Planning Commission


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  1.       
Meeting Date: 10/26/2020  
Submitted By: Chris Schaefer, Senior Planner

CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT (CEQA):
This project was reviewed pursuant to the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and determined to be Categorically Exempt pursuant to Section 15303(b), Class 3: “New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures” of the CEQA Guidelines. The project consists of the construction of three residential units thereby not exceeding the maximum of six units permitted under the categorical exemption.
RECOMMENDATION:
Planned Unit Development
A RESOLUTION OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LA HABRA RECOMMENDING THAT THE CITY COUNCIL APPROVE PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT PRECISE PLAN 20-01 FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A THREE-UNIT RESIDENTIAL CONDOMINIUM COMPLEX AT 508 SOUTH WALNUT, MAKING THE APPROPRIATE FINDINGS, AS PER THE APPROVED PLANS AND SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS.

Tentative Parcel Map
A RESOLUTION OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF LA HABRA APPROVING TENTATIVE PARCEL MAP 2019-178 FOR CONDOMINIUM PURPOSES FOR A THREE-UNIT RESIDENTIAL CONDOMINIUM PROJECT AT 508 SOUTH WALNUT STREET, AS PER THE APPROVED MAP, MAKING THE APPROPRIATE FINDINGS AND SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS.
DISCUSSION:
The property is located on the easterly side of Walnut Street to the north of Coyote Creek flood control channel (see Attached Vicinity Map).  The General Plan land use designation for the site is Residential Multi-Family 1.  The property is zoned Multiple Family Dwelling (R-4) with a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Overlay which is consistent with the General Plan.
 
The Applicant is proposing to construct a three-story, three-unit residential condominium complex on a 9,159 square foot parcel (see Attachment 4, Project Plans).  The units will range in size from 2,859 square feet to 3,150 square feet, including garage space.  Units 1 and 2 will be two-bedroom units, while Unit 3 will have three bedrooms.  The floor plans for the units vary, however; they generally include a living room, a kitchen, a media room, a laundry room, and multiple-bathrooms.  Each unit will have a two-car garage.
 
The property will be served by a common driveway from Walnut Street along the north side of the lot. Private open space will be provided along the south and east sides of the property.  Common open space will be placed at the northeast corner of the lot and the area improved with a covered patio area and a built-in barbeque.  Guest parking will be placed along the north side of the property.
 
The architectural design of the three-unit building utilizes a mix of contemporary architectural elements including stucco exterior, decorative light fixtures, faux shutters, decorative attic vents, friezes, and stacked-stone wainscot (see Attached Renderings). The elevations also include window and door treatments/moldings to enhance their visual appearance.  The front of Unit 1 has a covered porch, which engages Walnut Street.  Lastly, decorative stamped and colored concrete is proposed in the driveway within the front setback to provide visual relief when viewed from the street.
 
The building is arranged linearly, along the southern property line.   The lot, which is an irregular shape, is 83.9 feet wide along Walnut Street, but narrows to 56.6 feet wide on the east side. The building has been stepped back to follow the slanted southern property line which helps to break up the massing as well as provide visual interest when viewed from the side.   The building also utilizes pop-outs, cross-gables, and steps down in various places which also breaks up the massing. Small portions of the third floor encroach into the ten-foot side yard setback.

Analysis
Planned Unit Development 20-01

The Applicant is requesting approval of the design of the improvements proposed for the site.  As required by Chapter 18.52 of the LHMC, Planning Commission and City Council approval is required for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Precise Plan.  

The PUD zone overlay incentivizes development of properties by allowing some flexibility of design standards that are called out in the underlying zone.  Normally, properties without PUD overlays are restricted to the underlying zoning standards which do not allow deviations.   However, in this case, the PUD overlay allows flexibility for regulations (i.e. setbacks and building height).  The flexibility in regulations allows for applicants to present a higher quality design, use better exterior finishes, or provide additional amenities.   The Applicant has requested a deviation on a portion of the side yard setback in exchange for high quality decorative exterior features, which is further described below.

Per the R-4 development standards, the front of the building is required to maintain a 15-foot front setback.   As proposed, a 5-foot wide covered front patio is shown within the front setback, facing Walnut Street.  This patio cover, which provides no usable floor area, breaks up the massing of the building and achieves a design goal whereby the front unit engages the street.

Secondly, the R-4 standards require that the third story of a building maintain a 10-foot side setback.   In this case, the side setback along the south property line ranges in width from five feet to 12 feet.  However, a small portion of the building located in the middle encroaches into this space.   To indent portions of the third floor to meet the 10-foot setback requirement would detract from the high-quality design of the structure and the stepping of the building facade meets the intent of the additional setback by breaking up the long plane of the building.

The “stepped back” side setback is due to the odd shape of the lot whereby it narrows at the eastern end of the parcel.  Also, the existence of the 15-foot wide access easement along the Orange County flood control channel provides additional offset whereby the structure won’t loom over any adjacent structures.

As a trade-off, the Applicant is proposing a high-quality architectural design that helps to upgrade the look of the neighborhood.   The exterior of the building will utilize decorative features such as stacked stone wainscot, decorative light fixtures and vents, friezes, and window mullions.  While the R-4 doesn’t have specific design standards, the Applicant has provided details that exceed expectations for a project of this size.

In order for the Planning Commission or City Council to recommend approval of the Precise Plan, all the following findings must be made:


1.  That the location, design and proposed uses are compatible with the character of existing development in the vicinity.


Properties to the east, west, and north are developed with a mix of single-family and multi-family residential buildings.  A storm water channel runs along the southern edge of the property.

The proposed site layout has taken into consideration the surrounding improvements and minimizes impacts to the proposed residences.  This is done by setting the units along the southern property line, away from the neighboring properties to the north.   A parking area is located in the northern portion of the property to provide separation between any future residential building(s) on the adjacent property.  Also, masonry walls will buffer the site from the adjacent properties.

The project has been designed to blend in with the adjacent neighborhood.  For instance, the western (front) unit will face onto Walnut Street, similar to the residences to the north.  The project's architectural design is complementary to the multiple-family residential project located to the south-west and the proposed building is similar in size and scale.  Therefore, the construction of a condominium complex will be compatible with the surrounding improvements and character of the neighborhood.

2.  That the plan will produce, internally, an environment of stable and desirable character, and will not tend to cause any traffic congestion on surrounding or access streets.


The Environmental Impact Report prepared in 2014 for the update to the City’s General Plan looked at traffic impacts for land use designations in town.  The study concluded that the existing streets for the land use designations proposed would be served by the existing streets, when projects are built to or below the approved densities.  The approved density for the site is up to 24 units to the acre and the project is being built to 14.3 units to the acre.  Therefore, no adverse impacts are anticipated.

3.  That all required applications for the proposed use have been processed, including any Conditional Use Permit applications.

The Applicant has filed all the required applications for this proposed project. The request includes a Tentative Parcel Map for condominium purposes.  Actions for this project are being processed concurrently with this Planned Unit Development Precise Plan.

4.  That the standards of development applicable to the Planned Unit Development are clearly designated in the proposed Planned Unit Development ordinance or plans approved thereunder and/or supplementary text material.

Chapter 18.52 “Planned Unit Development Overlay Zone” does not provide specific development standards however, it provides flexibility by the Planning Commission or City Council from strict enforcement of the underlying zoning designation for the purpose of approving a development that is in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.  All of the proposed design standards are clearly depicted on the plans (see Project Plans, Attachment 4) which will become an attachment to the Ordinance.

 
Per the R-4 development standards, the front of the building is required to maintain a 15-foot front setback.   As proposed, a 5-foot wide covered front patio is shown within the front setback, facing Walnut Street.  This patio cover, which provides no usable floor area, breaks up the massing of the building and achieves a design goal whereby the front unit engages the street. 
 
Secondly, the R-4 standards require that the third story of buildings maintain a 10-foot side setback.   In this case, the side setback along the south property line ranges in width from five feet to 12 feet.  However, only small portions of the building located in the middle encroach into this space.  To indent portions of the third floor to meet the 10-foot setback requirement would detract from the high-quality design of the structure.  Additionally, the stepping of the building setbacks meets the intent of the code by breaking up the massing of the building.
 
Section 18.52.070 of the LHMC allows for modification of development standards.  In this case, the aforementioned deviations can be supported.

5.  That the proposed development will be well integrated into its setting.

The proposed building design and layout has taken into consideration the surrounding improvements.  There are other apartments and condominium projects adjacent to and near the subject site that are improved with two-story and three-story structures.  While the proposed project will be taller than the single-family residential buildings to the southeast, the Applicant will construct a 6-foot tall wall to provide a buffer.  Additionally, the drainage channel between the project and the aforementioned residences provides a wide separation of 70 feet or more.  Overall, the project is compatible with the neighborhood regarding building height, architecture, and density.  Therefore, the proposed project will be well integrated into its setting.

6.  That provision is made for both public and private open space, at least equivalent to that required in the primary zone.

Chapter 18.26 of the LHMC requires the development to provide a total of 1,000 square feet of usable yard area that includes 30% of the units having private open space (patio or balcony) and a minimum common open space of 400 square feet.  The Applicant will provide a total of 1,230 square feet of usable yard area that includes 66% of the units having private open space and common open space totaling 467 square feet.  Additionally, the Applicant will be required to pay park fees (Quimby Act) which is estimated to be $31,270 that will go towards public park development elsewhere in the City.

7.  That suitable provision is made, where appropriate, for the protection and maintenance of private areas reserved for common use.

As specified above, the project will provide 467 square feet of common usable yard area that will be improved with a patio cover, barbeque, and a seating area. The protection and maintenance of the area is made possible through the enforcement of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs), which is a condition of approval for the project.  Also, the conditions of approval for the PUD require the development of the project to be in substantial conformance with the final plans as approved by the Planning Commission and City Council.

8.  That the proposed development does not negatively impact the City’s ability to provide services over the short and long term to City residents because the projected cost of providing City services to the property outweighs the economic benefits of the project to the City.

An economic analysis was prepared for the project.  The analysis compared the existing undeveloped valuation of the land upon purchase in December 2018 and build-out of the whole site with the three-unit residential project.  The study concluded that the residential development would generate $10,550.76 in property tax annually, of which, $852.50 will go to the City.  The cost to the City to service the site is estimated to be $670.00 per year, therefore the project will pay for anticipated City services to the site.

 
The construction of the three-unit residential project is estimated to generate one-time fees of approximately $70,575.  Additionally, the project would generate approximately $31,270 in park fees.
 
The developer has indicated that the units will be sold at market rate.  The project will count toward the City’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requirements, which is currently estimated to be approximately 803 new units of housing for the next cycle starting in 2021. 
 
Per the break-down within RHNA, units that each city is required to provide land-use capacity for is categorized by income affordability: above-moderate, moderate, low, and very low.  As proposed, this project would provide the City with a credit of three units against the City’s new above-moderate RHNA category, which is currently set at 363 units. The expectation is that certificates of occupancy for these units will be issued after the adoption of the new housing element.
 
Staff analyzed response times regarding public safety and whether the site would be adequately served by utilities (water, trash, sewer, gas, and power) as well as parks.  The site is adequately served by the La Habra Police Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the City of La Habra (water, trash, and sewer), and parks.  Therefore, it is not anticipated that the project would negatively impact the City’s ability to provide services to City residents.

9.  That the proposed project complies with all requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

This project was reviewed pursuant to the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and determined to be Categorically Exempt pursuant to Section 15303(b), Class 3: “New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures” of the CEQA Guidelines. The project consists of the construction of three residential units thereby not exceeding the maximum of six units permitted under the categorical exemption.

10.  That there is reasonable assurance that the Applicant intends to and will be able to proceed with the execution of the project without undue delay.

The Applicant has indicated that they will submit construction drawings for building plan check immediately upon completion of the entitlement process.

11.  That there is substantial compliance with the spirit and intent of this title.


As noted above, the proposed project is in substantial compliance with all of the applicable standards of the underling R-4 “Multiple Family Dwelling” Zone and Planned Unit Development Overlay Zone as per the plans and supporting studies.


Since all the appropriate findings for the requested PUD can be made, it is recommended that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council approve Planned Unit Development Precise Plan 20-01 for the construction of a three-unit residential condominium complex at 508 South Walnut Street, subject to the findings and conditions in the attached resolution.

Tentative Parcel Map 2019-178
The Applicant is proposing to subdivide the air space for condominium purposes for three residential units and related common areas (see TPM 2019-178, Attachment 6).  As required by Chapter 17.08 of the La Habra Municipal Code (LHMC), Planning Commission approval is required for a Tentative Map.  The Tentative Map processing is complete at the Planning Commission level unless the decision to approve is appealed to the City Council.  In order for the Commission to approve the map, all the findings can be made as follows:

1.  The proposed subdivision and the provisions for its design and improvements are consistent with the provisions of the La Habra General Plan.

The General Plan establishes a pattern of land use designations for the City along with goals and policies for the development of properties throughout the City.  The designation of “Residential Multi-Family 1” allows for the development of residential dwellings at a density of 15-24 units to the acre. The development of the project is proposed at a density of 14.3 units to the acre.

The “R-4 Multiple Family Dwelling” zone was established to provided standards for the implementation of the General Plan.  The project has been designed to comply with the R-4 standards contained within Chapter 18.26 of the LHMC, and the provisions within Chapter 18.52 “Planned Unit Development”. Therefore, the development of the property with three multiple-family residences is determined to be consistent with the La Habra General Plan 2035.

2.  The Tentative Parcel Map meets the requirements of the La Habra Subdivision Ordinance and Subdivision Map Act.

The City Engineer has reviewed the proposed map in relation to the provisions of the La Habra Subdivision Ordinance and the Subdivision Map Act as codified in Section 17.08.020 of the La Habra Municipal Code, and found the map to be in conformance with these regulations.

3.  The site is physically suitable for the proposed density.

The subject site is 0.21 acre in size and the proposed development will create three residential units for a density of 14.3 units to the acre (including driveway, common area, and parking area).  This density is below the maximum of 24 units to the acre allowed under the Residential Multiple Family 1 land use designation.The project site lay-out provides adequate circulation, landscaping, and open space.  The clustering of the units accomplishes the efficient development of the site.  Additionally, the placement of a parking area along the northern portion of the lot provides a buffer for the residences should there be any future development on the adjacent site to the north.

Lastly, the project fits in contextually with the neighboring development which consists of two-story and three-story multiple family residential developments to the south and west and single-family residential development to the north.  Therefore, the site is physically suitable for the proposed density.

4.  The design of the proposed subdivision is not likely to cause substantial damage or avoidable injury to wildlife and their habitat.

The project is an infill development in an urbanized area.  The subject site was graded and used as a backyard for a single-family residence for a number of years.  Therefore, the design of the proposed subdivision will not cause substantial damage or avoidable injury to wildlife and their habitat.

5.  The design is not likely to cause substantial health problems.

The design of the project provides sufficient access for public safety services, such as Fire and Police.  The development will be serviced by sanitary sewers and storm drains to adequately handle waste and stormwater.  Compliance with all the applicable building and safety codes has been conditioned for this project.  Permits and inspections are required for the construction of all the proposed infrastructure improvements to ensure all structures are safe for human habitation.  In summary, no health or safety issues are anticipated.

6.  The design will not conflict with any easements for access through or use of the property within the proposed subdivision.

Access to the project is provided directly from Walnut Street.  The property abuts an Orange County flood control channel, however, will not block access to this channel as a 15-foot wide access easement exists between the property’s south property line and the actual concrete-lined channel.  Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) will be created as part of this map that will ensure each property owner with rights to access the site through the use of the private driveway.

Since all the appropriate findings for the requested Tentative Tract Map can be made, it is recommended that the Planning Commission approve TPM 2019-178, subject to the findings and conditions in the attached resolution.


Code Compliance
 
  Required Provided
Building Height 35 feet 35 feet
Front Setback 15 feet 10 feet*
Side Setback (2nd story) 5 feet 5-16 feet
Side Setback (3rd story) 10 feet 5-12 feet**
Rear Setback (2nd story) 10 feet 10 feet
Density 3.21 units 3 units
Lot Coverage (maximum) 40% 32%
Minimum Unit Size (2 bedroom) 900 SF 2,699 SF
Minimum Unit Size (3 bedroom) 1,050 SF 3,150 SF
Usable Yard Area 1,000 SF 1,230 SF
     
Parking    
     Two bedroom units 5 spaces  
     Three bedroom units 3 spaces  
     Guest parking 1.5 spaces  
     TOTAL 9.5 spaces 10 spaces

* Section 18.52.070 permits modifications to underlying zoning standards.  In this case, the front porch for Unit 1 is within the 15-foot front setback.
** Section 18.52.070 permits modifications to underlying zoning standards.  In this case, portions of the 3rd story are within the 10-foot side setback, which ranges between 5 and 12 feet.
 
REQUIRED FINDINGS:

Findings of Fact are required to be made before a Planned Unit Development Precise Plan and Tentative Parcel Map can be granted. The findings are provided in the attached resolutions along with conditions that staff has identified as being necessary to ensure that the proposed project will have no negative effects on the public welfare and compliance with all appropriate City codes and ordinances (see Resolutions, Attachments 2 & 3).
FISCAL IMPACT/SOURCE OF FUNDING:
An economic analysis was prepared for the proposed project.  The analysis compared the existing undeveloped valuation of the land upon purchase in December 2018 and build-out of the whole site with the three-unit residential project.  The study concluded that the residential development would generate $10,550.76 in property tax annually.  Of this amount, $852.50 would go to the City.  The cost for City services for this development was estimated at $670.00 per year.  Therefore, the project, upon build-out and reassessment by the Orange County Tax Assessor, will cover the City's costs for servicing this site.
 
The construction of the three-unit residential project is estimated to generate one-time fees of approximately $70,575 that include plan check and building permit fees.   The development is projected to generate $28,608 in school fees.  Additionally, the project would generate approximately $31,270 in park fees.
NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM (NPDES):
The Applicant’s proposal has been reviewed pursuant to the requirements of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Permit, the Local Implementation Plan (LIP), and the Model Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP), Section 7.2.  Since the proposal constituted the disturbance of more than 1,000 square feet of soil, a Non-Priority WQMP was required.  A Preliminary Non-Priority WQMP has been reviewed and approved. All work undertaken will be required to incorporate Best Management Practices (BMPs) as required by the WQMP.
GENERAL PLAN RELEVANCE:
The General Plan land use designation for the site is Residential Multi-Family 1 which allows for the development of residential uses at up to 24-units an acre.  The proposed project is designed at a density of 14.3 units / acre.  The project will provide new units that meet or exceed energy requirements contained within Title 24.  The construction of units will help to meet the State’s requirements for providing more units. 
 
The project is consistent with the designated land use designation of the General Plan and implements a number of the General Plan Policies including: LU 1.2 Development Capacity, LU 2.1 Places to Live, LU 3.5 Complete and Livable Neighborhoods, LU 4.1 Development Compatibility, LU 5.2 Sustainable Building Practices, LU 5.3 Sustainable Sites and Land Development, LU 7.2 New Residential Development, LU 9.1 Character and Design,  H 1.4 Variety of Housing, H 1.5 Market and Non-Market Housing Production Needs, and CI 2.2 Building Scale.
Attachments
1. Vicinity Map
2. Resolution - PUD
3. Resolution- TPM
4. Project Plans
5. Renderings
6. TPM 2019-178
7. Economic Analysis
8. Powerpoint Presentation
9. Applications


    

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