PRJ03-00830 Z0N03-00073. APPLICANT: MAYRA STEINER; PROPERTY OWNER: FEDERICA DECURGEZ.
A request for a retail store, two dwelling units, garages, and surface parking (mixed use project) on a property located at 603 North Harbor Boulevard.
Associate Planner Eastman presented the application for a mixed use project in a C-3 zone. He stated that two new buildings are proposed, requiring the demolition of the existing single family dwelling unit. The building fronting on Harbor Boulevard is proposed as a 3-story structure with 1000 SQ FT of ground floor retail below a 2-story residential space. The building on the rear of the lot is proposed as a 3-story structure with a garage on the ground floor and 2 stories of residential space above. A parking area is proposed between the buildings. Mr. Eastman noted that the project is being reviewed by the RDRC because of its location in a redevelopment area and its prominent location on Harbor Boulevard.
Associate Planner Eastman reiterated Staffs desire for the applicant to provide additional details to enhance the pedestrian scale of the project. Staff requested that the RDRC provide suggestions regarding additional detailing. In addition, Mr. Eastman stated that Staff has concerns with the treatment of the wood lentils, the color and material of the split face block proposed for the northern facade, and the placement of future signage.
Associate Planner Eastman recommended approval subject to conditions that address Staffs concerns, as contained in the Staff Report. He noted that Planning Commission review of this project is not required; the RDRC will provide the final determination.
Committee Member Coffman requested clarity on the split face block proposed for the northern facade. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the northern facade is adjacent to a mixed use development (residence/retail service). Neither Staff nor the Committee was certain of the exact distance between the split face block and the adjacent building to the north. Committee Member Coffman stated that he believed the building on the northern property was set back from the subject property.
Chairman Johnson asked if landscape plans were provided, to which Mr. Eastman responded that landscape plan submittal to and approval by the Director of Development Services is a recommended condition. Primarily, setback and the parking lot areas would require landscaping. Chairman Johnson asked if the large tree on the site would be removed. Mr. Eastman presented a photo for reference and stated that it would probably need to be removed because it would encroach into the proposed building space.
There being no questions for Staff, Chairman Johnson opened the floor to public comment.
Ed Gentalen, project architect representing the applicant, presented the project noting the straight forward design of the buildings, smooth plaster exterior, wood and steel trellis with vines, wood doors stained to portray the feeling of new pine, and a pitched Spanish tile roof on the rear structure. He stated that the front building will be highest at Harbor Boulevard and step down toward the interior of the lot; the back building will step up from the alley toward the interior of the lot. Mr. Gentalen also stated that the idea of the parking courtyard between the buildings evolved from discussions with Staff and that lush landscaping, to be subsequently designed by Allison Terry, is planned.
Judy Berg, 115 Malvern Avenue, Fullerton, the property owner across the alley to the immediate west of the site, was provided with a project overview by Associate Planner Eastman. Ms. Berg questioned the timing of the project. Mr. Gentalen replied that the hope is to build both structures at once; if phasing is required for financing purposes, the building at the rear would be constructed first, maintaining the existing residence until additional financing could be obtained. Upon RDRC approval, construction documents will be prepared for submittal in approximately 3-4 months. Ms. Berg stated that she supports upgrading of the property.
Committee Member Silber asked Mr. Gentalen if he had considered supporting the outside corner on south elevation with a column and he questioned the placement of the stairs on the back building. Mr. Gentalen stated that a column would likely be needed for support and the stair would require a "stairwell adjustment".
Associate Planner Eastman noted that a jog on the floor plan of the rear apartment is not reflected on elevations. Mr. Gentalen responded that the floor plan correctly reflects the design.
Committee Member Silber questioned how Mr. Gentalen plans to turn the corner at the split face block wall (the north east corner of the front building) noting that terminating the stucco 8" around the corner onto the northern facade would be appropriate. Mr. Gentalen replied that work on the northern facade, other than split face block, will require permission from the adjacent property. He noted that ideally he would like to turn the stucco around the corner. Associate Planner Eastman stated that stucco is generally not supported on an interior lot line wall because of difficulty with on-going maintenance; block is easier to maintain. Mr. Gentalen reiterated that, assuming he receives approval from the adjacent property owner, he will turn the corner with the stucco off the eastern facade, providing a reveal to the split face block.
There being no further comments, Chairman Johnson closed the public comments and opened the meeting to the Committee.
Committee Member Coffman stated that he likes the project and feels it is a good fit with the mixed-use feel of the downtown. He expressed a concern about phasing and hoped that the existing building would not be demolished before funding is obtained to construct the proposed building on Harbor Boulevard. Additionally, Mr. Coffman stated that he believes this project sets a good example for neighbors to follow and gave his support to the project.
Vice Chairman Daybell questioned the need for a third story in the back unit and expressed concern about the impact a 35 ft tall structure will have on the neighbor across the alley. He noted that the back unit on an adjacent property is tall, but not as tall as the proposal. He expressed satisfaction in hearing that Ms. Berg, the neighbor with the most immediate impact, supports the project. Vice Chairman Daybell noted however that removing the loft from the back building would provide more of a stepping down to the single family residences in the preservation zone west of Harbor Boulevard.
Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the commercial zone allows for a 10 ft tall structure at the property line when abutting a single-family residential zone. A building can increase in height for every foot of setback from the residential zone. The 20ft alley in combination with the required 5ft setback for the garage provides for the permitted 35 ft height.
Committee Member Silber stated that he supports the project and the clean design. He noted that this project provides an example for future development on Harbor Boulevard, and a test case for this scale of redevelopment in a diverse, mixed used environment. Committee Member Silber reiterated his earlier statement regarding the southeast corner of the rear apartment; visually the cantilever looks like it wants to fall over. To compensate, he encouraged a post or column at the corner. He stated that the current level of detailing is sufficient. Separately, he noted that in the future, the parking area could provide an access easement to the adjacent property to the north if a similar project was proposed on that site, and a reciprocal access agreement was amicable.
Chairman Johnson stated that this is a great project. To address Staffs concern on breaking up the eastern facade of the front building on Harbor Boulevard, Chairman Johnson suggested a trellis be provided over the window at the first story level; perhaps one similar to the one provided on the south side.
Committee Member Silber concurred and noted that the trellis would be a practical addition as well as provide protection from the sun.
Associate Planner Eastman requested that if the RDRC feels the detail on the project is sufficient as proposed, Condition No. 1 should be removed. Or Condition No. 1 could be revised to be more specific.
Committee Member Silber stated that a wainscoat could be added to the eastern facade which would not only add detail but it may be practical for irrigation purposes.
Mr. Gentalen stated that he would be willing to carry the wainscoat to the eastern facade as well as around both structures. He expressed that Staff suggested additional coping detail but stated he prefers the smooth and flush finish as designed. Committee Member Silber stated that the coping is fine as proposed. Associate Planner Eastman confirmed that after further consideration Staff agrees that traditional coping is not needed; Staff understands the desire for clean edges. He clarified that the intent of Condition No. 1 was to address additional subtle detailing, such as color tinted glazing.
Chairman Johnson re-opened the public hearing to allow comments from Jim Thacker, owner of the business located at 529 N. Harbor Boulevard, who arrived late to the meeting. Mr. Thacker expressed a concern that patrons of the proposed retail use would use his parking area. He stated that the spaces on his property used by other businesses, predominantly those to the south, and wanted to make sure the parking on the proposed site is adequate. Associate Planner Eastman recapped the proposal for Mr. Thacker and stated that 9 spaces will be provided for the retail customers and guests of the residences in addition to the required resident spaces. Mr. Eastman confirmed that the parking, as proposed, complies with the code requirements and offered Mr. Thacker the opportunity to review the plans. Mr. Thacker stated that his only issue was with parking and the project, as shown, was adequate.
There being no further comments, Chairman Johnson closed the public comments and re-opened the meeting to the Committee.
Mr. Gentalen questioned the need for the provision of a 6in high concrete curb to be provided between the landscaping and vehicular paved areas as required by Condition No. 7 (it was noted that the numbering of recommended conditions in the staff report was incorrect). He stated that pavers or cobblestones are proposed for the parking area to provide the feel of landscaped parking court rather than parking lot with landscaping and noted that the landscaping adjacent to the parking area would consist of planting and groundcover. Associate Planner Eastman stated that this is a code requirement however Staff would not object to an alternative that keeps landscape material and water from flowing into the parking area. Chief Planner Rosen further clarified that the code requires a 6in high curb or other materials that accomplish the same purpose. Mr. Eastman proposed a draining grate as a possible alternative. Committee Member Coffman questioned if the condition should be modified to permit an alternative method. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the purpose of the condition is to put the applicant on notice as to the code requirement. Without a condition of approval, the code requirement remains in place under which an alternative to the required 6-inch curb could be considered by the Director of Development Services.
Committee Member Coffman made a motion to approve the request with the following changes to the recommended conditions:
- Replace recommended Condition No. 1 "The applicant shall add a trellis awning on the east facade along Harbor Boulevard and a decorative wainscot on both structures to the satisfaction of the Director of Development Services".
- Eliminate Condition No. 7 regarding the provision for a 6 in landscape curb.
The motion passed with a vote of 3-0. Vice Chairman Daybell abstained.