Staff report dated September 6, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow a 350-square-foot auto sales office in a multi-tenant commercial facility on property located at 616 West Commonwealth Avenue, Unit G (south side of Commonwealth Avenue between 304 and 404 feet west of Chestnut Place and from the edge of Commonwealth and Avenue and 310 feet south of Commonwealth Avenue) (C-H zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines).
Program Planner Linnell reported that this request for a "single-display" auto sales office is a variation of a regular auto dealership. He explained that the DMV now issues a special license, where a dealer may sell to the public, but does not require a lot to display vehicles. An office is required on the premises, and at least one parking space reserved to display a vehicle. The property in question contains an office building, and a large parking area with over 35 spaces, which is above the code requirement. Staff recommended approval of the request, with three conditions of approval.
Commissioner Allred asked if the one space requirement for vehicle display could be increased at a later date. Program Planner Linnell answered that the DMV does not place any type of "cap" on the number of spaces, but states that it shall be at the discretion of the governing jurisdiction. At this time, staff would only allow one space.
Public hearing opened.
Charles Mall, applicant, confirmed that the one space is both the minimum and maximum allowed. Further, he had read and concurred with all of the recommended conditions of approval.
Public hearing closed.
There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. 6890 APPROVING a Conditional Use Permit to allow a 350-square-foot, "single-display" auto sales office in a multi-tenant commercial facility located at 616 West Commonwealth Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Munson, seconded and CARRIED unanimously by voting members present, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN. Staff report dated September 6, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow auto sales offices within a multi-tenant office building on property located at 2736 & 2742 West Orangethorpe Avenue (south side of Orangethorpe Avenue between 140 and 180 feet east of the southeast corner of Orangethorpe and Magnolia Avenues) (C-H zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines).
Assistant Planner Kusch reported that this request was similar to the previous one, but involved a multi-tenant office complex. He reiterated that a "single-display" auto sales use requires an office and one parking space for a vehicle. Typically these office uses are wholesale in nature. The subject site is improved with two office buildings totaling 15,888 square feet, and the submitted site plan shows 68 parking spaces. However, upon visit to the site, staff observed that the four parking spaces along the Magnolia Avenue entrance were non-existent. Should the Planning Commission approve the request, staff is recommending that additional parking and landscaping be located along the street entrance.
All business licenses currently issued for single-display vehicles are restricted for office use only. However, the Code Enforcement Division has received several complaints regarding auto sales occurring on site. This activity has overflowed across Orangethorpe Avenue to a vacant lot. Because no surplus parking spaces are allowed for this type of auto sale use, the overflow parking has become a problem for the neighboring businesses. Staff is also concerned about the use of excessive advertising materials, which are typical of auto sales. The applicant is requesting that 25 of the 63 rental units be utilized as single-display office spaces, and the number allowed should be dependent upon the availability of parking. The DMV allows one dedicated parking space, and there are currently 15 business licenses issued to conduct single-display auto sales. Field checks show that there does not appear to be a problem with parking, however when auto sales events are held (with “attention-grabbing” techniques, such as balloons, streamers, flags, tents and inflatable signs), it becomes a problem for the neighbors.
Staff recommended limiting the number of single-display auto licenses to the current number of 15; prohibiting any auto sales events to occur on site; and conduct a Planning Commission review of the operation in six months. These conditions would allow the current businesses to continue and allow staff the opportunity to monitor the situation. At the six-month review, the Commission may also wish to increase the number of single-display auto dealers from 15 to 25. Staff has received one letter from a neighboring property owner who urged denial of the request by the Commission.
Commissioner Munson wished clarification if the applicant was requesting that 25 of the 63 rental units be used as single-display sales offices. Assistant Planner Kusch explained that sometimes licensees will share office space, and the applicant was requesting that 25 licenses be issued, not 25 available office suites. Further, the office center is currently parked at minimum office standards, based on square footage, as opposed to the DMV requirement of one dedicated parking space per license.
Commissioner Crane noted that the parking stalls off the Magnolia entrance were 8-1/2 feet wide, and the code requirement for parking stalls is nine feet. Given that, if the area were to be restriped with 9-foot stalls, how many spaces would be eliminated? Assistant Planner Kusch replied that in addition to the four spaces which are not useable, another 2-3 would be lost by restriping the stalls.
Public hearing opened.
Larry Ballard, 1235 North Harbor Boulevard, Suite 200, represented the owner of the property, Ron Newell. He first noted that the staff report lists the property size as 17,000 square-feet, but that it was closer to 39,000 square feet. Mr. Newell has rented space to single-display auto dealers for approximately 20 years, and presently 18 dealers are present. Most of these business have no employees, and primarily use the office space as a "mail drop." Most of their business is done off-site, and no sales are done at this location. He also pointed out that the DMV does not require a "designated" parking space, but rather a display area, which must be of sufficient size to accommodate a vehicle(s). Also in the lease are provisions that there shall be no overnight storage or parking, nor any repairs or washing of vehicles. At the present time, there are eleven single-display auto dealers on site, on month-to-month leases. He was aware that Code Enforcement had responded to a complaint at this location back in April, but Mr. Ballard was unaware as to why a complaint was generated. He pointed out an area on the vicinity sketch located on the east side of the building, which is only accessed off of Vine Avenue. He explained that this area is difficult to monitor, but they are aware that persons from the adjoining apartment complex do park here, and often times do mechanical work on their vehicles. Finally, because Condition No. 4 stated that "no tenant spaces shall be leased to medical offices", he wished the Commission to be aware that there was an acupuncture clinic in the building, and a possible chiropractic office. Assistant Planner Kusch informed Mr. Ballard that these uses were not considered to be "medical."
Mr. Ballard stated that they had read and concurred with most of the recommended conditions of approval, but wished to modify Condition No. 1 to increase the number of licensees from 15 to 25. He felt that this would give the Commission an idea of how this could work at the six-month review, and could be cut back to 15, if necessary. Commissioner Munson asked if the applicant was aware of this possibility, and Mr. Ballard answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Munson also inquired if there were any way to "police" the area on the east side of the building, other than hiring security. Mr. Ballard indicated that presently there are signs posted on the lot, and the property owner does inspect the area on a periodic basis.
Commissioner Simons questioned whether the applicant found Condition No. 9, concerning the addition of landscaping and parking lot improvements, to be satisfactory. Mr. Ballard explained that a portion of this property had previously been condemned by the state and is now considered surplus property. They would have no opposition to striping the lot and planting additional landscaping, but pointed out that it would be difficult to install an irrigation system at this time.
Julius W. Feldman, 3801 Seascape Drive, Huntington Beach, is the Managing Partner of Vine-Fullerton Apartments, adjacent to this site. He commented that while he has no objection to the single-display auto sales use, he does object to the vehicles which are parked on the east side of the building. He displayed photos to the Commission which showed cars parked at this location, some of which had expired tags and were extremely dirty. Further, employees would litter the alleyway and homeless persons would congregate on the wall separating the two properties.
Commissioner Munson reminded Mr. Feldman that there was a possibility some of the vehicles in question were owned by the apartment tenants. Mr. Feldman reported that he would monitor the area closely and would report back to the Commission at the six-month review.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner Crane suggested placing another condition which would limit overnight parking.
Commissioner Munson did not feel comfortable arbitrarily placing such a condition on private property. He supported the applicant’s request to increase the number of licensees to 25, and a review of the operation within six months.
Commissioner Simons supported increasing the number of licensees to 25 and was confident that the parking problems on the east side could be mitigated. Commissioner Sandoval concurred.
Chairman LeQuire asked that staff give Mr. Feldman a contact at the city where he could voice his concerns during this six-month period. Assistant Planner Kusch gave his business card to Mr. Feldman.
There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. 6891 APPROVING a Conditional Use Permit to allow a "single-display" auto sales office in a multi-tenant office building on property located at 2736 and 2742 West Orangethorpe Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously by voting members present, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED, modifying Condition No. 1 by changing "15" to "25."