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Posted 1/27/2008

Report of North Valley Area Planning Commission (NVAPC) Public Hearing held 1-17-08 by Cindy Cleghorn, STNC President

The appeal for the above lot split was denied by the NVAPC at the public hearing on 1-17-08. Note: hearing was postponed from the October 18, 2007 NVAPC public hearing.
Commissioner Corona made the motion based on too many "red flags and complexity". Rodriguez seconded.  Commissioner Fortson was the only "no" vote on the motion.  It was 4-1 to deny the appeal.  Fortson then wanted to know if the fees for the applicant to refile could be waived.  Duenas said "no", fees are set by ordinance.  Dale Thrush said that the Council office has the ability to waive the fees.
Some important comments made during the hearing that I noted are:
Lot sizes will be less than 5,000 each after dedication. Very narrow street. 3 parcel subdivision - unwittingly approving an illegal lot. No Certificate of Compliance exists for the rear "flag" lot which was not part of this application. (The rear lot was sold in Dec. 2006 while so it is not the same owner now. Question came up that it has a separate APN but APNs do not verify legal lot under the Subdivision Map Act.)  Subdividing this would have a domino effect. Every lot would be subdivided and turn into smaller parcels. It would change the character of the blockface.  Mr. Duenas pointed out that when we have a Parcel Map and it "meets all the requirements" then  its not that inappropriate to grant the subdivision.  It is the shorter, little adjustments that seriously impact a neighborhood and incrementally impact the community.  Compressed street and views, monster homes, no set backs and no neighbor privacy. This is the case with this application.
When we left the Oct. 18 hearing the continuance was based on the applicant (Mr. Lamishaw's) request for continuance. Points being that they needed an opportunity to meet with the community and work through the problem with the other lot that was now thought to be part of the application.  For the record I let the NVAPC know that they "did not" come to meet with the neighborhood council.  It is important to meet with the community at neighborhood council meetings. Meetings are open to all, transparent and allow for an opportunity for all sides of the issue to be raised so people understand all the concerns that they might not otherwise be informed or hear about.  People signing form letters does not guarantee that people understand what they are signing.
Mr. Lamisahw commented that they did not meet with the neighborhood council as it was clear that they would not change their mind. The neighborhood council is not the only portion of the community. They claim to have met directly with the community and it was sufficient outreach.  Earlier Mr. Lamishaw commented he had signed support letters. I pointed out that those letters are "form letters."
A DBS permit dated 8-13-04 application is on the rear property.  Since this is the first I heard of this application (at this 1-17-08 hearing), I pointed out that it is new news and oncerns over this adjacent property have not been cleared up.
Mr. Lamishaw said the lot split would provide for maintaining the scale of the community.  No designs were seen by the DAC.  I pointed out that we have huge boxy homes going in on small lots that are destroying the character of our community.
Mr. Lamishaw said the lot was really 12,000 square feet.  I pointed out that we never heard the lot at that size.
Ms. Harper pointed out that we need to know if the other lot is legal.  It is not good policy to knowingly create 2 substandard lots that would create non-conforming lots in the midst of conforming lots.
Some key points from this case:
    • Need to keep consistent lot sizes.
    • Difference between dotted and solid lot tie lines: dotted = before 1964, solid = legal lot tie.
    • Certificate of Compliance - the rear house does not have one
    • Adjacent rear property was once the same owner and sold during the course of this application (12/06)
    • Sometimes people get additional APN numbers on their properties to divide up the  property tax bill to children or others. It could be an illegal subdivision using the "APN trick". APN doesn't make it a legal lot.
    • 3 ways to tie a lot: build across, one ownership, formally tie. The sale broke the tie. It is legal to put the second house (the rear house) but would have to sell the property as one property.
    • Application for parcel map/subdivision should be at the front end, not the back end.
    • Applicant did not meet with City staff to work through the rear lot issue.
    • Flag lots use to require a 10' step. It is now 12'

Lynn Harper, Deputy Advisory Agency , did a thorough job on this application and is very knowledgeable at her job. Mr. Duenas' comments were also very thorough.  Tomi Lynn Bowling, DAC, gave the NVAPC the details regarding the small lots using the map she prepared and that there actually aren't that many. Elaine Brown and Kathryn Harris also spoke at the hearing.

Also, note that the neighborhood council's Design Advisory Committee, nearby neighbors and community members at large have been involved in this application's process.  They have attended DAC meetings, the public hearing and written comments to the file.  Council District 2, Planning Deputy on staff also attended the first hearing and opposed the application from the beginning.

Posted 10/31/2007

A package of documents in PDF format can be accessed by clicking here. THe file is 6 MB and will take some time to download.

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council © 2007
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