APRIL 14, 2009



APRIL 14, 2009
7:00 P.M.



The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. The meeting was called to order by Chair Avila at 7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Chair Ramon Avila, Commissioner David Blevins, Commissioner Roy Soria, Commissioner Kaye Greeley, Commissioner Leticia Soto, Alternate Commissioner Manoj Bains.

Commissioners Absent: None

Staff Present: Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, and Assistant City Attorney Melanie Donnelly.

Others Present: Sal Gonzales, Mike Torres, Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, Luis Enrique Flores, Jasmin Bains, and others in the audience.


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.




Swear In New Officers

Deputy City Clerk Donna Kenney swore in and welcomed the three incoming Commissioners and one Alternate Commissioner.


Elect New Chair and Vice-Chair


Motion by Commissioner Soria, seconded by Commissioner Greeley, to nominate Commissioner Blevins for Planning Commission Chair for 2009. Motion carried 5-0, by the following vote:

AYES: Avila, Blevins, Greeley, Soria and Soto

NOES: None


Motion by Commissioner Soria, seconded by Commissioner Greeley to nominate Commissioner Soto for Planning Commission Vice-Chair. Commissioner Soto declined the nomination and moved to nominate Commissioner Avila for Planning Commission Vice-Chair. Nomination was seconded by Commissioner Greeley. Motion carried 5-0, by the following vote:

AYES: Avila, Blevins, Greeley, Soria, and Soto

NOES: None






Motion by Vice-Chair Avila, seconded by Chair Blevins, to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of January 13, 2009. Motion carried 5-0.


Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, Livingston

· Welcomed and congratulated all the new Planning Commissioners.

· The 4’x8’ sign recently installed for the undergrounding of the canal by the high school blew over. It is sitting on Peach Avenue on the side of the canal.

Staff will report it to Public Works.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston

  • Welcomed and wished luck to all of the new members of the Planning Commission. She thinks this group of people really seem interested in working together for the good of the community.
  • She is pleased to see that an alternate Commissioner was appointed to the Planning Commission and feels that the City is moving forward thinking of ways to continue with business in the most efficient manner possible.

Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive, Livingston

  • Welcomed new Commissioners.
  • He is working with the Mexican Consulate in Fresno to have a Mobile Consulate in Livingston – they are looking at a summer date in August 2009. A large majority of the Livingston population are Mexican nationals, so he feels this will be very beneficial to the Mexican residents in Merced County.





Applicant, Sal Gonzalez, has applied for and received Administrative Permit 2009-01 to locate four tables and sixteen chairs on a private outdoor patio for his restaurant’s exclusive use. The applicant now proposes two additional outdoor tables and chairs and also proposes extending alcohol by the glass to the outdoor patio use. These two proposals require a Conditional Use Permit in the C-3 Highway Commercial zoning district.

Staff presented the staff report and recommended approval of the project. She added that the applicant is working with staff to install an ornamental fence, three umbrellas and additional landscaping to the patio. The patio seating will serve a total of twenty-four patrons.


Staff provided Commissioners with copies of a site plan showing the layout of the parking lot and stated that Commissioner Soria had asked her if it was possible to suggest that the applicant remove two of the six parking spaces located in front of the building. This would allow them to open up the patio area so that when people are sitting in the patio with the wrought iron fencing, they don’t have a car engine running just on the other side bringing in the heat and odor and blocking the view.

Staff looked at the site and did the calculations for the parking requirements and believes this is a valuable option if the applicant agrees.

Staff explained that the approval of the Site and Design Review project for the donut shop and the Escobedo Income Tax office building requires this building to have no less than 20 parking spaces and they currently have 28 spaces, so they have a few more spaces than required.

Staff presented the Planning Commission with a copy of the parking scheme that was submitted to staff in connection with the last project presented by the property owner on that parcel and it talks about Sunshine Donuts having its peak business from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. where as the La Morenita Restaurant has their peak business from Noon to 2:30 p.m., and Mr. Escobedo has his traffic mostly January through April. Staff brought this along to show that while there are two food businesses on this parcel, their peak times are different and removing those two parking spaces shouldn’t really affect the businesses.

Staff stated that alcohol by the glass has been in the existing restaurant since 1987. The applicant would have to apply to the Alcohol and Beverage Control Department (ABC) to get an extension into this new patio space, and ABC is going to want to know if the City approved a Conditional Use Permit in order for him to do that, so that is why this is also part of the Conditional Use Permit process.

The project applicant was present to answer questions.

Salvador Gonzales, La Morenita Restaurant, 242 Livingston-Cressey Road, stated he does not have a problem taking out the two parking spaces. He thinks City staff did a great job at explaining the project. The only thing that was not described is the stain with the cement. It’s going to be a terra cotta stain. It is sort of a reddish color. He also said he would like to add more plants on the street side of the patio and maybe even in the inside where the cement is going.

Chair Blevins opened the Public Hearing at 7:25 p.m.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, said he thinks the Planning Commission should not make precedence of letting somebody do something that others are not permitted to do concerning parking. He has nothing against the Morenita, but he thinks we should stay within the City Code.

Staff stated that it is up to the applicant to have or not to have those two spaces. Staff was just stating that reports have indicated that twenty parking spaces are required for this parcel and they can provide 28, so if he desires the two spaces to go away to have more patio, it would be appropriate to do so. It would meet City Code. They have sufficient parking space.

Mr. Torres said he misunderstood and didn’t think they had sufficient parking spaces, but if they do, he has no problem.

Chair Blevins closed the Public Hearing at 7:27 p.m.

Commissioners Comments:


· Asked if patio meets all the Fire Department requirements.

Staff responded that it does and added that staff also looked at the handicapped spaces on the side to insure that those spaces did not get moved and that they will still have access to the patio area without crossing the parking lot.

· Questioned how the consumption of alcohol would be monitored.

Staff responded the City doesn’t monitor the alcohol consumption, ABC does. If there are complaints about alcohol going out into the parking lot, ABC will follow up and there would be ramifications.


· Questioned if when they say, “Served by the glass,” they are limiting it to glasses only and they are not serving beer bottles or wine bottles.

Mr. Gonzales responded they would serve wine by the glass and beer in the bottles.


· Asked staff to explain the process for issuing an Administrative Permit.

Staff explained that Section 5-4-9-1 of the City Code allows staff to issue a permit administratively in the private property section if the applicant limits himself to only four tables and sixteen chairs, no outside alcohol, and no amplified music. The applicant must fill out an application and pay a $50 application fee.

· Questioned if staff notified other businesses selling alcohol about this project.

Staff responded that only adjoining properties within 300 feet of the La Morenita Restaurant had to be notified.

Staff explained that for new alcohol uses, staff has to determine whether or not they are at least 1,000 feet away from another business serving alcohol by the glass. Staff did not have to do that for La Morenita because they already have an alcohol license and they just want an extension of their permit to the outdoor area.

· Remembers that in the past, when alcohol was being served outdoors in an establishment, they needed to have some sort of patio enclosure, and that is not being required with this application.

Staff responded there is nothing in the City Code that requires that the outdoor patio be enclosed.

Vice-Chair Avila why then were they putting a wrought iron fence around it.

Staff responded the fence was recommended, but not required. Staff discussed it with the applicant and he was in favor of installing it.

· Questioned if there are any other establishments in the City that sell alcohol outdoors.

Staff responded she does not believe so.


· Stated that he suggested removing the two parking spaces so they could get the patio to look more open and more attractive and bring in more clientele to his establishment. He also thinks that a fence would be good as a safety issue.

Sal Gonzales stated he thought it would be a good idea to put up a patio fence to have a division between the parking lot and the people dining in the patio area. He added that would have no problem getting rid of the two parking spaces at the front entrance.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, stated that there should be a City resolution or ordinance requiring a five- or six-foot high enclosure area for outdoor consumption of alcoholic beverages. He remembers the Planning Commission pushing this forward very hard several years back. He asked staff to find out what happened with that.

Staff said she looked through the City Code in preparation for this item and she found nothing about that. She mentioned that there was a comprehensive update done in 2005 where chapters were moved around and, perhaps, this was taken out at that time.

Staff added that if ABC has additional conditions that City staff is not aware of; they will enforce them upon the applicant.

Following discussion, it was moved by Vice-Chair Avila, seconded by Commissioner Soto, to adopt Resolution 2009‑03, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Approving Conditional Use Permit 2009-01 for La Morenita Restaurant. Motion carried 5-0, by the following vote:

AYES: Chair Blevins, Vice-Chair Avila, and Commissioners Greeley, Soto, and Soria

NOES: None



Assistant City Attorney Melanie Donnelly conducted a training session on the Brown Act for the Planning Commissioners.

Focus Points:

How was the Brown Act Developed?

  • The Brown Act was developed as a result of a 1951 San Francisco Chronicle investigation into a bunch of secret meetings that were taking place even though the Codes all require meetings to be held open to the public.
  • The League of California Cities drafted the initial bill and it was signed into law in 1953.

Who Does the Brown Act Apply to?

  • The Brown Act applies to local agencies, legislative bodies.
  • Brown Act has penalties and ramifications for a violation. A member who violates the Brown Act is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Planning Commissioners can all attend conferences that are open to the public and social ceremonial gatherings, but the most important thing to remember at all times is that any time that there is a quorum of the Planning Commissioners (3 or more), they can never be discussing Planning business because that would be a Brown Act violation.
  • Planning Commissioners can all attend City Council Meetings and other committee meetings, but only to observe. They cannot address the City Council as the Planning Commission body unless the meeting is noticed as a Joint Meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission.

Serial Meetings

  • A Serial Meeting is basically a series of communications which are between less than a quorum of the Planning Commission, but when taken as a whole involve all. Planning Commissioners should remember that they cannot do individually what they cannot do as a group.
  • Planning Commission members should not e-mail each other as a group to discuss Planning Commission items because that could be a serial meeting.

Meeting Postings and Noticing Requirements

  • Regular meetings have to be posted 72 hours prior to the meeting and Special meetings 24 hours prior to the meeting.
  • Notices need to contain the time, date, place, and general description of item being discussed. Notice always should be made available in ADA format and also include information on how to get assistance to participate in the meeting.

Public’s Rights

  • Legislative body is permitted to limit total amount of time for public testimony per speaker.

Planning Commission




  • Commented that he has noticed many places in town are doing substantial moving and it’s looking pretty empty.




  • Welcomed and congratulated new Commissioners.
  • Notified everyone that the Planning Commission’s Council Liaison’s Nateras was not present at the meeting because her mother-in-law passed away. He expressed his condolences to the Nateras family.
  • They are starting a new coed softball season.
  • Congratulated the City for their excellent idea to put together a newsletter to provide the citizens with information about what is going on in the City.
  • Thanked past Commissioners for working with him while he was the Planning Commission Chair.
  • Questioned if the Community Center name got changed to Prusso Child Development Center.

Staff replied she was not aware of that, but she will find out.


  • Welcomed all the new faces on the Planning Commission. He looks forward to working with them all.

City Staff

· Welcomed new Planning Commissioners.

· City staff is working on several environmental documents right now including noise and archeological studies being conducted on the Blueberry Crossing piece and the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant. Other studies are also going on at Foster Farms.

· Staff will soon be handing out a Housing Element Update. Consultants are working on that trying to collect data.

· The Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) is working on the 2010 Census that is coming up. There is a lot of background work that has to be completed. Staff has been looking at maps and adding in new subdivisions and trying to get addresses together for them. They will be going out door to door checking on all the addresses before the Census actually happens.

· City staff has been very busy attending meetings trying to capture as much of the Stimulus funds as they can. Most of the projects need to be shovel ready, which means have the environmental and the drawings done.

· There will soon be an expansion at the Community Center on Prusso and ‘F’ Street. This is a Stanislaus County project. Stanislaus County is the regional leader for improving the daycare opportunities for migrant worker children and they are looking at doing a stand alone building. The addition to the Community Center parcel will accommodate 72 children. The City needs to provide at least 200 more daycare spaces in the next 15-20 years to accommodate projected population so this will be a great opportunity for the community.

City Attorney

No comments


The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:13 p.m., to the next Planning Commission meeting on May 12, 2009.

APPROVED: May 12, 2009

______________________________ _______________________________

Chair, DAVID BLEVINS Secretary of the Planning Commission,



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