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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes



WEDNESDAY October 25, 2000 4:00 P.M.

The meeting was called to order by Chairman LeQuire at 4:00 p.m.
Chairman LeQuire; Commissioners Allred, Crane, Godfrey, Munson, Sandoval and Simons

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis; Program Planner Linnell; Associate Planner Viado; and Recording Secretary Stevens

ALSO PRESENT: Lt. Geoff Spalding, Fullerton Police Department; Terry Galvin, Redevelopment Operations Manager

MOTION by Commissioner Munson, seconded and CARRIED unanimously, that the Minutes of the October 11, 2000, meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.


Staff report dated October 18, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow automobile dealerships in an existing office building located at 461-469 West Valencia Drive (northeast corner of Valencia Drive and Richman Avenues) (O-P zone) (Categorically exempt per Section 15301 of CEQA Guidelines).

Associate Planner Viado reported that, in the past, staff had allowed wholesale auto dealerships in commercial zones because they were primarily office uses, and display areas were not mandatory. Staff would limit such businesses to one vehicle on display at any given time, and required that no signage be allowed on the vehicle identifying it for sale. The subject site currently has 15 active auto dealer licenses. In the past few years, staff has noted an increase in the amount of vehicles displayed at these types of businesses, thus appearing more like used auto dealerships. Because of this, staff now requires that wholesale dealerships obtain a Conditional Use Permit prior to obtaining a business license. The applicant has identified space for approximately 29 office suites in the complex, and is requesting that 19 of these suites be used for auto dealerships. There are presently 24 parking spaces on site, however, 27 spaces are required by today's standards, according to the amount of building space identified by the applicant.

Field inspections revealed a number of issues pertaining to this site, including a short block wall constructed without permits on the eastern parking lot, and illegally parked cars on site. Because of these issues, staff is recommending that only ten dealerships be allowed under this request, and that the block wall be removed.

Because staff was recommending that only ten dealerships be allowed, Commissioner Simons asked how staff would reduce the number of the 15 dealerships which presently exist. Associate Planner Viado informed him that business licenses are renewed annually; the next five which came up for renewal would not be processed.

Commissioner Sandoval noted that one of the conditions required revocation proceedings to be initiated in the event three or more complaints are received, and asked if this was staff's intent. Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively and added that stronger language was placed in the conditions of approval, in case revocation of the conditional use permit was necessary.

Public hearing opened.

Ramin Bral, 461 Valencia Drive, is the property owner. He reported that for the past seven years, the property has been rented by automobile dealerships. No repairs of any kind are conducted on site, and the dealers only use the office space because it is required by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Most tenants do not occupy the spaces, the offices are very small-72 square feet to 210 square feet in size, and are irregularly shaped. This also makes it difficult to rent these office spaces for other uses. The area is a mixture of industrial and residential uses, but many leasees find the area intimidating. He informed the Commission that he would be unable to operate the office building if he could not keep 22-23 spaces filled with the automobile dealership uses.

Commissioner Simons asked if the applicant could accept all of the conditions of approval, including the condition which only allows ten dealerships, and Mr. Bral answered negatively. He has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain other types of tenants, and felt that this was the only way he could stay in business.

Commissioner Munson asked how many tenants would be acceptable to the applicant, and Mr. Bral answered nineteen. Commissioner Munson also questioned how the applicant would provide the additional three necessary parking spaces. Mr. Bral answered that it was his understanding upon purchasing the property that the existing parking would be "grandfathered," but, if necessary, he would attempt to obtain parking from an adjacent property owner.

Commissioner Crane asked how many spaces were available for lease in the building, and Mr. Bral indicated that it was either 27 or 29.

Public hearing closed.

Commissioner Simons felt that the matter should be continued to allow staff opportunity to work with the applicant regarding parking, number of allowable auto dealerships, the block wall, etc. Commissioner Munson concurred, and added that he did not feel this matter should have been brought before the Commission with so many unresolved issues.

Commissioner Godfrey did not feel that this was the "highest and best use" of this property and would be hesitant to support it at this time.

Chairman LeQuire also felt that the property should be reviewed by Code Enforcement, in an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues, and brought back to the Commission at a later date. Commissioner Godfrey added that it would be easier to enforce any "rules and regulations" if a Conditional Use Permit were in place. Because the property has been out of compliance for the past seven years, and a Conditional Use Permit would apply enforceable conditions, he said that he would support a CUP at this time.

Chief Planner Rosen explained that should the Commission deny the request without prejudice, the applicant would have the option of refiling within sixty days, and the application fee would be waived.

MOTION by Commissioner Crane, seconded and CARRIED unanimously, that this item be CONTINUED until December 13, 2000.

Staff report dated October 18, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to allow a bar use in a 1,650-square-foot space in an existing multi-tenant industrial building, and to allow 20 off-site parking spaces to meet the parking requirement for this proposed use, on property located at 115 West Santa Fe Avenue (north side of Santa Fe Avenue, approximately 175 feet west of Harbor Boulevard (M-G zone) (Categorically exempt under Class 1 of CEQA Guidelines). A vicinity sketch was displayed.

Associate Planner Viado reported that the subject site was previously utilized as a bar, but without benefit of a Conditional Use Permit. The building is 1,650 square feet in size, and the proposed hours of operation will be 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. The zoning code requires 17 parking spaces, and the applicant has obtained letters of intent from surrounding businesses to provide a total of 20 parking spaces. Staff has identified lighting, future exterior improvements, and trash pick-up as potential issues, but the applicant will comply with staff's recommendations and all conditions of approval. She noted that the applicant would like the opportunity to modify the hours of operation by opening earlier on holidays and during special events. Staff has no objection to this request, but will require approval by the Director of Development Services prior to any such event.

It was Commissioner Simons' understanding that there was a City-owned parking lot to the west of the site, and he asked if the City would allow parking there. Chief Planner Rosen confirmed that this was a City-owned lot, but it was on a long-term lease and could not be arbitrarily opened up and used for parking. Commissioner Allred questioned how staff would monitor those properties who have offered letters of intent to allow parking, should they move or come under new ownership. Chief Planner Rosen explained that if the applicant loses those lease interests, it would become a violation of the Conditional Use Permit. He suggested adding to the conditions of approval that the applicant must obtain and maintain off-site parking agreements.

Commissioner Sandoval noted that Condition No. 2 required any major exterior building improvements and signing to have separate review and approval, but did not say by whom. Staff indicted they would add the words "by the Director of Development Services" to the wording.

Commissioner Munson wished clarification on the street lighting for the area, and if there were plans for upgrading at this time. Chief Planner Rosen answered affirmatively.

Public hearing opened.

Sean Francis, 312 West Whiting Avenue, showed a brief slide presentation on the proposed business-a 1950's-style martini lounge called "The Continental." He gave a history of the business he presently owns in Fullerton, The Hub, and how it had improved what had been a blighted area. He owns another business in Fullerton, The Reagan Years, and has also been instrumental in Earth Day, a yearly event held in Fullerton.

Commissioner Crane questioned why the applicant desired the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Mr. Francis explained that it was in the interest of neighboring properties to be open when other businesses are closed.

Carlo Terranova, 310 East Amerige Avenue, is the co-owner of the proposed business, and reiterated the positive aspect the business will have on this portion of the city.

The following persons spoke in favor of the project:

  • Mike Ritto, 1543 East Sudene Avenue, President of Downtown Business Association
  • Chris Lowe, representing Fullerton Chamber of Commerce
  • Charles Terranova, 3193 Horizon Place, West Covina
  • Brent Hardwick
  • Patrick Robeson, 1007 Dorothy Lane, owner of the Red Cloud on Wilshire Avenue
  • Karen Gottlieb, owner of International House of Pancakes on Orangethorpe Avenue
  • Cameron Irons, 1241 W. Valencia Mesa, owner of Rock N Taco Cantina on
  • Harbor Boulevard
  • Alfred Casas
  • Julie She, City of Walnut
  • Lee Nollette, 209 North Princeton Street
  • Michael Goggin, 1105 West Balboa, Newport Beach
  • Kevin Abbott
  • Michael Francis
  • Howard Drucker
  • Skip Wells, 625 Terrace Circle, Huntington Beach
  • Dave Parker, owner of IL Ghiotto restaurant
  • Tony Bushala

The points supporting the project were as follows:

  • No Redevelopment funds will be used
  • Fine establishment going into a neglected area
  • Will be beneficial for the Downtown and will blend in with the downtown atmosphere
  • The applicants are outstanding citizens with a proven business track record
  • Unique concept for Fullerton
  • The Hub is a successful business and applicants are responsible on-site managers who care about their neighbors

Robert Zerner, owner of Heirlooms of Tomorrow, while supportive of the project in concept, feared the younger crowd which may frequent this establishment. He expressed concern about parking, trash, and drunken disorderly conduct in the alley. He also questioned who would be responsible for maintenance of the alley.

Steve Ellingson, owner of the property at 119 West Santa Fe Avenue reiterated that a parking problem presently exists in the area, particularly from the business across the street. Large, eighteen-wheeler trucks park on both sides of Santa Fe Avenue, which makes parking difficult on the street.

Public hearing closed.

Associate Planner Viado noted that a letter from Northern Trust was received by staff just prior to the meeting, and states concern regarding parking, crime and safety. Chairman LeQuire indicated this would be entered into the public record.

Lt. Geoff Spalding, Fullerton Police Department, indicated that the Police Department was not opposed to the proposed use, and they were aware of the success and good reputation of the applicants. He reminded the Commission that this establishment must also go through Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) approval, which adds another approval process which the applicant must obtain.

Chief Planner Rosen reported that a comprehensive plan is being developed to review the lighting, public infrastructure and parking along Santa Fe and Malden Avenues. Staff is aware of the truck parking issue and insufficient lighting in the area, and these matters will be addressed as part of the aforementioned plan, which should take approximately six months to complete.

Commissioner Munson expressed concern that if a CUP were granted for the use, it could be six months before a lighting plan were implemented. Chief Planner Rosen suggested that the applicant provide temporary lighting, and it would be added as a condition of approval.

Commissioner Simons inquired as to the length of lease for the parking lot. Redevelopment Operations Manager Galvin indicated that staff is continuing to work with the owner of Boege's Sporting Goods, Walt Johnson, to supply a public parking area, but the street design has not begun as of this date, and the lease is a month-to-month agreement. Should Mr. Johnson desire to buy back the property to expand his business, only the small parking area would remain, and staff is unsure how valuable it would be in solving the existing parking problems.

Commissioner Simons commended the applicants for their willingness to utilize their own money to provide an enhancement to this area. He felt the proposal would be a catalyst in revitalizing this section of the downtown quadrant.

Commissioner Munson supported the project, but reiterated his concern regarding the problem of inadequate lighting, and urged staff to remain in contact with the Police Department concerning this issue.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. 6900 ALLOWING a bar use in a 1,650 square foot space in an existing multi-tenant industrial building and to allow 17 off-site parking spaces to meet the parking requirement for this proposed use on property located at 115 West Santa Fe Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Godfrey, seconded and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED as follows:

  1. Modifying Condition No. 2 to require approval by the Director of Development Services
  2. Modifying Condition No. 9 requiring applicant to provide off-site parking agreements for 17 additional spaces
  3. Adding Condition No. 10 requiring that a temporary lighting plan be explored and implemented
  4. Modifying Condition No. 6 to require approval by the Director of Development Services prior to any holiday or special event.
Staff report dated October 5, 2000, was presented pertaining to a request to consider a comprehensive revision of the Zoning ordinance, Title 15, of the Fullerton Municipal Code (Negative Declaration) (Continued from October 11, 2000).

Because of the late hour, Chief Planner Rosen inquired if the Commission wished to continue the matter until the December meeting. It was the consensus of the Commission to open the public hearing for the benefit of the persons already in attendance, and continue the discussion portion of this item to the December meeting.

Program Planner Linnell stated that the staff report reflects a series of unresolved issues. He pointed out two in particular; one being on page 6, under Planned Residential Development. Staff was in receipt of a letter from Centex Homes, which outlined their concerns with two points under the PRD heading. The first pertained to what the setback would be when a development came up to another property with a different zone. Staff is requiring a 30-foot setback against any residential zone classification. Centex Homes also expressed concern with the FAR limits, and wanted this to be noted on the record. The second issue dealt with properties which come up against a developed recreational area. Staff requires a 10-foot setback for a rear property line and a 5-foot setback along a side yard.

Another item involves page 5 of the staff report, which gives the Director of Development Services the right to waive requirements for preservation zones. Fullerton Heritage believes that this gives too much discretion to the Director and would request that the language be changed as stated in the staff report.

Public hearing opened.

Ron Baers, Centex Homes, stated that any changes to the PRD zone is of concern to his company, as well as Chevron and other parties involved in the development of Hawks Point. Because they have worked on the concept plan for approximately two years, any changes at this point would be crucial to the project. Two major residential projects have been designed under the provisions of the existing code, and because Centex has completed the design process for both of these projects, they should be exempt from any amendments to the PRD ordinance. Regarding setback requirements, both projects have side yard and rear yard conditions which abut an open space zone, and have been designed with 5-foot side yard and 20-foot rear yard setbacks. He also wished to state for the record that Centex opposes any tiered FARs because (1) if a lot size is less than 4,000 s.f. and the FAR goes below a .5 or .6, they would have to design a product below the market level; and (2) hillside development is more expensive than flat land development. Further, a system of greenbelt pathways has been planned, that leads to developed recreational areas. In the present code, there was no definition of "developed recreational areas." A Specific Plan document has been prepared which states an array of possibilities for these areas, but they are not at the point where they can design the specifics of those areas, and will do so when they obtain more buyer profile information.

Commissioner Godfrey noted that the plans approved by staff thus far may be approved, as long as they are not significantly modified some time in the future, but the possibility exists that another developer may take over the same parcel, with another set of plans.

Chief Planner Rosen clarified that the two issues still outstanding were: (1) the issue of the FAR, which staff is not proposing to modify at this time; and (2) what is a "developed recreational area" and the definition of "active" space. Staff has always required every developer of a PRD to provide full recreational amenities as part of the development plan and has allowed flexibility in this area. It is not staff's desire to limit the market share of any project, and staff is confident that the projects in question will have adequate recreational areas.

Mr. Baers stated that Centex has appreciated the flexibility that they have had, but at this point if they are told that, in addition to pathways, they must provide other amenities in a 10,000 square foot space, it could be a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood.

Commissioner Simons questioned if any plans which have been approved to date would have to be modified if the ordinance, as written, were adopted. Chief Planner Rosen replied that no plans have been approved, and staff is still in the negotiating process with the developer. He did not believe that they would have to be significantly changed.

Chairman LeQuire wished to go on record by stating that he would be uncomfortable with requiring a developer to substantially change any plans which have been tentatively agreed upon up to this point.

Katie Dalton, 200 North Cornell Avenue, referenced page 5, pertaining to the Director of Development Services being able to waive design guidelines in the preservation zone. Fullerton Heritage felt that this "took away" from the review process in terms of persons who appeal reasons why they could not adhere to the guidelines without a public hearing process. The design guidelines were adopted by persons living in preservation zones who feel strongly about the continuity of the guidelines. They wished to have the Redevelopment Design Review Committee be the governing board in this matter. Secondly, she asked if the Planning Commission would be supporting the section on page 7 concerning the procedure to designate neighborhoods within a residential preservation zone. Commissioner Godfrey assured her that the Commission was in agreement with staff's recommendation.

Commissioner Sandoval requested that the two letters received by the Commission prior to the start of the meeting be entered into the public record.

MOTION by Commissioner Sandoval, seconded and CARRIED unanimously, that said item be CONTINUED until December 13, 2000.

Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings.
There was no one present who wished to speak on any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be December 13, 2000, at 6:55 p.m.
Becky Stevens
Recording Secretary
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