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RDRC Minutes April 12, 2005

RDRC Minutes April 12, 2005


Tuesday April 12, 2005 7:30 PM


The meeting was called to order at 7:50 p.m. by Chairman Daybell


Committee member Jerome Hoban was introduced to the Committee


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Coffman, Duncan and Johnson
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Vice Chairman Hoban, Committee Members Duncan and Johnson
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Associate Planner Eastman, Planning Intern Bunim and Clerical Staff Norton


Deferred approval of minutes to the next regular meeting of April 28, 2005.


PRJ04-00919 ZON04-000098

Review of architectural and site design of a proposed mixed-use project and associated Specific Plan (Generally located on the southwest corner of Bastanchury Road and Laguna Road, encompassing an area between Bastanchury Road and Laguna Road, Laguna Drive and Sunny Crest Drive (Currently C-2 Zone; proposed Specific Plan District)

Staff presented the staff report dated April 12, 2005 regarding the proposed demolition of the existing Sunny Crest Plaza shopping center and the construction of a mixed use development.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that this project will include a major site plan application, a zone change to Specific Plan District (SPD), the adoption of the Specific Plan, realignment of utility easements, and a tentative tract map. He explained that this item, if approved, will go to the Planning Commission and City Council for final approval.

Associate Planner Eastman explained that he would provide much of the same information presented at the community meeting earlier in the evening. He clarified that land use and traffic issues would not be addressed, as they are not in the purview of the RDRC. Primarily, he will be focusing on revisions made since the last time the RDRC heard this item. He introduced Joel Rosen, Chief Planner for the City.

Associate Planner Eastman told the committee that:

  • The proposal now has 52 residential condominium units;
  • There will be 12,000 square feet of retail space;
  • Subterranean parking under the residential has 104 spaces, 10 which are tandem stalls;
  • Building B is the a food court, which has been reduced to 8,800 square feet;
  • A second story office has been added above the food court;
  • Building C will be 81,905 square feet and has not changed since the last review;
  • Building E will be a four story, five-level parking garage

Associate Planner Eastman displayed an aerial view of the site and explained the boundaries of the proposed development and described the surrounding properties. He told the committee that the area of notification was expanded beyond the 300 foot radius and also included anyone who had attended previous community meetings or contacted staff and requested notification. Of the five applications, the major site plan deals with the physical improvements of the project, which is why the RDRC is reviewing it. The zone change requested is a land use question and not in the purview of the RDRC.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that previous community meetings addressed land use questions, and neighborhood compatibility. The community has questioned the design, the appropriateness of the architectural style, possible traffic congestion, the parking lot location and cumulative impacts. He said that the intention of the previous RDRC meeting held on February 3, 2005 was to get direction and input for the developers regarding design. Several issues were raised and the meeting minutes reflect the concerns. The RDRC had supported the mid-century modern architecture and it was deemed compatible with the architectural style of St. Jude, however they had concerns with the height of Building A along Bastanchury, the lack of a village square and the height of the parking structure. The revised plans include a reduction in height to three stories and in elevation on the west side of Building A. The number of condominiums has been reduced by 14, which was a result of eliminating the fourth floor and the new tiered design. The common space was moved to the east side of the building. The number of tandem stalls were reduced and the landscape setback was sloped up to a half wall height at the parking garage.

Staff is recommending approval of the concept architectural site and landscape plan. Staff is not recommending land use approval at this time. That recommendation will be given to the Planning Commission, upon review of outstanding items. Staff has recommended 17 design conditions of approval which can be modified, eliminated or conditions added. Most significantly, staff is recommending removal of one third floor unit, closest to the tier transition. If the City Council approves the project, staff has requested that the RDRC review construction documents for final approval of details.

Committee Member Johnson asked why the traffic area in the plaza was raised. Associate Planner Eastman suggested that he direct that question to the developer.

Public hearing opened.

Leland Stearns, overall design architect; Mike Lehman, medical specialist architect; Paul Bettenhausen, landscape architect, introduced themselves.

Mr. Stearns said that he had considered the comments from the last RDRC meeting and talked about the nature of the space along Sunny Crest Drive. He explained that the utility easements restrict the development. He showed the two entries to the garage and how the common space was moved to the center which is more easily accessed and near the elevators. It was increased from 1,900 to 2,800 square feet.

Mr. Stearns also talked about:

  • the size of the buildings
  • mixed use in the context of where it is placed
  • Reconceptualizing the main space the buildings are organized around
  • Bringing the vehicular traffic up to the level of the plaza, slowing down vehicular traffic and accommodating pedestrians and vehicles
  • The food court has been opened up toward Sunny Crest Drive as a plaza
  • Tower unit displayed.
  • The average unit size has gone from 780 to 1,200 square feet

Mr. Bettenhausen discussed:

  • The landscaping and site development
  • Street lighting
  • Street trees
  • Street pavers
  • Mid-modern form with classical elements
  • Splash fountain
  • Obelisk and mid modern art
  • Screening the parking structure

Mr. Stearns talked about:

  • The elevation of the buildings
  • Subterranean parking structure grading
  • Retail floor height
  • Wrapping the two-story unit around the corner (not removing it)
  • Flat tile roof
  • Brick, stone base along the Bastanchury frontage with plaster applied to the upper buildings
  • A wood panel system
  • Unique identity of the area
  • Institutional uses surrounding the site

The following residents spoke:

Khosroo Esfahlani, 2320 N. Morelia Place

  • Asked if Sunny Crest was a private road
  • The acreage and square feet of the buildings
  • Ratio of buildings to land mass
  • He thought the project tripled the density of the current neighborhood (in terms of du/acre)
  • Loading and unloading not addressed and not adequate
  • 4 Trash areas were not sufficient
  • Redundancy of the design
  • Height of development
  • The setback on Building B is too close to Laguna Road
  • Landscape/hardscape/drive area/building area and ratio
  • The height of Building C
  • The need to reduce the height of all the buildings
  • 120,000 square feet of office building
  • Reducing the density

Bruce Hostetter, 205 N. Cornell

  • Losing a sense of community in the area
  • It will not make it a desirable destination
  • Concerned with the site plan, which looks like three different projects which have not been integrated
  • It is a difficult site to develop
  • Does not like high development, high density
  • Needed more community participation early in the process

Carol Gruetter, 821 Rodeo Road

  • Overall design is not acceptable
  • Mid-century does not compliment rural ranchhouse property
  • Should be a C-1 zone
  • Concerns with safety and crime, particularly in the parking area
  • Felt that the applicant is not listening to comments
  • Possible deletion of the residential portion
  • Negatively changing the viewscape of nearby residents
  • Traffic safety and environmental issues
  • Current traffic congestion from 91 freeway to Bastanchury
  • Large scale growth issues will change the quality of life and environment
  • Significant new development proposed including University Heights, Senior living at Sunny Hills, Laguna and Euclid, Rosecrans and Euclid, Commonwealth, Walnut and Balcom, Amerige Heights
  • Desired a redesign of Sunny Crest, but not so dense
  • Need large setbacks
  • Traffic, and noise pollution
  • Majority of the community left before having an opportunity to speak

Michael Kanne, 2871 Terraza Place

  • 7:30 notice for public comments, legal requirement to hear the public at the time noticed applicant finished his presentation at 8:45;
  • The addition of and office building impacts the density and parking, eliminating the added second floor;
  • Eliminate the added second floor;
  • Inadequate landscaping;
  • The site plan is not compatible;
  • Massive facade is a gross violation;
  • The building is too high;
  • Inadequate setbacks;
  • The number of units should be reduced;
  • Requested denial or significant redesign by the applicant

Pamela Lehman, 411 Pinata Place

  • She stated she was not notified by mail
  • Concerned with the safety of school children crossing the street
  • Possibility of traffic and crime increasing
  • Did not want an extension of the medical campus atmosphere
  • Staffs recommendation to switch the location of the medical building and parking structure was not addressed
  • Upset that a groundbreaking has already been scheduled by the developer when the project is not yet approved
  • Wants a buffer zone between St. Jude and horse property enforced
  • How will property maintenance be monitored and managed
  • Asked to maintain the old style feeling in the neighborhood, as the developer has in Pasadena

Sandy Marshal, 925 Valencia Mesa

  • Incompatibility with the neighborhood and the ranch style homes
  • Additional traffic
  • Preserve the natural asset, downscale the proposed plan
  • The developer is not being considerate of the homeowners

Kae Thomas, 109 Miramonte Drive

  • Concerned with pedestrian pathways
  • Reviewing existing services from the neighborhood (dance studio/karate studio/restaurants)
  • Density and size

Mike Marcinkevicz, 1424 Sunny Crest Drive

  • How are grades/slopes being preserved as identified in scenic corridor guidelines
  • Concerned with pedestrian pathways
  • Clarify the navigation of the paths
  • Excessive use of Sunny Crest when Harbor is congested
  • Minimalize the impact of the faade, not so monolithic

Florence & Randy Plummer, 1400 Richman Knoll

  • Not in favor of closing off the area by creating one way traffic patterns
  • The project needs to address the congestion

Caleb Eller, 170 Laguna

  • Kids will miss the facilities serving them
  • Lack of family dynamic in the project

Chris Bond, 1429 Richman Knoll

  • The area is losing its rural nature
  • Does not flow with the neighborhood or blend with the other buildings

Larry Smith, 1706 Sunny Crest

  • Developer is pushing the project
  • There is a ground swell against the development
  • Negatively impacting quality of life
  • The density is too high
  • Did not like the type of architecture
  • Concerned that the traffic flow will be changed by the post office
  • Displayed current photos of the area

Jennifer Burns, 1539 Avolencia Drive

  • Feels it is too big
  • Wants to keep it rural

The public testimony was closed. The project was brought back to the committee for discussion.

Chief Planner Rosen noted that the committee could continue the project to another public meeting. Mr. Rosen offered that in light of the number of people who left the meeting before giving their testimony.

Committee Member Johnson stated he was not in attendance at the February 3, 2005 RDRC meeting. He felt that the project was in the context of the area. He also was concerned with the safety or pedestrian and vehicular traffic. He felt that the architecture was a good design, just not at this particular site. He recognized that the community was not accepting of this design and felt it would be best to wait until after the next community meeting before he takes a position.

Vice Chairman Duncan spoke about the direction of the architecture. He felt that the parking structure is too large and the landscaping is underachieved. He discussed other varieties of trees needed along the edge of the project. He wanted to see the plaza paving extended along Sunny Crest.

Committee Member Hoban asked staff if the concrete arches were salvageable. Chief Planner Rosen asked Member Hoban to wait since the public hearing was closed and they would get an answer from the applicant. He asked about expansion joints for stucco to avoid cracks over time. He was concerned with the entry to the rehab center where one of the residents doorways exits directly to the street. He felt that additional grass areas were needed for pets. He thought that the parking structure needed more vertical elements. He liked the paver stones and suggested using them for the driveway and crosswalks.

Chairman Daybell felt there was a need for the existing businesses to stay, so perhaps they could relocate over to the food court. He wanted to hear more public input and talked about the setbacks.

Mr. Killen asked the RDRC to vote on the project tonight. Chairman Daybell stated that he did not feel it would pass after hearing the committees comments.

MOTION by Member Johnson to continue this item to another date. The motion died due to a lack of a second.

Mr. Killen spoke out of order, reminding the Chairman that the applicant had made a request for a vote tonight.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that the Committee was not obligated to respond to the request of the applicant.

Mr. Esfahlani spoke out of order and Associate Planner Eastman reminded the Chairman and the public that the public comment portion of the meeting was closed. At this point, the committee discussed the project and had motions pending.

MOTION by Committee Member Duncan, seconded by Committee Member Hoban, to approve the project, subject to staffs recommended conditions and comments provided by the committee members. Members Johnson and Daybell voted against the item and Members Duncan and Hoban voted in favor, Member Coffman was absent. The proposed project received a tie vote. A tie vote constitutes a recommendation of denial to the Planning Commission and City Council.





There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:53 p.m.