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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

May 14, 2003

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Price at 4:00 p.m.

ROLL CALL

Chairman Price; Commissioners Crane, Francis, LeQuire, Savage, and Stopper

ABSENT: Griffin

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Senior Engineer Wallin, and Recording Secretary Bird

MINUTES:

Motion by Commissioner Crane, seconded and carried by a 5-0 vote, with Commissioner LeQuire abstaining, that the Minutes of the April 23, 2003 meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

4:00 P.M. SESSION

ITEM NO. 1
PRJ02-00172 - LRP03-00005. APPLICANT: CITY OF FULLERTON; PROPERTY OWNER: J.R. RICHTER.

Staff report dated April 16, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request for a general plan revision to delete a segment of East Valencia Drive from the City's Circulation Element of the Fullerton General Plan (190 feet east of Balcom Avenue to the Union Pacific Railroad right of way, approximately 690 feet east of Balcom Avenue (Negative Declaration).

Commissioner LeQuire noted that his father lives in the mobile home park; he has nothing to gain financially and would participate in the discussion.

Senior Planner Mullis presented the staff report, noting the General Plan Revision was a follow-up to the abandonment request; and recommended approval of Resolution No. PC-03-13, which deletes a segment of East Valencia Drive from the City's circulation element of the General Plan.

Commissioner Francis asked if the the parcel would it be put back on the map as a collector street if the City Council did not abandon it.

Senior Planner Mullis responded that regardless of whether or not it was abandoned, it could remain as a local street, but not a collector street. She added that the abandonment was held from going to the City Council so it could go as a packaged item, along with the General Plan Revision.

Chairman Price questioned if this property was envisioned to cross the railroad tracks on the Circulation Element of the City's General Plan, and questioned if it would ever happen. Staff replied it would not.

Commissioner Savage asked what the difference was between a collector street and local street and if the proposal is for all of Valencia or just one segment. Senior Planner Mullis replied it has to do with the width of the street and the traffic volumes, and noted a collector street is wider than a residential street and they are proposing just this portion of Valencia Drive.

Commissioner Francis questioned why they are just removing part of it and recommended not taking action on the item to wait and see what the City Council action is on the abandonment.

Senior Civil Engineer Wallin replied that certain funds for repair and maintenance are available only for streets noted in the Circulation Element, and that the City wanted to keep those funds available for the remaining portions of Valencia Drive. Senior Planner Mullis stated that in order for the City Council to act on the recommendation to abandon this street, they must act before or concurrently on the General Plan Revision. Senior Planner Rosen noted the City Council would take action on the General Plan change first, then on the abandonment, but staff could not move forward without a recommendation from the Planning Commission.

Public hearing opened.

Chairman Price reported that a letter from Tony Bushala, dated May 13, 2003, had been received by the Commission.

Genaro Gutierrez, Fullerton, reported that people are still crossing the open field on Valencia and Patterson and asked if the open space area could be blocked off and the guardrail put back in place, as it was a safety issue. Chairman Price informed him this was an issue to take up with staff, as it was not specifically related to this item.

Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated Mr. Bushala had been asked to put the guardrail back up. Because this has not been done, the City's Maintenance Department may put the guardrail back up, and Mr. Bushala would be billed for the cost of what he removed.

Jill Richter, owner of La Paz Mobile Home Park, stated the guard rail was taken down unlawfully, and when they discovered it was being traveled on they sent Mr. Bushala a registered letter to cease and desist trespassing or they would take formal legal action. She thanked Mr. Gutierrez for informing her that her property was still being trespassed upon.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Francis commented that from the start he felt the Bushala's had a good argument with regard to the abandonment, since it was cutting off access to their property. It was his recommendation to postpone taking action until the City Council could vote on the abandonment. MOTION by Commissioner Francis to POSTPONE taking action on the General

Plan Revision pending City Council action on the abandonment. MOTION failed due to lack of a second.

Commissioner LeQuire noted his position is unchanged; this property belonged to the mobile home park and it should revert back to them.

Chairman Price stated this item should be acted upon so both the General Plan Revision and abandonment can be taken to the City Council.

The title of Resolution No. PC-03-13 RECOMMENDING to the City Council approval of a General Plan Revision to delete a segment of East Valencia Drive from the City's circulation element of the Fullerton General Plan on property located between 190 and 690 feet east of Balcom Avenue to the western edge of the Union Pacific Railroad right of way, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner LeQuire, seconded and CARRIED by a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Francis voting no, that the Negative Declaration be APPROVED and that said resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

ITEM NO. 2
PRJ03 - PM2003-143. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: SONIA SHAH

Staff report dated May 14, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request subdivide a 2.8-acre parcel into four lots on property located at 915 West Las Palmas Drive (at the northern terminus of Flintridge Drive) (R-1-20 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15315 of CEQA Guidelines).

Senior Planner Mullis gave a slide presentation of the existing property and the proposed subdivision. She noted staff received one letter and two phone calls opposing the subdivision; and it was staff's recommendation to approve the subdivision subject to conditions.

Commissioner Francis asked if the lot sizes conform to the use in the area. Senior Planner Mullis replied one lot is over 51,000 sq. ft., another is over 30,000 sq. ft and the other two lots are slightly larger than the 20,000 minimum lot size requirement.

Commissioner Savage questioned if the driveway in proposed Lot 1 was removed, would it still be within the minimum lot size requirement, if the houses were built on the natural grade or on top of a pad, and if dirt was being imported in to finish the floor heights. Senior Planner Mullis stated that lot was over 30,000 sq. ft. and removing the driveway still gives them 24,000 sq. ft. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin deferred to the applicant's engineer with regard to the grade question.

Commissioner Crane asked how they determined the side yard, front yard, and rear yard for proposed Lot 4.

Senior Planner Mullis replied that staff looked at how the property relatesd to the area and it seemed appropriate that this lot have some rear yard designation.

Commissioner Stopper inquired if there had been any activity for rezoning of properties in the area. Senior Planner Mullis stated there have been no other requests to rezone in the area.

Public hearing opened.

Sonia Shah, applicant, gave a basic overview of their proposal; and felt that the 2.8 acre parcel was out of alignment with the surrounding properties that are or acre in size. She stated that she had read and accept all conditions as outlined in the staff report.

Mr. DeTilla, engineer for Mr. and Mrs. Shah, stated he prepared the proposed parcel map; and in regards to the question regarding the grades, the intention of the slight elevation was to be able to direct drainage flow back out to West Las Palmas and not have any drainage impact surrounding lots.

Commissioner Savage questioned why there was a 20 ft. easement for a bridle trail, why there appeared to be an eight to nine-foot difference between the grade and the bridle trail, and why there were different slope heights.

Mr. DeTilla replied there was an existing bridle trail that goes nowhere and the intent with the difference of the grade and the bridle trail was to show where a possible floor might be. He referred to Sheet 1 showing the parcel map configuration, noted the trees and the anticipated dwelling at an elevation of 429.4 feet, with a finished floor elevation of the house of 429 feet.

Chief Planner Rosen noted the bridle trail was a private easement; and staff had given the applicant instructions on how to abandon it.

Senior Planner Mullis stated that some of the control for grading was related to conditions of protecting trees that are already in place, and therefore only a limited amount of grading can be done over the root system of the trees.

Chairman Price noted a letter dated May 14, 2003 from Deepak and Rita Nanda, concerning the subdivision, was received today.

Verne Wagner, 731 Las Palmas expressed concern about proposed Parcel 1. At this time she has privacy, but with this proposal she will not have any. Initially, this was just one lot, but now the lines have been redrawn and there will be nine houses. She expressed concern about the grading and flag lots, her loss of privacy.

Doug Wagner, 721 Las Palmas, echoed Verne Wagner's concerns. Mr. Wagner bought his home because of the lot size, and was also concerned with Parcel 1.

Robin Steedman, 701 W. Las Palmas stated she was not directly affected by the proposal, but was concerned about water going down the hill, and the increased traffic. She added that this was not the same area as when they first bought their property, and they are changing the lay of the land with the pad elevations.

Ms. Shah clarified that with the homes that are currently under construction, they had to export dirt out. When they bought the property the flag lot behind Ms. Wagner's property, there was an existing lot that was approved in 1974 and was included in part of their sale. She noted they had met with, and explained to, Ms. Wagner they would try to regain as much vegetation as possible with the proposed Parcel 1; and stated there was only one small point where the property of Parcel 1 meets Ms. Wagner's property. The proposed house pad is at the front of the parcel, a minimum of 150 feet away from her property line. She noted that Mr. Wagner has a long driveway, and another existing lot separates his property. In addition, there are trees along the property line that will be maintained.

Commissioner Crane asked Mrs. Shah if she would be opposed to adding a condition placing the house in the area in the front of the property. Ms. Shah replied they would have no problem with adding this condition.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Crane asked if the Commission had the jurisdiction to determine whether a building is one or two stories; and questioned what the setbacks for the rear yard were. Senior Planner Mullis stated there are 10 ft. setbacks on the side yards, and 35 ft. setbacks on the rear yard.

Chief Planner Rosen explained it was within the Commission's purview to add a height condition.

Commissioner Francis asked staff to clarify the zoning of the area for the audience, and if a lot was larger than 40,000 square feet, could it be subdivided. Senior Planner Mullis stated it was zoned R-1-20,000 single family with a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet, and subdivisions are allowed.

Commissioner LeQuire expressed concern over Parcel 1; stated he did not like the configuration and length of the driveway, and felt safety, security and fire concerns could be an issue on Las Palmas.

Commissioner Crane asked if a condition could be added requiring that on Parcel 1, the house be placed a minimum of 150 feet away from the rear property line, and no structure could be built in that area unless it was one story. He also questioned if a deed restriction could be added, and Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively.

Commissioner Francis concurred with Commissioner Crane.

Commissioner Savage he did not care for flag lots, but since the property is over 20,000 feet even removing the long driveway, he would concur with approving it and adding the restrictions suggested by Commissioner Crane.

Chairman Price shared his fellow Commissioners concerns about flag lots. He felt there would be less impact on the neighbors to the north because of the arborist report to keep the trees. He showed support for the project with the additional conditions as outlined by Commissioner Crane.

Chief Planner Rosen pointed that the pad area in the front of the property is sufficient to build a single or two-story home as it is approximately 10,000 square feet, but noted with the protection of the trees, the lot size decreases to approximately 5,000 square feet.

Commissioner Stopper stated that all of the parcels meet the zoning requirements and the project appears to be reasonable and fair to the community. He supported the project and concurred with Commissioner Crane's suggestion for restrictions.

Chairman Price noted there was a consensus among the Commissioners and asked Mrs. Shah if she understood, and agreed to, an additional condition of imposing a restriction of 125 feet from the rear lot line to be included as part of a deed restriction. Mrs. Shah answered affirmatively.

The title of Resolution PC-03-14 GRANTING a parcel map to subdivide a 2.8-acre parcel into four lots on property located at 915 West Las Palmas Drive, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED 5-1 vote, with Commissioner LeQuire voting no, that said resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED, with an added condition which states "No part of any structure on Parcel 1 shall be more than one story within 125 feet of the rear property line of Parcel 1. A deed restriction shall be placed on Parcel 1 stating this restriction prior to the issuance of any permits".

Chief Planner Rosen noted the applicant or any member of the public could appeal this decision by completing an application and paying the appropriate fee within ten (10) days in the Development Services Department.

ITEM NO. 3
PRJ03-00175 - LRP03-00010. APPLICANT: CITY OF FULLERTON

Staff report dated May 14, 2003, was presented pertaining to a request to amend Chapter 15.17 of the Fullerton Municipal Code to modify regulations pertaining to "limited second dwelling" units.

Senior Planner Mullis reviewed the current code, and stated that since 1984 there have only been 15 limited second dwelling units built in Fullerton, with two additional lots being approved in the last year. She reported it was staff's recommendation to approve the ordinance amendment to eliminate the requirement for conditional use permits for limited second dwellings. She stated that the City Attorney had recommended that Item 8 under Standards and Limitations in the draft ordinance dealing with mobile homes should be eliminated from regulations.

Commissioner Savage questioned if this eliminated mobile homes being put on a lot as a limited second dwelling unit.

Senior Planner Mullis noted that the current Ordinance states neither an existing home or a second dwelling unit can be a mobile home, which is contrary to the state law which requiring that the unit be placed on a foundation and meet architectural standards. Chief Planner Rosen stated it was very unlikely that a traditional mobile home would meet architectural standards.

City Attorney, Yolanda McDonough, referred to the Government Health and Safety Code, which encompasses manufactured homes and noted with the architectural standards in place it would be difficult to put one in the back yard.

Commissioner Savage asked what effect this would have on corner lots with three-car garages, and what restrictions or reasons would prohibit an additional unit over the garage from qualifying as a second dwelling unit. He also questioned if any such units had not been approved. Senior Planner Mullis noted that any house with five or more bedrooms was required to have a three-car garage to meet the open space requirement. Chief Planner Rosen reported a handful of proposed second units had not been approved over the years, but it was due to a neighborhood character issue.

Chairman Price questioned what the conditional use permit process would be as of July 1, 2003. Senior Planner Mullis reported that reasonable criteria could be reviewed as a non-discretionary review.

Public hearing opened, but there was no one present who wished to speak on this matter.

Chairman Price stated he was comfortable with adopting the Ordinance with the proposed language.

Commissioner LeQuire stated he felt like this was a loss of local control with the state telling the cities what to do. He also asked if more specific criteria needs to be included in determining what is compatible. He suggested that the first (alley access) and second (corner lot) criteria for a lot to qualify for a second unit should be eliminated, and only have lots that exceed 150% of the minimum required lot size.

City Attorney McDonough stated that many cities are changing the criteria with regard to minimal lot size standards.

Commissioners voiced concern over the criteria that qualifies a property to be permitted to have a limited second dwelling unit (alley access, corner lot, or 150% of minimum required lot size). Commissioner Crane asked for clarification of the garage standard as it relates to studio units which have no bedrooms. He asked the City Attorney if the Planning Commission would be responsible for making the findings to justify the architectural compatibility. City Attorney McDonough stated it would be the responsibility of staff to make those findings.

Chief Planner Rosen asked for clarification from legal counsel and was told if the City is going to prescribe second dwelling units on particular lots, they should ensure it would not be eliminating them.

Chief Planner Rosen commented that staff may have to do additional analysis on remaining lots to determine what could be built given the existing conditions. At the present time, over 5,000 lots are eligible, but there are existing constraints to build on those properties; if reduced to 788 lots, staff would have to do further analysis to determine that there would be a reasonable number of lots available on which to build second units.

Chairman Price asked if there was a general consensus that the allowable limited dwelling unit to Item 3 (lots with 150% of the minimum required lot size) be limited, and eliminate Items 1 and 2 (alley and corner lots). He stated that if there is a general consensus, staff will need to investigate how second units could be built.

Commissioner Stopper asked how many of the requests that have been approved since 1984 would have met the current criteria. Chief Planner Rosen noted this was an attachment to the staff report and approximately half would have met the criteria. He noted he would support Commissioner LeQuire's position of 150% and make this the only restriction. All Commissioners concurred with this position.

Chairman Price questioned if the Commission wanted to take up the secondary issue of whether or not they want to expand the four criteria for those that would qualify under this restriction. He asked the City Attorney if the notion of legislation is like that of geometry, you plug in the conditions and you get a result, what is the level of discretion a body can have.

City Attorney McDonough stated the one area in which the City needs discretion is with architectural standards. What seems effective is in the event an application is received and completely out of compliance with architectural standards in place, it is denied, in which case it is appealed to the Planning Commission for determination of whether or not it seems reasonable.

Commissioner Stopper asked for clarification if the item would only come to the Planning Commission if there were an exception. City Attorney McDonough answered that with a denial process there is an appeal to the Planning Commission.

Chief Planner Rosen added that any decision of the Director of Development Services is appealable to the Planning Commission at this time at a cost of approximately $143.00 to file the appeal.

Chairman Price asked for a consensus that the only condition under which a limited second dwelling would be allowed is if it exceeded 150% of the required lot size and the Commissioners concurred. He suggested continuing the matter to the next available hearing to allow staff time to investigate what the viability of the lots that would be available under that criteria. He noted the alternative was to make the recommendation now.

Chief Planner Rosen stated it would be staff's preference to make the recommendation and before the Council meeting, staff will add additional analysis to Council as part of the recommendation.

Commissioner Crane noted he would like to have wording changed on Item No. 2 under Standards and Limitations of the draft ordinance dealing with compatible architecture.

Senior Planner Mullis suggested changing the wording for the garage standard to state: "one conveniently accessible garage space shall be added for each unit, plus 1 additional garage space for each bedroom above 1 bedroom." Pertaining to the architectural compatibility, she recommended the ordinance be amended to state: "the architectural design of the limited second dwelling unit shall be consistent with the design of the existing unit on the lot and reasonably compatible with the design of the structures in the surrounding area in terms of exterior color, materials, architectural style, roof pitch, eaves, orientation of the unit towards the residence." Commissioner Crane agreed with adding the above wording and suggested adding massing in the criteria.

Chief Planner Rosen noted this goes to the City Council for consideration, but if they wanted to consider adding more criteria that is different from what the Commission they would have to remand it back to the Commission for consideration.

The title of Resolution PC-03-15, RECOMMENDING to the City Council APPROVAL of an amendment to Chapter 15.17 of the Fullerton Municipal Code changing the criteria, development standards and review procedures dealing with construction of limited second dwellings on R-1 or R-1P zoned property including eliminating the requirement of an approval of a conditional use permit for such dwellings was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Stopper, seconded and CARRIED by a 6-0 vote that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED.

OTHER MATTERS

  1. REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS

    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief update on recent City Council meetings and noted a Community meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, May 21, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

  2. PUBLIC COMMENTS

    There was no one from the public who wished to speak on any matter.

  3. AGENDA FORECAST

    The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be on May 28, 2003, at 4:00 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:56 p.m.

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