage be allowed to grow over 16 feet in height on the property. He stated he was in support of the project.
Commissioner Ruttenberg stated that his concern has to do with the soils and geology, however the issue comes down to following the procedures that are in place and listening to the experts in regards to handling the issues. He felt that the neighbors have legitimate concerns, however if the procedures are followed and we listen to the City’s experts, there should be no problems.
Commissioner Tetreault also had concerns regarding the soils and geology, however the Planning Commission’s role is to approve or not approve the project not on the technical aspects of the construction, as that is for the City experts to review and approve. Regarding the views, the City has rules protecting views, however there has to be a balance between property rights and what a property owner can do with his property versus the neighbors and the views they have. He noted that a property owner has a right to build up to 16 feet in height, and this project will not exceed 16 feet in height. He acknowledged this house will be large for the neighborhood, however the mass will be hidden in the subterranean level. He therefore supports the project.
Commissioner Lewis agreed with the comments of the other Commissioners, noting that this is a very good example of balancing property owner’s rights to expand and have more room with the need to not have a massive home on a corner lot. He stated that there is a big difference between apparent mass and actual mass. He stated that he supports the project.
Chairman Knight stated he was initially concerned with the size of the proposed residence, however much of the bulk and mass of this house is underground and the roofline is within the 16 foot limit. In terms of the intersection visibility triangle, he stated he would leave that to the applicant and the staff to determine if the wall height should be brought into compliance or not. In terms of the palm tree, he was unsure if the removal of the tree can be made a condition of approval since the applicant does not own the land that the tree is on.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the removal of the palm tree would be contingent on the Public Works Department’s approval, however Public Works does have insurance concerns about residents removing trees on City land. He stated that the approval can be conditioned that the palm tree be removed with Public Works Department approval or not addressed at all in the conditions and let the concerned party file a City Tree Review Permit.
Commissioner Lewis moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-25 thereby approving the Height Variation, Grading approval, and Site Plan Review, as amended to restrict the height of vegetation on the property to 16 feet, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg. Approved, (5-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:30 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:40 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
5. Appeal of Special Use Permit and Coastal Permit (Case No. ZON2006-00118): 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South
Director/Secretary Rojas gave a brief background, explaining that typically when there is a use proposed for a City park or City site the City Council or City Manager makes a decision on that use and will grant or deny permission to apply. He explained that in this case the City Council authorized the Peninsula Seniors to submit an application for the use of Abalone Cove, which triggered the Planning Department’s review. He stated that what is under the Planning Commission’s purview is the Coastal Permit and Special Use Permit and if the proposed use is an adequate use for the site.
Associate Planner Sohn presented the staff report, providing a brief background of the project, explaining the Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement has approved the request for the Peninsula Seniors to use the Abalone Cove site as a temporary location, and explained the findings by which the Director made his decision. She stated that staff was recommending the Planning Commission deny the appeal thereby upholding the Director’s decision of approval of the Special Use Permit and Coastal Permit.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff how it is determined who can apply to use this property and if there are requirements that have to be met.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that who can apply to use the property is a matter for the City Council to consider and what is before the Planning Commission are certain planning findings that must be made for that submitted application as to whether this site is adequate for the proposed use.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if one of the findings would be the length of the use requested at the proposed site.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that would be in the Planning Commission’s purview if it was felt the length of stay created a negative impact to the neighbors.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if the length of the temporary use was within the Planning Commission’s discretion, noting this application is requesting a 2 ½ year use of the property.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that would be in the Planning Commission’s discretion.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that the 2 ½ year period requested anticipates the completion of the Crestridge Development, and asked the status of that project.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the EIR is currently being prepared and it is anticipated that the public hearings for the project will happen later this year.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if it would be correct to say that at this time there is no certainty that the Crestridge Development will be completed in 2 ½ years.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there is no certainty in any project being completed within any time frame.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked, if this application is approved and the Crestridge Development is not completed in 2 ½ years, would this applicant have the right to seek an extension.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered the applicant can seek an extension.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if they were aware of whether or not the applicant has any legal commitment from the Crestridge Development to include a senior center in its development.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that he was not aware of what level of commitment the applicant has from the Crestridge Development.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if the applicant will be limited to using the facility and trailers only during the hours that Abalone Cove Park is open.
Recreation and Parks staff member Waters answered that the seniors have asked for use during the hours of 9:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday, and staff hours on site will be extended to mirror those hours.
Commissioner Ruttenberg stated he has seen information that the Peninsula Seniors have roughly between 1,500 to 2,000 members and asked staff if the size of the organization is important with regard to the determination of the application, for example with regards to traffic.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the size of the organization is related to the determination of the application.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that there is a $5 fee for parking at Abalone Cove, and asked if the Peninsula Seniors would be required to pay that parking fee.
Recreation and Parks staff member Karen Peterson answered that the parking fees would be waived for the members of the Peninsula Seniors.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if the Peninsula Seniors would be paying the City any monthly rent.
Ms. Peterson answered that no such arrangements have been made.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that the applicant currently rents 2,800 square feet in Rolling Hills Estates, and asked if staff is aware if they pay rent for that or not.
Ms. Peterson believed that the applicant does pay rent for that use.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff what information they had regarding the applicant’s inability to locate new rental space.
Mr. Waters answered that it was staff understands that the applicant has not been able to find space they considered acceptable.
Commissioner Lewis asked, if this project were to be approved, if there could be a six month review to see how everything is doing.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that could be written into the conditions of approval.
Chairman Knight noted that in winter months additional staff time would be needed to accommodate the requested hours of the seniors, and asked staff if they knew the approximate cost to the City for this time.
Mr. Waters clarified that the seniors are willing to transfer grant money usually given by the City to the Recreation and Parks Department to cover the additional staff time, which is approximated at $7,000 per year.
Chairman Knight discussed the occasional after hour bus trips and asked if there was a designated time that the busses had to return to Abalone Cove.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there was not a time limit specified.
Chairman Knight asked if there would be any ADA requirements that would be necessary with this proposed use.
Associate Planner Sohn answered that there would be no additional ADA requirements for the parking lot, however the trailers are proposed to be ADA compliant.
Chairman Knight opened the public hearing.
Lynn Swank, Sea Cove Drive, felt that City staff has made it difficult and wants to obstruct any objections she has to this project. She stated that she is a senior citizen, she is handicapped, she is a woman, and she has a handicap parking placard and does not want anyone to give her any sympathy nor does she want anyone to give anyone else sympathy because of any physical handicap or their age. She felt the City is arbitrarily changing the public use of the park to a private use. She stated that this is a passive, open space park. She stated she is confused, disappointed, and angered by the process, as nobody seems to be able to explain the process to her. She stated she has continually asked staff for any correspondence received and to be notified of any meetings, which she said has not been done. She asked how she, as an appellant, was supposed to respond to an application that is incomplete, and for that very reason the Planning Commission should not even accept the application at this time. She concluded by stating that she has spoken to many people in the neighborhood who will not attend this meeting and speak against the project because they are fearful that the Planning Department and the Planning Commission will not fairly evaluate their own requests to make changes on their own properties.
Bill Swank, 8 Sea Cove Drive stated he sent an email to the City regarding this project on May 15th and resent it on May 22nd, and was told that neither was received. He felt that questions rose by the Planning Commission show what a poorly conceived and documented idea this is. He discussed the after dark use, proposed to happen 6 times per year. He stated that there is absolutely no mention in the staff report regarding what type of nighttime parking will be available. He felt there has to be an impact to the neighbors because of this, and therefore they should have been a CEQA process that should have been followed. He felt that there are other locations in the City where nighttime bus pick up and drop off can be accomplished with no impact, mentioning the lighted parking lots at Hesse Park and the High School. He objected to the private use of a public park, adding that he has no objections to the organization, but the fact that there will be buildings that have restricted use to their organization only.
Vicki Pinkham 1 Narcissa Drive stated that the Peninsula Seniors is a wonderful organization and one that the community needs, however she felt that Abalone Cove is the most incorrect location to put them. She felt that to put two trailers for a temporary 2 ½ years or more use in an open space, nature preserve makes no sense. She stated that even though the organization is non-profit, it is still a business, and why the City feels it is acceptable to bring a business into a nature preserve park makes no sense. She stated that there will of course be an impact aesthetically and visually. She felt that the “temporary” use of the park was very vague, adding that 2 ½ years is much more than temporary. She felt that another commercial space or available school space would be a more appropriate location for the Peninsula Seniors.
Ken Dyda 5715 Capeswood Drive, stated he is the current president of the Peninsula Seniors. He felt it was worth noting the uniqueness of the Peninsula Seniors, noting that no facilities, staffing, or supplies are provided by any public agency, yet the Seniors provide a service that would otherwise be provided by a taxing public agency. He felt the staff report did an excellent job in identifying all the processes, and that was based on the fact that the Seniors included everything asked for in the application. He emphasized that the request is for a temporary use of the site, not permanent. He discussed the issue of parking, stating that there are not enough parking spaces available at upper Point Vicente or at Hesse Park to accommodate the additional use by the seniors. He stated that typically there are 30 – 35 seniors who participate in the cultural and educational trips, and have never used more than one bus. He stated that there are approximately 20 cars left in the parking lot for these trips. He explained that the senior facility would not be limited to the members and he encouraged the public to participate. He also explained that, schedules permitting, the facility would be available to other groups.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Mr. Dyda if, at the current time, there was any legal arrangement made with the Crestridge development.
Mr. Dyda answered there is no legal arrangement as yet, as the arrangement is awaiting the completion of the EIR, at which time one of the conditions is that Crestridge development will donate approximately 2 acres to the Peninsula Seniors for their facility.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked what would happen if the proposed Senior Center at Crestridge is not done by the projected date in 2 ½ years.
Mr. Dyda stated that was something he had not contemplated, as he is confident the Center will be completed.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Mr. Dyda if he would be agreeable to a condition that at no time will more than one bus be used at a time.
Mr. Dyda was agreeable to such a condition.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked Mr. Dyda if he would be agreeable to a condition that there would be no use of the Center after midnight.
Mr. Dyda was agreeable to that condition.
Commissioner Perestam asked what other sites were considered for the Peninsula Seniors.
Mr. Dyda answered that Hesse Park was considered, Upper Point Vicente Park, and PVIC. He explained that these sites don’t have adequate parking during the daytime when the Peninsula Seniors would be meeting. He stated he would love to have something at the Peninsula Center, however there is nothing there they can afford.
Chairman Knight asked Mr. Dyda if he had looked at other sites in the other cities on the Peninsula.
Mr. Dyda answered that he had looked in other cities, but there was nothing available. Mr. Dyda added that the Trump organization has indicated that they will bear the cost and do the installation of the trailers. In addition, Trump will do the negotiations for the lease of the trailers.
Lynn Swank (in rebuttal) stated that Trump is going to lease the trailers for the seniors and moving them to any location the seniors want them to go. With Trump trailers at Abalone Cove, she questioned what would stop the Trump organization from using these trailers any way they wanted to. She mentioned that Walk on the Wild Side was recently held at the City Hall and hundreds of people attended this event. She noted that there was ample parking for this event and asked why the trailers couldn’t be put at City Hall property.
Chairman Knight closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Perestam asked staff if the City Council was aware of the time frame when granting permission to apply for this use at Abalone Cove.
Director/Secretary Rojas was not aware if the City Council knew of the time frame or not, however he explained that the time period is a detail that is worked out during the Planning Department process.
Mr. Waters added that the Seniors estimated they would need the site for 2 ½ years based on estimates from the Crestridge project, and this was mentioned in the staff report that went to the City Council.
Commissioner Tetreault asked staff if they could provide examples of other Conditional Use Permits that have been granted by the City for uses similar to this.
Mr. Waters answered that there are several examples of private uses on public park sites, though he was not sure the uses were granted through a Special Use Permit. He noted that the Portuguese Bend Nursery School at Abalone Cove has been existence for decades and the Montessori School at Ladera Linda rents five classes from the City.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that the Montessori School pays rent to the City and asked if the Portuguese Bend Nursery School also pays rent, and if so, how much.
Mr. Waters answered that the Nursery School does not pay rent.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked how much space the nursery school and the Montessori School each use.
Mr. Waters answered that the Nursery School uses outdoor space as well as one classroom and storage area. The Montessori School rents five classrooms at Ladera Linda.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked if either use is permitted by a Special Use Permit.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that neither use is permitted through a Special Use Permit, however the Montessori School is under a Conditional Use Permit.
Commissioner Ruttenberg asked staff if they were aware of any temporary use in the City granted under a Special Use Permit.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that he was not.
Chairman Knight noted that there is a section at Upper Point Vicente Park where only a few cars are ever parked, and asked if that location had been considered for the Seniors.
Mr. Waters answered that that particular location had not been considered, however he did feel the area could handle the two trailers, but was unsure about adequate parking. He stated that the City Council has directed staff to look at long term planning for the Upper Point Vicente site, working with the Art Center, and a master plan process, and that is the main factor in moving away from that site as a possible location.
Chairman Knight asked if the large area behind Ladera Linda had been considered.
Mr. Waters explained that location had definitely been looked at, however in conversations with the Seniors, they did not want to go to that site as they felt it was too isolated.
Chairman Knight discussed the CEQA requirements, noting that the subject area is surrounded by sensitive vegetation. He was concerned that by using the exemption to CEQA these sensitive areas cannot even be addressed, and he did not want to bypass the resource agencies. He also questioned if staff had looked at the Coastal Specific Plan under the Natural Environmental Element Guideline 8, which discusses natural vegetation and wildlife.
Commissioner Lewis understood the process to be that the Recreation and Parks Department has made a recommendation to the City Council that these trailers be put in a specific park, and the City Council has agreed to allow the Seniors to apply for a Special Use Permit at Abalone Cove. He thought that the Planning Commission’s job was to not second guess City Council as to which park the trailers should be put or whether or not the Peninsula Seniors is a worthwhile organization to use public resources, but rather to look at the seven applicable findings contained in the proposed Resolution and determine whether or not the proposed use satisfies those findings.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed, noting that the City Council authorized an application at a specific site and the appeal issue before the Planning Commission is to see if the specific findings can be made to determine if the site is appropriate.
Commissioner Lewis asked if it was within the Planning Commission’s scope to determine whether or not a rental fee or charge be placed as a condition of approval of the project.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the only way to do that was to be able to make a finding that there is an impact that the fee is mitigation for.
Commissioner Lewis felt the Planning Commission’s role in this application is rather limited. He stated that he was able to make the necessary findings, noting his only hesitance would be that a possible six month review be required as part of the approval.
Commissioner Tetreault understood the role of the Planning Commission in this application and stated that he could not think of a more worthy organization that the Peninsula Seniors. What he was worried about, however, was what would happen when the next application comes along and what the criteria would be for granting it in the same location or similar location as this application. He questioned if granting this application would set a precedent that would make it very difficult later on to be able to articulate why it was that the Peninsula Seniors were permitted to do something for 2 ½ years and another organization was not allowed to do something similar. He was also concerned with the concept of “temporary”, as he did not think anything is permanent. He felt that putting two structures for 2 ½ years on an open space park area is inconsistent with the parks present use. He stated that he felt restricted by the process in that the Peninsula Seniors need a place to operate, however the Planning Commission’s job is to look at one particular application at a specific site without being able to participate in a solution other than accepting what is being requested.
Commissioner Ruttenberg also had difficulty in a 2 ½ year period being considered temporary, and staff has indicated that no Special Use Permits have been granted for that period of time. He was also concerned that even after the 2 ½ year period has expired the Crestridge Development may not be completed.
Commissioner Perestam agreed with Commissioner Tetreault’s comments about the process and the role of the Planning Commission in that process. He stated that he does not think the proposed location is suitable for such a use and was not satisfied that all alternatives have been explored. He stated that he was not ready to vote on this application at this meeting and take another look at the application in a few weeks.
Chairman Knight agreed this is a very difficult situation for the Planning Commission. He did not think the Coastal Commission would look at this application lightly, as it is an application for a membership group having exclusive use of a coastal zone, and thought the Seniors might consider alternative sites. He too was concerned with the temporary, 2 ½ year use of the site. Specifically regarding the Special Use Permit and the Coastal Permit, he did not feel there was enough information for him to make all of the necessary findings. He felt that further analysis was required in order to make the CEQA exemption and to properly address the NCCP and other issues.
Commissioner Ruttenberg felt it was pretty clear this matter will ultimately be decided by the City Council and it would be unfair to the Seniors to delay the matter by not voting and continuing the application to a future meeting. He felt the Planning Commission should vote on the matter, as it will be appealed to the City Council either way.
Commissioner Lewis agreed, as he did not think there was much more information staff could present to the Planning Commission that would help in the vote. He felt that the Planning Commission owed it to the parties on both sides to keep the matter moving forward so it can get to the City Council for a decision.
Commissioner Lewis moved to uphold the appeal, thereby overturning the Director’s decision to allow this special use at Abalone Cove, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that it will need to be specified what finding can’t be made in order to uphold the appeal.
Commissioner Lewis withdrew his motion, as he was able to make the findings.
Commissioner Tetreault moved to overturn the Director’s approval of the Special Use Permit and Coastal Permit and uphold the appeal based on the inability to make a positive finding that the proposed use will not adversely interfere with the existing use of the subject property, seconded by Commissioner Ruttenberg. Approved, (3-2) with Commissioners Lewis and Perestam dissenting.
Commissioner Ruttenberg noted that he could not make findings 2 and 3 for the Special Use Permit and Chairman Knight stated he was not able to make support the project because of the CEQA exemption.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
6. Minutes of May 9, 2006
Commissioner Tetreault moved to approve the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Lewis. Approved, (5-0)
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
7. Pre-Agenda for the meeting of June 13, 2006
The Commissioners agreed to agendize at a future meeting a discussion on the interpretation of the BGR lines.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the Equestrian Committee is requesting a joint meeting with the Planning Commission to discuss the proposed Code Amendment to preserve Equestrian Districts. Therefore, if the Planning Commission wants to discuss the merits of having a joint meeting with the Equestrian Committee, that discussion will have to be placed on a future agenda.
The Commission agreed to place that item on a future agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:13 p.m.