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MINUTES OF THE
PLANNING COMMISSION WORKSHOP

 February 5, 2013

A workshop meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Viers at 7:00 p.m., on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

ROLL CALL

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

Absent: None             

Staff: Phil Wong, Planning Director; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Shinei Tsukamoto, Associate Planner; Ryan Driscoll, Assistant Planer; Alicia Poon; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary

Audience:    8

 1. CALL TO ORDER                    

 2. ROLL CALL

 3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE                    

4. PURPOSE OF MEETING/OVERVIEW

Associate  Planner, Shinei Tsukamoto stated that the intent of the workshop was to discuss potential standards and limitations for allowing the Raising of chickens; Beekeeping; providing educational services with a Home Occupation Permit; and Conducting cottage food operations pursuant to Assembly Bill 1616.

5. DISCUSSION OF THE WORKSHOP             

Chickens:

Following a brief overview and presentation by staff, the Planning Commission accepted public comment on the keeping of Chickens in residential districts.

Elisa Dowd Danville Veterinarian – Stated that she feels that a minimal amount of chickens should be allowed in residential areas and that chickens are low impact animals.                     

Commissioner Kerger stated that Ms. Dowd recommended limiting the number of chickens in a residential area and asked how many would she recommend.  Ms. Dowd replied five.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Ms. Dowd if she felt a 4’x4’ coop was adequate for five hens. Ms. Dowd replied that she would prefer to see 4’x 8’.

Chair Viers asked what is the maintenance process for chickens. Ms. Dowd replied it depends on the type of coop, litter and the number of chickens.

Vice Chair Wallis asked Ms. Dowd if she had an idea of how many residents in Danville have chickens.  Ms. Dowd replied no.

Commissioner Sachs asked if any health risks are associated with fresh chicken eggs. Ms. Dowd replied no.

Douglas Graver San Ramon resident – Stated that he is a member of the Danville Grange and there are many varieties of chickens and they should be allowed.

Commissioner Kerger stated that inquiries from residents about raising chickens have been received and asked if staff kept in touch with those residents.  Mr. Tsukamoto replied no.

Commissioner Kerger stated that setting a limit of five hens is a reasonable and that chickens should be allowed as pets in a residential area and chicken coops should be classified as an accessory structure.

Vice Chair Wallis stated that chickens should not be allowed in single-family residential area but also feels that chickens belong on a farm. Vice Chair Wallis added if any ordinance was going to be considered  that he would recommend three to four chickens allowed as household pets and that chicken coops should not be considered as an accessory structure, and that a minimum 6 ft. setback be required.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that chickens should be allowed in a single-family residential area with a lot size of ¼ acre or more. The number of chickens allowed should be based on the size of coop and chicken coops should not be classified as an accessory structure.

Commissioner Sachs stated that he supports that chickens be allowed in a single-family district but favors larger lot sizes. The maximum number allowable should be five chicken coops should not be classified as an accessory structure.

Chair Viers stated that he is in favor of a larger lots size and is not in favor of allowing chickens as a defined household pet. Chicken coops should be considered as an Accessory Structure and allow up to four to five hens.

Bees:

Associate Planner, Shinei Tsukamoto provided a brief overview and presentation on the keeping of bees and the related issues and concerns.  Mr. Tsukamoto further stated that the current Municipal Code and the Zoning Ordinance are silent on beekeeping.  Staff has interpreted bees as farm animals and allowed the keeping of hives on residential properties of one acre or more. Other Cities such as Danville, Dublin, Livermore, and Walnut Creek classify apiaries (bee keeping) as agricultural operations and are not allowed in the residential districts.

Following the presentation by staff, the Planning Commission accepted public comment on the keeping of bees in residential districts.

Peter Schumacher – San Ramon resident stated that he is in favor of beekeeping. Mr. Schumacher added that bees cannot be confined to one area.  Mr. Schumacher further added that bees pollinate gardens and are not aggressive creatures unless disturbed. 

Commissioner Kerger asked if there is more of a risk involved if someone has multiple beehives on their property or if the property is close to a school or a daycare center. Mr. Schumacher replied that having a concentration of desirable food sources, such as flowering plants and shrubs is more of a concern in that bees will go to where the food is.  It would not be a good idea to have flowering plants by a daycare or school if bees are a concern because bees are attracted to those kinds of plants.

Vice Chair Wallis stated that he feels that beekeeping does not belong in an urban environment and considers bees as farm animals.  

Douglas Graver – San Ramon stated that he keeps bees as a hobby and is a member of the Mount Diablo Beekeeping. Mr. Graver stated that bees pollinate gardens, produce honey.

Commissioner Kerger stated that beekeeping should be allowed within single-family residential districts.  A maximum of two hives should be allowed and would like to have further discussions on lot size.

Vice Chair Wallis stated that he is in favor of beekeeping and should be allowed within single-family residential areas.  The minimum lot size should be 1-acre.

Commissioner Benedetti stated she agrees with Vice Chair Wallis that beehives should be kept on one acre or more. Commissioner Benedetti added on 1-acre parcel four beehives could be allowed and that there should be a performance standard to allow additional beehives for each 5,000 ft. of excess lot area.

Commissioner Sachs stated that on a single family residential a maximum two beehives be allowed. On a larger lot, three or more hives can be allowed.  Commissioner Sachs asked staff what the minimum setbacks should be for the hives.

Chair Viers stated he is in favor of beekeeping on property of 1-acre or more. Chair Viers added that he feels that bees belong in an open farm area and not in residential areas.

Educational Services with a Home Occupation Permit:

Assistant Planner, Ryan Driscoll provided a brief overview and presentation on  Home Occupation Permits which allow the operation of business from a home. Further, in May of 2004 the City Council approved a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to change the review process to over the counter approval of Home Occupation Permits. There is no public notice prior to approval as had been the prior land use permit process and currently the typically reviewed takes 1 day to 1 week and Home Occupation Permits must meet 12 standard conditions of approval. Mr. Driscoll explained that the proposed discussion on allowing educational services with a home occupation permit was in response to direction for the City Council Policy Committee. 

Following the presentation by staff, the Planning Commission accepted public comment on educational services with Home Occupation Permits

Carol Trahan - San Ramon resident stated that she has been a teacher for the past 20 years and currently prepares students for the SAT’s.

Commissioner Sachs asked Ms. Trahan for her hours of operation.  Ms. Trahan replied her hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Commissioner Sachs asked if parking was an issue with her neighbors.  Ms. Trahan replied no.

Vice Chair Wallis asked if the tutoring sessions are one on one basis.  Ms. Trahan replied yes. Vice Chair Wallis asked if the students are dropped off or do they drive and park.  Ms. Trahan replied that most students drive themselves if they are of age.

Chair Viers asked Ms. Trahan for her weekend hours. Ms. Trahan replied her Saturday hours are from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Chair Viers asked if there are any queuing of cars.  Ms. Trahan replied no.

Wendy Thompson – San Ramon resident stated that she supports Ms. Trahan business. 

Commissioner Sachs stated he would like to see the hours  of operation  from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Commissioner Sachs added that music instruction should be allowed and limits to address noise and a maximum number of  classes  added.  Number of students should not be limited per day.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that “educational service” needs to be better defined.  The hours of operation should be regulated and music instruction be allowed and the allowable class size be limited to two students and we should not limit the number of students per day.

Commissioner Kerger stated that the hours should end at 9:00 p.m. and allow music lessons with no more than 10 students.

Vice Chair Wallis stated that the hours should be from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and music instructions should be looked into.  Allowable class size should no more than three and no limit the number of students per day.

Chair Viers stated he is in favor of the hours being 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Home Occupation Permit Cottage Food Industry

Associate Planner, Ryan Driscoll Associate Planner, Ryan Driscoll provided a brief overview and presentation on the  new State law effective January 1, 2013 that allows for cottage food businesses as a home based business.  The businesses are allowed to prepare low-risk foods at home for both direct and indirect sales. Additionally,  the State  Cottage Food regulations allow for an employee which is in direct conflict with the current Home Occupation permit standards. 

After discussion among the Planning Commission, they supported for HOP (Home Occupation Permit), but also directed staff to look into the concentration issues and other mechanisms to assure that local standards meet the needs of the community and  are consistent with State law.  

 6. WRAP –UP /NEXT STEP – Planning Commission provided direction to staff and staff indicated that they would return at a later date with recommended zoning text revisions.

7. ADJOURNMENT   

There being no further discussion Chair Viers adjourned the meeting at 11:30 p.m.

Submitted by:

Luisa Amerigo
Recording Secretary    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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