Jul 21 2015

City Council Denies Appeal of Planning Commission Approval While Adding a New Condition to Approval

Property Line Between Early 20th Century Houses Raises Issues for New Owners –

On Monday, July 20, 2015, the City Council heard its first Planning Commission appeal for the year. The appellant was Alice Creason, who lives next door to Seamus and Fernanda Meagher.  The Meaghers’ application for 212 Bonita Avenue called for extensive remodeling of their newly purchased 1908 home owned for 57 years by Herbert and Marjorie Michels.

The application included increasing garage space to accommodate four cars, parking court, additions to the house, landscaping, redesigned frontage fence and gate, and a habitable space over the three car garage.

Most neighbors, including the appellant, thought the improvements to the home would be highly desirable. The garages, parking court, and large new habitable space presented issues for some of the neighbors, particularly Creason, whose privacy was impacted.

At the Planning Commission hearing on June 8 and prior to receiving their approval,  the applicants assured the Commission that their plans would all be on their property.  A week later Creason, relying on the surveyed property line, had fence installers on the job building a property line fence. The applicant physically prevented the fence installation by moving cars and trucks onto Creason’s property.  After which, Creason appealed the Planning Commission decision based on new relevant evidence regarding the property line.

City Attorney Michelle Kenyon advised the Council that they could not consider property line issues.  The applicants’ plans showed the surveyed property line.

After hearing from numerous speakers, the Council acted to deny the appeal, uphold the Commission’s findings, and add a new construction management condition to the approval.  Proposed by Councilmember Tim Rood, an architect and planner by profession, the following was added to the conditions required of the applicant. The following condition is similar to conditions required on other approved projects.

“Neighboring Property Owner Permission –

Should the execution of the project, including the demolition of the existing garage in its entirety, require access onto a neighboring property for demolition or construction, the applicant shall submit prior to the issuance of a building permit the signed written statement from the adjacent property owner granting permission for access onto his or her property for purposes of demolition or construction.  As an alternative to gaining the signed written permission of the adjacent property owners for access to accomplish the demolition of the existing garage, which must be demolished in its entirety, including its walls and footings, the applicant shall include documentation in the construction management plan that clearly identifies and outlines how the applicant can demolish the existing garage including its footings without accessing a neighboring property.”

Councilmember Bob McBain urged a harmonious resolution.

Vice Mayor Jeff Weiler, officiating at the Council meeting in the absence of Mayor Margaret Fujioka, stated, “Where I grew up this is called the opportunity to play, ‘Lets make a deal’.  I would encourage both parties that they each want something from the other party to try to figure out a way to obtain their desire by working with the other side.”

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