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November 15, 2011

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Kerger at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 15, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.


Present:  Commissioners, Benedetti, Sachs, Wallis, Vice Chair Viers, Chair Kerger

Absent:  None  

Staff: Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain; Division Manager; Ryan Driscoll; Assistant Planner; Cindy Yee; Associate Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo,
Recording Secretary

Audience:    38

 1.       CALL TO ORDER                    

 2.       ROLL CALL

 3.       PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE           



6.1 Minutes from the November 1, 2011 meeting Approved as written.



8.1 San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Expansion (LUP 11-500-003) By Ryan Driscoll, Assistant Planner.

Ryan Driscoll, Assistant Planner stated that the applicant is requesting a Land Use Permit to expand a “Meeting Facility Public or Private” use to allow an increase from a maximum 325 person occupancy to 541 person occupancy for prayer services on Friday afternoons from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm. Mr. Driscoll added that the “Meeting Facility” use has been in operation at the current location since September 1992.  Mr. Driscoll continued and provided background information on San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Expansion (SRVIC) at the project site.

Mr. Driscoll also added that on September 6, 2011, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the expansion proposal. After receiving public testimony and considering the application, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a motion to continue the open public hearing to November 1, 2011 and to support a Temporary Use Permit application to allow the applicant up to 541 people for Friday prayer services until the November 1, 2011 public hearing meeting. 

The continuance was intended to provide the applicant the opportunity to meet with the Commons Office Park Association Board to discuss the Board’s concerns related to parking and traffic. The applicant was unable to follow up with the Planning Commission’s request prior to the November 1, 2011 and the matter was continued to November 15 public hearing date. On November 8, 2011, the applicant met with the Commons Office Park Association Board. Planning staff attended the meeting to observe the discussion between the SRVIC and the Commons Office Park Association Board.  The Association Board expressed a concern with how the SRVIC was addressing the requirement within the CC&R’s allotting a number of parking spaces to each property owner within the office park.  The SRVIC agreed to provide the Association Board all written shared parking agreements between the SRVIC and other Commons Park tenants demonstrating the use of dedicated parking spaces. While the Association Board did not take an action at the meeting, they did agree to discuss the proceedings with the two out of five absent Board members. Furthermore, the Association Board agreed to have a continued dialog with the SRVIC to review the stated shared parking agreements in relating to the Board’s concerns with parking and traffic.

Commissioner Benedetti asked in reference to the presentation and Attachment K, why during the services Parking Area G in front of SRVIC was only 59 percent occupied on October 28, 2011.  Mr. Driscoll replied that this area typically has a lower occupancy because it is reserved for carpools of 3 or more people.

Commissioner Wallis asked for clarification on Mandatory Findings of Significance and why impacts on Biological Resources is listed as a potential project impact. Ms. Chamberlain replied that in reviewing Section 3.19 of the Initial Study the project will not have an impact Biological Resources.

Chair Kerger opened the public hearing.

Noman Munif Board member of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center stated the attendance at the Islamic Center has been under 325 since the September 6, 2011 Planning Commission meeting. Growth is generally seen when children are out of school and attend the services. Mr. Munif added that during the summer months and holidays there will be a higher use of the center.  Mr. Munif further added the average parking occupancy of 51percent is accurate and with the proposed SRVIC expansion to 541 people for Friday services, the parking study estimates an average 66 percent of the parking lot will be occupied. Mr. Munif also added that they are monitoring the exit and entrance to the Commons Office Park and have provided staff with copies of the shared parking agreements between the SRVIC and adjacent tenants.

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Munif how many parking spaces have they agreed to in the shared parking agreements. Mr. Munif replied 150 parking spaces that are in writing and verbal agreements for an additional 50 parking spaces for a grand total of 200 parking spaces.  

Commissioner Sachs asked for clarification if Ramadan is a floating holiday.  Mr. Munif replied that Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and the Islamic traditional calendar, therefore it can fluctuate. Commissioner Sachs further asked are there other observance dates besides Ramadan that are considered as high attendance events in your faith.  Mr. Munif replied no.

Commissioner Wallis asked for clarification if the Land Use permit allows construction on the facility. Mr. Munif replied that the only remaining construction are the classrooms partitions. 

Pat Tuohy San Ramon representing the Commons Office Park Association - stated that the Association represents all 29-property owners within the Commons Office Park. The document the Association uses is the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) which were filed when the Commons Office Park was built.

The Association has no choice but to oppose the proposed Land Use Permit application because the CC&R’s specifically limit large gatherings of any sort.  The CC&R’s further state that uses within the Commons Office Park shall be used solely for office, research and development, and business activities. It precludes all non-business activities.

Mr. Tuohy further stated that the Association has no choice but to ask the Planning Commission to deny the proposed Land Use Permit because of the conflict between the proposal and the CC&R’s.  Mr. Tuohy further stated that at the November 8, 2011 meeting the Association requested that the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center provide the Association with written agreements from the property owners who granted SRVIC parking spaces, as of this evening the Association has not received any agreements. Once the agreements are received from SRVIC the Association will recognize the 150 parking spaces and will presume that they will then endeavor to make sure that the members use those parking spaces.

Commissioner Wallis stated that he had read the CC&R’s and that the parking regulations are divided into two categories. The first category allows for the physical designation of up to 20 percent of the CC&R parking space allocation of each tenant. The second category consists of the remaining 80 percent of each tenant’s CC&R parking allocation.  Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Tuohy if any tenant may use parking spaces anywhere in the entire complex except a space that is designated by another tenant.  Mr. Tuohy replied yes.

Laura Sanchez – Walnut Creek stated she has attended meetings at the SRVIC and finds them to be hospitable, cooperative and congenial members and asked that the Planning Commission approve the Land Use Permit.

Thomas Kring – Ordained Minister stated that he has attended services at the SRVIC on several occasions. Mr. Kring added that the SRVIC is willing to cooperate with the Crow Canyon Commons Association and that the Planning Commission approve the expansion.

Nayeen Rurlshi – Did not wish to speak Chair Kerger read his speaker card into the record that Mr. Rurlshi is in favor of the expansion.

Dan O’Connor – Attorney representing SRVIC stated that the application for the Land Use Permit was filed in November 2010 and should be approved. Mr. O’Connor further stated that he is concerned about the parking restrictions imposed on the SRVIC, which needed to be further discussed.

Chair Kerger stated that the applicant submitted a Land Use Permit application on February 9, 2011, and what Mr. O’Connor was referring to was the filing of a Minor Use Permit.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the draft Conditions of Approval require perimeter parking by the members during church services. Commissioner Wallis stated that he had been at the site today and Friday and it is clear why restrictions are proposed as part of the Conditions of Approval. Business parks, such as the Commons Office Park, are primarily concerned with maintaining access to their businesses during business hours and to preserve the parking spots which are immediately in front of their business. Commissioner Wallis stated that he had visited the site today and not all of the spaces in front of the buildings were taken and many of them had a vacancy of 60 percent.  Commissioner Wallis added that it is a reasonable thought on the part of the property owner to maintain the spaces immediately in front of their building, which is why staff had drawn a map which required perimeter parking.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. O’Connor if it is the position of the SRVIC that they are not willing to accept that the perimeter parking condition as part of the Land Use Permit.

Mr. O’Connor stated that he had visited the site last Wednesday and between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. he counted 21 percent of the spaces were filed.

Commissioner Wallis clarified that he was referring to the parking spaces immediately in front of the walkways to the buildings and not to the entire common parking lot area. Commissioner Wallis added that he feels that staff has made it clear in the parking occupancy data collected that the common parking lot as a whole outside mosque services is typically 20 percent occupied.

Mr. O’Connor stated that he feels that his clients should not agree to the proposed conditions because they exceed the conditions placed on the San Ramon Valley Korean Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  

Chair Kerger closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Sachs asked that the answer to Commissioner Wallis’ question be clarified if the SRVIC was accepting the conditions of approval as part of the Land Use Permit.

Noman Munif stated that they are not opposing the Conditions of Approval but feels that the wording it is not consistent with the rest of the conditions listed. Specifically, Mr. Munif requested that the word “shall” in Condition of Approval number 6 be replaced with “instruct” so that if one person who does not regularly worship parks in an inappropriate spot the SRVIC would not be in violation of the conditions of approval and the Land Use Permit.

 Mr. Munif also asked that the Commission review Condition of Approval number 7 requiring the installation of temporary signage along Camino Ramon.  Mr. Munif stated that the SRVIC feels it is more of a traffic hazard putting the signs up especially when attendance is not near the requested capacity of 541 people.  

Chair Kerger stated that Mr. O’Connor was questioning the fact that the SRVIC would agree to perimeter parking and asked Mr. Munif if this was correct. Mr. Munif replied they do not want to violate the Conditions of Approval and have concerns they way they are worded.

Chair Kerger stated that the Conditions of Approval are written to accommodate the future needs of the SRVIC to allow the maximum occupancy of 541 people for prayer services.

Commissioner Wallis stated that the word “shall” in Condition of Approval number 6 is needed to balance the interest the Commons Office Park tenants.  The situation is similar to the Crow Canyon Commons shopping center were all the tenants have a fair share to their parking spaces.  Commissioner Wallis also stated that in terms of a violation related to the language in Condition of Approval number 6, there must be “substantial” issues.  Mr. Wallis asked if staff could propose language to Condition of Approval number 6 without making it sound that there is liability if someone parks outside the perimeter parking areas.

Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manger stated that Commissioner Wallis was correct and the word “shall” is mandatory and when preparing Conditions of Approval that Planning staff looks at the strongest language possible. If a complaint is received by Code Enforcement from an owner, staff would contact the SRVIC who we have contacted in the past when we had concerns and they have been responsive to correct the concerns. If complaints continue, the draft conditions provide mechanisms to the Planning Commission such as revocation of the permit.

The draft conditions also provide for the first year quarterly reviews of the operation to ensure there are no conflicts. If conflicts are found, the draft conditions also provide the ability to make adjustments to the permit including reducing the number of attendees back to the original 325 people for Friday afternoon prayer services.

Ms. Chamberlain added that if it was the desire of the Planning Commission not to use the word “shall” the wording “instruct” can be inserted into place. But the Planning Commission will have the opportunity to review the permit in 4 months and the condition would be modified at that time to include “shall”.

Commissioner Wallis asked Ms. Chamberlain for clarification that the proposed Land Use Permit can be revised quarterly.  Ms. Chamberlain replied yes.

Commissioner Benedetti asked if the language were changed in the Conditions of Approval would Code Enforcement have difficulty finding a violation if the language is changed to softer language.  

Commissioner Benedetti also suggested that Exhibit “C” be revised to include the parking lot areas as described in the parking study,  so in the future when quarterly reports are reviewed it can be cross referenced to the parking and traffic studies. Commissioner Benedetti commented that Condition of Approval number 8 be revised to include “the review of Condition of Approval number 6” during the review periods.

Vice Chair Viers stated that his concerns were addressed at the last Planning Commission meeting.  Vice Chair Viers added that he was pleased to hear from Mr. Tuohy  that the Association is willing to recognize approximately 150 spaces if the written parking agreements are received.

Chair Kerger asked if the parking surplus identified in the parking study is 243.  Vice Chair Viers replied yes.

Commissioner Wallis stated that all the information provided demonstrates the project site would have adequate parking in complex to support their Friday afternoon prayer services.

Vice Chair Viers stated that he agrees with Commissioner Wallis. Vice Chair Viers added that he has visited the site on a number of occasions and noticed that the carpooling section was not filled.  Vice Chair Viers further added that every effort was made by the SRVIC and that parking regulations were followed. 

Chair Kerger asked for clarification from the Planning Commission on the language of the Conditions of Approval.

Commissioner Sachs stated that he agrees with Commissioner Benedetti to add language on Condition of Approval number 8 and compliance with conditions of approval. Commissioner Sachs added that he would like to see the word “shall” remain in Condition of Approval number 6.

Mr. Driscoll reminded the Planning Commission to acknowledge the late communication received by staff.  Chair Kerger read the late communications into the record. Ms. Chamberlain stated that staff is also looking for direction from the Planning Commission on Condition of Approval number 7 regarding the temporary signage.  The applicant is requesting not to put temporary signage out prior to the event.

Vice Chair Viers stated that he agrees with the applicant and feels that temporary signage is not needed. 

Chair Kerger stated that the temporary signage should not be eliminated but used on an as needed basis.

Commissioner Sachs added to Condition of Approval number 7 should be modified to require temporary signage for large events and holidays.

Commissioner Wallis asked staff if large events would require a separate permit from the City.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that currently the SRVIC has a temporary use permit which requires signage for special events. If the Planning Commission approves the Land Use Permit with the proposed Conditions of Approval tonight the SRVIC is not required to file for a temporary use permit for the high occupancy events.

Commissioner Wallis stated that in terms of the Conditions of Approval for temporary signage, does the City have similar language regarding other major events as part of a Land Use Permit for other “Meeting Facility” uses.

Ms. Chamberlain stated that it is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Chair Kerger asked for clarification on the language from the Planning Commission.

Vice Chair Viers stated, he prefers the language as it is written.

Mr. Driscoll stated that staff had spoken to the Traffic Engineering Department who had requested that the temporary signage be provided at all times.

Commissioner Sachs stated that the signage be required because of the liability the City has from a public safety standpoint. Commissioner Sachs asked by placing the signs out does this prevent SRVIC from practicing their religion.

Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney stated that placing signs does not prevent the SRVIC from practicing their religion because it is a public safety issue.

Ms. Chamberlain asked for clarification that the only modification the Planning Commission was making was Condition of Approval number 8. Commissioner Benedetti replied yes.

It was moved by Commissioner Benedetti  and Seconded by  Vice Chair Viers   that the Planning Commission adopt Resolution Number 12-11 a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of San Ramon recommending City Council adopting Initial Study Mitigated  Negative Declaration IS -11-250-002, and approving Land Use Permit 11-500-003 to allow the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center expansion for their property located at 2232 Camino Ramon, and accompanying Conditions of Approval Land Use Permit LUP 11-500-003 as amended.

AYES:     Commissioner Benedetti, Vice Chair Viers, Sachs, Wallis, Chair Kerger

ANOES:    None


ABSENT:  None                                    


10.  NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS - None-                                                                  


11.1 Shop San Ramon Presentation by Office Specialist, Juanita Davalos
Juanita Davalos, Office Specialist gave a PowerPoint presentation on Shop San Ramon.  Ms. Davalos stated that shopping in San Ramon help businesses thrive, and keep jobs in place, and supports sales tax that is the second largest revenue source for the General Fund. 

11.2 Zoning Ordinance Update by Associate Planner, Cindy Yee

Cindy Yee, Associate Planner gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Zoning Ordinance Update. Ms. Yee provided some background information that the last Zoning Ordinance update was in December 2008 for a minor text changes and clarification. The City’s Housing Element (HE) was certified in April 2010. Ms. Yee continued with her presentation and highlighted changes to the Zoning Ordinance.  Ms. Yee added that Planning Commission and City Council will hold public hearings beginning part of 2012.

There being no further discussion, Chair Kerger adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.   

Respectively Submitted, Luisa Amerigo  











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