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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

February 12, 2003


Chairman Price; Commissioners Crane, Savage, Stopper, LeQuire and Francis


Chairman Price; Commissioners Crane, Savage, Stopper, LeQuire and Francis

ABSENT: Griffin

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Assistant Planner Kusch, Senior Engineer Wallin, and Recording Secretary Bird


MOTION by Commissioner LeQuire, seconded and carried by a 6-0 vote that the minutes of the January 22, 2003 meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.




Staff report dated February 5, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request for abandonment of an easement across unimproved land located at the dead end of East Valencia Drive near the intersection of South Balcom Avenue (Valencia Avenue between South Balcom Avenue and the railroad tracks). (Categorically exempt under Section 15312 of CEQA Guidelines) (Continued from January 8, 2003).

Commissioner LeQuire stated for the record that his father owned a mobile home in the mobile home park referred to in this item, but he had nothing to gain and would participate in the discussion.

Senior Engineer Wallin referred to the January 8, 2003, Planning Commission minutes for an explanation of why this item was continued. He stated that after the previous meeting, he received a phone call from Emmanuel Baptist Church, who indicated they had no plans or interest in selling their property. It was again noted that the underlying fee owner is the mobile home park, who wish to expand the existing park. He explained that this piece of property not being taken off of the City's Master Plan in 1989 was an oversight; the property had never been improved or used for public use; and staff recommended approval of the abandonment.

Commissioner Crane asked if the slope easement reverted back to the owner, would the City incur the expense of paving and curb and gutters for fire access, and would a cul-de-sac be required. Senior Engineer Wallin noted this property was similar to a 500-foot utility easement; any improvements would be done by the developer not the City, and a cul-de-sac could be required.

Commissioner Savage questioned if there were any development proposals that would utilize the easement as a road. Staff replied there were no official plans at this time.

Commissioner Francis asked if there was any reason to make it a road. Senior Engineer Wallin answered negatively, adding that the law states if surplus property is not utilized for its intended purpose, it must be abandoned.

Public hearing opened.

Jill Richter, owner of Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park, stated she was not present at the January 8, 2003 meeting due to misinformation that the meeting had been canceled. She noted the easement was granted years ago for a very specific and limited use of a city street. A City engineer contacted her last fall to see if she was interested in taking back the property and incorporating it into the existing mobile home park; and if she would pay for curb and gutter work. She explained that the property was paid off in December; she intended to keep the park, and she was definitely interested in taking back the piece of property, including the requested curb and gutter work.

Commissioner Stopper noted there were two recommendations: for curb and gutter work, and a block wall, and inquired if she was agreeable to both recommendations. Ms. Richter stated she was agreeable; Rancho La Paz is a seniors park for people 55 and older, and the park is currently surrounded by a block wall to offer privacy to the residents.

Lucy Navarro, a representative of Emmanuel Baptist Church, asked if the block wall would be across the property, and up to the railroad tracks because the church owns the property from the parking lot up to the trees. Senior Engineer Wallin responded that it was a requirement that they fence in their entire piece of property with a block wall.

Commissioner Crane asked Ms. Navarro if the church had any intention of selling the property. Ms. Navarro replied they had no plans of selling; they do plan on cleaning up the other piece of property for more parking because the church is expanding.

Tony Bushala, 129 West Ash, gave a PowerPoint presentation noting four reasons to deny the application:

  1. Valencia Drive is the only viable access to his property;
  2. Valencia Drive is still on the City's Master Plan of Streets and Highways. He referred to the City's Master Plan of Streets and Highways (California Government Code Section 65402), noting that the City has not complied with this part of the code.
  3. The property is located in the Central Fullerton Redevelopment project area; and
  4. He noted that a development project was before the Commission and explained that approving this abandonment is approving a development project with the mobile home park putting a block wall around the site. This will further create an additional irregular-shape parcel, which is in direct opposition of the goal of the Redevelopment Plan.

He referred to Section 15.46.010 of the Fullerton Municipal Code, which specifically describes a development project. He asked that the application for abandonment be denied because approving it would be detrimental to his property value and the future development of his property as well as for the four reasons outlined in his presentation. He noted his intent would be to work with the community, the mobile home park and the Redevelopment Agency to put together a responsible development that would benefit the community.

Commissioner Crane asked what his property was zoned; if he would be willing to put in street improvements if the Commission agreed to deny the abandonment; and questioned if he understood that this property is an easement owned by the mobile home park, not the City. Mr. Bushala replied that it was originally zoned railroad right of way and after the railroad abandoned it eight years ago, he believed it took on an industrial zone. Mr. Bushala would be willing to work in whatever manner is needed to enhance the physical appearance of the site; and he understood it was an easement for roadway purposes.

Commissioner LeQuire questioned if this was a separate parcel from the mobile home park, if the park could make the decision to include it into their property or divide the parcel and sell the property. Senior Engineer Wallin responded that it was not a separate parcel, but part of the mobile home park with a street easement over it; and the mobile home park could decide to sell the property by doing a subdivision or lot line adjustment with the properties to the north. Commissioner LeQuire then asked the applicant if she had any intention of selling the property and Ms. Richter replied negatively.

Chief Planner Rosen explained that street and alley abandonments are handled differently than railroad rights of way in the zoning code. With a street and alley abandonment, the abandoned area takes on the zoning of the property it is reverted to; which, in this case, is the mobile home park zoning for the property. He noted the property could be subdivided, but a zoning change would have to take place. He clarified that putting a block wall around the property was not a project under the City's zoning code. He stated that in regards to where the project line falls in the Redevelopment area, it was his belief that it falls on the north side of the street. He further clarified that according to the City maps, this area was not in the Central Fullerton Redevelopment area.

Commissioner Savage questioned where the Anaheim/Fullerton border was located. Senior Engineer Wallin noted it was in the flood control channel that bisects the mobile home park; the north part of the park is in Fullerton and the south part is in Anaheim.

Commissioner Francis asked Mr. Bushala what he plans on doing with his property; if the abandonment would cut off access to his property; and if he was willing to put a road in for accessibility to his property. Mr. Bushala replied there are no plans at the moment for the land; they just purchased the property a year and a half ago; if they came up with a plan to develop the site they would put a road through there, if necessary. He stated that he researched the legal description of the Central Fullerton Project Area and it is on the south side of Valencia, in a Redevelopment area; and abandoning the road would cut off access to his property.

Commissioner Savage asked if this was the only access to his property, as it appears he could access his property from Patterson. Mr. Bushala stated he could access his property from Patterson and Truslow, but because Patterson is a substandard street, he prefers to take access from Valencia.

Commissioner Crane asked if the public has access to use the land at this point. Chief Planner Rosen noted that the City could lawfully block access to this unimproved road easement, which they had done with a barrier and the property is not supposed to have vehicle access. Senior Engineer Wallin added that at the last meeting the City Attorney reiterated that the City could block the area and, if the City chose to allow someone to have access to the property, it required a permit and no permits had been given.

Commissioner Crane asked if Mr. Bushala owns a parcel that is only accessible from Valencia. Mr. Bushala noted that he owns four parcels in the area.

Commissioner Francis questioned if he has to go over a curb to gain access to his property from Patterson; and if he would put any of his equipment on the property or build on it. Mr. Bushala replied that without the access on Valencia he would have to jump a curb to gain access to his property; the plan is to combine his irregularly-shaped parcel with adjacent parcels to make reasonable parcels to develop.

Senior Engineer Wallin interjected that the City Right-of-Way agent researched the property and found that it was purchased as one lot. The County Assessor chose to give it two assessor lot parcel numbers, but it is still one piece of property in the City of Fullerton. Mr. Bushala replied that the County assigned them four parcels and they are paying property taxes on those specific parcels.

Commissioner Crane asked if it was one property with multiple access points at Truslow and Patterson. Senior Engineer Wallin replied affirmatively, but the City would not recommend abandonment to landlock a piece of property.

Genero Gutierrez, Patterson Way, asked why the City couldn't do something with the property before and why the mobile home park could not put a wall up sooner and keep the area clean. Senior Engineer Wallin explained that the property did not belong to the City, and as long as there was a street easement, the mobile home park could not build a block wall around it.

Kary Lawler, K.W. Lawler & Associates, Tustin, engineer for Ms. Richter, noted that he was asked to look at the curvilinear property adjacent to the property, specifically ingress and egress points and access points. He found that there was clearly access to the property on Patterson Way, there can be access on Truslow as well as there could be access from South Laverne. He noted he was able to access the railroad property by of three of these access points. He stated there was a barricade constructed by the City on the easterly side of Valencia for the full width of the property, but someone demolished a portion of the barricade and paved a gravel road. He reiterated that the property should have been off the Master Plan some time ago, but was simply an oversight. As far as the property being in a Redevelopment area, it goes back to the issue that this piece of property started out as private property and it should go back to the original owner.

The public hearing was closed.

Commissioner Crane asked what the zoning of the Bushala property was. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the zoning maps do not indicate zoning for that property which is former railroad right of way, it is shown on the maps as railroad and zoning is very specific for railroad right of way. He referred to Fullerton Municipal Code Section 15.08.080, Item #4-5 which states the property would revert to R-1-20,000.

Commissioner Stopper felt the best course of action was to return the property to the original property owners and let them do with the property as they choose.

Commissioner Crane supported the abandonment noting there are other access points and currently the property is a liability to the City.

Commissioner LeQuire noted the City has no need for the road; it is the mobile home park's property and should be returned to them.

Commissioner Savage recommended approving the abandonment and giving the property back to the original owners.

Commissioner Francis felt it was denying Mr. Bushala access to his property and recommended denying the abandonment.

Chairman Price voiced his support for the property being abandoned.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. PC-03-06 RECOMMENDING to the City Council the abandonment of an easement across unimproved land located at the dead end of East Valencia Drive near the intersection of South Balcom Avenue and the railroad tracks, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED by a 5-1, vote with Commissioner Francis voting no, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.


Staff memorandum was presented pertaining to a request to abandon 211.95 feet of Grove Place (east of Lemon Street) (P-L zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines). Chief Planner Rosen reported that this item had been continued indefinitely.


Staff report dated February 12, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request for a Conditional Use Permit, for a private parking lot to provide additional parking for an existing market, on property located at 2200 and 2204 West Valencia Drive (approximately 120-249 feet east of Gilbert Street and 120 feet south of Valencia Drive) (R-1-6 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15303 of CEQA Guidelines).

Assistant Planner Kusch reported that the proposed parking lot would serve the existing grocery market west of the subject property; staff believes the parking lot needs to be designed to ensure it does not negatively impact the adjacent residential neighborhood in terms of noise and glare; landscaping along Pine Drive and Valencia Drive is required. Staff recommends adopting a resolution of intent to change the subject property zone to C-1, limited commercial and changing the General Plan designation to commercial.

Commissioner Crane asked for the reasoning behind the four-foot wall and if the Police Department had seen the plans and if they were satisfied with the four-foot walls. Assistant Planner Kusch noted the height of the wall was for the screening of headlights and the police department had seen the plans.

Commissioner Savage questioned if the properties on the display would be combined into one lot and the market would then expand into the parking lot area; and questioned the reason for not having a higher wall. Assistant Planner Kusch noted an expansion was possible; and the goal for the wall was to screen headlights with the height being limited to enable seeing oncoming traffic.

Commissioner Crane had a security concern with the wall, and felt it would create hiding spots if the police were surveying the area. He suggested that there might be other ways to deal with headlights and achieve nice landscaping.

Commissioner Price asked if staff had the flexibility to not include the four-foot wall, if it were approved as presented. Chief Planner Rosen stated the wall was not a code requirement; staff tried to mitigate the impacts to the adjacent properties, and noted the Police Department had reviewed the site plans.

Commissioner Stopper inquired about code requirements for lighting. Staff responded that the lighting must be confined to the property and shielded.

Commissioner Francis asked how many parking spaces would be available. Staff replied the code is four spaces for every 1000 square feet.

Public hearing opened.

Ed Miller, contractor representing owner, Pedro Gonzales remarked that he is agreeable to all required conditions; and noted the biggest problem the market has is parking.

Commissioner LeQuire stated he liked the idea of a six-foot block wall; and questioned where deliveries would be made. Mr. Miller replied the houses in the area have six-foot fences and noted deliveries would enter off of Gilbert Street.

Steve Cirt, 308 South Pine opposed the project because it would impact his view; noted there are other markets in the area, and he does not want to live next to a parking lot as it will lower his property value. He noted this area is also a popular spot for graffiti artists, building a wall would encourage this type of behavior, and questioned who would maintain the wall. He also felt people would use the alley as a shortcut which would cause increased traffic.

Public hearing was closed.

Commissioner Francis noted the market currently has only eleven parking spaces and was supportive of the project.

Commissioner Savage felt this project would have a positive impact on the neighborhood, but expressed concern about truck access to the market.

Commissioner Crane supported the project; expressed concern about graffiti, the four-foot block wall fence and felt the opportunity to create more landscape and mounding would be a proper way to screen light concerns or raising the wall to 6 ft.

Commissioner Stopper was in support of the project, but was concerned about the fence, noting he felt it should be six-feet high.

Chairman Price echoed Commissioner Crane's feelings of how the wall and landscaping should be designed; thought the project would enhance the properties in the area and felt a six-foot fence along the alley would be a good change.

Commissioner LeQuire felt it was an appropriate use of the property to allow the business to expand and was supportive of the proposed changes to the height of the wall.

Chairman Price noted a general consensus with a caveat that there would be changes; one is the removal of the four-foot block wall fence around the perimeter on Pine and Valencia and a modification of the block wall of the alleyway from four feet to six feet.

The title of Resolution No. PC-03-07 APPROVING a Conditional Use Permit to allow a private parking lot in an R-1-6,000 zone on property located at 2200-2204 West Valencia Drive was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED by a 5-1 vote with Commissioner Savage voting no, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED. The title of Resolution No. PC-03-08 DECLARING the Planning Commission's intention to consider changing the existing general plan land use designation from "Low Density Residential" to "Commercial" and the zone designation from "R-1-6,000, Single-Family Residential" to "C-1, Limited-Commercial" for property located at 2200-2204 West Valencia Drive, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED by a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Savage voting no, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

Chairman Price reported that the Planning Commission decision could be appealed within 10 days to the City Council.



    Chief Planner Rosen stated there was nothing to report from the last City Council meeting.


    There was no one from the public who wished to speak on any matter.


    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be March 12, 2003, at 4:00 p.m. The February 26, 2003, meeting has been canceled.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:36 p.m.

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