The meeting was called to order at 4:15 p.m. by Vice-Chairman Daybell
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Vice-Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Blumer and Silber.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT: Chairman Johnson and Committee Member Coffman.
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen; Associate Planner Eastman.
Minutes for March 13, 2003 and April 24, 2003 approved by a vote of 3 to 0.
City Associate Planner Eastman presented the project. The proposal is to construct a three unit apartment complex at 231 W. Wilshire Avenue. The project site is zoned R-3; is currently a vacant parcel; was previously developed with an apartment complex, which was demolished in 1999 after a fire; and is a 7,000 sq. foot rectangular shaped parcel with 50 feet of frontage on Wilshire and a 140 foot depth. The site is adjacent to an R-2P zone (Duplex residential zone with a preservation overlay) to the north; R-3 zoned apartments to the east and west; and O-P zoned commercial offices to the south, across Wilshire. Staff stated that a report was provided to the RDRC members in their packet, and that the predominant concerns outlined in that report were code issues related to parking dimensions and back-up spaces. Staff pointed out a few of the minor recommended revisions, including fencing on the side property lines; relocation of a second story balcony for Unit B; placement of a window on the front elevation; the addition of lightings in the soffit behind the rear garages; and the addition of siding at the first floor of the rear building to provide a transition from the historic preservation property to the north. A few additional revisions were suggested in the staff report which were very minor in nature. These minor issues were suggested, and not included in the recommended conditions of approval.
Vice Chairman Daybell asked staff to clarify the issue related to the front garage parking spaces, as the plans label parking at 19 by 9 feet in dimension. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the garages are label at the appropriate dimension, but the plans do not scale out to a 19 by 9 clear space, and the overall dimensions on the bottom of the plan do not add up to a 19 by 9 clear space. The labeling is not consistent with the called out dimensions or scale.
Applicant Dave Morgan presented the revised drawing, and explained that all of Staff's recommended conditions were addressed. In addition to Staff's revisions, he pointed out that siding was added to the entire first floor of all the buildings. Mr. Morgan explained that his mother, Mary Morgan, has owned this property for 20 years. They are building it now because interest rates are good. The intent is to move his mother's sister into one of the three units and rent the other two out. Because the sister will be living on the property, they have a strong desire to build a quality project.
Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the revised plans indicate that siding will be applied to the first floor all the way around all the buildings. It was pointed out that this is the first time Staff has seen these plans, and he clarified that Staff had recommended that siding only be applied to the rear and side elevations of the rear building in order to provide a transition with the adjacent historic preservation zone. Staff had not recommended that siding be added to all the elevations of all the buildings.
The applicant did not have a color or material board to present for RDRC review. Mr. Morgan pointed out that the second story balcony for Unit B was moved per Staff's recommendation, and also clarified that the fencing between Unit A and B was relocated because Unit B's kitchen window would have looked into Unit A's private patio space.
Associate Planner Eastman said that since this is the first time Staff has seen the revised plans, Staff still needs to look at the plans to ensure that they comply with the City's development codes, such as window setbacks to property lines.
Dave Morgan stated that he had read the staff report and didn't see any problems with any of the recommended conditions of approval.
Vice-Chairman Daybell asked the applicant if he's talked with any of the neighbors regarding fencing. Mr. Morgan stated that his mother owns the property to the east, and that the existing chain link fence was built after the old apartment burned down, and is actually constructed about 6 feet onto the adjacent property. He said that once the project gets going, he will remove the existing fencing, put up a temporary construction site fence, and then ultimately construct a new redwood/cedar 6" dog-eared fence along the property. Staff clarified that the recommended condition stipulates that a fence or wall be constructed on the property line; however, if an adjacent property owner didn't want the fence on the property line, then Staff would work with the applicant to find an alternative solution, which might include constructing the fence or wall solely on the applicant's site.
Vice-Chairman Daybell asked for comments from the public. Mr. Garrett Hartney, 402 N. Highland, said that he lives in the preservation zone and was attending the meeting as part of a "watchdog" group. The neighborhood is concerned as to what happens on the 200 block of Wilshire because it is quite deteriorated. He was in support of the project based on what is being presented at the meeting.
Vice-Chairman Daybell closed the public hearing.
Member Blumer said he generally likes the project, and had only a few things which he thought might improve the design. One is to add "columns" between the garages, under the soffit, at the rear alley. He felt an "unsupported" overhang of the second floor looks awkward. The addition of the columns would also provide some recessed depth for the garage doors. A second comment is in regards to the front window elements, and feels some width needs to be added to the sides of the windows. As drawn, he felt the window elements look like they have been "stuck" on the building, and a more substantial architecture might make them more integrated. He also thought that the placement of the garage window in the center of the garage has too much symmetry, and thought the project architect might look at shifting it a couple of feet.
Member Silber said that he agreed with Member Blumer regarding the addition of column elements to the rear elevation, under the soffits. Regarding the symmetry of the front garage window, he thinks it could work either way. He had some concerns that the front window in the living room would probably not be operable, which wouldn't allow for any cross ventilation. He felt that the addition of 2 or 3 inches to the side supports of the windows would be adequate to provide a more substantial window element.
Vice-Chairman Daybell said he leans towards Member Blumer's suggestion regarding the windows, and thinks the proportions should be changed. He very much likes the idea of the columns on the back of the building at the garages. He thinks the project is well done and will be an improvement to the substandard development elsewhere on the block.
Associate Planner Eastman asked the applicant how the siding on the first floor will transition to stucco on the second floor. The question was asked if there would be a ledger or cap, rather than just a galvanized bar. The applicant said that he was thinking of just running a z-bar along the edge.
Member Silber suggested that a horizontal cap or some kind of transition along the top would be better rather than just having the z-bar come down to the wood. Member Blumer thought that a cap is needed too. Applicant Morgan asked if the RDRC wanted a rough sawn 2 by 4. Member Silber said that he thought a cap could be used so that it read more like an old fashioned window sill, so that there is some projection for a shadow line, but in height it would be pretty shallow. But he thought there were other ways of doing it. His biggest concern is that the exposed sheet metal would be difficult to deal with at the corner board and that it would likely have a bit of a waver to it which would create an uneven shadow line. Possibly there could be a 2 by 2 with the z-bar above it. It was clarified by the RDRC and Staff that they don't have any big preference on how the transition is designed, but would like to ensure that there isn't unfinished look, as which might be created by an exposed galvanized bar.
Member Blumer revisited the issue of the front windows and expressed that after looking at it more, he thought the siding helps anchor the windows, and he has less concern with the elements then he did based on the drawings he reviewed from his packet. He said he could support the front design if more depth was added to the element on the sides of the windows, such as the 3 inches suggested by Member Silber, as well additional spacing/area around the top of the arch.
Member Blumer motioned, and Member Silber seconded, to approve the project subject to the condition in the Staff Report and three additional conditions including: 1) the pop-out elements on the south elevation be widened by approximately 3 to 4 inches on either side of the windows, as well as the area above the window arch; 2) construct attached "columns" on the north elevation between the garage doors to visually provide support for the second story overhang and give the illusion that the garage doors are inset; and 3) provide detailing to Staff's satisfaction showing how the first floor siding will transition to and the second story stucco.
City Associate Planner Eastman introduced himself and explained that RDRC Member John Silber is also the architect for the proposed project; and therefore a potential conflict of interest prevents him from participating in discussions or decisions related to this proposal. However, Mr. Silber will remain present in the room to allow him to have a clear understanding of the RDRC concerns.
Vice-Chairman Daybell expressed his understanding that agenda item no. 2 was being presented to the RDRC at this meeting in order to solicit RDRC comment, and that a revised project will come back to the RDRC at a later date for an official recommendation to the Planning Commission.
Assistant Planner Kusch presented the proposed development, located at 1077 West Avenue, which is the north side of West Avenue, just west of Euclid Street. The subject property is currently vacant, with an apartment complex to the west, and an auto repair business to the east. The property is zoned C-2, and has C-2 zoned property to the north and east, and R-3 zoned property to the south and west. Planner Kusch described the surrounding properties. Along with a Development Plan review, the applicant is requesting a zoning and general plan amendment. The proposed zoning amendment changes the project from a C-2 zone to a R-3 zone, and a general plan amendment is needed to change the designation from commercial to residential. The project is located within Redevelopment Area No. 4.
Planner Kusch stated that the proposed development was originally 5 units, but needed to be revised to comply with the development standards. The current proposal is for 4 units, with the dwellings constructed over garages, carports, and a drive aisle.
The proposal is being presented at this meeting to obtain RDRC guidance related to the project's architecture, including colors, materials, and landscaping. Specifically, Staff would like to obtain the RDRC's perspective as to how this project relates to the revitalization of the redevelopment area. The project will come back to the RDRC at the next scheduled meeting of May 22 for an official recommendation to the Planning Commission. Assistant Planner Kusch pointed out that the project has been scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting of May 27th; therefore the RDRC's official recommendation will be made after the staff report has been distributed to the Planning Commissioners. The RDRC's recommendation will be presented to the Planning Commission by memorandum, or verbally via Staff's presentation at the Commission meeting.
The applicant described the proposal as a two duplex project. The property is a narrow lot with the buildings mostly on the east. The project will have residences on a second floor, with garage and open "carports" below. Access to the units will be on the east side by a stairwell that leads from a pedestrian path up to a balcony (deck). The design of the structure is essentially wood siding with some stucco. The colors for the building have not been determined, although a color board was presented which displayed general ideas. The siding on the proposed structures will be stained wood. The applicant stated that they have enhanced the building site with landscaping, including a turf patio area with some planting in front, and a meandering walk from the parking lot/street frontage to the units. A block wall will be constructed on the east and north side of the lot, with a wood fence along the west side. Some buffer planting will be provided on the east side the adjacent auto repair facility.
Dick Walters with Century 21 Superstars, representing the applicant, stated that the site is a lost commercial property, which has no traffic flow from Euclid, and has no viable commercial use. Mr. Walters explained his understanding of the property's land division history, which has isolated it from Valencia and Euclid. He thinks apartment units would be an asset to the community. Mr. Walters stated that there is also a possibility that there might be a reciprocal access agreement with the property owner of the adjacent residential property to the west.
The property owner to the west, Jesus Vallejo, 1073-1079 West Ave., stated that he might have some concern of where the project's buildings will be located, and would like to look at the project plans. Tenants on his property drive into the fence at the property line, so he has concerns related to what would be constructed at the property line.
The applicant pointed out the proposed building locations. Questions related to the location of the building and parking transpired, and it was clarified that the proposed structures span the drive lanes, and vehicles must pass under the proposed buildings to get from one side of the property to another. Associate Planner Eastman asked if the vehicle circulation and building design has been approved by the Fire Department. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the rear buildings need to be sprinkled and/or an on-site hydrant will need to be provided. Planner Eastman wanted clarity regarding fire department requirements because Fire apparatus wouldn't be able to make it to the rear of the property, and therefore the design might need to be significantly changed to meet Fire Department accessibility. The applicant stated that he owns the adjacent property to the north, which fronts on Valencia Avenue; so a Fire Department access easement could be created to allow fire trucks to access the site from the rear.
Member Blumer asked questions regarding colors, and wanted to know if each unit or building would have a different color, as identified on one elevation. He expressed a preference to go with two different color schemes. Member Blumer stated that he doesn't have too much concern regarding the structure's "boxy" appearance. He thinks the materials and paint scheme should provide a "richness". He likes the separation of pedestrians from vehicles; and likes the landscape buffer between the site and the property to the west. He thought that a 3-foot high block wall between the apartment building on the west might be more appropriate. A short discussion transpired between the members of the RDRC and the applicant, their representatives, and the adjacent property owner to the west. Member Blumer thought the architecture is compatible with the adjacent apartment units.
Vice-Chairman Daybell had a concern regarding sound attenuation with dwellings being adjacent to the auto repair place to the east. He also commented that he thought the plywood at the edge of the stairs would show hard use over time, and will not age well. It was suggested that the stairs edges be stuccoed or otherwise treated to reduce wear.
Chief Planner Rosen asked if there were existing street trees on West Avenue. There was some discussion related to street trees, and it was clarified that the project must comply with City requirements for street tree types, sizes, and location.
Member Blumer asked if the applicant was going to bring in a material board sample with siding. He also asked for clarity regarding the staining of the wood siding.
There being no further comments, and there being no requirements to vote on the project, Vice-Chairman Daybell closed the discussions related to the proposed project at 1077 West Avenue.
Mr. Garrett Hartney, 402 N. Highland, asked that the DRC consider the design and aesthetic impacts of front doors on neighborhoods when reviewing projects. He stated that many developments have front doors which are very "blah", and need to have more "zip".
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:35 p.m.