Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

MAY 9, 2017
Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Debbie Miller
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:    
Melanie Mindlin    
  1. Approval of Minutes.
  1. April 11, 2017 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2017-00200  
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 165 Water Street (corner of Van Ness & Water Streets)
OWNER/APPLICANT: Magnolia Investment Group, LLC/Gil Livni
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Design Review approval to construct a 42,841 square foot, three-story, mixed-use building consisting of commercial tenant space on the ground floor, 26 hotel units on the second floor, and ten residential condominiums on the third floor for the vacant property located at 165 Water Street, at the corner of Van Ness and Water Streets, in the Skidmore Academy Historic District.  The application includes requests for a Conditional Use Permit to allow hotel/motel use; an Exception to Street Standards; a Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit for the development of floodplain and severe constraints lands; and a Tree Removal Permit to remove seven trees.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04CC; TAX LOT #: 2000. (Continued from April 11, 2017 meeting)
Commissioner Pearce announced the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
No ex parte contact was declared.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson briefly reviewed the application and explained the applicants have modified their proposal to add a mechanical vehicle stacker in the basement which would increase their on-site parking to 55 spaces. Mr. Severson displayed the project elevation perspectives, provided the Historic Commission and Tree Commission recommendations, and noted both commissions were supportive of the application as presented. The three outstanding items from the initial hearing were listed and reviewed in further detail.
Integration of Required Public Plaza Space: Mr. Severson stated the applicants have indicated that in addition to the proposed plaza space treatments discussed at the April hearing, there will also be rooftop garden space. He stated the applicants did an excellent job of clarifying the treatment of the plaza spaces at the prior hearing and based on their presentation and the additional clarification regarding the rooftop greenspace, staff feel the proposal satisfies the requirement.
Off-Street Parking: The applicant’s proposal for a mechanical car stacker brings the total off-street spaces to 55 and requires only a 13% reduction in the parking requirement. Staff is supportive of this modification and have added a condition of approval (for discussion purposes) that would require no parking be gated or otherwise restricted. Mr. Severson added the back-up area for the compact car parking is fairly tight, and suggested the commission discuss this during their deliberations.
Alley Encroachments: At the last meeting a neighbor pointed out the proposed location for the transformer and stairway impacted the backup area in the alley. Staff has included a condition of approval asking for this to be modified so that backup can continue on neighboring property.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson clarified the six on-street parking spaces will be accommodated by adding additional width along Van Ness and inserting parking bays. This area is currently signed for no parking.
Mr. Severson clarified there is no requirement in the code to provide parking for staff who work at the hotel. The approach the city has historically taken is a presumption that the hotel rooms will not always be at 100% occupancy and the unused spaces will be utilized by the business employees.
Mr. Severson clarified the applicants could not intensify the mix of uses proposed without approval.
Mr. Severson commented on the exception to the 5ft. buffer between parking spaces and the property line. He explained the applicants are building a retaining wall which will have vegetation on it and stated staff is supportive of the exception as it has the same effect as a landscape buffer.
Applicant’s Presentation
Amy Gunter, Rogue Planning & Development/Dave Evans, Ron Grimes Architects/Gil Livni, Magnolia Investment Group/Ms. Gunter reviewed the proposed site layout and stated they believe the issues raised at the last hearing have been addressed. She stated the project architect has made change requested by the Historic Commission to the end unit; the rooftop plan includes garden areas and functional open space; and a mechanical parking structure has been added to the garage to increase the on-site parking. Ms. Gunter clarified the parking structure will work within the proposed basement area and meet height clearances, however the property owner does want to restrict some of the below grade spaces for residents. She commented on the traffic impact analysis that was conducted and stated the engineer has determined that this proposal will meet the parking demands. Regarding the stairway issue, Ms. Gunter stated the landing has been reduced in length from 8ft. to 4ft. and shifts the stairs away from the neighbor’s property. She commented on the issue raised by staff regarding the compact vehicle back-up area and stated if they require it to be expanded they will need to work with the neighboring property owner regarding the easement potential. Ms. Gunter concluded her presentation and stated this is exactly the type of development sought for an enterprise zone.
Questions of the Applicant
Ms. Gunter clarified they are requesting four on-street parking credits on Water Street along their frontage only. She also clarified their proposal provides a total of 55 on-site spaces; 22 surfaces spaces, 15 below ground, plus 18 below ground for the residential use.
Gil Livni clarified the car lift will work with the 11 ft. basement height.
Public Testimony
Jim North/85 Central Ave/Stated he lives at the corner of Water and Central and commented that this is a gorgeous project that will be great for the neighborhood. Mr. North noted he raised two issues at the last hearing. The first, regarding the placement of the stairs and transformer has been addressed. The second issue is regarding the lighting for the public spaces. Mr. North stated this area is a magnet for people and he does not want to see this become a problem. He stated he is a bit concerned that some of the parking might be reserved and reduce what it available, but all in all he supports the project.
Eric Bonetti/2552 Old Mill/Stated he owns the adjacent parcel and believes this will be a successful project. He is happy the neighbor’s issues are being resolved and stated is seems the applicant has made a considerable effort to address all of the approval elements and believes it is appropriate to grant the on-street parking credits.
Donn Comte/175 Piedmont/Mr. Bonetti read Mr. Comte’s statement aloud. The letter voiced approval of the project and stated it will be an asset to the neighborhood and a safe place to live and work.
Sandra Royce/1045 Timberline/Stated this spot has been unsightly for some time and this project will make a big difference. Ms. Royce commented that it will make the town more attractive and the hotel will bring jobs and revenues.
Sylvia Massy/1374 Iowa/Stated this is an exciting project and will bring life to a dead spot adjacent to downtown. She noted she has out of town guests that often come without vehicles and this will be a great spot since it is close to retail, restaurants and the theater.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Ms. Gunter commented briefly on how they reached the parking calculation and requested the commission’s approval on the proposal.
Mr. Livni commented on their request to have 18 spaces reserved. He explained they are spending an additional $300,000 on the stacking mechanism so that he can provide reserved parking for the condo owners and stated he will not be able to sell the units if they don’t provide this parking. He added it would be preferred for the stacking unit to be reserved for residents since this type of system works best when it is utilized by people who know how to use it and not random visitors.
Commissioner Pearce closed the hearing and the record at 8:25 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Thompson voiced her support for the addition of the mechanical parking structure. She stated this is a big financial investment and improves the parking numbers. She stated she feels comfortable with the proposal, including the reservation of the 18 spaces; however she is not sure about the compact car backup space.
Commission Brown stated he is good with the parking and commented that he has seen these types of lifts used all over San Francisco. He recommended they adopt a condition that addresses the backup space and stated he is comfortable with the applicants working this out with the Public Works department.
Commissioner Norton commented that he is skeptical about the parking, but does not think it will be a detriment to the city. He stressed that any intensification of use, which includes a restaurant, should come back to the commission for approval and stated he could support this under those terms.
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve the project with the conditions as presented with an additional condition to address the backup space requirement for the six compact car spaces and a modification to Condition #12 that says the parking spaces shall remain available except for the spaces reserved for the condos. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Miller voiced her concern with the reserved parking spaces.  Commissioner Dawkins agreed with the concerns raised with the vehicle backup area but stated there are ways to resolve this. He stated regardless of what the traffic engineer states he feels there is a lack of parking in this area, however he would not support a motion that did not include the reserved spaces and stated it is appropriate to have a reserved space for units you own.
Commissioner Norton/Thompson m/s to amend motion to add a condition that any intensification of use that increases the parking requirement would need to come back before the Planning Commission for approval. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that under current requirements this change would require administrative approval. Comment was made that a tiny change should not have to come back to the full commission and support was voiced for keeping this in staff’s court. Additional comment was made that if it is an issue of great concern staff can always kick this up to a Type II hearing before the commission. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Norton, and Thompson, YES. Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, and Pearce, NO. Motion failed.
Roll Call Vote on Main Motion: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Miller, Norton, Thompson, and Pearce, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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