Meeting Date: 05/10/07 06:30 PM
Meeting Type: Regular
Location: Universal City Nissan
Second Floor Main Conference Room
3550 Cahuenga Boulevard West
Details: Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council
Area 2 Committee (Cahuenga Pass/Universal City) and
Housing, Social and Human Services, Religious and Charitable Organizations-
Planning and Support Committee Joint Meeting
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Universal City Nissan
Second Floor Main Conference Room
3550 Cahuenga Boulevard West
Free parking is available on site, across the street, and on Cahuenga Blvd. West. Disabled entrance at the office building to the left of the showroom with an elevator to the second floor.
The public is requested to fill out a “Speaker Card” to address the Board on any item of the agenda prior to the Board taking action on an item. Comments from the public on non-agenda and agenda items will be heard during the Public Comment Period and, within the discretion of the presiding officer of the Board, when the respective item is being considered. Comments from the public on other matters not appearing on the Agenda that is within the Board’s subject matter jurisdiction will be heard during the Public Comment period. Public comment is limited to 2 minutes per speaker unless waived by the presiding officer of the Board. Agenda is posted for public review: on bulletin boards at the top and bottom of Runyon Canyon Park, and electronically on the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council website ww.hhwnc.org and on the Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment (www.lacityneighborhoods.com). As a covered entity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Los Angeles does not discriminate on the basis of disability and upon request, will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services may be provided upon request. To ensure availability of services, please make your request at least 3 business days (72 hours) prior to the meeting you wish to attend by contacting the Neighborhood Council Project Coordinator at 213-485-1360 or e-mail to [email protected].
1 – Welcome, Call to Order, Roll Call, Introductions and Sign In
2 – General Comments.
3 – Approval of past minutes.
4 – 7153 and 7159 Woodrow Wilson Drive. Discussion and possible vote: owner requesting two height variances from 36 to 45 feet.
5 – 3000 Passmore Drive. Discussion and possible vote: owner requesting height and reduced side yard setback variances; continued from previous Zoning hearing August 21, 2006; owner has reduced project and a second Zoning hearing took place May 7, 2007 where the Zoning Administrator decided to leave the file open for sixty (60) days.
6 – Request to construct SunnyDip Trail. Discussion and possible vote regarding the substandard and increasingly hazardous conditions on Sunnydip Trail which the City should be required to construct a new road; additional discussion to amend the existing permit process regarding future development until Sunnydip Trial becomes a safe public street that meets required City Code standards.
7 – 7218 Sunnydip Trail. Discussion and possible vote regarding the Planning Department’s decision to approve and overturn the Mulholland Design Review Board’s disapproval and the community’s recent appeal.
8 – Public Comments on non-agenda items within the Joint Committee’s subject jurisdiction. Public comments are limited to 3 minutes per speaker.
9 – Announcements
10 – Adjournment
PROCESS FOR RECONSIDERATION: The Board may reconsider and amend its action on items listed on the agenda if that reconsideration takes place immediately following the original action or at the next regular meeting. The Board, on either of these two days, shall: (1) Make a Motion for Reconsideration and, if approved, (2) hear the matter and Take an Action. If the motion to reconsider an action is to be scheduled at the next meeting following the original action, then two items shall be placed on the agenda for that meeting: (1) A Motion for Reconsideration on the described matter and (2) a Proposed Action should the motion to reconsider be approved. A motion for reconsideration can only be made by a Board member who has previously voted on the prevailing side of the original action taken. If a motion for reconsideration is not made on the date the action was taken, then a Board member on the prevailing side of the action must submit a memorandum to the Secretary identifying the matter to be reconsidered and a brief description of the reason(s) for requesting reconsideration at the next regular meeting. The aforesaid shall all be in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act.
Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council
JOINT MEETING: AREA 2 (Cahuenga Pass/Universal City) and
HOUSING, SOCIAL AND HUMAN SERVICES, RELIGIOUS AND CHAIRITABLE ORGANIZATIONS, PLANNING and SUPPORT COMMITTEES
Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 6:30pm
Universal City Nissan
3550 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Second Floor Main Conference Room
1. Meeting Call to Order 6:53 PM by Joan Luchs, Area 2 Chair and Co-Chair of Joint Meeting, Paul Ramsey, Housing Chair and Co-Chair of Joint meeting, Wayne Johansson, Traffic Chair and Thor Lee, Business Chair. 25 people in attendance.
Joan Luchs passed out copies of minutes from HHWNC meeting on 2006-27-11 and 1/4/2007 to all in attendance for their consideration and approval at end of meeting. She also raised awareness for neighbors to adopt corner refuse baskets for no charge from the City. Adoption entails emptying and replacing trash bags in the baskets. “Keep Cahuenga Blvd. West clean.”
2. Agenda Item # 4 – 7153 and 7159 Woodrow Wilson Drive: Joan Luchs introduced Jay Vanos, architect for 2 single family resident projects at 7153 and 7159 Woodrow Wilson owned by Aaron and Micah Beliston.
Jay Vanos made a digital presentation displaying all views of the
proposed single family residences. He also presented maps and
drawings for the two projects he is designing on four lots. Jay explained
that there would be two issues to discuss. One is a height variance on
both properties and the other is for reduced parking on one property only.
His request for a height variance from 36 ft. to 45 ft. on both projects is
due to the unique circumstances of these properties. Both properties
are down slope from Woodrow Wilson Drive. The existing retaining wall
which supports the edge of Woodrow Wilson varies in height from 10 to
14 feet. The property line is an additional 10 feet or more from the
location of the wall, making the difference in ground elevation between the
street and the property line in the range of 20 feet. With the setback
included, the difference approaches 24 feet. This dimensional difference
between the street and the property, which is a consequence of the street
construction, makes it impossible to place a building on the site, with on-
site parking, within the 36 foot height limit.
This request for parking reduction was based on a reinterpretation in
calculation methods between the inception date of the Hillside Ordinance-
and a year old Building Department Information Bulletin, which changed
the manner of calculating the size of the building. When the Hillside
Ordinance was adopted in 1992, the method of calculating the size of a
Residence did not include exterior areas, and was primarily concerned
with interior living space.
The current method requires the inclusion of exterior covered decks. This
new method results in a larger measurement of size for buildings having
the exact same interior square footage. The proposed building has an
interior square footage which is below the 2,400 sq. ft. threshold for the 2
car requirement; however with the new calculation method, the size is
over the 2,400 sq. ft. threshold and now requires 3 cars. Jay explained
that the circumstances of the site would practically allow for two cars
(enclosed) and two more cars on the driveway, between the garage and
the street edge, thus providing 4 cars for the house in question. Two of the
cars however, are over the front yard property line, excluding them being
included in the parking calculation.
Sightlines for the homes across the street will be preserved over the new
houses despite the height variance. Also, vine lattices growing on the roof
tops of the houses will add more landscaping and maintain consistency
with the surrounding greenery. Given these circumstances and the
respective architectural design remedies, Jay Vanos and the Beliston’s
will be requesting a Zoning Administrator’s Height Adjustment for both
houses from 36 to 45 feet and parking reduction for one space.
Joan Luchs commented that the original plans by a different architect
were nearly denied by the Associate Zoning Administrator for several
reasons including proposed heights of 54 feet in lieu of 36 feet, reduced
side yard set backs and reduced number of required parking spaces. She
stated that the revised designs with a new architect have reduced the
square footage, are more articulated with improved aesthetic designs
showing consideration for the many concerns expressed by the neighbors.
Michael George motioned to vote for support and approval of plans for 7153 and 7159 Woodrow Wilson as submitted. Motion seconded by Susan Van Lier. Motion carried: 17 in Favor, 0 Against, 1 Abstaining.
Joan Luchs thanked Jay Vanos and the Beliston’s for their revisions and
presentation. Aaron Beliston thanked the neighborhood for their input that brought about a better architect and two better designed and more compatible homes to the surrounding neighborhood.
3. Agenda Item # 5 – 3000 Passmore Dr.
Paul Ramsey and Joan Luchs highlighted apparent significant
discrepancies with the dimensions and topography of the Site Plan, including wide differences with the front side yard dimensions from actual measurement Joan took at the site, and obvious inaccurate labeling of topography elevations on the plan. Paul stated that the City should have required a wet stamped and signed topographic survey from a licensed Surveyor, which was not done. Joan noted from the pictures she took of the site that the proposed addition would build over a significant portion of an existing oak tree which would require an oak tree permit.
Paul noted that if the shape of the proposed design addition did not extend so far down the hill, and if the proposed design did not propose to make the house taller, such a significant height variance would not be necessary adding that one of the council office complaints about the project was that other obvious design alternates were apparently not explored to lessen the effect of the height and bulk of the project.
Paul Ramsey noted that the absence of the owner inhibited further discussion. Joan Luchs commented that Paul and herself disagreed over whether the excessive building area of such an addition should be approved, but both agreed that a new proposal that reduced the absolute height of the structure and arranged the addition so it did not extend so far down the hill would be better received
Joan Luchs commented that the Acting Zoning Administrator found many irregularities and would have denied the project unless the applicant agreed to a 60 days continuance and resubmit a new and accurate site survey, an accurate existing site plan and an accurate proposed site plan.
Joan Luchs proposed that the owner should:
1. Provide a wet stamped and signed survey of the site by a
2. Superimpose the proposed addition and the original site plans on
the licensed survey.
3. Obtain an oak tree report and apply for an Oak Tree Permit.
4. Present his new plans, new survey and Oak Tree Report before
the Neighborhood Council for review and approval.
Paul Ramsey recommended a “conditional denial” stipulating that the
project be denied unless Joan’s proposal was followed.
A motion was made by Robert Kuhn to vote for a ‘conditional denial’ of the plans for 3000 Passmore, unless the following conditions are met:
1. Provide a wet stamped and signed topographical survey of the site
by a licensed Surveyor.
2. Superimpose the proposed addition on original accurate site
plans by a licensed surveyor.
3. Obtain an oak tree report and apply for an Oak Tree Permit.
4. Present new plans, new survey and Oak Tree Report before
the Area 2 and Housing Committees of HHWNC for review and
Motion seconded by Michael George. Motion carried: 19 in Favor, 0 Against, 0 Abstaining.
4.Agenda Item # 6 – Request to Construct Sunnydip Trail.: Discussion opened concerning proposed construction projects on Sunnydip Tr.- specifically 7218 Sunnydip.
Joan Luchs stated that the owner promised to attend but didn’t and
explained further that although the Mulholland Design Review Board
disapproved the project at 7218 Sunnydip Trail. the Planning Dept.
overturned the MDRB disapproval and approved it. David Nudell, who
lives across the street, filed an appeal to the South Valley Area Planning
Commission requesting that 7218 Sunnydip be disapproved
Joan Luchs commented that the developer originally submitted a 5,000
square foot project but the Mulholland Design Review Board MDRB
recommended that the project be reduce to 3,000 square feet. The owner
refused to comply and came back with a 3,700 square foot package. The
MDRB disapproved the project because the applicant would not reduce it
to 3,000 square feet, a size that the MDRB felt was compatible to the lot
and to the neighborhood. The Planning Department overturned the
MDRB’s denial and a neighbor has appealed it. Robert Kuhn added that
he received a call from the owner, Ziad Janah, who threatened him
with a lawsuit for having signed a petition in support of the appeal to deny
his project. Comments were made that other neighbors received the same
Joan Luchs stated that, despite the Planning Department’s approval, the “Administrative Relief” clause allows for the public to appeal the decision. She continued that 3,000 sq.ft. for the project is generous representing 41% of the respective house to lot ratio, when the average in the neighborhood is 26%. Also, she cited the precedent of 7327 Sunnydip which is a smaller project on a bigger lot. Discussing further projects on Sunnydip Tr.- Joan Luchs stated 7210, 7212, and 7216 Sunnydip are projects where the owner Steve Head asked for a reduced side yard variance of 3 ft. on each side. However, his request was rejected, appealed and he lost his appeal. Joan Luchs attests that the house to lot ratio for both of these projects were 95% or a 2,260 square foot house on a 2,375 square foot lot.
Further discussion opened about the road Sunnydip Trail. relating to the numerous and heavy equipment trucks driving on Sunnydip for the construction operations. Lisana Meade stated that she witnessed the fall of a fully loaded cement mixing truck from Sunnydip Trail down the precipice. She stated that the 7218 Sunnydip Trail project was too big and that is why she helped gather the 31 signatures objecting to approval for 7218 Sunnydip. With photographs of the construction site, the trucks and street, Lisana Meade discussed the effects the heavy traffic is having on the street and the neighboring properties, and the repercussions of trucks having no turn-around space. She stated the need for a new legal rating for Sunnydip Trail that considers its weight and width capacity.
For purposes of dealing with the agenda, Paul Ramsey recommended taking action first on the 7218 Sunnydip Trail project as a separate agenda item from the street conditions of Sunnydip Trail. Motion was made by Michael George to support the appeal to the South Valley Area Planning Commission disapproving construction of 7218 Sunnydip Trail at 3,700 square feet; motion was seconded by Thor Lee, voted and approved.
Assessing the overwhelming support, Paul Ramsey recommended a motion to support the actual appeal filed by David Nudell to the South Valley Area Planning Commissio against the project on 7218 Sunnydip Trail. Motion made by Michael George, seconded by Robert Kuhn. Called to vote by Paul Ramsey, motion carried 13 in Favor, 0 Against, 0 Abstain.
5. Agenda Item #7 and Agenda Item #6 – 7218 Sunnydip Tr. and Sunnydip Tr. Improvement
Having already voted on Item #7, the discussion returned to conditions of the road Sunnydip Trail. Charlotte Antelline commented that she discovered there were plans to reconstruct a bulkhead on Sunnydip Tr.
Joan Luchs observed that any plans for improvement must consider the distinction between the ‘Dedicated Right of Way Width’ and the ‘Improved Pavement Width’ which for large portions of Sunnydip Trail means only 9 or 10 feet wide. Paul Ramsey said new ordinances require owners of new homes and significant additions to dedicate ‘Right of Way’ so that it would be 36 feet wide, (18 feet from the centerline of the street) and improve the roadway paved width to 28 feet, (14 feet from the centerline of the street). He added that the existing ‘Right of Way’ was probably only 20 feet now for Sunnydip Trail and the City would have problems widening the paved roadway beyond that width. He said that because the City’s foremost responsibility is for safety and general welfare of the public it was liable for protecting the public from hazardous street conditions like those that allow concrete mixer trucks to fall off the edge of a street.
Paul Ramsey explained that it appears that one of the problems facing severely substandard streets is that the new ordinance requires roadway widths for streets like Sunnydip but they are nearly unfeasible to build, and for that reason perhaps, waivers are granted by the Street Improvement Division to owners applying for building permits. The problems for the “Street Improvement Division” is that they either must require an owner for his half of the street to be dedicated and improved to a full width of 28 or 36 feet or grant a waiver for nothing at all. There apparently is no legal middle ground.
One question is whether or not those with building permits receive a waiver to improve the street. Paul said that there is a City ordinance that requires a public hearing for proposed new homes on a street where the paved portion is less than 20 feet at any point along the route to a major collector street but the question is why haven’t these hearings occurred to projects already in construction or currently going through the permitting process along Sunnydip.
Paul Ramsey adds that it is important to know whether the owners will be compensated for the land required to expand the street. Paul also explained that there are serious issues that must be addressed in regards to Sunnydip Trail; First, there is a City ordinance mandating that additional property needed for street widening must be requested from the respective neighbors and compensated. Second, there is a City ordinance requiring a public hearing every time a building permit is approved on a street that is 20 ft. wide or less. Third, the City is liable for protecting the public from hazardous street conditions that allows for fully loaded cement mixer trucks to fall off the road.
Lisana Meade commented that any expansion of Sunnydip would be over the precipices. Paul Ramsey stated that it needs to be clarified where the widening project will happen. Joan suggested a motion to inform Councilman LaBonge about the unsafe conditions on Sunnydip Tr.
Wayne Johansson questioned what the Fire Department’s perspective
was. Paul Ramsey addressed the question that the FD was heavily
concerned about the width of this street due to their own trucks’ traffic
during emergencies. He added that the standard for street width is too
high because the FD has had to grant such a high volume of width
waivers. Wayne suggested that the need for fire emergency vehicles on
the street would be presented as reason not to improve weight limits and
width considerations on the street. Michael George responded that
emergency vehicles would be exempt from any limitations. Charlotte
Antelline commented that the current FD chief denied that the FD had any
responsibility with the lack of a turn around on Sunnydip and that that was
a direct contradiction with the previous FD chief’s very explicit concern.
Joan Luchs suggested that these issues are not being addressed by the City in regards to Sunnydip Tr. She further suggested a motion that Councilman LaBonge respond to these issues. Charlotte Antelline
suggested a building moratorium on Sunnydip Tr. until the street improvements have been completed. Michael George recommended that due to the present “crisis” a new weight limit for Sunnydip Tr. be established. Joan Luchs, seeking action, proposed that Sunnydip Tr. be reconstructed and completed within the next year. Paul suggested that the “life threatening emergency” of Sunnydip Tr.’s conditions should be made known to Councilman Tom LaBonge in writing by HHWNC and a firm request be made that he personally address these safety related concerns before the HHWNC. The issues to be addressed are: When is Councilman LaBonge going to improve Sunnydip Tr.? What are the extent of the improvements? Why are there no hearings regarding developers being required to make improvements and instead given waivers?
Joan Luchs made a motion requesting that HHWNC write a letter to Councilman LaBonge that includes the following:
1) Requesting that Sunnydip Tr. be reconstructed and improved to a width that meets Standard safety and access conditions within the next 12 months.
2) Request that a mandate and enforcement of limits for the weight of all trucks using Sunnydip Tr. and Oakpoint Tr. be limited to no more than 15,000 lbs;
3) Request for a hearing within 30 days with Building and Safety as well as Public Works to review and come up with a plan regarding the ongoing (last 20 years) unsafe conditions on Sunnydip Tr. that are jeopardizing community safety and access.
4) That Councilman LaBonge write a letter to Building & Safety requesting
their enforcement of an existing ordinance which requires public hearings
for all building permit applications where the width of the street is less than
Motion was seconded by Charlotte Antelline. Joan Luchs called for a vote.
Motion carried with 16 in Favor, 1 Against, 0 Abstaining.
Joan Luchs motioned to approve the minutes from 2006-27-11 and 1/4/2007. Motion seconded by unknown member. Motion carried 17 in Favor, 0 Against, 0 Abstaining.
6. Adjournment: Meeting adjourned at 8:58 PM by Joan Luchs.