LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING AGENDA
MAY 11, 2010
The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. The meeting was called to order by Chair Soria at 7:01 p.m.
Commissioners Present: Chair Roy Soria, Vice‑Chair Kaye Greeley, Commissioner Luis Enrique Flores, Commissioner Alex Gonzalez, Commissioner Hugo Salgado, and Alternate Commissioner Manoj Bains.
Commissioners Absent: None
Staff Present: Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, Chief of Police Douglas Dunford, and Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Massey.
Others Present: Katherine Schell-Rodriguez; Theresa Land; John Alexander, Livingston Medical Group; and others in the audience.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
ACTION MINUTES FROM REGULAR MEETING OF APRIL 13, 2010
Commissioner Flores stated that during the discussion of Site Plan/Design Review 2010-03 for Open Range Communications, he asked if the applicant knew the current CEO of Open Range Communications, and this question was not noted on the minutes (page 7). He wants it to be on record that he asked this question.
Motion by Commissioner Greeley, seconded by Commissioner Gonzalez, to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of April 13, 2010, as amended. Motion carried 5-0.
Members of the Audience
ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT 2010-01 – LIVINGSTON MEDICAL GROUP
Livingston Medical Group (LMG) located at 1140 Main Street recently received Federal Stimulus Funding to expand their over crowded conference room and office space. As the Planning Department began its review process on their application for expansion, staff found LMG is in a Public/Quasi-Public Facilities (PF) zoning district and “Medical Offices” is not a permitted or conditional use in that zoning district; therefore, staff determined it is a nonconforming use that cannot be expanded per Municipal Code; therefore, a Zoning Ordinance Amendment would be required.
Community Development Director Kenney noted that this item was originally advertised as a Zoning Ordinance Amendment, Site Plan/Design Review, and a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), but since that time, LMG decided to not come forward with the proposed addition, but possibly move forward on their bigger plans to build their medical facility on the big parcel on Sixth Street (between F and Park Streets) in front of Campus Park School. That big parcel is also zoned PF (just like the parcel that they are currently on), so while they are not anticipating moving forward with the addition to their building, if they do move forward to work on a new project on the other parcel, the zoning ordinance does need to be amended so they can do that project. Therefore, City staff determined to bring forward the Zoning Ordinance Amendment first for recommendation to City Council and then to come back if the Site/Design Review and CUP were requested by the applicant.
Director Kenney explained that PF zoning districts have very few regulations and setbacks because that zoning district is normally for City use such as the County library, the City Hall building, or a public hospital. “Medical and Professional Office” is currently on the same line in the use table in the zoning code. They are permitted in the Neighborhood Commercial (C-1), permitted in the Downtown Commercial (DTC), permitted in the Community Commercial (C-2), and conditionally permitted in the Light Industrial (M-1) zone as part of a mixed use project. What staff is intending to do is to pull out “Medical Office” and have its own line. It would still be a permitted use to the C-1, DTC, and C-2 districts and a conditionally permitted use in the M‑1 district, but now it would also be a conditionally permitted use in the PF district.
The Planning Commission will determine 1999 General Plan and 2025 General Plan Update consistency and make a recommendation to the City Council to approve or deny Zoning Ordinance Amendment 2010-01. If the Zoning Ordinance Amendment is approved by Council, “Medical Offices” would become a conditional use in the PF zoning district.
The amendment to the zoning code is a Citywide project and not for a specific project at this point. Any details that would have to do with LMG’s formerly proposed project would not be relevant at this time.
John Alexander, Chief Executive Office for the Livingston Medical Group was present to answer questions.
Chair Soria opened the Public Hearing at 7:09 pm
John Alexander, Livingston Medical Group, 1140 Main Street, thanked the Planning Commission for their consideration to this item. He wants the Planning Commission to know that they understand the concerns that the neighbors and citizens have with the parking situation and he assured the Planning Commission that LMG would do everything possible to please everyone.
Chair Soria closed the Public Hearing at 7:11 pm as there were no additional comments.
· Stated that he used to be a board member for the Livingston Medical Group and questioned if this would be a conflict of interest.
Staff replied that since he will not be voting on this item, there would not be a conflict.
· Asked if approving this Zoning Ordinance Amendment means that in a future date, LMG would be permitted to expand in the current location.
Staff explained that what this approval would mean is that the Planning Commission would determine that it is consistent with the General Plan and they would recommend to the City Council to make a decision that medical offices are a conditional use in that zoning district, whether it applies to LMG at their existing location or the new location or another clinic in the PF zoning district. These clinics and medical offices would still need to go through Site Plan and Design Review and a Conditional Use Permit no matter where they decided to expand or build.
Staff added that in the zoning map, all the parcels that are PF show in blue and they are scattered throughout the City – all the school sites, the museum, City Hall, the three parcels where the clinic, the library, and the dental office are located. It affects parcels throughout the City, not just these two specific parcels.
· Wanted to know more about the federal stimulus funding LMG received.
Staff said that is not part of this project. If they do move forward with Site and Design Review, that would be the time to bring that up.
· Asked why staff recommends that the Planning Commission determine 1999 General Plan and 2025 General Plan Update consistency if the 2025 General Plan Update is in litigation.
Director Kenney responded the 2025 General Plan is currently being amended by the consultants and, therefore, staff is to determine consistency with both documents in case things resolve with the 2025 General Plan and that moves forward before this ordinance is adopted.
· Referred to Page 2 of the staff report and asked how you make a conditional use into a non-conditional use.
Director Kenney replied you would just make it “P” a permitted use instead of “C” a conditional use. The difference is that “P” is permitted by right; therefore, if they move to the new site and if there was an existing building already there, they could just move in and all they would need is a business license. If it is a conditional use, then they would be required to come in front of the Planning Commission and conditions could be added to it to mitigate traffic, parking, noise, or any sort of problems.
No questions or comments.
· Asked for clarification on what the Planning Commission would be voting on.
Staff clarified that this is a zoning ordinance amendment that would allow the conditional use of medical offices in a PF zoning district anywhere in the City.
No questions or comments.
Motion by Vice-Chair Greeley, seconded by Chair Soria, to adopt Resolution 2010-03, Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston of its Intent to Recommend Amending Section 5-3-11 and Table 3 of the City of Livingston Municipal Ordinance and Recognizing Consistency of the Amendment with the Livingston 1999 General Plan and 2025 General Plan Update. Motion carried 5-0 by the following vote:
AYES: Chair Soria, Vice-Chair Greeley, and Commissioners Flores, Gonzalez, and Salgado
Director Kenney mentioned the next step is to go in front of the City Council on June 1, 2010.
ZONING TEXT AMENDMENT 2010-03
This Project is to repeal Section 5-5-10 of the Livingston Municipal Code and amend Section 5‑2‑3(16) and Land Use Table 3 to prohibit medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the City of Livingston.
The Public Hearing was opened to the public at 7:19 p.m. and closed immediately thereafter as there was no public comment.
· He is a full supporter of Medical Marijuana and medical marijuana dispensaries and he is not shy about that. He is surprised that Mike Sperry is not in the audience to speak since he is also a full supporter of Medical Marijuana and asked Director Kenney if Mr. Sperry was notified that this item was on the agenda.
Director Kenney responded that the staff report and attachments had been mailed to Mr. Sperry a week before this meeting and also the notice of public hearing ten (10) days prior.
· Asked Director Kenney what General Plan year she was referring to on the third paragraph on page 6 of the staff report because the year is not stated.
· His questions deal with this super stereotyping particularly on page 6 of the staff report, starting with the third paragraph. It says, “Increases in traffic and crime will impact adjacent uses and the quality of the surrounding environment,” but there are no sources cited. Where are they coming up with that conclusion? It seems very general, based on stereotypes to say that dispensaries would create a traffic problem, so he is really perplexed about the lack of sourcing. Suddenly the medical dispensary in Livingston will drag numerous patients from outside City of Livingston intruding traffic and parking problems, well when WalMart comes to town you are going to have continued traffic and parking problems there too. The quality of life is going to go down, so the same argument can be applied to the WalMart Super Center. He works in research. These numbers should add things up and he doesn’t see any numbers for these stats. He is really perplexed why the Assistant City Attorney and the Community Development Director could make these statements without any citations or any reputable sources.
Director Kenney said she did not include all of the past information on the report because she knew that Chief of Police Douglas Dunford would be present at the meeting to assist with any background information they would need.
Chief Dunford stated that studies were done in San Diego and Los Angeles. Los Angeles currently has roughly 45 medical marijuana dispensaries and their crime has increased between 25% to 40% in all the areas where they have put one. San Diego did a study on it and their crime has also increased and that is why they are trying to shut them down. At the Council meeting, Mike Sperry said that we were going to get people from all over the place if there was a medical marijuana dispensary in Livingston because it would be the only one located between Los Angeles and the bay area, so there is where we would get the increase in crime. Most of the time if you look at the areas that have had the medical marijuana dispensaries in the cities, there has been an increase in crime. Mr. Sperry also mentioned that he wants to put in an armed guard, so he is also expecting possible problems. You are going to see increased traffic because there is going to be more people coming to Livingston. Mr. Sperry said he wants to balance the City’s budget, but with the dispensary, it is not going to happen because he has to bring in a lot of people to be able to dispense it, and he says he is going to dispense it one ounce at a time.
Commissioner Flores stated that Mike Sperry said this would be the only dispensary between Bakersfield and the bay area, not Los Angeles.
Commissioner Flores said he does not understand the correlation between the increase in traffic and increase in crime and he also does not think there should be a comparison between San Diego, one of the biggest cities in the United States, with Livingston, a city with a population of 13,500 people. He added that he sees the benefit of having a dispensary and he does not agree with Chief Dunford’s statements at all.
· He is concerned about allowing a marijuana dispensary in a small community like Livingston and added the he would like to know the percentage in Livingston that carries the medical marijuana card. He thinks that stores such as WalMart or Rancho San Miguel would target 100% of our population and a marijuana dispensary would only target a certain percentage where the majority of the population would come from out of town.
· Agrees with Commissioner Gonzalez. WalMart’s clients are going to be people coming to buy clothes, groceries, or something that they need and marijuana dispensaries would only have people coming in to get marijuana and people could get the cards illegally. In addition, they will have people that come out of town that are either involved in gangs and we do have a lot of gang members in this town already and in Winton and if you get more people coming in with different colors, there is going to be more crime. He does not want kids to see marijuana being sold in the streets illegally and to say, “It is okay to smoke, they sell it here in town.”
· He personally does not have anything against Medicinal Marijuana. He knows people that do need because it helps them with their pain and he understands that. The problem is that there are also individuals that obtained the cards from questionable doctors and more of those individuals would come into town. He personally knows people who have these cards and do not need them. If they can get them, anybody can get them.
· She is against it. She worked in the criminal division for ten years and marijuana is a criminal based idol. Her fiancé had to take it because he had cancer and that was the only thing that helped him with his pain, but he had to get it, not at a dispensary because it was not legal at that time. It was obtainable and can be obtainable by people who are not criminals. It drives a criminal element and she does not think we need it in our town.
· Said the profile of a Medical Marijuana user is not one that is dark or light or is a criminal. An average medical marijuana user looks just like us. They are not criminals. They are not gang members. They are not wearing red, blue, or purple. They are just using some marijuana for their purposes. He thinks they are correlating gang activity with medical marijuana users and there is no correlation there. He works in research so he always has to back things up. One of his sociology professors in his undergrad education said something to him that really stuck to his mind now so many years later and that is just because you know your neighbor who did something and he happens to be such and such, that is not a representative of the entire such and such population or just because you are saying that you know people that receive the card and you think, “If they can receive the card, anybody can receive the card.” That is a bad statement to say.
We get people from outside of our community coming here all the time. We get people to pick up almonds, to pick up poultry from Foster Farms and they are creating traffic, so he does not see how this is really any difference.
· He is not really against Medical Marijuana, but it should be conducted properly with permits and licenses. From his personal knowledge, it has taken a long, long time to make the Livingston community the way it is now. He can remember back when a family could not even walk on Main Street without being harassed. Livingston used to be a bad place. If you were around in the 70’s and 80’s, you would know what he means. Other communities did not even want to come to Livingston. That has all changed now. The bad name of the community of Livingston has changed and he would hate to see that stereotype come back to Livingston.
· He realizes the history of Livingston with bars up and down Main Street. The number of bars has been cut down because they have become regulated. This same situation happened with medical marijuana, it became regulated. There are laws and rules placed to keep this regulated. Back in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, there were a lot of bars here in Livingston and that is why crime was up because there were so many bars here, so just with regulation and with sound judgment, we can make this not such a horrible thing that people are making it out to be.
· She appreciates that the Chief knows about other cities that have had dispensaries and they have problems. Why are they trying to get rid of them? Because they have problems. Why do we want to invite problems when we would be the only dispensary between Bakersfield and the bay area? She just does not see it. Why a small town? Why here? Go somewhere else.
Chief Dunford asked Commissioner Flores if he supports Red Ribbon.
Commissioner Flores responded that he does.
Chief Dunford asked if it was not hypocritical stating, “Say No to Drugs,” and yet he supports medical marijuana dispensaries.
Commissioner Flores responded that he doesn’t support people who overdose on Tylenol or cough medicine, or other over the counter pain medications.
Chief Dunford asked Commissioner Flores if he knew the LD50 on Tylenol which is the amount of Tylenol that you would have to take to kill yourself.
Commissioner Flores responded that is a typical example that people can equally be as reckless with their medical marijuana as with items you can buy over the counter. There are things that you can buy over the counter now that are worse than medical marijuana. You get drunk drivers and you still sell alcohol.
· Stated Commissioners need to remind themselves that they are here for their community and asked, “How does this benefit our community as a whole?” It’s about the Livingston people; it’s about the community.
Motion by Commissioner Flores to approve medical marijuana dispensaries. Motion died due to lack of a second.
Motion by Commissioner Salgado, seconded by Commissioner Greeley, to adopt Resolution 2010-04, Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston of its Intent to Amend, Repeal, and Replace Sections of Title 5 of the City of Livingston Municipal Ordinance and Recognizing Consistency of the Amendment with the Livingston General Plan. Motion carried 4-1 by the following vote:
AYES: Chair Soria, Vice-Chair Greeley, and Commissioners Gonzalez and Salgado
NOES: Commissioner Flores
DISTRIBUTION OF SKATE PARK CONSULTANT PROPOSALS
Copies of consultant proposals were distributed to the Planning Commission in preparation of their regular meeting of June 8, 2010 when consultants will be interviewed by the Planning Commission. The City is taking public comment on these proposals as well as accepting suggestions to the City Council on an appropriate location for the Skate Park. This is a discussion only item. No vote is associated with this item tonight.
Staff said she provided the Planning Commissioners with four different proposals of consultants that want to build the skate park for the City. The City Council determined at their last meeting that they would like the Planning Commission and the citizens of Livingston to work on this together. The Planning Commission has about four weeks to review these proposals and see what they like and what they don’t like. All the consultants will be present at the next regular Planning Commission meeting of June 8, 2010 to allow the Planning Commission to interview them and take public comments from the people and they will be able to give their recommendations to the City Council (first and second choice) and then will move forward on working with the community on a specific location where the project could be built. Director Kenney encouraged the Commissioners to go out to look at different parks and look around for a good site for the skate park.
· She looked through the proposals and they look good. She is excited about this. She noticed that Patterson has a new skate park. It looks to be about 20,000 sq. ft. She thinks it would be great for the Planning Commission to drive up there together and look at it and if there are any others close by, they can look at those too.
Chair Soria said that if the City Attorney does not see a conflict with that, staff should come up with some dates to pick from.
Director Kenney said staff will contact the Commissioners in the next couple of days to find out what days and times are good for them. She added that both the Mayor and the City Manager have gone up to the Patterson skate park and checked it out and it sounds like that is a good one to look at.
Discussion followed regarding other skate parks nearby such as Ceres, Ripon, and Riverbank.
· Asked Director Kenney if she had an update on the complaint brought up at their last meeting regarding the chain fences at Memorial Park by the picnic area.
Director Kenney replied she contacted Michael Belluomini, Director of Facilities Planning for the high school district, and informed him that staff received a complaint about the FFA animals and the junk along the property line and he told her he would look into it and see what they had in their budget.
· Asked Director Kenney for an update regarding the Environmental Impact Report for WalMart. He asked if that was already available. He heard it would be available in the spring.
Director Kenney responded City staff is working on that right now. They have some draft chapters that they are reviewing right now and it will be sent out to the public pretty soon.
· Stated that he prefers to use both his first and second name since his father’s name is also Luis Flores.
· Said there is going to be a surprise City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 5:15 p.m. and he encouraged people to attend the meeting.
· Said last Tuesday he had the great privilege and opportunity to meet former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. It was really exciting. She was speaking about democracy in Chile.
· Spoke on behalf of the community and expressed how saddened everyone is that Livingston is not having a 4th of July celebration. He asked Director Kenney if she knew anything about that.
Director Kenney responded that she understands that it has been cancelled.
· Director Kenney already answered her question.
· He said some people are not happy with track at Livingston Middle School. He invited everybody to attend the school board meeting on Thursday, especially parents of children involved in track.
Community Development Director Kenney
· Explained briefly what the Planning Department does and what a planner actually does for the new Planning Commissioners to know. She said a planner is like an interpreter of City Code. Planners look at the City Code and the General Plan, they talk to the Planning Commission and to the City Council, and they try to determine what the Code all means and then when a developer comes in, the planner explains to him what the Code says and helps him fit his project into Code. Once the project fits City Code, Zoning Code, Design Guidelines, and the General Plan, then it is moved forward to Planning Commission and City Council. She added that sometimes Planning Commissioners wonder why a project is taking so long, but City staff often works on a project usually for months and even for years before taking it to the Planning Commission. She asked that if Planning Commissioners have questions or hear rumors and need clarification on something, they give her a call or stop by her office and she will answer their questions or clarify something for them.
Commissioner Flores asked Director Kenney if there is any way that they can get their agenda packet a little bit sooner so they have enough time to read everything.
Director Kenney responded that staff tries to get the packets out on Wednesday or Thursday, but there are some times when it is not possible to send them out until Friday. If that happens, staff will leave the packets at the Police Department for the Commissioners to pick up at their convenience or, if they prefer, staff will even deliver the packets to their residence.
· Asked Director Kenney to explain what they are doing next to the Child Development Center on Prusso and “F” Streets. He wants the Commissioners to be aware of what is going on in case someone asks them.
Director Kenney explained that Stanislaus County is building a 71-bed migrant child daycare center between the Community Center on Prusso Street and the Little Guys and Gals Field on “F” Street. This is not a City project. Stanislaus County is the regional provider for migrant worker childcare. Besides the building with the 71-beds, there will be two separate playgrounds – one for the older children and one for the younger children, and they will be using the existing parking lot for the Little Guys and Gals Field. The reason this is not a City project is because this is a regional housing effort. They pull their permits through the State, so the City does not have the opportunity to inspect the facility. This information was provided to City staff by Wayne Koehn, Operations Manager for the elementary school district.
Administrative Assistant Arredondo
Nothing to report.
Assistant City Attorney Massey
Nothing to report.
The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 7:52 p.m.
APPROVED: June 8, 2010
Chair, ROY SORIA Secretary of the Planning Commission,
DONNA M. KENNEY