Parking Issues Delay First Church of Christ, Scientist Permit Decision

A permit request from the First Church of Christ, Scientist for retail and assembly use within an existing 2,400-square-foot building at 827 Foothill Blvd., was pushed to later this month after a discussion about parking limitations wasn’t conclusive.
At a recent planning commission meeting, the permit item was moved to Thursday, Sept. 26, after discussions from commissioners, the applicant and a neighboring building owner.
“La Cañada parking is always a challenge,” said Commissioner Samir Mehrotra before the vote to continue was taken. “Anecdotal data is not enough for me to make the findings.”
Planning commissioners voted to grant the church applicants the permit if they could provide at least one of two documents. The first would be a current parking study that shows St. George’s Episcopal Church, at 808 Foothill Blvd., would provide sufficient space for parking with a shared parking agreement from the church, said Susan Koleda, LCF director of community development, after the meeting.
A second option would be “some kind of a commitment” from Chase Bank, at 749 Foothill Blvd., to provide shared parking, Koleda said.
The agreement would specifically address the larger number of cars, about 15-17 vehicles on Sunday mornings and about eight to nine vehicles on Wednesday evening, Koleda said. There would also be a retail use for a Reading Room on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
A minimum number of parking spaces required for general commercial use, per the city zoning code, is four spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area, according to the city’s staff report. The property would require a minimum of 10 parking spaces. There are four parking spaces located to the rear of the existing building, Koleda said.
Church officials said at the meeting they had an agreement with St. George’s for shared parking but did not have a traffic study, which the commissioners wanted for approval. Toward the end of the meeting, church officials added they believed they could get an agreement from the bank for shared parking, which helped lead to the continuation.
Lucille Sivov, who said she owns the site at 831 Foothill Blvd., said she believed there were only three spaces, not four, behind that building because of a fence that cut through the property. But she was more worried that congregation members would spill over into her building’s parking lot.
First Church of Christ, Scientist Executive Board President Dee Thiesmeyer told commission members her church was in escrow for the building and she was hoping for an approval.
“If we don’t close by Sept. 30, we’ll start to lose everything,” she said. Thiesmeyer and other church officials declined to speak after the meeting.

TARGET TRAFFIC IMPACT REVIEW DEEMED ACCEPTABLE

As part of its conditional-use permit with the city, the newly opened Target was required to have a six-month traffic impact review to be reported to the Planning Commission.
An analysis ruled the business, at 965 Town Center Drive, operates at “an acceptable level of service” based on the city’s general plan.
There were changes in the level of service at some of the intersections, but all intersections were opening at the acceptable level, according to the staff report.
“It was all within such a tight tolerance and in reality what are you going to do?” said Planning Commission chair Mike Hazen after the meeting last Thursday. “At some point there’s code rules and all that stuff, but Target’s in and they’re working. I don’t see any excess traffic from that.”

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