M I N U T E S
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA
WEDNESDAY, March 6, 2002
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
ROOM 213, CITY HALL
1. CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order at 6:53 p.m.
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum led the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. ROLL CALL: Present: Darrell Clarke
Julie Lopez Dad
Jay P. Johnson
Kelly Olsen, Chairperson
Absent: Barbara Brown
Also Present: Kyle Ferstead, Commission Secretary
Suzanne Frick, Director of Planning / PCD
Jonathan Lait, AICP, Acting Senior Planner
Barry Rosenbaum, Senior Land Use Attorney
Amanda Schachter, Principal Planner
4. PLANNING DIRECTOR'S REPORT:
Ms. Frick gave the Director’s Report. She reported that there has been two City Council meetings since the Commission last met. On February 26, 2002, the City Council approved the two North Main Street projects and reviewed the PCD Priorities list. The City Council asked that the Commission flush out its issues as regards a City Alcohol Policy without budgeting Planning Staff time. On March 5, 2002, the City Council reviewed the interim ordinance extension of multi-family residential development standards, and directed staff to return with a revised ordinance that excludes the rear alley from setback and density calculations. At the next City Council meeting, Planning related issues include a presentation on the Downtown Parking Task Force and the Landmarks appeal for the Civic Auditorium.
Commissioner Johnson asked Ms. Frick if his understanding was correct that the Commission is expected to create alcohol policy development standards. Ms. Frick stated that it is her understanding that the Commission is to develop conditions of approval to attach to alcohol Conditional Use Permits (CUP). Commissioner Johnson asked if this needs to be agendized and discussed and for staff to provide a timeline. Ms. Frick stated that the issue can be agendized or the Commission can handle alcohol CUPs case-by-case. She stated it would be better to create a comprehensive strategy and recommended the Commission agendize a discussion on types of alcohol conditions. Chair Olsen commented that some conditions may require ordinance changes.
Commissioner Hopkins announced that she has received correspondence from both Stephanie Barbannel and Anita Holcomb regarding alcohol policy issues and that they are preparing a document for the Commission.
5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Commissioner Moyle made a motion to approve the minutes for January 9, 2002, January 23, 2002, and February 6, 2002, as submitted. Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote.
6. STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL ACTION: Consent Calendar
6-A Conditional Use Permit 01-011, 3202 Wilshire Boulevard
Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the Statement of Official Action for 3202 Wilshire Boulevard. Commissioner Dad seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote. Commissioner Moyle abstained.
6-B. Development Review Permit 01-009, Conditional Use Permit 01-014, and Variance 01-017, 1438 Second Street.
Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the Statement of Official Action for 1438 Second Street. Commissioner Moyle seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote.
6-C. Development Review Permit 01-006, 1930 Stewart Street.
Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the Statement of Official Action for 1930 Stewart Street. Commissioner Dad seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote. Commissioner Moyle abstained.
7. PUBLIC HEARING:
Prior to the staff report, the Commission made their ex parte communication disclosures for this appeal. There were no disclosures made.
Acting Senior Planner Jonathan Lait gave the staff report.
Following the staff report, the Commission asked questions of staff. Commissioner Johnson asked staff about the “below grade” garage. Mr. Lait explained that a concern previously raised by the neighbors had to do with the garage doors facing Grant Street. In the previous redesign, the garage entry was lowered approximately six to twelve inches to reduce the massing effect on Grant Street.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff about the 24-inch block wall running the entire exterior perimeter of the property. Mr. Lait stated that the Architectural Review Board (ARB) had not identified the wall as a problem during their review of this project design.
Commissioner Johnson commented on the “montage” page in the packet which shows a slope for the site and also about the front entry on the gray overlay sheet. Mr. Lait explained the placement of the garage on Grant Street and the use of mahogany siding.
Commissioner Johnson expressed concern about the proposed curb cut. Mr. Lait stated that this has been discussed and approved by Transportation Planning.
Commissioner Hopkins asked if there is any prohibition in the Sustainable Cities Guidelines regarding the use of mahogany siding, which is an endangered hardwood. Mr. Lait stated he is unaware of any prohibition and suggested this question be directed to the applicant.
Chair Olsen interrupted the line of questions to asked counsel if this is de novo hearing. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum answered in the affirmative. Chair Olsen affirmed that this hearing may deal with more than the specifics of the appeal.
Commissioner Hopkins commented that the people seem to be out of scale in the “montage” drawing. Mr. Lait stated that direction was given to the applicant regarding format for the submission. Commissioner Hopkins explained the importance of proper scale in presentation materials so that the Commission can more easily made a determination.
Commissioner Clarke commented on the elevations on sheet A-7 of the drawings and stated his belief that the notations are reversed. Mr. Lait stated that the assumption is correct.
Commissioner Clarke asked staff for the setback to the mahogany wall. Mr. Lait stated that the setback is four-feet.
Commissioner Clarke asked for an explanation of the roof pitch. Mr. Lait explained what is permitted and how this design fits these perameters.
Commissioner Dad asked staff if the mahogany panel encroaches into the required setback. Mr. Lait answered in the negative. He stated that the colors and materials boards are available for the Commission’s review.
The appellant, Jacob Samuel, was present to discuss the appeal.
Commissioner Hopkins asked Mr. Samuel to comment on the parking problem on Grant Street, which is only 40-feet wide. Mr. Samuel stated that two cars cannot pass when there are cars parked on both sides of the street.
Commissioner Hopkins commented on Mr. Samuel’s testimony regarding the courtesies extended the adjacent neighbors. Mr. Samuel stated that he and his neighbors have a “friendly-fence” relationship, that they make each other aware when they have parties, and that two of his neighbors coordinated the colors of their homes before painting them.
Commissioner Johnson noted there is a proposed lap pool, which is to be located on the property line. Mr. Samuel expressed surprise that the lap pool was still part of the project as he had understood that it was a “dead issue.”
The applicant’s team, Peter Mullins (property owner) and Michael Folonis (project architect) were present to discuss their project.
Commissioner Clarke asked for the height of the eastern garage sidewall. Mr. Folonis stated that there is a parapet which is four feet in height and that the garage is only 360 square feet of the total project square footage. Commissioner Clarke asked for the height from the grade to the roof. Mr. Folonis sated that the height is a total of twelve feet. Commissioner Clarke thanked Mr. Folonis for the photographs and asked where Grant Street is shown. Mr. Folonis stated that there are no photographs of Grant Street.
Commissioner Johnson commented that the staff report states that the Ocean Park Community Organization (OPCO) supported the variance, but not the design of the project. Mr. Folonis deferred to the representative from OPCO, Mr. Laudati.
Commissioner Johnson commented that the corner design has been addressed, however the Grant Street elevation needs to be broken-up and softened. Mr. Folonis stated that the garage has been shifted as far off the street as possible, per Sheet A-1. He further stated that the wall has been angled to relieve the Grant Street elevation. He referred to Sheet A-3, which shows a flat area over the garage, which is setback 15 feet from the property line. Other design changes include that glass has been placed high up in the design for light and privacy of both the property owner and neighbors and the first floor bedroom has been made more friendly and open.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the mahogany piece is an architectural or design element. Mr. Folonis commented that the mahogany is waterproof.
Commissioner Johnson asked about setbacks and parking. Mr. Folonis stated that while the curb cut will reduce the number of parking spaces on Grant Street, it will provide two covered parking spaces on-site for the applicant.
Commissioner Johnson commented on compatibility with the adjacent dwellings, which are bungalows, with 2021 Sixth Street being a two-story home. He noted that the proposed design is very modern and three stories tall. Mr. Folonis stated that his client requested a contemporary design for his home.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the Ocean Park Design Guidelines. Mr. Folonis stated that beyond the immediate neighboring properties there are contemporary designed remodels.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the two foot high block wall in the frontyard setback and if there will be a hedge in the setback. Mr. Folonis explained that the reason for the short wall is the slope in the frontyard. He stated that no hedge is proposed. Commissioner Johnson commented that he prefers an unencumbered frontyard.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about landscaping around the lap pool while expressing concern about noise. Mr. Folonis stated that an acoustical engineer was hired and has recommended a solid block wall between the neighboring properties to contain the noise from the lap pool. He further stated that the placement of mechanical equipment has not been determined.
Commissioner Hopkins commented that walls are very sound reflective. Mr. Folonis stated that the walls should contain the noise, with bounced noised being caught by the eaves of the dwelling.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about the “turtle shell” enclosure on the roof. Mr. Folonis stated that this is a pitched roof and was larger prior to ARB approval. He directed her attention to Sheet A-4.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about the steel construction materials and if they would have a “mercoat” material. Mr. Folonis stated that the interior steel can take color. Commissioner Hopkins asked about the color of the roof. Mr. Folonis stated it would be white with a matte finish.
Commissioner Hopkins asked Mr. Folonis to describe the shape of the building design and how it could be interpreted as “international” style. Mr. Folonis commented that he does restoration work as well as new building design. He stated that in the early 1940s, Schindler, a famous architect who helped create the International Style, designed pitched roofs in combination with flat roofs. He further stated that there is no “hard and fast” rules for International Style.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about the use of mahogany in the project design. Mr. Folonis stated that he has used this material before and that he will not use the endangered Philippine mahogany. He also stated that he is using it to soften the building design. Commissioner Hopkins commented on “sustainable harvesting” of hardwoods and expressed concern about the condition of wood on buildings after a few years. Mr. Folonis stated that most wood needs yearly oiling, except for cedar wood which naturally turns gray over time.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about window treatments. Mr. Folonis commented that the ARB had expressed concern about the windows which led to the use of obscure glass on shoji screens.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about air conditioning for the project. Mr. Folonis stated there will be a HVAC system for heating only and windows will be openable.
Commissioner Hopkins asked about mechanical units. Mr. Folonis stated that the mechanical unit will be in the garage.
Commissioner Clarke asked Mr. Folonis if there has been discussion with the Grant Street neighbor about the proposed wall between the properties. Mr. Folonis stated that the block wall will be landscaped.
The following members of the public addressed the Commission regarding the appeal: Kay Pattison, Caitlin Blue, Lynne Brodhead, Maril Bitler, George Centano, Rick Laudati (for Ocean Park Community Organization), and Stephan Mundwiler.
Mr. Folonis responded to comments made by the members of the public on behalf of the applicant.
Commissioner Moyle commented that this project has been in progress for 4 years and 7 months. She asked the applicant for his line of work. Mr. Mullins stated that he is a realtor in Ocean Park for over 13 years. Commissioner Moyle commented that she is struck by the choice of a substandard corner lot for building the applicant’s “dream” house. Mr. Mullins stated that the lot was affordable, that it was his listing and that since it had not been sold, he purchased the property.
The appellant, Mr. Samuel, responded to public comment.
Chair Olsen asked the Commission to ask questions of staff. He also reminded the Commission that while finances are an emotional issue, they are not part of the legal findings the Commission must make. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum cited for the record SMMC Section 9.32.140, ARB criteria.
Commissioner Clarke asked staff about the roof pitch. Mr. Lait explained the code allowable minimum pitch height which does not preclude a greater pitch than 1 to 3.
Commissioner Clarke asked staff about the permitted lot coverage and what is permitted for this parcel. Mr. Lait explained that 50% lot coverage is permitted and this plan covers 49% of the lot. Commissioner Clarke asked if the lot coverage includes the “overhangs.” Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Moyle asked staff about the approved variance for the property. Mr. Lait stated that the variances are for the front and rear yard setbacks.
Commissioner Moyle asked about the public notification for the variance. Mr. Lait stated that Zoning Administrator hearings require a 300-foot radius mailing. Commissioner Moyle asked if notice is given each time the project is heard before the Zoning Administrator. Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Moyle asked if a project is granted a variance can it go straight to ARB for review. Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Moyle asked staff if the design conforms to the criteria for the district. Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Moyle asked if the ARB found this design to be compatible with the neighborhood. Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Dad asked staff about the variance for the property as regarding building spacing in the OP district and if the approval was justified. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum cautioned the Commission that the variance is not before the Commission as it has already been approved.
Commissioner Moyle asked staff about Sheet A-7, specifically which elevation would be viewed from Grant Street. Mr. Lait stated that the top view is the west elevation.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff about the nature of the frontyard variance. Mr. Lait directed the Commission’s attention to Sheet A-2 and A-3, which show the first and second floor plans. Mr. Lait explained the required setbacks and setbacks permitted with the approved variance.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff if the ARB discussed the removal of the roof element or only the reduction of the roof element. Mr. Lait stated that he did not recall this issue being raised by the Board, but rather the Board’s concern regarding the transition between the structure and the neighboring properties.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff how the space beneath the roof element is to be utilized. Mr. Lait stated that the area is a mezzanine and stairwell per Sheet A-5.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff for the height differential between Mr. Samuel’s home and the new structure. Mr. Lait stated there is an approximately 12-foot difference between the two building heights per Sheet A-8.
Chair Olsen asked staff if the required frontyard setback is 20-feet. Mr. Lait answered in the affirmative and stated that the variance permits a 17-foot, 1-inch setback.
Commissioner Hopkins asked staff about Sheet A-3, the second floor plan. She asked why the dining room is so far away from the kitchen and why the large pantry has a door to the roof and if there is a roof deck proposed. Mr. Lait explained that the “door” is actually a window and stated that there is a condition that the roof area not be used as a deck.
Commissioner Hopkins expressed concern about the use of the roof for a roof deck. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that there is a revocation process should the applicant violate the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Hopkins expressed concern regarding the 4-foot wall, which she felt was unnecessary if the windows have obscure glazing. She also expressed concern regarding the potential for a roof deck off the mezzanine when viewing the plans on Sheet A-4. Mr. Lait stated that it may not be clear on the plans, but there is a height difference between the levels of the roof.
Commissioner Hopkins commented on Sheet A-5, specifically that she does not see a full roof plan. She also commented on a concrete block wall next to the chimney flue. Mr. Lait directed the Commission’s attention to Sheet A-6, which shows a plaster wall adjacent to the chimney and to Sheet A-7, which is a section drawing showing the chimney height.
Commissioner Hopkins continued to express concern regarding the potential for roof decks. Mr. Lait cited SMMC Section 9.04.10.020.010, roof decks in the OP-Districts, which requires handrailings to be setback a minimum of 3-feet from the edge of the building at the side and rear yards.
Commissioner Hopkins asked staff if the removal of the 4-foot block wall beyond the eastside garage on the south elevation (Sheet A-6) would be a problem. Mr. Lait answered in the negative.
Commissioner Hopkins asked staff for the clear height of the mezzanine as shown on Sheet A-7, Section 1. Mr. Lait stated explained the clearance level.
Commissioner Clarke asked staff to explain the building height in relation to SMMC Section 9.04.08.50.060(a)(3), property development standards. Mr. Lait explained that the proposed project does meet the standards.
Chair Olsen stated there has been a request for a break. The Commission took a break from 10:10 p.m. to 10:40 p.m.
Chair Olsen reconvened the meeting. He asked staff for a confirmation that his interpretation of the roof deck code section was to protect the privacy of neighbors and is calculated from the building at the roof deck level not at the stepback level. Ms. Frick agreed that Chair Olsen’s interpretation was correct.
Chair Olsen closed the public hearing. He reminded the Commission to focus on the project.
Commissioner Johnson commented that he has five design change recommendations, if the project is to receive his vote and move forward.
Commissioner Moyle expressed her problem with the design scale and compatibility with the neighborhood. She commented that she understands the architect’s need to experiment with the International Style, however the location of the proposed project is not suitable for the proposed size of the development. She stated that she could not make the necessary findings cited in the staff report, nor can a redesign of the project change her decision. She stated that ultimately the footprint of the building is out of scale for the lot.
Commissioner Dad stated that she could not make the findings unless they are in the negative. She cited incompatibility with the neighborhood, not meeting the design criteria for the district and that the project generally does not “fit” the neighborhood.
Commissioner Clarke expressed agreement with Commissioners Dad and Moyle, especially as regards scale for the neighborhood. He expressed his dislike of the blank walls on Grant Street and the choice of shades of gray as well as the lack of elevations or photographs of Grant Street. He also disliked the pitch of the roof. Commissioner Clarke further stated that the proposed smooth gray stucco finish over concrete block walls is not compatible with neighboring properties and the roof configuration does not serve the intent of the International Style.
Commissioner Johnson expressed agreement with the other Commissioner’s comments. He questioned how this design could be changed to suit the neighborhood. He suggested that a façade change to the Grant Street elevation was needed. He stated that the Commission’s goal is to approve the best project possible for the site, as was done for the Hollister Avenue projects, and that this project should return for redesign.
Commissioner Moyle made a motion to uphold the appeal and reject the approved design without prejudice.
Commissioner Dad seconded the motion.
The Commission discussed upholding the appeal versus continuing the project for redesign. Commissioner Moyle pointed out that the project has already gone through several redesigns and was approved by the ARB.
Ms. Frick reminded the Commission that they have choices with this appeal: they can deny without prejudice, which permits the applicant to reapply with a new design and return to the ARB for review; or not accept the current design, continue the project for redesign, and allow it to return to the Commission. When the redesigned project returns, the Commission can always choose to either approve or deny the project design.
Commissioner Moyle stated that se definitely wants the project to return to the Commission, rather than the ARB, for further review. She stated that the Commission can not deny an applicant their right to develop their property, however they can determine the compatibility. She further stated that this has been a lesson for neighbors to pay attention to variance notices, especially when they are heard twice. She commented that she wants to send a clear message to the applicant that design and compatibility are important.
Chair Olsen commented on his trouble with the Zoning Administrator criteria. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum reminded the Chair that only design compatibility is at issue here.
There was further discussion on the pros and cons of continuing the project versus denying the project and upholding the appeal.
Commissioner Moyle was asked if she would like to change her motion to a continuance of the project for redesign. She stated that she would like to do so.
Chair Olsen asked staff to re-explained the options. Ms. Frick stated that if the project is denied without prejudice, then the applicant can reapply within one year; however, it would then return to the ARB for review.
Commissioner Dad stated a preference for denying the project rather than continuing for redesign. She commented that, in her opinion, the current design is not close enough for her to make findings. She stated that a continuance would imply that the Commission is somewhat satisfied with the project and she feels that is not the case.
Commissioner Moyle withdrew her original motion.
Chair Olsen asked if a revised project returns to the ARB can it be appealed again to the Commission. Ms. Frick answered in the affirmative, however this places the burden on the residents to appeal a new ARB decision and if a Commissioner is the appellant, then that Commissioner may not participate as a Commissioner in the appeal hearing for the subject property.
Commissioner Clarke commented that the applicant is now aware of the Commission’s feelings on this design and stated his expectation that the applicant and appellant will now discuss options, a new design will be made and it will return to the City for approval.
Commissioner Clarke made a motion to continue the project for redesign based on the comments made by the Commission.
Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion.
The Commission was in agreement that the redesigned project would return to the Commission for further review.
Commissioner Dad stated she could not support the motion because the project does not fit with the neighborhood and prolongs the agony of the applicant.
Commissioner Hopkins stated she would not support the motion.
Chair Olsen asked staff if more direction is needed from the Commission. Ms. Frick stated that the Commission has articulated that they do not support the current design and that a significant change is needed.
Chair Olsen stated that when the project returns, the applicant needs to supply architectural renderings of the project and that “tricks with perspective” should not be used. He commented on the nearness of the neighbors and stated that he can not support projects that do not meet sideyard setback requirements.
The motion to continue the project for redesign was technically denied by the following vote:
AYES: Clarke, Johnson, Moyle; NOES: Dad, Hopkins, Olsen; ABSENT: Brown.
Chair Olsen explained that this is a technical denial and therefore would not be continued for redesign unless a vote was changed. He changed his vote to an affirmative, thereby allowing the motion to continue to be approved.
Commissioner Hopkins asked if she could add additional guidance to the applicant. Chair Olsen responded that guidance had been given and that Commissioner Hopkins had voted against the motion to continue. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the vote has been cast and the matter is settled unless Commissioner Hopkins would like to clarify her negative vote.
Commissioner Hopkins made a series of personal comments regarding the project. She expressed concern with the relationship of the project to the street, especially the opaque windows; concern with proposed materials, especially the use of mahogany; she requested that the design conform to Sustainability Guidelines used by the City; that material upkeep be mitigated; that the neighborhood accept the project; that scale, colors and materials be compatible with the neighborhood; that barriers between the properties be less fortress-like; and that an engineering report for sound be done for the proposed lap pool.
Commissioner Moyle asked that the record reflect that the aforementioned comments are Commissioner Hopkins personal desires and that she voted against the redesign of the project. Commissioner Moyle also stated for the record that she does not share Commissioner Hopkins’ views on this project and that her comments are inappropriate since she voted against the motion.
ACTION: CONTINUED FOR REDESIGN.
8. DISCUSSION: Continued from February 20, 2002 Agenda
8-A. Appointment to Third Street Promenade Retail Moratorium Task Force.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-B. Request to address issue of information provided to Planning Commission by staff and request for staff to include all pertinent facts in future staff reports. Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail on September 27, 2001.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-C. Request to hear from staff about process and interaction between Planning Department and Business License Department. Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail on September 27, 2001.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-D. Request to discuss asking the City Council to direct staff to revert to the past standard practice of airing the entire Planning Commission meeting on CityTV and to replay the meetings during the week. Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail October 23, 2001.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-E. Request for Zoning Administrator Interpretations of Section 9.04.18.040 and Section 9.04.20.020 of the Santa Monica Zoning Ordinance (Santa Monica Municipal Code). Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail on December 13, 2001.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-F. Request to initiate Permit Revocation process for Cellular Fantasy located at 2600 Wilshire Boulevard based on signage violations. Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail on January 8, 2002.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-G. Request to ask the City Council to revert to the previous method of receiving communication and presentations from Boards and Commissions. Requested by Chair Olsen via e-mail on January 9, 2002.
ACTION: CONTINUED TO MARCH 27, 2002.
8-H. Set Hearing Date for Appeal 02-001 of ARB 01-156, 1401 Third Street Promenade
ACTION: HEARING DATE SET FOR MAY 1, 2002.
8-I. Set Hearing Date for Appeal 02-002 of ARB 01-363, 1901 Main Street
ACTION: HEARING DATE SET FOR MAY 1, 2002.
9. FUTURE COMMISSION AGENDA ITEMS: None.
A. Planning Commission Caselist
B. Projects List
11. PUBLIC INPUT:
Mr. Chuck Allord addressed the Commission regarding the use of M-1 District properties, specifically a project at the corner of Colorado Avenue and Tenth Street.
12. ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 12:03 a.m. on Thursday, March 7, 2002.