Coastal Commission to Hear Ocean Blvd. Application; Staff Recommends No Vote Despite Soil Tests, Grading Reduction

posted: January 25th, 2013 05:09 am | 0No Comments

Plans for a new house at 3725 Ocean Boulevard would “significantly” alter the coastal bluff with a home that would be 459 percent bigger than the existing one, which also would be above curbside and below the homes on either side — all reasons the Coastal Commission staff is recommending denial of an application tentatively scheduled for the group’s February meeting, according to an online agenda and staff report.

The Coastal Commission staff had recommended denial of the plans in February 2012, but the applicant asked for a continuance; read our story here. The plans were on an October 2012 agenda and delayed again.

Since then, the applicant has conducted new soil tests that show stability of the bluff-side lot, as well as removed caissons and reduced the amount of grading from 2,750 cubic yards to 2,213 cubic yards. Current plans would replace a 1950s two-story home with a 6,814 square foot, three-story home with a basement, garage and elevator.

“The proposed residence would result in significant development that extends 28-feet below the finished floor of the existing residence on the bluff face,” according to a staff report included with the February meeting agenda. The bottom floor of the proposed home would daylight 24 feet further down the bluff face from the house to the north, and 11 feet further down then the home to the south, the report states. Also, although the proposed home would be lower than the existing home, the city’s certified Land Use Plan does not permit structures to extend above the top of the Ocean Boulevard curb.

In February last year, Coastal Commission staff raised concerns about the instability of the site.

“Since then, the applicant undertook additional soils testing which revealed that their prior stability analysis was wrong and that the project site is in fact stable…” the staff report states. “Otherwise, the project remains essentially the same…”

According to the staff report, the Coastal Act requires that new development assure stability, and that building on bluffs is “inherently risky.”

“While the applicant’s geologist has concluded that the project can be constructed as long as it adheres to the recommendation found in the geotechnical investigations, it still results in development taking place in a potentially hazard prone location,” the report states.

“As proposed, the project would result in adverse visual impacts, be inconsistent with the character of the surrounding area and would have cumulative adverse impacts because of the proposed significant landform alteration and inconsistency with the PLOED (prominent line of existing development,” the report states.

The staff report notes that the new home would be 459 percent larger than the existing home, and staff suggests that alternatives exist, including remodeling or reconstructing the existing home “so that it is consistent with the character of the surrounding area.”

The home passed through the Newport Beach Planning Commission unanimously in May 2011, when many neighbors spoke in support of the project that would replace a 1950s home that was described as a blight on the area. The commissioners agreed to variances that would allow the home to exceed the curb height by 1 foot, 9 inches at the northerly corner and 3 feet 10 inches at the southerly corner and to exceed height restrictions that would not be have any view impact because they are on the hillside. At that meeting, the homeowner, Dr. Desmond Fischer, said he owned the property since 1991 and was eager to replace the current dilapidated home.

The meeting also will include a hearing on a proposed dock for the AERIE condominium project, which Coastal Commission staff is recommending for approval with conditions. The item was postponed from November; read our earlier story here, and click here to read the staff report.

The Feb. 6 Coastal Commission meeting will take place at the Redondo Beach Civic Center at 415 Diamond Street in Redondo Beach. The public may attend and make comments, and the meeting will be streamed live on the Coastal Commission website.

Read our earlier stories here and here.

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