Planning Commission Meeting: February 4, 2004 Santa Monica, California
TO: The Honorable Planning Commission
FROM: Planning Staff
SUBJECT: Conditional Use Permit 03-009
Address: 2445 Santa Monica Boulevard
Applicant: RTK Architects
Property Owner: John Rees
Action: Application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to upgrade and allow the continued operation of a legal-nonconforming automobile repair facility. The proposal meets all applicable development standards for existing automobile repair facilities.
Recommendation: Approval with conditions
Permit Streamlining Expiration Date: March 5, 2004
SITE LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
The subject property is a 10,400 square foot parcel located on the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard between Chelsea Avenue and Twenty-Fifth Street having a frontage of 80 feet. Surrounding uses consist of multi-family housing in the R2 (Low Density Multiple Residential District) across Santa Monica Place alley to the north, an automobile dealership in the C4 (Highway Commercial District) across Santa Monica Boulevard to the south, general retail in the C4 (Highway Commercial District) to the east, and a retail cleaners in the C4 (Highway Commercial District) to the west. Existing on-site uses include 4,745 square foot automobile repair business and surface parking lot to be retained.
Zoning District: C4 (Highway Commercial) District
Land Use District:
Parcel Area: 80’x 130’ = 10,400 sq. ft.
A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to upgrade and allow the legal-nonconforming automobile repair facility to expand the service area of an existing new car dealership. The two-story auto repair facility has seven (7) service bays and 2,240 square feet of non-bay floor area. The adjacent parking lot has 11 parking spaces. The facility is used to service new and used cars for the Volkswagen Dealership that is located across Santa Monica Boulevard. The existing Volkswagen Dealership is not included in this application. The proposal complies with requirements for existing legal-nonconforming auto repair facilities.
MUNICIPAL CODE AND GENERAL PLAN CONFORMANCE
The proposed project is consistent with the Municipal Code and in conformity with the General Plan as shown in Attachment A.
The project is categorically exempt from the provisions of CEQA, pursuant to Class - 1 of the State Guidelines in that approval will allow the continued operation of an existing automobile repair facility involving negligible or no expansion or intensification of the existing legal-nonconforming facility and use.
HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY STATUS
The existing building was constructed in stages between the 1930s and 1957, but is not identified in the City's Historic Resources Inventory.
RENT CONTROL STATUS
Commercial exemption dated August 7, 2003 on file.
The project is not subject to any special City Planning related fees.
Pursuant to Municipal Code Section 9.04.20.20.080 and in accordance with the posting requirements set forth by the Zoning Administrator, prior to application filing the applicant posted a sign on the property regarding the subject application. At least 8 weeks prior to the public hearing date, the applicant submitted a photograph to verify the site posting and to demonstrate that the sign provides the following information: Project case number, brief project description, name and telephone number of applicant, site address, date, time and location of public hearing, and the City Planning Division phone number. A copy of the site posting photograph is contained in Attachment B. It is the applicant's responsibility to update the hearing date if it is changed after posting.
In addition, pursuant to Municipal Code Section 9.04.20.22.050, notice of the public hearing was mailed to all owners and residential and commercial tenants of property located within a 500 foot radius of the project and published in the “California” Section of The Los Angeles Times at least ten consecutive calendar days prior to the hearing. A copy of the notice is contained in Attachment C.
On January 6, 2003, the applicant was notified by phone and in writing of the subject hearing date.
A small auto repair shop was established at the rear of the lot in the 1930s. The building was expanded to the current size in the 1950s. Until recently, it was operated as an independent auto repair business. While it is still a stand-alone facility, it is now used to service new and used cars for the Volkswagen Dealership that is located across Santa Monica Boulevard. When staff assessed these changed circumstances, staff concluded that a CUP was required because the subject facility is expanding the new car dealership. However, the applicant disagreed, contending that no CUP was required since it was merely a continuation of a legal nonconforming use. The City and applicant subsequently entered into a settlement agreement in which the applicant agreed to process this CUP for an auto repair facility. The Planning Commission retains full discretion to review this CUP request. The facility is also being upgraded to comply with special standards that are required for existing automobile repair facilities (SMMC Section 9.04.14.050).
The building is “L” shaped with the service bays facing the west and south. The rear portion of the building is two-story, with the second story used for office and parts storage. The auto repair facility has seven (7) service bays and 2,240 square feet of non-bay floor area. The facility is used for tune-up, general auto repair and new car preparation. Minor painting of replacement parts and touch-up work associated with the general auto repair work is performed, but auto body repair work or painting that is typically done at auto body shops will not be performed.
The City adopted special development standards and conditions for auto repair uses because the tools used and the work methods necessary to repair vehicles typically generate high levels of noise and can create objectionable odors compared to other commercial uses. The special standards are designed to mitigate these impacts to a reasonable level. While it is understood that many existing repair facilities cannot comply with all of the special standards, existing auto repair facilities are required to be upgraded to comply with many of the special standards specified in SMMC Section 9.04.14.050. Condition 6 lists the requirements of SMMC 9.04.14.050 that are applicable to this project. As outlined in Attachment A, the proposal complies with these requirements.
This automobile repair facility has operated at this location for more than 50 years. Properties along Santa Monica Boulevard are developed with a variety of commercial businesses. Multi-family units are located across the alley to the north. Residents in these units are sensitive to the noise and fumes that are typically generated from auto repair shops. The service bays face the side wall of a commercial building and Santa Monica Boulevard. The “L” shape service bay configuration and second story office across the rear of the property buffers noise to the adjacent residents. As a result, most of the noise and fumes associated with auto repair activities are directed toward Santa Monica Boulevard and away from the residential units. However, residents are exposed to these impacts when the large roll-up door that faces the alley is open. The applicant has agreed to keep the roll-up door and other openings facing the alley closed except when either no work is being performed or it is necessary to move cars in and out of the rear portion of the facility. This requirement is specified in Condition 22. Condition 6(f) restricts operating hours, further limiting impacts to residents at night and on weekends.
Parking and Circulation
The parking lot has 11 conforming parking spaces for employee and customer parking. The Zoning Ordinance does not require existing facilities to comply with current parking standards, which requires 18 spaces for a new repair shop of the same size. SMMC Section 9.04.14.050(p) and Condition 14 specifies that the exterior parking area shall be used for employee and customer parking only. Customer vehicles waiting parts and service work may be parked up to one week, but vehicles may not be repaired in the parking lot.
Customers will have limited access. They will drop their cars off and pick them up at the Volkswagen dealer across the street. Service department personnel will shuttle the cars back and forth as the work is scheduled. A test-drive route and vehicle shuttle plan has been approved for this project by the City Transportation Management Division.
The prior operator constructed a 110 square foot shed type office that is located along the west drive isle without City approvals or permits. There is also a projecting sign on the front of the building that is nonconforming with the Sign Code. Although the sign was installed with City approval, it must be removed because its use has been abandoned and it can not be modified to comply with the Sign Code. While the applicant agrees to remove the shed and sign, they were unable to schedule the work prior to this meeting. Condition 23 requires abatement within 45 days of the approval of this CUP.
The City adopted special development standards and conditions for auto repair uses because the tools and work methods at auto repair shops typically generate high levels of noise and objectionable fumes compared to most commercial uses. The special standards being implemented on this project will mitigate these impacts to a reasonable level. The proposed project will comply with the special standards required of existing auto repair facilities. The parking lot has 11 conforming parking spaces for employee and customer parking.
This automobile repair facility has operated at this location for more than 50 years. Multi-family units are located across the alley to the north. Residents in these units are sensitive to the noise and fumes that are typically generated from auto repair shops. However, restrictions on operating hours and the design of the project will reduce impacts to adjacent residents.
Other than the recommended action, the Planning Commission may:
Deny CUP 03-009 without prejudice, based upon revised findings; or
Deny CUP 03-009 based upon revised findings.
It is recommended that the Planning Commission approve CUP 03-009 based on the following findings and conditions:
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT FINDINGS
1. The proposed use is one conditionally permitted within the subject district and complies with all of the applicable provisions of the "City of Santa Monica Comprehensive Land Use and Zoning Ordinance," in that the expansion of an automobile dealership is a conditionally permitted use in the C4 District.
2. The proposed use would not impair the integrity and character of the district in which it is to be established or located, in that the project is an existing auto repair facility that has operated at this location for more than 50 years. As part of the Volkswagen dealership expansion, the facility is being upgraded and will comply with special standards and conditions for existing auto repair facilities.
3. The subject parcel is physically suitable for the type of land use being proposed, in that the project is an existing auto repair facility that has operated at this location for more than 50 years. The inclusion of this repair facility as part of the existing Volkswagen dealership will not expand, or intensify the use.
4. The proposed use is compatible with any of the land uses presently on the subject parcel if the present land uses are to remain, in that the proposal will maintain the existing land use.
5. The proposed use would be compatible with existing and permissible land uses within the district and the general area in which the proposed use is to be located, in that auto repair facilities are conditionally permitted in the C4 District and the conditions of approval contain measures regulating operating hours, test-driving routes and design of the site in such a manner as to minimize the ongoing impact of the auto repair facility on the residential neighborhood to the north.
6. There are adequate provisions for water, sanitation, and public utilities and services to ensure that the proposed use would not be detrimental to public health and safety, in that the subject site is located in an urbanized area with adequate access to public utilities.
7. Public access to the proposed use will be adequate, in that primary access to the project will be provided from Santa Monica Boulevard, an arterial street. The parking lot provides 11 parking spaces which will adequately serve both employee and customer parking needs.
8. The physical location or placement of the use on the site is compatible with and relates harmoniously to the surrounding neighborhood, in that the building is configured in a way that directs most of the noise and fumes associated with auto repair activities toward Santa Monica Boulevard and away from the residents to the north.
9. The proposed use is consistent with the goals, objectives, and policies of the General Plan, in that the General Plan Policy 1.6.2 encourages automobile dealerships and related vehicle service uses along the Santa Monica Boulevard commercial land use corridor and the proposed auto dealer expansion on Santa Monica Boulevard is consistent with this policy.
10. The proposed use would not be detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or general welfare, in that it conforms to all relevant Zoning Ordinance standards and is further conditioned to minimize noise and objectionable odors to adjacent residents. Additional restrictions on operating hours limit impacts to adjacent residents at night and on weekends.
11. The proposed use conforms precisely to the applicable performance standards contained in Subchapter 9.04.12 and special conditions outlined in Subchapter 9.04.14 of the City of Santa Monica Comprehensive Land Use and Zoning Ordinance, in that the proposal complies with the Special Standards of SMMC Section 9.04.14.050 for existing auto repair facilities.
12. The proposed use will not result in an overconcentration of such uses in the immediate vicinity, in that project maintains an existing auto repair facility.
1. This approval is for those plans dated January 14, 2004, a copy of which shall be maintained in the files of the City Planning Division. Project development shall be consistent with such plans, except as otherwise specified in these conditions of approval.
2. The Plans shall comply with all applicable Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC) Sections. Subject to these Conditions, the plans dated January 14, 2004 comply with all applicable SMMC Sections.
3. Minor amendments to the plans shall be subject to approval by the Director of Planning. A significant change in the approved concept shall be subject to Planning Commission Review. Construction shall be in conformance with the plans submitted or as modified by the Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board or Director of Planning.
Architectural Review Board
4. Plans for final design, landscaping, screening, trash enclosures, and signage shall be subject to review and approval by the Architectural Review Board.
5. The Architectural Review Board, in its review, shall pay particular attention to the project's pedestrian orientation and amenities; scale and articulation of design elements; exterior colors, textures and materials; and landscaping.
Automobile Repair Facility
6. This property owner and permit holder shall comply with the following requirements of Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 9.04.14.050 for automobile repair facilities:
(a) Paving. The site shall be entirely paved, except for buildings and landscaping.
(b) Landscaping. A landscape area at least two feet wide shall be provided along the frontage of the street and alley, excluding authorized driveways, so that, to the extent possible no less than ten percent of the parking lot is landscaped. In all other respects, landscaping shall conform to the requirements of Part 9.04.10.04.
(c) Refuse. Refuse storage areas shall comply with Section 9.04.10.02.150;
(d) Lighting. All exterior lighting shall comply with Section 9.04.10.02.270;
(e) Repair Activities. Allowable uses include general new and used automobile inspection, maintenance, and repair consistent with a full-service automobile repair shop; new car preparation services and activities; and specialized auto repair activities including window tinting, paint-less dent removal, window-etching, pin-striping and upholstery repair. Outdoor hoist are prohibited;
(f) Hours of Operation. No work shall be performed on automobiles between the hours of eight 8:00 p.m. and seven 7:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and no work shall be performed on Sundays;
(g) Litter. The premises shall be kept in a neat and orderly condition at all times and all improvements shall be maintained in a condition of reasonable repair and appearance. No used or discarded automotive parts or equipment or permanently disabled, junked or wrecked vehicles may be stored outside the main building;
(h) Sound. Sound generated from the repair facility shall comply with SMMC Section 9.04.10.02.310 and Section 4.12;
(i) Abandonment. Any legal nonconforming automobile repair facility that is closed continuously for a period of at least six months shall be declared abandoned, except when caused by an act of nature, provided reconstruction of the building is commenced within one year of the date the damage occurs and is diligently completed;
(j) Storage. The exterior parking area (parking lot) shall be used for employee and customer parking, to park vehicles waiting to be serviced, or to park vehicles waiting for parts needed to complete repairs in progress only. The parking lot shall not be used for the repair or finishing work, or long-term (over one week) storage of vehicles, or to store vehicles that are not being serviced within the auto repair facility. No vehicles to be repaired shall be parked or stored on any street or in any alley. At least three of the parking spaces shall be posted and available for employee parking. Alternatively, the employee parking spaces may be provided off-site within 1,000 feet upon submission of satisfactory evidence to the City Planning Division that the off-site spaces are not required for other uses and the applicant possesses a lease agreement, deed restriction, or other instrument acceptable to the City Planning Division that the applicant possesses the exclusive right to use of the off-site parking spaces;
(k) Test Driving. Road testing of vehicles on residential streets is prohibited. All road testing shall be conducted on streets designated by the City as major collector streets. The automobile repair facilities shall prepare plans detailing the road testing route and shall submit these plans to the City’s Transportation Management Division for approval. The Automobile repair facility operator shall notify its employees of the City approved route and shall ensure employees adhere to the plan; and
(l) Vehicles Awaiting Repairs. Vehicles to be worked on or that have been worked on and that are parked on the site shall comply with SMMC Section 9.04.14.050(r). All vehicles awaiting repair shall be parked on site. No vehicle shall be parked on a public street, including, but not limited to those towed to the automobile repair facility. The hoods of vehicles awaiting parts or repair shall remain closed at all times while work is not being performed. Any disassembled vehicle awaiting parts or repair for 24 hours or longer shall be covered.
7. Landscaping plans shall comply with Subchapter 5B (Landscaping Standards) of the zoning ordinance including use of water-conserving landscaping materials, landscape maintenance and other standards contained in the Subchapter.
8. Refuse areas, storage areas and mechanical equipment shall screened in accordance with SMMC Section 9.04.10.02.130 - 9.04.10.02.150. Refuse areas shall be of a size adequate to meet on-site need, including recycling. The Architectural Review Board in its review shall pay particular attention to the screening of such areas and equipment. Any rooftop mechanical equipment shall be minimized in height and area, and shall be located in such a way as to minimize noise and visual impacts to surrounding properties. Unless otherwise approved by the Architectural Review Board, rooftop mechanical equipment shall be located at least five feet from the edge of the roof.
9. Street trees shall be maintained, relocated or provided as required in a manner consistent with the City’s Community Forest Management Plan 2000, per the specifications of the Open Space Management Division of the Community and Cultural Services Department and the City’s Tree Code (SMMC Section 7.40). No street trees shall be removed without the approval of the Open Space Management Division.
10. Unless otherwise approved by the Department of Environmental and Public Works Management, all sidewalks shall be kept clear and passable during the grading and construction phase of the project.
11. The property owner shall insure any graffiti on the site is promptly removed through compliance with the City's graffiti removal program.
12. The building address shall be painted on the roof of the building and shall measure four feet by eight feet (32 square feet).
13. The operation shall at all times be conducted in a manner not detrimental to surrounding properties or residents by reason of lights, noise, activities, parking or other actions.
14. The exterior parking area shall be used for employee and customer parking only and not for repair or finishing work or long-term (over one week) storage of vehicles.
15. Automotive repair facilities and dealerships, parking areas and structures, automotive paint shops, gas stations, equipment degreasing areas, and other facilities generating wastewater with significant oil and grease content are required to pretreat these wastes before discharging to the City sewer or storm drain system. Pretreatment will require that a clarifier or oil/water separator be installed and maintained on site. In cases where settleable solids are present (or expected) in greater amounts than floatable oil and grease, a clarifier unit will be required. In cases where the opposite waste characteristics are present, an oil/water separator with automatic oil draw-off will be required instead. The Environmental and Public Works Management Department will set specific requirements. Building permit plans shall show the required installation.
16. Mechanical equipment shall not be located on the side of any building which is adjacent to a residential building on the adjoining lot. Roof locations may be used when the mechanical equipment is installed within a soundrated parapet enclosure.
17. Final approval of any new mechanical equipment installation will require a noise test in compliance with SMMC section 4.12.040. Equipment for the test shall be provided by the owner or contractor and the test shall be conducted by the owner or contractor. A copy of the noise test results on mechanical equipment shall be submitted to the Community Noise officer for review to ensure that noise levels do not exceed maximum allowable levels for the applicable noise zone.
18. Prior to issuance of a Business License, or within 14 days, whichever occurs first the applicant shall post a notice at the entry stating that the site is regulated by a Conditional Use Permit and the Statement of Official Action, which includes the establishment’s conditions of approval, is available upon request. This notice shall remain posted at all time the establishment is in operation.
Validity of Permits
19. In the event permittee violates or fails to comply with any conditions of approval of this permit, no further permits, licenses, approvals or certificates of occupancy shall be issued until such violation has been fully remedied.
20. Within ten days of Planning Division transmittal of the Statement of Official Action, project applicant shall sign and return a copy of the Statement of Official Action prepared by the Planning Division, agreeing to the Conditions of approval and acknowledging that failure to comply with such conditions shall constitute grounds for potential revocation of the permit approval. By signing same, applicant shall not thereby waive any legal rights applicant may possess regarding said conditions. The signed Statement shall be returned to the City Planning Division. Failure to comply with this condition shall constitute grounds for potential permit revocation.
21. This determination shall not become effective for a period of fourteen days from the date of determination or, if appealed, until a final determination is made on the appeal. Any appeal must be made in the form required by the Zoning Administrator.
22. The roll-up and other doors facing the alley shall be closed except when either no work is being performed in the facility or in order to move cars in and out of the rear portion of the facility.
23. The 110 square foot shed type office that is located along the west drive isle and the projecting sign on the front of the building shall be removed within 45 days of the effective date of this CUP.
Prepared by: Bruce Leach, Associate Planner
A. Municipal Code and General Plan Conformance
B. Site Posting Photo
C. Notice of Public Hearing
D. Radius and Location Map
E. Test Drive & Shuttle routes
F. Photographs of Site and Surrounding Properties
G. Plot Plan, Floor Plans and Elevations
LAND USE ELEMENT
Encourage auto dealerships and vehicle service along Santa Monica Blvd commercial corridor.
Expansion of Auto Dealers >10% or 5,000 sq. ft. with a CUP.
Convert existing 10,400 sq. ft. auto repair to a detached service facility for a new car dealership.
Parking Space Number
Must maintain the number of spaces at the time the use was legally established, which was 11 Spaces.
Trash enclosure with minimum 5' x 9' solid walls and gate is required.
New 5’ x 9’ enclosure.
Special Standards For Existing Auto Repair Facilities
· Repair Activities
· Hours of Operation
· Test Driving
· Vehicles Awaiting Repairs
The site shall be entirely paved, except for buildings and landscaping.
A landscape area at least two feet wide shall be provided along the frontage of the street and alley, excluding driveways, so, to the extent possible ten percent of the parking lot is landscaped, including one tree/1,200 sf. Compliance does not require demolition of the building or elimination of parking.
Parking 5,200 x 10% = 530 sf
Trees 5,200/1,200 = 4 trees
Frontage 80 x 1.5 = 120 sf
Refuse storage areas shall comply with Section 9.04.10.02.150;
All exterior lighting shall comply with Section 9.04.10.02.270;
Allowable uses include general new and used car inspection, maintenance, and repair;
No work shall be performed on automobiles between the hours of eight (8:00) p.m. and seven (7:00) a.m., Monday through Saturday, and no work shall be performed on Sundays;
The premises shall be kept in a neat and orderly condition at all times and all improvements shall be maintained in a condition of reasonable repair and appearance. No used or discarded automotive parts or equipment or permanently disabled, junked or wrecked vehicles may be stored outside the main building;
Sound generated from the repair facility shall comply with SMMC Section 9.04.10.02.310 and Section 4.12;
The parking lot shall be used for employee and customer parking, to park vehicles waiting to be serviced, or to park vehicles waiting for parts needed to complete repairs in progress only. The parking lot shall not be used for the repair or finishing work, or long-term (over one week) storage of vehicles, or to store vehicles that are not being serviced within the auto repair facility. No vehicles to be repaired shall be parked or stored on any street or in any alley;
Road testing of vehicles on residential streets is prohibited. A detailed road testing route must be approved by Transportation Management Division. The Automobile repair facility operator shall notify its employees of the City approved route and shall ensure employees adhere to the plan; and
Vehicles to be worked on or that have been worked on and that are parked on the site shall comply with SMMC Section 9.04.14.050(r). All vehicles awaiting repair shall be parked on site. No vehicle shall be parked on a public street, including, but not limited to those towed to the automobile repair facility. The hoods of vehicles awaiting parts or repair shall remain closed at all times while work is not being performed. Any disassembled vehicle awaiting parts or repair for 24 hours or longer shall be covered.
Entire site except for buildings and landscaping is paved.
Parking =553 sf
Trees = 4
Frontage = 93 sf
Open areas are landscaped that won’t displace parking or require demo.
New 5’ x 9’ block wall trash enclosure adjacent to alley.
General new and used car inspection, maintenance, and repair consistent with a full-service automobile repair shop; new car preparation services and activities; and specialized auto repair activities including window tinting, paint-less dent removal, window-etching, pin-striping and upholstery repair. No outdoor hoist or repair activity.
Is open from 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Saturday and closed on Sunday.