M I N U T E S
REGULAR MEETING OF THE
OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA
WEDNESDAY, November 1, 2000
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
ROOM 213, CITY HALL
1. CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order at 7:15 p.m.
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: Commissioner Loui led the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. ROLL CALL:
Julie Lopez Dad
Jay P. Johnson
Kelly Olsen, Chairperson
Kim Christensen, AICP, Senior Planner
Kyle Ferstead, Commission Secretary
Suzanne Frick, Director of Planning/PCD
Donna Jerex, Associate Planner
Jonathan Lait, Associate Planner
Kevin McKeown, City Council Liaison
Amanda Schachter, Principal Planner
Jay M. Trevino, AICP, Planning Manager
4. PLANNING DIRECTOR'S REPORT:
Ms. Frick gave the Director’s Report. She announced the following meeting dates for the Commission: November 8, November 15, December 6, December 13 and December 20, 2000. Commissioner Johnson stated that he would not be present on December 20, 2000.
5. PUBLIC HEARING: Consent Calendar
5-A. Resolution Amending the Rules of Order and Procedure for the Conduct of Planning Commission Meetings Regarding Ex Parte Communications During Pendency of Quasi-Judicial Proceedings and Time for Adjournment.
Chair Olsen pulled this item from the Consent Calendar. Commissioner Moyle made a motion to hear this item following item 6-B. Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote.
Following item 6-B, the Commission began its hearing on this matter. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum explained the changes in the Rules of Order, including the renumbering of the rules (deletion of old rule #29, rule #30 become new #29, and there are two new rules, #30 and #31).
Commissioner Brown asked for verification that the old rule #29 was the one regarding continuing the meeting past 11:00 p.m. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Johnson asked if he could proposed alternative language. Chair Olsen asked the Commission to stick to the discussion on the disclosure issue. He stated that the Commission cannot hear evidence outside the public record and that he views this as an issue of fairness. He suggested that either a Commissioner chooses not to speak to either applicants and/or neighbors, or any such contact must be disclosed prior to hearing from the applicant and interested parties so that rebuttal, if any, can be made during the public hearing process. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that this is a correct assessment and, legally speaking, it is a concern for due process.
Chair Olsen stressed that it is important for a Commissioner to recount as much factual information as possible so the applicant and/or interested parties can refute or expound upon it. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the disclosure must reveal the substance or essence of the contact, “the gist of what was said.” He commented that over time the process will become easier as long as Commissioners disclosure more than “I met with…”
Chair Olsen commented on a article he had read in the Planning Commission Journal, which suggests the banning of site visits. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum responded that that is an option open to the Commission for consideration.
Johnson suggested alternative language as follows (page 22, Rule 30, first
During the pendency of any quasi-judicial proceeding, No
member …” He expressed the opinion that
the Commission should not engage in ex parte communication as is the policy
with the Rent Control Board.
Commissioner Moyle expressed the opinion that Commissioner Johnson’s language is contradictory and does not achieve the desired goal. She added that she is, however, sympathetic to Commissioner Johnson’s aim. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum explained the fine line between when and what needs to be disclosed for the purpose of due process and as part of the public record. He also stated that there is no way to be certain if a potential applicant will become an actual applicant with a viable project requiring Commission review.
Chair Olsen asked staff how one should handle unsolicited mail that comes to one’s home regarding a pending issue. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum recommended that such correspondence be forwarded to staff to be made part of the public record. Ms. Frick commented that the Coastal Commission does not have any contact with developers, applicants or residents regarding pending issues and all correspondence must go through staff to be disseminated.
Chair Olsen asked about unsolicited telephone calls if they are regarding policy issues and not development projects. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that this only applies to development projects.
Commissioner Clarke asked for clarification on the term “during the pendency.” Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the time frame is from the date of the application being filed (Conditional Use Permit, Development Review Permit, Development Agreement, Design Compatibility Permit) or from the date an appeal is filed on a variance or Architectural Review Board determination.
Commissioner Clarke expressed concern that many members of the public feel it is important to contact officials, such as the Commissioners, regarding development in their neighborhoods. He also expressed his regret that in more than one instance important information has been revealed following Planning Commission review and appeal to the City Council. He stated that he would prefer the fostering of more information earlier in the process. Lastly, he commented that he is not opposed to disclosure, but not a full prohibition of contact.
Chair Olsen suggested that the proposal before the Commission would stop site visits, which would leave Commissioners less informed. Ms. Frick commented that site visits are a means of gathering evidence outside the public hearing venue, however written communications can be disseminated to the entire Commission and included in the public record. She stated that staff’s difficulty is that the private communication does not allow for staff or the applicant to adequately respond.
In response to a question from Chair Olsen, Ms. Frick stated that the Commission must make their decisions based on evidence presented at the public hearing. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum added that the decision should be unbiased and not formed prior to the public hearing.
Commissioner Clarke expressed concern about receiving information, that he wants to receive the most information possible, by any and all means, about every project. He expressed his support for the staff report and revised Rules of Order as written.
Commissioner Brown stated agreement with the sentiments expressed by Commissioner Clarke regarding obtaining information. She commented that, practically speaking, if no communication will be accepted by the Commission, the public must be made aware of this because it has been past practice to contact Commissioners. She expressed the opinion that this will be tough on the public. She also expressed concern regarding the effectiveness of the proposed process.
Commissioner Dad expressed her agreement with Commissioners Brown and Clarke regarding the importance of being informed and including the public in the process. She stated that it is incumbent on the Commission to get information into the public record. She further stated that she needs time to read and digest the information in a pure form and she doesn’t want all the information to come through staff. She feels that disclosure is the key. Commissioner Dad commented on being contacted at home by telephone and the short time period between delivery of the packet and the public hearing. She agreed that copies of correspondence need to go to staff.
Chair Olsen commented that he initially felt as Commissioners Brown, Clarke and Dad have stated and that he has always been vocally support of public participation and the public process. Therefore, the proposal goes against his natural inclination, but when viewed through the quasi-judicial side, the Commission is acting as a judge. He stated that the proposed new rule will give the public new trust in the process with one place to give evidence. He expressed the opinion that this will empower people to participate. He also stated that he will not meet with any applicant, applicant’s representative or member of the public regarding a pending issue.
Commissioner Dad stated that her concern is not with the applicant, who has a great deal of contact with staff, but with the public who has less access. She suggested that equal time be given to groups and individuals for each side. She stated that she is uncomfortable with making the proposed change until the neighborhood groups are brought into the process. Chair Olsen responded that Commissioner Dad’s idea is acceptable. Ms. Frick stated that this proposal needs review by staff, including looking into other models and returning with various options.
Commissioner Moyle asked if the proposed disclosure is part of the Brown Act. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that disclosure is not part of the Brown Act, but is required under provisions for due process.
Commissioner Moyle asked if the quasi-judicial process begins when an application is filed, how will the Commission know this has occurred. Chair Olsen stated that the Planning Commission Caselist shows the application date of all applications that will come to the Commission for review.
Commissioner Moyle expressed her favor for encouraging contact between applicants and neighborhood groups while protecting the integrity of the public hearing process. She also commented that she has not given her home address out for the public Board and Commission Directory and, therefore, only receives correspondence at City Hall. She also stated that she forwards all e-mails to City staff for the public record.
Commissioner Clarke commented on the distinction between a juror, a public official and appointed officials, such as Planning Commissioners. He expressed support for the comments made by Commissioner Dad. He acknowledged that staff might not appreciate receiving all the written communications, however it would serve as an independent pipeline. He stated that it is good to hear from the public, especially at the public hearing, and that three minutes is a long time to speak. He made a motion to adopt the revised Rules of Order as written.
Commissioner Brown seconded the motion. She stated that she supports the staff recommendation. She commented that while all information is welcome, it will be difficult to have everything go through staff. She stated that she feels confident that she can listen to community members without commenting back. She then commented on the public’s perceived “lack of confidence in City Hall.”
Commissioner Clarke expressed his strong support for disclosure. He stated that it will be good discipline for the Commission and will strengthen the process.
There was a discussion regarding how to route communications to staff and how to keep track of conversations with applicants and/or the public.
Commissioner Loui expressed support for the concerns raised by Commissioners Brown, Clarke and Dad. He expressed concern regarding the item of all written correspondence going through staff, which will be labor intensive. He commented that there needs to be the maximum amount of time possible to absorb the information on each project. He stated that he supports the staff report, with minor changes. He expressed his appreciation of all the comments made by the other Commissioners.
Mr. Trevino addressed the Commission regarding the provision for routing correspondence through staff and lengthening the timing for packets.
Chair Olsen raised the issue of timing of the receipt of Commission packets. He stated that the more time prior to a hearing, the better for the Commission. He also stated that there should be a way to get public information into the record. He expressed his utmost faith in his colleagues. He commented that when he receives calls from the public, he tells them that he will not discuss the project prior to the public hearing and encourages them to both write letters and attend the public hearing. He noted that he usually receives a positive response from the public regarding his personal policy.
Commissioner Johnson expressed his support for the motion. He stated that it is a good first step. He also stated that he would like to create voluntary site visit guidelines, with staff’s lead, but that this can be discussed at another time. He also expressed concern regarding serial meetings. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the description given is not a serial meeting.
Commissioner Loui commented on a recommendation made by Commissioner Dad regarding Rule 12, then realized the issue was not agendized and discontinued his comments.
The Rules of Order Amendments were approved as written by the following vote:
AYES: Brown, Clarke, Dad, Johnson, Loui, Moyle, Olsen.
6. PUBLIC HEARINGS:
6-A. Conditional Use Permit 00-026, 401 Santa Monica Pier, RVC District. Application for a Conditional Use Permit to modify CUP 99-039 and reconfigure existing floor area for an existing 318-seat restaurant located at the western end of the Santa Monica Pier. The reconfigured floor plan will not result in added floor area or additional restaurant seats. (Planner: Donna Jerex) Applicant: Pacific Faire, Inc. d/b/a Mariasol.
[NOTE: This was the first public hearing item heard by the Commission.]
Following the staff report, the applicant’s representative and architect, Samuel Tolkin, AIA, made a short presentation to the Commission.
The Commission expressed concerns regarding the following issues: location of the fire exit, whether the applicant was paying for the proposed reconfiguration, and who will clean the glass on the public deck.
No members of the public submitted requests to speak. Chair Olsen closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Clarke made a motion for approval of CUP 00-026. Commissioner Moyle seconded the motion.
The motion was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Brown, Clarke, Dad, Johnson, Loui, Moyle, Olsen.
Following the staff report, Commissioner Moyle asked staff if the parcel is currently vacant and if it was vacated after the 1994 earthquake. Mr. Lait stated that the parcel is vacant and has been vacant since 1996. Commissioner Moyle asked if the date of demolition triggers the 25% reduction in fee. Mr. Lait stated that this property falls under Ordinance 1977. Ms. Schachter stated that the Affordable Housing Ordinance specifies a 25% fee reduction for parcels vacant as of August 20, 1998.
Commissioner Clarke recalled that the prior owner of the property tried to have the building demolished prior to the 1994 earthquake.
Chair Olsen asked if there is an architectural rendering. Mr. Lait stated that one was not submitted or required for this proceeding.
The Commission made the following disclosures: Commissioner Clarke stated that he was familiar with the site prior to the earthquake; and Commissioner Lopez Dad stated that she drove by the site and observed the building to the south, particularly the entries and stairways on the north and south sides. The rest of the Commission indicated they had no disclosures to make.
The applicant’s representative, Dave Marshal, addressed the Commission regarding the application.
Chair Olsen asked if both the street tree and the other tree on site are to remain. Mr. Marshal stated that both are to remain.
Commissioner Lopez Dad inquired if there will be outdoor patios or balconies on the south side of the building. Mr. Marshal responded in the affirmative.
Commissioner Clarke asked for an explanation regarding the planters on the south side of the building which appear to be above the subterranean parking garage. Mr. Marshal explained that the planters will be built up from the ground floor level.
Commissioner Clarke asked about various external features on the front façade. Mr. Marshal explained about the patio off the front yard, the front window pot shelf and the walled terraces going down to the street level.
Commissioner Clarke asked about the elevation difference between the patio and the public sidewalk. Mr. Marshal explained that there is an approximately 40-inch grade variation. The various heights were discussed.
Chair Olsen asked Mr. Marshal if he wished to make additional comments.
No members of the public submitted request to speak forms.
Chair Olsen asked Mr. Marshal if he met with the neighborhood organization. Mr. Marshal stated he was unaware of any neighborhood organization for this area.
Commissioner Johnson asked Mr. Marshal if he had ever brought other projects before the Commission. Mr. Marshal stated that he has brought many projects before that Commission and he is a resident in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Johnson asked Mr. Marshal if he would object to a condition in the “conditions, covenants and …” [CC&Rs] prohibiting furniture on the roof decks. Mr. Marshal stated he would not object.
Commissioner Johnson asked Mr. Marshal if he knows the status of the adjacent parcel, which appears to be a double lot. Mr. Marshal stated he did not know.
Commissioner Johnson asked if Mr. Marshal would be agreeable to notifying neighboring tenants five days prior to the start of construction. Mr. Marshal was agreeable.
Commissioner Johnson asked Mr. Marshal if he would notice both tenants and property owners. Mr. Marshal stated that he would.
Commissioner Johnson asked the tree removal and replacement with a 24-inch box tree. Mr. Marshal stated that he has not yet hired a landscape architect, but is willing to install a 24-inch box tree.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the type of trees on the north property line. Mr. Marshal stated that they are pepper trees with large, invasive roots.
Commissioner Loui gave a point of information that the average life span for an urban tree is 30 years.
Commissioner Clarke asked Mr. Marshal about the “flash water heater” on the roof deck level. Mr. Marshal explained that this is a very economical system and has worked well in other projects he has built.
Commissioner Clarke asked Mr. Marshal about the proposed “forced-air” system. Mr. Marshal stated that this is a combination unit.
Chair Olsen expressed concern about the proposed front yard area, specifically small walls and less open design. Mr. Marshal stated that the design is intended to make the front unit less exposed. Chair Olsen commented on how a front yard can be designed to be open, but not a safety hazard. Mr. Marshal commented that the adjacent properties have very imposing walls in the front yard area.
Chair Olsen closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the City has recourse should an “LLC” disenfranchise. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated he did not know and this question has not come up before.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff about a comment on page three of the staff regarding measuring from the centerline of the alley. Mr. Lait stated that this is a standard procedure when alleys are present. Commissioner Johnson asked staff if this is a recent regulation. Ms. Frick stated that the City has always measured from the centerline of the alley when an alley is present.
Commissioner Johnson asked about requirements to underground utilities for new developments. Ms. Frick stated that this is a requirement.
Commissioner Johnson commented on required fees, such as the affordable housing fee and condominium tax. He asked for the time frame for fee payment. Ms. Schachter stated that the affordable housing fee is paid prior to issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy per City ordinance. Commissioner Johnson expressed the opinion that they should be paid “up front.”
Commission Johnson asked when the condominium lien tax is paid. Ms. Schachter stated that this tax is paid upon the sale of the unit and is not specified under the Municipal Code.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff about enforcement of conditions of approval and who is responsible for the enforcement. Staff explained that enforcement is performed by Code Enforcement Officers and usually initiated by complaint. Commissioner Johnson expressed concern with the issue of enforcement and a reference on page 8 of the staff report, Condition #4, that allows for minor amendments at the discretion of the Director of Planning. Ms. Schachter stated that past practice has been to allow only very minor changes at the discretion of the Director of Planning.
Commissioner Johnson expressed concern regarding the proximity of the landscaping between the condominium projects as regards noise. He stated that the current tall foliage is a good sound buffer. Mr. Lait stated that the Architectural Review Board (ARB) will address the landscaping issues, however the Commission may also add conditions regarding this matter. Ms. Frick stated that any condition the Commission recommends will be implemented by the ARB.
Commissioner Johnson asked who in the City enforces violations of CC&Rs. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that violations of CC&Rs is not in the City’s purview except as it may be under City ordinance. Ms. Frick commented that if the Commission has concerns regarding noise issues, they can impose a condition to that effect.
Chair Olsen asked staff about the proposed recycling area adjacent to the alley. Mr. Lait explained that this is area is a combination recycling/refuse area, approximately 5 feet by 9 feet, as required by the Solid Waste Management Division.
Commissioner Johnson made a motion for approval with staff findings and conditions and the following additional conditions:
(1) that the CC&Rs prohibit furniture on the deck.
(2) that the Developer shall prepare a notice, subject to the review by the Director of Planning and Community Development, that lists all construction mitigation requirements, permitted hours of construction, and identifies a contact person at City Hall as well as the developer who will respond to complaints related to the proposed construction. The notice shall be mailed to property owners and residents within a 200-foot radius from the subject site at least five (5) days prior to the start of construction.
(3) that the existing mature rubber trees located adjacent to the northern side yard property line shall be removed and replaced with two other trees that have comparable height and spread (canopy) as the existing. The replacement trees shall be planted subject to the satisfaction of the Architectural Review Board and shall be a species with a shallow, non-spreading root system. The applicant shall provide photographs of the existing trees to the Board for their review and consideration.
(4) that each side yard adjacent to the subject building shall include landscaping that serves to buffer noise and enhance the privacy between the adjoining neighbors. Landscaping shall extend to the height of the second floor level of the subject building.
Commissioner Dad seconded the motion.
Commissioner Loui asked if the condition regarding landscaping was redundant as it is already required by the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Lait stated that the condition would be in addition to required landscaping and that visible barriers are not required. Mr. Lait also stated that the North of Wilshire standards require two 24-inch box trees in the frontyard setback.
Commissioner Clarke asked Commissioner Johnson about his condition regarding roof deck furniture. Commissioner Johnson explained that if it is not cited in the CC&Rs, it will not be clear to clear to the owners and tenants. He also explained how roof decks with furniture can become a nuisance to neighbors when used late at night. Therefore, putting the restriction in the CC&Rs give the Home Owners Association the ability to control the situation. Ms. Frick recommended that the condition be put in both the CC&Rs and as a condition of approval.
Commissioner Loui expressed concern regarding the proposed condition on roof deck furniture.
The motion was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Brown, Clarke, Dad, Johnson, Loui, Moyle, Olsen.
[The Commission took a break from 8:35 p.m. to 8:55 p.m.]
A. Planning Commission Caselist
C. Projects List (G)
8. FUTURE COMMISSION AGENDA ITEMS
Chair Olsen requested a future discussion on the level of inclusion in environmental impact reports (EIRs).
Commissioner Johnson requested a future discussion on changing development standards for “lot combos.”
9. PUBLIC INPUT: None.
10. ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 10:34 p.m.
APPROVED: FEBRUARY 7, 2001