Planning Commission to Wait on Decision for Music School

The Planning Commission, hoping to help fill a vacant property on Huntington Drive, voted to continue a hearing for a prospective business at its Feb. 22 meeting.
Before the decision, the Commission had expressed a desire to work through an issue involving parking at the location, but the applicant’s absence from the meeting precluded substantive discussion.
“We have too much vacancy on Huntington [Drive],” said Commissioner Howard Brody. “If there was a reasonable solution for the parking issue, I would hope to have heard it from the applicant tonight.”
The discussion was regarding a proposed music academy that would offer group and individual lessons at 2491 Huntington Drive. The location is a multi-tenant commercial building and requires a conditional use permit from the city.
Staff findings cautioned there are six parking spaces for the building, which currently has two tenants. City regulations require one parking space for every 250 square feet of office space which means this proposal would need nine parking spaces to accommodate its 2,300 square feet.
The other two businesses in the building combine for around 1,100 square feet, according to assistant planner Eva Choi.
This finding did not appear to totally shut down the proposal in the eyes of some commissioners, with Raymond Cheng arguing that a strict upholding of that rule would effectively make the building useless.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to meet the parking ratio [at that location],” he said. “We’re talking about a building that predates parking requirements. There’s no way to meet the parking requirements regardless of its use.”
There also was the issue, given the nature of children being dropped off and picked up for group lessons, of there not being a safe staging area for the vehicle activity.
Commissioner and vice chairwoman Susan Jakubowski pointed out that the way the proposed floorplan is divided, some of the lesson areas would be at least 600 square feet apiece.
“At first glance, it looks like it’s just too big for the intended use,” she said, suggesting that a smaller location would help solve the parking issue.
Chairman Marcos Velayos said he would hope to iron out a solution in the interest of adding a business to the Huntington Drive strip, adding this proposal “makes a lot of sense, given its proximity to [San Marino High School].” Although not sitting in a commissioner’s stead at this meeting, alternate Commissioner James Okazaki said he agreed.
“I’d like to have them give a testimonial before we say no,” he said.
The Commission voted unanimously to continue the hearing on the condition city staff makes a concentrated effort to communicate with the applicant about making a presentation or having someone represent them at the next meeting.
Other Business
• Two requests were granted to the Huntington Library.
A conditional use permit was granted for a project to demolish an existing one-story home near the front of the property and construct a new one to house the Huntington’s director of research. This was approved on the condition that the trees shielding the view from the street are maintained.
The second involved modifying a prior conditional use permit to allow modifying accessory structures in the Chinese Garden area and also granting another conditional use permit to construct a new art gallery attached to an existing building. They were approved without conditions.
• The Commission declared 1925 Montrobles Place to be a public nuisance at the recommendation of city staff. Planning Director Aldo Cervantes said there were inoperable vehicles left on the property’s front lawn, in addition to trash and debris. The front lawn and other foliage also are unmaintained. If the property owners take no action, the city will contract out the fixes and bill the owners.
• The Commission received and filed an update for a home construction project at 1001 Rosalind Road that is expected to be delayed by as many as 50 days because of the recent heavy rains.

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