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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

March 10, 2004

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Stopper at 4:00 p.m.

ROLL CALL

Chairman Stopper; Commissioners Francis, Griffin, Hart, Savage, and Bailey

ABSENT: Price

Commissioner Bailey introduced himself and gave a brief description of his background.

STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis, Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant City Engineer Hoppe, Planning Intern Mizokami and Recording Secretary Baker

FLAG SALUTE:

Commissioner Griffin

MINUTES:

MOTION by Griffin, seconded by Hart and CARRIED unanimously that the Minutes of the January 28, 2004, meeting be APPROVED AS WRITTEN.

4:00 P.M. SESSION

PUBLIC HEARING

ITEM NO. 1
PRJ03-00804 - ZON03-00071. APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: THE OLSON COMPANY

Staff report dated March 3, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request to consolidate parcels and develop a 121-unit condominium project, which includes an abandonment of streets and alleys, a tentative tract map (TTM TR-16583), a major development project application, specific plan preparation, and zoning amendment, on property bounded by South Harbor Boulevard, East Truslow Avenue, Walnut Way and East Walnut Avenue) (R-5 zone to SPD) (Previously certified EIR).

Assistant Planner Eastman explained that this project was located in a Redevelopment Area and there was a request for abandonment of certain streets and alleys to allow the construction of a single project and perpendicular guest parking on a part of East Truslow Avenue. There was also a request to create new property lines and private streets on a tentative tract map. He stated that the project included 21 buildings and 120 condominium units and that lot lines will be adjusted. He identified that the office parcel on the northwest corner of the project site (110 E. Walnut Ave.) has only been included because of an alley abandonment and the Ice House building (112 E. Walnut Ave.) will remain as is. The request requires a zoning map amendment, changing the current R-5 and M-G zones to a Specific Plan District (SPD).

Assistant Planner Eastman discussed the Specific Plan, the project boundaries and the zoning for the various surrounding uses, as described in detail in the staff report. He gave a background of the zoning issues, and explained that all owners within 300 feet of the project site were notified of the proposal by mail. As of the time of the writing of the staff report, staff had not received any written or telephone responses. There was one communication received by FAX today from a transit center patron asking the Commission to review impacts to commuter parking and security issues, copies were given to the Commission.

Assistant Planner Eastman discussed previous plans for the property, and informed the Commission that the applicant was proposing a rezone to Specific Plan District (SPD), an abandonment of streets and alleys, the adoption of the specific plan document, and approval of the site design and architecture. A previously approved plan for 346-unit apartment complex was never constructed, due to the real estate market. In 1999, the City entered into a development agreement with the property owner, which required the property owner to develop this site as one project and provide a public trail connection from the Harbor trail crossing to the Transportation Center. As part of that agreement, the City was required to finalize the R-5 zoning, which was completed. In 2003, the City modified the CUP for the church at 112 E. Walnut Avenue. This modification allowed the church to exist without on-site parking, and allowed the parking lot to be incorporated into this proposal. The Redevelopment Design Review Committee reviewed the project on February 12 and 26, 2004, and approved the project, subject to the conditions in the staff report.

Associate Planner Eastman showed elevations of the townhomes, lofts, and live-work units. The proposed site plan distinguishes the two types of architecture and three types of units. The site plan also identified live-work units. Traditional townhomes will be three stories in height and will not have the live-work units. Associate Planner Eastman described the various building locations, and showed the elevations along with the site plan. There will be a total of 333 parking spaces, which is an average of 2.75 spaces per unit. Staff supports perpendicular spaces, which adds 43 new spaces for public use. Eastman clarified that the staff report identified 85 perpendicular spaces; but the cul-de-sac has since been enlarged, and the number of perpendicular spaces has been reduced to 83. Staff and the RDRC recommend that the Commission recommends approval to the City Council.

Commissioner Savage asked why tandem parking wasn't allowed in the R-5 zone. Chief Planner Rosen explained that tandem parking is on a limited planning residential development and some Specific Plan Districts. Chief Planner Rosen identified that the "regular" zones haven't allowed tandem parking since the 70's. Staff discussed the widening of Truslow Avenue and the perpendicular parking spaces. Open space requirements are being met with each unit having 67 square feet minimum private open space.

Commissioner Savage asked why the zoning was being changed from R-5 to SPD. Associate Planner Eastman explained that it was difficult to develop a multi-building condo project of three stories at this density and meet the setback requirements. Currently, zoning requirements are based on the type of rooms with windows and the distance from various property lines, and the story height of the window.

Commissioner Savage asked about the possibility of the rail being widened. Associate Planner Eastman answered that it is a speculative issue, based on future demand, but there are no current plans at this time. Assistant City Engineer Hoppe clarified that there is sufficient room for an additional rail on all overpasses and up to five additional rails on the Highland overpass, which would only require a small amount of additional right-of-way. Because one rail is approximately 10 feet, only the planter between the diagonal parking on Walnut Avenue would be lost. Associate Planner Eastman added that the use of the Transportation Center would increase, over time and, therefore, parking structures would be expected; they are dependent upon available funding.

Commissioner Savage was in favor of the tandem parking. However, he was concerned that it would cause parking problems perhaps resulting in residents using guest spaces.

Commissioner Bailey asked if the applicant had considered noise and noise abatement. Associate Planner Eastman mentioned that a noise analysis is attached to the staff report. Staff would require the applicant to address additional issues because the site plan had changed to accommodate a fire department turnaround. Staff will look at the noise analysis based on the new plan, and will require an amendment to address the project and mitigation measures included to require the interior sound be less than 45 decibels and 65 for the exterior open space areas.

Commissioner Savage was concerned that the parking on the north of Walnut could be removed. Associate Planner Eastman said that the Railroad Authority could come and ask for the right-of-way. Chairman Stopper asked if the angled parking was on the railroad's right-of-way. Chief Planner Rosen told him that it is on the City right-of-way.

Commissioner Savage asked how the daytime parking was going to be regulated. He also was concerned that residents of the live-work units would be using the residential parking for large work vehicles. He asked if the perpendicular parking will be posted "No Residents During Daytime Hours".

Associate Planner Eastman said that the Homowners' Association would regulate the perpendicular stalls on Truslow. The intent of the condition of approval is not to prohibit parking or to make it overly stringent. It will be on a first come, first served basis similar to city streets. The Homeowners' Association (HOA) will hire private security to patrol and enforce. It is up to the HOA, and parking prohibitions on weekends and evenings will be adequately posted. He also stated that City code does not allow the storage of large vehicles on the site. Also, the Specific Plan will require the HOA to approve any request for a business license. Acceptable uses for home-based businesses are shown on Exhibit H in the staff report. The Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC & Rs) will also restrict the uses.

Commissioner Francis asked if there was a lighting plan. Associate Planner Eastman stated that there was a condition of approval that a photometric plan be submitted. Commissioner Francis asked if that plan would be required to be submitted before City Council approval. Eastman stated that it wasn't required before the item is reviewed by Council, but it would be required before building permits are issued. The same applies to final landscape plans. The Redevelopment Design and Review Committee will review the final architecture design after the Council has provided feedback.

Commissioner Griffin asked for a clarification of the parking. Associate Planner Eastman explained the need for more parking in the area and the hours that could be posted for permit parking.

Commissioner Griffin asked how guest and resident vehicles would be identified and was concerned that residents will use street parking instead of their garage. Staff can require it be reflected in the CC & Rs. Associate Planner Eastman added that other cities have developments that require license plates, and the expected time of use must be called into a private security company.

Commissioner Hart was concerned with the pedestrian bridge from the transit center going through a private living complex and allowing pedestrian access. She also asked about the hours of operation of the trains. Associate Planner Eastman said that an easement or similar mechanism was required, and the pedestrian traffic will be clearly stated in the Specific Plan; the development can't be gated and pedestrian access must be available to the public. Also, Metrolink has limited hours of operation, however, Amtrak runs late. It has the potential to become very busy with foot traffic at all hours.

Chairman Stopper asked about access to Walnut and Truslow from Harbor and Lemon, street sweeping issues, Homeowners' Association responsibilities, tree maintenance issues, parking enforcement, abandoned vehicles, vandalism, trash pickup, Union Pacific right-of-way, trail easement, and the length of the trail. Staff responded to all of his questions.

Commissioner Francis asked about the width of the trail. Associate Planner Eastman stated that it would be a 20 ft. easement with 10 ft. of pavement and 10 feet of landscaping.

Commissioner Savage discussed the wall proposed around the electrical transfer station. Associate Planner Eastman stated that a condition of approval would be an eight-foot wall around the development to separate it from the station. He also mentioned that the RDRC suggested providing public art on the part of the wall, facing the train station.

Commissioner Savage thanked Associate Planner Eastman for a job well done on the presentation.

Public hearing opened.

Applicant, Ed Holder, Director of Development with the Olson Company, was the first to speak. Mr. Holder stated how enthusiastic his company is about this site and the future of downtown Fullerton. He spoke about the historical buildings and what a quality site this was. He mentioned the other transit village sites the Olson Company had worked on in downtown Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego. He felt it has a broad appeal, and there is a new wave of buyers in California that support the lifestyle options The Olson Company is creating.

Commissioner Bailey asked about sound and acoustical studies. Mr. Holder stated that studies have been done in urban areas and have been done to reflect this site. Interior noise levels will be no more than 45 decibels for the interior and 65 decibels for exterior sound levels at open space areas. Sound walls might be built, depending on building configuration.

Commissioner Savage had concerns about the parking situation and how to disclose it to the potential buyer. Mr. Holder stated that they will be very clear up front about the provisions. They didn't have a parking problem in Santa Ana, and it has a similar density of 20 - 25 units per acre. The Santa Ana site has guest parking on site because of available public parking.

Commissioner Griffin asked about street sweeping. Staff stated that it would be done on a particular day, and overnight parking could be a potential problem. Staff identified that the perpendicular Truslow spaces are the responsibility of the HOA, just like the interior streets.

Commissioner Francis asked if there has been any consideration for the naming and addressing of streets, and asked how the soundproofing was done. Mr. Holder stated that they are still working with the Fire & Engineering Departments and that addressing is different than naming streets. Mr. Holder explained that soundproofing is done by using double-paned glass with double thick wood framing; however, they don't have specific insulation chosen yet.

Commissioner Francis reiterated that the Olson group planned this project around the Ice House and its significance. He didn't think that the setback was enough for it to function; deliveries to the roll up door would be essential if the use were to change. He asked if the City could allow another five feet of easement for a driveway. He stated that he feels strongly about it, the roll up door is a waste if you can't get deliveries to it. Mr. Holder stated that he didn't want to give up any of the area in the tree-lined pedestrian walkway.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that this was a new issue and he was not sure what the implications would be by shifting over five feet. Associate Planner Eastman added that there was a 25-foot setback between buildings, the new property line would be 10 feet off of the Ice House building and of the 10 feet, five feet would be part of the 20' wide trail easement. Associate Planner Eastman responded that the trail does make access more difficult. The City had significant concerns with vehicles on a private trail easement, and typically bollards would be located at the end of the trail.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that staff had worked in cooperation with the Bushala Brothers on this plan and they hadn't brought up the access to the rear door as a problem. If there was a need to redesign it, he suggested the Commission continue the project.

Chairman Stopper asked about pedestrian traffic through the project from East Truslow to Walnut Avenue. He anticipates traffic growing in time, therefore, access must be remain to accommodate pedestrian traffic. He didn't want it converted into a gated community. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it would be made a part of the CC & Rs and it would not be a gated community.

Commissioner Bailey felt that people gravitate to transit villages and that is currently supported by the real estate market. He said the train station is a major Metrolink facility. He talked about how the number of cars can't be controlled except through CC & R enforcement, where a third car couldn't be parked in spaces designated for guests only.

Tony Bushala, 2020 Conejo Lane, stated he was pleased with what the site has evolved into. It's been 20 years since he started his office on Walnut Avenue. He commented on the great track record of the Olson Company as a top home builder. They have a reputation for doing urban infill projects. He spoke about the development history of the site and surrounding uses. He commended Commissioner Francis on starting a business on West Santa Fe. He said that people are looking for opportunities and he envisions more development there. One minor issue has developed at the last minute of getting access to a portion of the building that could be utilized as a kitchen in the future, and it would be nice to have vehicular access. He would like to plan for future uses and make it more attractive. He did not think that shifting the City trail would affect the unit count, but more study is needed at that specific area. He is confident that they can come up with a solution that is good for everyone. He appreciated the opportunity to speak and hoped that the Planning Commission saw a good project and approves it.

Commissioner Francis asked Mr. Bushala if he was the owner of the Ice House and if the Commission was putting too much emphasis on the access to the rear door. Mr. Bushala said that if the Commission felt it was important, they could put a condition for the parties to come to an agreement. He felt it would be nice to have vehicular access.

Commissioner Francis stated that it could be a deal breaker if someone wanted to lease the building and use it for a restaurant in the future. Mr. Bushala stated that he felt reconfiguration was important, because there was only a five-foot easement available. He didn't want to compromise Olson's number of units.

Commissioner Bailey said he walked the property and commended Mr. Bushala for 20 years of forward thinking and a job well done. He dovetailed on Commissioner Francis' comments and doesn't want the door issue to hold it up. He would approve the project with a minor change in that area. He felt access to the service door was an important issue.

Commissioner Savage asked if the doors could be relocated to the west side. Mr. Bushala stated that the west part of the building was more architecturally significant, and he wouldn't want to alter it.

Commissioner Griffin asked if the owner would be willing to consider a continuance of the item until staff had the opportunity to review it. Mr. Holder didn't feel it should be continued, since this issue didn't come up until tonight.

Commissioner Griffin was struggling with the reality of staff drawing it out and getting it down to where everyone is comfortable. He wanted this issue resolved before making a recommendation to City Council. He was uncomfortable with trying to have staff design something without having adequate time to review it. He asked Mr. Holder if he supported a continuance, and Mr. Holder answered negatively.

Commissioner Hart was not familiar with where the door was, and she was surprised this issue hadn't been dealt with previously. Mr. Bushala showed a site plan where it was located. She asked about the feasibility of the alley being used for deliveries. Mr. Bushala stated that the parking in the alley would be restricted if the alley was abandoned. Commissioner Hart felt it was a shame to continue the item, and recommended proceeding and adding a condition of approval.

Commissioner Francis agreed and doesn't want the item to be held up. He wanted to work in a condition that the access to the service door be worked out.

Tony Bushala asked about the pedestrian trail. Associate Planner Eastman said it was a 20 ft. wide easement with 10 ft. of concrete and 10 ft. of landscaping (typically, fiv feet of landscaping on each side). The detailed landscaping plans have yet to be submitted to staff. As proposed, the church is currently using the building, and will be exiting onto the trails. A landscape barrier or curved pathway would be used so that bikes and pedestrians don't come in contact.

Steve Nelson, corporate representative for Southern California Edison stated that the existing power lines come down the alley on the left hand side of Edison's property. He stated that he didn't have concerns with the high current lines, some will be running underground and some above ground. He said they would design a system as the plans are finalized. He explained that the substation serves downtown and surrounding neighborhood, approximately three to five square miles. As the load changes, the power will be shifted and transferred. Switching procedures will be developed when the design is complete. The two primary concerns are liability and the safety of customers. He didn't have a preference on the fencing around the Edison facility, as they they review issues on a case-by-case basis.

Public hearing closed and the Commission took a 10-minute break

Commissioner Francis told the Commission that he had heard about the Bushala Brothers ten years ago. This project has been 20 years in the making, and after acquiring all 27 parcels, it proves there are no slums being established or slumlords. He commended the Olson Group on a great job; he felt it had merit and was exciting. He wants the access to the southeast corner of the Ice House as a condition, but he doesn't want to hold up the project.

Commissioner Bailey concurred with Commissioner Francis. He felt that a transit village would be successful since over 800,000 people use the trains annually. The Ice House rear door is a minor aesthetic issue and he feels everyone wants to work it through. He's in support of the project.

Commissioner Savage asked Chief Planner Rosen if the door on the east side of the building was located in the portion added since the original building was built. Tony Bushala stated that he built the building in the same footprint. It was originally a meat locker, but was rebuilt because the concrete, and rebar was disintegrating. The reconstruction considered historic restoration and preservation. Commissioner Savage asked what the historical value of it was. Mr. Bushala informed him that ice was manufactured on the west portion of the building.

Commissioner Savage felt it was a great project and worried about the parking, but trusts the parking study covers that issue sufficiently. He was concerned about street maintenance issues, and permissible uses, but marveled at the creativeness and felt it was a clever project and good for Fullerton. He did not think it was going to be easy having commercial goods delivered around a public walkway, and should be fenced off.

Commissioner Hart felt it was a tremendous project and would only enhance the area. She doesn't have an issue with the rollup delivery area; that is a small portion of a huge project. She did not want it to inhibit the forward motion of the project, and fully supported it.

Commissioner Griffin felt it was a unique project and shared his serious concerns with parking. Even though he was very concerned with the parking issue, he was not willing to let that concern put him on record against the project. He felt it was a great project for the city and expressed his support, despite the lack of visitor parking.

Chairman Stopper asked Mr. Holder if he had read and concurred with the 30 conditions of approval as listed in the staff report. Mr. Holder stated that he felt he needed clarifications regarding a few issues related to the certified EIR. He felt that some of the EIR mitigation measures wouldn't apply to this project. He also had concerns regarding the ambiguity of conditions requiring "smooth stucco" and "mature trees."

Assistant Planner Eastman stated that unless a study is done to show that the mitigation measures are not applicable to the project, the applicant would have to comply with all conditions of the EIR. He stated that the noise and traffic studies have been submitted, although a revised noise study is needed to address recent project changes.

Chairman Stopper asked if all the conditions would be reviewed by the RDRC again which would be the proper place to deal with stucco, etc. Associate Planner Eastman confirmed that it would be reviewed again by the RDRC.

Associate Planner Eastman showed on the plan that mature canopy trees will soften the mass of three stories on Truslow. The City Landscape Superintendent has suggested 48-inch box trees as an adequate size. Staff clarified that the terms "smooth" is to identify the texture of the stucco, not the quality.

Chairman Stopper stated that the project utilized a lot of land and has evolved to something current. He complemented the Olson Group, and saw it as a keystone to what will happen to the south side of the railroad tracks in the future.

Commissioner Francis mentioned again the naming of the streets; he thought it would be a great gesture if one of the streets was named after the Bushala family.

Commissioner Francis asked that a condition be added to state that the applicant, staff and property owner work to the best of their abilities to provide a mutually agreeable access to the southeast corner of the Ice House for loading and unloading to the rear door.

Chief Planner Rosen stated that the change to allow access to the rear door could substantially modify the site plan.

The title of Resolution No. PC-04-05 APPROVING a development project and a tentative tract map for a 120-unit residential condominium complex, including abandonment of certain public easements and rights-of-way on property bounded by Harbor Boulevard, East Walnut Avenue, Walnut Way, and East Truslow Avenue and including a portion of East Truslow Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Francis and seconded by Commissioner Bailey and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED.

The title of Resolution No. PC-04-06 APPROVING the adoption of a Specific Plan and changing the zoning designation from R-5 to SPD for property bounded by Harbor Boulevard, East Walnut Avenue, Walnut Way, and East Truslow Avenue and including a portion of East Truslow Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Francis, seconded by Commissioner Bailey and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

ITEM NO. 2
PRJ04-00004 - ZON04-00002. APPLICANT: PETER WHITTINGHAM; PROPERTY OWNER: MAYO FAMILY TRUST

Staff memo dated March 3, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request to construct a 13,800 square-foot, drive-through pharmacy, and abandon a street (Balboa Road) on property located at 2200 North Harbor Boulevard (northeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Bastanchury Road) (C-1 zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15332 of CEQA Guidelines).

Chief Planner Rosen reported that this item was being continued to a date uncertain.

ITEM NO. 3
PRE04-00005 - PRE04-00005. APPLICANT: PACIFIC COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION; PROPERTY OWNER: WRA PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Staff report dated March 3, 2004, was presented pertaining to a request for a Special Event permit allowing a two-day credit union auto show sale to be held on April 3 and 4, 2004, in the parking lot of the Plaza Imperial Office Park, on property located at 401 East Imperial Highway (north side of Imperial Highway between Bonita Place and Palm Street) (C-M zone) (Categorically exempt under Section 15304 of CEQA Guidelines).

Planning Intern Mizokami presented the request of the Pacific Community Credit Union. Parking availability for the other existing tenants during the count was the main concern. Staff recommended approval, subject to the conditions stated in the staff report.

Public hearing opened, but there was no one present who wished to speak on this matter.

Public hearing closed.

Chairman Stopper had viewed the property and noticed that there wasn't a high demand for parking on Saturday, as compared to Sunday. Staff discussed that customers and churchgoers would have to use parking at the rear of the site.

Commissioner Francis asked staff to clarify that the project was the same proposal they reviewed a few months ago, and staff answered affirmatively. It was the consensus of the Commission that it was redundant to have an applicant continuously apply for a special events permit for the same type of event. It was suggested by the Commission that the applicant apply for a Conditional Use Permit, since their intentions are to hold this auto show semi-annually.

There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. PC-04-07 APPROVING a Special Event permit allowing a two-day credit union auto show sale to be held on April 3 and 4, 2004, in the parking lot of the Plaza Imperial Office Park, on property located at 401 East Imperial Highway, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Francis, seconded by Commissioner Savage, and CARRIED unanimously that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

OTHER MATTERS

  1. COMMISSION/STAFF COMMUNICATION

    The Commission thanked Associate Planner Eastman for the tour of the tunnels at Fullerton High School.

    Commissioner Hart and Stopper attended the OCCOG workshop and want to be advised of future similar events. Chairman Stopper informed the Commission that he has been meeting with the Councilmembers one on one to see if the Planning Commission was meeting Council expectations. He reported that all the Council members were pleased with the Planning Commission.

    Commissioner Bailey invited the Planning Commission to attend a Technology Working Group meeting on March 16, where they will be asking for $15,000 for a wireless network in downtown Fullerton.

  2. REVIEW OF COUNCIL ACTIONS

    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief report on recent City Council meetings.

  3. PUBLIC COMMENTS

    There was no one present who wished to speak on any matter within the Commission's jurisdiction.

  4. AGENDA FORECAST

    The next meeting of the Fullerton Planning Commission will be March 24, 2004, at 7 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

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