M I N U T E S
REGULAR MEETING OF THE
OF THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA
WEDNESDAY, December 4, 2002
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
ROOM 213, CITY HALL
1. CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order at 7:19 p.m.
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: Commissioner Olsen led the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. ROLL CALL: Present: Barbara Brown
Jay P. Johnson
Absent: Arlene Hopkins
Also Present: Laura Beck, AICP, Associate Planner
Kimberly Christensen, AICP, Senior Planner
Patrick Clarke, Associate Planner
Kyle Ferstead, Commission Secretary
Paul Foley, Senior Planner
Suzanne Frick, Director of Planning / PCD
Sarah Lejeune, Associate Planner
Kevin McKeown, City Council Liaison
Barry Rosenbaum, Senior Land Use Attorney
Amanda Schachter, Principal Planner
Jay M. Trevino, AICP, Planning Manager
4. PLANNING DIRECTOR'S REPORT:
Ms. Frick gave the Director’s Report. She reported that on November 26, 2002, the City Council heard the Twenty-Eighth Street condominium appeal, which they approved as amended. Also approved on November 26, were the Historic Preservation Element and an extension of the interim ordinance regarding conversion of restaurant to retail space on the Third Street Promenade. She also reported that the Draft Civic Center Specific Plan has been released and a public hearing will be held on January 21, 2003, at the Civic Auditorium. Copies will be provided to the Commission. Lastly, Ms. Frick reported the Commission is scheduled to meet on the following dates: December 11, December 18, 2002 and January 8, 2003.
Commissioner Johnson asked Ms. Frick to comment on changes made to the courtyard in the Twenty-Eighth Street appeal. Ms. Frick stated that the Council shared the Commission’s concerns regarding pedestrian orientation and lowering the front façade height and the perceived barrier to the courtyard. The fence was eliminated, the stair over the ramp was adjusted, and moving the driveway ramp was moved to the side of the property.
5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
5-A. Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the minutes for November 6, 2002, as submitted. Commissioner Moyle seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote. Commissioner Brown abstained.
6. STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL ACTION:
Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the Statements of Official Action as submitted. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote with Commissioners Brown and Moyle abstaining.
6-A. APPEAL 02-005 of VAR 01-035, 2437 Sixth Street.
6-B. APPEAL 02-013/02-014 of VAR 02-013, 1630 Bryn Mawr Avenue.
6-C. Conditional Use Permit 02-014, 1401 Third Street Promenade.
6-D. Development Review 01-007, Design Compatibility Permit 01-007, Tract Map 01-005, 2512 Twenty-Eighth Street.
7. PUBLIC HEARINGS: Continued from November 6, 2002
7-A. Conditional Use Permit 02-010, 1663 Twentieth Street. Application for a Conditional Use Permit for the outdoor storage of 104 automobiles at the 27,048 square foot parcel located at 1663 Twentieth Street, which is zoned Light Manufacturing and Studio District (LMSD). (Planner: Patrick Clarke) APPLICANT: RTK Architects. PROPERY OWNER: 7R Properties.
Associate Planner Patrick Clarke gave the staff report.
The Commission made their ex parte communication disclosures on this as follows: Commissioners Johnson and Moyle had nothing to disclose. Commissioner Brown and Chair Clarke disclosed that they drive by the site regularly. Commissioner Olsen disclosed that he drove by the site at approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 4, 2002, and observed a fenced lot. He also disclosed that he went to the Wilshire Boulevard automobile dealership connected to this project and took photographs he would share later in the hearing.
Commissioner Brown asked staff for the complaint history on this site. Mr. Clarke stated that there had been complaints regarding the parking of vehicles on the lot.
Commissioner Brown commented on a reference on page five regarding carrier trailer activities and asked how this will help residents if it is not adjacent to a residential district. Mr. Clarke explained the currently vehicles are off-loaded in residential neighborhood adjacent to the car dealerships on Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard and if the application is approved, this activity will move to the commercial area on Twentieth Street.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff to point out where the project site is in relation to Crossroads School. Mr. Clarke used the overhead projected image of the area to point out the two locations. Commissioner Johnson asked if Crossroads had commented on the proposal. Mr. Clarke stated that there has been no communication from Crossroads.
Commissioner Johnson expressed concern about noise from the off-loading activity impacting the school. Mr. Clarke stated that there should be no impact due to the high ambient noise level emanating from traffic on Olympic Boulevard.
Commissioner Olsen commented that two and a half years ago the use was not a permitted use at Twentieth Street and Olympic Boulevard and the non-compliance issue was only recently resolved. He asked staff why this application has changed from a Text Amendment to a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Mr. Clarke explained that the original application was for a Text Amendment and Development Review Permit for a parking structure, not a lot, in October 2001. He further stated that those applications were withdrawn and the new application was filed as a CUP.
Commissioner Olsen asked about permitted automobile related uses in the Light Manufacturing Studio District (LMSD). Mr. Clarke read from the Zoning Ordinance. Planning Manager Jay Trevino stated that Ms. Schachter has checked the permit history for this site and found that a complaint was filed on November 27, 2000, for running a business without a business license and that the initial applications were filed in May 2001. There was also a complaint regarding parking of vehicles, which was resolved in May 2002.
Commissioner Olsen asked how the off-loading of vehicles in this location is beneficial. Mr. Clarke stated that the large carrier trailers are noisy and disturb residents during the off-loading process and proposed location is a non-residential area.
[Commissioner Dad arrived at this point. She had nothing to disclose.]
The applicant’s representative, Don Wheeler of RTK Architects, was present to discuss the project.
Commissioner Moyle asked Mr. Wheeler whom he represents for this application. Mr. Wheeler stated that he represents the property owners who are related to the two dealerships. Commissioner Moyle asked if this proposal will be for the exclusive benefit for the W.I. Simonson and Saab dealerships. Mr. Wheeler answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Johnson asked if the property owners are the same for all three sites. Mr. Wheeler stated he did not know. Ms. Brenda Lehman, general manager for both W.I. Simonson and Saab, explained the ownership relationships.
Commissioner Johnson asked where vehicles are currently off-loaded. Ms. Lehman stated that the current site is at Seventeenth Street and Olympic Boulevard and that there are three separate corporations with the same principles.
Commissioner Brown asked for the monthly sales figures for the two dealerships. Mr. Wheeler stated that the Saab dealership has approximately 65-70 sales monthly and W.I. Simonson has approximately 160-170 sales monthly.
Chair Clarke asked if there are other remote car storage facilities. Ms. Lehman answered in the affirmative. Chair Clarke asked if this location will be an addition or a shifting of uses. Ms. Lehman stated that storage area is being shifted from Seventeenth and Olympic.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the non-payment of business license taxes for the past year. Ms. Lehman stated that this must have been an oversight.
Chair Clarke stated that no requests to speak have been submitted. He closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Olsen commented on the off-loading issue and asked for the required plan approved by Transportation Management for 1700 Wilshire Boulevard. Mr. Trevino stated he would look for that document.
Commissioner Olsen commented that the Seventeenth Street and Olympic Boulevard vehicle storage site is out of this scope of approval. Mr. Clarke stated staff was unaware of this alternate parking location.
Commissioner Olsen asked about Condition #37, which deals with conformance to prior approvals, and the CUP for W. I. Simonson at 1700 Wilshire Boulevard. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum cautioned the Commission on the direction they are heading since the CUP before the Commission is site specific and is not connected with the 1700 Wilshire Boulevard property. Commissioner Olsen respectfully disagreed with counsel. He stated that the proposed project supports the other business and site per statements made by the applicant. He expressed fear that customers will be brought to the off-site lot to test drive vehicles. He also stated that there is a condition for 1700 Wilshire Boulevard which requires that the subterranean parking garage be used for employee and guest parking, not for vehicle display and storage. He stated that he has photographs of violations to that condition for 1700 Wilshire Boulevard. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum cautioned Commissioner Olsen and asked him to cite a nexus for his argument.
Commissioner Moyle asked who will be the holder of this CUP, which corporation, and who is accountable for the business at 1700 Wilshire Boulevard. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the corporation of record is the responsible party, however the record shows that there are separate legal entities involved with the various sites.
Commissioner Moyle commented on the evidence given by Commissioner Olsen and stated that the CUP before the Commission is not connected to the 1700 Wilshire Boulevard CUP. She stated that this case must be judged on the merits of what has been presented at this hearing.
Commissioner Moyle made a motion for approval of the project.
Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion.
Commissioner Olsen asked the City Attorney and Commissioner Moyle if a new entity comes in and takes over the business is the CUP void. Commissioner Moyle stated that CUPs run with the land, not the business or property owner, therefore the CUP would remain in tact and constant. She further stated that the CUP holder at 1700 Wilshire Boulevard is a separate corporate entity from the applicant for this site.
Commissioner Dad commented that she understood the argument being made by Commissioner Moyle. She stated that the site in question is not adjacent to either dealership being discussed by Commissioner Olsen, however she also expressed concern regarding the multiple corporate entities which appear to undercut accountability.
Commissioner Johnson stated that he is comfortable with the storage area design. He commented that the issue seems to be how to apply the concepts of compliance. He also commented that the Simonson dealership has a good reputation and track record with the City. He stated that the proposal will improve the site. He also stated that the violations noted should be investigated, but not as part of this application process. He concluded by saying this is a small project and there is no logical reason to deny it.
Chair Clarke expressed agreement with Commissioner Johnson. He stated that Olympic Boulevard is an expressway and the vehicle storage lot is a good use for the site. He also stated that the required landscaping will be better than what is currently on the site and that it is good that a stable business can expand within the City limits.
Commissioner Brown stated that all the comments by the Commission have been good and thoughtful. She expressed concern with the revelation of parking violations and complaints, especially that the lot was being used for vehicle storage without City permits for two years prior to the application for the CUP.
Commissioner Olsen stated that the proposed use is appropriate for the site. He also stated he is not trying to stop the expansion, but is trying to stop the two and a half years the applicant has been flaunting the law. He stated that it is especially egregious that the applicant is an architect and City Councilmember.
Commissioner Dad commented that she had no problems with the application until she heard of the violations. She stated that these issues need addressing and she may vote against the motion.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff for the City record on this property. Mr. Trevino stated that the City records indicate that the CUP application for Development Review Permit and Text Amendment was filed in November 2000 for parking on the site. However staff deemed this an inappropriate application and had the applicant refile a CUP application approximately six months after the initial application.
Commissioner Dad asked if the Text Amendment application was to legalize after the fact. Mr. Trevino stated that the original application was for a parking structure, not a surface parking lot, and that the revised use is permitted in that district. He further stated that the complaint went to the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution and the vehicles were removed from the lot on May 28, 2002.
Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum clarified the record by saying that Condition #37 does allow the Commission to “not approve” the expansion of property, however the property for this application is not connected with any other CUPs or properties.
Commissioner Dad asked when the current application was filed. Mr. Clarke stated that the application was filed on April 16, 2002.
Commissioner Moyle asked staff if the CUP for 1700 Wilshire Boulevard was not for an expansion of an auto dealership. Senior Planner Paul Foley stated that there is only one CUP for 1700 Wilshire Boulevard and that it is for the used car dealership.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff if a substitute motion is made, can that motion include conditions to cover the other parcels (W.I. Simonson and the Saab dealerships) as regards compliance issues. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that this can only be done if a nexus between the conditions at the other parcels can be made.
Commissioner Dad stated that her problem is that the site has violations and these were not remedied until the second CUP application was filed.
Chair Clarke asked staff if a denial based on a violation condition is legally supportable. Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that, in his opinion, it would be problematic as the site in question has no existing permits or conditions of approval.
Commissioner Olsen expressed concern that if this application is approved, people will come to the lot for test drives and there is no customer parking on-site. He also expressed concern that this will affect the neighborhood. He stated it would be prudent to ask staff if there is a link between the storage of vehicles and parking of customer vehicles at 1700 Wilshire Boulevard in the subterranean garage. He stated that if 1700 Wilshire Boulevard “is all clean” then this project can proceed.
Commissioner Johnson attempted a substitute motion, then withdrew it.
Commissioner Olsen made a motion to continue this item pending staff investigation for compliance at the following locations: Olympic Boulevard and Twentieth Street, the Saab dealership, and W.I. Simonson at 1700 Wilshire Boulevard.
Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion.
Ms. Frick stated that the date certain should be February 19, 2003.
Chair Clarke stated he would vote against the substitute motion.
The substitute motion to continue the hearing was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Brown, Dad, Johnson, Moyle, Olsen; NOES: Clarke; ABSENT: Hopkins.
[The Commission took a break from 9:03 p.m. to 9:26 p.m. Following the break, the Commission dealt with some procedural matters. Commissioner Moyle asked that Item 9G be moved to the top of the discussion list, followed by 9-C and 9-G. Commissioner Olsen made a motion to continue Item 7-C to December 11, 2002. Chair Clarke seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote.]
7-B. Text Amendment 02-003, Proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment to the Light Manufacturing Studio District (LMSD) to allow Automobile Rental Agencies Which are Accessory to Existing Automobile Repair Facilities. Amendment of Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC) Section 9.04.08.35.020(a) regarding uses permitted within the Light Manufacturing Studio LMSD). The applicant has requested that an amendment be made to allow the establishment of an automobile rental agency in the LMSD Light Manufacturing Studio District by adding it to the list of permitted uses in Section 9.04.08.35.020. This would be accomplished by adding a new Section 9.04.08.35.020(a) (2) “Automobile rental agencies when accessory to a permitted automobile repair facility” and renumbering Sections 9.04.08.35.020(a)(2) through 9.04.08.35.020(a)(18). Automobile rental agencies are currently not permitted in the LMSD zoning district. (Planner: Laura Beck, AICP) Applicant: Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Associate Planner Laura Beck gave the Staff Report.
Commissioner Moyle asked if the business was in violation prior to the application for the Text Amendment. Ms. Beck responded that the business license for this use was denied prior to the application for the Text Amendment.
Commissioner Moyle commented that this is the same applicant who applied for a Text Amendment at the M3 Collision business on Colorado Avenue. Ms. Beck confirmed this comment.
Commissioner Moyle asked if it is true that a citation was issued in February 2002 regarding this use and it has gone to court. Ms. Beck answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Moyle asked if it is also true that the arraignment was continued to 2003 pending the outcome of this proceeding. Ms. Beck answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff how many auto repair facilities exist in the Light Manufacturing Studio District (LMSD). Ms. Beck stated that are ten such establishments.
The applicant’s representative, attorney Christopher Harding of the Law Offices of Harding, Larmore, Kutcher and Kozal, was present to discuss the application. Also presented was Damon Haver of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Commissioner Olsen asked Mr. Haver how many locations he operates in Santa Monica. Mr. Haver stated that he has three locations: Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard, Seventeenth Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, and the 2700 block of Lincoln Boulevard.
Commissioner Olsen asked how many locations he operates without business licenses. Mr. Harding stated that there is a lawsuit pending for this operator, but it is not relevant for this proceeding. Commissioner Olsen asked if the location mentioned would be Eleventh Street and Colorado Avenue. Mr. Harding answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Olsen asked if there is a current operation at the Hornburg dealership on Olympic Boulevard. Mr. Harding stated he would stipulate to that.
Commissioner Olsen asked if it is correct that there are no business licenses for the Colorado Avenue and Olympic Boulevard locations. Mr. Harding stated his opinion that the City wrongly denied the business licenses for those two locations, however this is not the forum in which to discuss that matter.
Commissioner Olsen asked how many rental vehicles are on the Hornburg site. Mr. Haver stated that the number vehicles depends on the daily demand, but on average the number is not more than five vehicles. He further stated that the fleet average is fifty vehicles. Commissioner Olsen commented that the woman he spoke to at the site stated there are sixty vehicles on-site.
The following members of the public addressed the Commission regarding the application: Mike Sullivan, David Ponn, and Art Harris.
Mr. Harding responded to the public comment.
Chair Clarke asked if the vehicles rented from Hornburg are actually owned and serviced by Enterprise. Mr. Harding stated that the point is that there is no independent car rental and the purpose of the Text Amendment is to clarify the code as to use.
Commissioner Johnson asked about the distinction between automobile dealerships and auto repair facilities. He also asked how many auto dealerships there are in the LMSD. Mr. Mark Harding stated that there is only one auto dealership in the LMSD. He also stated that most automobile dealerships utilize rental agencies for their clients.
Chair Clarke closed the public hearing.
Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum commented on the legal argument presented by Mr. Chris Harding. He stated that the suit is based on the use. He stated that staff is dealing with the difference between loaning vehicles and independent rental of vehicles. He further stated that it is legitimate to be concerned about independent rental agencies. He concluded that the Commission is not obligated to approve the Text Amendment.
Chair Clarke asked if an automobile repair facility in the LMSD, with an approved business license, can loan a car to a client while their vehicle is being repaired? And can that loan car not be owned by the repair facility. Ms. Frick stated it would depend if the repair facility was connected to an automobile dealership. She further stated that the City does not want to decide who rents vehicles. The Text Amendment establishes a separate use on a given site that already does automobile repairs. Ms. Frick stated that Enterprise Rent-A-Car generally is open to the public to rent vehicles and it is possible such an arrangement could expand beyond the automobile repair loaner use, which would be problematic. Such an expansion may necessitate additional employees, parking requirements and shuttling between sites.
Commissioner Johnson asked if there is any division in staff’s mind between this proposed use in the LMSD or the M-1 District. Mr. Trevino and Ms. Frick stated that the two districts are viewed in the same way as regards enforcement issues and impact of uses.
Commissioner Olsen made a motion to adopt the staff recommendation to deny the Text Amendment. Commissioner Moyle seconded the motion.
Commissioner Olsen stated that there is a model in place and he has no confidence that the applicant will comply. He stated that the current Hornburg site does not have sufficient parking and he has observed vehicles being parked in driveways and handicapped spots. He concluded by saying that this proposed use does not work.
Commissioner Dad expressed agreement with Commissioner Olsen regarding the Hornburg site. She stated that a Text Amendment is different from an application for a specific location. She expressed the opinion that while it does make generic sense to have loaner vehicles on-site at automobile repair facilities as it reduces vehicle trips. However, the issue also raises circulation issues. She suggested that the Text Amendment should specifically prohibit rentals to non-automobile repair facility customers. She expressed appreciation for the information provided by staff on this application and that generically, it makes sense to have rental vehicles available at automobile repair facilities. She stated she will vote against the motion.
Chair Clarke expressed general agreement with Commissioner Dad. He stated that the objective of the Text Amendment is to provide rental vehicles “without all the work.”
Commissioner Moyle suggested that the provision for rental vehicles at automobile repair facilities will not necessarily delete an extra vehicle trip. She stated that the Commission made the appropriate response on the Text Amendment application in the M-1 District and this is the same situation. She also stated that the discussion has been very thorough and she is not prepared to vote against the motion.
Commissioner Johnson expressed his support for the motion. He stated that the proposal will not reduce vehicle trips and does not enhance the purpose of the LMSD.
The motion to deny the Text Amendment was approved by the following vote:
AYES: Brown, Johnson, Moyle, Olsen; NOES: Clarke, Dad; ABSENT: Hopkins.
[Commissioner Brown left the meeting at 10:55 p.m.]
ACTION: Continued to December 11, 2002.
8. PUBLIC HEARING: Continued
8-A. Development Review Permit Application 02-011, 808 Wilshire Boulevard. Request to modify the conditions of approval for Development Review Permit #467 to eliminate the requirement for an on-site gas station, permit the conversion of three auto repair bays located in the subterranean garage to parking, and modify the condition that 50% of the ground floor uses be pedestrian oriented. [Planner: Gina Szilak] APPLICANT: Douglas Emmett & Company. PROPERTY OWNER: Douglas Emmett Realty Fund 1997.
9. DISCUSSION: Public Input Permitted
9-A. Request of Commissioners Johnson and Olsen for the Commission to discuss and adopt a policy of prohibiting ex parte meetings and other forms of lobbying Commissioners by interested parties outside of public view for quasi-judicial items that appear before the Commission, to establish rules and procedures for the transmittal of written materials and e-mails from interested parties regarding quasi-judicial items and give direction to staff to prepare language to amend the Commission rules to carry out these policies. Requested via e-mail on August 27, 2002. [Continued from October 9, 2002, November 6 and November 20, 2002.]
ACTION: Continued to December 11, 2002.
9-B. Discussion on appropriate scope, areas and subjects of analysis to be undertaking by the Master Environmental Assessment (MEA). Requested by Commissioner Hopkins via e-mail on October 10, 2002. [Continued from November 6 and November 20, 2002.]
ACTION: Continued to December 11, 2002.
9-C. Discuss permit process, appeals, and how administrative decisions are made and/or corrected, specifically in regard to possible martial arts school at 2901 Ocean Park Boulevard (C-2 District). Requested by Commissioner Dad via e-mail on November 14, 2002.
[Note: This item was heard out of order, following item 9-G.]
Commissioner Dad outlined her understanding of the situation that arose regarding 2901 Ocean Park Boulevard. She stated that there was an application for a business license for a Martial Arts Studio at 2901 Ocean Park Boulevard, which was approved by staff. When the applicant applied for a tenant improvement building permit, it was denied verbally so no appeal was possible. Commissioner Dad asked staff to explain the process for administrative approvals and how a determination is given.
The business owner, Thomas Yi, a martial arts instructor, explained his situation to the Commission.
Senior Land Use Attorney Rosenbaum stated that the way the discussion item was agendized, the Commission may only discuss this matter in the most general of terms, but not as regards a specific situation which is within the Commission’s jurisdiction. Further, he stated that since the matter is unresolved, the Commission should not proceed with their discussion of 2901 Ocean Park Boulevard.
Commissioner Dad asked staff to explain the approval process. Mr. Trevino stated that in general, an applicant applies for a business license through the Business License Office prior to Planning review. He stated that the Zoning Ordinance does not list all possible uses, so staff uses a reference manual called the SIC – OSHA Manual, which defines land uses. If a use is determined to be unpermitted, revocation can be done and the applicant can appeal the decision.
Commissioner Dad asked if determinations are done in writing and how long approvals take. Mr. Trevino stated that approvals are done in writing and may take several weeks to review if they are complicated. If there is question as to the use, the applicant is asked to clarify the business and use.
Commissioner Dad asked where application forms are available. Mr. Trevino stated that forms are available on-line and at City Hall, and the average approval takes approximately two weeks.
Commissioner Dad asked about the appeal process. Mr. Trevino stated that if an applicant disagrees with staff’s determination, an appeal process is provided for in the Santa Monica Municipal Code, Chapter 6. Ms. Frick added that the appeal process is done through a hearing examiner appointed by the City Attorney’s Office.
Commissioner Dad commented that what she has heard from staff and the applicant is different.
[Commissioner Johnson left when this item concluded at 12:45 p.m.]
9-D. Discussion on the procedure for public appeal of an Administrative Approval and for initiation of an Administrative Approval Revocation Hearing. Requested by Commissioners Brown, Hopkins and Johnson on November 20, 2002.
ACTION: Continued to December 11, 2002.
9-E. Appointment of East-West Commercial Corridors Study Task Force Members (Staff: Ellen Gelbard.)
Ms. Frick explained the purpose of the Task Force and that the City Council will be appointing members on January 29, 2003. She stated that it is estimated the Task Force will be meeting for approximately 1 ½ to 2 years beginning in February 2003, and two Commissioners are needed.
Chair Clarke recommended this item be continued until more Commissioners can be present. Ms. Frick stated that the next available meeting date would December 18, 2002.
ACTION: Continued to December 18, 2002.
9-F. Quarterly Code Enforcement Update. (Staff: Timothy McCormick, Building Official)
ACTION: Continued to December 11, 2002.
9-G. Planning Commission discussion of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel Development Agreement Concept Plan proposal to provide direction regarding the project’s potential public benefits and the appropriateness of a Development Agreement application for the redevelopment of this site. (Planner: Sarah Lejeune)
Associate Planner Sarah Lejeune gave the staff report. The owner of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, Matt Dinopoli, and his architect, Howard List of Gensler Architects gave a detailed presentation on the proposed changes to the hotel site.
Commissioner Dad asked how many units are proposed for the sixteen story residential building. Mr. List stated the proposal is for 75 residential units.
Commissioner Dad asked how many market rate units are proposed in the three story building. Mr. Dinapoli stated that 27 units are proposed. Commissioner Dad asked about the mix of affordable and market rate units, specifically for their proposed locations. Mr. Dinapoli explained the placement of affordable units on Second Street.
Commissioner Dad asked if the hotel will remain intact. Mr. Dinapoli answered in the affirmative, and added that the ballrooms will be remodeled and a spa may be added.
Commissioner Dad asked what type of retail is proposed. Mr. Dinapoli stated that either a restaurant or other retail is being considered.
Commissioner Dad asked if all the parking will be subterranean. Mr. Dinapoli answered in the affirmative.
Commissioner Dad commented that the plans specify 677 parking spaces, then asked how many will be for the residential units. Mr. Dinapoli stated that there are a total of 224 parking spaces for residents and 65 spaces in a semi-subterranean garage on Second Street. He further stated that there will be 130 parking spaces for the hotel restaurant.
Commissioner Dad asked about employee parking. Mr. Dinapoli stated there will be 91 parking spaces for employees and more than 150 parking spaces not required for any other use on the property.
Commissioner Dad asked if the current parking for the hotel meets current parking standards. Mr. Dinapoli stated he does not think it complies and some parking is currently contracted out.
Commissioner Dad stated that her concern is not the Development Agreement proposal, which is a positive step, and the addition of retail at Second Street and Wilshire Boulevard is also a good idea; however the proposal for a sixteen story residential building on the property is a great concern.
Two members of the public addressed the Commission regarding the discussion item: Ellen Brennan and Arthur Harris.
Mr. Dinapoli responded to the public comment.
Chair Clarke expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to review the early stage of this proposal.
Commissioner Moyle expressed curiosity as to why a hotelier would want to add rental housing on-site. Mr. Dinapoli responded that this is a good question since the obvious option would be to expand the hotel rooms. He stated that the hotel is currently the “right size” for the City and it was the owners thought to accommodate the City’s goal for more housing units on a portion of the hotel property. He stated that the project must be economically feasible for the owners and a benefit to the City.
Commissioner Moyle asked if a fifteen story residential building is the only way for the project to “pencil out.” Mr. Dinapoli stated that there may be other options and this project is still in the early development phase. He also stated that the proposed placement of the residential units is logical given the hotel site specifics and the height of adjacent buildings along Ocean Avenue.
Commissioner Moyle stated that she appreciates Mr. Dinapoli’s presence at this meeting, however she expressed the opinion that siting the tall buildings along Ocean Avenue is an “absolutely abysmal mistake.” She stated that the height of the proposed residential building is a deal-breaker for her. She stated that her personal reaction to the proposal is shock. On the other hand, Commissioner Moyle stated that she loves the idea of opening up the property so the historic fig tree can be seen. She suggested the removal of the ten-story hotel building might be a better idea if it is replaced with something better.
Mr. Dinapoli thanked Commissioner Moyle for her comments, especially about 100 Wilshire Boulevard.
Commissioner Johnson asked staff about Proposition S, which prohibits new hotels on the beach. Ms. Frick stated that this property does not fall within the perimeters for Proposition S. She also stated that the proposal is not for a new hotel. Proposition S was discussed by the Commission briefly with Commissioner Dad giving some specifics on the history of the proposition.
Chair Clarke asked staff about the Development Agreement proposal and currently permitted uses along Wilshire Boulevard. Ms. Lejeune stated that the current development has non-conforming parking.
Chair Clarke asked how deep the proposed parking will need to be. Mr. Dinapoli stated that the proposal is for 3 ½ to 4 levels of subterranean parking.
Commissioner Dad asked if there has been any meetings with neighborhood groups. Mr. Dinapoli stated that he has only met with City staff and consultants and that the concept has not been widely disseminated.
Commissioner Olsen commented that this proposal would provoke a referendum and much excitement in Santa Monica. He noted that the Land Use Element height requirements for Ocean Avenue are very low due to 1960s buildings such as 100 Wilshire (the GTE Tower). He stated he is glad this proposal was brought forth early, however he expressed his opinion that it will not work.
Commissioner Johnson expressed agreement with the comments made by Commissioners Moyle and Olsen. He stated that the concept to update the property is good, but there needs to be less height.
Commissioner Dad stated she is willing to forward a recommendation to City Council to start negotiations for a Development Agreement with Fairmont Miramar, but the project needs to be scaled back substantially. She stated that code required stepbacks and setbacks must be adhered to and underground parking would be an asset as well as residential units on Second Street. Of course, she noted, a smaller development would not require a Development Agreement.
Chair Clarke noted an early staff comment that the property owner is using the public benefit aspect to gain approval through a Development Agreement for the proposed project. He stated that luxury apartments are not needed in Santa Monica and the proposed building would block the view of the northwest coastline. He also stated that the addition of residential units on Second Street would not require a Development Agreement. Lastly, Chair Clarke suggested the idea of an upper level restaurant for the site.
Mr. Dinapoli thanked the Commission for their comments and honesty. He stated it is better to hear the Commission’s views this early in the process so the proposal can be adjusted.
Ms. Frick asked the Commission if they have a sense of whether or not to recommend the City Council begin negotiating a Development Agreement with the property owner. Chair Clarke asked if the tower is removed from the proposal, why would the property owner need a Development Agreement. Ms. Frick stated that a Development Agreement would help with issues of setbacks, heights and floor area ratios (FARs).
Chair Clarke stated that it is important that the Morton Bay Fig Tree be preserved as well as the low scale nature of the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. It also important that there be no high-rise development on the site.
Commissioners Moyle and Olsen expressed the opinion the presentation has no basis for what may be approved or built. Commissioners Moyle and Johnson stated they cannot support a Development Agreement.
Commissioner Dad commented that consideration of a Development Agreement does not mean that what was presented at this meeting will be approved or built. She noted that the Commission may dislike what can be built on the site per code and a Development Agreement would set or change parameters for development of the site.
City Council Liaison McKeown commented that a Development Agreement for a unique parcel may mean greater flexibility with the developer as regards making demands. He stated that having employee parking on-site would be a plus for the City as well has gaining over 100 uncommitted parking spaces for public use.
Commissioner Olsen stated that he respectfully disagreed with the City Council Liaison with “every fiber of my body.” He stated that the Commission has gotten better projects designed without Development Agreements.
Chair Clarke asked staff if they had enough comments. Ms. Frick stated that sufficient comments had been made and she heard no consensus from the Commission.
10. FUTURE COMMISSION AGENDA ITEMS: None.
11. PUBLIC INPUT: None.
12. ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 12:49 a.m. on Thursday, December 5, 2002.