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RDRC Minutes March 25, 2004

RDRC Minutes March 25, 2004


The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m. by Chairman Daybell


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Duncan, Johnson, and Silber (late)
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT: Committee Member Coffman
PUBLIC PRESENT: Mike Miller, 201 E. Valencia; Luke Giovanardi, Evergreen Devco; Tim O'Neil, Evergreen Devco; Louis Kuniz, Morgan Group; Derek Empey, Morgan Group.
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Mullis; Associate Planner Eastman, and Clerical Support Thompson


Voting of the minutes for the March 11, 2004 meeting was APPROVED as written. Voting of the January 22, 2004 and the February 26, 2004 minutes were continued.


  • ITEM 1

    Associate Planner Eastman briefly described the proposal as a request to add a third unit on a lot that current contains two units, and a demolition of an existing two car carport that takes access off the rear of the property near the alley. A three car carport will be added in it's place along with a second open space for guest parking. Staff has determined that the project meets code, except for the existing parking should be spaced five feet off the alley to allow a 25-foot back up space. However, this is an existing condition (legal non-conforming) and the proposal does not make the circumstance worse. An item not identified in the staff report includes the applicant's intention to frost the windows of the bedrooms in the 201 Valencia unit to allow a nine feet separation, as allowed by code. The code requires 12½ feet separation between units when windows are not opaque; however a 20% administrative adjustment can be approved by the committee to allow the project to comply with code, staff recommends that the new unit be moved north to have a 12 feet separation, and be granted a six inch adjustment, so that bedroom windows need not be frosted. There will also be a six-foot wood fence between structures to allow privacy for tenants and reduce the amount of noise between structures.

    Staff has recommended a number of conditions for approval as outlined in the staff report, including reducing the size of the rear parking spaces to accommodate a landscaping finger adjacent to the sidewalk; move the northern wood fence just south of the garage access door to provide more useable open space to the new unit; paint and re-roof the new building to match existing structures; the new carport post shall be constructed at least five feet from the alley to allow for additional swing of vehicles backing into the alley; and construct the walkway at the front porch of the new unit to connect the existing driveway, with the intent to reduce the amount of paving in the street setback. The applicant indicated that he would prefer the walkway to come straight out of the unit, and has brought plans showing a bricked path to the sidewalk.

    There being no further comments or questions for staff, Chairman Daybell opened the meeting for public comments.

    The applicant and part owner, Mike Miller indicated that he would be the complete owner at the end of the project. The drawing passed out is a proposal for decorative brick pavers with flower landscaping to create an old-fashioned walk and a classic white picket fence around the front yard.

    Committee member Johnson asked the applicant about the placing on the drawings. Associate Planner Eastman provided additional pictures for the Committee's review.

    Committee member Duncan asked if the new roof would match the existing 201 East Valencia unit. Associate Planner Eastman referred to Staff's recommendation to match the roof material of existing units. Basically Staff expects a composite shingle, which is consistent with re-roofs of buildings of a similar age.

    Chairman Daybell inquired about the area created by the fence around the new unit. He stated that it looked too crowded and questioned the applicant's intent of creating a "mini lot". Associate Planner Eastman noted that code requires an enclosed private space for each unit. The Fire Department has expressed concerns in terms of access availability to the rear yard of unit 203. Mr. Miller suggested that a gate could be included in the new fence.

    Vice-chair Silber asked about fencing. He noted that each unit currently has different materials, and questioned if each fence would be separate or tied together. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the chain link fence in the center will be removed and the applicant is proposing adding a white picket fence across the front of the new unit. Staff has not identified or required any changes to the front unit. The applicant stated this fence needs constant repair from children sitting on the fence while waiting for the school bus. The applicant said he is attempting to grow a Bougainvillea to create a hedge to hide the chain link fence. The Bougainvillea is located in the southwestern corner of the lot. He stated that he could continue a white picket fence along the front of the property instead of the chain-link fence. His intent is to tie the homes together since they are similar in age. The applicant encouraged suggestions from both staff and the RDRC committee.

    Committee member Johnson noted that they were primarily looking at the site plans and asked staff if this project would come before the committee for further architecture review at a later date. Associate Planner Eastman stated that there is no intention or requirement at this time to bring it back to the RDRC.

    There being no further questions for the public, Chairman Daybell returned the discussion to the Committee for comments.

    Committee member Johnson did not see a problem with a direct walkway connection of the front porch to the sidewalk. He questioned staff if it is a requirement to have it connected. Associate Planner Eastman noted Staff's intent to reduce paving in front of the structure. To achieve this, they recommended the concrete sidewalk come off the side of the porch to the driveway, to the north. Staff is less concerned with decorative brick. Committee member Johnson stated he is in favor of the project with staff's recommended conditions, except he had no concerns with the new sidewalk plan.

    Vice-chair Silber had no concerns with the proposal and is in favor of the project. However he is not sure if it would make more sense to make the fencing wrap around the corner. The project has a short span with a lot of things going on, which re-enforces each units individuality, and makes the property appear to be cut up. His only concern is the variety of fencing used. He suggested the applicant look to make the corner a white picket fence to cut down on the number of materials used.

    Committee member Duncan stated that his first notion is that there is a lot going on a little property with three different architectures. He thought that it is good, however was not sure how the applicant would join the architectures together, even with color. The little house that is being moved from Truslow has a nice form to it and could potentially make the house on the corner look weak. He felt that it is important to tie the structures together. He did see a problem with pushing the structure to the north, and that he did not have a necessary solution, but should be consistent with fencing along the sidewalk. He didn't mind the walkway to the sidewalk and felt that the solution is a nice option to join the properties together. However if there is some concern with the fencing he recommended pushing the picket fence 2 ft back to add landscaping and push the fencing back from the existing driveway to avoid being too close to vehicles, and to help soften up the hardscape areas. Associate Planner Eastman reminded the Committee if they felt that there are important aspects that should be included to the project, they should make a recommendation.

    Committee member Duncan stated that he felt that the two things that stand out from the project are the porch on the 201 building and suggested making the post similar and to add window trim to match the new unit, maybe on the sides facing the street. Vice-chair Silber noted that the porch at 201 looks like it is in tough shape, and it seems like some things the committee would like to see addressed.

    Chairman Daybell commented on the suggestions proposed as some solutions he was looking for, because he felt that the property is too crowded. He did not like the idea of adding a building in between two different architecturally styled buildings and that it would create too much contrast. He thought a single fence would help, but he would only be comfortable with the additional building if it is compatible with the architecture on the 201 building, and if the properties were tied together with fencing setback from the sidewalk. He felt that the brick walkway off the porch is a plus.

    Vice-chair Silber motioned for approval with Staff's conditions with an additional condition to make the front porch, the fencing, and the entry walkway consistent with the proposal for the middle unit. He would also condition a fence be placed in front of the stoop on 201 East Valencia to screen off the clutter. He understands that people need storage in rental units, but it makes it look cluttered and noted the need for a practical solution. The proposal is fine but the middle and front house should be tied together. All should be done to satisfaction of the Director of Development Services to keep the project at the staff level instead of returning to the RDRC. Associate Planner Eastman clarified that this motion would replace staff's fifth condition on the staff report. The motion passed with a vote of 3-0 with Chairman Daybell abstaining.

  • ITEM 2

    Senior Planner Melanie Mullis described the project as a request to demolish an existing restaurant and grocery store, and build a drive thru Wallgreens pharmacy. The project will be heard by the Planning Commission. The RDRC shall review and make recommendations regarding site plan and architecture issues. This project is the first opportunity to begin to rehabilitate the area. The property is a gateway to the Downtown area. The staff report outlined concerns with the architecture of the proposed building. The original plans depicted a standard Wallgreens design. Staff has asked for a different design and suggested the applicant visit Downtown Fullerton and incorporate some of the design elements that make Fullerton unique. The applicant then proposed a Craftsman style building, which is being shown before the committee at this time. As indicated in the staff report, staff is concerned with a variety of aspects with the proposal that are not true to the craftsman style building. The building does not have the detail that is inherit of a craftsman style building. Staff stated that maybe a craftsman style building is not the right architectural style for the project. Staff recommends this item be continued to the next RDRC meeting to allow the applicant to bring back their revisions.

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

    Luke Giovanardi with Evergreen Devco gave an overview of the project. He described the project located on the southwest corner of Chapman and Raymond as a first class project with a first class tenant. They are proposing to replace the existing building with a new high quality building and have worked with staff to generate a building that would bring in design elements that will complement the neighborhood. The site plan basically takes a site that contains no landscaping and an outdated building and replaces it with a site plan that contains 23,000 square feet of landscaping. The plan is also 100 % code compliant. He expressed their anticipation in working with the city and looks forward to additional suggestions. A great amount of thought has been put into the craftsman style idea and has been difficult without specific direction to create a building that meets both the intent of staff and the commercial building requirements.

    Vice-chair Silber asked staff about the alignment of the street from a site plan stand point if the issues had been resolved. Senior Planner Mullis noted that there were a few minor conditions or suggestions to address these issues. She shared with the RDRC a marked up site plan showing the changes needed, including a landscape area to screen the compactors from the street, re-alignment of the drive aisle by moving it 3 - 4 feet to the west, and extend landscape pockets the full length of the parking stalls. Vice-chair Silber asked about the parking ratio of the building to code. Senior Planner Mullis responded that they are required to provide one space for every 250 square feet. Vice-chair Silber then asked if they have the required amount or more than needed. Senior Planner Mullis noted that they have more than needed.

    Chairman Daybell asked if the applicant had spoken with Orange County Flood Control District (OCFCD) about the requirements for building in their easement. Trees in the easement will be a potential issue. Staff indicated that they had not. Chairman Daybell stated that it should be the applicant's responsibility to contact them. Associate Planner Eastman noted that Staff could include a condition of approval that the applicant provide a letter of approval from OCFCD. He then clarified that any issues with the easement would be a civil issue between the applicant and the OCFCD.

    Chairman Daybell asked what the applicant is proposing to do with the blank block wall on the north side of the Salvation Army? Mr. Giovanardi noted that they are proposing to refinish and paint the wall then provide landscaping along the front of the wall. This is not a requirement but felt that it would beneficial to the City and Wallgreens. Chairman Daybell asked if they had thought about extending the existing roof on the Salvation Army building? Associate Planner Eastman asked if he meant by adding a tapered parapet? Chairman Daybell responded that something is needed to enhance the north side of the building. Mr. Giovanardi clarified the building is owned by an adjacent property owner and would be too complex to add to the structural elements of the building. He suggested using landscaping rather than a structural element. Committee member Johnson noted that imposing improvements on an adjacent property to this property owner is not in the RDRC's purview.

    There being no further public comments Chairman Daybell returned the discussion to the Committee for Committee member comments.

    Vice-chair Silber stated that the project seems to be stamped out cookie cutter and problematic because there are not a variety of uses that could occupy a building with this design. There is no mixture of uses or vitality. It is problematic because they are a business entitled to conduct their business. He suggested changing the façade and overhang. The nature of the building is that people disappear through the front doors and then back out after awhile or drive-up to the window and drive back out. He felt that there is an additional opportunity not being explored. Vice-chair Silber expressed some concern with the look of the landscaping. He wants to see what kinds of trees are to be used and see if the landscaping could hide the view of the building behind them. He did not know if applying a style to it would work. He noted that there is nothing to animate the building with human activity. It's just a box. If it were a part of a mixture of uses that would be different, but for now it's a box with landscaping and a lot of parking.

    Committee member Johnson noted that Vice-chair Silber's comments were asking someone to take a business, in which visibility is key and to hide the building is pointless. He felt that the committee needed to give direction on how to make it architecturally better. He felt the architecture is cookie cutter, and this area needs revitalization as a whole. He is under the impression that the committee needed to make more comments on building rather than the landscape.

    Vice-chair Silber suggested the applicant use covered walkways to extend out to the street as much as possible. Long extensions would be architecturally interesting.

    Committee member Duncan noted that he agreed with Vice-chair Silber's comments. This business will serves just the local community, and would rather see a sea of landscape than parking. The landscape plans need to be more accentuated and he agreed with staff's recommendation to change the street trees. In the parking lot they have indicated the use of small flowering trees that are slow growing, the focus should be with cooling large asphalt areas and the need of shade. He suggested using the flowering trees to accentuate entries or walkways. If using the craftsman style architecture, those buildings are well site into the landscape with big trees surrounding. He felt that the applicant should experiment by creating more landscape around the building. Committee member Johnson asked for clarity on the landscape if Committee member Duncan was referring to more landscape than being shown. Committee member Duncan stated that in the parking lot larger trees, street trees 35 ft on center. He expressed his dislike for the landscape pockets along the street and did not think they were well thought out. He felt that the street trees are used to identify greater area. He felt that they were useless on the plan and that they were not well thought out. The recommendation to provide mounding in the lawn areas, he felt was an excellent suggestion and would want to see more shrubs instead of the use of a lot of lawn. Architecturally leave to other committee members.

    Associate Planner Eastman stated that Staff's issue with the craftsman style is that the proposed building is a Wallgreen's prototype, and doesn't represent a true craftsman style. It looks like a big box with earth tone colors. Craftsman buildings have exposed structural members, such as rafter tails and eaves, and have pitched roofs, not parapets with cornices. Staff recommends a different style, and suggested looking at the Mission or Spanish style. Staff did not necessarily have a problem with the quality of materials or colors, but is concerned with the fundamental design. Chief Planner Rosen noted that staff would not have a problem with a modern architecture or the materials and features, the issues is creating a building that will lead into the future. He commented on the tower design and suggested that the applicant use it not just as a sign. Vice-chair Silber agreed with Chief Planner Rosen's comments and stated that it warrants looking into creating a more modern design. Maybe what is needed is to use the materials that go with the use of a mid-century modern space. He suggested adding cover approaches for inclement weather and thought the use of the tower would be nice.

    Chairman Daybell asked what would be the negatives to matching the architecture with surrounding buildings. Committee member Duncan stated that he didn't mind eclecticism however the center to the south needs to be replaced. Chairman Daybell noted that the consensus of this project is that it did not work as presented to the committee. Associate Planner Eastman stated that this meeting needs to provide clarity to the applicant for re-submittal to the RDRC. Chairman Daybell noted that this project has the potential to lead other properties in the area for redevelopment. Associate Planner Eastman stated that there is an opportunity to create some consistency in the area located between Commonwealth and Chapman for future redevelopment projects. Chairman Daybell declared the proposed sign on the corner of Chapman and Raymond is too large for the area and is opposed to a freestanding sign at the corner. Vice-chair Silber thinks it warrants a couple of different alternative design views and would hope to continue the item.

    Staff asked the applicant if they had any questions regarding any comments made by the committee. Mr. Giovanardi agreed that the Spanish/Mission style would be more appropriate for this building and would like some clarity on which style the committee would prefer. Associate Planner Eastman suggested that the architect prepare both alternatives for review. Vice-chair Silber asked if the underlying building would be block masonry. Mr. Giovanardi confirmed that it would be. Vice-chair Silber state that the block masonry would provide a lot of different opportunities. Associate Planner Eastman asked to have the architect submit several alternatives three or four working concept drawings to the committee to get preference. Tim O'Neal stated that the mission style would be a more appropriate style and thought they can work in between the next submittal to create some common ground between the mission or modern styles.

    Chairman Daybell asked the applicant to change the elevations to reflect the proper directions. Mr. O'Neal commented that in his line of work there are very few opportunities to have this much landscaping impact, but they do want to make it positive and would ask the City for help in keeping it safe for pedestrians.

    The committee unanimously agreed to continue the project to the next meeting.

  • ITEM 3

    This item was canceled.

    Vice-chair Silber excused himself.

  • ITEM 4

    Associate Planner Eastman briefly described the proposed sign program for the new City Pointe project. The staff report identified concerns in relationship to the window signage (sign type D). Code typically does not allow long term window signage, however staff considers the temporary signs as "construction signage", as they will be removed once the tenant spaces are leased. "Construction signs" are allowed during construction.

    The applicant has created a contemporary design theme for their signage, as reflected in the leasing office sign (sign type A). They have identified in their sign program text what would be appropriate for their retail tenants (sign type C), and have indicated the location of parking structure signage at three locations entering the parking structure. Staff is asking the RDRC to look at the location of the signs and not the signs themselves. However, staff is asking for feedback as to what is acceptable for identifying public parking signage. A condition has been included in the staff report that the Director of Development Services approve the design of the public parking signs based on the Committee's input. Staff is looking for parking structure signage that is compatible with the applicant's design theme, but visible from the street. Staff has recommended a number of conditions.

    Committee member Duncan asked if the City requires off property parking signs. Redevelopment Operations Manager Galvin stated the City has a downtown sign program. There will be a sign by McDonalds that will direct the public to the Chapman entrance, and one on Harbor Blvd. Chairman Daybell asked if they were going to install a left turn lane on westbound Chapman into the parking structure. Mr. Galvin noted that the lane is currently there. Chairman Daybell commented on the signs that are currently there. The applicant noted that they installed a few of the window signs for the Committee's benefit.

    There being no further questions for Staff, Chairman Daybell opened the discussion for public comments.

    Mr. Galvin provided some public parking sign samples for the Committee's benefit.

    Derek Empey with the Morgan Group stated that they have looked at this project in two fashions, both permanent and temporary. The permanent includes the one blade sign that is the identification signage next to the main property entrance that identifies the project as City Pointe. The others are the parking garage entrance signs (sign type B) and two future signage retail space signs (sign type C). The temporary signage (sign type D) has couple of purposes for the applicant. In an urban environment there are not many ways to advertise, so the temporary signs will help with the initial leasing; and second, the window signs will obscure the ugly interior during construction. They are proposing the signage for a period of a year after they occupy the first part of the residential spaces, or when a retail tenant moves in, whichever occurs first.

    Chairman Daybell asked about the reference in the signing program about the City's developing a design for the parking signs. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the applicant had submitted parking structure signage, but Staff is concerned about the visibility to the public right- of-way. Mr. Galvin stated that Staff had previously asked the applicant to create a design for the public signs that would be compatible with other parking structure signs in the City. Staff is concerned with the size of the signs being too small. He then provided to scale comparisons and asked for some feedback regarding the signage. He had assumed 15-inch high letters that are compatible with other parking structures in the downtown area. The letters the applicant proposed are actually only 10 inches high due to the framework proposed. He said that someone standing on Harbor Blvd looking at Whiting Ave, a distance of 150 feet, would not be able to see the parking structure signs. Chairman Daybell noted that it would have to be a fairly large sign to cover the distance.

    Lewis Kuniz commented on the trees being transported earlier in the day. They had both entrances blocked off and the garage was still full. He expressed their desire for the signage to be compatible with the buildings signs and noted that if the public could find the entrance with two of the main entrances being blocked, the public would be able to find the parking with the smaller signs. Associate Planner Eastman asked if the signs are illuminated. Mr. Galvin stated that they were not. Mr. Kuniz and Mr. Empey said that they would be. Mr. Galvin said that Staff usually prefers individual letters in the downtown area. He noted that he liked the color scheme being used and would like to incorporate the scheme into the parking signage. Committee member Johnson suggested the applicant do a mock sign for the Committee to review. He also suggested making it elongated. Associate Planner Eastman noted that staff will work out the design issue with the applicant and is only looking for input from the Committee, at this time. If desired, the item could be continued for a mockup, if appropriate.

    Chairman Daybell suggested the need for the applicant's sign code to coordinate with the City's code. Associate Planner Eastman clarified that they currently comply with City code and that there are a few minor grammatical changes.

    There being no further public comments the Chairman returned the meeting for Committee Member comments.

    Committee member Johnson stated that he had no problem with the project and thought the parking structure sign locations are fine.

    Committee member Duncan liked the project.

    Chairman Daybell stated that the project should be approved subject to Staff's recommendations.

    Committee member Johnson made a motion to approve the project with Staff's recommended conditions, with the public parking signs to come back to the Committee. The motion passed unanimously with a vote of 3-0.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.