PRJ04-00697 ZON04-00072 APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: RICHARD HOPPER.
Planner Eastman presented the project as a request to construct a 3-unit apartment complex. He described it as nearly identical to a previously approved project on 231 West Wilshire Avenue. He indicated the difference between the proposed project and the previously approved project at 231 West Wilshire Avenue is in the exterior treatment. Assistant Planner Eastman explained that the project meets code with some minor exceptions and the applicant has indicated his willingness to comply with the recommendations.
He pointed out the major issues and conditions of approvals are as follows:
- Providing Wood siding on the bottom floor of the project the intent for this is the historic neighborhood to the north. Staff is trying to keep consistency with the preservation zone to the north and with the adjacent wood siding structures. (A similar recommendation was made to the 231 West Wilshire rear unit).
- Continue the wainscot stone wall around to the sides of the building.
- Recessed lights in the soffit along the alley.
- Providing structural support to cantilevered portion of the rear unit.
Vice-Chair Silber asked staff for clarification on the condition to continue the wainscot around the building.
Associate Planner Eastman pointed out that the base in the front unit does not show wainscot in the east or west elevation of the front unit. Staff recommends a four-foot wrap-around. There is also no stone between the garage doors.
There being no further questions for staff, Chairman Daybell opened the discussion for public comments.
Richard Hopper, owner and applicant, began by addressing the water heater recommendation (Staff Report Condition 2). Mr. Hopper explained that he did not want to place the heater under the stairwell since it might create venting problems. He proposed to place it outside of the building as was done on the 231 West Wilshire property. The heater would be housed in a small pop-out structure that would match the building. Associate Planner Eastman voiced concerns with moving the heater to the proposed area due to the required clearance for parking space. The applicant asked staff to clarify whether or not water heaters are allowed in garages. Associate Planner Eastman explained that they are allowed if the parking clearance is met. He added that this is a code compliance issue and not a design issue. He suggested that this item be resolved between staff and the applicant at a later time.
Chairman Daybell stressed compliance with code since it currently does not meet requirements. He concurred with Associate Planner Eastman that staff meet with the applicant to work out a solution that would bring the water heater into code compliance. Vice-Chair Silber recommended that the applicant look into an On-Demand Water Heater that mounts onto the wall. The applicant was very receptive to the idea, and agreed that this option could be a possible solution.
The applicant expressed concern with complying with Condition #6, which recommends wood siding for the buildings. He reported on his research on the neighborhood. His intention with the proposed design was to break up the monotony of siding on either side of the project site. From a design standpoint he feels that siding, stone, and stucco would be too many elements and one element would have to be picked over the other. He reiterated that he felt the proposed stucco would break up the monotony of the siding on the adjacent buildings, and resemble a nearby building on the southwest corner of Highland and Wilshire.
Mr. Hopper discussed Condition #8. He spoke of the idea to bring in the stonework to create the visual column look and felt this would be easy to do. Chairman Daybell confirmed that the applicant did not have a problem with this recommendation. Mr. Hopper responded that he concurred with this recommendation unless siding was required. If this were the case, the applicant felt the siding would not lend itself to the stone concept he had described.
Mr. Hopper addressed Item #8 in the Project Analysis (Staff Report Condition #13). He explained that lighting is already included in the plan. Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the soffit light condition is included to ensure that the lighting remains in the construction drawings when it comes back for final approval.
Chairman Daybell turned the meeting over to Committee Member comments.
Vice-Chair Silber said he was torn between the stucco and the siding. He acknowledged that the example of the previously approved wood-siding project was successful in breaking up the volume but it did not use stone in the design. He thought stucco would create contrast from the 213 Wilshire Avenue project and prevent the buildings from appearing as cookie cutter structures. He was inclined to support the choice of stucco with staffs condition to continue the wainscot. Vice Chair Silber also agreed with the rule of staying with two wall materials and supports the choice of stucco with the stone base. He addressed the balconies/decks and expressed his opinion that they not be stucco. He suggested a different type of material for the decks and a discussed closed-in wood railing, wrought iron, or fence material.
Chairman Daybell concurred that this would add contrast to the deck and the rest of the building.
Committee Member Johnson suggested perhaps veneer or different color stucco.
Vice-Chair Silber referenced inconsistencies in the notes that would need corrections. He questioned whether the drawing was correct.
Mr. Hopper confirmed that the verbiage is incorrect. It should read a stucco-covered foamed cornice rather than a wood fascia.
Vice-Chair Silber stated that because nearby buildings are so much alike it is a good idea to use the stucco and the stone.
Committee Member Johnson agreed with the stucco idea but stated that having a color-scheme would help. He liked the wainscot wrapping around the side and the idea of possibly using different color stucco on the balcony areas or other elements. He also agreed with the other elements used in the balconies. He was in support of the project with staff recommendations, but with the stucco.
Chairman Daybell agreed with the stucco and he stated that copying the siding from the next buildings is not a good idea and contrast would be better. He agreed with wrapping the wainscot at the base at least with the minimum being required by staff. He added that he also wanted the contrast in walls around the decks/balconies. He expressed concern with the paint color of the stucco since color can easily be changed from what was originally approved and he would vote for something more distinctive or permanent like wood.
Vice-Chair Silber asked Staff whether the stone base would remain a wainscot and Associate Planner replied affirmatively. Silber also addressed the front southeast corner where stone is floating in space near the deck. Vice-Chair Silber stated that it would be necessary that the corners of the garages and the base of the balconies have a light, element like wrought iron or wood, so the balconies would not require visual support members.
Mr. Hopper interjected to say that because a line is missing in the drawing it does not show a consistent border all the way around the building. He described the band around the building as breaking the building entirely in half and suggested that perhaps this band could be the color of the balconies or could match the trim that would be a different color than the rest of the building.
Vice-Chair Silber stated that solid balconies tend to look neater because people cluttering the balcony with their belongings. Mr. Hopper explained that any element that pops out from the building would be a different color or the color of the balconies. Vice-Chair Silber asked that the project be approved conditionally pending the color configuration and the balcony details. Vice-Chair Silber asked if the condition is for the Director of Development Services to approve the color configuration. Associate Planner Eastman replied that the recommendation is for staff approval, but the committee could request that the color scheme come back for approval.
Chairman Daybell asked that a color-scheme be supplied. Vice-Chair Silber did not want to hold up the project, and asked Staff if it could be approved with only a few items needed to come back for review. Associate Planner Eastman informed the Committee that if they felt the project was fundamentally sound, with only a few concerns, the Committee could approve it under these conditions.
Chairman Daybell summarized by stating that the committee would like the color-scheme submitted, and pointed out the only area that the Committee disagrees with Staff on is the use of wood siding in Condition #6.
Vice-Chair Silber made a MOTION to approve the project with the staffs recommendations. With the exception to Condition #6 and with the additional condition that the color-scheme be provided with alternative suggestions on the balconies.
Associate Planner Eastman paraphrased the conditions brought up by the Committee Members in reference to the Staff Report for clarification purposes:
- Modification to Staff Report Condition #1 - Prior to issuance of building permits, the applicant shall provide material samples and a paint palette for final approval by the Redevelopment Design Review Committee with emphasis provided on the treatment to the balconies.
- Modification to Staff Report Condition #2 - All on-site parking spaces shall maintain an unobstructed clear area for the parking of vehicles as required by the Citys Municipal Code. To maintain the required 19 X 19 clear area, the water heater in the rear garage will be relocated pursuant to the satisfaction of the Director of Development Services.
- Modification to Staff Report Condition #6 - That this condition be deleted.
Vice-Chair Silber made a MOTION to approve the project with staffs recommendations as listed above. The Motion was SECONDED by Committee Member Johnson and CARRIED unanimously by Members present. (3-0).
Mr. Hopper asked Staff if the Committees approval gave him authorization to proceed with the demolition of the existing structure and obtaining permits for construction.
Associate Planner Eastman explained that the project is fundamentally approved but there is a 10 working-day appeal period. The permits cannot be pulled until the lapse of the appeal period. He advised the applicant that drawings may be submitted for plan check review.
Vice-Chair Silber confirmed for clarity that the revised plans need to reflect the wainscot treatment as well as the other conditions.
Chairman Daybell closed the discussion on this item and asked staff to report on Item 3.
PRJ04-00744 ZON04-00071 APPLICANT and PROPERTY OWNER: JOHN CHEN
(Historically significant building at 217-225 N. Harbor Boulevard and 104-108 West Wilshire Avenue)
Prior to the Staff Report, Vice-Chair Silber advised that the applicant was one of his clients and due to the conflict of interest, he would refrain from participating on this item.
Assistant Planner Kusch presented the Staff Report. He gave a brief background on the Rialto Theatre Building built in 1905; described the significant remodeling of this building in 1930 from a brick building to its current Zigzag Moderne style that is characterized by straight lines, geometric patterns, ornamentation, and Egyptian-inspired architecture. He described the ornate buildings in addition to the much simpler western-most portion of the Wilshire Avenue faade as described in the staff report.
Assistant Planner Kusch characterized the Rialto Theatre Building as a Potential City of Fullerton Landmark and thus the need to carefully review the proposed exterior changes with the intent to assure preservation of the architectural character of the structure.
He described the proposal to repaint the building and install awnings and signage as outlined in the Staff Report.
Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the current subdued tones are in keeping with the Zigzag Moderne style, and the proposed paint would be a significant change to the buildings appearance. He indicated that Staff feels the new paint scheme is tasteful and in character with the building, but final approval is at the Committees discretion.
Assistant Planner Kusch indicated that not enough information was provided on the Signage Program to determine compliance with the Central Business District Design Guidelines (CBDDG). He stated that Condition # 1 has been established requiring the applicant to provide more detail for review and approval by the Director of Development Services and amended as identified below:
- Guidelines call for projection signs to be a minimum of 50 feet apart, 8 feet above the sidewalk, and 14+ feet above the alley.
- Sign program should provide more detail sign type and shape and be coordinated with the design theme.
- Conform to CBDDG limits of keeping the sign size to 30 percent of walls signable area.
Assistant Planner Kusch reviewed Staffs issues with the proposed striped-patterned awning for the secondary storefronts on Harbor Boulevard and Wilshire Avenue. He quoted the CBDDG Guidelines as solid accent colors are preferable to patterned awnings and stated that staffs recommendation is that the awnings be a solid color (Staff Report Condition # 3). He stated that the RDRC would need to determine whether the awnings, as proposed, complement the architectural style, color scheme, and interface well with the adjacent building facades.
He concluded by stating that should RDRC approve the project, staff recommends that the approval be conditioned as listed in the Staff Report, and those that the Committee deems appropriate.
Committee Member Johnson asked that since Vice-Chair Silber was abstaining, if he would be able to participate as a member of the public to offer opinion. Associate Planner Eastman recommended against it; and Chief Planner Rosen asked that he still remain in the room to retain a quorum.
Associate Planner Eastman clarified to the Committee that Staff was looking to them for recommendation, approval, or denial of the project. He suggested a discussion on the proposed awnings based on the guidelines (solid vs. patterned/striped). He hoped the committee could reach a determination on the appropriateness of what is being proposed and provide direction to staff and the applicant on the signage.
Committee Member Johnson asked the applicant if they had any issues on Staffs recommendations.
Applicant and property owner, John Chen asked if recommended Condition #2 meant that the paint belonged in the same palette. He explained that each building has its own color palette and treatment with different levels of detail. They do stay within the same palette for each building and asked if this would meet Staffs recommendation.
Associate Planner Eastman stated that the information provided was only for part of the building is not the entire structure. Since they were looking for a consistent paint scheme for the entire building, it is difficult to determine if it is appropriate based on what was provided. He informed the applicant that additional information needs to be provided.
Mr. Chen stated that the portion provided was meant to provide a trend of the entire building, but he would submit a complete colorized drawing for all sides of the buildings.
The applicant commented on the multi-colored awnings (Staff Report Condition # 3) that only affected the corner building, since the Rialto Building has a solid awning. He brought samples of the proposed awning and asked Janet McDonald to comment. Ms. McDonald explained that from a design view, the two buildings were separate and therefore their intent was to give each one an identity. She expressed their intent to do something more detailed to the corner building since it is a very plain structure. In her mind, they were able to find an awning that was, not circusy and still be in keeping with all of the other colors. Mr. Chen added that the corner building had become bland in the current paint treatment and has lost character. In his opinion, this awning would bring textural interest and the sign would go immediately above the awning. He proposed that it would serve as an accent and provide interest at the corner.
Chairman Daybell asked for clarification regarding the number of buildings. Associate Planner Eastman explained that there are technically two different buildings (the buildings are attached) but because of the current paint scheme, it makes them appear as one.
Chairman Daybell also wanted to clarify why the center colors in the drawing were blank. Ms. McDonald apologized. The applicants intent was to simplify the proposal by showing a representation of patterns in the color scheme to apply all the way around the buildings.
Mr. Chen asked staff to explain the purpose behind Recommendation #3. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the condition was put in place because the CBDDG design guideline identifies a recommendation for solid color awnings. He interpreted the intent of the guidelines language to attempt to focus on historic buildings, and to simplify design so as to not create an extremely busy-looking downtown with too many patterns. Chief Planner concurred with Associate Planner Eastmans interpretation and stated that in general, a solid color has a more simplified look. He also pointed out that the guidelines do not say you shall and are rather a recommendation that therefore warrants discussion.
The applicant expressed their desire to keep the patterned awning and Ms. McDonald stated that they were hoping for flexibility from the Committee.
Chairman Daybell expressed uncertainty in deviating from the standard regarding the number of signs on the building. He questioned the structural reason why the guideline was not followed. Associate Planner Eastman elaborated that the Central Business District Design Guidelines (CBDDG) identifies a 50-foot separation to reduce the number of signs and eliminate clutter. Mr. Chen explained that the store fronts are divided up into three retail tenants. He described their location as a corner entity across from downtown plaza that is a pretty boring block and their purpose would be to create something for the eye to follow down Wilshire and Harbor that would create repetition: These blade signs would induce a person to look down each street to see what is there. It was confirmed that each tenant would have its own sign. The applicant stated that alternatively, they would place a larger sign, but the repetition by the smaller signs adds more character to the building.
Associate Planner Eastman asked what the separation between the signs was. Mr. Chen did not have a definite answer but confirmed it to be approximately 30 feet. Associate Planner Eastman quoted from the design guidelines as follows: Projecting signs should be placed at least be 50 feet apart, if individual store front locations preclude following this 50-feet rule, then projecting signs should be placed no closer to each store front, but in no event shall they be closer than 25 feet. He was uncertain if store fronts defined individual buildings or individual tenants spaces.
Chairman Daybell stated that the approval would have to be conditioned to be feet, not 50 feet. Committee Member Johnson agreed with the applicant as far as the striped awning offering contrast from Rialto. He commented on it being a handsome awning with visual appeal. Committee Member Johnson had no issue with approving the striped awning and added that it would be a nice accent to the corner.
Committee Member Johnson did have issues with the blade signs and would like to conform to the guideline of 25 feet. He asked to see the sign program with the color scheme and scale so that it could be further reviewed. He also questioned the lighting on the signs and Mr. Chen confirmed that all signs would be lighted from either the back or the top using an exterior source.
Chairman Daybell advised the applicant that they would like to see the sign program return to the RDRC again before giving approval. Committee Member Johnson expressed no problem with the location. Chairman Daybell also liked the color scheme since it would definitely make it stand out a lot more than it does now. Committee member Johnson affirmed that he would support the project with the conditions that the sign program came back for review. He as well was in favor of the color scheme and striped awning.
Associate Planner Eastman summed up the conditions and issues brought up by the Committee Members in reference to the Staff Report for clarification purposes:
Modification to Staff Report Condition #1: - The applicant shall submit a revised sign program that complies with the requirements of the CBDDG, the Fullerton Municipal Code, and the direction provided by the RDRC. The revised Sign Program shall be subject to the approval of the RDRC (not the Director of Development Services) prior to the issuance of building permits for new signage or re-installation of signage after the building is repainted.
Modification to Staff Report condition #3: - That this condition be deleted.
Committee Member Johnson made a MOTION to APPROVE the project with staffs recommendations as listed above.
The Motion was SECONDED by Chairman Daybell and the Motion passed by a vote of 2-0, with Vice-Chair Silber abstaining.
Mr. Chen confirmed with staff and the committee that a fully colorized representation of the building and a sign program needed to be submitted. Chairman Daybell said the Committee only needed the Sign Program and Associate Planner Eastman said the full-colorized representation should be provided to staff to keep on record. Associate Planner Eastman asked that the sign program be further elaborated and advised the applicant that a Sign Program needs to be provided prior to issuance of permits. Chairman Daybell added that it should include the lighting.
Associate Planner Eastman indicated that it was not probable that this project would be ready for the August 26th meeting due to the significant revisions.
Chairman Daybell closed the discussion on Item 3.