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RDRC Minutes December 18, 2003

RDRC Minutes December 18, 2003


The meeting was called to order at 4:15 PM by Chairman Johnson


COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Johnson; Vice-Chair Daybell; Committee Members Blumer, Silber (4:20 PM)
PUBLIC PRESENT: Caroline Druiff, Tom Dalton (Fullerton Heritage), Rick Forbes, Melinda Guinaldo, Rick Crane (Crane Architectural Group), Ryan Gregory (RJ Homes), Dave Closson (Closson & Closson), Craig Hostert (Parkwest Builders)
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Associate Planner Eastman, Assistant Planner Kusch, Assistant Planner Sowers


Minutes for November 24, 2003 were unanimously approved with a vote of 3-0, Committee Member Silber not present at time of motion.


  • ITEM 1

    A request to review architectural plans of a previously approved Conditional Use Permit of a second dwelling unit located at 440 West Malvern Avenue.

    Associate Planner Eastman presented the proposed modifications to the previously approved limited second dwelling unit in a residential zone with a preservation overlay. The modifications include:

    • As reflected on the north elevation and the floor plans, the kitchen "pop-out" now extends to grade. The pop-out was previously cantilevered at the second floor.
    • The roof of the kitchen pop-out feature has been changed from a gable to a shed;
    • The kitchen window on the north elevation has been eliminated;
    • The garage windows have been eliminated and the garage door relocated;
    • The fascia tails are changed from an "obtuse angled" cut to a "rounded" cut;
    • A sky-light has been added above the in the center of the roof;
    • The double hung windows in the living room, at the alley have been reduced from two to one.

    Mr. Eastman stated that Staff supports the following:

    • The extension of the kitchen "pop-out" to grade.
    • Reducing the windows on the south elevation from two to one.

    Mr. Eastman stated that the "rounded" rater tails do not match the existing residence, although Staff would support the change because the "rounded" style appear on other historic properties in the preservation districts.

    Mr. Eastman stated that Staff is not in support of the following:

    • Changing the kitchen pop-outs roof from a gable to a shed design;
    • Eliminating the kitchen window on the north elevation;
    • Eliminating the garage windows on the north elevations; and
    • Adding a sky-light.

    He noted the elimination of the windows removes the perceived orientation of the limited second dwelling unit to the existing single family residence. The skylight is visible from the street and is therefore not permitted by the Design Guidelines for Residential Preservation Zones.

    Mr. Eastman noted that the proposal could be treated as a modification to the Conditional Use Permit, which would require the Planning Commission approval. However, because the general concept remains the same and only the building elements have changed, Staff is requesting the RDRC determine if the request is consistent with the previously approved plans prior to assuming a "modification" request is needed.

    There being no questions for Staff, Chairman Johnson opened the floor to public comment.

    Caroline Druiff, applicant and property owner, addressed the Committee. She stated that the "rounded" rafter tail is a mistake. The rafter tails on the limited second dwelling unit will be "obtuse" to look like the existing house.

    She addressed the changes on the north elevation and stated that the windows removed from the original proposal were to the garage; they were removed to address maintenance and security concerns. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the concern with the elimination of the windows is not from a historic preservation perspective; the issue is with the limited second dwelling units relationship to the primary dwelling unit.

    Ms. Druiff, referencing the second floor plan, indicated that the elimination of kitchen windows is to accommodate kitchen cabinets. She indicated that the skylight is proposed to allow light and the release of heat from the vaulted ceiling. The skylight would be a flat surfaced "electric venting skylight".

    Ms. Druiff said that the north elevation perspective is not one you could get from the street as it is blocked by the primary dwelling. You could only view the first floor window from the rear door of primary dwelling; not from the front of the house or sidewalk. A well placed tree could add to the blank wall facade and obscure the skylight. She noted that there is only one point from the street - approaching the house from the east - from which the skylight could be seen and stated that based on the setback of the structure, someone would really have to be looking to see the skylight. Ms. Druiff stated that the changes came about after giving more thought to the design.

    Associate Planner Eastman, referring to photographs provided to the RDRC, stated that the second floor of the new unit would be seen from the sidewalk across the street and as approached from the east. The structure would not be seen from the west due to current landscaping and adjacent structures.

    Ms. Druiff questioned if trees are appropriate for obscuring things from view. Associate Planner Eastman responded that it is a consideration for the RDRC. However, trees are not permanent and the height and size would need to be considered.

    Chairman Johnson asked the applicant if she has given thought to the landscaping. Ms. Druiff stated that there will be a combination of cement and grass, with plans probably professionally prepared. Chairman Johnson questioned staff if the current request has a recommended condition of approval addressing the landscaping. Mr. Eastman stated that the there is no condition associated with the current request, although landscaping was discussed with the original (now approved) proposal and reflected in those minutes.

    There being no further comments, Chairman Johnson closed the public comments and opened the meeting to the Committee.

    Committee Member Blumer stated that the issues raised with the modifications should be balanced with the functional use of space inside; the proposal reflects logical reasons for the changes. He noted the modification to the gable is consistent with Craftsman gable design. Stating that the "accessory and subordinate" designation of a limited second dwelling unit is open to interpretation, he noted that connection between the two dwellings is important and can be accomplished with the dining room windows on north elevation of the new unit. He stated that the current application is acceptable.

    Vice Chariman Daybell stated that while he prefers not to change what has already been approved, the current application is acceptable. He expressed concern that a very big tree would be needed to screen the skylight.

    Committee Member Silber supports the simple roofline of the shed roof, noting its consistency with Craftsman design. Given the distance from the street, surrounding mature street trees, and the small floorplan, which makes window placement challenging, he supports the placement of the skylight, noting that a smaller skylight is better than a large one; a 24" wide space (22" window) with a length not to exceed 1.5 times the width would be appropriate. Mr. Silber stated that the most important windows are the ones in the dining area, which are remaining. Bringing the building to the ground makes the gable less important as an element. He stated he would consider landscaping as a mitigating measure. Additional landscaping should complement the existing trees on the side yard. The rafter tails should be consistent with existing house.

    Chairman Johnson stated that a trellis or arbor with a rose vine (or similar) on the center pop-out could be used to break up the facade on north elevation and soften the edge for the front yard tenant. He indicated that, although the skylight is a modern convenience, it would not deter from the aesthetics. Mr. Johnson agrees the changes have been proposed for functional reasons.

    Committee Member Blumer questioned if a code item precluded street-visible skylights and proposed using a tree and other landscape screening to block the view from the street if the skylight were limited in size to 2' by 2'. Associate Planner Eastman stated that the Design Guidelines for Residential Preservation Zones permit skylights at locations that cannot be seen from pubic streets. He noted that the RDRC can propose a tree if they believe it is a sufficient mitigation. Chairman Johnson stated that a tree would have to go in front yard to block line of sight. The applicant stated that she saw a tree in the Amerige Heights development that she thinks would work, and noted that a tree in front would probably not obscure the view; a tree would probably have to against the structure itself.

    Committee Member Silber stated that in place of the skylight a clearstory window could be installed in the gable, although this alternative may be more complicated than the situation warrants. Vice Chairman Daybell considered the feasibility of a trellis with a fast growing plant. Chairman Johnson responded that the trellis would have to be built to the height of the desired screening and would be constrained by the roof overhang.

    Associate Planner Eastman reiterated the need to have solid findings when making a determination against the Design Guidelines. Chief Planner Rosen stated that a tree condition for screening is difficult to enforce and maintain noting that a finding related to the small size of the skylight and its setback from street should be sufficient.

    Committee Member Silber stated that the size of unit is a consideration in this proposal, as are the distance from street, the mature street trees limiting the view to the rear of the property, and the conditioned small size of the skylight - 24" square - with a frame colored to blend with roof to minimize visibility. Chief Planner Rosen asked the Committee if their motion will include the style of skylight. Committee Member Silber stated that the proposed skylight is a flat "Velux" style. The applicant noted that any of electric skylights in the exhibits of she provided would be acceptable. Committee Member Silber stated that the skylight proposed is a quality selection - not a plastic bubble.

    Associate Planner Eastman noted that it is important to identify in the findings that this is not an existing structure, but new construction; and reiterated that the motion is for consistency with what has previously been approved by the Planning Commission.

    Committee Member Blumer made a motion that finds that the proposed modifications to the original project, as conditioned below, are consistent with the submittal as previously approved by the Planning Commission. (1) The proposed skylight shall be limited to 24" square in size (exterior dimensions of the frame), be of similar quality to the Velux examples presented, and have a frame that matches the roof. As such, the skylight, given the new construction and size of the structure, the size of the skylights, and the distance and screening by mature trees from the street, complies with the intent of the Design Guidelines for Residential Preservation Zones. (2) Landscaping shall be provided against north elevation (possibly a trellis or arbor and vine) to break up the mass of the building. Landscaping plans shall be provided to the Development Services Department for review and final approval.

    The motion passed with a vote of 4-0.


  • ITEM 2

    To consider a request to review architectural and landscape plans of six residential dwellings located at 765 Carhart Avenue.

    Committee Member Blumer excused himself from the meeting due to the possibility of a conflict of interest.

    Assistant Planner Kusch presented the request. He stated that the approval of Tentative Tract Map 16478 for a six lot residential subdivision included a mitigation measure requiring RDRC review of the new residences, common landscaped areas and streetscape to ensure that the project continues to meet the related conditions of approval and detailed mitigation measures.

    Assistant Planner Kusch noted several issues with the proposal. He stated that the covered entry and one of the posts encroach within the required 15'-0" front yard setback on Parcel No. 6. He noted that the proposed streetscape is not consistent with the existing streetscape along Carhart Avenue, and referenced a letter from an adjacent property owner requesting a line of sight diagram and the retention or replacement of the existing trees along the north property line.

    Chief Planner Rosen stated that one of the conditions of approval (Planning Commission condition no. 6) on the tract map required the submittal of an arborist report, in part to determine if a mature oak tree on Parcel No. 3 and its grove (including another mature oak tree on an adjacent property) can be protected; and to identify other trees worth saving. The recommendations of the arborist will be incorporated as conditions of approval of the project. Mr. Rosen noted that if the project did not comply with the recommendations of the arborist, the non-compliance would be treated as a modification to the approval and requires review by the Planning Commission. Mr. Rosen indicated that the applicant has submitted an arborist report that identified the live oak on Parcel No. 3 as well as some live oak saplings. Subsequent to the preparation of the Staff Report, the applicant provided a report from the same arborist specifying mitigation measures to be employed if the tree on Parcel No. 3 was to be removed. Staff will be independently corroborating the revised arborist report at the applicant's expense.

    Chairman Johnson asked if there is a plan that shows the locations of the trees identified by the arborist for retention. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that while there is no overlay to the site plan, the costal live oak is in the southwest corner of Parcel No. 3. Vice Chairman Daybell stated that there is no house proposed to be located in the southwest corner of Parcel No. 3. Mr. Kusch agreed, stating the concern is the drip line of the tree and the affect of grading.

    Vice Chairman Daybell requested clarification of the location of the trees on the northern property line and their relationship to Parcel No. 6. Associate Planner Eastman asked if the arborist report address Parcel No. 6 trees. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the initial arborist report identified the coastal live oak on Parcel No. 3 (RDRC recommended condition of approval 2a) and the coastal live oak saplings (RDRC recommended condition of approval 2c).

    Ryan Gregory, the applicant, stated that the trees along the northern property line might actually fall on the adjacent property.

    Chairman Johnson stated that with grading there would be no way to save tree in Parcels No. 3 or 6. Vice Chairman Daybell questioned if the grading would cut the slope behind the house on Parcel No. 6. The applicant affirmed.

    Chairman Johnson recommended the landscaping on Carhart Avenue be consistent with the Citys street tree plan. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that, to his knowledge, Carhart does not have an adopted street tree plan. Chief Planner Rosen stated that Maintenance Services could provide verification on this point, but he does not believe there is a consistent tree on the street.

    Melinda Guinaldo, 781 N. Carhart Avenue, stated that the residents, not the City, trim the trees along Carhart. The applicant stated the intent to retain as many trees as possible but noted that many of the trees along Carhart are dead and diseased.

    Chairman Johnson questioned the extent of the project along Carhart. The applicant noted a cut for the road as well as pedestrian access. Committee Member Silber questioned the grade change to Carhart. The applicant responded that there is only a slight change in grade.

    Vice Chairman Daybell asked for clarification on Staffs recommendations. In response to RDRC condition 2a, Chief Planner Rosen stated that the costal live oak on Parcel No. 3, by virtue of the condition of approval on the tract map and its identification in the initial arborist report, is currently part of common landscaping component of the project. If the subsequent arborist report, as corroborated, supports the removal of the tree, it is no longer common and is not in the purview of the RDRC. In response to RDRC condition 2b, Mr. Rosen stated that the basis for the condition to maintain or replant the northern edge is to address the concerns of the neighbor. If the Committee objects, and applicant agrees, this condition can be removed and placed in the CC&Rs.

    Vice Chairman Daybell questioned the available room for trees on the north side of Parcel No. 6. The applicant stated that there would be 10-15 feet, including the slope.

    Committee Member Silber stated that there is not a clear relationship of topography on the site plan and asked the applicant to explain the grading of the project.

    The applicant stated that an existing natural swale runs through the property, starting at the northeast corner of Parcel No. 6. The swale is to be replaced with a storm drain maintaining under fill, which will maintain the same exit as the current flow. Parcel Nos. 4 - 6 are proposed to drop 10 feet from the existing grade. This cut will be used to fill in Parcel Nos. 2 & 3. Parcel No. 1 is proposed to remain similar to the existing grade, with at most a 1 ft. increase.

    Committee Member Silber noted a 7' retaining wall and questioned the ramifications of lowering the pad at Parcel No. 3 or bringing retaining wall closer to or incorporating it into the house. The applicant stated that consideration had not been given to incorporating the retaining wall into the residence; however a slope still needs to be created which is currently affected by the location of the tree. Mr. Silber commented that the grade changes appear minor from Carhart with the areas of cut more towards the northwest corner of the project.

    Chief Planner Rosen clarified that the primary reason behind the retention of the tree on Parcel No. 3 is its relationship to the large live oak on the adjacent property., He noted that the initial arborist report identified sensitive removal procedures of the Parcel No. 3 tree, which would have to be employed to protect the adjacent tree. The retention of the tree on Parcel No. 3 and the replanting of the samplings were identified as secondary alternatives, since preserving mature trees where possible is consistent with the Citys goals and policies.

    There being no further questions for Staff, Chairman Johnson opened the floor to public comment.

    Rick Crane, project architect, addressed several points of the Staff Report, noting minor changes to the project since the preparation of the report. The color elevations reflect all modifications from Staff Report. He clarified that the proposed residence on Parcel No. 1 is stepped to a 1.5 story elevation with clearstory element before the 2nd story. The proposed residence on Parcel No. 4 will be a sand finish stucco, not smooth trowel as originally proposed; and the roof material is asphalt shingle, not tile. The roof profile on the south elevation of the proposed residence on Parcel No. 6 was modified by the addition of dormer elements to break up the roof mass.

    Mr. Crane presented a section plan showing grade relative to visual impacts. The section was provide to address concerns of neighbors as well as comply with a condition of the Tract approval (Planning Commission condition no. 5). He noted that while Parcel No. 6 could be built as two stories, a single story residence is proposed to address neighbor concerns. The finished pad for Parcel No. 6 is 6 below natural grade with window elevations at 68"; visually, Parcel No. 6 will not be looking into adjacent properties. Mr. Crane stated that the applicant would like to raise the pad 2 to address drainage issues. Originally lowered to maintain 20 height maximum for one story, the 2 increase in pad height would put 13% of roof area (predominantly the peaks) over the 20 limit. Mr. Crane requested approval of this "encroachment". Vice Chairman Daybell questioned the effect of this change on Parcel No. 5. Mr. Crane, noting that the elevations are not shown at their actual grade relationships, stated that Parcel No. 5 would not be changed.

    Rick Crane stated that architecturally the project meets the goals of the original conditions of approval set forth by the Planning Commission and City Council, including the articulation, garage step back, and the variations of the elevations and architectural styles.

    Rick Crane, addressing RDRC condition no. 3 relating to the front yard setback of Parcel No. 6, stated that the conditions of the tract encourage the "encroachment" of the porch into the front yard setback. Specifically, the mitigation measure (Planning Commission IX.c) states, "Hardscape features such as a paved area, pedestrian sidewalk, staircase, porch or pond should not exceed 40% of the lots front yard area." Including the porch, the proposed residence has 39% hardscape, and is in compliance with the mitigation measure.

    The applicant questioned if RDRC condition no. 4 was a result of the inclusion of a monument sign location on the site plan. Chief Planner Rosen stated that condition was specifically to address the streetscape on both Carhart Avenue and the new cul-de-sac.

    Dave Clossen, landscape architect for the project, indicated the common area landscaping includes 15 trees, 1 per lot (24" box) plus the trees in the storm drain outlet area (relocation of saplings - RDRC condition 2c). Turfblock is proposed in the parking easement areas with grass in areas not usable for parking. The landscaping from the back of the common HOA-maintained line is the responsibility of buyer.

    Associate Planner Eastman inquired about property line fencing. The applicant replied that wood fencing would probably be used on the north, east and west boundaries of the project with chainlink on south due to drainage. Parcel No. 3 will have a retaining wall with steel tubing. Associate Planner Eastman questioned if there are going to be fences between the houses to which the applicant said "yes". Mr. Eastman also questioned if there will be anything to identify the HOA and private landscape areas and expressed concern with homeowners not landscaping. Rick Crane stated that the CC&Rs would address the responsibilities of both parties.

    Committee Member Silber expressed concern over the retention of the Pico-Carhart rural character, especially in planting and tree selection. He asked Mr. Clossen if he has been to the area and considered appropriate species. Mr. Clossen affirmed and stated that the proposed trees are Jacaranda and Tristania, and the Purple Leaf Plum as an accent.

    Melinda Guinaldo expressed concern that the Purple Leaf Plums are too small due to their compact and narrow nature. She expressed a desire for larger, thicker vegetation. Mr. Clossen stated that the existing trees on Carhart provide the look of a thicket but most are not structurally sound as they appear to have been cut and replanted.

    Chief Planner Rosen stated that the conceptual plan does not address the streetscape area. The applicant needs to verify the responsibilities of the City and HOA. Those trees not maintained by the City need to be identified on landscape plans as retained, replanted, or removed. Streetscape needs to be developed and maintained by the HOA, and it needs to be consistent with neighborhood landscape (density and rhythm); plans should reflect a rural neighborhood in spacing and type of trees along the cul-de-sac street. Specifically, trees should be more tightly spaced on the private lots along common areas. Mr. Clossen stated that trees are proposed in areas unavailable for parking. Mr. Rosen reiterated that trees can be placed behind parking areas and questioned if one tree per lot was sufficient for rural character. Mr. Clossen questioned if it is the developers responsibility to put in trees that a property owner may remove. Mr. Rosen stated that the CC&Rs could contain a provision to retain the trees. Mr. Clossen stated that as an alternative, a tree density could be specified in the CC&Rs, allowing individual property owners a choice of type.

    Committee Member Silber stated that there are both pros and cons to an entry monument. The applicant stated that he initially did not think monumentation was possible until Staff mentioned the possibility of a location in landscape easement. An entry monument is not necessary but the applicant stated he would like to retain the option so the home owners can decide at a later date. Committee Member Silber noted that a monument may be okay if consistent with the rural character of the neighborhood. Associate Planner Eastman question if any signage was provided in the plans. The applicant stated that only a space for a possible sign was identified on the site plan. Mr. Eastman noted that the zoning code specifies dimensions and stated that whether an entry sign is appropriate depends on relation to neighborhood. Melinda Guinaldo expressed concern with a monument sign stating that there is no signage in the area and reiterated the importance of maintaining the rural character.

    Rick Forbes, 747 - 757 Carhart, the neighbor to the south, stated that currently no water flows through the site. Chief Planner Rosen stated that Mr. Forbes had previously sent a letter expressing concern about the water draining from the site. Mr. Forbes said the intent of his letter was to prevent future problems. Mr. Rosen stated that the grading of the site is not under review as part of the current application and noted that a letter reflecting the actual issues should be submitted for review in conjunction with the review of grading plans.

    There being no further comments, Chairman Johnson closed the public comments and opened the meeting to Committee comments.

    Vice Chair Daybell stated that because of the rural nature of Carhart, it may be better for the neighborhood to maintain the existing vegetation rather than planting new trees and only modify the existing planting on Carhart to create the new road.

    Chairman Johnson questioned the reason for the cut in the trees on Carhart on Parcel No. 1. Assistant Planner Kusch stated that the intent was to balance the orientation of the proposed residence to Carhart with the maintenance of a rural edge. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the tract was approved with two front setbacks for Parcel No. 1 to prevent the property line on Carhart from being a "side" yard, where a 6 ft. fence would be permitted at edge of the right-of-way.

    Vice Chairman Daybell stated that he supports the proposed location of the porch on Parcel No. 6, as well as the request to raise the pad elevation to enhance drainage.

    Committee Member Silber stated that the plans appear to be well thought through. He supports raising the pad on Parcel No. 6 as it helps the rear and side yard, and noted that one story lessens the impact on neighbors. He stated that the proposed residence on Parcel No. 3 should be revisited if the tree is worth saving. Depending on the location of sewer, the house could possibly be dropped. Mr. Silber stated that he will rely on the landscape architect to determine which trees, if any, are worth saving on Carhart. An entry monument is okay if it is in the character of the Craftsman style of the proposed residence on Parcel No. 1. Mr. Silber commented that the more the new cul-de-sac street becomes another meandering street, the better it would fit in with the neighborhood. He supports raising the pad on Parcel No. 6 and noted that the landscape should be consistent with the Pico-Carhart rural character.

    Chairman Johnson supported the architecture with the various elevations. He also supported raising the pad and felt the location of the porch on Parcel No. 6 met the original mitigation measure. Mr. Johnson proposed a condition of approval requiring the landscaping plans to come back to the RDRC for review. The plans should present the overall landscaping for the project and should include existing trees to be removed, existing trees to be maintained/relocated according to the arborist report, if any, as well as slope planting. The planting plan should incorporate existing types of trees found in the area - large, broad leafed, like those along Carhart - to provide a buffer to the neighborhood.

    Rick Crane asked for clarification of the condition stated by Chairman Johnson to verify if the request was for the landscape for the entire project. Chief Planner Rosen stated that the approval of the tract included the condition common landscape and streetscape. Chairman Johnson stated that an overlay of existing trees on site to be removed should be provided.

    Chief Planner Rosen clarified that "streetscape" is feel from the street, not just the 8- foot area of the parking easement. Committee Member Silber stated that the intent is not to stall the project over landscape but noted that it is not clear how the landscaping is working in relation to the live oaks and in common area. He reiterated that the landscape plan warrants coming back.

    Committee Member Silber made a motion to (A) recommend approval with conditions 1, 2, and 4 as recommended in the Staff Report (recommended condition 3 was dropped); (B) support raising the pad height of Parcel No. 6 by 2 ft.; and (C) add a condition that final landscape plans for the project, including streetscape and common areas, be submitted to the RDRC for review. The plans should present the overall landscaping for the project and should include existing trees to be removed, existing trees to be maintained/relocated according to the arborist report, if any, as well as slope planting. The planting plan should incorporate existing types of trees found in area - large, broad leafed, like those along Carhart - to provide a buffer to the neighborhood.

    Vice Chairman Daybell stated the trees along Carhart should not be removed prior to review and approval of the landscape plans, with the exception of a necessary cut for the street, even if grading were to commence prior the approval of the landscape plans.

    Rick Crane stated that work could proceed on the architecture while the landscape plans are revised and that the landscape plans would come back to the RDRC prior to the start of grading. Associate Planner Eastman noted that the landscape plans would need to be reviewed prior to grading.

    The motion passed with a vote of 3-0.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:15 PM.