July 22 2009





JULY 22, 2009    

7:00 P.M.


A special meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Wednesday, July 22, 2009.  The meeting was called to order by Chair Blevins at 7:01 p.m.


Commissioners Present: Chair David Blevins, Vice-Chair Ramon Avila, 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.


Others Present:                        Mayor Daniel Varela, Council Liaison Martha Nateras, Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, Maria Cortez, Luis Enrique Flores, Pedro Valencia, Salvador Navarrete, Sabin Escobedo, Victor Ramos, and others in the audience.  




The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.                     




Maria Cortez, 2114 Cardella Court, Livingston

·        Questioned why the Hunger Task Force community garden project was not on the agenda.

·        Asked if Pastor Bill Ruth was notified about the cancellation of the regular meeting on July 14, 2009.

·        Asked how citizens are notified when a meeting is cancelled.

City staff responded that she met with Pastor Bill Ruth and explained that the other item scheduled to be on the agenda on July 14, 2009, was not ready and was going to be postponed. Staff asked Pastor Ruth if it was okay to move his item to the August 11, 2009, regular meeting so that the City Attorney would not have to come down and, therefore, save the City a substantial amount of money. Pastor Ruth indicated to staff that as he was not prepared to do any planting yet, he would be more than happy to save the City some money and be on the agenda in August. 

City staff explained the process for notification of meeting cancellations: Staff posts a notice on the City Hall bulletin board and on Channel 2. In addition, cancellation notices are mailed or e-mailed to all agenda recipients and any citizens who were scheduled to be on the agenda.

Luis Enrique Flores, 707 Almondwood, Livingston

·        Questioned where the City’s counsel for this meeting was.

Staff responded he was not in attendance at this meeting.



The Pacific Companies has applied for a Site Plan/Design Review, a Conditional Use Permit and a Development Agreement for 49 affordable apartment units and a community center to be located on a 4-acre parcel (APN 047-310-028) just south of Peach Avenue on the west side of Lincoln Boulevard.

Community Development Director Kenney explained that this item was originally scheduled for the regular meeting of July 14, 2009, and then postponed to tonight’s special meeting. However, since negotiations are still not finalized with the Developer on the Development Agreement, this item was removed from the agenda. 


The two items under consideration for this Temporary Conditional Use Permit for the Neighborhood Church located at 1329 F Street are: 1) The congregation wishes to meet outdoors under a large tarp structure, and 2.) Youth within the church wish to operate a small garden stand on the site several days per week.

Staff presented the staff report and explained that a large tarp-like structure was installed recently by the Neighborhood Church and City staff noticed that there was no building permit taken out. For safety reasons, both the Fire Department and the Building Department normally review and inspect tarps and tents. Therefore, City staff contacted the church and had them come in and pull an application for a Temporary Conditional Use Permit.

Additionally, Staff explained that the City Council recently adopted an ordinance amendment that prohibited prefabricated tarp structures. Staff reviewed the materials and decided that during those ordinance discussions, City Council and Planning Commission were focusing on the carport-type prefabricated tarp structures and not on the larger commercial‑type structures; therefore, Staff thought it would be best to have the Planning Commission determine what the intent of that part of the ordinance was. Does it apply to just the smaller carport structures or does it also apply to commercial structures? In addition, the Building Department noticed that the tarp structure extended all the way to the rear fence of the lot. In the event of a thunder storm, rain would not fall on the parcel and naturally drain to Main Street as it is intended to do so, but because of the tarp extending all the way to the rear fence, it would change the direction of the rain water to the parcel behind. This is not permitted by City Code; therefore, if the Planning Commission were to make a decision that the ordinance prohibiting tarps does not apply to this tarp, staff would ask that at least the rear three feet of the tarp be removed from the fence in order to accommodate possible drainage to the street.

Staff is requesting that the Planning Commission make a determination on whether or not the tarp should be considered as with the carport-type structures and be prohibited or if it should be considered a commercial-type structure and a Temporary Conditional Use Permit be granted.

During talks with Mr. Valencia, he also indicated that the youth in his congregation are having a difficult time finding part time jobs this summer, so in an attempt to help them out, he would like to also have a small vegetable stand at the church so that the youth could sell fruit and vegetables and make some pocket money and stay off the streets.

Pastor Pedro Valencia, the project applicant, was present to answer questions.

Chair Blevins opened the public hearing at 7:12 p.m.

Pastor Pedro Valencia, Neighborhood Church, 1329 F Street, stated that this tarp is like a screen, so the sun, wind, and water go right through it. The water will not go to the street or to the fence. He explained that they use the tarp for special occasions and also to shade their cars. He explained that several men worked together all day on a Saturday to put up the tarp. Six 4’ x 8’ metal poles are holding up the tarp, so it is very strong. It is not in anybody’s way and the grass stays greener under the tarp and does not need much water.

Salvador Navarrete, Atwater, thanked staff for working with Pastor Valencia and spoke in favor of this Temporary Conditional Use Permit. He said this tarp and the desired vegetable stand address the issues that he thinks are important to this community. The vegetable stand not only provides youth something to do in the summer, but it provides the congregation the ability to unite and meet with the youth. He stated that he joined Pastor Valencia’s church and the youth group when he was 14 years old and because of these types of activities made available to them, he and other members of the youth group were able to stay focused on school and succeed in their careers (he is currently the City Attorney for Atwater and Lathrop). They are now trying to support the second generation of youth kids. They see a need to keep them entertained and focused on doing things that are beneficial to the community.

Mr. Navarrete asked that since the structure was made to stay up, the Planning Commission consider allowing them to keep it up permanently. They can have it reviewed on a 3- or 4-month basis to make sure the tarp is still safe and in good condition. The church has no problem moving the tarp away from the neighboring fence and having it inspected by the Fire and Building Departments.

Sabin Escobedo, Escobedo Income Tax Service, 242 Livingston-Cressey Road, stated that he is a member of this church and is in favor of this project. He explained that the tarp in the back of the property is separate from the large tarp that goes out to Main Street. As for the need for the tarp, he explained that the church is going to start summer school in one or two weeks and the children have no other place to hold their activities. The tarp serves as a shield from the sun and also as a carport. It is not for profit and it is not for commercial use. It’s for the children that they are trying to keep away from the streets. He added that the church is trying to purchase land to build a larger building, but in the meantime, they need this tarp.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston stated the Planning Commission is being asked to approve a Temporary Conditional Use Permit. The key is the word, “Conditional.” It seems to her that these people have the sincere desire to work for the youth of this community and are willing to work with the City to make it happen. She thinks their hearts are in the right place and they are looking for a win-win solution. The tarp is there for the right reason. She added that she has been to many meetings on this carport issue over the last couple years and she does not remember hearing any discussion about the particular type of use that this church has in mind and she thinks that there needs to be a way to accommodate this group so they can do what they want to do for the youth of this community. It is conditional, so the Planning Commission can always bring it back for review.

Victor Ramos, 1248 Hammatt Avenue, Livingston, said he is a summer school teacher at the church. He thinks that the tarp will allow them to do more activities and will attract the youth that are not currently attending the church. He questioned if it would be possible to block Main Street or detour around it so that traffic is not stopped by spectators they get when they are doing their activities under the tarp.

Mr. Ramos added that they are just trying to serve the community. They have nothing but good intentions. They want their youth group to make some money, not only for themselves, but also to give back to the community.

City Staff explained that the blocking of Main Street or F Street would be handled underneath a permit obtained from the Police Chief.

Daniel Varela, 752 Maple Avenue, Livingston, stated that he had met with Esther Valencia from the church two weeks ago and talked about their plans, and on several occasions, he has driven by the church and seen their activities. He reiterated their community support for providing an outlet for people to raise some funds for camps and similar activities. Growing up, he remembers the Pastor of his church would always have fundraisers and car washes to raise money for church functions, so he is very supportive of this and would like the Planning Commission to consider approving this Temporary Conditional Use Permit. This is something proactive to the community; it is positive and good; and any time a church wants to get involved and create an atmosphere that is supportive of the community and create an outlet for kids to get involved, he will highly support it.

Chair Blevins closed the public hearing at 7:29 p.m.

Commissioners’ Comments:


No comments.


·        Commends the church for what they are doing. She knows how hard it is for the church to get enough money to do everything they want to do. She is glad to hear that they are going to have a vacation bible school. That would be pretty hard to do in 105 degree temperature.

·        Asked Pastor Valencia how long the tarp has been there.

Mr. Valencia responded the tarp has been there for approximately one month and added that for the last three or four years, they have had a tarp there, but only for about one week.

·        Asked if there is still space in the back of the church for them to utilize when there are cars parked under the tarp.

Mr. Valencia said that when they have activities under the tarp, they don’t park there.

·        Questioned if there is a driveway off of Main Street for the cars to drive onto the lot.

Mr. Valencia responded that there is a driveway there, so they will not be driving up on the curb.

·        Questioned if they will be selling the vegetables on the street or under the tarp.

Mr. Valencia responded that it is only going to be one table with fruit and produce that he grows and it will be located under the tarp.

·        Asked for clarification on the setbacks.

Staff explained setback requirements.


·        He is supportive of this project. He agrees with staff’s recommendation to allow the tarp from July to September and then the Planning Commission can review it.

Staff noted that when she drafted this resolution, she recommended that the tarp be removed by September, but she later thought the applicant may want to consider keeping it up until the end of October because the City has its street fair every Thursday night in October and maybe they have activities planned to coincide with the street fair.

·        Thinks one table will not be sufficient and suggested they use three tables instead so that they can display more product.


·        Thinks that what the church is doing with the youth is great, but the Planning Commission has to follow the City Code as well.

·        Questioned how close they are to building a new structure.

Mr. Valencia responded they cannot build there because they cannot provide sufficient parking. They would have to buy the neighbors’ land (which they are considering doing) in order to build another structure there.

·        Wonders what the Planning Commission will be looking at if they make an exception at this time and they want to review it in six months.

·        Asked if they have considered other options if they cannot purchase the neighboring lots.

Mr. Valencia responded they would consider buying land close to Livingston.

·        Questioned how often they use the tarp.

Pastor Valencia responded that last year they put up a tarp two times, but strong winds tore it up, so they removed it and they didn’t put one up again until they decided to buy one that would last. He added that the main purpose for the tarp is to have space for the people because people going into the church can only go upstairs or downstairs. This church is very old. It was opened in 1942 and it does not have handicap access. If they have someone is in a wheel chair, they have to be carried up. He added that church services are not held outside, only special events such as groups singing or food distribution.

Staff clarified that Mr. Valencia has been putting up tarps over the last three years, but this particular tarp was purchased around the same time the City passed the carport ordinance and has not been erected before now.

·        Asked how many events they will hold per month.

Mr. Valencia responded maybe one or two.

·        Asked when will they be supplying the fruit.

Mr. Valencia responded only three months out of the year when he has fruits and produce.

·        Questioned if the kids help him grow the fruits and vegetables.

Mr. Valencia responded that they do not because it is against the law to have kids work in the field. He has adult workers that grow and pick the fruits and vegetables. He donates them to the church – 50% of the proceeds go to the church and the other 50% go to him to help him with the expenses. He added that the kids do not keep all the proceeds. They give some back to the church. This is how they raise funds for camps and church functions. They also have some car washes.


·        Asked Mr. Valencia how long he expects to leave the tarp up.

Mr. Valencia responded that in the past, he never kept a tarp up for more than two weeks because the wind would tear it apart or would break the ropes. He would normally put up 20 poles around the lot to hold the tarp in place and this time he only put up six poles and the tarp and poles are a lot stronger. He added that their idea when they decided to purchase this tarp was to keep it up permanently. If they have to take it down, it will be expensive to put it up again because they need to use a forklift and they have to pay for the labor.

·        Asked Mr. Valencia if he knows the neighbors on the other side of the church and questioned if they have a problem with the tarp.

Mr. Valencia responded that their neighbors have never said anything to him.

·        Thinks that this permit should be valid for the rest of 2009, and not just for two to three months. At the end of the year, it can be re-evaluated to make sure they don’t have any problems.  If the neighbors don’t have a problem, he doesn’t think the City should have a problem either. He agrees with doing a fire inspection to avoid a fire hazard.

·        He understands how expensive it is to put up a structure like this tarp and he thinks the City and the community should work together to resolve any problems. He, too, helps out with projects at his church and they sometimes run into problems that can be worked out if everyone works together.

·        He noticed a trailer in the back and questioned how close it was to the fence.

Mr. Valencia responded they do have a trailer there, but they are going to move it. He added that it is about six feet away from the fence, so there is plenty of room to drive in and out of there.

·        He supports this project and thinks we need more of this to educate our youth.

Chair Blevins

·        Asked Staff if neighbors in the back of the church were notified about this meeting and if Staff received any comments.

Staff responded that all properties within 300 feet of the site were notified by mail and that staff received no comment letter or phone calls on this project.

·        Asked how old are the kids that are going to be working the stand.

Mr. Valencia responded they are high school age.

·        He would like to review this at the end of the year to make sure things are going well.

Following the discussion, it was moved by Commissioner Greeley, and seconded by Vice-Chair Avila, to adopt Resolution 2009‑07, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Finding Approval of Temporary Conditional Use Permit 2009-01 for the Neighborhood Church. The Planning Commission accepts this tarp as installed and they can keep it up for the rest of the year 2009. The Planning Commission will review this Temporary Conditional Use Permit at the end of the year. In addition, the vegetable stand shall consist of 1-3 tables. Motion carried 5-0, by the following vote:

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

NOES:        None

ABSENT:   None

City Staff explained to the applicant that this Temporary Conditional Use Permit has a 10-day appeal period. After this 10-day period, Mr. Valencia can go to City Hall to pick up his Temporary Conditional Use Permit and then staff will set up an appointment for him to meet with the Building Department to get the required inspections underway.


Planning Commission


No reports.


·        Gave a brief update on the Court Theater Project. The Committee is very busy trying to raise funds for the completion of the Court Theater. The architecture part of it is already done. They are waiting on a $500,000 USDA grant that they have applied for. Court Theater Committee Project Manager Jasmin Bains is on top of things and is always checking for grants – kudos to her! The wine and cheese affair was very successful – they raised $4,000. They will have their fall tea party fundraiser in September.  They are planning a Bunko game fundraiser for next year – it has been very effective in other cities.


·        He went to look at a skate park in Madera and was impressed. If they could build something like that in Livingston, he thinks the kids will stay off the streets.


·        Coed Softball season is here.

·        Some of the trees that were planted at the Little Guys and Gals Field are dying (on both sides of the field and next to the fence alongside of “F” Street). Trees are very necessary for shade, especially in the hot summer months.

Staff will report it to Public Works.

·        Questioned what the structures installed at Arakelian Park were for.

Staff responded it is a disc golf course and explained that this nine-hole golf course was a project done by the City and the Rotary Club. The City donated the land and Rotary paid for the equipment. Staff will hold a grand opening on a Saturday in the next few weeks to give out free discs to the children and teach them how to play.


No reports.

City Staff

Community Development Director Donna Kenney

·         Besides having the grand opening for the disc golf course, the only thing left to do is to put the score sheets on the City’s website so people can print them out and take to the park with them. Staff put together a document with the rules and tips on throwing and the history of the game. There are nine holes to the golf course and then there is a practice goal that is located between the structure and the restroom. With the practice goal, there is also a game that can be played similar to “Horse” where young children can take turns on different spots and practice throwing their discs. Once staff gets this document on the City’s website, she will take copies of the score sheets to the library so they can have the information available to the public. Rotary was thinking of doing a fundraiser every spring and have a disc golf tournament to raise funds for day care center uses in the City.

Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo

·        Announced that family and friends of Esequiel and Delia Arredondo-Vargas will be holding a take-out dinner fundraiser to help them with medical expenses for their daughter Delia who suffers from epileptic seizures and liver failure. The benefit dinner is planned for August 1, 2009, from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, at the Livingston VFW Hall. Tickets are $10 each.


The special meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:02 p.m., to the next Planning Commission meeting on August 11, 2009.

APPROVED:  August 11, 2009

______________________________                 _______________________________

Chair, DAVID BLEVINS                                     Secretary of the Planning Commission,

                                                                   DONNA M. KENNEY


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