Planning Commission Meeting: June 15, 2005
TO: The Honorable Planning Commission
FROM: Planning Staff
SUBJECT: Appeal 05APP-003 of the Architectural Review Board’s Disapproval of 04ARB-546
Applicant: Eleven Wilshire LLC
Appellant: Eleven Wilshire LLC
Action: Appeal of the Architectural Review Board’s denial of building design, rehabilitation, and addition to an existing multi-family residential structure. The application is comprised of work that has already been completed and additional work that is proposed.
Recommendation: Deny the appeal, upholding the Architectural Review Board’s disapproval.
Permit Streamlining Expiration Date: Not applicable to appealed applications.
SITE LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
subject property is a 7,500 square foot parcel (50’-0” x 150’-0”) located on
the east side of
is developed as a multi-family residential complex containing eleven units. The
primary building on site is a two-story, L-shaped apartment building with a
central courtyard. There are additional units in a structure located on the
rear of the property. The primary
building on site exhibits numerous elements that are indicative of the Regency
Moderne architectural style. Pedestrian access is provided from
Zoning District: R2 District (Low Density Multiple Residential)
Land Use District: Low Density Housing
Parcel Area: 7,500 SF = (50’-0” x 150’-0”)
The project scope of work contains the following six components, including work that has already been completed and additional work that is proposed:
§ New storage units (construction done without permits);
§ Window replacement on primary and secondary elevations of building (some window replacements done without permits; additional window replacements proposed);
§ New two-story addition to rear of the primary building (proposed);
§ Sandblasting, re-stuccoing and painting façades (proposed); and
§ Rear yard landscaping (proposed).
MUNICIPAL CODE AND GENERAL PLAN CONFORMANCE
The subject application has been preliminarily reviewed for compliance with the base district’s development standards which address aspects of the plan that could result in significant changes to the project’s design. A complete code-compliance review will not occur until the application is submitted for plan check. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the plans comply fully with all applicable provisions of the Municipal Code. The applicant has been notified of any significant non-compliant aspects of their plans, and a condition has been added requiring full compliance with all applicable regulations prior to the issuance of a building permit. Any significant changes to the design subsequent to any Architectural Review Board (ARB), or Planning Commission on appeal, approval will require additional ARB review and approval prior to the issuance of building permits.
The improvements on the project site constitute a historical resource. As proposed, and as detailed more fully below, the project does not qualify for an exemption from CEQA since the project may cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of this historical resource. CEQA Section 15300.2(f). Since the proposed scope of work is not consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (the Standards), the project would not qualify for a Class 31 exemption. CEQA Section 15331. Further environmental review is required.
HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY STATUS
The existing improvements on the project site were constructed in two phases: in 1938 and 1940. The primary structure has been surveyed for historical significance three times (1992, 1996, and 2005) and is identified in the City’s Historic Resources Inventory as a 5S3. This evaluation code means that the structure appears to be individually eligible for local listing or designation through survey evaluation.
RENT CONTROL STATUS
The subject property contains eleven (11) rent controlled units. The proposed project does not change the rent control status of the property.
The project is not subject to any special City Planning related fees.
Pursuant to Municipal Code Section 9.32.180, prior to Architectural Review Board application filing, the applicant posted a sign on the property regarding the subject application. At least ten days 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 C. It is the applicant's responsibility to update the hearing date if it is changed after posting.
addition, a courtesy notice was published in the “
The applicant/appellant was notified by telephone on March 24, 2005 and also in writing on March 25, 2005 of the subject hearing date.
Background and Relevant Permit History
A code compliance order (03COM-1053) was issued on September 16, 2003 in response to the construction of storage units and replacement of windows on the subject property without Architectural Review Board approval or issuance of building permits. Following issuance of the compliance order, staff met with the applicant in December 2003 and February 2004 to discuss ways to obtain the necessary approvals and permits for the work already completed. Staff also sent correspondence to memorialize topics discussed at the meetings, such as background information, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for modifications to historic resources, the Architectural Review Board application process and review criteria, and information on obtaining building permits (see attached correspondence dated January 15, 2004 and February 18, 2004).
The applicant disagreed with the City’s position that the project was subject to additional environmental review. The applicant also challenged the jurisdiction of the Architectural Review Board to review this matter (see attached correspondence dated January 28, 2004 and March 28, 2004).
Staff sent additional correspondence regarding the subject property in conjunction with the appellant’s design review application for review by the Architectural Review Board. In both letters, staff reiterated its concerns regarding the project as proposed, emphasizing that the project was not consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and therefore was not exempt from CEQA (see attached correspondence dated March 30, 2004 and December 22, 2004).
On January 24, 2005 the Architectural Review Board opened the public hearing for the building design, rehabilitation, addition, and landscape plans for the subject property (04ARB-546). The hearing was continued at the applicant’s request. Following the January 24th hearing, staff responded to communication from the applicant with a letter reiterating staff recommendations for key aspects of the project including window replacements on the primary and secondary façades (see correspondence dated February 3, 2005) .
The main building’s primary, west-facing façade features key architectural elements of the Regency Moderne style including the following: symmetry of design; a stuccoed façade; a flat roof; rounded corners; fluted pilasters; accenting plaster medallions; crown molding and stringcourses; and bands of elongated, recessed wood-framed casement windows with wood sills that curve around the corners of the building on both sides of the primary elevation. The north, south, east, and interior courtyard façades do not exhibit the same Regency Moderne styling and are considered secondary elevations.
The scope of work contained in the applicant’s ARB application includes retroactive approval of existing storage units and window replacements; and approval of additional, proposed window replacements, a proposed two-story addition, proposed sandblasting and re-stuccoing of all building façades, and proposed rear yard landscaping.
The applicant has replaced a grouping of wood-framed, casement windows that curved along the northern corner of the first floor on the primary elevation. The existing wood windows were replaced with smaller, double-paned vinyl windows. The original window openings were also modified to allow for the installation of the smaller grouping of vinyl windows.
Along the north, south and interior courtyard elevations, the applicant has begun to replace the recessed, wood-framed windows and projecting sills that currently punctuate the exterior façades of the building. The wood windows already removed have been replaced by smaller vinyl windows. In addition, the size of the original window openings have been modified to accommodate the installation of the smaller of vinyl windows. This work was done without proper permits. The applicant is also proposing to continue replacement of the remaining wood windows with vinyl type windows on the north, south and interior courtyard façades.
Sandblasting, Re-Stuccoing & Painting Façades
The existing main building is sheathed entirely in stucco. The applicant is proposing to sandblast, re-stucco and paint the entire main building.
New Two-Story Addition
The applicant is proposing to construct a two-story addition to the rear of the main building. This new construction would create a total of 384 square feet of additional floor area. A new second-story balcony and a new ground level patio are also proposed. The applicant would install new vinyl-type windows on the rear, east facing façade of the new addition.
New Storage Units
The applicant has constructed one-story storage units on the east side of the south wing of the main building. The storage units are approximately 104 square feet in size and are sheathed in stucco. This work was completed without proper permits.
Rear Yard Landscaping
The applicant is proposing to provide less than 150 square feet of landscaping within the courtyard and rear yard area.
Table A. Building Design
MATERIAL, FINISH AND COLOR
§ Sandblast and re-stucco existing façades
§ Stucco finish for new construction
§ Paint all stucco façades “alpine green” with “tapioca” crown/trim
§ Double-paned vinyl (flush set)
Project materials including a site plan, elevations, and photos are contained in Attachment O.
The Architectural Review Board conducted two public hearings on the subject application. At the January 24, 2005 meeting, staff presented the proposed project and expressed concern about maintaining the historic character of the Regency Moderne style building. Of particular concern was the existing and proposed replacement of recessed wood-framed windows to vinyl-type double paned windows.
Staff noted that in order to maintain the integrity of this historic resource, the vinyl windows previously installed without permits on the primary façade would need to be removed. The applicant would need to install recessed, wood framed windows that conform to the size and appearance of the original, historically appropriate windows prior to their removal. Staff also noted that the use of vinyl windows on the secondary elevations would only be acceptable if the original window configuration, size, and placement is restored.
The Board raised concerns about the applicant performing work on the building without permits and that both the unpermitted and proposed work did not appear to be compatible with the historic character of the building. The Board indicated that the submittal materials did not contain adequate renderings which made it difficult to understand the proposed project. The Board requested revised drawings of the existing elevations showing sufficient detail of the entire scope of work. The revised plans would also need to clearly indicate what is existing and proposed, with specifications of proposed items for installation. The applicant inquired about the possibility of removing the building from the City’s Historic Resource Inventory and also requested a continuance.
At the March 7th hearing, staff noted that two components of the project could be recommended for approval (the existing storage units and the proposed two-story addition). However, staff again presented concerns about the remaining project’s impact on the historic character of the building and reiterated that the project would require additional analysis under CEQA. The applicant stated that he would comply with staff’s recommendation to replace in-kind the original wood windows on the primary, west-facing façade and restore them to their original condition. However, the applicant did not agree to comply with staff’s recommendation regarding use of vinyl windows on secondary (north, south, east and interior courtyard) elevations.
The Board again determined that the level of information provided on the project plans did not allow them to make an informed decision about the entire scope of work. In addition, the Board concluded that while the primary façade exhibits the most architectural features indicative of the Regency Moderne style, the courtyard elevations are also important.
The applicant was given the option to request a continuance in order to redesign the project. The applicant declined to request a continuance, therefore the Architectural Review Board voted and unanimously disapproved the project at the March 7, 2005 meeting.
The applicant appealed the Architectural Review Board decision on March 17, 2005. The appeal statements are provided in Attachment A. The applicant notes that the subject property is listed on the City’s Historic Resource Inventory and contends that conditions of approval related to the building’s status as a resource are unreasonable. The applicant states that he would be willing to comply with staff recommendations pertaining to the primary façade but that recommendations/conditions related to the secondary elevations are unwarranted.
As detailed more fully below, since the beginning of the review process, staff has advised the applicant that because the proposed work necessitates discretionary review, the project is subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. Staff has discussed with the applicant the two options for complying with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act given the project’s impact on a historic resource: 1) redesign the project to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation in order to qualify for a Class 31 categorical exemption; or 2) prepare additional environmental documents in the form of an Initial Study and subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration or Environmental Impact Report.
Staff assessed whether the existing improvements qualified as a historic resource, and if so, whether the proposed project may have a significant adverse impact on this resource. In conducting the latter inquiry, staff assessed whether the proposed project would comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The subject building exhibits numerous architectural characteristics that make it a particularly good example of the Regency Moderne style. The subject building possesses the following Regency Moderne Style architectural elements: a stuccoed façade; flat roof; rounded corners; crown molding and stringcourse; fluted pilasters; accenting plaster medallions; and bands of elongated, and recessed wood-framed casement windows with wood sills that curve around the corners of the building on both sides of the primary (front) façade. While the front façade exhibits the majority of the Regency Moderne style architectural elements and is considered the primary building elevation, the side, rear, and courtyard façades are secondary building elevations that also contribute to the overall historic character of the building.
The subject building has been surveyed for historical significance three times (1992, 1996, and 2005) (see Attachment E). Because of its historical and architectural significance, it is identified in the City’s Historic Resources Inventory as a 5S3. This evaluation code means that the structure appears to be individually eligible for local listing or designation through survey evaluation. In accordance with section 15064.5(a) of the CEQA Guidelines, and because the subject building is considered locally eligible for City of Santa Monica City Landmark designation, the subject building is considered a historic resource for the purposes of CEQA.
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards outline guidelines for four different treatments: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction. The proposed scope of work would be reviewed as rehabilitation of an historic resource. The Standards define rehabilitation as, “the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.” The following three Standards for Rehabilitation are particularly relevant to the proposed project:
Standard #2: The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved. The removal of distinctive materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships that characterize a property will be avoided.
Standard #5: Distinctive materials, features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property will be preserved.
Standard #7: Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.
Staff has identified two key components of the scope of work that are not consistent the Standards for Rehabilitation: the existing and proposed window replacements, and the proposed sandblasting of the building exterior. The recessed, wood-framed casement windows on the primary elevation are a character-defining feature of the subject building and are indicative of the Regency Moderne architectural style. In addition, the fenestration on the secondary elevations also contribute to the overall historic character of the building. Any replacement of windows on the primary and secondary elevations must be done in manner that retains the historic character of the building (i.e., in-kind replacement of materials that conform to the size, orientation, and appearance of the original, historically appropriate material removed). As proposed, the use of smaller, flush-set, vinyl type windows on the primary and secondary elevations detrimentally affects the character of the building by removing and altering distinctive historic features, and by detrimentally altering the historic spatial relationship of solids to voids and recesses to projections that are (were) present on the primary and secondary building elevations.
The existing exterior stucco walls are an important, character-defining feature of the Regency Moderne-style building. The stucco finish is an historic building material that must be retain and treated in the most gentle manner possible. The applicant is proposing to sandblast the exterior of the entire building in preparation for stucco repair and repainting. As proposed, this treatment of the stucco finish would result in immediate loss of historic building material and would accelerate the deterioration of this feature of the structure.
Based on staff’s review of the proposed scope of work, the project is not consistent with the Standards for Rehabilitation and is, therefore, not categorically exempt from CEQA pursuant to Article 19 Categorical Exemptions section 15331 Historic Resource Restoration/Rehabilitation. As such, the proposed project would cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historic resource, and would therefore be subject to additional CEQA analysis in the form of an Initial Study and subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration or Environmental Impact Report prior to scheduling of a public hearing before a decision-making body.
Staff also agrees with the Architectural Review Board’s determination that the level of information on the applicant’s plan was insufficient. The applicant would need to provide revised building elevations that adequately detail the scope of work with clear specifications of the proposed items for installation, details of the method of installation for the windows, and identification of all existing items to be removed and replaced.
Staff does not support the proposed project for the following reasons:
1. The proposed project is not categorically exempt and therefore would require additional CEQA analysis. The scope of work does not comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The use of smaller, flush-set, vinyl type windows on the secondary elevations detrimentally affects the character of the building by removing and altering distinctive historic features, and by detrimentally altering the historic spatial relationship of solids to voids and recesses to projections on the primary and secondary building elevations. In addition, the proposed sandblasting of the exterior stucco walls would result in the loss of historic building material and also accelerate future deterioration of a character-defining feature of the Regency Moderne style building.
2. The project plans do not adequately describe and detail the full scope of work proposed. At a minimum, the applicant would need to submit additional plans/elevations providing the following information: adequate detail of the proposed rear addition; clear specifications of the proposed items for installation; details of the method of installation for the windows; and identification of all existing items to be removed and replaced. This additional information has been requested by staff and the Architectural Review Board during the project review and public hearing process.
The applicant has not provided sufficient project information or plan details to clarify the scope of work proposed for this application. The proposed project does not comply with the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, a position supported by the City’s historic preservation consultant. Consequently, the proposed project is not categorically exempt. Additional environmental review is required before this Commission can act on this project application.
Based on the foregoing review and analysis, staff recommends that the Planning Commission deny the appeal, supporting the Architectural Review Board’s disapproval of 05ARB-543.
Other than the recommended action, the Planning Commission may:
It is recommended that the Planning Commission deny Appeal 05-003, upholding the Architectural Review Board’s disapproval based on the following findings:
A. The project to legalize building alterations that were constructed without required city approvals or permits is not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in that the proposed building alterations may cause substantial adverse change in the significance of a historic resource since the project is not being undertaken consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Since further environmental review is required, no approval may be given until such review is completed.
B. The plan for the proposed building or structure is not expressive of good taste, good design, and does not in general contribute to the image of Santa Monica as a place of beauty, creativity and individuality in that the change of windows is not consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Additionally, the proposed methods for resurfacing the building’s primary elevation are not in keeping with the Standards as this façade is of particular historic significance and the proposed methods would destroy this significant element. Finally, the applicant failed to provide application plans and specifications containing sufficient finish and design details of the existing elevations and details of proposed window installation in order to clarify the scope of work, specifications of proposed items for installation, and identify the location of existing items to be removed or altered to demonstrate that the requested building alterations would comply with pertinent standards and findings to allow approval.
Prepared by: Roxanne Tanemori, Associate Planner
A. Appeal 05-003 (Appellant’s Statement of Appeal)
B. Notice of Public Hearing
C. Notice of Public Hearing Sign Posting
D. ARB Statement of Official Action, Staff Reports & Minutes
E. Historic Resource Inventory DPR Sheets
F. PCR Services Corporation Memorandum dated March 1, 2005
G. Staff Correspondence dated January 15, 2004
H. Staff Correspondence dated February 18, 2004
I. Staff Correspondence dated March 30, 2004
J. Staff Correspondence dated December 22, 2004
K. Staff Correspondence dated February 3, 2005
L. Applicant Correspondence dated January 28, 2004
M. Applicant Correspondence dated March 19, 2004
N. Aerial Photo of Property (2003)
O. Architectural Plans, Color Elevations and Photographs
 Weeks, Kay D. and Anne E Grimmer. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving,
Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Properties.
 PCR Services Corporation, Memorandum – Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
 Ibid., page 4.
 Ibid., page 2.
 Weeks, Kay D. and Anne E Grimmer. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving,
Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Properties.
 Ibid., page 62.