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Prospects Project on Steroids: 24 Condos Up to 48 Feet High

The following originally contained numerous spelling and punctuation errors. It has been edited for clarity:

Proposal to construct 24 town home condominiums at 801 Fassler Avenue, Pacifica (APN 022-083-020 & 030).

The purpose of a study session is to offer an opportunity for informal discussion with the Planning Commission.

Agent: Jeffrey Potts, SDG Architects, Inc., 3361 Walnut Blvd., Suite 120, Brentwood, CA 94513

Applicant: Samir Sharma, 1 Vista Montana, Apt. #3408, San Jose, CA 95134

Owner: 1106 Nevada LLC, 5730 Uplander Way, Suite 110, Culver City, CA 90230

Location: 801 Fassler Ave. (West of Sea Crest Condos) APN 022-083-020&030

Project Description: Construction of six buildings with four units each that range in size from 1,300 to 2,100 square feet, each with a two car attached garage.

General Plan: Open Space Residential and Low Density Residential

Zoning: PD with HPD Overlay

CEQA Status: Additional Environmental Review

Required Approvals: Planning Commission approval of a Development Plan, Rezoning, Specific Plan and Subdivision. Other permits may be necessary depending upon project details.

Additional Required Approvals: City Council approval of Rezoning.

Recommended Action: None

Prepared by: Kathryn Farbstein, Assistant Planner

PROJECT SUMMARY:
Background: A project called "The Prospects" was approved in 2008, which consisted of 29 condominium units with a mixture of clustered and detached dwellings, a parking garage, walking trails, and many other amenities. The Planning permits are still active until September 2, 2014. An EIR was certified for the previous project that included many green building features. 

Project Description: The subject site has been sold and the new owner is proposing a modified project. The current proposal is for 24 town home condominium dwellings with four units contained in each of the six buildings proposed. Vehicular access has changed to a loop road that provides access to the buildings, the two-car garages proposed for the buildings, and the 12 guest parking spaces.

Although the proposal is similar to the previously approved project, the layout and shape of the proposed 24 units has changed. The current design results in each of the buildings exceeding the maximum height limit of 35 feet and range in height from approximately 37 to 48 feet in height.

Existing Conditions: The site is a vacant lot of approximately 11 acres just west of the Sea Crest condominium development on the north side of Fassler Avenue and approximately 0.3 miles east of Highway 1. Major protions of the property are steeply sloped with a ridgeline (although the ridgeline is not identified as a prominent ridgeline in the General Plan) extending across most of the site, and it appears that no development other than quarrying has taken place on the site. Unobstructed views of the ocean exist all along the subject site.

Zoning, General Plan and Surrounding Land Use: Staff calculated 7.47 acres of the site to be designated as Open Space Residential, which requires more than 5 acres per site for each dwelling, yielding a density of 1 unit. The Low Density Residential portion of the site is 3.69 acres, which allows a density of 3-9 units per acre for a maximum density of 33 units for that portion of the site. Thus, the total maximum number of units allowed for the overall site is 34 units. It should be noted that the Transfer of Residential Density was approved for the previous project and still applies now, which allows for the 24 units as proposed for the portion of the parcel with the General Plan designation of Open Space Residential.

To the east of the site is the Sea Crest project, which features 46 two- and three-bedroom townhouse (condominium) units in eight dwelling groups. The remaining area surrounding the subject site is vacant land with a General Plan designation of Open Space Residential and zoned P-D with an HPD Overlay.

Municipal Code and Regulatory Standards: The zoning of the site is P-D (Planned Development) with an HPD (Hillside Preservation District) Overlay. Thus, a rezoning to P-D with a Development Plan would be necessary for any project on this site. The HPD Overlay limits the square footage of the lot that can be disturbed, including construction of buildings, access roads, paths, and landscaping.

Comments from Other City Staff and Outside Agencies: Staff obtained preliminary comments from the Engineering Division. Engineering requested additional information such as an updated traffic study, an updated title report and the Complete Streets Policy compliance. The Building Division commented that 10% of the units in each building must be handicapped accessible, one van accessible guest parking stall with accessible path to all the buildings is needed and all community areas must be made accessible. The Fire Marshal stated that the project must comply with various fire code sections and those comments have been forwarded to the applicant. The North Coast County Water District (NCCWD) commented that a water main extension and Water Service Agreement are necessary and more information can be obtained from NCCWD.

Environmental Review: Due to the location and size of the project, it is possible or likely that additional environmental review would be required. More detailed analysis would be completed upon submittal of a formal application. Potential environmental issues include aesthetics (visual impact), traffic, access, geology, and biology. One area of particular concern and in need of further study is access to and from Fassler Avenue, a road that carries a tremendous amount of traffic traveling at rapid speeds, especialy moving westward down the hill.

Staff Analysis: Since the plans are conceptual, staff is unable to determine if all the same amenities for the previously approved project such as pathways, community room and the plaza have been included in the new project. But due to the fact that the proposed project exceeds the height limit, the buildings proposed have a new design and the access road has a different configuration, staff believes that this should be considered as a significant modification because of the substantial changes proposed by the current applicant.

Specifically, staff requests that the Commission comment on the following: Would the Commission support the buildings as designed, which exceed the height limit? Is the Commission generally supportive of the proposal? Are there any other areas of concern the Commission would like to address?

The following are not posted on the city website:
a. Land Use and Zoning Exhibit
b. Plans (Planning Commission only)

Riptide commentary: The former project was called Prospects. The original owner/developer Rick Lee sold the property. The new owners are bringing forth a project they say is the same project approved as Prospects, but there are significant changes. The new project calls for 24 condos (six 4-unit buildings) instead of single-family homes. They are asking for a variance on the height limits of 3 to 13 feet. This means the buildings will be 38 to 48 feet high, rather than the low-profile project previously approved. Plans can be viewed at the Planning Department.

Comments

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I think RBravo has this potential project confused with the Harmony@1 project (which has started the clearing & grading). I thought it was a pretty funny post, kind of alarmist but with tongue in cheek. Maybe not?

I think the project mentioned is the Harmony@1 road being cut into the hillside on the Roberts Road side of Fasslar.

@ Bob Hutchinson: We may be lagging behind in street gangs as well. There are communities better suited to adding population than Pacifica. We really can't be all things to all people. I should also point out that the carpetbaggers have never been rushing to Pacifica so that they could build housing that "the little people" you speak of can afford. It is all McMansions and luxury condos. My father has been watching a large housing development coming up near Lake Merced. They were required to include some "affordable housing" so there are a couple of units that only cost one million dollars. Pacifica needs business, light industry. Bedroom community is not and never was an industry. Yes, there are property taxes, but it is unusual that the city's share of the property taxes greatly exceeds the added costs to the city for police, fire, road maintenance, etc.

Does anyone know anything about this Prospects development that RBravo has commented on?

RBravo, Almost every other city in the Bay Area has added population in the past 30 years. Pacifica has added virtually none. What if every city thought like Pacifica? Imagine the cost of housing? Don't we want affordable housing for our brothers & sisters? I thought we cared about the little people here on Riptide?

OMG...the construction has started! How horrible! They have destroyed the whole natural landscape! And it'll get even worse once the project is done. Pacifica used to be a pleasant place to live. But in the past years the traffic has become a nightmare...UNBEARABLE! And the City continues to allow new construction...what's up with that? Urrrrrrgggg!!!!

The previous owner/developer gave up because a City Council member told him to go speak to Nancy Hall first.

The original project used a member of the National Green Building Alliance as a consultant, and the previous owner had hired that person to help ensure the project would be a green Gold Standard project. This new proposal is literally the opposite of that.

Keeping in mind that the new owner has a right to PROPOSE anything he/she wishes for that site, we the people also have the right to refuse, through the planning process, anything we see as detrimental to our community.

Unless we are to be overrun by these types of proposals, we do need to get out and engage.

Why -- in the name of good government -- do we continue to allow "height variances"? The height cap was put in place for a reason, and yet everyone and their brother wants to exceed it. In addition, this project will "add" an additional 60 to 70 vehicles [approximately 2.1 vehicles per household, including motorcycles] dumping onto Fassler, when this specific street is one of the most dangerous streets in the county. I challenge anyone to plant themselves at the corner of Copeland and Fassler between 0715 and 0915 and again between 1430 and 1800 and tell all of us how many vehicles actually traveled the speed limit posted [outside of the backup early in the morning]. This project needs to be reduced by half to even get considered, I think. Tell the Planning Commission and the City Council to vote "No" on this plan. It is dangerous and does not meet the "spirit of the city" as it relates to the height limit.

Thanks for posting this. It is not on the city website -- how did you find out about it?

(Editor's Note: Riptide has eyes and ears everywhere. We are grateful to all our news sources for keeping the community informed.)

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