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  Agenda Item   6.    
Planning Commission
Meeting Date: 11/09/2021  


Conditional Use Permit No. 2021-09 To Allow A Studio Focused on group training within an approximately 4,100 square-foot tenant space, located at 910 East Birch Street, Suite 250, in the Major Shopping Center (C-C) Zone.

The Applicant, Joshua Fernandez, is requesting a Conditional Use Permit (CUP No. 2021-09) to allow a studio within an approximately 4,100 square foot tenant space, at 910 East Birch Street, Suite 250, in the Major Shopping Center (C-C) zone.  The studio proposes to focus on group training classes with a single instructor.  The Applicant’s request herein may be referred to as the “Project”.
Staff recommends that the Planning Commission take the following actions:
  1. Find the Project exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15301 (Class 1, Existing Facilities) and;
  1. Approve CUP No. 2021-09 to allow a studio within an approximately 4,100 square foot tenant space, at 910 East Birch Street, Suite 250, based on the findings and conclusions in the attached resolution (Attachment A) and subject to the recommended conditions of approval (Attachment B).
The Project site is located within the Embassy Retail Court and is zoned C-C.  The C-C zone is intended to provide for the development of large modern shopping center facilities to serve the community, where a wide variety of retail stores and restaurants are permitted.  The Project site, which was previously occupied by office uses, is on the east side of the second floor of the existing three-story Embassy Retail Court building and is located at the southwest corner of Birch Street and Brea Mall Road.  Exhibit 1 shows the location of the Project site and tenant suite.

On June 21, 1988, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 846 (Attachment C) approving Development Agreement (DA) No. 88-2 to allow for the construction of the Embassy Suites Hotel and Embassy Retail Court.  Under the terms of the DA, the retail court was designed for commercial retail and service uses.  To help achieve that goal, administrative and professional office uses were permitted but were initially limited to 15% of the building. 
On July 28, 1992, the Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 92-46 (Attachment D) approving an amendment to DA No. 88-2 to increase the maximum allowed percentage of administrative and professional office from 15% to 33%, and to allow medical uses subject to a CUP.
On January 28, 2020, the Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 20-01 (Attachment E) approving a subsequent amendment to the DA deleting the 33% limitation for administrative and professional office, while specifying that uses not listed in the DA may be permitted subject to Planning Commission approval of a CUP. 
The Applicant proposes to establish a studio for instructional fitness training within an existing 4,100 square foot commercial suite.  The business proposes to offer instructor lead fitness services including high-intensity fitness training, along with health and wellness counseling with certified trainers.  An area of 1,000 square feet would be designated for group training, with the remainder of the suite reserved for free weights and exercise machines, restrooms, and a new office.  Exhibit 2 below outlines the proposed floor plan.  Proposed hours of operation would be limited to 5:00-9:00 A.M. and 5:00-8:00 P.M., Monday to Friday, 7:00-9:00 A.M. on Saturdays, closed on Sundays.  

Conditional Use Permit
Uses at the Project site are governed by Section 20.232 (C-C Zone) of the Brea City Code (BCC), and by the DA approved for the site.  Section 20.00.070 of the BCC defines studios as facilities, typically accommodating one group of students at a time, in no more than one instructional space for individual and group instruction and training.  Pursuant to DA No. 88-2, studios are permitted subject to Planning Commission approval of a CUP.  A CUP is intended for those land uses which require special consideration in a particular zone or in the city as a whole.  The Embassy Suites Retail Court is comprised of commercial uses including personal services, retail, and general offices.  Uses at the site, including the Embassy Suites Hotel, have shared use of a subterranean parking garage with 417 parking spaces.  The proposed hours of operation would be limited to the early morning and evening hours on weekdays, and early morning hours on Saturdays when most businesses at the site are closed (Condition “E”).  In addition, all fitness activities would be conditioned to occur indoors (Condition “F”).
The proposed use would provide new fitness opportunities and wellness programs that would benefit area residents and those working in the City.  This facility would provide a variation of fitness training from those found in larger health spas and gyms.  The size of training groups would be smaller and would not exceed 20 members plus one instructor.  The studio would offer memberships strictly for group training at designated times, therefore open use of the gym is not proposed.  The studio would be compatible with other retail and office uses in the building and, with the proposed conditions of approval, no impacts from the proposed use are expected.  Staff has incorporated the following conditions of approval to minimize potential impacts that may result from the business, including:
  • Condition No. c.  Group instructional space shall not exceed 1000 sq. ft.
  • Condition No. d.  There shall be a maximum of 20 members (excluding trainers) for each scheduled class.
  • Condition No. e.  Hours of operation shall be restricted to 5:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. on Saturdays; closed on Sundays.
  • Condition No. f.  The operation shall be restricted to within the existing tenant suite.  No outside use of the premises shall be permitted.
Pursuant to Section 20.08.040 the BCC, the proposed studio requires one parking space for every 35 square feet of instruction area, and one space for every 250 square feet of office area.  As shown in the table below, when considering all uses at the site, including the Embassy Suites hotel, the site with the proposed Project requires a total of 407 parking spaces, and 417 are provided.

In addition to complying with the City’s parking requirements, the Applicant submitted a parking survey of two similar studios to provide parking projections and justify anticipated parking demand for the proposed facility.  The survey included parking counts at similar 4,000 square-foot studios, with similar operating hours, in the cities of Long Beach (Crossfit) and Cypress (Camp Transformation).  The survey indicated that during morning and evening peak hours while classes were in session, parking counts ranged from 5 to 16 customer vehicles during the morning peak times, and 11 to 22 customer vehicles during the evening peak times, including the overlap between sessions.  The survey counts show that the parking demand for the proposed studio could be satisfied with less than the 30 parking spaces required by the BCC.
The Applicant also submitted a separate parking analysis of the existing 417-space Embassy Suites parking structure to evaluate the occupancy rates between 9:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. The analysis concluded that approximately 40% of the stalls were utilized throughout the day and that with the 20-space demand generated by the proposed studio, parking in the garage would not be impacted. Staff has reviewed the analysis and supports the findings that any parking generated by the use can be accommodated within the existing parking structure. 
The project was noticed in accordance with the City’s public noticing requirements, which involved mailed notices within 500 feet of the project site and publication in the local paper (Attachment G). As of the writing of this report, staff has not received any public comment.


The project has been assessed in accordance with the CEQA guidelines, and the environmental regulations of the City. The Project qualifies for a Class 1 Categorical Exemption (Existing Facilities) in accordance with the requirements of Section 15301 of the State CEQA guidelines. This exemption is applicable to the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, involving negligible or no expansion of existing or former use. The proposed Project involves occupying and leasing of an existing commercial retail suite for a new studio.
The Project would conform with all the requirements of the General Plan and the provisions of the BCC. The proposed Project would not have an adverse effect on the public, health, safety, or general welfare. Therefore, staff recommends approval of the Project.
Jason Killebrew, City Planner
Prepared by: Juan Arauz, Senior Planner
A. Draft Resolution No. 2021-XXX
B. Draft Conditions of Approval
C. CC Resolution No. 846 (Development Agreement No. 88-2)
D. PC Resolution No. 92-46 (Amendment to Development Agreement)
E. PC Resolution No. 20-01 (Amendment to Development Agreement)
F. Project Plans
G. Public Hearing Notice

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