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Redevelopment Design Review Committee Minutes

Redevelopment Design Review Committee Minutes


Thursday March 23, 20064:00 PM


The meeting was called to order at 4:05 PM by Chairman Daybell


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Duncan, Hoban, Cha and Larsen
STAFF PRESENT:Senior Planner Eastman, Chief Planner Rosen, Planning Intern Michelle Kou, and Clerical Staff Pasillas


MOTION made by Committee Member Duncan, SECONDED by Committee Member Hoban and CARRIED unanimously by all voting members present to APPROVE March 9, 2006 minutes AS WRITTEN.

The following items were heard in reverse order.



Senior Planner Eastman provided an update on a request for approval of a Miscellaneous Development Project to change windows at 143 N. Cornell Avenue (generally located on the west side of Cornell, approximately 130 feet south of Wilshire Avenue) (R-2P zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines) (JEA).

Senior Planner Eastman informed the Redevelopment Design Review Committee (RDRC) that both the Applicant and the Contractor have either been contacted or contact has been attempted. Staff did have a meeting, as indicated in the Staff report, with the Contractor and Fullerton Heritage. The Contractor was willing to move forward with a complete re-do of the windows (have them manufactured by a company in San Diego that would create the windows to match what was there before). The project is still on the records as an appeal of staff's decision, and until which time plans are submitted and the project is permitted with the like-for-like windows, staff is moving forward with the project they have, not the project they would like to have. Staff has identified that the Contractor is not the property owner and regardless of what he wants to do, the property owner is the responsible party. Staff has made an effort to contact the property owner. Senior Planner Eastman said he received messages from the owner stating that she wished to appeal a denial. She called this morning at 7:30 a.m. and said she would be here today; she left a recent message stating she would not attend this meeting because she thinks it is going to be denied. The Contractor did call at 2:30 p.m. and a message was recently left with him. It is unclear if he will attend today or not. Senior Planner Eastman asked that the agenda items be heard in reverse order in case the Contractor decides to attend, and wants to move forward with the project as submitted. The Contractor is the Applicant, and although he may not have the authority to implement the project he is on record as the Applicant and he may still attend the meeting.

The Committee decided to move to Item 1 under Miscellaneous Items.

The Committee returned to this item after completing Item 1 under Miscellaneous Items.

Senior Planner Eastman verified that neither the Owner nor her Contractor were present. He briefly discussed his earlier explanation. Chief Planner Rosen explained that it was at the Committees discretion if they want to take action. Senior Planner Eastman clarified that this was an appeal of an administrative decision, therefore, staff did not mail a notice to the public. Chief Planner Rosen stated there was effective public notice.

Kathleen Dalton asked if the Committee had the right to act on this appeal based on the information they have, and if the Applicant can move forward with whatever she decides to do. Chief Planner Rosen explained that the Committee does not have to act on it; they can choose to continue the matter, to table the matter, deny it or approve it. Ms. Dalton asked what will happen if the Committee continues this item and the Applicant never shows up.

Chairman Daybell explained that if they deny it and the Applicant continues on with what they are doing and never gets something in that is acceptable to RDRC and the city, they will not get a certificate to occupy the house. Senior Planner Eastman explained that the Applicant has completely gutted the interior, and that there are permits for the interior, but staff has not issued permits for the windows at this time. He stated that staff has indicated to the Applicant that they will not sign off on the interior improvements until the windows are approved, in part because it includes egress to the building as well as ventilation. The Applicant will not get a certificate of occupancy on that building under the current situation. Staff is not in a position to issue permits on the building for the existing windows unless Fullerton Heritage withdraws its appeal or the RDRC approves the project. Ms. Dalton asked what would happen if someone occupies the building without an occupancy permit and Chief Planner Rosen replied that it would be a legal question.

Chairman Daybell asked for clarification on the effect of approving or denying the appeal. Senior Planner Eastman explained that if the Committee approves the appeal they are overturning staff's decision to issue a permit based on compliance with design guidelines. The issue that is before the Committee is a design issue. Whether or not the Owner will or won't move into the building is not within the prevue of the Committee, and staff will not speculate on what the Owner will do. The question before the Committee today is whether the windows are appropriate and whether or not the Committee has adequate information to make a decision on the project.

Committee Member Cha asked staff from the time they determined to let the project go until the appeal, how much time had elapsed. Senior Planner Eastman answered that is was about four weeks between the decision and the first RDRC meeting. Staff made a determination and informed the Applicant there was a decision to appeal staffs determination. Committee Member Cha asked if there was four weeks between. Senior Planner Eastman verified that there was four to five hours between the decision and notifying the Applicant. He further explained that he contacted Fullerton Heritage before the decision was made, then after that phone call he contacted the Contractor and told him staff would approve it subject to conditions and identified the conditions. Within a couple of hours Fullerton Heritage contacted Chief Planner Rosen indicating that, in retrospect, they did not feel the decision should be approved. Chief Planner Rosen informed Senior Planner Eastman within an hour and he immediately contacted the Contractor to inform him staff's decision had been appealed and they would not be issuing permits. The Applicant came in to talk to staff and was informed they would need to submit plans to go to the RDRC, and that the existing photographs could be used but they would need to provide a floor plan to show the location of the windows. It took the Applicant a little over two weeks to return with this information. Staff also required an application from them as well. It was put on the agenda as quick as possible and staff turned it around within three days to get the report written and to RDRC. Committee Member Cha asked if any work was done in between and Senior Planner Eastman responded that no real work was done to the windows in between that he is aware of, but he has not been to the property. They may have put some trim up, but the windows had already been installed at the time the stop work notice was issued. Chairman Daybell said it was his understanding that the old windows were removed on a weekend.

Chairman Daybell asked if Ms. Dalton had any questions. She responded that her issue is not whether the windows are appropriate or inappropriate, but that they in no way meet either the letter or spirit of the Preservation Zone Guidelines. She believes it should have been stopped in the beginning. After Fullerton Heritage had the conversation with Senior Planner Eastman and asked if it would be possible to require the Applicant to re-do the front windows, Fullerton Heritage went over to look at the property and realized all the windows are visible from the front. Fullerton Heritage immediately called staff and said they do not believe the determination should have been made by staff, because every window in the front façade of the house was ripped out, and it was unknown what type of window they were going to put back in. Ms. Dalton also stated that Fullerton Heritage believes the Applicant should have been held to the standards by staff or it should have automatically gone to RDRC. She explained that the zoning ordinance states if a project doesn't meet the zoning guidelines, then it automatically goes to RDRC for further design review. She believes this clearly doesn't and should have gone to RDRC in the very beginning. Ms. Dalton thinks it is a difficult situation here because staff is at odds with Fullerton Heritage, and with the ordinance, and that it gives the property owner some leverage. She believes the Applicant knew what she was doing because she has been on the property for a long time and has already applied for a permit to put a second unit on the property. The Applicant is aware she is in a Preservation Zone, and has received a copy of the guidelines when she applied for the second unit. Ms Dalton believes this is a complete usurping of the ordinance and the guidelines, and that the owner should let the Contractor cover the price of replacement windows, which is what the Contractor has agreed to. If that were to happened, it would be acceptable to Fullerton Heritage because it would follow the design guidelines. Ms. Datlon stated that she assumed it would be acceptable to staff because the replacement windows would be of a higher standard than what staff was asking for. Senior Planner Eastman stated he did not know if the Applicant would appeal any decision, she simply stated that she had been reviewing her options and she is going to take a different approach or something to that effect. Staff clarified that the property owner has stated she does not want to put in double-hung windows because they scare her. She has a psychological problem with double-hung windows. One reason for her fear is that her husband lost a finger to a double-hung window, so she does not like operating them. Her second reason is when she had the fire in the back room she could not get out of the room because of the double-hung windows. Staff has not identified that in terms of our analysis, because those are her issues. Staff feels that a double-hung window, properly operated and properly maintained, is an appropriate fire exit and not a safety hazard.

Committee Member Larsen does not think they should approve the project, and does not see a reason to elaborate.

Committee Member Hoban is sad to see the conflict between Fullerton Heritage and staff, but does not feel this was ever the intention. He is in support of having the Applicant change the windows and is supporting the appeal and denying staff's building permit approval.

Committee Member Cha stated that in the real world, anything can happen and this has happened. At the time when staff approved the project, there has to be a reason why they approved it, and if they put the windows back in it won't really harm the overall picture of the neighborhood. He thinks the Committee needs to be a little lenient with staff's recommendation.

Committee Member Duncan explained that he is in support the appeal. He does not believe the windows that were put in are bad windows, but they do not meet the intent of the Preservation Zone in design.

Chairman Daybell supports Fullerton Heritage's appeal and reminded everyone that in the Staff Report staff was not overly comfortable with the recommendation originally provided to the RDRC. He believes that they must preserve what is in the Preservation Zone, and if it's not preserved it defeats the purpose of having Preservation Zone guidelines, and in this case, this is the second time at RDRC this property owner has not wanting to be in compliance with Preservation Zone guidelines, therefore, he very much supports the appeal and recommends the Committee support what Fullerton Heritage is asking for. He asked if the front door has been changed at this location. Senior Planner Eastman answered that it had not yet been changed, but it was the owner's intent to remove the door and install a pre-hung door with side lights. Chairman Daybell said if they are going to change out the front door it needs to be in compliance with the Preservation Zone guidelines. Ms. Dalton responded that it was her understanding that staff had told the owner they could not change out the door. Senior Planner Eastman responded that staff told them if they were going to change out the doors staff would need to review it, and look at its compliance with whatever the determination is of the RDRC on the windows, for compatibility. Staff has not reviewed anything, but the Applicant knows they must submit something for it, and until they do staff can not make a determination. Chairman Daybell stated he brought it up because he is trying to anticipate the situation that might come about and nip it in the bud. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it was speculation and not before the Committee, therefore, they needed to just take action on this matter.




Item No. 1


A Miscellaneous Development Project to discuss and obtain comments regarding a preliminary architectural facade treatment to a proposed restaurant in the Central Business District located at 104 N. Harbor Blvd. (Categorically Exempt under Section 15301 of the CEQA Guidelines) (Continued from Feb. 9, 2006) (JWR)

Senior Planner Eastman explained that this item was put on the agenda in order to provide feedback to the Applicants and provide an opportunity for them to revise plans for a proposed facade improvement in the downtown. The project is in the Central Business District and the Community Improvement District. At the meeting two weeks ago there was a discussion regarding the previous proposal to do an awning with thatch, and some improvements with bamboo and other similar items. A discussion was held with regards to providing a more solid architectural type of feature. The discussion included some creative approaches vs. what might be considered a standard island theme (such as Islands Restaurant, Rubios, etc.), and tried to create the feeling that the Applicant wanted in terms of theme through interpretive approaches. In response to this meeting the Applicants have come up with some ideas. Staff has created a rough elevation of how it would be applied, based on the information provided to them. What the Applicant is proposing is to create a metal awning, with a rustic look. Senior Planner Eastman showed a sample of a mesh that would go over the awning space and provide a rustic, straw/ thatch look, which would be in a metal framed awning, as seen in the elevations. The front of the awning would have the name of the restaurant cut out, either flame cut to get a rough texture or laser cut to get more accuracy. The wainscot, which is currently brick, would have metal plates bolted to it, with malleable washers in the corners (a sample was passed around).

Committee Member Duncan asked if the material would be corrosion resistant. The Applicant explained that the material would be aged a bit and then have a polyurethane finish applied.

Senior Planner Eastman stated that this was the basic project. The existing wood window frames would remain and be weathered or stressed to give a more rustic look. Committee Member Duncan suggested possibly adding bamboo trim.

Senior Planner Eastman said the Applicant has indicated a desire to maintain the light strip on top and change the gas to a different color, then remove the current hanging lights and add additional lighting underneath. Staff has recommended fiber optic lighting because it can be relatively well concealed and the colors can be changed as appropriate. Staff did have some questions regarding potential signage, details regarding the application of bamboo, and how the transition of the metal plates would work on the top of the wainscot (whether there would be a cap, the finish, how it would relate to the wood windows). Generally speaking staff supports the Applicant's direction and thinks it is a creative approach with substance to it, and would like to see it come together to be an actual application before the RDRC.

Committee Member Hoban asked if the steel plating would be put up in a tiled effect, 18 x 18's. Senior Planner Eastman stated he would let the Applicant explain since at this point it is a miscellaneous project and this meeting is to allow design dialog, vs. an actual proposal before RDRC for approval. Staff anticipates the project coming back at the next meeting for approval at a noticed hearing.

The Applicant's designer, Carlos Fuentes, explained that the steel plating would be applied in sections. Where the windows divide, metal sections would be put in to cover the entire façade. It would be a tight butt, and four washers and bolts would be installed at the corners. They would be drilling through the brick, setting anchors with epoxy, and then putting the lags through there.

Chairman Daybell asked what would be supporting the plates and Mr. Fuentes explained that the steel plating would be resting on the ground. Chairman Daybell recommended that a layer of epoxy be put underneath the plating to prevent moisture from migrating up the metal. Mr. Fuentes indicated that he planned on putting some liquid nail on the brick to hold it up a bit and then caulk the bottom for a moisture barrier.

Committee Member Larsen stated that he thought the plates should be kept off the brick. He thought if a thinner plate was used there would not be a need for as much support. Also, he thought the Applicant should hold a reveal off the ground and add spacers to create a gap between the plate and the bricks. By keeping the plate off of the brick, the water can run behind the plate and flow out as it does now. Also, this would not damage the brick if there was a desire to change it in the future. Mr. Fuentes did not think this would be a problem.

Senior Planner Eastman asked if there was a general consensus of the Committee that the Applicant was heading in the right direction and the Committee Member's confirmed this.

Committee Member Hoban stated that it was a basic, traditional awning and asked the Applicant if they had thought of doing anything different as far as the form, to accentuate the building. Mr. Fuentes explained that they felt the fiber optic lighting would be unique and viewable up and down the street. He further explained that they were trying to keep it somewhat similar to what they already have so that they could get staff's approval and move forward with the different material. Committee Member Hoban said that he wasn't necessarily thinking of a different material, but possibly to rethink the shape of the awning. He wondered how the edges would be finished. Mr. Fuentes said they would grind off the edges smooth or it would be a finished channel. He felt they had some good ideas as how to apply it, but were trying to figure out how to install it. The edges will be finished or set in the channel where they won't be seen.

Senior Planner Eastman asked if the Committee was talking about exploring a completely different shape, i.e. curved radius edges or something similar, and was answered affirmatively.

Committee Member Hoban asked the Applicant if they were carrying this material inside or going to stay with the reed. Mr. Fuentes answered that this was basically an outside look. They are trying to light it up and bring attention to the awning itself, but also bring it through so that when clients are walking in they will have a feel.

Committee Member Duncan asked about how the name would be cut in the metal and would it be readable. Mr.Fuentes explained where and how the name would be cut out and that it would be readable.

Chairman Daybell explained to the Applicants that if they want to be more creative and unique he believes the Committee would be open to it. Mr. Fuentes indicated that they could be more creative but they also would have to figure out, structurally, how they can do it.

Senior Planner Eastman asked how the awning would be mounted since it would weigh more than a normal awing. Mr. Fuentes explained that the weight would come from the span of metal on the top and that they can gauge it with different gauges. They are going to build boxes and double the number of mounting bolts onto the wall, and the awing will be bolted together. Senior Planner Eastman suggested possibly using aluminum and painting it with a faux rustic look to decrease the weight. He thought on an older building the structural ways of mounting become more complicated, particularly if it is a brick building.

Tony Florentine, Applicant, explained that the front of the building is a framed wall and above the windows becomes part of the old building, and it's still framed. It has all been reinforced because the building has been retrofitted for earthquake, so there is all manner of structural steel in the front of the building. In terms of finding a place to anchor it, it should not be a problem if it is engineered so that there is a total of 35 lbs. per square foot of weight, which is the inside line it has been designed at, as they plan on being a long ways away from 35 lbs.

Committee Member Larsen stated that there was more to the engineering, and other parts involved in the calculation. He thinks this idea looks fine, but also suggested the possibility of using welded wire mesh as a lighter material.

Committee Member Hoban said the whole point of asking about the mounting was to make the Applicants aware that there have been problems in the past with older buildings, even reinforced ones, in trying to find the anchor point. Even though the structure may be of steel, it doesn't really provide for any mounting into it.

Chairman Daybell thought the Applicant was getting the response from the Committee that he wanted to have and asked Senior Planner Eastman if this item went to a vote. Senior Planner Eastman explained that it was a Miscellaneous Item at this meeting but would come back to the Committee for a vote, and that the public will be noticed for the next meeting. This meeting was for feedback.

Kathleen Dalton, Fullerton Heritage stated that this building was in the core Historic District in the downtown and she would like to see something put on that could be later removed, not only because trends change but because there are more classic, conventional facades in the downtown and this is relatively unconventional. She likes the plan, but questions the application. The Applicants explained that there would be no problem in removing the steel plates. They also stated that if you look at the pictures taken at the turn of the century, there was a 1950's era aluminum window frame storefront that was taken out, so it has been changed many times. Ms. Dalton said the point was not that building specifically, but rather the context.

Senior Planner Eastman explained to the Applicants they needed to draw more detailed plans, including how it would be put on the building, and gave them the elevation drawing as a reference. He explained to Mr. Fuentes that he had gauged the height of the awning based on a photograph, and he thought it could be mounted higher than shown on the drawing. Mr. Fuentes had a drawing with an overlay showing how they intended to mount the awning, which was eight feet to the sidewalk. Senior Planner Eastman asked if there was any other signage they intended to have and Mr. Florentine explained that it would probably be a vinyl or neon sign in the window, nothing that would stick off the building. Mr. Fuentes confirmed that the next step is the drawings and getting the approval. Senior Planner Eastman explained that staff would need an elevation showing what features are going to be put up and details such as the capping on the plates. Mr. Fuentes asked if lighting was to be included on these drawings. Senior Planner Eastman indicated that there are existing lights shown on the elevations, and then the fiber optics on the inside of the awning. Mr. Fuentes said they were thinking of adding flood lights above the awning, which would shine down through it as well. Senior Planner Eastman explained that if they lighted the open mesh from the top and bottom, then you have a change in terms of the textured material and the way the light blends upon the combined surfaces, which can create a dynamic effect as you walk under it. Mr. Fuentes wanted to know if this would need to be included in the drawings and Senior Planner Eastman said they did not. Staff could approve the lighting, but typically staff does not like to see just plain spotlights. Usually what is provided to staff is something you would find off the internet in terms of the product used. If it is a small spotlight that is almost unnoticeable staff usually has no problem with it. If it's a large, square spotlight, generally staff is not in support of it, and would prefer to have something classy downtown.

Chief Planner Rosen explained that the Committee would like to have as complete a picture of the project as the Applicant can provide.

Committee Member Larsen asked if the lights in the drawing were going to stay and Mr. Fuentes indicated they would be changed out. He also indicated the black molding would be removed in order to apply the awning. He added that nothing would be done higher up on the building.

Senior Planner Eastman explained to the Applicant that he would like to have the drawings turned in by next week and that the next Committee Meeting would be in early April.

The Committee returned to Item 1 under Old Business.




Senior Planner Eastman provided an update. He also provided a summary on the City Council and Planning Commission meetings.


City Council - March 21
Planning Commission - March 22




MOTION made by Committee Member Duncan, SECONDED by Committee Member Hoban and CARRIED unanimously by all voting members present to adjourn meeting at 5:20 P.M.