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RDRC Minutes February 12, 2004

CALL TO ORDER:

The meeting was called to order at 4:13 p.m. by Chairman Daybell

ROLL CALL:

COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Duncan, and Silber
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT: Committee members Coffman, and Johnson
PUBLIC PRESENT: Barbara Grisom, Orange County Register/Fullerton News Tribune; Ed Holder, The Olson Company; May Budhya, Property Owner 428 Jacaranda Place; Faye Miller-Pokletar, The Collaborative West; Sheila Cedervall, William Helmalhalch Architects; Chris Lowe, Fullerton Chamber of Commerce; Joe Jarreau, Jarreau Signs; Isaac Tabar, Tabar Consulting Co.
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen; Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant Planner Sowers, Planning Intern Mizokami, and Clerical Support Thompson

MINUTES:

Minutes for February 12, 2004 were continued due to a lack of members.

INTRODUCTIONS

Chairman Daybell introduced and welcomed the newest member of the committee Craig Duncan.

NEW BUSINESS:

Chairman Daybell indicated a desire to take the projects out of order. He wanted to take Item 1 last. The other members agreed.

  • ITEM 2
    PRJ04-00061 - ZON04-00011; APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: RETAIL WEST/NORCO LLC.

    A request to approve signage on a second story sign band of an existing building on the southeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue. There is a sign program that has previously been approved and is currently in place for the site. The proposed signage complies with the approved program. The program allows up to 24" tall signs in the sign band, however does not identify if signs are allowed on the second floor. At the time of the programs approval, there was an existing sign on the second floor. The sign program was established when multiple tenants on the ground floor were created. The applicant is requesting signs on the second level, but the design guidelines for the downtown area prohibits signage above the second story windows. Staff feels that the approved sign program (adopted in 2000) precludes the guidelines. Staff is recommending the RDRC review the signage and approve it subject to the conditions in the staff report.

    There being no questions for staff Chairman Daybell opened the item for public discussion.

    Chris Lowe, Director of the Chamber of Commerce and applicant, addressed the Committee regarding the project. The Chamber has been a part of the community for 108 years and currently resides on Commonwealth in a building they have outgrown. They entered into an agreement with the landlord of the new site to occupy the majority of the second floor. They feel that signage along the top band would be the best alternative for their organization, which creates good exposure to the community and is similar to the signage American Savings had when they occupied the building. In their agreement with the landlord, the Chamber of Commerce would be the only tenant on the second floor allowed signage on the building.

    Vice Chair Silber asked the applicant if they would be able to comply with condition number 5 (which requires the applicant to reduce the raceway from 8" to a maximum depth of 5"). Joe Jarreau of Jarreau Signs stated that 8" is normal to insure ample room for wiring and transformers, however they would be able to reduce the sign to 6 ". Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the applicant contacted staff before the meeting to inquire whether the project could be reduced to 6 " due to issues with the transformers. Vice Chair Silber asked if reducing the sign to 6 " versus 5" would work for staff. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the intent of reducing the sign to 5" is to make it less than the depth of the actual letters on the sign. Staff is asking for the raceway to be as small as possible. Vice Chair Silber inquired about the applicant's intent to paint out the raceway to minimize the appearance. Mr. Jarreau pointed out that Starbucks uses a full size raceway and in comparison they are using an 8" in high raceway with 18" high letters. The raceway would be painted the color of the sign band to blend.

    Chairman Daybell asked the applicant if the height of the letters on the new sign are taller than the Starbucks sign. He also asked if the sign could be two lines with smaller letters. Mr. Jarreau stated that in order to incorporate two lines the tenants' sign letters would have to be smaller, since the Chamber's proposed signage is one line. Chairman Daybell asked if they had considered using two lines and taking up less horizontal space. Mr. Jarreau stated from a graphical standpoint it would be un-proportional due to the long rectangular sign band, and would not be architecurturaly consistent. Chairman Daybell express some concern of the building becoming known as the "Fullerton Chamber of Commerce Building", due to the large size of the sign.

    Committee member Duncan questioned the use of black coloring on the letter. Mr. Jarreau stated that the letters would be black during the day and internally illuminated white at night. Committee member Duncan asked if the applicant would consider using a more subtile color. Mr. Jarreau stated they were using the black letters to be consistent with the current Chamber logo.

    Associate Planner Eastman responded to the Chairman's question of portraying the image of the Chamber of Commerce building. He informed the committee that the City Council has expressed an interest to create a downtown commercial environment to stimulate shopping, and identifying the Chamber of Commerce would be consistent with that direction.

    Vice Chair Silber expressed his comfort with the horizontal nature of the sign. He felt that the color of the sign coordinate with the awnings. Mr. Jarreau pointed out that the different color of awnings were identifying the existing individual tenants.

    Vice Chair Silber made a motion to approve the design with staff's conditions and modifying the fifth condition to read "the raceway shall have a depth that is as small as possible, and not to exceed 6 inches." Committee member Duncan seconded and the project passed with a unanimous vote of 3-0.

  • ITEM 3
    PRJ04-00091 - ZON04-00013 (Miscellaneous Development Project); APPLICANT: BRIAN TIMMONS; PROPERTY OWNER: WARREN SHAW.

    A request to demolish an existing detached single car garage located within a historic preservation at 339 Jacaranda Place and construct a two car detached structure. The existing house is a craftsman style home, which has been stuccoed, and the garage will be stuccoed and painted to match. Staff felt that design was compatible to the house and surrounding area, however the Historic Preservation design guidelines identifies the Director of Development Services may approve the demolition or construction of a detached structure up to 120 square feet in size. There is a gap between the size limits in terms of what the Director can approve and what needs to go to the RDRC. Staff was not comfortable classifying the project as a minor project; therefore it has been identified as a miscellaneous project. Staff recommends approval on the project based on the conditions in the staff report. The applicant not being present has been informed of the conditions and is in agreement.

    There being no comments from the public, Chairman Daybell stated that the project is a great improvement to the existing structure. Committee member Duncan motioned to approve the project as proposed; Vice Chair Silber seconded. The project was approved with a unanimous vote of 3-0.

OLD BUSINESS

  • ITEM 4
    PRJ03-00724 -ZON03-00060. APPLICANT: MEHRDAD TABAR AND PROPERTY OWNER: ARI BUDAYA.

    A request to add a front porch to an existing structure located at 428 Jacaranda Place. A previous review uncovered a number of issues to be addressed. Specifically the addition to the front and the replacement of the windows that were not historic in character. Staff is still concerned with the replacement of the windows, but believes that is a separate issue.

    The project proposed today has been revised to include the recommendation from the RDRC at a previous meeting. There continues to be some inconsistency with the design, however Staff is recommending approval subject the inconsistencies and details being worked out in the construction drawings rather than being brought back for an additional review. Staff has provided the RDRC with recommended conditions of approval.

    Committee member Duncan asked Staff about the first condition of the center of the porch being aligned with the front door. He understood that to mean shifting the porch 3 feet to the left and keeping the width of 22 feet. Staff clarified that at a previous meeting the RDRC determined that the elevations of the house were not drawn accurately to reflect the existing conditions. The RDRC recommend the porch be adjusted to place the door in the center of the porch.

    There being no further questions for staff, Chairman Daybell opened the discussion to the public.

    Isaac Tabar, the project consultant, informed the committee that his design intent is to keep the columns on either side of the windows; therefore he would like to keep the measurement between the two columns to be equal, so the door would not be in the center.

    Vice Chair Silber commented on staff's efforts of providing good examples and feels that the applicant has ignored handsome traditions in retrospect to the porch. He asked the applicant about the sample bricks shown for the columns and the frontage of the porch. He stated that the bricks were appropriate for the paving, but the columns and the steps leading up to the porch should be a full size brick. Mr. Tabar asked if the committee would like a red brick or a "new" used-brick. Associate Planner Eastman informed the applicant that staff does not recommend the use of used brick because it is not compatible; staff would prefer a fired brick with a simple design.

    Chairman Daybell asked the applicant about the height and shape of the column. He wondered if the applicant had considered matching the taper design versus straight up and down. Mr. Tabar responded that the committee had previously commented on an 8 x 8 posts versus a tapered design. Vice Chair Silber felt that the 8 x 8 posts would be fine. Associate Planner Eastman identified two conditions not reflected in the drawings. The brick pilasters will be reduced in height so the bottom of the cap of the pilaster is 6" above with a 36" tall railing (from finished deck). An 18" high porch flooring with 3' of railing, and another 6", you are looking at a 5' high pilaster from grade.

    There being no further comments from the public Chairman Daybell asked for Committee member comments.

    Vice Chair Silber did not feel comfortable with the condition of centering the front porch with the door, because the examples provided do not center on the door. The examples provided show the porch center on a door and window, with one window free of the porch. He felt confident that centering the porch to the house gables would be efficient in aligning the porch. He interpreted Staff's meaning of the second condition involving the amount of overhang on the building; the drawing implies the applicant is stretching it out to be equal to others, and staff's condition is to be consistent with the main house.

    Chairman Daybell felt that it would be impractical to aligning the door with the center of the porch. Vice Chair Silber suggested centering the door with the main gable of the house as indicated in the drawings.

    Vice Chair Silber made a motion to approve the project with changes to staff's first condition requiring the porch to be centered on the house's main gable. The motion unanimously passed by a vote of 3-0.

NEW BUSINESS

  • ITEM 1
    PRJ03-00804 - ZON03-00071 (Major): APPLICANT AND PROPERTY OWNER: OLSON COMPANY.

    A request by the Olson Company to redevelop an area comprised of 26 individual parcels and some streets and alleys. The project would include an abandonment, a tract map, a major development project, a specific plan, and a zoning amendment to a "SP" zone. The project proposes 120 condominium units with two separate product types. The eastside will consist of 64 town homes; the west will include 56 lofts. Staff is asking the RDRC to provide feedback regarding site design, project architecture, and to see how the project will incorporate with the surrounding area. Some live/work units will include commercial space on the ground floor, typically occupied by artists, offices, and low volume walk-by tenants. The permitted uses will be clarified by the specific plan, currently under review. Staff has recommended a number of conditions regarding the loft units. The applicant has indicated a concern with a few of the conditions. One condition consisting of the rear elevation on the bottom level to be provided with brick to add interest along the rear. The applicant would prefer an alternative method. Staff recommended the revision to provide weight and interest along the bottom. Staff also recommends that the corner staircases be bricked to match the front of the building. However staff believes the applicant is prepared to comply with this condition to provide additional detailing and interest. The second condition the applicant is concerned with is raising the entry floor to provide vertical deviations along the front faade of the lofts, at units 3 and 5. These are essentially the third floor lofts. They have a tight entrance foyer, and staff also recommends the entrance for these units be extended out farther to create more internal volume, as well as more articulation on the front faade and weight at the corners. The applicant has indicated a willingness to bring them out, however elevating the floor has not been well received.

    A number of other recommended conditions include landscaping and landscape detailing. As indicated in the staff report, the Engineering Department does not want have traffic on Walnut Way and Lemon, the site will maintain its traffic on Truslow Ave. to Harbor Blvd. There will be an Emergency Vehicle Access on the eastern side of the property, on the site plan it looked like a driveway for traffic, however it will be gated and not a residential entry. A condition of approval as recommended by staff regarding the EVA gate.

    Vice Chairman Silber asked staff if an evaluation on the units in terms of required open public and private spaces. Staff responded that the applicant has requested a specific plan where this information will be addressed. Staff's identified that this is on an urban environment adjacent to downtown and the railroad. There is a requirement in the "R5" zone to provide for 67 square feet of private open space per unit, which will be the basis for the review on the specific plan. This will be identified when the project goes to the Planning Commission and City Council. Staff advised the applicant that some of the units don't have open space, and it is a question as to whether they can provide private open space.

    Chairman Daybell inquired about the proposed EVA location. It appears to have a tight curve off of Walnut Way. Associate Planner Eastman reminded the Committee that this project is still a work in progress and the details will have to be approved by the Fire Department. Emergency vehicles have to make a right and an immediate left into the town homes. Typically there will be a curb cut wider than 20 feet designed to accommodate the fire truck entry; this would allow the fire vehicles to have a wider turn radius.

    Vice Chairman Silber questioned why the applicant did not want to raise the entry. Staff understands that the applicant thinks this might effect their foundation plans, staff believes raising the entry space would not change the foundation, but could be done by framing the interior to create a raised floor, as if it were a landing or a step. However, additional issues of headroom and ceiling height are not resolved.

    There not being further questions for staff, Chairman Daybell opened the discussion to the public.

    Ed Holder, the project manager, pointed out additional changes to the live/work units. They attempted to the live/work units more retail in the courtyard areas, and with the residential, units being unified by arches over the entryway and decks space on the second floor, which will address some private open, space issues.

    Vice Chairman Silber asked the applicant if they had looked at the different architecture throughout the City. Mr. Holder stated that they tried to incorporate the surrounding architecture features.

    The applicant is in the process of designing a decorative sound wall, in front of the central courtyard with a water feature, to provide sound relief from the train station and to help create more of an urban feel.

    Vice Chairman Silber inquired for a sense of context about the total development costs. Mr. Holder replied 30-40 million dollars.

    Chairman Daybell asked how the development addresses the residents on the south side, particularly related to the obtrusive size of the proposed buildings. Mr. Holder responded that they were trying to address it through setbacks and landscaping. Staff had identified it as a concern and recommended a condition, which incorporates mature canopy trees to be provided to soften the upper elements from the residents to the south.

    Chief Planner Rosen gave a brief background of the property. It originated in the 1980's with high-density apartments proposed for this site with three to four story structures and two levels of underground parking. The applicant is now proposing a three-story structure with less density. In addition, the property across the street is multi-family zoned, a number of the properties will redevelop over time and with today's parking requirements these properties will also be three to four story buildings.

    Committee member Duncun, referring to the site plan, asked the applicant if the live work units were the mission or loft type of buildings. Sheila advised the committee that the site plan had changed since the RDRC packet was sent out, all of the live/work at the entry buildings will have the Spanish style architecture. Committee member Duncun suggested moving the courtyard fountain/water feature south of Walnut Avenue to be more visible at the entry and to create a pedestrian space that would be more central versus being next to the street.

    Chairman Daybell asked the applicant if they would consider heightening the substation-screening wall and use brick instead of concrete blocks. Staff identified split face block primarily as a standard and would accept alternatives consistent with the architecture. He said the wall will need to be coordinated with SCE. The site is not attractive, although putting in an 8-foot block wall becomes expensive and massive. Staff would require vines or other vertical landscaping to reduce graffiti. Vice Chairman Silber noted a potential problem is that tall wall require big footings, which interferes with the ability to get trees to grow, it would be worth exploring a public art along Walnut instead, and would be an interesting opportunity to add something rich to the community. Associate Planner Eastman provided some clarity regarding the SCE site. On the property side there will need to be a fairly solid material like a wall for security purposes. The front of the property requires some kind of screening at the public space. Staff recommendations are primarily as a placeholder to address issues because the SCE facility needs to be screened and separated from the development.

    The discussion was brought back to the Committee for further comment.

    Vice Chair Silber noted the importance of the project and expressed his concern with the speed of which the project is being presented. He thought that staff had raised some good questions and did not feel comfortable moving forward at this time. Also, traditionally there is a vertical separation between the ground floor living space and an adjacent street, which is a proven device that allows residents to have a better ground floor living feel. The Brea Birch Street project is an example that does introduce intermediate levels on the living spaces from the primary walking spaces. Silber is not comfortable with saying it is not possible without justification. Looking at the architectural traditions applied, they seem wonderful, but when you pull back and look at the project as a whole it seems generic with no individual character. He stated that he does not fully know the quality of the court spaces and would like to see other ways to handle this scale with more of the leading edge ideas in architecture. The back of the town homes as they front the drive courts and interior streets in the area labeled "Traditional Town Homes", he is not comfortable with the environment. He did not get a sense of what the outdoor spaces would be like.

    Associate Planner Eastman asked whether it is crucial to identify the details to move forward with project, or is Vice Chairman Silber not comfortable with the fundamental project. Vice Chair Silber is concerned with the public and semi public spaces created by this project. He discussed the philosophy of the delight in the familiar, and he would like to see the development create delight or surprise. He questioned the relationship on the ground plane of the outside and inside spaces as you move through the project. He felt that showing elements from our downtown and applying them to the elevations does not address this issue. Mr. Holder asked if there is a specific direction the Committee would have them explore. Vice Chairman Silber asked them to address the issue of how the public spaces are used by asking what is the quality of the outdoor spaces in relationship to the habitable space, from the residents' perspective.

    Committee member Duncan asked if this project were to be approved if it would come back for further review. Chief Planner Rosen stated that it could upon the Committee's request. Committee member Duncan expressed his approval for the direction of the project. There is an incredible opportunity within this project to create element of surprise, architecturally.

    Chairman Daybell supported Vice Chair Silber's recommendations and would like to see the revisions to this project and to come back for further review.

    Vice Chair Silber made a motion to continue the item to address the issue of the open spaces versus the relationship to adjacent living spaces. Duncan seconded and the motion passed unanimously by a vote of 3-0.

ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

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