ITEM NO. 1 PARCEL MAP PM-02-124. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: RICHARD DELANO
Commissioner Wilson excused himself from this item and left the room. Chairman Crane stated that he personally knew the applicant and is a member of his racquet club, and he assisted the applicant in preparing sketches regarding this subdivision request. Commissioner Crane did not feel this would affect his ability to make a judgment on this application.
Staff report dated April 24, 2002, was presented pertaining to a request to subdivide a 40,560-square-foot lot into two parcels on property located at 120 East Las Palmas Drive (south side of Las Palmas Drive between approximately 220 feet and 345 feet east of Harbor Boulevard) (R-1-20 zone) (Categorically exempt under Class 32 of CEQA Guidelines).
Overhead photos and transparencies were shown. Program Planner Linnell stated that the proposal met all of the development standards for a subdivision zoned R-1-20,000, which was defined as a lot that has to be at least 20,000 square feet in size. However, the history of this neighborhood as a rural area with large lots for approximately fifty years causes the neighborhood to want to keep the lots large. Letters in opposition to this subdivision from surrounding neighbors were received. A similar request from 1988, was contained in the staff report showing how the City Council denied the request for the sake of keeping the neighborhood in tact.
Staff recommended denial of the request. If the Commission supported staff's recommendation, staff suggested that the Commission rezone the property to R-1-40,000 so that this situation will not be repeated. The reasons for denial involve a land use policy that involves retaining the existing character of the neighborhood. Another reason for denial is the potential impact to adjacent properties. If the subdivision was approved, the zoning code would require that any existing livestock on adjacent property would need to be relocated so that there is at least fifty feet of separation between them and the habitable dwelling.
Chief Planner Rosen augmented that the policy Program Planner Linnell was referring to is the City's General Plan Policy LU2.5 regarding neighborhood preservation and compatibility that deals with retaining the character of existing residential neighborhoods. The Zoning Code requires setbacks for horses that are fifty feet from houses, and thirty-feet from swimming pools.
Aerial views were shown of the neighborhood in question. Chairman Crane asked if Policy LU2.5 pertained to all neighborhoods. Chief Planner Rosen read the statement . . ."respect and retain the character of existing residential neighborhoods and encourage the establishment of unique identity in new neighborhoods . . . . to assure new construction and public improvements in existing neighborhoods are compatible with the neighborhood's character." He stated that it would apply to all neighborhoods.
Commissioner Stopper questioned Analysis #7 in the staff report and wanted clarification of the compromises mentioned. Program Planner Linnell stated that zoning regulations require horse stables to be set back fifty feet from a residence on adjacent property. Commissioner Stopper asked if this requirement would only affect the property to the immediate east of the property in question. Program Planner Linnell indicated it would also affect the two parcels to the south. Commissioner Stopper indicated that he believed the two properties to the south were not large enough to have horses. Program Planner Linnell indicated that any property over three-quarters of an acre is allowed to have horses. Commissioner Crane asked Program Planner Linnell to clarify the properties in question on the overhead.
Commissioner Price asked if future development could be conditioned to require a fifty-foot setback, and if the current design reflected those set backs. Program Planner Linnell indicated that a review of the specific design of the new residence would be done to protect the properties in question, and that the plan was of a generic nature.
Commissioner Stopper questioned the assessment listed in Analysis #8 regarding the fact that the neighborhood has changed little since 1988. Program Planner Linnell indicated that there had been no development or requests to subdivide the properties since 1988. Room additions and new development have occurred, but property sizes have remained the same. Program Planner Linnell indicated that it would be up to the neighborhood to determine if they want to keep the rural atmosphere of the neighborhood, or if the new owners still have a different mindset.
Chief Planner Rosen added that 'neighborhood character' involves changes to the street edge, designation to the street; the character and orientation of homes; subdivisions, and fundamental changes that affect the rural character. The rural character is present because there are no curbs, gutters or sidewalks; parkways with trees, and the presence of a substantial setback of homes. Chief Planner Rosen indicated that from staff's observation, the neighborhood has changed very little since 1988.
Commissioner Price noted that a recommendation was being made to change the zoning to R-1-40,000, and questioned why this had not occurred after the last two hearings on this issue. Program Planner Linnell did not have a reason why this was not done previously. Commissioner Price asked if the look of the street would change if this subdivision were approved. Program Planner Linnell indicated that neither the parcel map nor rezone would change the rural aspect of the neighborhood in regard to curbs and gutters. Commissioner Price also wanted to know when the applicant acquired the property. Program Planner Linnell deferred to the applicant.
Commissioner Savage wanted clarification whether the issue of rezoning and subdividing were one in the same or separate. Program Planner Linnell indicated they were separate, however, the issue of the rezoning is being brought up in order to put aside any further attempts to subdivide the neighborhood. Commissioner Savage questioned if the rezoning was applicable to the lot in question or to the whole neighborhood. Chief Planner Rosen explained that the issue before the Commission was subdivision, and staff was recommending that if the subdivision were denied, the Commission would direct staff to initiate the zone change.
Chairman Crane questioned if the only properties involved in the future zone change, according to the map, are the eight properties on the south side of Las Palmas and staff answered affirmatively.
Commissioner LeQuire asked if staff had information from the 1972 or 1988 proposals as to why the rezoning was not acted upon. Program Planner Linnell indicated that records show there was never a discussion with regard to implementing a zone change.
Commissioner Price noted that there was property west of Harbor Boulevard that appeared to be flag lots. Program Planner Linnell affirmed that they were. Senior Engineer Wallin also added that the first 350 feet on West Las Palmas Drive is not rural road. This section of property was excluded from the rural road when it was adopted.
Commissioner Griffin asked if there were currently any pools or stables that would be affected by this subdivision. Program Planner Linnell indicated that the property to the east would not be affected. The aerial photograph did not clarify if there were existing stables on the properties to the south. Commissioner Griffin further asked who could initiate a zone change. Chief Planner Rosen stated that a zone change is done through a Resolution of Intent, adopted by the Council or Planning Commission to initiate the process. The Resolution can be triggered by an application from a property owner or from staff. Commissioner Griffin asked if Planning Commission approval is required to initiate a zone change. Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively but noted that a property owner can also start the process, but there are application fees involved.
Chief Planner Rosen stated that the issue regarding horses does not involve stables; it involves the inability of livestock to approach a habitable dwelling space within fifty feet. The plan submitted is schematic and the massing and location has been very generalized.
Commissioner Griffin asked if legal counsel had reviewed all findings for denial and approval and if they had an opinion. Legal council responded affirmatively.
Public hearing opened.
Applicant Richard Delano, property owner at 120 E. Las Palmas Drive, believed he was within his right to subdivide his property based on zoning requirements, and he had followed all the steps for this application. He said that Program Planner Linnell had contacted him to let him know that there was neighborhood opposition to the subdivision. Mr. Delano provided photographs to the Commission of the property in question, which he purchased in September of 1998.
Commissioner Griffin asked the applicant if there were horses on this property currently, and Mr. Delano responded negatively. Commissioner Griffin further asked that if someone bought the subdivided lot, would there be room for them to have horses between the tennis court and the home. Mr. Delano indicated there would not be room, in his opinion.
Chairman Crane asked Mr. Delano if he had read and concurred with all the conditions of approval, and if he was in agreement with the conditions. Mr. Delano responded affirmatively. Commissioner Crane asked the applicant if he would be opposed to an additional condition that would require the house to be set back fifty feet from the south side of the property, and Mr. Delano responded negatively.
Commissioner Stopper asked if the applicant currently resides on the property, and Mr. Delano responded affirmatively.
Commissioner Griffin asked the applicant what the use of the second home would be and if it would be sold. Mr. Delano indicated he did not know if he would sell it or manage it. Commissioner Griffin asked if the proposed second structure would be a one or two-story structure. Mr. Delano indicated he did not know at this time. Commissioner Griffin asked the applicant if he had researched the zoning on the property before he bought it. The applicant indicated that he knew the property was zoned for R-1-20,000 when he purchased it in 1998.
Commissioner Price asked when the tennis courts were built. Mr. Delano believed they were built in 1982. Commissioner Price asked if there were lights on the courts originally, and Mr. Delano indicated that he put lights on one of the courts.
Commissioner Stopper referred to item number one under recommendations of the staff report, and wanted clarification regarding the reason necessary to build a new garage before tearing down the old one. Chief Planner Rosen indicated that zoning code requires that all single-family homes have a two-car garage. If they remove a two-car garage from the property, they must replace it. Senior Engineer Wallin clarified that a bond option could apply if using the same footprint for the new garage structure.
The following person spoke in support of the request:
Sandra Sprint, Hermosa Drive.
The point of support was:
- This horse-property owner does not feel that this subdivision will affect anyone in the area.
The following persons spoke in opposition to the request:
Dawn Gardner, 130 East Las Palmas (next door property owner)
Mr. Olson, 332 Hammel Road
Larry Holmes, 200 East Las Palmas (two doors down from subject property)
Tony Roberts, 318 East Hermosa Drive
Ellie Shutts, 310 East Las Palmas (property is seventh from subject property)
April Wakeman, 300 East Las Palmas (property is sixth from subject property)
Steve Moranz, 300 East Las Palmas (husband of April Wakeman)
Mike Downing, 221 Altura Drive
Robert Flan, 225 East Las Palmas
Jeannie Satler, 225 East Las Palmas
Jane Avalene, 322 Hammel Road
Steve Jones, 320 East Las Palmas (eighth from property in question)
William Anderson, 315 Las Palmas
Hallie Yalsloy, 211 East Las Palmas
The points of opposition were:
- The rural feel of the neighborhood will change with the subdivision that could be a precursor to other subdivisions.
- A second residence on the property could affect livestock located on the properties south of the subject parcel.
- A second residence could take away the privacy of the neighbor immediately to the east of the subject property.
- Concern was expressed that the subdivision is motivated by financial gain.
Public hearing closed.
Recess was called at 5:35. Meeting resumed at 5:45
Commissioner Price expressed concern for both sides of the issue. The applicant seems to have the right to subdivide, however, he noted the impact on adjacent properties and the General Plan; Commissioner Price declined to support approval or denial at this time.
Commissioner Stopper was pleased to see the public involvement in this meeting. He felt that there were two basic issues. One, that this request complies with the existing ordinance, and that this property is unique due to the fact that it is adjacent to commercial property within the City of La Habra. Second, to maintain the respect and character of the neighborhood, he thought specific design of the residence should be included in the approval of the subdivision. He thought the Planning Commission should make the final approval of the design.
Commissioner Griffin commended the public for voicing their opinions. He did not feel that this would ever be horse property and would not decrease property used for keeping livestock. Commissioner Griffin noted that there would be only an annual gain of about $420 in property taxes, so the City does not benefit significantly when properties subdivide. The proposed project was vague enough that Commissioner Griffin supported denial.
Commissioner LeQuire thanked Mr. Anderson personally for his input. Based on the fifty-year history of the neighborhood and the General Plan policy, Commissioner LeQuire supported denial. He wanted staff to start the process of rezoning the property to R-1-40,000.
Based on Commissioner Savage's recent education regarding the General Plan and zoning, it was his choice to support denial of this subdivision, and he also requested staff to begin the process of rezoning.
Chairman Crane commended the public's involvement. He felt the neighborhood should have started the rezoning process after the last subdivision issue in 1988. Based on the land right issues of the property owner, Chairman Crane supported the subdivision.
The floor was returned to Commissioner Price. With respect to the rights of the applicant, Commissioner Price did not support the subdivision because he felt it was inconsistent with the pattern of the neighborhood.
Chief Planner Rosen read the title of Resolution No. 6961 DENYING a parcel map to allow a subdivision of a 40,500 square-foot lot into two parcels on property located at 120 East Las Palmas Drive and the facts and reasons for denial of Parcel Map 02-124 are hereby found and declared to be as follows:
- The proposed subdivision would be inconsistent with the General Plan Land Use LU2.5 to respect and retain the character of the existing residential neighborhoods. The purpose of this policy is to encourage and retain a sense of identity for every neighborhood, and to ensure new construction and other public improvements in existing neighborhoods are compatible with the neighborhood's character;
- The proposed subdivision would not be compatible with the pattern of development for the surrounding neighborhood;
- The proposed subdivision could set a precedent whereby large lots will be subdivided and change the rural character of the residential neighborhood and adversely impact surrounding horse keeping properties;
- The subdivision could impact at least three adjacent properties in keeping of horses because construction of a new single-family house might require that the existing horse maintenance areas on those properties be altered, so that they are at least fifty-feet away from the new residence;
- There are seven other properties with similar size lots in this neighborhood and all of them could be allowed to be subdivided in a similar fashion if the subject parcel map is approved.
MOTION by Commissioner Price, seconded and CARRIED by a four-to-two vote, with Chairman Crane and Commissioner Stopper voting no, that the subdivision be DENIED, and with the recommendation to start the rezoning process.
The applicant has the right to appeal, which must be filed within ten days with a fee of $138.00.