Staff report dated January 5, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to subdivide a 1.70-acre parcel to create six single-family residential lots on property located at 3701 Puente Street (southwest corner of Puente Street and Las Riendas Drive) (R-1-10,000 zone) (Negative Declaration). A vicinity sketch was displayed.
Assistant Planner Kusch reported that the proposed lot sizes for this tract range from 10,191 to 11,200 square feet, which is consistent with lot sizes for many of the surrounding parcels. The subject site is indicative of Fullerton's agricultural past. The property is predominantly an orange grove, improved with a ranch house and accessory structures. In 1976, the adjacent residential tract to the north and west was developed and the subject parcel was retained. The proposal continues the subdivision pattern of the existing tract. A proposed cul-de-sac will provide public street access to the proposed parcels. The cul-de-sac right-of-way will be in alignment with the existing north/south segment of Las Riendas Drive.
Staff was in receipt of three letters and a petition from surrounding residents, and these were distributed to the Commission. One of the adjacent residents requested a continuance of this item, to enable residents to meet with the developer to discuss their concerns with the project. Staff suggested to the applicant that the matter be continued, but the applicant declined. However, the applicant attempted to contact the neighbor, directly to the south of the subject site. It was noted that public hearing notices were mailed during the City's holiday closure, so there would have been no staff available to answer questions from the public. For this reason, staff would support a continuance of the item. Staff recommended approval of the subdivision, subject to the conditions contained in the staff report.
Commissioner Godfrey asked what the benefit would be of continuing this matter. Assistant Planner Kusch answered that it would give the residents an opportunity to meet with the developer to address line-of-sight and block wall issues.
Commissioner Simons inquired whether staff had made the applicant aware of the neighborhood concerns, and if these concerns could be mitigated. Assistant Planner Kusch answered that many of the conditions, such as speeding, graffiti and trash, are pre-existing. However, the line-of-sight issue with the property to the south could be mitigated. Chief Planner Rosen added that drainage issues could be addressed in the final grading plans, and this is a condition of approval.
Commissioner Godfrey noted that the installation of a block wall may impede a driver's view, similar to the one at State College and Dorothy Lane. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the code addresses line-of-sight issues when a wall is adjacent to, or within ten feet of, a driveway. In those situations, a "corner cut off" would be required, where a solid block wall would be no higher than three feet and any fencing above that would not be view obscuring.
Public hearing opened.
Jensen Chen, applicant, reported that the proposed tract would continue with the existing pattern of the area. He also felt that the block wall was not the cause of trash problems or speeding vehicles. Also a block wall was required as part of the zoning code.
Commissioner Simons asked if there was a grade differential between the proposed development and existing residences to the south. Mr. Chen stated that presently there is a 1-2 foot height difference, but this would be addressed during grading.
Commissioner Crane inquired whether a six-foot retaining wall on the proposed site would be an eight-foot wall to the adjoining residence because of the height difference. Chief Planner Rosen explained that because the code allows a two-foot retaining wall, a six-foot block wall may be placed on top of that.
Chairman LeQuire asked if applicant had read and concurred with all of the conditions of approval, and Mr. Chen answered affirmatively.
The following persons spoke regarding the project:
Richard Molino, 3637 Puente Street (distributed photos of existing block wall)
Bob Engemann, 755 E. Sunny Hills Road
Oscar Jackson, 761 E. Sunny Hills Road
Marilyn Silverstein, 3800 San Pablo Drive
Greg Hackey, 3806 San Miguel Drive
Tim Blodgett, 1110 West Pecan Street
Cathy Molino, 3637 Puente Street
Don Olexaser, 878 E. Las Riendas
Jack Lithgow, 3613 Green Meadow
The points of concern were as follows:
Stephanie Lerer, property owner, stated that she must sell the property to obtain financial assistance for her family. She interviewed many developers before choosing Mr. Chen, who assured her he would conform to the existing neighborhood. She did not desire to see the matter continued, and did not feel that the additional block wall would increase speeding for the area.
- Trash is an on-going problem on the Puente Street side of the block wall
- Have applicant reverse the direction of the proposed homes to face Puente Street
- Add landscaping to the proposed block wall to make it more aesthetically appealing
- The additional block wall will create a "tunnel" effect and invites speeding down Puente Street, as well as increased graffiti
- Proposed block wall will hinder view of existing residents to oncoming traffic when exiting their driveways
- Proposed block wall will block the flow of existing drainage pattern
- Possums, rats and other animals will go into residential neighborhoods when existing orchards are cut down
- Concerned that Planning Commission did not have ample time to read the letters and petition that were submitted by surrounding residents
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner Sandoval requested that the letter from Mr. & Mrs. Molino, the petition from the residents, and the letter from William Stookey be entered as part of the public record.
Commissioner Simons expressed concern about potential drainage problems. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin explained that the existing drainage flow must be continued by any new development, either by channelization or piping.
Chief Planner Rosen reminded the Commission that staff is not requiring a block wall as a condition of this development. Staff suggested that if a wall is constructed along Puente Street, that it be a block wall, to be consistent with the existing wall.
Commissioner Munson was uncomfortable supporting staff's recommendation for approval, when it would also be approving the proposed block wall. He wished clarification on how the line-of-site issue would be mitigated. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin stated that the proposed wall would be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that no sight problems existed, and that the intersection would be safe for Las Riendas and the driveways to the south.
Commissioner Simons also concurred that a wrought iron fence would be more desirable and would mitigate any potential sight problems. He also suggested that a stop sign be placed at Puente Street/Las Riendas Drive to alleviate some of the speeding problems. Senior Civil Engineer Wallin clarified that all stop sign requests must go before the Transportation and Circulation Commission for approval. Also, the Engineering Department had previously informed the applicant that any driveways for the proposed development may take access off of Puente Street, should they so desire.
Commissioner Crane suggested that Lot 5 face Puente Street and have the driveway for Lot 6 off of either the cul-de-sac or Las Riendas, and then the side yard could face Puente Street.
Commissioner Munson first thanked those in attendance for coming out and sharing their views concerning this matter. He felt that while there seemed to be a consensus of approving the development itself, he would not support staff's recommendation if it included the block wall requirement. He wished to see the applicant meet with the residents and staff in an attempt to arrive at a mutually-acceptable type of fencing on Puente Street. Commissioner Simons concurred.
Commissioner Sandoval, while supportive of the development concept, suggested that Condition No. 4, pertaining to the block wall, be removed to allow approval of the site plan. She cautioned, however, that Lots 5 and 6 would then have the option of installing whatever approved fencing they desired, whether or not it matched the existing block wall.
Commissioner Godfrey did not favor any of the proposed fronting on Puente Street because of the heavy traffic volume. He also wished to place some type of restriction on the fencing issue, because he didn't want the area to have "hodge podge" fencing. He supported staff's recommendation as presented, because he felt the additional block wall would not exacerbate already existing conditions such as trash.
Commissioner Allred desired to continue the matter to enable staff and the developer to study the block wall issue. Commissioner Crane concurred, adding that he felt the developer should look at other options, such as fronting Lots 5 and 6 on Puente Street, to mitigate residents' concerns.
Chairman LeQuire also voiced concern regarding the additional block wall. He asked if any other commissioners desired to request that a stop sign on the corner of Las Riendas and Puente be forwarded to the Transportation and Circulation Commission.
Commissioner Munson reminded the Commission that stop signs are not always a "positive" addition, and more often than not, can cause additional traffic problems. There is also added noise associated with stop signs. While he would have no objection to having the matter heard by the Transportation and Circulation Commission, he reminded the Commission that the issue may be denied.
MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that the Negative Declaration be CERTIFIED.
Commissioner Godfrey suggested that a condition be added to require Lots 5 and 6 to front on Puente Street, eliminating the ability to install a six-foot fence. Commissioner Crane added that the garages and parking be off the cul-de-sac. There was not a consensus of the Commission to add this condition.
MOTION by Commissioner Godfrey, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that this item be CONTINUED to February 9, 2000 at 7:00 p.m.