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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

June 9, 2004


The meeting was called to order by Chairman Stopper at 7:00 p.m.


Chairman Stopper; Commissioners, Francis, Griffin, Hart, Savage, and Price

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant Planner Kusch, Rod Propst, Airport Manager, Ron Wallin, Senior Engineer, Assistant Planner Sowers, and Recording Secretary Baker


Commissioner Bailey


Commissioner Price


Commissioner Savage asked to have I have advocated the reduction of government all of my life added to the end of the first paragraph on page 70. He submitted a typed substitute paragraph to replace the second paragraph on page 71

Commissioner Price asked to have the phrase because it was more efficient to get rid of redundancy deleted from the last paragraph on page 69.

Chairman Stopper asked that the word sea be replaced with the word gender on page 70, second paragraph. Also, on page 71, fifth paragraph, clarify that one of the councilmembers was spoken to on the telephone, not in person.

MOTION by Commissioner Price, seconded by Commissioner Savage and CARRIED unanimously that the Minutes of May 26, 2004, be APPROVED AS AMENDED.



Staff report dated June 9, 2004 was presented pertaining to a request for a General Plan revision and a zoning amendment to modify the Land Use, Circulation and Community Health and Safety Elements of the General Plan in conjunction with an update to the Fullerton Municipal Airport Master Plan for property located at 4011 West Commonwealth Avenue (P-L zone) (Mitigated Negative Declaration) (Continued from September 24, 2003, May 12, and May 26, 2004).

Assistant Planner Sowers gave a brief recap of the presentation given at the public hearing on May 26, 2004 regarding the Airport Master Plan. She explained that this item was continued to provide sufficient notice regarding FAA height restrictions surrounding the airport. She also stated that 310 revised notices of the June 9, 2004 public hearing were mailed on May 28, 2004. All who were previously noticed, as well as 33 additional property owners who were identified in the height analysis, were mailed notices. In addition, notification was also sent to the City of Buena Park. Staff provided additional language to alert residents and property owners to the specific FAA changes which read: The Fullerton Municipal Airport Master Plan includes changes in the Federal Aviation Administration requirements governing the height of buildings and structures in proximity to the airport and your property may be affected by these changes. Exhibits and tables were sent to provide sufficient information to the affected property owners. Staff received ten inquiries regarding the property notices, specifically from residents and business owners on Airpark, Commonwealth, and Pritchard Avenues. Buena Park received approximately five inquiries.

Assistant Planner Sowers gave a brief summary of the request and the FAA changes regulating penetration to the imaginary surfaces. She also stated that the current application sought approval of the 2004 Airport Master Plan, the revisions to the General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance, to include updated operational data, as well as information to aid in the implementation of airport-related policies and regulations. Staff recommended certification of the Mitigated Negative Declaration, adoption of the Mitigation Monitoring report, and recommendation to the City Council to adopt the 2004 Airport Master Plan, General Plan Revisions and Zoning Amendment.

Commissioner Savage wanted to state for the record that he had owned and operated aircraft and been a tenant of the airport for over 30 years. He had previously developed hangars at the airport, and had attempted to develop hangars on the north side of the field. He did not have any current monetary interest at the airport, and did not foresee any in the future.

Chairman Stopper asked Ms. Sowers to show on the map where the properties that made inquiries were located, and if there were any current building penetrations. Assistant Planner Sowers identified those areas on the map, and stated that there were not any building penetrations based on the new height requirements.

Commissioner Savage asked if any of the inquiries came from properties zoned R-3, and would they be able to build a second story. Ms. Sowers stated that because they were in the Accident Potential Zone II, any new construction would be subject to land use and height restrictions. Also, residential construction was not permitted.

Public hearing opened.

Henry McFarland, California Asset Portfolio, Inc., 8461 Commonwealth Ave., Buena Park, said that this was the first notice he had received. He asked if this action was for upkeep purposes and sought clarification of any changes to zoning or airport operations. Chairman Stopper told him that this was an administrative update of the General Plan to adhere to FAA regulations.

Chief Planner Rosen told Mr. McFarland that the City of Fullerton cannot change zoning in the City of Buena Park. When the plan was adopted in 1981, the calculations in the height regulations were not done correctly. This action rectifies the issue and now the height restrictions would be correctly reflected in the Master Plan. He said that the Airport would be doing improvements, such as adding hangars, but would not change anything outside of the airport. The airport traffic was not expected to increase.

Mr. McFarland stated that his business is presently zoned Industrial, and they were trying to change it to a Commercial zone. He asked if they were located in a hazard zone. Chief Planner Rosen stated that there were no proposed land changes, other than the hazard zones, which are not new restrictions. Ms. Sowers confirmed that they were located in the Accident Potential Zone II, while certain land use restrictions apply to new construction; this was not a change from the plan already in place.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Savage stated that it was essential in his mind that the FAA airspace regulations be upheld as they are with all other airports. He supported the Mitigated Negative Declaration and Master Plan update.

The title of Resolution PC-04-19 RECOMMENDING to the City Council APPROVAL of a General Plan Revision and a Zoning Amendment to modify the land use, circulation and community health and safety elements of the General Plan in conjunction with an update to the Fullerton Municipal Airport Master Plan and approval of the 2004 Fullerton Municipal Airport Master Plan for property located at 4011 West Commonwealth Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Savage, seconded by Commissioner Hart and CARRIED unanimously, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.


Staff report dated June 9, 2004 was presented regarding a request to construct an automotive repair building measuring approximately 1,740 square feet and allow a Conditional Use Permit for automobile sales and repair on property located at 801-811 West Commonwealth Avenue (north side of Commonwealth Avenue between the northwest corner of Commonwealth and Jefferson Avenues and approximately 135 feet west of the northwest corner of Commonwealth and Jefferson Avenues) (C-H zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines).

Assistant Planner Kusch reported that the subject property had been used primarily for automotive repair since 1952. The proposed site plan was to construct a new, approximately 1,759-square-foot, automotive repair building, and consider a CUP for auto sales and repair. An automobile and truck sales business operated on this property until last year. Mr. Kusch displayed photographs of the property site, along with aerial photos.

Commissioner Francis stated that he had purchased a box truck from the property across the street from the subject property, and wanted to be sure that there was no business connection. Staff was not aware of any business connection with the applicant.

Assistant Planner Kusch stated that this area was zoned C-H (Commercial Highway) and the Fullerton Municipal Code required approval of a CUP for automotive sales and repair businesses in a C-H zone. Mr. Kusch also explained that the prior automotive sales and repair use was legally established, but was considered non-conforming to the current Municipal Code, because a CUP had not been approved. The previous business license was not renewed, and when the current applicant tried to renew it, staff told him that the prior approved land use had not been re-established within six months, and would now require a CUP.

Assistant Planner Kusch explained the types of businesses located in the surrounding properties. Mr. Kusch explained the current and proposed uses of each of the four parcels that comprise the subject property. The site plan would need to be amended to provide four additional parking spaces for employees and customers. Staff recommended delineating four vehicle display spaces as customer and employee parking. Mr. Kusch stated that the site plan would have to be modified so that the vehicle display area does not encroach into the driveway aisle. In order to meet code requirements, the wood fence along the north property line must be replaced with a six-foot high block wall, which would be continued along the west property line that abuts the adjacent residential property. Staff recommended that any future requests for fencing be subject to approval by the Director of Development Services.

Assistant Planner Kusch stated that there was no landscaping fronting Commonwealth Avenue, however, a landscape planter measuring 10 feet in depth would be required. A four-foot landscape planter was proposed along the west property line. The applicant was desirous of moving this landscaping to the rear of the property. The masonry, roll-up metal doors and paint colors were discussed. Staff recommended enhancement of the proposed building elevation with additional articulation, through the use of materials, colors and/or awnings. Staff also recommended painting the existing auto glass building in a complimentary color to the new and existing auto repair buildings.

Assistant Planner Kusch also stated that the applicant would be required to meet Fire Department regulations, including amending the site plan to include the location of a new fire hydrant. He also mentioned the Engineering Department letter identifying recommended public improvements.

Staff recommended consolidation of the four parcels. The applicant wanted to amend this condition, and consolidate the property into two parcels. Planning staff supported the property amendment if the parcel addressed FAR (floor area ratio) requirements and parking requirements.

Public notification was mailed to property owners within a 300-foot radius of the subject property. Staff received several inquiries from residents expressing concerns. Staff forwarded an e-mailed letter and provided copies of e-mail requests from residents for a copy of the staff report.

Staff recommended that the Planning Commission make the findings found in the staff report subject to the recommended conditions of approval.

Commissioner Price asked if staff had investigated any complaints of the operation of any business on the subject property, and how long had the applicant owned the property. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that complaints of loitering and homeless persons on the property were handled by the City Code Enforcement Department approximately one year ago. The property was fenced, and no complaints have been received since that time.

Commissioner Price asked staff if the consolidation of the four lots would require a conveyance or deed. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated that approving the condition would make it happen.

Commissioner Francis asked if the fifteen-foot white fence would still be on the property, and if it was structurally sound and permanent. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the applicant wished to retain the fence and stated that the site might be limited from additional signage if it was removed.

Commissioner Hart asked for a clarification that the smog check building would be refurbished, what the business entry gate would service, and if parking was required on the premises. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that it would be refurbished, the gate will be servicing the repair shop, and the potential used car lot and the parking would be on the premises.

Commissioner Price asked how the parcels would be combined, and if it would provide sufficient parking. Mr. Kusch stated that the lot would be split approximately in the center to capture the required parking. The resultant parcel containing the auto repair buildings and office would contain surplus parking and there would be a shared access agreement.

Commissioner Savage asked if the condition requiring the combining of parcels is what the applicant is requesting to amend. Assistant Planner Kusch answered affirmatively.

Commissioner Francis asked for clarification of combining parcels and if it functioned as one parcel presently. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the applicant wanted the flexibility to possibly sell off a parcel in the future and it did operate as one parcel currently. The concern from a planning perspective was whether each of the parcels would meet development standards, including FAR limitations. Chief Planner Rosen stated that there were some building code issues that needed to be resolved first.

Chairman Stopper asked about zoning and lot sizes of the residences in the area. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that they average in the low 7,000-square-foot range and comply with the zoning requirements.

Chairman Stopper also asked about the applicants proposal to move an auto repair building and possibly build additional repair facilities in the future. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the site plan provided for the possibility of future buildings which would be 50 feet closer to the residents.

Commissioner Hart asked what type of business was considered Commercial Highway (C-H). Chief Planner Rosen stated that automotive uses are limited to C-H and allowed by a CUP.

Commissioner Price asked if a condition could be added to address late evening noise. Assistant Planner Kusch replied that the existing noise ordinance addressed maximum noise levels, however, a condition could be added to limit the hours of operation.

Commissioner Savage asked what the elevation of the proposed planter on Commonwealth was, and if a berm could be added to soften the appearance of the displayed vehicles. Assistant Planner Kusch responded that the Staff Review Committee reviewed the site plan and the Police Department stated that they did not want to provide an area for people to potentially hide.

Chairman Stopper asked why the project was not reviewed by the RDRC. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that it was not reviewed because it was not in a redevelopment area.

Public hearing opened.

Applicant, Abraham Tabaja, property owner, has been operating at this location since 1992. The property was vacant for one year as it went through probate from the previous tenant. He was proposing to bring it back to its previous operation as a car dealership, and planned for future auto repair.

Commissioner Francis asked if he considered putting the proposed garage somewhere else on the property, where it would not be so close to residents. Mr. Tabaja considered that, but the proposed location provided direct vehicular access to Jefferson Avenue.

Chairman Stopper asked the applicant what kind of auto repairs were proposed and would he be amenable to a condition pertaining to hours of operation. Mr. Tabaja stated that he was proposing a regular auto repair operation, with smog check and no body shop work. He was proposing 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. as hours of operation, and he was agreeable to make the hours of operation a condition.

Commissioner Price asked a question of the architect for the project.

John Silber, architect of the project, stated that the applicant had been required to bring the entire property up to current standards in order to operate, and that had put added pressure on Mr. Tabaja. Mr. Silber discussed the plan to repair and paint the fence, to ensure that the lighting would not glare on adjacent properties. Staff had requested that they be open to the elevation and refinement of the building, and they were in agreement with that. Mr. Silber also explained that the applicant had agreed to wait until a building permit was issued for future expansion. He stated that Mr. Tabaja would prefer not to have a 10-foot landscaped setback along Commonwealth Avenue, because he needed customers to have a better view of the facilities. Mr. Silber discussed landscaping and irrigation and that it not be less than what the code requires. He also stated that the site plan would be adjusted according to the Engineering Department requirement for curb cuts. He stated that the lot line needed to handle the internal circulation of the required parking. Their plan showed split face block masonry wall along the property line shared with the adjacent residences. He disclosed the possibility of softening the appearance of the wall with landscape.

Commissioner Price asked for a clarification on fencing renovations, and what would replace the concrete curb dividing this property from the adjacent property occupied by Georges Hamburgers. Mr. Silber stated that single-family properties would be separated by a six-foot block wall and there was currently a concrete curb dividing the adjacent property.

Commissioner Francis felt that since this item was not reviewed by the RDRC, the Planning Commission had to take a close look at the project, including the existing fifteen-foot fence structure. Mr. Silber stated that it was the wish of the applicant to retain it, since there was not a lot of structure for signage.

Commissioner Francis felt that this plan was not correct by moving the building to the back of the property and not landscaping the front of the property. Mr. Silber stated that the staff report was received recently, and it would take more drafting time, however, postponing the decision was a hardship to the applicant.

Commissioner Savage asked Mr. Silber if he was a member of the RDRC. Mr. Silber answered affirmatively.

Commissioner Savage stated that he had similar concerns, and asked if the proposed planter would go along the north property line and interfere with the gate. Mr. Silber said it would be revised so the driveway entrance was shifted to the south, and the planter and trash containers would be along the north property line.

Commissioner Savage asked Mr. Silber to show where the proposed property line would be, and Mr. Silber pointed it out on the site plan.

Chairman Stopper asked if there was enough of a financial trade to not start with a properly structured and designed plan on the property, rather than using the current buildings and getting approval for planned future buildings.

Mr. Tabaja stated that there was a financial trade, and he could not do the entire project now. He asked for a relief on the setback, because the cars are not as visible.

Commissioner Hart asked what type of parking was planned on the north part of the property; and what were the planned hours for the used car lot and the height of the lights. Mr. Silber replied that they are considering that would be employee parking now. Mr. Tabaja did not have experience with operating a car sales business, and was not sure what the hours of operation would be. Mr. Silber added that there was a condition that the glare from lights cannot spill over to the adjacent residential properties.

Chairman Stopper asked if Mr. Silber had considered a block wall in the back higher than six feet. Mr. Silber answered that it was up to the owner, however, he had found that footings for an eight-foot high fence are bigger, encroach onto neighboring properties, and also interfere with landscape and irrigation. His recommendation was for planting on and above a six-foot wall. Chairman Stopper agreed that landscaping on the rear block wall would help lessen the noise from the business operations on the property.

Commissioner Francis asked if the applicant was not desirous of a parkway in front of the business. Mr. Silber explained that staff required a 10-foot parkway and that was not the applicants desire because it pushes his vehicle display back. Mr. Silber was asking relief from that requirement.

Shelly Cunningham, lives on Amerige Avenue directly north of this property, and the questions posed by the Commission made her feel well represented. She thanked Assistant Planner Kusch for calling back expeditiously with answers clarifying the situation. She also stated that Mr. Tabaja had worked with her and been amenable in trying to resolve her concerns. She felt the neighborhoods did not want to put undue hardship on him.

Ms. Cunningham submitted a letter of concerns, for the record, signed by 10 residents. In that letter the following items of concern were mentioned:

  • noise and safety
  • height of the replacement block wall might not be sufficient
  • higher landscaping at the rear property adjacent to the residences
  • large trucks parked against six foot fence and left abandoned - attracting vagrants
  • lights glaring into their backyards in the past
  • fumes
  • trash containment location
  • storage of hazardous waste
  • hours of operation
  • traffic flow along the property line and back fence
  • visual obstructions
  • hours of operation
  • a request for a six-month probationary period for these concerns to be satisfied.

    Amy Peluso, 800 W. Amerige, lives 25 feet behind the proposed auto repair shop. She has two little boys, and her three year old is highly sensitive to noises. She was concerned about the noise that would be 25 feet from her residence. Her oldest son had been in remission of leukemia for four years. It was an issue for her to have an auto repair building proposed to be built so close to her backyard. She said she could provide documentation from doctors, if needed. She also did not want to make it difficult for Mr. Tabaja. She had put her life on hold for six years to take care of her son, and did not want anything to harm her children. She also stated that she and her husband had made a financial investment in their home, and she felt that the operation of this business would depreciate the value of her home.

    Marcia Piper, 804 W. Amerige Avenue, lives alone and was concerned about security and noise. She has a grandson who plays in her backyard. She was against a commercial intrusion in her neighborhood. She was also concerned with sound of pneumatic tools used for automotive repair.

    Tina Treube, just moved from 800 W. Amerige, which she sold to the Peluso family. She had lived there for nine years. She was concerned with safety in the driveway along the back fence. There was a gate and driveway that extended three feet into Jefferson, where trash is set out. She felt that this was an incompatible land use for a residential neighborhood, and was concerned that it was not mentioned in the staff report. Business Licensing stated that the former owner was only allowed to repair only the vehicles sold on the premises; she asked if they would be able to repair any vehicle now. Chief Planner Rosen responded that their proposal was for automotive repair of any vehicle. She was also concerned with lighting, fumes and trucks parked against their property.

    Ted Emmons, 814 W. Amerige, toured the neighborhood and counted 23 auto shop repair facilities with mile. He was concerned that the area would become blighted. He wondered why there was a need for one more automotive repair facility in the area. He was worried about:

  • the trash
  • environmental hazards
  • lighting
  • alarms
  • noise levels
  • fencing/box trucks parked adjacent to the residences
  • a six foot fence on the border of residential property not being high enough

    Mr. Emmons felt it was better to refurbish and build all in one stage and have the cars in the front of the property. He asked the applicant to think about it, and stated he was a customer of Mr. Tabaja. He liked the architecture and was glad to see old buildings being refurbished. Mr. Emmons suggested having a car dealership only, which would be less obtrusive to the neighborhood.

    Public hearing closed.

    Chairman Stopper asked about the City code and ordinance regarding sound level and noise. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that automotive repair was required to be conducted inside a building, and the noise level requirements depend on the time of day. Chief Planner Rosen was not aware of any City provision dealing with fumes other than the public nuisance ordinance. Mr. Rosen suggested that the Planning Commission could look at the reorientation of the new automotive repair building, not allow the use, or readjust the entire site plan.

    Chairman Stopper asked where the trash containment would be located and was there an area for hazardous waste storage. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the revised site plan showed the trash enclosure would be located near the entrance on the north property line, and it did not identify a place for hazardous waste. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the Fire Department regulates the storage and disposal of hazardous waste, and the applicant would have to comply with those regulations.

    Chairman Stopper stated that there were no conditions regarding the hours of operation in the staff report. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that it may be prudent to add a condition related to the hours of operation.

    Commissioner Savage asked about the timing of the submittal of plans and subsequent discussions regarding conditions and concerns.

    Assistant Planner Kusch said that the preliminary discussions with the applicant were regarding the main conditions. The applicant received the staff report a few days before the Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Kusch told the Commission that staff had previously discussed the problem with a zero lot line, and building code issues requiring consolidation of the lots to address those concerns. Mr. Kusch also stated that he was only made aware of the applicant not being agreeable to consolidation of the lot that day.

    Commissioner Price said that he was generally supportive of redeveloping and improving this property. His concerns were that the Commission did not have a fully developed site in order to make an informed decision. He asked for the following revisions by the next meeting, if feasbile:

  • Provide a revised site plan
  • Narrowing the parkway strip on Commonwealth Ave. from 10 feet to five or six feet.
  • Reorient the landscaping from the west to the north
  • Reconfigure the entry
  • Show trash enclosure location
  • Reorient the future repair shop by 90 degrees so the opening would face Commonwealth Ave. reducing potential noise
  • Show where parking would be
  • Show where two parcels would be delineated

    Commissioner Francis said that he was a big advocate of private property rights. He would like to see a compromise between the applicant and neighboring property owners. He agreed that the site plan was incomplete and needed to be revised. He felt that the 15-foot fence was an eyesore, and could not support a project with a fence that was so unsightly and blighted. He felt it was irresponsible to consider putting an automotive repair shop within 25 feet of a backyard. He felt one parcel should be used as one parcel. He stated that the parkway strip of 10 feet on Commonwealth Ave. was very important, and it would be irresponsible to lessen or remove it, since the adjacent property located to the east (across Jefferson Avenue) had a parkway strip.

    Chairman Stopper asked the applicant if he was agreeable to a continuation. Mr. Tabaja answered affirmatively.

    Commissioner Savage felt that there were major changes being proposed, but he would go with the consensus of the Commission.

    Commissioner Griffin felt that typically waivers of conditions are worked out ahead of time. He felt that the applicant should work it out with staff. He preferred a higher wall and felt parking should be restricted to automobiles only, and not trucks along the north wall. He could not support the project as it was presented.

    Commissioner Savage asked staff about the front yard setback and if the right of way could be abandoned. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the zoning code required a 10-foot landscape setback from the right of way line, not counting the sidewalk. The sidewalk width at this project exceeds the standard. Mr. Rosen added that in order to use the right of way as part of the required landscaping, a variance procedure would be necessary. The project would have to be readvertised with a request for a variance.

    Commissioner Savage stated that he was excited about this project and did not want to discourage Mr. Tabaja. He likes entrepreneurs and he would like to see something happen.

    Chairman Stopper stated that he also wanted to see the property enhanced, but felt an obligation to the residents. He felt that this project had suffered from not being reviewed by the RDRC. He felt there was too much urgency, and he did not believe in the project as presented.

    MOTION by Commissioner Griffin, seconded by Commissioner Francis, that this item be continued until July 14, 2004, at 7 p.m., and the motion passed unanimously.



      Staff suggested a continuation of this item


      It was the consensus of the Commission to not have a meeting on August 25, 2004.




      Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief update on recent City Council meetings.


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


      Chief Planner Rosen informed the commission that at the June 23, 2004 meeting, the Commission would be discussing a request to modify an existing CUP for the addition of a car wash facility to a gas station at 3950 N. Harbor and also a revocation hearing regarding a bar at 116 W. Wilshire Avenue. The Commission will be briefed and the City Attorney will be in attendance to describe the process. Testimony will be given, along with cross examination.

      Commissioner Francis would recuse himself at this hearing, but he was asking if he could view the process. Chief Planner Rosen said that he must state the conflict of interest and then physically remove himself, but he could listen to the proceeding from the conference room. He could make a comment, but would have to immediately leave the Council Chambers.

      Chairman Stopper asked who the applicant was. Chief Planner Rosen told him it was the City of Fullerton and the principle representative of the City would be a staff planner.

      The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be June 23, 2004, at 4:00 p.m.


    There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:24 p.m.

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