Planning Commission Minutes
MINUTES OF THE
January 18, 2011
A regular meeting of the Planning Commission, City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Sachs at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, January18, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.
Present: Comms. Benedetti, Viers, Wallis, Vice Chair Kerger, Chair Sachs
Staff: Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain; Division Manager; Cindy Yee, Associate Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary
1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
5. ADDITIONS AND REVISIONS
6. CONSENT CALENDAR
7. CONTINUED ITEMS AFTER CLOSING OF PUBLIC HEARING
8. CONTINUED ITEMS – OPEN PUBLIC HEARING
8.1 El Nido Property General Plan Amendment (GPA 09-400-002)
Associate Planner Cindy Yee gave a PowerPoint Presentation and stated that tonight’s proposal is a General Plan application to amend the General Plan Land use map. The current Land Use map shows the project site as designated for park use. The applicant is requesting to amend the land use designation to medium-density residential. The current application does not include any plans to develop the parcel or address the disposition of the house. A change to the Land Use designation, through an approval of the General Plan Amendment, a Westside Specific Plan (WSP) Amendment, a Development Plan along with environmental review would be required in order to develop the property. Ms. Yee added that the site is a 0.7-acre parcel at the corner of Westside Drive and San Ramon Valley Boulevard. The land is currently vacant with the exception of the El Nido house on the property. The property and El Nido house have been passed down through several generations of Harlans and Geldermanns, and is now under the ownership of the El Nido Trust.
Ms. Yee also added that the original proposal requested a Land Use designation of “Multiple Family-High Density” Residential with a development potential of 9 to 21 units. In previous joint meetings with the City Council and Planning Commission, members expressed concern over the high-density range and indicated they were supportive of a lower Medium-Density range. The applicant has modified the proposal, which now requests a “Medium-Density” Residential use with a development potential of 4 to 9 units.
Ms. Yee stated that another part of the City’s analysis was the public parks policy. Neither the General Plan Parks and Recreation Element or the City’s Parks Master Plan identify the site as a future public park. The City’s parkland ratio can be attained without the 0.7 acre El Nido site. Ms. Yee further stated that the El Nido house is considered a local historic resource and the owners have offered to dedicate the El Nido house to the City and to relocate the El Nido house at their expense. Currently, no location has been chosen for the relocation of the El Nido house.
Comm. Wallis asked Ms. Yee when was the Master Parks Plan prepared and what is its purpose. Ms. Yee replied that the Master Parks Plan is prepared every two years under the guidance of the Parks and Community Services Commission. The purpose of the plan is to guide and develop the goals and priorities of the City’s park system. Comm. Wallis asked if the subject property was discussed as part of the latest iteration of the master plan. Ms. Yee replied that the latest Parks Master Plan was adopted in 2008 in that particular plan did not include the project site as a future public park.
It does show a recommendation that the Geldermann El Nido house be moved to the Wood Lot but there has been no effort to date to move it forward. Comm. Wallis asked if the Parks Master Plan considered use of the property without the house. Ms. Yee replied no. Comm. Wallis also asked is there anything that would prevent the owner of the property or a subsequent owner from tearing down the El Nido house and using the property for a permitted use. Ms. Yee replied the only thing that would limit the El Nido house from being demolished is the City’s building permit process and also the State Environmental Review process. Comm. Wallis asked if there is any designation of the El Nido house as historical site that requires it to be maintained in its current condition. Ms. Yee replied no. Comm. Wallis stated that the Parks and Community Services Commission had suggested moving the El Nido house to the Wood Lot and asked if there has been any discussion about moving the El Nido house to the Boone acre property.
Ms. Yee replied since the application has been filed there has been discussion. When the Greystone subdivision had been considered one of the options was the potential of moving the El Nido house to the Boone acre site because there was discussion at the time of Greystone development that the family would be interested in dedicating the El Nido house to the City. At study sessions held in October and December of 2010 by the Parks and Community Services Commission there was discussion on further researching moving the El Nido house to the Boone acre site and if it would have any impact to that site’s designation on the National Registry. Comm. Wallis asked if any determination was made as to that impact. Ms. Yee replied that it has not yet been determined and the process would be to file an application with the State’s Department of Parks and Recreation Historical Division. Comm. Wallis asked if an option has been offered about moving the El Nido house to the site and would it jeopardize the existing status of the existing buildings. Ms. Yee replied that the City hired a consultant to review the City’s options of relocation of the house. The consultants studied how much it would cost to relocate the El Nido house, the condition of the El Nido house in the process of moving it to the site but they have not received any guidance or an opinion from the State. Ms. Yee added that the State would not provide an opinion until an application has been filed.
Vice Chair Kerger stated that the El Nido house was declared under the National Registry as a historical site. Ms. Yee replied that a survey study was done in 1979 and the El Nido site was one of the surveys completed and considered as a potential resource that could qualify for the National Registry. Ms. Yee added that a review through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process for the Greystone subdivision had been designated as a potential historical resource but not as a National Registry. It is on the California Department of Historic Resources list of potential Historic Resources but not designated as a National Historical site.
Chair Sachs stated that the Environmental Review/California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact was certified on July 19, 2010 and asked if the EIR was still certified though Measure W. Ms. Yee replied yes and the review which was done as part of the Final Environmental Impact Report is based on this site being designated as Multi-Family High Density housing, could change to a lower designation, and still does not require an amendment to the Environmental Impact Report.
Chair Sachs commented there was discussion about potentially relocating the El Nido house to a different location or keeping it on site. Chair Sachs asked Ms. Yee if the Parks and Community Service Commission has discussed this as an option or has it always been to move the El Nido house off-site.
Ms. Yee replied that the Parks and Community Service Commission recommendation was to keep the El Nido house on site. They did also consider as part of the review the potential of relocating the El Nido house to other locations such as the Wood Lot and Forest Home Farms.
Chair Sachs asked Ms. Yee to provide the Planning Commission a footprint of how much acreage the Glass House sits on and what are the similarities in square footage between the Glass House and the El Nido House.
Comm. Benedetti asked if the El Nido house were to be kept on the current site would it be relocating the house. Chair Sachs stated that one of the comments made at a joint City Council and Planning Commission public hearing by Councilmember Livingstone was to move the El Nido house in a corner of the site. Comm. Benedetti also asked about acquiring ownership of the property and would the property be dedicated into the City and does the City have the funds to maintain it. Ms. Yee replied that it would depend on where the El Nido house would be relocated. The City has ownership of the Wood Lot and Forest Farms so if the El Nido house where to be relocated, the applicant’s intent is to give the El Nido house to the City if it where be relocated to City property. The City would have ownership of both the El Nido House and the property.
Comm. Viers stated at a joint City Council and Planning Commission public hearing it was discussed that it would be feasible to have the El Nido house remain on site.
Comm. Benedetti stated that the CEQA process has already been certified and asked if the applicant comes forward with a future project will CEQA need to be reviewed. Ms. Yee replied that the CEQA process which was done was for the Land Use change there is no development project associated with this application any future development application would need its own CEQA process.
Allan Moore – Gagen McCoy representing the El Nido Trust. Mr. Moore stated that they are requesting a change to the General Plan Land Use map from Parks to Residential. Mr. Moore added that the current application does not include plans to develop the parcel or address the disposition of the house. If a General Plan Amendment (GPA) were adopted, any development of the property would require a Development Plan application and proper environmental analysis to determine how to best preserve the El Nido House. Mr. Moore further added that relocation and foundation costs need to be discussed as part of ongoing work with the City.
Greg Randall – Applicant stated during the meetings with the staff there were some areas of concern as to the entry to the property. Mr. Randall added another concern was the potential for apartments to be built. Mr. Randall stated that it is not the intent of the El Nido Trust to support apartments or offer the property as an apartment project. Mr. Randall further added that there have been concerns that the bike lanes would be eliminated. There are bike lanes on Westside Drive and the El Nido Trust is not suggesting or offering any changes to the existing bike lane status on Westside Drive. Mr. Randall stated that all parking will be met on site and will have a minimal impact to the residents.
Comm. Wallis stated that rather than relocating the El Nido house to a separate area such as Forest Home Farms or the Wood Lot would be to move it to a corner on the property. Comm. Wallis stated that a subdivision would be needed since you do not want to deed the house to the City. Mr. Randall replied that the plan did allow some movement of the El Nido house on the property and refurbishing the El Nido house is an expensive proposition. There is space on the property between two large trees where the El Nido house can be relocated but would be a temporary move.
Comm. Benedetti stated that relocating the El Nido house would be part of a CEQA process. Mr. Randall replied yes.
Comm. Benedetti asked Mr. Moore for clarification on the letter submitted on January 4, 2011regarding Medium Density housing. Mr. Moore replied that the letter was submitted to the City following a meeting with the surrounding residents. Mr. Moore added they wanted to reaffirm with the neighbors and the City that they had agreed with Medium Density designation.
Comm. Benedetti further asked if Mr. Moore considers Forest Homes Farms and the Wood Lot to be comparable for relocation in regards to reasonable cost and if staff where to select either one of those that the Trust would pay for the relocation costs, if they are reasonable. Mr. Moore replied yes.
Chair Sachs opened the public hearing.
David Ernest – Vice Chair of Parks and Community Services Commission. Mr. Ernest stated that it is the desire of the Commission to see the El Nido House preserved and moving it to the Wood Lot is not reasonable because there is no place that has been predetermined and would probably have to move a second time. Mr. Ernest added that moving the house to Forest Home Farms could jeopardize the historical status of Forest Home Farms.
Comm. Benedetti asked Mr. Ernest how long it would take to update the Master Plan for the Wood Lot. Mr. Ernest replied he was unsure and would refer the question to staff. Comm. Benedetti stated that if the applicant would have to go through a CEQA process, would staff have the time to update the Master Plan for the Wood Lot if it was a potential location to move the El Nido House so it would only have to be moved once. Mr. Ernest replied that funds are not available for development of the park for the next five years. Moving the El Nido House to the Wood Lot would be a two-move process and the house would have to be protected on site.
Comm. Benedetti asked Ms. Yee what the cost would be to update the Master Plan for the Wood Lot. Ms. Yee replied that in order to Master Plan a site, you factor in community meetings, locations and amenities within that Master Plan which entails further studies of whether or not we would be pursuing historical designation with the California Registry.
Vice Chair Kerger asked if the Parks & Community Service Commission was in the process of updating their Master Plan. Mr. Ernest replied yes.
Gerald Cole – San Ramon President of the Oak Creek at Greystone Ranch Homeowners Association. Mr. Cole stated his concerns about future residential units and parking for the site.
Jean Ohman – San Ramon- President of Historic Foundation stated that the Historic Foundation wants to preserve the El Nido home.
Randy Durrenberger – San Ramon stated his concerns about “Medium-Density” housing and that traffic would be a concern. Mr. Durrenberger added that most of the residents he has spoken to would support Low Density housing or keeping the site zoned as Parks.
Alson Salva – San Ramon stated that the site should remain as “Parks” and adding residential units would increase traffic and noise.
William Harlan – Walnut Creek Board Member of the Harlan National Family Association. Mr. Harlan stated that they are interested in the disposition of the home and should be preserved through public ownership. Mr. Harlan added that the applicant has offered to donate the El Nido House to the city and to fund the reasonable costs for the relocation of the home to a site chosen by the City. Mr. Harland further added that he agrees with Jean Ohman that the El Nido Home be placed on a foundation and give the Historic Foundation an opportunity to preserve the house.
Vice Chair Kerger asked Mr. Harlan if he prefers the site to remain as “Park”. Mr. Harlan replied yes.
Mr. Moore stated that he would work with the public and agrees with Mr. Harlan that the best solution is to preserve the house.
Chair Sachs closed the public hearing.
Chair Sachs asked Ms. Chamberlain for direction.
Debbie Chamberlain Planning Services Division Manager stated that staff did not bring forward a resolution tonight. Staff wanted to give the Planning Commission an opportunity to hear all the public testimony and all discussions with the Parks & Community Service Commission. Ms. Chamberlain added that staff is looking for a recommendation from the Planning Commission this evening and will return on February 15, 2011 to consider a recommendation to change the General Plan from “Parks” to Medium Density”. Ms. Chamberlain also added that a 4/5 majority vote is needed this evening in order for the application to move forward.
Comm. Benedetti stated that she supports a General Plan Amendment and preserving the El Nido house as a historic piece of San Ramon Valley.
Comm. Wallis stated that the request is to change the General Plan Land Use designation from its current “Park” to “Medium-Density.” The “Parks” designation was put into place in 1986 prior to the incorporation as residential. At that time, San Ramon did not have an extensive parks system and the city was encouraging the development of parks throughout. Comm. Wallis added that the City’s concept of parks has changed since 1986 in order to meet the goal of the General Plan requirement of 6.5 acres per one thousand residents. Comm. Wallis further added that the parcel is .7 acres and according to the General Plan, it is not appropriate because of its size. The surrounding neighborhoods main concern is parking and to develop the site as a park would require there to be onsite parking which would reduce any available space for any type of park to less than half an acre. Currently under the Parks Master Plan, it is not under consideration to be developed as a park. Comm. Wallis stated that the area of designation has out lived its usefulness and is no longer appropriate to be zoned or carried in our General Plan as park space.
Comm. Wallis stated that a residential use is appropriate for the location with townhomes and residential medium density is appropriate use for that location Comm. Wallis added that the El Nido House is a building which needs protecting and the proposal made by the owners is a practical possibility to preserve this house for future generations. Comm. Wallis further added that the owner would engage in reasonable cost to move the house to a location within San Ramon and pay a significant portion of the cost of at least a temporary foundation to preserve the historical house. Comm. Wallis was supportive to modify the General Plan to allow for medium density in that area and is an appropriate use of the property and offers the practical way to preserve the house.
Comm. Viers stated that he was pleased with the community outreach and agrees that the El Nido home be preserved. Comm. Viers further stated that he prefers the item be moved forward and not return for further discussion and the residential option provides less impact to the community especially if kept at medium-density.
Vice Chair Kerger was in supportive to modify the General Plan to allow medium density. Vice Chair Kerger added that the El Nido home is historical site and needs to be preserved.
Chair Sachs stated he was in supportive to modify the General Plan. Chair Sachs added that the El Nido House is part of San Ramon history and needs to be preserved and move forward and start the planning process.
Chair Sachs motioned to have staff prepare a resolution for consideration by Planning Commission recommending approval to the City Council to amend the General Plan Land Use Designation for the property located at 19251 San Ramon Valley Boulevard from “Park” to “Medium-Density” residential. Seconded by Comm. Walls.
It was moved by Chair Sachs and seconded by Commissioner Wallis to direct staff to prepare a resolution recommending approval to the City Council of General Plan Amendment (GPA 09-400-002) to modify the General Plan Land Use Designation from Park” to “Medium-Density” residential designation
AYES: Chair Sachs, Comm. Wallis, Benedetti, Viers, Vice Chair Kerger
9. PUBLIC HEARING – NEW ITEMS
10. NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS–
11. STUDY SESSION/COMMISSIONER LIAISON REPORT AND INTEREST ITEMS/STAFF REPORTS.
There being no further discussion, Chair Sachs adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m.