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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 24 , 2005 4:00 P.M.
CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order by Chairman Griffin at 4:07 p.m.
PRESENT: Chairman Griffin, Commissioners Bailey, Hart, Savage, Stopper
ABSENT: Commissioners Fitzgerald and Francis
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant Planner Sowers, Assistant Planner Kusch, Senior Civil Engineer Voronel, and Recording Secretary Baker
FLAG SALUTE: Chairman Griffin
MINUTES: Chairman Griffin requested the following changes:
Page 146 - add to the beginning of the second sentence in the first paragraph "Mr. Lee responded that he wanted".
Page 157 - on Item 11, change "The developer" to "City staff"
Page 157 - Item 14 remove "and ideas"
Page 160 - Replace summary minutes with three pages of verbatim transcript

MOTION by Commissioner Hart, seconded by Commissioner Bailey and CARRIED unanimously that the Minutes of July 27, 2005, be APPROVED AS AMENDED and passed by a vote of 5 - 0.

PUBLIC HEARING

4:00 P.M. SESSION

PUBLIC HEARING

ITEM NO. 1
PRJ05-00393 - ZON05-00045. APPLICANTS: FRANCISCO DIAZ FLORES AND PATRICK PANZARELLO; PROPERTY OWNER: BARRY CODISPOTI.


A request to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to expand an existing legal non-conforming bar, change from an existing ABC Type 42 license (On-sale beer & wine - public premises) to an ABC Type 48 (On-sale general - public premises) and reduce the number of parking spaces required for the site, on property located at 910-914 W. Williamson Avenue (southeast corner of Williamson Avenue and Euclid Street) (C-2 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines) (JEA) (Continued from July 27, 2005.)

Chief Planner Rosen Associate Planner Eastman stated that the applicant requested a continuance to September 14, 2005.

MOTION for continuance by Commissioner Stopper, seconded by Commissioner Savage all in favor passed 5 - 0.

ITEM NO. 2
PJR05-00491 - LRP05-00008 - CLARIFICATION OF AMBIGUITY.


A clarification of ambiguity of the Fullerton Municipal Code pertaining to the definition of a "story" for a single-family residence located at 613 West Valley View Drive (Continued from August 10, 2005)

Senior Planner Mullis presented the staff report dated August 24, 2005. She explained that the applicant has requested to do a significant remodel of a single-family home. The home is currently 1, 234 square feet and is proposing to expand the main level to 1,983 square feet, the upper level to 2,006 square feet. The existing basement would also be expanded to 3,206 square feet, including a bathroom, access from two full-stairs, an elevator from the basement to the main floor and the upper level.

An aerial photo and a site location map were displayed along with photos of the front and rear of the subject property.

Senior Planner Mullis described the photos and the proposed site plan, footprint and the layout of the floor plan. She explained the existing footprint and the proposed expansion. She identified the basement area which would not be fully enclosed, but would be open to the air on the north side. The east and west elevations, sloping and natural grade of the property were discussed.

Senior Planner Mullis reviewed the definition of a story as a portion of the building included between the surface of any floor and the surface of the floor next above. If a basement is more than four feet above natural grade it is considered a "story". A portion of the lower level (basement) would constitute a story.

Senior Planner Mullis said that staff had received several phone calls from residents in the neighborhood who are concerned with the proposed project. The applicant has provided information regarding other homes in Fullerton that he believes are similar to what he is proposing.

Commissioner Bailey asked what portion of the basement is above the natural grade. Senior Planner Mullis responded that the northwest portion of the basement exceeds the natural grade by four feet, the rest of the basement would not be considered a story.

Commissioner Bailey stated that if the applicant did not have third story this house would not be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Senior Planner Mullis responded affirmatively.

Commissioner Hart asked if asked if the basement on both the east and west side of the property constitutes a third story. Senior Planner Mullis answered that it is mostly on the west side and showed on the floor plan where the deck plan was identified.

Commissioner Savage referred to the photos submitted by the applicant and asked why this house was different (indicating multi-level homes in the City). He noted the Brookdale homes as an example.

Senior Planner Mullis stated that some of the examples given are much older homes and were under different criteria then. Basements have been allowed administratively for small ancillary uses, such as storage for small equipment, which appear as an additional story. This project would be a basement over 3,000 square feet, accessible to the resident by two stairs and an elevator and could be enclosed in the future.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that he had personally inspected 337 Brookdale Place to ensure that the basement has remained a non-habitable space. He reported that a portion of the basement has a small area with an access door on the outside, housing mechanical equipment and is not construed as a third story for that building.

Commissioner Savage commented that some homes in the photos appeared to be 30 - 40 years old. Chief Planner Rosen stated that decisions had been made in the past by previous staff that may have had a different interpretation of the code.

Chairman Griffin asked that the record reflect that the Planning Commission received a packet of information from the applicant with a cover letter and several photos.

Commissioner Savage referred to Page 10 of the applicant's photos and asked if staff knew which of those homes had three stories. Chief Planner Rosen stated that he would have to pull the construction plans for review.

Commissioner Hart was familiar with some of the properties on Skyline and Camino del Sol and stated that they were three stories in height.

Commissioner Stopper asked if staff knew the height of the houses on the east or the west of the subject property. He also asked about the property behind the subject property. Staff was not aware of the specific details of surrounding properties and expected that members of the audience or the applicant could answer that.

Commissioner Stopper was concerned with the line of sight for the adjacent properties, and asked about the FAR (floor area ratio) of the proposed lot and if there were any height restrictions. Staff answered that it was 44%, with 50% permitted by code, assuming the basement was not habitable. As it was currently proposed it was not habitable, other than the bathroom. There is a 30 foot maximum, but they meet the average for hillside properties by measuring all sides from the natural grade to the tallest ridgeline, which cannot exceed 30 feet.

Commissioner Savage asked if anything in the front elevation exceeds what is allowed in the code and asked about the setbacks. Senior Planner Mullis responded negatively and stated that the question of the height is in the rear elevation which complies. The setbacks are five feet on the side and 20 feet in the rear.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the applicant would be within code if he decreased the size of the master bedroom and eliminated the deck. Senior Planner Mullis felt that is an option.

Commissioner Hart asked if the portion of the master bedroom and deck over the basement was the excess basement, which created the third story issue. Senior Planner Mullis responded that it had become an issue because of the way the applicant laid out the floor plan. Commissioner Hart asked if because he was on a slope, if it was not enclosed it would not be considered a basement.

Senior Planner Mullis said that the code defines any portion of the structure that is four feet above natural grade constitutes a "story". Chief Planner Rosen added that if it just had a ceiling above it and it was an unimproved area below, it would not be counted as a story.

Commissioner Hart asked if the portion of the basement under the deck and master bedroom had a dirt floor, columnar support and not enclosed, it would not be considered a basement and there would not be an issue. Staff agreed.

Chairman Griffin felt that if the basement wall along the northernmost portion cut across the building and everything north of the wall remained dirt, technically it would not be an issue.

Senior Planner Mullis reiterated what Chairman Griffin stated. Chief Planner Rosen agreed that it would not be considered a third story because it would not have a floor.

Applicant, Mr. Foy, read from the letter he submitted. He added that he has been a licensed general contractor for 11 years. He referred to the State Uniform Building Code and Table 15.27.050 D, stating that if the finished floor level directly above a usable or unused floor space is more than six feet above grade, as defined herein, for more than 50% of the total perimeter, or is more than 12 feet above grade as defined herein, at any point such usable or unused under floor space shall be considered a story. He stated that he was in compliance by 25%. He felt the City failed to stipulate in the definition what percentage of the basement caused it to be considered a story, therefore, in his opinion the State Uniform Building Code must be referred to. He said that his proposal is not unique or setting a precedent and referred to his photographs. If it was defined as a usable basement, he would enclose the unconditioned space. It would not be living space, just a usable basement area. He stated that the City referred to 15.17.050 D in the Fullerton Municipal Code and it did not define a story. Staff later informed him that he was viewing Table 15.17.050 D - Usable Open Space Requirements, instead of Section 15.17.050 D regarding Maximum Height Requirements. He felt that a third story was debatable and other residents in the neighborhood want to add a second story and would not be able to, according to staff's interpretation. Mr. Foy mentioned the homes where he was the supervising contractor on Crestview, Brookdale and Clarion.

Chairman Griffin asked Mr. Foy if the basement was improved at 337 W. Brookdale. He stated that it is a usable basement, but not habitable. Mr. Foy answered that there are no windows, which are needed for egress in a habitable area and there is a side door on the outside and an inside passage door.

Chairman Griffin asked Mr. Foy what his intent was for the basement. Mr. Foy answered that he would like to put a pool in his backyard, retain the bottom area, raise the soil level about two or three feet, and have accessibility to the basement bathroom. His wife would use the area for art storage and, as a contractor, he would store equipment.

Chairman Griffin asked if he would like to enclose the basement in the future. Mr. Foy said that he would like to close it off to keep animals and rodents away, it would not be ventilated by an HVAC system, and it would not have windows and could not be considered livable space according to real estate regulations. It is enclosed by a perimeter block wall and he did not want to put in a dirt floor.

Commissioner Savage asked Mr. Foy if he had been in any of the homes pictured in his handout. Mr. Foy said that he had only seen 337 Brookdale, where the basement is about half the size of the home.

Commissioner Bailey asked why he did not extend bedroom #1 north. Mr. Foy said that he scaled the size back because he needed to comply with the 70% rule. He did not know until the meeting the 25% portion of the basement that the City was concerned with. A retaining wall is needed for the slope so he could not leave it open.

Commissioner Bailey asked if he was willing to cut back the size of the master bedroom. Mr. Foy did not want to and felt that, according to the code, he should not have to.

Commissioner Hart asked if he had thought about the suggestion of leaving one area of the basement open, with a dirt floor. Mr. Foy said that he would have a retaining wall on two sides with block wall and columns to support the home.

Commissioner Hart stated that the front elevation would not change, the master bedroom and deck would not change, it would only be a corner of the home with dirt.

Chairman Griffin asked Chief Planner Rosen to clarify what the audience should be addressing regarding this issue. Chief Planner Rosen said that the question is a clarification of ambiguity pertaining to definition of a story. The Planning Commission would be making a recommendation to the City Council, who will make the final determination. They can speak to whether they feel staff made the correct interpretation of the code regarding a third story.

Public hearing opened.

Brad Sanders, 633 Fern, felt that the rules were black and white. He did not see the ambiguity. He discussed the tandem garage, the large space in the garage, the massive size of the home and meeting the square foot ratio. He asked if residents could request another meeting to bring up particular issues pertaining to this project.

Chairman Griffin said that this project would not have been brought before the Planning Commission, except for that 25% of the basement constituted a third story. Chief Planner Rosen said that staff would be happy to meet with any residents to review the plans and answer questions.

Greg Gullickson, 613 W. Fern Drive, asked how the Planning Commission could preclude the applicant from building a third story when the code did not state that a third story was not allowed. He felt that 25% of the basement did not change the appearance of the house from the street and the City should allow him to build it as he has planned.

Senior Planner Mullis stated that the code states that in R-1 zones, the maximum height is two stories or 30 feet above the natural grade. Mr. Foy referenced Table 15.17.050 D, not Section 15.17.050 D, which deals with maximum height requirements.

Chairman Griffin asked if the requirements for a two story requires a maximum of 30 feet within all residential zones. Senior Planner Mullis said that the overall height is 30 feet, but it is the number of stories that was in question today.

Karla Childress, 613 W. Fern Drive, supported Mr. Foy's project and asked that the Planning Commission recommend to the City Council that he be allowed to do build his project.

Bill Carpenter, 627 W. Valley View, felt that uniformity on the street is important. He preferred a wall, rather than open support columns.

Jo Anne Carmony, 1909 Valwood, said that she was aware of six three-story projects that Mr. Foy was involved with the construction and they were done in an excellent manner. She said that Mr. Foy has always been honest and has worked with the City to meet the code. She felt this issue should not keep him from building his dream home.

Linda Croshaw, 533 Panorama Road, spoke of the diversified types of houses. Some had been preserved, some with wrap-around porches and is one of the more diversified streets. She had been inside of homes built by Mr. Foy and felt that they are magnificent and he should be able to build as planned.

Dan Lewis, is financially connected to a house located at 616 Valley View. He asked if the decision would be permanent. Chairman Griffin stated that this would normally be a permitted use and would not have to come before the Planning Commission. The only subject is the clarification of the story.

Mr. Lewis asked if there was any consideration of conformity to the neighborhood. Chairman Griffin said that is a question that is becoming more pervasive throughout our community. This has been a question in many neighborhoods. He said that the planning staff has a lot of input regarding design and integration into the surrounding neighborhood.

Mr. Lewis felt it is a beautiful house, but it should not be located in this neighborhood. Most of the homes average 2,000 square feet, he felt that 8,000 square feet was too large. He asked how the code could be changed. Chairman Griffin said that the City Council must be approached to request a code change.

Peter Alexander, spoke in support of Mr. Foy's design. He felt he had complied with zoning requirements. He felt that the third story definition was unclear. He asked Chief Planner Rosen regarding a definition of two stories or 30 feet. He is designing a rooftop deck with a cover, which is within the height requirement but was told it would be considered a third floor, unless the cover was removed. He asked for a clarification of the definition because it was not well defined.

Chief Planner Rosen said that it had been two stories, 30 feet since the 1940's. It has been rewritten which perhaps is not as clear, and interpretations have varied over time.

Chief Planner Rosen said that many times there are minor exceptions where there are small portions on lower floors which are non-habitable spaces for ancillary storage uses. This is a large basement of 3,000 square feet, which is different than previous cases.

Chairman Griffin stated that different people working here over the last 65 years might have different opinions on the interpretation of code.

Mr. Alexander felt if was not clearly defined.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that the way the code is written that if a use is not explicitly allowed, it was not permitted. If it is not stated that a third story is an allowed use, then it is not allowed.

Alex Fischer-Militaru, 544 W. Fern Drive, has a 5,000 square foot home. He supported Mr. Foy and felt that he is doing a wonderful job, improving the neighborhood. He felt the basement foundation should not be considered a story and he should be allowed to build, as planned.

Nolan Noble, 610 W. Valley View, which is Fullerton historic building #65 purchased 19 years ago. He has a traditional two-story house which is smaller than Mr. Foy's first story basement. He asked that the code be enforced as written, and the lower level be considered the first story. He felt there was nothing on his street similar to what was proposed.

Charlie Jones, 628 W. Valley View, lives across the street from the subject property. She discussed the Planning Commission reviewing the integration of this plan into the neighborhood. Chairman Griffin stated that they are not reviewing the design or integration, but just the definition of a story. Ms. Jones said that it looked like three stories to her.

Robin Ridgeway, 539 W. Fern, owns historical building #58. She felt the intent of the code was to maintain two story homes not taller than 30 feet for continuity. The faade of the house at street level is only two stories and complies within the 30 feet height, she felt it fits the broad intention of the code. She felt it would be a nice improvement.

Judy Wilson, 723 W. Valley View, encouraged staff to stick to the code and figure out the ambiguity and be fair.

Al Eschner, 1011 Grandview Avenue, asked what the setback would be along the rear property fence line and the deck which would be closest to his home.

Senior Planner Mullis answered that the required rear setback is 20 feet for the second story, so the deck would be measured as a second story. The actual rear setback is 30 feet from the rear property line.

Mr. Eschner discussed the level of the lot being 16 feet lower than the street level, therefore, the first story will appear as a second story to him.

Public hearing closed.

Chairman Griffin reiterated that the discussion would result in making a recommendation to City Council, determining whether the portion of the lower level more than four feet above the grade is or is not a story.

Commissioner Stopper asked staff why four feet is the determining factor. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it had been in the code for many years.

Commissioner Stopper felt that the definition was reasonable and fair. He felt that previously there have been creative designs where applicants have used the code to their advantage. He felt staff was making a reasonable interpretation of the code and supported the City Council making a change to the existing City code and a better definition of a story.

Commissioner Savage agreed that the ambiguity in the code needs to be settled. The style of the proposed homes could not be legislated. He felt that changing the code to state that 25% of the four foot height would be the deciding factor. He would like to see Mr. Foy build his project.

Chairman Griffin suggested that the applicant revise the plan regarding only the portion of the basement in question.

Commissioner Hart spoke about Mr. Foy's conformity to the existing land. She suggested using the State Uniform Building Code and felt that because of varying slopes, it was necessary to leave room for interpretation. She suggested allowing a percentage of a building, rather than a strict measurement.

Commissioner Savage reiterated that no matter what the code change is, the appearance of the house will not change.

Commissioner Bailey asked about the code allowing or denying a third story. Chief Planner Rosen said that he felt it was very explicit regarding maximum height requirements. It states that height requirements must be in accordance with Table 15.17.050 C which states that one story is 20 feet and two stories should have a maximum height of 30 feet. The height restrictions are to identify the different rear yard setbacks for one and two story buildings.

Commissioner Bailey felt that if the master bathroom and closet were changed it might meet the code criteria. He understood that the applicant had scaled the plans back to try to meet the criteria. He felt that if the basement area was left open he would support it. He was concerned that Mr. Foy wanted to enclose it and there was a problem with monitoring whether or not it is lived in. The recommendation is "to determine that the lower level is a story and require the applicant to revise the plans", so he did not want to see the applicant revise the plans. He had not made up his mind yet whether he would support it or not.

Chairman Griffin believed that if the Planning Commission supported the recommendation as written and asked the applicant to revise the plans, they could be revised so that the footprint of the upper and lower level and main level would not change. The portion below the master bathroom and bedroom in the lower level would be dirt rather than cement. The applicant would not have to reduce his floor plan of the upper level. He would support the recommendation.

Chairman Griffin said that the Planning Commission is here to decide the story issue. He encouraged Mr. Foy to modify his project, based on the recommendation.

The title of Resolution Number PC-05-27 RECOMMENDING clarification of ambiguity and a determination that the portion of the lower level, which is more than four feet above natural grade, to be a story as submitted and require the applicant to revise the plans so the house is not more than two stories on property located at 613 West Valley View Drive was read, and further reading was waived.

MOTION by Commissioner Stopper, seconded by Commissioner Savage to support staff's recommendation on the definition clarification of one-story versus two-story. The vote passed by 4 - 1 with Commissioner Hart voting no.

Discussion:

Commissioner Hart did not intend that her suggestion be a solution. She was looking at a way to get around the situation, it felt but it would be really ugly. She did not support it because she felt it needed more review.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the unimproved lower level could have dirt, rock or other matter. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it would be considered a story if it had a floor and a ceiling above it.

Chairman Griffin stated that notices of the City Council meeting would be sent to the same recipients, but a date was not set.

The Planning Commission took a break at 5:48 p.m.

The Planning Commission returned at 5:57 p.m. ITEM NO. 3
PRJ05-00161 - ZON05-00011. APPLICANT: SUSAN WEINGORD; PROPERTY OWNER: EUN-MIN YOO.


A request for a Conditional Use Permit for a proposed child-care center, with an enrollment of up to 24 children, on property located at 1418 S. Euclid Street (northeast corner of Euclid Street and Baker Avenue) (O-P zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines

Assistant Planner Sowers clarified that the advertising for this project erroneously included a Development Project in addition to the CUP. There is only a CUP before the Planning Commission for a child-care center operating as a preschool, serving 24 students with two staff members operating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. An aerial photo was displayed and staff described the surrounding uses.

The applicant was proposing to convert the existing, approximately 1,000 sq ft non-conforming residence for the child care center. The existing two-car garage would provide parking for staff. Modifications are being made to allow two alley-accessed spaces for drop off. Children and parents would enter through the playground or the sidewalk along Baker. The playground area is located between the building and the parking area and requires a six-foot block wall to mitigate noise. The floor plan indicates interior modifications to provide three classrooms and a reception area. The current Euclid entry will be enclosed and replaced with a bathroom. The main entrance will be provided from Baker.

Assistant Planner Sowers stated that Mark Miller, City Traffic Engineer was concerned that while the proposal meets the required two drop-off spaces, there is little ability to accommodate overflow. There is no stopping on Baker or Euclid for drop-offs at this location. He was concerned that drop-off traffic could impede the flow of traffic on Baker and Euclid. Assistant Planner Sowers stated that the neighbor to the north had expressed a similar concern regarding the impacts on circulation also on the alley. Staff felt these concerns could be mitigated through the imposition of conditions.

Assistant Planner Sowers highlighted specific recommended conditions:
  • Operate as proposed with significant modifications requiring another hearing;
  • Provide two on-site staff parking stalls, staff shall not impact other properties or impede any vehicular access to the property or surrounding neighborhood;
  • Provide two on-site drop-off stalls; parents shall not impede vehicular access or park on adjacent properties;
  • Comply with noise and maintenance standards;
  • Be subject to a six-month review because of the neighboring concern of the potential impact;
  • Be subject to revocation of CUP if three or more verifiable complaints are received by Code Enforcement, Police or Fire Departments in a 12 month period; or
  • Be subject to determination by the Planning Commission that the use is detrimental to public health or welfare, or is injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity, or is a public nuisance.
Assistant Planner Sowers said that staff found that the applicant was in compliance with the specific code standards in Fullerton Municipal Code for child-care use. The use is consistent with the zoning and is reasonably compatible, as conditioned, with the surrounding uses. Staff recommends that the Planning Commission approve the CUP and adopt the resolution with the conditions outlined at the Planning Commission meeting and in the staff report.

Commissioner Stopper asked about the residence. Assistant Planner Sowers explained that the building was constructed as a residence. It is deemed non-conforming as it is currently a residence in a commercial (Office Professional) zone. Commissioner Stopper also asked if there was parking on Baker Street during the day. Senior Civil Engineer Voronel stated that parking was not allowed there during the day between Euclid and the alley. Chief Planner Rosen spoke about the area between the alley and Euclid which has a painted red curb. Staff would clarify the extent of the red curb with City Traffic Engineer Miller.

Commissioner Stopper sought confirmation that the current front door will be replaced with a window. Assistant Planner Sowers showed on the floor plan that the entry would be closed off to allow for a bathroom. The main entrance would be off of Baker into the reception room. Commissioner Stopper questioned the number of students. Assistant Planner Sowers clarified that because State licensing requirements require 1 staff for each 12 students and only two staff parking spaces are available on site, the child-care center would be physically restricted to allow no more than 24 students.

Commissioner Stopper asked about the Engineering condition regarding public improvements to widen the sidewalk, reconstruct a handicap ramp, and repaint the curb along Baker.

Senior Civil Engineer Voronel responded that the sidewalk to the south is eight feet wide; the sidewalk in front of the subject property is 5.5 feet wide. The request would make the width consistent and require only the paving of 2.5 feet of the grass area already part of the public right-of-way. She stated that the ramp currently did not comply with ADA requirements and City standards required reconstruction; new ADA standards require truncated domes.

Commissioner Hart asked if parking would be allowed in the alley and what would be done when parents dropped off children concurrently. Assistant Planner Sowers answered that there would be no parking allowed in the alley and, if approved, the applicant would need to build into their operations varied drop-off schedules.

Commissioner Savage asked for an explanation of a truncated dome. Senior Civil Engineer Voronel explained that it is a yellow resin surface to provide traction instead of grooving for the handicapped. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it also is an indicator of the transition between the sidewalk to the street.

Commissioner Bailey asked if painting the curb red was warranted and would it be possible to paint a portion white for drop off. Senior Civil Engineer Voronel observed that the red paint had faded and she would check with City Traffic Engineer Miller on the exact length of the red area.

Commissioner Stopper discussed the need for the red curb to allow traffic to turn right.

Chairman Griffin wondered how far down Baker from Euclid the red curb should extend.

Chief Planner Rosen clarified that the Transportation and Circulation Commission recommends the placement of red curbs, so if a change is requested it would have to go before them.

Public hearing opened.

Kay Lee, 7601 Commonwealth, Buena Park, is the project architect. He stated that the owner understood and agreed to follow staff's recommendations with several exceptions. He stated that the owner was requesting a change in the hours of operation. He said that the class hours are 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., however, the owner wanted to extend the time to 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. to allow staff preparation time and extra time for pickup and drop-off. He said that there was a problem with Item #9 because the State Board of Education would not issue a license prior to the final inspection. He also stated that the owner was concerned with the cost of widening the sidewalk and reconstructing the handicap ramp at the corner. The owner would be spending $2,000 or less on facility improvements and felt that the sidewalk and street improvement could exceed $5,000. He asked that the City incur the street and sidewalk improvements.

Assistant Planner Sowers displayed the site plan and Mr. Lee showed the areas of the home that would be modified.

Chairman Griffin reviewed recommended conditions #1, #9, and #23 and asked staff to discuss. Chief Planner Rosen stated, regarding #9, that technically, the building could be released prior to State licensing. Staff recommended that the applicant provide proof of application for state licensing.

Commissioner Bailey asked Mr. Lee about the proposed traffic patterns and the plan to accept children. Mr. Lee stated that there was no traffic analysis but he did not think it would be an issue. Commissioner Bailey asked if there was a potential of 24 vehicles arriving at one time. Mr. Lee mentioned the change in hours of operation to 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. would allow 2 hours for drop off and pick up.

Susan Weingord, Director of the Preschool, said that her experience is that parents rarely drop off children at the same time. State licensing is not concerned with the parking situation and did not require parking on the site. She discussed a previous preschool where she worked in San Francisco where the parking was very limited and parents would park and walk to the facility. She said that there is sufficient parking beyond the alley on Baker Street.

Dr. Lucy Methot, is the property owner of the medical building at 1410 - 1412 S. Euclid. She spoke of the traffic at the intersection of Baker and Euclid. She was concerned with the impact on her business. The previous owner impacted her parking with garage sales and she was concerned with the parents potentially using her lot. She said that traffic would use the alley to avoid heavy traffic on Euclid, also junior high school students use the alley and trash trucks pick up in the alley. She was concerned with additional traffic in the alley, which is only 20 feet wide.

Commissioner Savage asked Dr. Methot to clarify her hours of operation. Dr. Methot said they are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9 - 12 p.m., and 2 - 7 p.m., Tuesday 11 - 3 p.m., closed Thursday. She stated she also has Saturday a.m. hours, which would not be a problem.

Commissioner Bailey asked how many patients are there at one time. Dr. Methot said there are three doctors, one is part-time. They schedule patients for every 15 minutes and there is a potential for six patients at the office at one time.

Harry Weingord is the husband of the preschool director. He said that all the parents do not pick up and drop off at the same time. Some of the children are two to six years old and come only for a few hours. He said that the sidewalk on Euclid will not be used by the preschool and they bought the property as is.

Chairman Griffin said that it is a City policy to standardize the width of the sidewalk and they need to conform with the current City standard. The lawn is encroaching on the City's right-of-way.

Bill Carlson, is Dr. Methot's husband and manages the maintenance of the medical building. He was concerned with possible special events. He discussed their plans to remove some of the block wall, add a window, a bathroom, and the small area in the garage for parking.

Commissioner Bailey asked if Mr. Carlson or Dr. Methot have met with the owner or the director. Mr. Carlson responded that they had not.

Chairman Griffin asked staff about conditions in the past regarding special events.

Chief Planner Rosen answered that staff previously had conditions requiring plans for special events for other projects. A parking management plan could be included for special events.

Chairman Griffin asked how the use was defined when the application came. Assistant Planner Sowers said that she had not discussed special events with the applicant.

Chairman Griffin asked the applicant if there would be any special events planned. Mrs. Weingord stated that for insurance purposes she would need to operate a larger day care to plan field trips. Chairman Griffin asked if she had anticipated having any special events or had a plan for pageants or shows for the parents. Mrs. Weingord said that during Christmas they might, but they would hold it after hours.

Mr. Lee structure answered that the structure is 1,000 square feet, with three rooms, an office and a kitchen noting that large special events would not be able to be accommodated.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Stopper asked staff to comment on the change in hours of operation. Assistant Planner Sowers said that the hours of operation shown in the staff report where what was listed on the plans. She did not see any reason why the condition could not be modified.

Senior Civil Engineer Voronel said that her understanding was that the proposed construction costs would be higher. She said that their conditions could be modified and prioritized not to exceed 10% of the total cost of construction.

Commissioner Bailey was concerned that the owner was not present and there was no traffic plan or special event plan. He wanted to see a condition added to address a parking plan for a special event.

Chairman Griffin recommended using wording from previous special use parking plans.

Commissioner Bailey suggested arranging to use the adjacent parking and getting a written agreement with the owner.

Commissioner Hart had many concerns. She felt Euclid was busy, and wanted to know how far the red painted curb extended on Baker. The primary access was through the alley and she felt that would be an unsafe place for a use with children.

Commissioner Savage was in support of the project. He said that parking is open east of Baker. He would support something that could make the traffic more definable.

Commissioner Stopper discussed the best use for this land being O-P zoned. The CUP allows day care centers, but there are safety issues. He suggested that the applicant consider installing a reinforcement barrier at Euclid and Baker to protect the structure in case of an accident. He supported the following changes:

Item #1 - change time of operation to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Item #9 - change to proof of application for state licensing
Item #23 - add that public improvements will be based on overall project cost.
Add a new Item #24 - submit a special use parking plan

Chairman Griffin asked if there should be a 10% cap on Item #23 or just negotiate the amount. Commissioner Stopper felt it should be negotiated.

Commissioner Bailey felt it was insightful to consider installing a reinforcement barrier. He asked if there were any related codes. Senior Civil Engineer Voronel said that she was not aware of any other than guard rails for slopes at locations with different elevations.

Chairman Griffin stated that he would vote against the project. He felt it was not a reasonably compatible use.

MOTION by Commissioner Stopper, seconded by Commissioner Bailey to support staff's recommendations in addition to the modified conditions #1, #9, #23 and adding #24. Commissioners Savage, Stopper and Bailey voted in favor and Commissioners Hart and Griffin voted against the item.

Chief Planner Rosen explained the appeal process.

The Planning Commission took a break at 7:04 p.m.

The Planning Commission re-adjourned at 7:13 p.m.

Item #5 - The applicant requested a continuance and since the public hearing notice that was sent out stated that it would be heard at 7:00 p.m., the Planning Commission decided to vote on the continuance at this time and out of order.

ITEM NO. 5
PRJ03-00363 - ZON03-00027 - ZON03-00028 - ZON05-00063 - LRP04-00024. APPLICANT: THE MORGAN GROUP; PROPERTY OWNER: JACK CHOU.


A request to demolish an existing tennis club and construct a 131-unit senior housing complex. including a major site plan, conditional use permit for a "retirement complex", minor zoning adjustment to exceed the maximum permitted lot coverage; and a General Plan Revision to change the land use designation from "Parks and Recreational" to "Office", on property located at 1900 Camino Loma (southwest corner of Camino Loma and Rosecrans Avenue) (O-P zone) (Mitigated Negative Declaration) (Continued from July 27, 2005)

Chairman Griffin stated that the applicant had requested a continuance to the September 28, 2005 meeting. Chief Planner Rosen stated that because of the lengthy legal letter, there is a possibility that this item might be continued until a much later date, but would currently support the September 28, 2005 continuance.

MOTION by Commissioner Stopper, second by Commissioner Hart to continue Item #5 to September 28, 2005. The motion passed unanimously by a vote of 5 - 0.

Staff would send another notice when the item is heard again.

ITEM NO. 4
PRJ04-00874 - ZON04-00091 - ZON05-00014. APPLICANT: GEORGE BEHNAM; PROPERTY OWNER: PACIFIC PLUS INVESTMENTS, LLC.


A request for a major development project, and a one-lot tentative tract map to accommodate the construction of an seven-unit condominium development on property located at 321-323 East Amerige Avenue (north side of Amerige Avenue, between approximately 175 and 275 feet east of the northeast corner of Amerige Avenue and Lemon Street) (R-3 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines)

Assistant Planner Kusch presented the staff report dated August 24, 2005. A zoning map and aerial photo were displayed and he described the surrounding uses and zoning. Photos of several nearby properties and apartments were shown. He explained that the subject property consisted of two existing parcels measuring a total of 14,000 square feet. Existing site improvements include four single-family residences and a single-car garage.

Assistant Planner Kusch met with the applicant numerous times since May, 2004. The intent of the meetings was to convey applicable development standards and staff's concern with the project's compatibility with the neighborhood. The project has been reduced from eight to seven dwelling units. The RDRC reviewed a previous version of the currently proposed design in November 2004. The RDRC provided suggestions to improve the project and voted to continue approval of the item. Their comments included concerns with the bulk and mass of the proposed three-story condominium structure as it related to the adjacent properties. Also, the RDRC agreed with staff that the project was not oriented toward the street in terms of providing a pedestrian scale. In March 2005, the RDRC reviewed a revised version of the project and agreed with staff's recommendation to deny the project. Rather than continue approval of the item and allow an opportunity to revise plans, the applicant wanted to proceed to the Planning Commission. The applicant has made revisions to the project since the RDRC review, and the following are noted in the staff report.
  • Eliminating third story elements from the front portion of the building's west elevation.
  • Recessing third story elements away from the east property line for front portion of building.
  • Provision of open patios on third story of end units facing east and west property lines. Patios are intended to help provide a variation to the bulk of the building and create a stepping of the third story portion of the building away from side property lines.
  • Reduction in lot coverage eliminating previous request for Zoning Adjustment.
  • Reduction in dwelling area to meet Zoning Code limitations.
  • Submission of a conceptual landscape plan.
  • Additional articulation of building's exterior including window sills and trim, wainscot, and decorative wrought iron railing.
  • Addition of arbors to provide focused pedestrian entries from street.
Building elevations and a site plan were displayed and discussed. Assistant Planner Kusch noted that the applicant had made an effort to address the concerns of staff and the RDRC. He indicated that the noted changes reduced the bulk and mass of the third story away from the side property lines. The third story elements are now focused toward the center of the property and along the rear alley. The redesign has also reduced the amount of lot coverage to meet code limitations. Staff believed the enhancement of the exterior elevations provided necessary articulation to the building design.

Assistant Planner Kusch indicated that in order to comply with the Zoning Code, the redesign of the project had created new impacts. First, the visitor and motor court located on Amerige Avenue is inconsistent with the development pattern in the area which has most of the parking accessible from the alley. This site design makes the garages, visitor parking and the motor court a predominant design element on Amerige Avenue rather than front doors to dwelling units. In addition, placing the visitor parking and motor court in front of the building pushes the front building closer to the rear building. The majority of the common open space is located between the front and rear buildings. This common open space along with the private patios for the rear building will have very little sunlight given its proximity to three story buildings and the building's overhang. This will limit its usability by the residents.

Assistant Planner Kusch indicated that if the Planning Commission should wish to support the project, Staff would recommend conditions of approval contained in the staff report. The conditions of approval would enable the project to marginally meet Zoning Code requirements. The conditions include incorporation of a landscape design to soften the appearance of the parking area as seen from Amerige Avenue. He stated that the proposed compact parking spaces exceed what is allowable. Two compact spaces need to be modified to standard-sized spaces.

Assistant Planner Kusch reminded the Planning Commission that property owners within a 300 foot radius had been mailed a notice of the public hearing. Staff received several inquiries and concerns. A property owner adjacent and to the west of the subject property submitted a petition concerned with the compatibility of the project's third story with the neighborhood. The property owner indicated that the petition was signed by several neighborhood residents and property owners. A letter was received from the owner of the adjacent apartment complex located to the east of the subject property. She was concerned with the long term maintenance of the ownership housing, the general compatibility of the project and the adequacy of parking. Another letter was received from a neighboring property owner concerned with the general compatibility of project, including deterioration of the property over time, parking problems, subleasing of individual dwelling units and overcrowding. He conveyed that the proposal was out of character with the neighborhood and would set an unwanted precedent for redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood.

The Fire Department noted a need for a fire hydrant on the north side of Amerige Avenue and possibly on the subject property.

Assistant Planner Kusch noted four findings in the report that indicated an incorrect project number, however, the resolution had the correct project number. Staff was reluctant to approve the project and had concerns with the overall design as it related to the neighborhood. If the Planning Commission were to approve this project, staff had outlined recommended conditions in the staff report.

Commissioner Bailey asked how many times this was before the RDRC and what is the policy for a denial. Assistant Planner Kusch said that it was heard by the RDRC two times. The first time resulted in a continuance to allow the applicant to receive critique and suggested improvements. As presented at the second RDRC meeting, there were still reservations which resulted in a recommendation to deny the project. Staff offered at the second meeting to continue the item, however, the applicant wanted to proceed to the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Savage asked why staff was concerned with the site plan and was the parking oriented in the rear originally. Assistant Planner Kusch said that staff felt the project lack a pedestrian orientation toward the street. The parking area was the predominant element at the street and was inconsistent with other properties in the neighborhood. The buildings entries are oriented inward rather than toward the street. The open space is marginal and does not have adequate sunlight. Assistant Planner Kusch recalled previous versions of the plan with the parking area oriented to the street.

Commissioner Stopper referred to Item #6 under the Analysis Section of the staff report: The project marginally meets applicable code requirements. Assistant Planner Kusch said that from a lot coverage standpoint, the Zoning Code allows up to 60% of the property to count toward lot coverage. The proposed lot coverage is 57%. The required amount of open space is captured by private open space in the form of patios or decks, rather than common open space. The majority of the common open space, and portions of the private open space, would have limited sun light due to the proximity of the building. The open space meets the technical requirements, but not the intent. The parking exceeds code, with the exception of two compact spaces which need to be changed to standard and there is one more garage than necessary. The main concern is the open space and the parking area orientation.

Commissioner Hart asked for a clarification on whether the Planning Commission was being asked to consider the tract map and the design of the project. Assistant Planner Kusch answered affirmatively that it was their purview to review the site plan, architectural design and tract map.

Chairman Griffin asked if all the items identified in the staff report were covered in the recommended conditions of approval.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that all are covered in the staff report.

Public hearing opened.

Pat McGuigan, consultant with Chessen and Associates and a representative of Pacific Plus Investments, stated that what is presented tonight is different than what was reviewed by the RDRC. She understood that the RDRC members had different ideas and could not come to an agreement. The applicant took all the recommendations and redesigned the project to meet the requirements. She said that the scale and overall lot coverage was reduced, the floor plans were varied and the roof lines were stepped back to reduce a boxy look. She displayed a photo of nearby apartments and spoke of the investment opportunity, the Homeowners' Association, the parking, the open space and the landscaping.

Michael Marcos, George Benham architects, said that he understood that the allowable compact parking is 30% of the requirement of 20, which is six. He felt they were not exceeding the code allowance, but said that they could provide two standard-sized guest spaces toward the front of the property.

Pat McGuigan asked if adding the other pedestrian arbor was a landscaping requirement. She said that the developer was willing to agree with all of the conditions, but was not sure how it would look. Staff assisted in the design and reviewed the plans. She stated that:
  • The project satisfies the criteria for building design;
  • The zoning is consistent;
  • The site plans with attached conditions, meets development standards; and
  • As conditioned, the project is reasonably compatible and not detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community.
Commissioner Hart asked for an explanation of how the two buildings were connected. Mr. Marcos showed her the location on the site plan and described it. Commissioner Hart asked how far apart the buildings were and if the patio was covered or not. Mr. Marcos answered that they are 15 feet apart and all the patios are private and covered.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the patios were covered by the building. Mr. Marcos said that they were.

Caroline Kilmeyer identified herself as the property owner containing the historic Queen Anne Victorian House (Cusick House) located adjacent and west of the subject property. Ms. Kilmeyer said that she submitted the petition which identified concerns with the compatibility of the third-story structure with the neighborhood.

Chairman Griffin asked her to explain the process of getting signatures on the petition. Ms. Kilmeyer said she explained that she walked through her neighborhood. She highlighted on the original petition which names were property owners. She stated that there was a consensus against the project, several were upset that they have not been able to modify their homes. Chairman Griffin stated that the preservation zone was one block away. She discussed compatibility issues. She submitted a letter to Assistant Planner Kusch and it was entered into the record.

Commissioner Savage asked how long she had lived there and if she was aware of the R-3 zoning. She said that she purchased the home in 1996 and lived there until February of 2005, and was not aware of the zoning.

Chairman Griffin asked if she had an opportunity to meet with the applicant. Ms. Kilmeyer answered no, but the applicant's attorney called her.

Vance Paine, owns an apartment building and had built other apartments and fourplexes, all on Wilshire Avenue. He felt that a three-story building did not belong in the area. He was concerned with the bulk of the structure, the manipulation of open space requirements and lack of street parking. He indicated that he was not concerned with the density, but rather the incorporation of the third story in the building's design. He indicated that approval of the project would loom over the rest of the neighborhood and set an undesirable precedent for other properties to redevelop with a three-story design.

Commissioner Hart asked him if the lot was not split, would he not have a problem with four units on each lot. Mr. Paine indicated that his concern was not the number of units, but rather the third story element and bulk of the structure.

Donna Chessen, Chessen and Associates, 3420 Calle Sul, Laguna Woods, introduced herself. Her position on every consulting job is that she visits the entire neighborhood. They visited homeowners and indicated that they had no objections to the project. Ms. Chessen stated that she called Ms. Kilmeyer twice to meet with her and she refused. They do not have an attorney.

Ms. McGuigan stated that parking is at a premium because the existing apartment complexes do not provide sufficient on-site parking.

Commissioner Stopper asked the applicant if they are in agreement with the 28 conditions recommended by staff. The applicant responded affirmatively.

Commissioner Bailey asked if any consideration was given to subterranean parking. Ms. McGuigan said that they had considered it but it would not work on this size of property.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Bailey said that he met with the applicant, discussed the project and the elevations. He discussed the pride of ownership in owning a condo. He felt that the building was too big and bulky and would be voting against it.

Commissioner Stopper spoke of urban planning, preservation zones, a mixture of architecture in the area over time. He wanted to see progress and felt that since this project was within City codes, he would support it.

Commissioner Hart was concerned with the size of the proposed project. She felt the applicant had sufficiently incorporated the concerns of staff and the RDRC, and would be supporting it, subject to the conditions.

Commissioner Savage recommended approval, subject to staff's conditions.

Chairman Griffin recognized that the neighbors have concerns, he felt it was a good project and would be a good addition to the community and would be supporting it.

The title of Resolution Number PC-05-29 APROVING a major development project, and a one-lot tentative tract map, to accommodate the construction of a seven-unit condominium development on property located at 321-323 East Amerige Avenue was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Stopper, seconded by Commissioner Hart, subject to the 28 conditions. Passed by a vote of 4 - 1 with Commissioner Bailey voting no, that said resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

OTHER MATTERS

COMMISSION/STAFF COMMUNICATION

Commissioner Stopper discussed an e-mail he sent to the Planning Commission regarding the fourth community meeting on the update on the Transportation Center Study Plan. City staff and the consultant will prepare the final report.

Commissioner Stopper stated that he would not be attending the September 14 meeting. Commissioner Savage stated that he would not be attending the September 28 meeting.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that there will be a special workshop with the RDRC on September 13, at 7:00 p.m. at the Library regarding Amerige Court (also called Vintage Square). The Fox Theatre restoration video presentation will be presented at the next Planning Commission, September 14, at 4:00 p.m.

REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS

Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief update of City Council items.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

There was no one from the public who wished to speak on any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction.

AGENDA FORECAST

The next regularly-scheduled Planning Commission meeting will be September 14, 2005 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Staff reviewed the proposed items listed in the agenda forecast.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned 8:47 p.m.
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