Staff report dated October 10, 2001, was presented pertaining to a request to allow the subdivision of three single-family lots on a 3.7-acre parcel located at 1731 Ladera Vista Drive (north side of the extension of Pioneer Avenue, approximately 300 feet west of Ladera Vista Drive (R-1-20,000 zone) (Mitigated Negative Declaration).
Associate Planner Viado reported that tract maps for six single-family residential lots had previously been approved by the Commission for this parcel. One of these tracts expired in 1999, and a subsequent map had been approved in February of 2000. The proposed three lots exceed the required 20,000-square-foot minimum lot size. Access will be via a private driveway off the extension of Pioneer Avenue, and the existing structure on Parcel 2 will be demolished. While located adjacent to an area which has numerous environmental issues, the property is not considered to be located within a federally-designated conservation area. There is coastal sage scrub and a blue-line stream along the western portion of the property. Because of this, the previous applicant was required to submit a preliminary biological assessment. The biological assessment provided an exhibit showing the locations of environmentally sensitive areas, and a copy of this exhibit was displayed on an overhead slide. This application was forwarded to the California Department of Fish & Game, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers for their review and comment. Staff recently visited the site with representatives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife, who made recommendations regarding the site. Associate Planner Viado noted that some of these recommendations were included as conditions of approval, including review of any proposed tennis court lighting. The Department of Fish & Game made a recommendation that was included as a mitigation measure; the Army Corps of Engineers had no comments at this time.
The applicant is aware of the habitat areas, and the project design has been modified to include recommendations from the Department of Fish & Game and U.S. Fish & Wildlife. Staff has also included conditions of approval that those affected agencies review and approve any grading and building plans prior to issuance of any grading permits. The initial tract map called for the extension of Pioneer Avenue to be completed, however this will no longer be necessary because a private drive access will be installed off of the cul-de-sac where Pioneer Avenue will end. Further there have been offers of dedication approved for properties to the west and north of this parcel. One of the conditions of approval, as listed in the Engineer’s letter, is that the applicant offers similar areas for future slope and street dedications.
Commissioner Sandoval noted the Mitigated Negative Declaration stated: "There will not be a significant effect in this case because the revisions in the project have been made or agreed to by the project proponent." She asked if this was in lieu of the mitigation measures, and Associate Planner Viado stated she would add the words "and the following mitigation measures" after the word "revisions."
Chairman Simons questioned as follows:
Will there be a crash gate at the end of the private street at the cul-de-sac?
No, because of the proposed grading, and sufficient turnaround access for the Fire Department, a crash gate will not be necessary.
How will the trash pickup be mitigated?
The turnaround provided in the private driveway will be sufficient for trash trucks as well.
Will there be any construction traffic on the private road?
Will there be access through Mr. Christensen’s property in the future?
There is presently legal access to all properties in the area.
Were there any objections from Mr. Christensen’s during the approval process of the two prior tract maps?
Page 6 of the staff report references a "fuel modification zone". What is the definition of this term?
In certain areas, the Fire Department requires a certain plant species which have a "low burn" content.
Will the new street off of Pioneer Road be at the same level as the dirt road which exists now?
Chairman Simons further asked that all letters included in the staff report and those received by the Commission prior to the meeting, be entered into the public record.
Commissioner Crane stated that the previous tract maps had an approved access road which went to the northwest corner of the property, and access to Mr. Christensen’s property had not been an issue. Associate Planner Viado explained that because there were six lots previously proposed, they all required access to a public street.
Public hearing opened.
Robin Hartnett, 1804 Somerset Lane, explained that there were a number of issues pertaining to this parcel. From her discussions with Fish & Wildlife representatives, the area containing the blue-line stream and coastal sage scrub is a sensitive area, which contains gnatcatchers. Because of this, the applicants modified their original plan to move the proposed tennis court and slope away from the habitat area. They were also proposing a cul-de-sac to appease adjoining neighbors, who felt that a private street would cause excessive traffic in private areas. The Fire Department and M. G. Disposal also preferred the cul-de-sac design for adequate access for their equipment.
Mrs. Hartnett further added that they objected to the Engineering requirement of an offer of dedication of a 30-foot easement, along the southerly border of the site. She reiterated that Fish & Wildlife had specific requirements concerning the conservation of this area, and any road built in the future is in direct contrast to these requirements. She feared that any grading plans would be delayed by these governmental agencies, who have requested that a conservation easement be provided. On a legal basis, she claimed that there is a precedent that based on a parcel map of less than five lots, certain constraints do not have to be provided by the applicant.
Commissioner LeQuire asked if the applicant concurred with all of the remaining conditions of approval, and Mrs. Hartnett answered affirmatively.
Senior Civil Engineer Wallin explained that the City was not requiring the development of any street at this time, only a future offer of dedication. No grading or physical change to the topography is being required at this time.
Mrs. Hartnett reiterated that once the easement is offered, any developer could build the road in this area. She had concerns that her plans would be delayed if a developer submitted plans for a road at the same time. Further, it was her understanding that she would have to acquire additional land off site to replace any conservation land which would be used.
Chief Planner Rosen clarified that staff did not believe the future offer of dedication would halt the proposed project, and that the construction of the future road would be a reasonable condition necessary for the orderly development of properties to the north. The future developer would be required to obtain all necessary permits for the improvement, and this obligation would not fall on the applicant. Also, because the grading has been pulled back from the edges of the riparian/coastal sage area, staff did not believe the applicant would be required to obtain any special permits. Final grading plans will be forwarded to all governmental agencies involved for review and approval prior to issuance of grading permits.
Commissioner Wilson asked if the easement being requested is different than one which would be required for utility purposes. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin answered that the proposed easement would be “offered” to the city, but it would not accept it at this time. It would remain an open offer and could be accepted at a future date.
Commissioner Crane pointed out that offers of dedication for 30-foot easements currently exist to the north, and to the west of the subject property. Should the applicant not offer the 30-foot easement for this parcel, there would be a "missing piece" for any future road to be constructed.
Patrick Hartnett, 1804 Somerset, emphasized his displeasure over receiving this condition within the week prior to the hearing. He informed the Commission that they were told by the aforementioned government agencies that a conservation easement would be necessary. He read an excerpt from a letter from the Fish & Wildlife Service which stated this fact. He added that this parcel had been offered to Dr. Christensen earlier in the year, but he had declined the offer. Mr. Hartnett added that the city engineer informed him the easement was not necessary for the proposed development. Mr. Hartnett stated that he felt the request was a violation of the Subdivision Map Act.
Commissioner Price quoted the following from Condition 7 of Exhibit A: "The conservation easement should be recorded prior to issuance of building permits." Chief Planner Rosen explained that regulatory agencies would put "shall" as opposed to "should" if necessary. Staff did not believe that a conservation easement was required, informed the Fish & Wildlife Service of this fact, and the agency was satisfied with staff’s conditions. Commissioner Price asked for input from the City Attorney’s office.
James Demarais, Deputy City Attorney, stated that Government Code Section 66411.1 limits conditions that cities may place on parcel map approvals, but it is based on the term "reasonable." A reasonable condition may take future development in the area into account. He emphasized that the city was not requiring construction of the road, rather an offer of dedication, and what was considered "reasonable" would be based on an individual interpretation.
Mr. Hartnett read another excerpt from Section 66411.1 as follows: "Improvements for division of land which is not a subdivision of five or more lots, the regulations shall be limited to the dedication of rights of way, easements, and the construction of reasonable on-site and off-site improvements for the parcels being created."
Mrs. Hartnett informed the Commission that a private road may be constructed with the easements which already exist.
Chief Planner Rosen suggested that because last-minute information was received by the Commission, without ample time to read the contents, the Commission may wish to continue this matter to the next regularly-scheduled meeting.
Mr. Hartnett wished to go on record by stating that when he was first aware of this condition, he faxed the relevant code sections to Senior Civil Engineer Wallin and requested that the City’s legal counsel contact him. Mr. Hartnett attempted to speak with counsel, but was told that there was no opinion regarding this matter, so he objected to the matter being continued. Further, Mrs. Hansen, who is the property owner, was in the audience from Sacramento to speak on this issue.
Because of unresolved issues, Commissioner LeQuire made a motion that this matter be continued and the motion was seconded by Commissioner Wilson. The motion was tabled to allow Mrs. Hansen to give testimony in this matter.
Mary Helen Hansen, property owner, 5429 Home Court, Carmichael, CA, gave a brief history of the property. She expressed the difficulty in selling the property because of the environmental issues involved. She contended that Dr. Christensen, the property owner to the north had always wanted the road to be constructed so he could develop the remainder of his property. In June of this year, she spoke to Tom Christensen, son of Dr. Christensen, who indicated that they would be planting an avocado grove and not developing the lower portion of their property. Because of this, she resolved to ask less money for the property, in an effort to locate buyers who would preserve the existing habitat.
Chairman Simons thanked Mrs. Hansen for attending the meeting, and announced that there was a motion on the floor. Commissioner Wilson stated that he was comfortable with voting on this issue without continuance, and would not support the motion. Chairman Simons and Commissioner Crane concurred.
Commissioner Price still wanted additional time to review all the materials which had been presented, along with any further information from the City Attorney.
Commissioner Sandoval asked staff what additional information would be available if the matter was continued. Chief Planner Rosen replied that the City Attorney’s office could prepare a point-by-point response to the letter by Mr. Hartnett.
Commissioner LeQuire withdrew the motion. The public forum was reopened.
Ron Jones, 1709 Ladera Vista Drive, supported the proposal, but was concerned that he would lose his view if multiple trees were planted in place of the existing eucalyptus trees. His water main is on Pioneer Road, and he was concerned if he would be able to access that area.
William Schleich, 1721 Ladera Vista Drive, also supported the proposed project as presented.
Tom Christensen, 710 Iris Avenue, Corona del Mar, reported that his father was under the impression that there would always be an offer of dedication for an easement when the property was developed. He wished to correct the impression that his father only wanted the road developed for his personal use. He noted the existence of six surrounding property owners who would benefit from future development of an easement. He pointed out that there are currently offers of dedication for 30-foot easements to the entire west side and east side of the riparian area, with the exception of the subject property. In response to a question from Chairman Simons, Mr. Christensen reported that his father had considered a private road through his property, but that it was too narrow, sloped down to a 45 degree angle, and would be impossible to develop. Chief Planner Rosen confirmed that the topography was extreme coming off of Dr. Christensen’s property, and would have serious grading problems.
Kurt Spradlin, 1720 North Acacia Avenue, was also under the impression that a dedication already existed for the future development of a road, and encouraged the Commission to seriously consider the offer of dedication for an easement.
Kathy Rulloda, 1710 North Acacia Avenue, must have her property disced annually because of the weed problem, and the project as presented, would make it difficult for the tractors to get to the rear of her property. She also anticipated splitting her lot for future development and has an easement off her property to allow for the development of a future road. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin confirmed that with the grading for the new pads, the present dirt access road would be obliterated, and the new cul-de-sac would make it almost impossible for a tractor to traverse down to the rear of the existing properties to the west.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner Wilson asked if the applicant could utilize other mitigation measures to satisfy the federal agencies’ requirements, such as replanting sensitive areas with other vegetation, and Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively.
Chairman Simons inquired what problems staff could foresee with the federal agencies, if the project were to be approved. Chief Planner Rosen answered that staff would review the grading plans with the regulatory agencies, and did not believe that there would be any obstacles, assuming all mitigation measures were met.
Commissioner Crane felt it was imperative that all easements in the area be continued, adding that perhaps they should be expanded to accommodate fire access. He supported the project, as conditioned by staff.
Commissioner Wilson apologized to Dr. Christensen for what may have appeared to have been a "personal attack." He felt that the three parcels would "fit" into this area, and overall was a good plan for the area. He supported the project as presented. Commissioner Sandoval concurred, and reminded those in attendance that these were only "offers" of dedication which the City had not accepted at this time. She asked if the applicant could appeal the condition in question to the City Council, and Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Price did not feel that the applicant should be exempt from an offer of dedication, as has been given by all of the surrounding properties. He supported the project as conditioned. Commissioner LeQuire concurred, as did Chairman Simons.
There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously by voting members present, that the Mitigated Negative Declaration be CERTIFIED, as previously amended. The title of Resolution No. 6931 GRANTING a parcel map to subdivide an existing 3.7-acre parcel into three lots on property located at 1731 Ladera Vista Drive was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously by voting members present, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.
Staff report dated October 3, 2001, was presented pertaining to a request to allow a social service facility for the training of basic skills for the mentally and physically disabled population of the community on property located at 626 West Commonwealth Avenue (between approximately 220 and 320 feet east of the southeast corner of Woods Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue) (C-H zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines).
Assistant Planner Kusch reported that the applicant proposed to operate a "human service agency." The applicant has been operating a training center for approximately 25-30 physically and mentally disabled individuals at the subject site. The business began its operation before acquiring the requisite City business license. As a result of the City’s business license review, staff notified the applicant of the required Conditional Use Permit (CUP). After review of the applicant’s preliminary CUP application, staff informed the applicant that based on the proposed number of employees (12-15) and quantity of on-site parking spaces (10), there appeared to be insufficient parking for the proposed number of employees. In addition, the applicant was informed that unless additional off-street parking was provided or the applicant could prove that the number of parking spaces was adequate, staff would recommend denial of their application. The applicant stated they were unable to find available off-street parking. In order to justify the quantity of parking spaces provided on site, staff requested a parking study to be prepared. The applicant had not submitted the requested parking study and has decided to pursue approval of the application.
Because of the deficit of required parking, staff recommended denial of the CUP application as submitted.
Commissioner Wilson noted that the staff report called out 12-15 employees, while the letter from the applicant states that there were 10. He asked which number was correct.
Public hearing opened.
Dwight Woodruff, represented the property manager, and introduced Dr. Ed Hewett, chief operating officer. Mr. Woodruff gave a brief background of Westview Services, describing how they assist persons with disabilities in finding employment. Their facility in Fullerton serves 24 Fullerton residents, and is a "showcase" program. He explained that the traffic study had not been conducted because of the cost factor, however they attempted to lease property from the car dealerships on either side of their facility. They were told that there were no on-site parking spaces available, and employees of those car businesses park on the street. Mr. Woodruff added that their staff had been reduced to nine employees to accommodate the ten available parking spaces, and that their clients come to the facility by bus. He felt that the facility met the requirements of Section 1555.03.00 (one available space for each employee), including the fact that two couples carpool to work and one employee does not have a driver’s license. He requested approval of the CUP application.
Tim Mullahey, owner of Mullahey Chevrolet, next door to the subject site, appreciated the services provided by Westview Services. He pointed out that the busses which bring clients to this facility must sometimes “stack” on Commonwealth Avenue while other busses are loading and unloading. In addition, many times the busses must encroach over the curb in order to get proper turning radius. He felt that this was the wrong location for this type of business.
Jim Miller, McCoy Mills Ford, 700 W. Commonwealth Avenue, had also viewed the difficulty experienced by the Orange County Transit busses to make the turnaround back onto Commonwealth Avenue. He clarified that no one from Westview approached him in order to lease parking spaces. Because of the excessive traffic flow on Williamson and Woods Avenues, and the lack of available parking, he requested denial of the application.
Ed Hewett, Chief Operating Officer, understood the concerns raised by the adjacent property owners. He emphasized that they do wish to maintain a safe environment for both their employees and clients, and they have already cut back on the number of employees from 12-15 to 9. Because of the number of employees who either do not drive or carpool, he believed they met the parking code. He reiterated the need in Fullerton for the services which Westview provides and hoped that they would be allowed to remain at this site.
Commissioner LeQuire asked how long the applicant had operated in this location, and Mr. Hewett replied that they had been there since the end of February.
Chairman Simons asked how many bus trips are made to the facility per day, and Mr. Hewett stated that there are usually three busses in the morning and three in the afternoon.
Commissioner Wilson asked what the ratio of employee to client was, and Mr. Hewett answered that they maintained a 1:3 ratio.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner LeQuire, while appreciative of the work of Westview Services, did not feel that this was the best location for this use. Should the need arise to expand the service to accommodate more clients, the parking and traffic circulation would worsen. He indicated that he would support staff’s recommendation for denial. The remaining commissioners concurred.
There was a consensus of the Commission to deny the Conditional Use Permit application. The title of Resolution No. 6933 DENYING a request to allow a human services agency providing training of basic skills for the mentally and physically disabled population of the community on property located at 626 West Commonwealth Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously by voting members present, that said Resolution be APPROVED AS WRITTEN, and denied without prejudice.