After nearly five hours of presentations, public comments and discussion regarding a proposed development at 600 Foothill Blvd., the La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission decided last week to put off deliberation on the matter until July 29.
The panel asked questions for its staff and the applicants, Garret Weyand and Alexandra Hack of 600 Foothill Owner LP, to follow up on next month on issues ranging from parking spaces to subleases of units.
Emily Stadnicki, LCF’s principal planner, said it is standard practice for the commission to shelve an item and continue discussion at a later date. The presentation and lengthy public comment portion extended the June 24 virtual meeting late into the night.
“I think with a project this big, it’s anticipated,” Stadnicki told the Outlook Valley Sun on Wednesday. “A lot of people wanted to speak. This is normal procedure.”
She gave a presentation informing commissioners and stakeholders of the proposed three-story, mixed-use structure that would include 47 active senior housing units, 12 non-serviced hotel units, 7,600 square feet of office uses and one level of underground parking containing 107 spaces.
Such a structure could help the city accommodate the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, a process involving the California Department of Housing and Community Development that projects how many dwellings are needed in the state. LCF is expected to show that it can provide 612 units, and the city staff recommends that the Planning Commission approve a conditional use permit for the project, a tree removal permit and a vesting tentative tract map for subdividing the 77,310-square-foot mixed-use development into 49 parcels for condominium purposes on the 1.29-acre property on Foothill. The staff also recommends that the panel adopt a mitigated negative declaration.
It further urges that the panel move forward with recommending that the City Council approve an amendment to the General Plan that incorporates a new mixed-use 3 designation into the Downtown Village Specific Plan that would set a density range of 20-30 dwelling units per acre.
“The city has determined that the project does address a substantial public need and is generally consistent with the city’s housing element and wider planning goals,” the staff said. “It is staff’s opinion that adopting an MU-3 designation with a density of 20-30 units per acre on this property is supported by facts and permissible.”
A group of residents continued to voice concerns over the proposed development, such as the fact that the mitigation declaration’s traffic study is based on traffic counts from 2015. In response, Stadnicki said the city’s traffic engineer approved the methodology through which 2015 counts were increased by 1% every year, which is standard protocol. She also added that there is no data from Los Angeles County that indicates a high number of accidents at Woodleigh Lane and Foothill, near the proposed development. Only two accidents were reported there in the past five years and neither involved injuries.
Responding to another concern, the staff said the size of the proposed project is consistent with existing development in the vicinity. Noting that buildings with at least three stories already exist in LCF, Stadnicki listed the La Cañada Medical Building on 1370 Foothill Blvd., Descanso Medical Center on 1346 Foothill Blvd., Lund Building at 4529 Angeles Crest Highway and City Hall.
As for parking, Stadnicki said the 107 spaces are more than are currently required by the city.
Not all residents are against the project. Some wrote in support of it, including President and co-owner of La Cañada Flintridge Country Club Randy Dreyfuss, who said he has “witnessed firsthand the effect the lack of senior housing has on citizens of La Cañada. Many of our club members have reluctantly left the city (and the club) as they have been unable to find housing that would allow them to remain in the city if they desired to downsize their housing needs.”
Weyand and Hack, both of whom are LCF residents, said they were pleased with the staff’s presentation and report, which was 580 pages long, and were glad to “clear the air.”
“It was comprehensive and so well done, and facts there were understandable,” Hack said. “They did an incredible job to explain a complex project with moving pieces.”