Planning Commission Seeks More Answers About Proposed Building

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.”

St. Bede Given Green Light to Demolish, Rebuild Parish Hall

Photo courtesy Jim Saake
The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the demolition of the St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church parish hall, which served as the church from 1952-1968, despite the objections of several residents and parishioners.

The beloved parish hall at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church in La Cañada Flintridge is one step closer to being demolished and replaced with a new building that would better serve parishioners and the school.
Despite hearing pleas from community members requesting for preservation and modernization rather than replacement, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved three resolutions last week giving St. Bede a conditional use permit that allows demolition of the Spanish mission-style building and redevelopment of the courtyard, a tree removal permit and a variance to allow for the reduction of parking onsite parking spaces.
Continue reading “St. Bede Given Green Light to Demolish, Rebuild Parish Hall”

City Upholds Decision to Allow Parcel Land Transfer

An appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of a lot line adjustment dominated the City Council meeting this week, with neighbors opposing the decision on the grounds that the property owner plans to build a home on the nonconforming lot and is trying to skirt city zoning rules.
Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to uphold the commission’s approval of the adjustment and setback modification at 4628 El Camino Corto and the adjacent parcel to the east, which is currently a land-locked empty lot consisting of ravine.
The lot adjustment would add 4,140 square feet to the empty parcel to total 11,267 square feet from the owner’s initial 7,127, while the other lot would be reduced in size to 13,213 square feet from 17,353. This would make both lots in compliance with the minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, paving the way for the developer to build at the property, neighbors and residents appealing the approval said.
Continue reading “City Upholds Decision to Allow Parcel Land Transfer”

City Council Balks at Allowing Short-Term Rentals

The discourse over short-term rentals in La Cañada Flintridge will continue for the foreseeable future after the City Council made no decision on the issue during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Council members — except for Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Curtis, who recused himself from the discussion — mulled a proposed ordinance, given preliminary approval by the Planning Commission earlier this month, that would permit and regulate short-term rentals.
Continue reading “City Council Balks at Allowing Short-Term Rentals”

City Council Seeks to Regulate, Not Ban, Vacation Rentals

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council decided Tuesday night not to ban short-term rental units and instead try to regulate them, starting a subcommittee to investigate the issue further and bring its findings to the municipal Planning Commission and the council.
Short-term rental advocates who stated their case appeared to have swayed the council. Continue reading “City Council Seeks to Regulate, Not Ban, Vacation Rentals”

Permit to Remove Protected Oak Prompts Appeals

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK A city-protected coast live oak tree located in the backyard of the property at 650 Georgian Road was approved for removal in early November but two appeals of the action have been filed. An appeal hearing is scheduled for a Planning Commission meeting in mid-December or early January.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
A city-protected coast live oak tree located in the backyard of the property at 650 Georgian Road was approved for removal in early November but two appeals of the action have been filed. An appeal hearing is scheduled for a Planning Commission meeting in mid-December or early January.

The potential removal of an approximately 65-foot coast live oak tree at a La Cañada Flintridge residence has led to discussion of the importance of such trees to the city’s identity and an appeal of a decision in the matter.
The city-protected tree located at 650 Georgian Road was slated to come down after the city’s planning department received a tree-removal permit application from property owner Alan Frank in early October. The permit was approved on Nov. 2. The city ruled that the protected tree is “so diseased or damaged that it is no longer viable or is a threat to cause damage to property or other protected trees.” Continue reading “Permit to Remove Protected Oak Prompts Appeals”

Target Store’s Staffing Aim: to Hire 100 Workers

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK Target expects to hire about 100 employees at its new La Cañada Flintridge store, which is expected to open in the fall.
Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Target expects to hire about 100 employees at its new La Cañada Flintridge store, which is expected to open in the fall.

Target is stocking up on employees.
Ahead of its scheduled fall opening, Target Corp. is seeking to fill approximately 100 jobs in its La Cañada Flintridge location, according to company spokeswoman Jacqueline DeBuse. Continue reading “Target Store’s Staffing Aim: to Hire 100 Workers”

Treehouses Could Find a Home in LCF

The Planning Commission soon will be talking treehouses after City Council members on Tuesday decided La Cañada Flintridge needs to specify its zoning code to allow for in-tree structures to be built in non-protected species — so long as the structures meet current building code standards and, perhaps, additional to-be-determined requirements.
The conversation began April 3, when LCF resident John Womack approached the City Council to ask that they review the topic. He’d received a notice of violation from the city’s code enforcement personnel after someone reported that he’d built a treehouse in a protected oak tree on his property. Continue reading “Treehouses Could Find a Home in LCF”