PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING
OCTOBER 2, 2007
1.0 CALL TO ORDER
The Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Highland was called to order at 6:04 p.m. by Chairman Haller at the Donahue Council Chambers, 27215 Base Line, Highland, California.
Present: Commissioners John Gamboa and Michael Willhite, and Chairman Richard Haller
Absent: Commissioner Bob Moore and Vice Chairman Randall Hamerly
Staff Present:John Jaquess, Community Development Director
Ernie Wong, City Engineer
Lawrence A. Mainez, City Planner
Bruce Meikle, Senior Planner
Linda McKeough, Administrative Assistant III
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chairman Haller.
2.0 COMMUNITY INPUT
There was none.
3.0 CONSENT CALENDAR
3.1 Minutes of April 18, 2006, Regular Meeting.
Approved, as submitted.
3.2 Minutes of May 15, 2007. Regular Meeting.
A motion was made by Commissioner Gamboa and seconded by Commissioner Moore to approve the Minutes of April 18, 2006, and May 15, 2007, as submitted.
Motion carried on a 2 - 0 vote with the abstention of Commissioner Willhite and Vice Chairman Hamerly absent.
4.0 PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 Consideration of an Appeal of the Design Review Board's approval of an Accessory Sign Review Application (ASR 007-011) for Installation of two (2), Monument Signs for the East Highlands Center, (formerly Potomac Plaza). Applicant: Eagle Signs.
The Appeal (Appeal 007-002) is as follows: The Appellant is requesting reconsideration of the Design Review Board's approval of the Monument Sign Plans for the Accessary Sign Review Application (ASR 007-011). The location Project is located at 7223 Church Street, on the northeast corner of Church Street and Base Line. Assessor's Parcel Number: 0288-461-36. Appellant: East Highlands Ranch Master Homeowners Association, Representative: George Einfeldt
Chairman Haller introduced the item and called for Staff's presentation.
Community Development Director Jaquess stated the Appellant has withdrawn his Appeal Application.
No action was taken by the Planning Commission due to the fact that the Appellant withdrew the Appeal.
4.2 An Application submitted by Regency Centers requesting approval of Conditional Use Permit 007-009 for a Multi-tenant Commercial Project. The Project is located on an approximate 8.5 acre Site currently consisting of two (2) adjoining parcels located on the south side of Greenspot Road approximately 1,300 feet east of the State Route 30 / 210 Freeway (APNs: 1201-341-12 and 1201-341-13). Representative: James Dillavou, Senior Manager.
Prior to the Meeting, Staff distributed documents from Michael Brandman Associates regarding the Fish and Game Letter, and the Department of Transportation Letter regarding the Negative Declaration. In addition, the Applicant distributed a revised Color Booklet and an Exhibit "A" which is a proposed compromise of the Conceptional Striping Plan for Regency Center's Access "A" for the proposed Project to the Commission.
Chairman Haller introduced the item and called for Staff's presentation.
Senior Planner Meikle gave the presentation from the Staff Report and explained the distributed documents to the Commission. He then explained the two (2) Tenants, Site location, historical background, which included but not limited to the following: the Conceptual Landscape Plan which he said to refer to tonight's handout, and Elevations which will be going to the Design Review Board (DRB) for consideration and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process which will be considered by the Commission. He then explained Access "A", the remaining undeveloped property to the east and more easterly of that is the existing Storage Facility. Senior Planner Meikle indicated Mr. Jim Dillavou and Dave Webber, Representatives from Regency Centers are in the audience to who along with City Engineer Wong will explain the Access "A" to the Commission.
City Engineer Wong stated there has been a considerable amount of discussion regarding Access "A" and he then described in detail to the Commission which included, the north portion width has been reduced from seventy-five feet (75') to sixty-nine feet (69') and the lower portion is sixty-nine feet (69') and there is a shared thru-lane and right turn lane which is wide enough to provide for de-facto right turns. The Access "A" approved for the Lowe's Project has been made a COA of the proposed Regency Centers Project.
Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of Staff.
A question was asked by a Commissioner regarding the Parking Table listed in the Staff Report indicating the Code requires 841 parking stalls, but the Applicant has proposed 470 parking stalls. Staff responded with regards to the proposed LA Fitness Facility and according to Staff's review of the Parking Analysis, provided by the Applicant, there are different peak hours - clients are there early in the morning and/or evening hours when there will be fewer occupied parking spaces and this was also brought up with the Lowe's project. Staff believes there is an adequate number of parking spaces, at this time. Staff added how Staples may be going in and their customers are usually there mid-day and the Parking Analysis was provided by the Applicant. There is a substantial difference with LA Fitness peak hours which are from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. and the rationale is the largest difference is that the proposed Project is located in a Planned Development Zoning Designation and the Applicant's Tenants share the parking area and it is hard to lease space if there isn't enough parking. The status update on the property located to the east, if the Applicant acquires that property, there would be a reciprocal access easement(s). Staff further explained there are two (2) access points for the Project - Access "A" and one located to the east. A comment was made by a Commissioner, if someone would want to turn left on Greenspot Road, the person would travel to Access "A".
Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had any further questions of Staff. Hearing none, he then opened the Public Hearing and asked if the Applicant would like to make a presentation.
Mr. Jim Dillavou, 915 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2200, Los Angeles, California, who is the Senior Manager for Regency Centers, addressed the Commission. He thanked Staff for pushing the Project through and how he had discussed with Staff the COAs. With regards to the easterly vacant parcel, the property owner, Ms. Tobin had spoken with him and acknowledged what the Applicant is proposing, but she does not want to sell, or lease her land. The design of the Site will eventually allow for the build out of her property. The Applicant will again attempt to acquire her property, but does not look promising. With regards to parking, the reciprocal parking is provided at different peak hours and times and Staff is correct the Applicant provided Studies to Staff with the Fitness Centers and is offset by the Fitness Centers' peak hours which are early morning / late evening hours and indicated other Fitness Centers are also like that.
Mr. David Webber, 915 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2200, Los Angeles, California, who is the Applicant's Representative, addressed the Commission. He explained Access "A" to the Commission regarding what the City Council approved with breaks in the median at the easterly entrance and has been a Condition when a project comes on line to see the breaks and take into account when developed. There are no reciprocal parking rights and that they have several LA Fitness Centers and the Operator does the work. He then explained and verified the parking issue.
Mr. Dillavou added how the Applicant has resolved the issues at Staff level and all there is now is the Access "A" issue. He then gave the historical background in that there is a single median all the way down and what transpired at the City Council and Planning Commission Meetings on lane widths. The Site Plan was also discussed regarding turning ratios and the Applicant is willing to accommodate the southern median even though the Applicant will lose thirteen (13) parking stalls in order to expand the "bulb" area. Mr. Dillavou reiterated moving the parking stalls easterly and losing the thirteen (13) parking stalls and does not want to lose any more. He explained Lowe's is not affected on the southern side for parking, but Regency Centers is affected on the southern side for parking. The Traffic Study layout did not contemplate the other signal and is not necessary. He stated there was further discussion with Staff today and on Monday (October 1) and went to the Applicant's Traffic Engineer and have a proposed compromise which will work for them and with the proposed compromise, the Applicant will only lose six (6) parking stalls.
A question was asked by a Commissioner why the thirteen (13) parking spaces lost when the curb is being relocated over three feet (3'). Mr. Dillavou responded if removing the "bulb", will lose only six (6) spaces and yet keep the southern median. A comment was made by a Commissioner there are two (2) lanes wide there at the "bulb". Mr. Webber responded this has shoved their Project Site to the east. The northern parcel is shifted over and squeezed as much as they could. The had prepared a Revised Exhibit (which was distributed tonight) of Access "A" with the Traffic Engineer and asked what the Commission thought of the Revised Exhibit of Access "A". Staff responded the width of Access "A" is sixty-nine feet (69') and will be split between the two (2) properties (Lowe's project and Regency Centers) and then explained the width contribution between the two (2) properties to the Commission. Mr. Dillavou added that Lowe's Applicant is acceptable with their compromise. Mr. Webber added the preconditioned median will be theirs. The "bulb" is on the Regency Centers' property and Lowe's has been Conditioned for the "bulb". A question was asked by a Commissioner if the templates work and Mr. Webber responded affirmatively. Another question was asked by a Commissioner about the eleven and one-half foot (11'6") curb lane and if there were compact parking spaces proposed versus the curved design which needs a minimum of twelve feet (12'). Mr. Dillavou responded they can do that and Mr. Webber added they can work it out.
Discussion ensued between the Commission, Mr. Dillavou, Mr. Webber and Staff regarding the potential of the Applicant losing six (6) spaces and going with compact space widths dimensions.
Mr. Phil Williams, 915 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2200, Los Angeles, California, who is the Senior Project Manager, for Regency Centers, addressed the Commission. He stated the Applicant will lose eleven to twelve (11 - 12) parking spaces east of the landscaped area along Access "A", unless they use compact parking space dimensions, but they would lost most of the landscaped area. Mr. Webber added the sidewalk is six feet (6') wide. A comment was made by a Commissioner they have to install the landscaping there. Mr. Webber responded the landscaping is behind the sidewalk to the north and the Applicant is willing to work it out and does not affect Lowe's and indicated the Applicant will work from the east, over. Staff responded that Staff understands in keeping as many parking stalls as possible. Staff further provided an example and explained when a person after shopping at Lowe's and approaching Access "A", they would have to choose either the curb lane or the median lane. If they choose the median lane, and intend to travel either north or east, then they would have to cut through two (2) lanes of traffic. Staff further explained that the median design which Lowe's has been Conditioned to follow, will only require the driver to cut through one (1) lane of traffic under the same scenario. From a traffic standpoint, the compromise design distributed by the Developer is more complicated and is not Staff's recommendation. A question was asked by a Commissioner whether the center lane can be designed for a left turn lane and a thru lane going north also. Staff responded the projected traffic needs two (2) exclusive left turn lanes with storage space over two hundred feet (200') in each lane. Converting one (1) exclusive left turn lane to a share lane will not be adequate to handle the projected heavy left turn volume. From a geometric standpoint, it fits better.
A question was asked by a Commissioner if the Applicant is proposing to phase the Project. Mr. Webber responded the Project will be built all at once and concurrently.
Another question was asked by a Commissioner regarding the final features to the east in that there is no proposed landscaping, curb / gutter, etc. Mr. Webber responded the Applicant will work with the DRB and suggested low ground cover, shrubbery, etc.
A question was asked by a Commissioner regarding if the street is not located right on the property line. Mr. Webber responded there is a one foot or two foot (1' - 2') slope and will install a "strip of something". Mr. Williams added at the southeast corner, need one there also and is seven feet (7') from the back of the property line with a low wall with fencing along the wall and is working through with grading. A question was asked by a Commissioner of what type of fencing and Mr. Dillavou responded wrought iron, or as approved by the DRB.
Chairman Haller asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item. Hearing none, he stated he would leave the Public Hearing open for a bit for additional testimony and opened the floor for discussion amongst the Commissioners.
Discussion ensued between the Commission, Mr. Dillavou, Mr. Webber and Staff regarding Access "A" and the lane widths was proposed by the Applicant at eleven feet (11'), but should be twelve feet (12'). A comment was made by a Commissioner the curb lanes should be fourteen feet (14') wide. Mr. Dillavou responded he can make the travel lane twelve feet (12'). Mr. Webber stated he wants the Project to work well and the speed is not an issue and the Project design is not atypical from a traffic flow and other parameters standpoint. Staff stated if a large retail company takes over the LA Fitness Building, the Project would have to be re-evaluated for parking by Staff and the Commission. Staff further explained the 470 parking spaces and Staff had calculated it out to 410 spaces. The services / uses are convenience and there will be parking at the north end of the Fitness Center. If the Fitness Center use was in the center of the Project, that would be problematic. However, the Fitness Center is located to the east and has a large (parking lot) field located in front of it. The Parking Studies also looks at the hours of the day and agrees with the numbers and reiterated if there is a change of use, the parking could be re-evaluated.
Chairman Haller asked for the Commissioner's thoughts / comments.
A comment was made by a Commissioner if the Commission goes ahead with Staff's recommendation on Access "A". The Commissioner indicated they understand that Regency Centers wants as many spaces as they can, but they are also concerned with the situation, as described by City Staff relative to the path of vehicle travel, whereby a person going north on Access "A" and wants to either traveling straight north or turning right on Greenspot Road, the person would have traverse over two (2) lanes of traffic. That may or may not be a problem, depending on the amount of vehicles stacked up. Mr. Dillavou responded the traffic signal located at Lowe's will reduce the stacking on Access "A" and there is sufficient space for distance and also understands the Commissioner's comments.
Another comment was made by a Commissioner how the Commissioner has seen when stacking happens at Albertsons (Highland Village Plaza) and is stacked all the way past Baskin & Robbins Ice Cream establishment and is looking at a worse case scenario and reiterated his concern with stacking issues.
A question was asked by a Commissioner regarding if a person turns either right or left, is it in the same amount of distance. Mr. Webber responded his proposed design provides two hundred and fifteen feet (215') in one (1) left turn lane and eighty feet (80') in the other left turn lane.
Other comments made by Commissioners included the location of parking spaces at the Major Tenant No. 2 and does not want to cut the spaces off. Mr. Williams responded it does not matter if it is thirteen (13) or six (6) or seven (7) spaces lost, the Applicant still loses the flexibility with the operations. One Commissioner stated if the Project is well signalized and the curb lane is fourteen feet (14') wide, maybe this compromise design would work, along with a combination with landscaping and shortening the parking stalls.
The following are comments made by the Commission: 1) use less landscaping at the south portion of the median land (i.e. use river rock instead of a soft scape), then six feet (6') of sidewalk and then keep the parking spaces; 2) with regards to the east side of the parking lot is twenty-eight feet (28') enough for backing out; 3) one likes the fourteen foot (14') width for the curb lanes at Access "A" and also wants consistency; 4) an eighteen foot (18') right turn driveway would be better, and; 5) instead of landscaping, use some hardscaping in the median to improve visibility. Staff responded that twenty-eight feet (28') width along the east side of the parking lot is consistent with the Code.
Chairman Haller asked if the Commission wants to amend Access "A" to the COAs. Staff responded the Commission could use the distributed Exhibit A with a fourteen foot (14') wide lane.
Chairman Haller then again asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item. Hearing none, he then closed the Public Hearing and opened the floor for further discussion amongst the Commissioners.
Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding to modify the distributed Access "A" Exhibit. Staff responded that Engineering COA No. 14 be modified and keep the first sentence only and refer to the Access "A" as modified, which will become the new Exhibit A.
There being no further questions of the Applicant or Staff, or discussion amongst the Commissioners, Chairman Haller then called for the question.
A motion was made by Commissioner Gamboa and seconded by Chairman Haller that the Planning Commission adopt Resolution 07-015 which:
1. Adopts a Mitigated Negative Declaration and directs the Secretary to file a Notice of Determination;
2. Approves Conditional Use Permit 007-009, subject to the Conditions of Approval, as modified with the following:
C* 14. Construct Access "A" in accordance with the attached Exhibit entitled Access "A", including the curb and gutter and a raised curb landscaped median.
The Attached Exhibit "A" is entitled, "Conceptual Striping Plan for Regency Center at Access 'A' ".
3. Adopt the Findings of Fact.
Motion carried on a 4 - 0 vote with Vice Chairman Hamerly absent.
Chairman Haller then returned to Community Input (Item No. 2.0) for someone who came late to the Meeting in order to address the Commission on items not listed on the Agenda.
2.0 COMMUNITY INPUT
Ms. Christine Snyder, who is the Manager of the Victoria Arms Apartments located at 7012 Victoria Avenue, addressed the Commission. She stated that she has been there for five (5) years at the Victoria Arms Apartments and there is a property owner who has three (3) rental houses located at 6996 Victoria. She then explained what had transpired on July 14, 2007, at 2:00 a.m. with a party located at the three (3) rental houses which got out of hand and someone was shot in the head and then people had dragged the male who was shot out in front. Ms. Snyder then explained when the Police got there, they said there was a drive by shooting and she said, no, it wasn't and that it happened in the back yard. There were approximately one hundred (100) people there and were drunk and congregated in Ms. Snyder's front yard. She further explained how the front gate is closed at night and people had tried hopping the fence. Clothes were left behind her building. She is concerned with her safety and there is going to be snipers and indicated how the people had already tagged the carports and that "Fat Pat" was among the taggers (who is the three  home owner). A petition was prepared and the property owner of the three (3) homes were supportive of the document regarding to oust the West Side Verdugo Gang Members, but then he stopped the veto and was concerned about having empty houses and losing rental fees. Ms. Snyder then asked what is the City Policy on gangs and about pressuring the property owner to get the gangs out of here and was concerned about the next bullet may come through and kill someone. She stated that she has also has managed nineteen (19) houses in San Bernardino. Since the middle of July, this has been an open investigation and that she has lost three (3) good tenants because of this incident and other people are afraid to live there at the Apartments and it is infuriating that the property owner (of the three [3} housing rentals) does not want to get the people out.
A question was asked by a Commissioner if Code Enforcement would be able to assist the situation. Staff responded by stating sounds like a Police matter.
Discussion ensued between the Commission, Ms. Snyder and Staff regarding the incident and for Ms. Snyder to contact someone at the Highland Police Department.
Further discussion ensued regarding the feasibility of the City having some sort of Ordinance / Code for evicting gangs and Staff responded that Staff is currently prepared an Ordinance now. Ms. Snyder stated she has an Apartment complex with decent people residing there and are intimidated. One of the Commissioners explained the Commission considers new development within the City and asked Staff if this should go to the Public Safety Subcommittee. Staff responded for her to correspond with the City Manager and express to him what Ms. Snyder had said tonight and the feasibility of addressing the Public Safety Subcommittee. Ms. Snyder responded she would come down here to speak with the City Manager. Another suggestion was made by a Commissioner for her to go to the City Council Meeting to speak there since, it too, is an open forum meeting and provided her with the Council's scheduled Regular Meeting dates. Another Commissioner said for her to see him after the Commission Meeting.
The Commission returned to Item No. 5.0.
There were no items.
Staff distributed a memo to the Board and explained the anticipated items scheduled for October 16, 2007, Meeting, including a Joint Study Session with the Design Review Board.
There being no further business Chairman Haller declared the meeting adjourned at 7:22 p.m.
Linda McKeough, Administrative Assistant III
Richard Haller, Chairman Planning Commission