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RDRC Minutes September 11, 2003

RDRC Minutes September 11, 2003


Thursday September 11, 2003 4:00 PM


The meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m. by Chairman Johnson


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Johnson; Vice-Chair Daybell; Committee Members Blumer, Coffman, and Silber
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen and Associate Planner Eastman


Minutes for August 28, 2003 were approved, by a vote of 3 to 0. Vice-Chair Daybell abstained since he was not present at the August 28 meeting; Member Blumer abstained from voting on Item 1, and Member Silber abstained from voting on Item 2, as they were not in the room for the respective items.

4:00 p.m. Session


PRJ03-00461 - LRP03-00015 & -18 / ZON03-00041, -42, -43. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: KUNWOO WOO / INJEONG WOO.

The proposed project was presented by Associate Planner Eastman. He stated that the review before the RDRC includes two considerations, including 1) a request to demolish an existing commercial building which is listed as a "significant" building in the City's Historic Building Survey; and 2) review the architecture and site design of a 2-story mixed-use building in Redevelopment Area 2. Planner Eastman described the project. In addition to the two items before the RDRC for review, the project includes requests which go before the City Council; including a Zone change and General Plan revision. The RDRC's motion will be a recommendation to the Planning Commission and City Council.

Planner Eastman stated that Staff is recommending approval of the project subject to a number of conditions. The conditions mostly clarify details and potential concerns, rather than altering the proposal. He discussed issues and concerns, and identified the reasons for recommending approval.

It was noted that Staff's recommendation of approval would includes the request to demolish the building identified as being historically "significant". Staff clarified that the building was added to the list of significant buildings in 1978-79 mostly because of its unaltered condition. Planner Eastman explained that in the 80's the building was significantly altered, and Staff believes the architectural significance has been compromised. To mitigate the demolition of the building, Staff is recommending, and the applicant has agreed, to document the building and install a plaque for prosperity.

Chief Planner Rosen added that this project is a little unusual; the request includes a zone change to C-3, which is the City's mixed-use zone. Mixed-use C-3 zones are typically associated with the City's Central Business District (CBD). Chief Planner Rosen stated that the project is right on the edge of the CBD, but is not in the CBD, so the request is somewhat unusual. Although he pointed out that there are properties zoned C-3 outside the CBD, mostly on north harbor (all the way up to Ralphs) and on Commonwealth, just east and west of Harbor. Chief Planner Rosen asked the RDRC to spend extra time on design, density, and other issues related to mixed use and "downtown" development because the City is likely to receive more interest in downtown development. Associate Planner Eastman added that one of the reasons for supporting the rezone at this location is that it is within a mile of the Fullerton Transit Center, and it falls within an area identified as part of the draft 1999 design guideline boundaries for the Centerline project.

Vice-chairman Daybell asked if the City Council was aware of the project and if there has been any feedback. Staff does not know if the Council is aware of the project, or if the Director has discussed it with them. Chief Planner Rosen said the Director has had discussions with the Council regarding other property owners and developers who would like to do similar projects in and around the downtown. He stated that the applicant is requesting the rezone, and Staff thinks the rezone is in line with Council directives; but because the property is outside the official CBD, Staff is not sure what the Council's policy direction would be.

Member Coffman asked if the property across the alley is zoned to allow another unit. Planner Eastman state that they are zoned R-3 (multiple family residential).

Vice-Chairman Daybell asked where existing mixed use properties are in town. Staff identified the new projects in downtown and properties on Harbor Blvd., in Amerige Heights, East and West Commonwealth, W. Wilshire and W. Amerige. Member Coffman stated that the City has been encouraging this sort of development. Chief Planner Rosen stated that this project is a little different than previous mixed-use proposals because they had a more urban feel to them, with buildings up to the street, parking garages, etc.

Member Blumer asked about the building being in the downtown area and the CBD encouraging development at the sidewalk; but the staff report encourages the placement of the building at the rear of the site. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the project places residential garages at the alley. Because of the surface parking, the alternative would be to place the building on Commonwealth and put a parking lot toward the residential zone. That presents a problem because 1) it reduces the amount of open space and size of landscaping on Commonwealth, 2) makes it difficult for traffic to identify retail tenants and availability of parking, 3) parking lots adjacent to residential often have impacts such as lights, trash, noise, etc. Staff also clarified that this building is not in the CBD, where structures do not abut residential. Member Blumer said that the project seems to be getting away from the urban streetscape of the block to the west, and this seems to set a precedent for a more suburban development. Planner Eastman stated that in the CBD a project could be developed right up the sidewalk. But this project is not in the CBD, so it requires a 10 foot landscaped setback. Chief Planner stated that this is a "transitional" area. It is near residential, at the edge of the mile boundary from the Transit Center, but not quite in the downtown, so Staff believes a more suburban design at this location doesn't set a precedent, particularly because it's not in the CBD as defined by the CBD Design Guidelines. Associate Eastman also noted that the proposed setback from Commonwealth creates a visual corridor for the local landmark building on the adjacent property to the west. Member Blumer asked if the building could be built up to the sidewalk. Staff said no, and clarified that there is a 10 foot setback because the project is not in the CBD.

Member Coffman asked the sequence of the lots and at what point is there a lot which is governed more toward pushing the building out front? Associate Planner Eastman identified that the BRE project on the next block is at the sidewalk, and that all the buildings between there and the project site are set close to the street. However, the adjacent building to the west is Local Landmark No. 22, and the demolition of it is not likely. To the east are residential projects, although the small market across Lawrence is set back a good distance from Commonwealth Ave. Staff stated that there is a sudden transition on Commonwealth from residential to commercial, and this project is in the middle.

Chief Planner Rosen provided a map showing the boundaries of the CBD. There was discussion as to what properties are in the CBD and the CBD's design criteria. Chief Rosen provided a zoning map with the boundaries of the C-3 zones.

Member Silber asked the applicant about moving the bathroom and kitchen to get more visual presence for security along the walkway. The project architect, Aly Haidar, provided a revised floor plan he had previously prepared which has the restroom more centrally located. Member Sibler thought the new floor plan was an improvement.

Member Blumer thought the fountain area on the west corner of the site could be a good location to have outside seating and dining. He asked if the area could be increased. Mr. Haidar stated that the intent of the fountain is to provide an entrance for the residences upstairs, and any restaurants would be in the middle tenant spaces because of hood and mechanical venting requirements.

Member Silber asked about the use of a brick pattern on the north facade, and the gap between the 1st and 2nd floor. Mr. Haidar clarified that he has since revised the project and eliminated the 5 foot tall brick wall at the second floor, and much of the brick work on the north facade. The second floor will have a 5 foot tall "wrought iron" (steel) railing for safety purposes; and the 1st floor's north facade will have brick only at the stairs and above the garage door. Stucco will be used on the walls. Mr. Hadair said the revised plans eliminate the planter on the second floor. Fixed pots will be used instead. Mr. Hadair presented a revised plan.

Vice-Chair Daybell noted that the revised plans use stucco on the north facade's second floor, instead of siding. Mr. Hadair said the brick and siding was removed because it looked very "heavy", and the owner had cost and maintenance concerns. Mr. Hadair said the owner is flexible, and is willing to use the brick if the City wants.

Chairman Johnson said that if fixed pots are to be used, he'd recommend self-watering pots. Vice-Chairman Daybell had concerns about the maintenance of pots. There was discussion about landscape maintenance and the amount of landscaping on-site.

Member Coffman asked about the arched-shaped material around the windows. Mr. Haidar stated that it is wood, with the siding abutting up to it, and a small reveal. Member Coffman asked about the white band at the base of the building. Mr. Hadair said it was soldiered, manufactured "used" brick veneer, and it was to be white or painted white to match the adjacent historic building. He provided a sample. Member Coffman expressed concern about the width of the brick in relationship to traditional brick.

Vice-chairman Daybell asked about the wood shingles. Mr. Haidar said that he had thought of using wood shingles to have a more traditional building, but he thinks there may be a code problem with wood shingles on a commercial building. Member Silber said that the wood looks good, but also thought there would be code problems.

Member Coffman asked the color and material of the awnings. Mr. Haidar said they were shown as white fabric to match the adjacent historic building, but initially they were going to be green. Associate Planner Eastman stated that Staff would not recommended white due to maintenance issues. There was discussion regarding the color of the awnings. Mr. Silber said that if the applicant was trying to tie in the white of the adjacent building, he thought that could be done by painting the columns supporting the second floor. He thought the white banding doesn't communicate the structural aspect of brick. He pointed said each brick on a historic building would normally have a 2 inch face because, historically, brick buildings laid the brick flat. Member Coffman asked some questions about the proposed brick. Mr. Haidar clarified that all the brick is the same size.

Associate Planner Eastman said that the plans the applicant brought to the meeting are revised, and he had not yet seen them. He asked if the revisions were only to the north elevation and floor plan as discussed. Mr. Haidar said that those were the only revisions.

Vice-chairman Daybell asked if the stairs from the ground floor to the second floor were exposed to the elements. Mr. Haidar said that the stairs were not enclosed, and that enclosing the stairs would make it hard to get furniture to the apartments.

Chairman Johnson opened the meeting to public comment.

Tom Dalton, representing Fullerton Heritage, stated that normally they would like to see an adaptive reuse for an historic property. But in this case the building isn't really noteworthy and hasn't been taken care of. He also pointed out that the houses on have also been muddled beyond restoration. Normally Fullerton Heritage would like to see historic properties preserved, but feels that the resoration of this structure would be cost prohibitive, and Fullerton Heritage realizes the benefit to the City to have development that fixes blight and consolidates lots. Fullerton Heritage would not object to the demolition. Mr. Dalton added, assuming the significant project is demolished, he would like to see the proposed building stay at the rear of the lot because it provides an unobstructed view of the adjacent local landmark, which is a beautiful building.

Chairman Johnson closed the hearing to the public.

Chairman Johnson asked staff about signage. Planner Eastman clarified that a condition is recommended requiring the applicant to submit a sign program for approval by Staff.

Member Coffman said he thinks the building fits in well with the neighborhood and has no problem with it being located back from the street. He identified the site as being a "transitional" property close to downtown, but not quite in downtown. He sees a lot of reasons why the building should be set back. He thinks it is a big improvement for the neighborhood. He has concerns with the "used" brick and thinks the dimensions are too tall to be "traditional". A thinner dimension to make them look "stacked" would be better. He has no issues with signage being approved by Staff.

Member Blumer thinks that it would be great to reuse the historical building, but the consolidation of lots and the new building makes it an even trade off. He has concerns with having residential over a strip center, and thinks it would be nicer to have more landscape in front of the shops. He said the band below the eaves should be painted white to look like a large cornice. He thinks the arches over the windows should match closer to the adjacent historic building by using cut brick with a soldier coarse. And he thinks the shutters are too narrow for the wide windows, so the applicant should rethink the wide windows or shutters at these locations.

Member Silber agrees with the demo of the "significant" structure. He think the project creates a better context for the Local Landmark No. 22 on the adjacent property. Silber said he thinks the landscaping should come back to the RDRC for review because of the relationships with the adjacent neighbors. He also is concerned with signage, and thinks a nice monument sign might work better than lots of big tenant signage, and thinks blade signs would add to the pedestrian aspect. He thinks it is important that the walkway in front of the retail shops have a clear dimension of at least five feet, as measured between the columns and the face of the building. .

Member Coffman said he thinks blade signs would be nice, and wondered if the front setback landscaping would need to be reduced to pick up an extra foot for the five foot walkway. He also thinks a plaque for the historic building would be nice, but isn't sure if it's really needed.

Member Blumer said a plaque would be nice, and could be a focal point for an outside useable space. He thought outside space would be good for a caf, and thinks the fountain could be reduced in size to accommodate it. He thought that the front landscape planter could be increase a few feet by using the landscape curb as a wheel stop.

Vice-Chair Daybell said real brick looks better than veneer. He thinks a wood roof would look good, but tile or composite is better for long term maintenance. He thinks the sidewalk at the street needs to be wider, and thinks removing landscape to have a bigger sidewalk would be a good idea. He said tree wells are needed in the sidewalk. Staff clarified that street trees will be required pursuant to the City's Street Tree Master Plan. Vice-Chairman Daybell said he thinks the front setback should be paved over. He doesn't have issues with removing the market building, and doesn't think a plaque is needed. He said the awnings should be a color.

Member Silber said that he thinks the building in back is better, since it separates the residential from the commercial. He supports the project. He expressed several different ways of incorporating a "monument" into the project to identify the historic building. He said he'd like to see the landscaping and signage come back to the RDRC because it is important for the area and wants to ensure coordination between signage and landscaping. Landscape plans need to include street trees and landscaping in the parkway.

Chairman Johnson thinks that the demolition of the market is o.k. when considering the project as a whole. He thinks a small bronze plaque is appropriate. He'd like to see self-watering pots, but he can review that if landscaping is to come back to the RDRC for final approval.

There was some discussion between the RDRC and the applicant regarding the projection of the roof. Member Coffman said he thinks the center columns might be better as 2" x 1" so the siding abutting them doesn't pop out beyond the roof.

Staff reiterated the issues presented. There was discussion among the RDRC as to how to gain an additional foot for the arcade sidewalk without reducing the applicant's retail space. Staff recommended reducing the paved areas rather than the landscaping. Staff suggested reducing the drive aisle to 24'-6", and parking spaces on both sides could be reduced a three inches.

Member Silber motioned, Vice-chairman Daybell seconded, to recommend approval of the project subject to Staff's recommended conditions of approval except as modified to include the following:
  1. The arcade walkway shall be increased to a minimum 5 foot width by reducing parking lot paving;
  2. Window arches shall have a soldier course of cut brick;
  3. The banding below the fascia trim shall be painted white to create a larger cornice;
  4. Landscape and a sign program shall be submitted to the RDRC for final review and approval;
  5. Roof material shall be cement or other composite material;
  6. The awnings shall be green or other dark color; and
  7. The brick veneer shall have more traditional proportions, including a 2 inch height.
The motion passed with a vote of 5 to 0.




There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.