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RDRC Minutes December 9, 2004

RDRC Minutes December 9, 2004


Thursday December 9, 2004 4:00 PM


The meeting was called to order at 4:01 PM by Chairman Daybell


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Vice Chair Silber; Committee Members Coffman, Duncan and Johnson
PUBLIC PRESENT: Bruce Kholooci, John Magness, Michael Kim, Ali Ramezani, Chris Polster, Harold Umberson, Violet Archer, Doug and Paulette Chaffee, Ramona Castanida, Bill Gillespie, Gene Miles, Katie Engstrom, R.C. Alley, Derek Empey, Serafin Maranan, John Favreau, Louis Kuntz, Tom Chou, Dana Chou, Tom and Katie Dalton, Paul Freeman, Jim Cowell.
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant Planner Sowers


December 18, 2004 and December 9, 2004.

4:00 p.m. Session


A request to review four residential dwellings, grading, and landscape plans as conditioned by Parcel Map PM2003-193 located on property at 2200 North Moody Avenue. (CONTINUED from November 18, 2004).

Assistant Planner Kusch stated that there were a number of concerns at the last meeting with Parcel No. 1 and Parcel No. 4. The applicant has submitted a revised plan. The Committee advised the applicant to:
  • Dress up the side elevation so that there is an entry off of Moody Avenue.
  • Limit plant-on features.
  • Integrate features with the actual design of the home.
  • Provide definition by stepping back the second story.
The architect has made the following changes:
  • Shifting the proposed pad further south and redesigning the home to address the bulk and mass issues.
  • Including an entry element (covered porch).
  • Adding stone veneer on the side toward Moody Avenue.
Both modifications for Parcel No. 1 and Parcel No. 4 meet the conditions, and Staff recommends approval. The applicant has provided a material board showing the materials for each of the homes.

Chairman Daybell opened the meeting for public comment. There being no comments the meeting was closed.

Committee Members Duncan, Johnson, and Daybell support the project with staff's recommendations. Vice Chairman Silber said he supports the project, but would abstain because he missed the opening comments. Committee Member Coffman said he was pleased with the grading plan, but still has reservations with the architectural features and the exterior of the building. There is still a fair amount of plant-on features such as columns that do not appear to support anything.

Chairman Daybell called for a motion.

MOTION made by Committee Member Duncan, SECONDED by Committee Member Johnson (Vice Chairman Silber abstaining) and CARRIED by a 3-1 vote (Committee Member Coffman voting against) to APPROVE PRJ03-00432 - PM2003-193.

There is a 10-day appeal period where any action by this committee can be appealed to the Planning Commission and ultimately to the City Council.

A request to demolish an existing tennis club and construct a 171-unit senior housing complex at 1900 Camino Loma.

Present representing the Morgan Group were Derek Emprey, John Magness, Jim Cowell, and Louis Kuntz. Representing the public were Doug and Paulette Chaffee, Tom and Katie Dalton, and Paul Freeman.

Associate Planner Eastman explained that the project was originally submitted and reviewed for 158 units in May 2003. At that time, staff expressed concerns both in terms of meeting code requirements as well as the height and the density of the project. A new applicant (The Morgan Group) took over the project in July 2004, and resubmitted a revised site plan consisting of 171 units. The plans were once again revised and new plans submitted in October 2004. Staff continues to believe that this project is too tall for the area, and has more units than is appropriate for compatibility with the adjacent residential neighborhood. The project includes a General Plan Amendment to reclassify the property to an "Office" designation; a Conditional Use Permit for the senior housing, and a Major Site Plan for architecture and site layout. Because of the General Plan Revision, the project will go before the City Council for final approval.

The condos to the north are 15 units to an acre and to the south 13 to an acre. The proposal before the Committee is to have 30 units to the acre. The property to the west includes single family residences and to the east an existing shopping center. The project contains four, 3-story buildings surrounding a single story leasing recreation building. The project is surrounded by parking. Parking includes resident carports and open spaces, as well as guest parking. There are gates on the east and west sides of the entry circle, and a turn-in lane for key pad entry. Associate Planner Eastman went on to describe the architectural style.

The Staff Report recommends a number of conditions. Staff will review the lighting plan to maintain safety on site and that there is no direct glare on the adjacent residential properties. The landscape plans submitted are adequate, with exceptions noted in the Staff Report. Additionally, staff asked the applicant's Traffic Engineer to identify the line-of-sight for vehicles exiting on Camino Loma, and requested that the project prohibit signage and anything over three feet within the line-of-sight.

Staff recommends that the Committee recommend denial of the project without prejudice to the Planning Commission based on the Staff Reports five findings. Should the Committee choose to recommend approval that it be based on the five findings established in the Staff Report with the inclusion of the 17 design related conditions.

Committee Member Johnson inquired whether staff had discussed with the Morgan Group the possibility of designing the three buildings to the west as a two-story, and the building to the east as a three story. Associate Planner Eastman stated that there has been no discussion at this time. Committee Member Duncan asked if parking, as it is currently designed, meets code requirements, and asked staff to explain Item 6 of the Staff Report regarding the park along Rosecrans Avenue. In answer to the first question, Associate Planner Eastman stated that parking for a retirement complex, based on today's existing code, is below the minimum. The City Council has given staff direction to change the parking requirements for senior housing to more accurately reflect the needs of the existing senior generation. The Code presently reads that parking shall be provided based on a parking study with no less than .75 spaces per unit. Regarding the second question, the park runs along the Rosecrans Avenue frontage with fencing that extends along the front property line. The Code requires a 15-foot front yard setback and staff's concern is that a park surrounded by fencing would encroach within the front yard setback area. Staff would like to maintain that area as open to the street. The park is not a City park, but meant to be for tenants.

Committee Member Duncan referred to Recommended Condition No. 6 in the Staff Report and asked staff to elaborate on the "loop." Associate Planner Eastman responded that the area should be conducive to walking; therefore, staff would like to see the development incorporate a walking path.

Chairman Daybell said with a project of this size, a traffic signal at the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and Camino Loma might be necessary. He asked what is proposed for the intersection, and how would the project be affected if these units were converted into senior condos at some time in the future and the Pavilions Shopping Center turned into residential condos.

Associate Planner Eastman stated that he does not believe that a signal would be necessary based on the traffic and line-of-site analysis study. The report states that the existing tennis club, fully operational, would generate more vehicle trips than a senior housing complex. As far as safety is concerned, police records show no reported incidents at Rosecrans/Camino Loma in the last five years. Staff is not requiring a signal at this time, but is considering the posting of bond. If there is a need for a traffic signal, the bond would be used to finance the signal. The owner of the property to the east is considering a mixed-use condos/retail project, but has not yet submitted plans, and for whatever reason the project may not materialize.

Chief Planner Rosen addressed the question of the relationship between the two properties. Staff feels that tenants should have access to the commercial property, and encouraged incorporating ramps or steps into the development.

Chairman Daybell opened the meeting for public comment.

Derek Empey, with the Morgan Group provided background information about how the group arrived at the proposed design. The initial design was at the maximum density allowable on the property for a retirement complex. Originally large portions of the proposal were four-story; and have been scaled down to three. The architecture has been completely revised to market to high-end seniors. The Morgan Group believes they have employed good land use planning practices. To mitigate any offsite impacts, the units of the three-story complex have been clustered into the center; exiting grades maintained; and the parody between the proposed structure's roof lines and adjacent properties were considered.

Mr. Empey stated that a dense landscape canopy, both on the west and to the south, is proposed as well as greater setbacks. The project does comply with the Development Standards and the General Plan creating an upscale resort-type complex. The existing use on the site that has been there for many years is a much more intense use than a residential project. Each building is being provided with an elevator; if the buildings become two-story, elevator costs cannot be defrayed. As far as safety is concerned, the project has met all line-of-sight standards and studies show no signal is needed.

Doug Chaffee, a Fullerton resident, stated his concern with the project. The traffic study submitted by the applicant does not take into account the traffic that comes to the Tennis Club by walking; the age of the people who would be living in the complex that drive. The mixed-use project to the east, when completed, presents a Planning Commission dilemma when taken in its entirety. This project is a more seriously intense use of the land than what has been the case in the past. A large number of people turned out for the community meeting against the project and he is not convinced that the applicant has done a good job to satisfy the community. Mr. Chaffee stated that the complex is for seniors 55 and older who would not be retired. He expressed concern for the safety of older drivers entering and exiting the complex. The west grade level is lower than the site and needs to be measured from the grade level to the height of the building for a more accurate assessment of the relationships between the structures to the roof line. Other concerns include the amount of asphalt, and the density of the project.

Paul Freeman, Fullerton Home Owners' Association (FHOA), stated that the Home Owners' Association concurs with many of staff's findings. He emphasized that in addition to the project being much too high and dense; it is not in keeping with the neighborhood and surrounding area even with the recommended decrease in mass. He is also concerned that the project would decrease property values. With no parking within the structure, the complex is not the type of housing high end people would be attracted to. The complex could end up as an affordable rental complex. The comparison made of the number of parking spaces to cars is no where near close. One and one half parking spaces are not adequate. There will be more cars than anticipated creating more congestion at the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and Camino Loma during commute time. He stated that the carport structure is certainly not high end; cheaply constructed and presents an eyesore to the neighborhood.

Paulette Marshall-Chaffee, a Fullerton resident stated she has attended a community meeting and agrees with Mr. Freeman that none of the people in the neighborhood support this project. The design of the complex is big, boxy, unattractive, and does not fit with the surrounding neighborhood. She feels that the project is hugely under parked and because only one person who is 55 is required to sign the lease, there will be no way to monitor the number of people or the cars within the complex. In time, people from the complex will park in the surrounding neighborhoods, impacting the nearby residences. Currently there is open space between the neighborhoods looking toward the Sunny Hills Racquetball Club and if this project goes forward, this open space will be destroyed. Lastly, parking has been included as part of the setback so there really isn't any setback. Because of these issues she does not support the project.

Jim Cowell, Consulting Traffic Engineer for the Morgan Group, said there are a lot of perceptions and misinformation about the impacts that senior housing brings to a community (potential parking issues and traffic). If you look at the statistics provided by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and case studies that have been done locally associated with senior housing, you will find that the cause for alarm simply isn't there.

Mr. Cowell stated that the traffic analysis was shared with Mark Miller, the City's Traffic Engineer, and he was satisfied with the findings. A senior project 55 and over of this size statistically generates a lot less traffic than a tennis club.

The Parking Generation Manual provides information regarding senior housing; however the data was not current or relevant to this project; so a comparison was made of similar projects to create an ideal case study situation. For example, The Fountains (a 166 unit, three-story senior complex in Rancho Margarita) has 178 parking spaces a little over one per unit. The City's parking code requires only .5 parking spaces per unit for senior housing. He noted that other cities' standards are less. Out of the 166 units only two were not occupied. The parking study was done at different times throughout the day and evening. At its highest demand only 52% of the parking spaces were occupied showing no parking problems. No one parked on the street at any time during the survey.

Based on observations, most of the residents were significantly older than 55. Although these residents do drive, he said that as the population ages, the number of vehicle ownership decreases, and he is confident that neither traffic nor parking would be a problem with this project.

Chairman Daybell said that staff has recommended that there be a circular walking loop within the project; can this be done if the size of the building is reduced? Mr. Empey stated that it would be difficult to make a complete walking loop because it cannot go through any parking area. When the project is clustered toward the center to minimize the impact of the perimeter, it changes the circulation patterns on the site. The Fire Department requires that the perimeter be clear for fire truck access. A full loop cannot be accomplished without going into a parking area. There are extensive opportunities throughout the complex for walking.

Louis Kuntz, with The Morgan Group, addressed the issues that were raised. He referred to Amerige Court, a similar project. It is a three-story walkup complex. The demographics are extremely high with average incomes over $100,000 and a very large senior base in both projects, Amerige Court and City Pointe. As far as lowering land values he does not believe that this has happened in either of these projects and the perception that the project would turn into affordable housing is inaccurate. No projects in Fullerton have been converted. The Morgan Group, as a company, has not built affordable housing projects other than the 10% required by some cities. This project offers amenities and a living environment that is unique to the area, and is in extremely high demand. At City Pointe there are 1.1 parking spaces per bedroom, and the units are 95% full. City Pointe is not a senior complex, but even with a large student base parking is not a problem. The proposal would not have a parking problem, nor would it impact traffic as feared. The project would be tailored to seniors; have swimming pools; and a full fitness center. But, in order to provide these amenities building massing is economically critical.

Chairman Daybell closed the meeting for public comments.

Vice Chairman Silber expressed concern with the site plan and how it would integrate into the surrounding uses in terms of height. It is a gated community and there is no integrated use and would be taking away existing paths of travel. The bottom rungs of the housing stock is being sawed off and it is not to be commended to think of more ways to only generate opportunities for the highest end. The quality of the housing is the most important. The project needs further study.

Committee Member Silber left at 5:30.

Committee Member Coffman said that he likes the exterior look but is not sure how well it would integrate into the landscape. Three stories appear to be too tall for the area, especially the condos to the south and the single family residences to the west. It is not quite clear how the complex would function and is somewhat contradictory. On the one hand the message is that the seniors would be active; on the other hand the number of seniors who would be driving decreases with age and would not need more parking. If they are not active seniors and the parking is all around the perimeter, I am not so sure they would want to carry an armful of groceries from the parking area to their house. Density is also an issue, not so much as how many units but how big the buildings are.

Committee Member Duncan stated that architecturally it is a nice product but expressed some concerns with the massing of Building No. 1 up against Rosecrans Avenue and Camino Loma. It is very tight. Building No. 3 again is a little large in scale. Perhaps the applicant could reconsider the three-story in those locations and go with a two-story, or stepping the building to reduce the mass. He agreed with Committee Member Silber statement that the site plan tends to separate, not integrate. He suggested that the applicant consider adding different trees that do not block the view on the west side. The landscape on the single family properties is diverse and it would be nice to continue that diversity. Also, trees could be planted along the parking islands to get the trees offset from the buildings and adjacent to the property line. There are not a lot of trees on the outer edges of the buildings. Additional trees would soften and provide the woodsy image of a "Mountain Resort." Speaking specifically to the plant material, the redwood trees, given the area, may not do well and another evergreen might be considered. There are parking concerns on this project that need to be resolved.

Committee Member Johnson stated that it is a nice project but given the concerns presented by the City and the community he would be hard pressed to approve the project as presented.

Chairman Daybell agrees that the buildings are too much for the site along Rosecrans Avenue. The project is on top of a hill which accentuates the height. There are also zoning issues. He would like to see the buildings scaled back by going to a two story in this area as Committee Member Duncan suggested.

With no further comments from the Committee Chairman Daybell explained the options to the applicant--to deny or to continue, and asked the applicant which he would prefer. Mr. Empey said he would like to take the Committee's ideas under consideration and would prefer to continue the project.

Chairman Daybell called for a motion.

MOTION made by Committee Member Johnson; SECONDED by Committee Member Duncan, CARRIED by those present, to CONTINUE PRJ03-00363 - ZON03-00027/28 with a (4-0) (Vice Chairman Silber left at 5:30).

A request to modify existing canopy with addition of overlay banding for new signage at gas station located at 1001 North Harbor Boulevard.

Chris Polster, applicant for Sign Development, was present to discuss the application.

Assistant Planner Kusch explained that the Code allows for a canopy sign to be architecturally integrated into the canopy itself. The applicant is proposing to do an aluminum fascia around the canopy to include a colored band with two of the signs having illuminated signage. Staff does not believe that the canopy modification is architecturally integrated and recommends denial.

Committee Member Coffman asked if the primary reason that staff is recommending denial is because the fascia extends up above the roof. Assistant Planner Kusch answered that it was. Committee Member Coffman noted that the existing canopy has a similar detail going around it now, although not as tall. He suggested what might work better is if the element was done in reverse by lining up the top of the proposed canopy, with the top of the existing canopy allowing it to hang downward closing it at the bottom.

Mr. Polster agreed that it is possible to drop the canopy down and put some type of shroud underneath so that it looks complete. The intent was to increase the banding so that signage could be incorporated. He explained that the signage is made from an aluminum panel that is routed out and backed up with a yellow Plexiglas. The name and logo would be illuminated so that it would not look like a "plant-on" mounted to a "plant-on". The canopy is similar to the existing but would be increased from 18" to 30". It does add a uniform look given the banding that is around the building just below. The banding would be painted yellow, gold or teal so that the two bands match.

Chairman Daybell thought that a narrower band would be more in proportion and suggested dropping the canopy down; cutting the width by 6," and reducing the sign's lettering. He would prefer the color teal rather than yellow or gold.

Chairman Daybell opened the meeting for public comments. There being none, the public hearing was closed.

Committee Member Duncan said he prefers that the band be painted teal and suggested that the banding detail be changed to connect below, and some type of closure provided on the bottom to hide the brackets. He thought the lighted design added ambiance to the area at night and supports staff's recommendation to deny the current design, and go with the Committee's modifications.

Committee Member Coffman stated that he is not convinced that the new band and signage is a huge improvement for the building, but would support the project as revised.

Committee Member Johnson said he would support the project with the recommended changes, that the band be lowered by 6," so that the top matches with the current roof line, with the color teal to match existing banding and kiosk.

Committee Member Coffman added that the applicant needs to submit a detailed plan as to how the changes will be accomplished. Chief Planner Rosen said that staff would review and approve the revisions, and if for some reason the detail is not sufficiently thought out it would be brought back to the Committee.

MOTION made by Committee Member Johnson; SECONDED by Committee Member Coffman , CARRIED by those present, to APPROVE PRJ04-01050 - ZON04-00107 with a (4-0) vote, subject to conditions as discussed and with staff review and approval of the revised plans.

There is a 10-day appeal period where any action by this committee can be appealed to the Planning Commission and ultimately to the City Council.

A request to construct a new 2-story, 3-bedroom unit with a 4-car garage and demolition of an existing 1-car garage at 143 North Cornell Avenue, with a zoning adjustment to exceed by 10% the maximum floor area for a Preservation Zone, which increases the maximum permitted 40% floor area to 44%.

Assistant Planner Sowers said this project is being reviewed by the Committee because the property is located in a Preservation Zone. There would be some habitable space on the first floor with the majority on the second floor. The applicant is proposing to carry over the architectural features that staff has identified on the existing structure in terms of treatments around the windows, the eaves, and the exposed rafter tails. Staff recommends approval but does not support the Zoning Adjustment for the additional floor area.

Present to discuss the project are William Gillespie, applicant representing the property owner Kevin Ragsdale, Gene Miles, architect, Tom and Katie Dalton, Fullerton Heritage, residing at 200 N. Cornell, and Harold Umberson, Fullerton residing at 134 N. Cornell.

Chairman Daybell opened the meeting to public comments.

Mr. Gillespie stated that the proposal is required to allow the construction of a two-story structure in the rear. There are a number of these units in the same area. The new structure must be designed so as to be compatible with the existing building. Because of the use, a 10% Zoning Adjustment can be requested. Staff encouraged the Committee to carefully consider the request to exceed the maximum permitted floor area.

Tom Dalton, Fullerton Heritage, stated that he agreed with staff's recommendation including the restricted use in terms of floor area of the property; in the Preservation Zone 40%, of the lot use is sufficient. The College Park area was the first Preservation Zone in the City and he has seen many of his neighbors restore their homes making the neighborhood a much more desirable place to live. Unfortunately, this house does not add to the neighborhood. It is not well maintained and fears that the new structure will become an even bigger eye sore. There is also the potential for three families to live on the property, and the four-car garage used for storage with six or seven cars parked on the street. He asked the Committee to restrict the zoning to 40% staying within the Preservation Guidelines, and to monitor the project closely.

Katie Dalton, Fullerton Heritage, said she is an advocate for Home Owner's rights. Although rental property is an important part of the community and she is not against it, she feels that the owners owe it to the neighborhood to properly maintain their property. This has been a difficult property and in an area where we are working very hard to keep the neighborhood from further decline. The 40% was the original ratio established in the Design Guidelines and in the Preservation Zoning Code for a specific reason, and is a very important element of the Preservation Zone maintenance. To apply for a variance unless it is for a very good reason is incumbent upon us to not set precedence.

Harold Umberson stated he is opposed to allowing the unit to exceed the 10% maximum floor area ratio. The building is a large, massive structure and he fears that it would block the view of the neighborhood. He expressed concern that it could be divided into two living units causing excessive parking and congestion.

Mr. Gillespie, representing the applicant, added that the owners have removed two Ficus trees that were causing a great deal of trouble. The landscaping requirements for the back yard would be carried throughout the project. The amount of parking required is determined by the number of bedrooms. These units would require four parking garages. The downstairs would include a living room, a dining room and a kitchen. The bedrooms would be on the second floor and are not designed as dividable space. Mr. Miles, architect for the project, explained that the 10% increase is roughly 200 square feet. If the units were downsized it would mean losing two bedrooms. Four parking spaces are required, but if the owner wished, one space could be open and the other three covered. Taking out 200 square feet will not change the mass of the house that much. The owner also will use financing from the project to renovate the front house.

Committee Member Coffman said it appears as though the columns that support the porch have been remodeled and wondered whether a permit was ever issued for this work. Mr. Miles replied that he did not know when this change took place. Committee Member Coffman added, in looking at the exterior elevations, no particular side looks like an entry. Mr. Miles replied that what dictated that design was trying to keep as much open space as possible and the distance between the buildings.

Public hearing closed.

Committee Member Coffman said for the most part he supports the project without the increase in the allowable floor area, but has reservations with the architecture. The entry to the building is not articulated and that it is located to the rear and not particularly visible. The applicant is aware of all of the conditions and has agreed to comply, adding that if the applicant continues or anticipates any further changes to the building, that they obtain a permit.

All Committee Members were in favor of approving the project but deny the Zoning Adjustment and apply staff's recommended conditions as part of the approval.

MOTION made by Committee Member Duncan; SECONDED by Committee Member Johnson, CARRIED by those present, to DENY the Zoning Adjustment and APPROVE the project PRJ04-01112 - ZON04-00118 by a (4-0) vote, subject the conditions recommended by Staff.

There is a 10-day appeal period where any action by this Committee can be appealed to the Planning Commission and ultimately to the City Council.

A request to construct two additional 2-bedroom dwelling units on multi-family zoned lot occupied by one dwelling unit in the Community Improvement District located at 204 East Truslow Avenue.

Assistant Planner Sowers explained that this is a detached additional structure on a lot zoned R-3. It is before the Committee because it is in a Community Improvement District in a Redevelopment area. The applicant is proposing an architecture that would match the existing house.

Chairman Daybell asked what prohibits the guest parking from migrating into the yard area and becoming one big parking lot, and is there an opportunity to construct a curb to deter people from illegally parking behind the house. Assistant Planner Sowers replied that the City would require the parking areas to be paved, and the lawn area is required for open space. Chief Planner Rosen advised that the City requires a curb between all parking areas and landscaping. Committee Member Coffman asked for clarification as to why this project is before the Committee for review. Associate Planner Eastman explained that the Committee must review these types of projects in redevelopment areas to make sure they are quality developments. Chief Planner Rosen added that staff determines from the staff level that the project is architecturally compatible with the neighborhood, but if the Design Review Committee makes a different determination, than the applicant must redesign the project.

Public hearing opened being no comments public hearing closed.

Chairman Daybell suggested that the building be moved back away from the alley, and provide parking in front. Create a more interesting architectural look. Committee Member Duncan said architecturally the building is compatible with the existing residences. He noted that the garage on the side elevation has a large wall and the applicant might want to consider windows to break up the face. Also add some lighting in the alley. Committee Member Coffman stated that there are many things that could be done to enhance the building's design such as interesting finishes; some articulation at the entrances and around the windows, break up the roof line, perhaps add a porch. It is a mistake to go into these areas and try to revitalize and improve them with buildings that fall short of that objective.

Committee Members supported continuing the project.

MOTION made by Committee Member Johnson; SECONDED by Committee Member Coffman, CARRIED by those present, to CONTINUE PRJ04-01094 - ZON04-00108 with a (4-0) vote to the January 13, 2005 meeting.




There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 PM.