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FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: FEBRUARY 20, 2007
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF THE PENALTY FEES RELATED TO AN AFTER-THE-FACT LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM EXCEPTION PERMIT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW TO REBUILD A RESIDENCE AT 31 NARCISSA DRIVE (JOE BADAME & MARTHA DE LA TORRE)
Grant the requested penalty fee waiver in the amount of $1,958.00.
As directed by the City Council, the applicant has submitted an application for an after-the-fact Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit and Site Plan Review application to allow the reconstruction of a home where more than 50% of the pre-existing residence was demolished due to structural damage. The applicant recently paid penalty fees to legalize the demolition and reconstruction of a new residence in the Landslide Moratorium Area, and has asked for the penalty fees to be waived for this revised proposal on the basis of financial hardship. Staff believes that the request is warranted and should be granted.
The Applicant’s property at 31 Narcissa Drive is located in the City’s Landslide Moratorium area and since 2005 the Applicants have submitted a multiplicity of applications associated with renovating the pre-existing residence. Staff has itemized the following history of the Applicant’s previous project submittals in chronological order to understand the relevance to the Applicant’s present project, which is the subject of the fee waiver.
- March 5, 2005: A Planning Clearance was issued for a foundation repair for the existing residence and detached garage. The foundation repair included 13 caissons up to 20 feet in depth and a maximum of 80 cubic yards of grading (cut) total for the property.
- July 14, 2005: The applicant submitted a letter to the City stating that the foundation repair was limited to the following: 1) raising the house in order to install the foundation and caissons, 2) demolish and replace the existing foundation, 3) demolish the existing masonry fireplaces and brick veneers and replace and repair associated surroundings, and 4) general cosmetic repair appurtenant to the foundation fix.
- August 26, 2005: Building Permit issued for the repair of the existing foundation, including the construction of 13 caissons.
- March 27, 2006: The applicant submitted an application for a Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit (Case No. ZON2006-00186) requesting approval to submit plans to the Planning Department for a 596 sq. ft. addition to the existing residence and a 137 sq. ft. addition to the existing garage
- April 3, 2006: Staff deemed the Landslide Moratorium Exception permit (Case No. ZON2006-00186) incomplete for processing due to missing information on the project plans and geology that was not yet approved.
- April 18, 2006: The City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 439U which extended the temporary moratorium on the issuing of any permits for the construction of additions or new structures in the Blue Area and expanded the temporary moratorium to apply to additions to existing homes in the Red Area. The applicant’s request for a Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit (Case No. ZON2006-00186) fell under this urgency ordinance, and was subsequently put on hold until the moratorium is lifted.
- June 16, 2006: A Planning Clearance was issued for 2 skylights on the existing roof and an interior remodel. According to the Applicant’s submitted plans, 30% of the existing structure was to be demolished and remodeled with the demolition of 77 interior linear feet of existing walls and the addition of 51 interior linear feet of new walls. The remodel project was approved with a condition that stated “At least 50% of the existing interior and exterior walls or existing square footage of the structure shall be retained by the approved project”.
- December 2006: In December 2006 it was brought to Staff’s attention by the plaintiff’s attorney in “The City of Rancho Palos Verdes vs. Monks et al” lawsuit that it appeared that a new house was being constructed at the subject property.
- January 2007: Upon investigation, Staff determined that the Applicant removed and replaced more than 50% of the interior and exterior walls of the pre-existing structure, thereby exceeding the scope of the June 16, 2006 remodel approval and constituting a new residence that per the City’s Development Code requires a separate Moratorium Exception Permit, and a separate planning approval, including a Neighborhood Compatibility Analysis.
- January 23, 2007: Applicant submitted after-the-fact Site Plan Review and Landslide Moratorium Exception permit applications (Case No. ZON2007-00033) to request after-the-fact approval to reconstruct the pre-existing residence with the same square footage in the same general location, due to structural damage.
- January 29, 2007: Staff deemed the Site Plan Review and Landslide Moratorium Exception permit incomplete, via email, due to a non-conforming garage size labeled on the project plans, the need to pay all applicable planning permit fees and the need to pay penalty fees to legalize the non-permitted demolition and rebuild of the pre-existing residence.
- February 1, 2007: The applicant paid a total of $1,958 in application fees for the Site Plan Review and Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit applications as well as the Neighborhood Compatibility Analysis. The applicant also submitted a request to the City Council to waive the penalty fees ($1,958) associated with their rebuild permits due to continuous expenses incurred since March 2005.
Pursuant to Section 17.78.010(B) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code (RPVDC), the City Council may grant a request to waive the fees associated with a development application if it finds that:
1. The applicant or the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed by the applicant is a nonprofit corporation registered with the State of California; or
2. The use or activity proposed or the activities of the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed are charitable, educational or otherwise provide a substantial benefit to the public; or
3. The applicant has demonstrated a financial hardship, as determined by the City Council, on a case-by-case basis.
As discussed in the applicant’s letter (attached), Mr. Badame feels he has incurred a substantial amount of unanticipated expenses related to improving his property at 31 Narcissa Drive due to the adoption of the temporary Landslide Moratorium on the Blue and Red areas within the Moratorium Area. Specifically, Mr. Badame has been paying for his family’s temporary housing while paying for his mortgage at 31 Narcissa for a much longer period of time than he anticipated due to the continued extension of the temporary Moratorium. He has also stated that he has paid approximately $30,000 to lift their pre-existing residence so that their foundation could be repaired while preserving as much as the original house as possible. Ultimately, the applicant feels that the penalty fees would add to the financial hardship that they’re already experiencing given the history behind their attempt to remodel their property. Staff believes that the Applicant has demonstrated a financial hardship and, thus, the requested wavier should be granted.
The approval of the requested fee waiver will result in the City foregoing the $1,958.00 penalty fees that would otherwise be required for after-the-fact Planning approval. However, even with the waiver of the penalty fees, the City’s costs associated with the processing of the Site Plan Review with Neighborhood Compatibility and the Landslide Moratorium Exception permit for the demolition and reconstruction of more than 50% of the pre-existing residence due to “hazard” will be offset by the $1,958.00 permit application fees, for which the applicant has paid and is not requesting be waived.
Staff believes that the applicant’s request for a waiver of the penalty fees associated with the Site Plan Review with Neighborhood Compatibility Analysis and the Landslide Moratorium Exception permit to legalize the reconstruction of more than 50% of the pre-existing residence with the same square footage in the same general location due to “hazard” (Planning Case No. ZON2007-00033) is warranted, based upon the required findings under RPVDC Section 17.78.010(B). Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council grant the applicant’s request.
In addition to Staff’s recommendation, the alternatives available for the City Council’s consideration include:
1. Deny the requested waiver of the penalty fee.
2. Grant a reduction in the penalty fee, in an amount to be determined by the City Council.
3. Grant a waiver and/or reduction of both the application and penalty fees.
Joel Rojas, AICP,
Paul D. Bussey,
Fee waiver request