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  Agenda Item   6.    
Planning Commission
Meeting Date: 06/22/2021  
FROM: Jason Killebrew

Subject:

CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NOS. 2021-01 AND 2021-02: A REQUEST TO ENCLOSE A 1,350 SQUARE-FOOT 2nd STORY BALCONY; ALLOW MODIFICATIONS TO THE EXISTING PARKING LOT; AND ALLOW A REDUCTION TO THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF OFF-STREET PARKING SPACES AT 3050 E. BIRCH STREET, IN THE M-1 (LIGHT INDUSTRIAL) ZONE.  

REQUEST
The Applicant, Mr. Wade Shuey, representing the Griffith Company, is requesting a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the following:
  • To enclose a 1,350 square-foot balcony on the second floor of a two-story, 29,505 square-foot office building; and
  • To modify the existing parking lot to add seven parking spaces totaling 116 parking spaces for the site; and
  • To reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces at the site.
RECOMMENDATION
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,
     
  2. Approve CUP No. 2021-01 to allow the enclosure of a 1,350 square-foot balcony and modifications to the existing parking lot, based on the findings and conclusions in the attached resolution (Attachment A), and subject to the recommended conditions of approval (Attachment B); and
     
  3. Approve CUP No. 2021-02 to allow a reduction in the required number of off-street parking spaces at the site from 124 spaces to 116 spaces, based on the findings and conclusions in the attached resolution (Attachment A), and subject to the recommended conditions of approval (Attachment B).
BACKGROUND/DISCUSSION

BACKGROUND

Existing Use and Location

The Applicant (Griffith Company), an owner-occupant of the building, is a general contractor business that offers engineering and construction services for various commercial projects.  The office building serves as the administrative office for the business with operating hours of 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday, and closed on weekends. 

The 1.76 project site is located at the southwest corner of the intersection of East Birch Street and South Flower Hill Street and is developed with a two-story, 29,505 square-foot, single-tenant office building, and a surface parking lot with 109 parking spaces.  The site has a General Plan Land Use designation and zoning of Light Industrial.  Adjacent properties on the east, west, and south are zoned M-1, and to the north, approximately 110’ across Birch Street are R-1 (Single-Family Residential) zoned properties. 

Entitlement History
On January 28, 1986, the Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 86-6, approving CUP Nos. 86-3, 86-4, and 86-5 to allow the construction of the existing two-story office building to be located within 300 feet of residentially zoned property, with up to 30% of the required off-street parking spaces to be of compact size.  Resolution No. 86-6 is provided as Attachment D of this report. 

On March 29, 2021, the Applicant filed CUP Nos. 2021-01 and 2021-02, also herein referred to as the “project”.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The proposed project seeks to expand the building floor area by enclosing a 1,350 square-foot balcony on the second floor, increasing the total building floor area from 29,505 square-feet to 30,855 square-feet.  The new floor area would include offices and a common workspace.  Figure 3 below is a current image of the building’s north-facing façade, highlighting the second-story balcony proposed to be enclosed. 


The project also proposes to modify the surface parking lot to provide seven new standard parking spaces, providing a total of 116 off-street parking spaces at the site.  Figure 4 below is a partial site plan with the location of the proposed seven new parking spaces shown in yellow.  These areas are currently improved with open space paved areas with landscape planters.

ANALYSIS

Development Standards
Development in the M-1 zone is governed by Section 20.252.040 of the Brea City Code (BCC).  The proposed enclosure of the second-story balcony would not result in an increase to the height of the building, lot coverage, or a reduction to the existing front yard setback.  Accordingly, as shown in Table 1 below, the proposed project would comply with all applicable development standards of the M-1 zone. 


Table 1: M-1 Zone Building Development Standards
  Existing Allowed/Required Proposed
Building Height 43’-2” 60’ maximum 43’-2”
Lot Coverage approx. 20% 50% maximum approx. 20%
Front Yard Setback 50’ 50’ 50’

Parking
The project site was approved and developed with a surface parking lot with 109 off-street parking spaces.  Per Section 20.08.040 of the BCC, administrative offices require one off-street parking space for every 250 square-feet.  For the existing 29,505 square-foot office building, the required number of parking spaces is 118 spaces.  Since the site provides 109 spaces, an existing shortage of nine spaces currently exists, giving the site a non-conforming status.  The proposed enclosing of the second-story balcony would require an additional six off-street parking spaces, for a total off-street parking requirement of 124 spaces.  The project proposes to add seven new off-street parking spaces, for a total of 116 spaces at the site.  Since the existing building is already deficient by nine spaces, the project as proposed would result in a deficiency of eight spaces, therefore the project would not increase the non-conformity that presently exists.  As proposed, the project would reduce the legal non-conforming off-street parking deficiency by one space. 

The Applicant has filed a request for a CUP, pursuant to Section 20.08.040.F of the BCC, to reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces at the site to 116 spaces.  Parking reductions may be granted by the Planning Commission when: 1) because of relevant circumstances, parking requirements are considered to be excessive, and 2) provided that such exceptions are consistent with the purpose and intent of this section (Section 20.08.040.F). 

Although the site would be deficient eight parking spaces, staff supports the parking reduction for the following reasons:
  1. The Griffith Company has a total of 66 employees, with three of those employees working remotely.  In addition, the nature of their operations as a general contractor requires some employees to work off-site for bidding, site visits, and to meet with clients.  For these reasons, it is unlikely that all employees would be present at the project site at one time.  Therefore, the proposed 116 off-street parking spaces would be sufficient to support the parking demand of the Applicant’s business operations.
     
  2. The Applicant has indicated that the proposed new building area would be used by project managers and engineers to collaboratively bid on projects and is not designed or intended for additional/new staff.  This is supported in the proposed floorplans included as Attachment C of this report.  Therefore, the proposed project would not increase the parking demand at the site.
     
  3. The project would provide seven additional parking spaces by modifying the surface parking lot.  While the project site would remain parking deficient, with these seven new parking spaces the site would reduce its parking deficiency by one space.
Table 2 below provides an off-street parking summary of the proposed project.

Table 2: Off-Street Parking
 
  Building Size Parking Required Parking Provided
Existing 29,505 SF 118 spaces
(29,505 / 250)
109 spaces
Addition 1,350 SF 6 spaces
(1,350 / 250)
7 spaces
Total 30,855 SF 124 spaces 116 spaces
124 spaces required minus 116 spaces provided = 8 spaces short

Use

Section 20.252.020 of the BCC allows administrative and professional offices as a permitted use in the M-1 zone subject to a CUP.  The proposed project would continue using the building, including the new floor area, for administrative and office-related activities.  The proposed expansion represents an increase of less than five percent (5%) over the existing building floor area.  All business activities are conducted entirely indoors, and during normal office hours of 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.  Therefore, the continued use of the building for an administrative office would be an appropriate use of the site and would not adversely affect any of the surrounding uses. 

Plan Review
All proposed development in the M-1 zone requires a Plan Review subject to the approval of the Community Development Director (Director), as described in Section 20.252.050 of the BCC. Since this project includes a CUP request subject to review and consideration by the Planning Commission, the Director is deferring reviewing authority to the Planning Commission.  Proposed exterior modifications include new walls, windows, and roof that would match the existing colors and materials of the building while maintaining a uniform wall plane.  This is further supported by Condition B of the draft conditions of approval, provided as Attachment B to this report, which requires exterior finishes to match those of the existing building.  Therefore, the proposed exterior improvements would not result in any adverse impacts to the surrounding area because: 1) all exterior improvements would complement the existing building, 2) the project would not increase the height of the building, and 3) all business activities would be conducted indoors.  Figure 5 below highlights the proposed project incorporated into the existing building elevation.


PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENTS

This project was noticed in accordance with the City’s public noticing requirements, which involved mailed notices and publication in the local paper. The public hearing notice for this project is provided as Attachment E. As of the writing of this report, staff has not received any public correspondence.

CONCLUSION

Based on the information provided in the application and through the analysis presented in this report, staff recommends that the project be approved. The project, as designed and conditioned in Attachment B, is suitable for the site and would not present any adverse impacts to the City as further outlined in the draft resolutions (Attachment A). Therefore, staff recommends approval of the project.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
This project has been assessed in accordance with the CEQA guidelines, and the environmental regulations of the City. Upon review, the proposed 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 qualifies for this exemption as the enclosing of the 1,350 square-foot area would be considered a negligible expansion of an existing or former use. A Notice of Exemption has been and is included as Attachment F to this report.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED
Jason Killebrew, City Planner
Prepared by: Juan Arauz, AICP, Senior Planner
  
Attachments
A. Draft Resolution
B. Draft Conditions of Approval
C. Project Plans
D. Planning Commission Resolution 86-6
E. Public Hearing Notice
F. Notice of Exemption
G. Technical Background

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