September 7, 2006

Council Approves Hays Street Project WIth Conditions; Decision on Monster House Delayed

All members of the City Council were present for the first meeting after the August recess on September 5, 2006. Mayor Shelia Young started the meeting by changing the order of the public hearings. The two public hearings were to discuss a development at 1537 Hays Street and construction of a 10,679 square-foot house at 2888 Darius Way.

The Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) approved PLN2005-00063, a Major View Preservation/Site Plan Review and Height Exception on July 20, 2006, by a vote of five to 2. The exception was for a planned house at property owned by M. Luong at 2888 Darius Way. The proposed house would have seven bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms plus a carriage house with a bedroom and bathroom. Wayland Lew has appealed the decision of the BZA and it was on the agenda for the meeting. However, the applicant (Luong) and appellant (Lew) asked for the City Council to delay hearing the appeal until October 16, 2006.

The second item began with a presentation by city staff about a plan by David Langon of Langon Homes to construct six single-family homes at 1537 Hays Street, where currently there is one house. The presentation noted that the project was actually for fewer houses (6) than is permitted by its current zoning (8). As a result of objections by neighbors residing at the Garden Terrace condominiums adjacent to the property, the the developer agreed to increase the setback from the property from 10 to 12.5 feet, install trellises to screen the view of a portion of the backyards of the houses, install frosted glass on the bedroom windows, install an arbor at the entrance to the development, and reimburse Garden Terrace for cleaning of the north wall and windows after construction is completed. The staff recommended that the project be approved.

David Langon, the developer, said that he was "surprised by the opposition" and that he "had many meetings with" residents of the Garden Terrace Condominiums. He told the City Council that he was trying to get the house certified as "green" and would recycle and re-use as much of the existing home as possible.

During public comments on the public hearing for the Hays Street project, numerous residents of Garden Terrace Condominiums spoke out against the proposed development. Virginia Eldridge claimed that city codes were violated because the sunlight and view of the Garden Terrace owners was not being respected and because the city did not work closely with the neighboring residents. Kathy Goodall asked for the setback to increased to 15 feet, a review of the landscape design, and an extension so that these concerns can be addressed. Lester Williams was visibly upset as he complained that it was wrong that he had to come to the City Council to defend his property. Garden Terrace Condominium Association President Melinda Jackson echoed the concerns of the other residents.

Bob and Kathy Sosa, residents of a house on Juana Avenue, expressed concern that the entire block might end up as multi-residential housing, stating that "this project will not be the end of it." Toni Mobley, a member of the San Leandro Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Strategy Citizen Advisory Committee, asked the City Council whether any of the units would be designated as affordable housing and expressed compassion for those residents facing a loss of sunlight because of the new development.

In his rebuttal to the opponents of the project, Langon noted that the opponents were living in higher density housing and that the project is a "compromise from what could be built there."

Vice Mayor Surlene Grant requested that construction be prohibited on Saturday and Sunday, that rodent control is adequate during construction, and that the requirement for frosted glass be part of a CCNR or deed restriction to ensure that residents cannot replace the windows with non-frosted glass.

Council Member Glenda Nardine expressed concern about the loss of sunlight and said that she wanted a homeowner association to be a condition for the project.

Council Member Joyce Starosciak also asked about whether the project included affordable housing and Hansom Hom, the Community Development Director for San Leandro, responded that the property was subject to inclusionary zoning and affordable housing units were not required. However, the development would be subject to an inclusionary housing fee that would go into a fund to assist affordable housing projects. Starosciak was concerned about how maintenance of the arbor and other common areas would be enforced. When city staff pointed out that the owners would be responsible for enforcing their maintenance of the property, Starosciak called for a homeowners association or some other method of enforcement that did not rely upon the city to enforce maintenance and upkeep of the common areas of the development.

Council Member OB Badger subsequently motioned to approve the project subject to restrictions that prohibited construction on Sunday, and after a brief discussion, limited construction to between the hours of 10am and 4pm on Saturday. Other restrictions included the maintenance of the common areas by a homeowner association or equivalent, further review of landscaping plans, and the use of only frosted glass on bedroom windows. After unanimous approval of the motion, Mayor Young thanked developer Dave Langon for attempting to build housing that is certified "green."

During the open public comments, Ray Diaz expressed dismay that howeowners that rent their houses are required to have a city business license and that he could be subject to paying the business license retroactively for up to three years.

Former San Leandro Mayor John Faria expressed dismay at the recent article in the Daily Review, which caused him to call City Manager John Jermanis and City Council Members Tony Santos and OB Badger. He asked why the Jane McCrea, the city's Public Information Officer, wasn't aware of the work that was done in the 1980s about the potential for flooding caused by a failure of the earthen dam at Lake Chabot. He recalled that they knew that a failure of the dam would result in four feet of water at City Hall within 30 minutes and 15 feet of water at Bancroft within 15 minutes.

Harold Perez thanked City Council member Santos for helping to get rid of some junk cars on his street and then moved on to complain about the pit bulls at his neighbor's house. He also complained that Anthony Batarse, Jr. [President and Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd A. Wise Inc.] had claimed that his family needed to move into some houses he owned and then turned around and sold the houses.

Lester Williams took the opportunity to again oppose the Hays Street development and said that the owners of condos adversely impacted by the project should be compensated.

City Manager Jermanis responded that blanket notifications were sent out about the business license requirement, but indicated that there could be some flexibility in whether business license fees would be collected retroactively. He also noted that the business licensee fee for homeowners that rented their home was $42 per year. He also stated that the City should do more to get out the word about its emergency plan and information about the potential for flooding caused by the failure of the Lake Chabot Dam. He said that the city has talked to EBMUD, which has assured the City that the earthen dam is in little danger of collapse during an earthquake. As he has done in the past, Jermanis encouraged Mr. Diaz to continue contacting the police and animal control about his neighbor's pit bulls and noted that every time the police respond, the dogs appear to be back in the owner's yard.

Council members Starosciak and Nardine and Mayor Young reported that they attended the California Association of Sanitation Agencies conference held in Monterey August 9-12, 2006.

Council member Nardine also reported that she attended the August transit-oriented development meeting at Bayfair, but provided no details of the meeting. She also stated that businesses seem to be disappearing in the Alvarado and Teagarden area and would like the Business Development Committee to report back to the Council on this.

After Nardine mentioned a fallen fence on Alvarado, Starosciak also noted a fallen fence on Lewelling. City staff reported that they were aware of it and were working on it.

Santos said that Charles Lott had written a letter to the editor of the Daily Review asking about the 580 sound wall project. Young said that she knew about it and said that after some funding issues and delays, the project was going forward and construction would start in 2007.

Young also reported that she signed a proclamation for the anniversary of the 219th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. The meeting was adjourned in the memory of numerous people who had recently passed away.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at September 7, 2006 3:53 PM | TrackBack
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