PRJ02-00393 - ZON03-00070. APPLICANT: R.J. HOMES AND PROPERTY OWNER: FULLERTON VILLAS, L.P..
To consider a request to review architectural and landscape plans of six residential dwellings located at 765 Carhart Avenue.
Committee Member Blumer excused himself from the meeting due to the possibility of a conflict of interest.
Assistant Planner Kusch presented the request. He stated that the approval of Tentative Tract Map 16478 for a six lot residential subdivision included a mitigation measure requiring RDRC review of the new residences, common landscaped areas and streetscape to ensure that the project continues to meet the related conditions of approval and detailed mitigation measures.
Assistant Planner Kusch noted several issues with the proposal. He stated that the covered entry and one of the posts encroach within the required 15'-0" front yard setback on Parcel No. 6. He noted that the proposed streetscape is not consistent with the existing streetscape along Carhart Avenue, and referenced a letter from an adjacent property owner requesting a line of sight diagram and the retention or replacement of the existing trees along the north property line.
Chief Planner Rosen stated that one of the conditions of approval (Planning Commission condition no. 6) on the tract map required the submittal of an arborist report, in part to determine if a mature oak tree on Parcel No. 3 and its grove (including another mature oak tree on an adjacent property) can be protected; and to identify other trees worth saving. The recommendations of the arborist will be incorporated as conditions of approval of the project. Mr. Rosen noted that if the project did not comply with the recommendations of the arborist, the non-compliance would be treated as a modification to the approval and requires review by the Planning Commission. Mr. Rosen indicated that the applicant has submitted an arborist report that identified the live oak on Parcel No. 3 as well as some live oak saplings. Subsequent to the preparation of the Staff Report, the applicant provided a report from the same arborist specifying mitigation measures to be employed if the tree on Parcel No. 3 was to be removed. Staff will be independently corroborating the revised arborist report at the applicant's expense.
Chairman Johnson asked if there is a plan that shows the locations of the trees identified by the arborist for retention. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that while there is no overlay to the site plan, the costal live oak is in the southwest corner of Parcel No. 3. Vice Chairman Daybell stated that there is no house proposed to be located in the southwest corner of Parcel No. 3. Mr. Kusch agreed, stating the concern is the drip line of the tree and the affect of grading.
Vice Chairman Daybell requested clarification of the location of the trees on the northern property line and their relationship to Parcel No. 6. Associate Planner Eastman asked if the arborist report address Parcel No. 6 trees. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the initial arborist report identified the coastal live oak on Parcel No. 3 (RDRC recommended condition of approval 2a) and the coastal live oak saplings (RDRC recommended condition of approval 2c).
Ryan Gregory, the applicant, stated that the trees along the northern property line might actually fall on the adjacent property.
Chairman Johnson stated that with grading there would be no way to save tree in Parcels No. 3 or 6. Vice Chairman Daybell questioned if the grading would cut the slope behind the house on Parcel No. 6. The applicant affirmed.
Chairman Johnson recommended the landscaping on Carhart Avenue be consistent with the Citys street tree plan. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that, to his knowledge, Carhart does not have an adopted street tree plan. Chief Planner Rosen stated that Maintenance Services could provide verification on this point, but he does not believe there is a consistent tree on the street.
Melinda Guinaldo, 781 N. Carhart Avenue, stated that the residents, not the City, trim the trees along Carhart. The applicant stated the intent to retain as many trees as possible but noted that many of the trees along Carhart are dead and diseased.
Chairman Johnson questioned the extent of the project along Carhart. The applicant noted a cut for the road as well as pedestrian access. Committee Member Silber questioned the grade change to Carhart. The applicant responded that there is only a slight change in grade.
Vice Chairman Daybell asked for clarification on Staffs recommendations. In response to RDRC condition 2a, Chief Planner Rosen stated that the costal live oak on Parcel No. 3, by virtue of the condition of approval on the tract map and its identification in the initial arborist report, is currently part of common landscaping component of the project. If the subsequent arborist report, as corroborated, supports the removal of the tree, it is no longer common and is not in the purview of the RDRC. In response to RDRC condition 2b, Mr. Rosen stated that the basis for the condition to maintain or replant the northern edge is to address the concerns of the neighbor. If the Committee objects, and applicant agrees, this condition can be removed and placed in the CC&Rs.
Vice Chairman Daybell questioned the available room for trees on the north side of Parcel No. 6. The applicant stated that there would be 10-15 feet, including the slope.
Committee Member Silber stated that there is not a clear relationship of topography on the site plan and asked the applicant to explain the grading of the project.
The applicant stated that an existing natural swale runs through the property, starting at the northeast corner of Parcel No. 6. The swale is to be replaced with a storm drain maintaining under fill, which will maintain the same exit as the current flow. Parcel Nos. 4 - 6 are proposed to drop 10 feet from the existing grade. This cut will be used to fill in Parcel Nos. 2 & 3. Parcel No. 1 is proposed to remain similar to the existing grade, with at most a 1 ft. increase.
Committee Member Silber noted a 7' retaining wall and questioned the ramifications of lowering the pad at Parcel No. 3 or bringing retaining wall closer to or incorporating it into the house. The applicant stated that consideration had not been given to incorporating the retaining wall into the residence; however a slope still needs to be created which is currently affected by the location of the tree. Mr. Silber commented that the grade changes appear minor from Carhart with the areas of cut more towards the northwest corner of the project.
Chief Planner Rosen clarified that the primary reason behind the retention of the tree on Parcel No. 3 is its relationship to the large live oak on the adjacent property., He noted that the initial arborist report identified sensitive removal procedures of the Parcel No. 3 tree, which would have to be employed to protect the adjacent tree. The retention of the tree on Parcel No. 3 and the replanting of the samplings were identified as secondary alternatives, since preserving mature trees where possible is consistent with the Citys goals and policies.
There being no further questions for Staff, Chairman Johnson opened the floor to public comment.
Rick Crane, project architect, addressed several points of the Staff Report, noting minor changes to the project since the preparation of the report. The color elevations reflect all modifications from Staff Report. He clarified that the proposed residence on Parcel No. 1 is stepped to a 1.5 story elevation with clearstory element before the 2nd story. The proposed residence on Parcel No. 4 will be a sand finish stucco, not smooth trowel as originally proposed; and the roof material is asphalt shingle, not tile. The roof profile on the south elevation of the proposed residence on Parcel No. 6 was modified by the addition of dormer elements to break up the roof mass.
Mr. Crane presented a section plan showing grade relative to visual impacts. The section was provide to address concerns of neighbors as well as comply with a condition of the Tract approval (Planning Commission condition no. 5). He noted that while Parcel No. 6 could be built as two stories, a single story residence is proposed to address neighbor concerns. The finished pad for Parcel No. 6 is 6 below natural grade with window elevations at 68"; visually, Parcel No. 6 will not be looking into adjacent properties. Mr. Crane stated that the applicant would like to raise the pad 2 to address drainage issues. Originally lowered to maintain 20 height maximum for one story, the 2 increase in pad height would put 13% of roof area (predominantly the peaks) over the 20 limit. Mr. Crane requested approval of this "encroachment". Vice Chairman Daybell questioned the effect of this change on Parcel No. 5. Mr. Crane, noting that the elevations are not shown at their actual grade relationships, stated that Parcel No. 5 would not be changed.
Rick Crane stated that architecturally the project meets the goals of the original conditions of approval set forth by the Planning Commission and City Council, including the articulation, garage step back, and the variations of the elevations and architectural styles.
Rick Crane, addressing RDRC condition no. 3 relating to the front yard setback of Parcel No. 6, stated that the conditions of the tract encourage the "encroachment" of the porch into the front yard setback. Specifically, the mitigation measure (Planning Commission IX.c) states, "Hardscape features such as a paved area, pedestrian sidewalk, staircase, porch or pond should not exceed 40% of the lots front yard area." Including the porch, the proposed residence has 39% hardscape, and is in compliance with the mitigation measure.
The applicant questioned if RDRC condition no. 4 was a result of the inclusion of a monument sign location on the site plan. Chief Planner Rosen stated that condition was specifically to address the streetscape on both Carhart Avenue and the new cul-de-sac.
Dave Clossen, landscape architect for the project, indicated the common area landscaping includes 15 trees, 1 per lot (24" box) plus the trees in the storm drain outlet area (relocation of saplings - RDRC condition 2c). Turfblock is proposed in the parking easement areas with grass in areas not usable for parking. The landscaping from the back of the common HOA-maintained line is the responsibility of buyer.
Associate Planner Eastman inquired about property line fencing. The applicant replied that wood fencing would probably be used on the north, east and west boundaries of the project with chainlink on south due to drainage. Parcel No. 3 will have a retaining wall with steel tubing. Associate Planner Eastman questioned if there are going to be fences between the houses to which the applicant said "yes". Mr. Eastman also questioned if there will be anything to identify the HOA and private landscape areas and expressed concern with homeowners not landscaping. Rick Crane stated that the CC&Rs would address the responsibilities of both parties.
Committee Member Silber expressed concern over the retention of the Pico-Carhart rural character, especially in planting and tree selection. He asked Mr. Clossen if he has been to the area and considered appropriate species. Mr. Clossen affirmed and stated that the proposed trees are Jacaranda and Tristania, and the Purple Leaf Plum as an accent.
Melinda Guinaldo expressed concern that the Purple Leaf Plums are too small due to their compact and narrow nature. She expressed a desire for larger, thicker vegetation. Mr. Clossen stated that the existing trees on Carhart provide the look of a thicket but most are not structurally sound as they appear to have been cut and replanted.
Chief Planner Rosen stated that the conceptual plan does not address the streetscape area. The applicant needs to verify the responsibilities of the City and HOA. Those trees not maintained by the City need to be identified on landscape plans as retained, replanted, or removed. Streetscape needs to be developed and maintained by the HOA, and it needs to be consistent with neighborhood landscape (density and rhythm); plans should reflect a rural neighborhood in spacing and type of trees along the cul-de-sac street. Specifically, trees should be more tightly spaced on the private lots along common areas. Mr. Clossen stated that trees are proposed in areas unavailable for parking. Mr. Rosen reiterated that trees can be placed behind parking areas and questioned if one tree per lot was sufficient for rural character. Mr. Clossen questioned if it is the developers responsibility to put in trees that a property owner may remove. Mr. Rosen stated that the CC&Rs could contain a provision to retain the trees. Mr. Clossen stated that as an alternative, a tree density could be specified in the CC&Rs, allowing individual property owners a choice of type.
Committee Member Silber stated that there are both pros and cons to an entry monument. The applicant stated that he initially did not think monumentation was possible until Staff mentioned the possibility of a location in landscape easement. An entry monument is not necessary but the applicant stated he would like to retain the option so the home owners can decide at a later date. Committee Member Silber noted that a monument may be okay if consistent with the rural character of the neighborhood. Associate Planner Eastman question if any signage was provided in the plans. The applicant stated that only a space for a possible sign was identified on the site plan. Mr. Eastman noted that the zoning code specifies dimensions and stated that whether an entry sign is appropriate depends on relation to neighborhood. Melinda Guinaldo expressed concern with a monument sign stating that there is no signage in the area and reiterated the importance of maintaining the rural character.
Rick Forbes, 747 - 757 Carhart, the neighbor to the south, stated that currently no water flows through the site. Chief Planner Rosen stated that Mr. Forbes had previously sent a letter expressing concern about the water draining from the site. Mr. Forbes said the intent of his letter was to prevent future problems. Mr. Rosen stated that the grading of the site is not under review as part of the current application and noted that a letter reflecting the actual issues should be submitted for review in conjunction with the review of grading plans.
There being no further comments, Chairman Johnson closed the public comments and opened the meeting to Committee comments.
Vice Chair Daybell stated that because of the rural nature of Carhart, it may be better for the neighborhood to maintain the existing vegetation rather than planting new trees and only modify the existing planting on Carhart to create the new road.
Chairman Johnson questioned the reason for the cut in the trees on Carhart on Parcel No. 1. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the intent was to balance the orientation of the proposed residence to Carhart with the maintenance of a rural edge. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the tract was approved with two front setbacks for Parcel No. 1 to prevent the property line on Carhart from being a "side" yard, where a 6 ft. fence would be permitted at edge of the right-of-way.
Vice Chairman Daybell stated that he supports the proposed location of the porch on Parcel No. 6, as well as the request to raise the pad elevation to enhance drainage.
Committee Member Silber stated that the plans appear to be well thought through. He supports raising the pad on Parcel No. 6 as it helps the rear and side yard, and noted that one story lessens the impact on neighbors. He stated that the proposed residence on Parcel No. 3 should be revisited if the tree is worth saving. Depending on the location of sewer, the house could possibly be dropped. Mr. Silber stated that he will rely on the landscape architect to determine which trees, if any, are worth saving on Carhart. An entry monument is okay if it is in the character of the Craftsman style of the proposed residence on Parcel No. 1. Mr. Silber commented that the more the new cul-de-sac street becomes another meandering street, the better it would fit in with the neighborhood. He supports raising the pad on Parcel No. 6 and noted that the landscape should be consistent with the Pico-Carhart rural character.
Chairman Johnson supported the architecture with the various elevations. He also supported raising the pad and felt the location of the porch on Parcel No. 6 met the original mitigation measure. Mr. Johnson proposed a condition of approval requiring the landscaping plans to come back to the RDRC for review. The plans should present the overall landscaping for the project and should include existing trees to be removed, existing trees to be maintained/relocated according to the arborist report, if any, as well as slope planting. The planting plan should incorporate existing types of trees found in the area - large, broad leafed, like those along Carhart - to provide a buffer to the neighborhood.
Rick Crane asked for clarification of the condition stated by Chairman Johnson to verify if the request was for the landscape for the entire project. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the approval of the tract included the condition common landscape and streetscape. Chairman Johnson stated that an overlay of existing trees on site to be removed should be provided.
Chief Planner Rosen clarified that "streetscape" is feel from the street, not just the 8- foot area of the parking easement. Committee Member Silber stated that the intent is not to stall the project over landscape but noted that it is not clear how the landscaping is working in relation to the live oaks and in common area. He reiterated that the landscape plan warrants coming back.
Committee Member Silber made a motion to (A) recommend approval with conditions 1, 2, and 4 as recommended in the Staff Report (recommended condition 3 was dropped); (B) support raising the pad height of Parcel No. 6 by 2 ft.; and (C) add a condition that final landscape plans for the project, including streetscape and common areas, be submitted to the RDRC for review. The plans should present the overall landscaping for the project and should include existing trees to be removed, existing trees to be maintained/relocated according to the arborist report, if any, as well as slope planting. The planting plan should incorporate existing types of trees found in area - large, broad leafed, like those along Carhart - to provide a buffer to the neighborhood.
Vice Chairman Daybell stated the trees along Carhart should not be removed prior to review and approval of the landscape plans, with the exception of a necessary cut for the street, even if grading were to commence prior the approval of the landscape plans.
Rick Crane stated that work could proceed on the architecture while the landscape plans are revised and that the landscape plans would come back to the RDRC prior to the start of grading. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the landscape plans would need to be reviewed prior to grading.
The motion passed with a vote of 3-0.