AUGUST 13, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes

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AUGUST 13, 2013

The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on August 13, 2013. The meeting was called to order by Chair Luis Enrique Flores at 7:02 p.m.


Commissioners Present: Chair Luis Enrique Flores, Vice-Chair Mario Mendoza,Commissioner Francisco Castellanos, Commissioner Michael Silva and Commissioner Warren Umberg.

Commissioners Absent: None

Staff Present: Contract Principal Planner Karl Schoettler, Contract Associate

Planner Holly Owen, and Administrative Analyst Filomena Arredondo.

Others Present: Robert Fernandes , Steve Melander, Katherine Schell-Rodriguez,

Nancy Cartwright, Chris Unruh , and others in the audience.


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.



Motion by Commissioner Umberg, seconded by Commissioner Castellanos, to approve the minutes from the Regular Meeting of July 9, 20 13. Motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Chair Flores and Commissioners Castellanos, Mendoza, Silva and Urnberg

NOES: None



Chair Flores opened the public comment period at 7:04 p.m. Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston

The final draft of the Kennedy Jenks Centralized Water Treatment Feasibility Report has been distributed to members of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee and a meeting has been scheduled for August 19, 2013. This will be one of the most important meetings taking place this year. She encouraged everyone to attend and invite others to attend.

She referred to some of the areas of concern contained in the report, specifically the decline in groundwater quality and capacity to meet the maximum daily demand. It is expected that due to a number of water quality issues, operational strategies of the City wells continue to change as the City works with the California Department of Public Health to provide a safe water supply.

The Public Comment period ended at 7:11 p.m.


Contract Associate Planner Holly Owen and Principal Planner Karl Schoettler from Collins and Schoettler, Visalia, CA, introduced themselves as the interim planners for the City of Livingston.

Holly Owen will be in City Hall on Tuesdays and occasionally on Mondays or Wednesdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. She is also available by cell phone and e-mail. Karl Schoettler and Gregg Collins are available as back up to Ms. Owen.



Livingston Farm Supply has applied for a Site Plan/Design Review application to construct a 4,176 square foot building addition to an existing 5,000 square foot agricultural business facility on a 6.6-acre parcel located at 2380 Walnut Avenue, Livingston, generally located on the south side of Walnut Avenue, east of lndustrial Drive on property zoned M-1 (Limited Industrial), APN 023-060-004.

Contract Planner Owen presented the staff report and recommended approval of the project subject to the conditions of approval listed in Exhibit A

She stated the site’s General Plan designation and zoning of Limited Industrial is appropriate for its use. The addition will serve as a combination of new retail space as well as an additional storage area. Eight new parking spaces will be added as a requirement for the increased square footage. As a Condition of Approval, landscape and irrigation plans will be submitted to Staff for review and approval.

Chair Flores asked if City staff received any comments from the public. Ms. Owen replied no comments were received.

The applicant, Robert Fernandes, from Jim Fernandes Construction, Inc., was present to answer questions.

Chair Flores opened the Public Hearing at 7:15 pm

Robert Fernandes, 4018 S. Tegner Road, Turlock, stated his company is the applicant and property owner. Livingston Farm Supply needs to expand and they want to accommodate them as they have been good tenants.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163

• Asked if this project is consistent with the General Plan and zoning ordinance as currently written.

Contract Planner Owen replied, "It is."

Chair Flores closed the Public Hearing at 7:18 p.m. Commissioners


Commissioner Urnberg

• He is glad to see them expand. This will bring a little more revenue to the City.

Chair Flores

• Asked if they will have sufficient parking.

Contract Planner Owen said City staff will verify that parking requirements are met.

• Wished them luck.

Motion by Chair Flores, seconded by Commissioner Urnberg, to adopt Resolution 2013-13, A Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending to the City Council the Approval of Site Plan/Design Review 2013-02 for Livingston Farm Supply. Motion carried 5-0 by following

roll call vote

AYES: Chair Flores and Commissioners Castellanos, Mendoza, Silva and Urnberg

NOES: None



Riggs Ambulance Service Post 33 has applied for a Conditional Use Permit application to locate an ambulance station staff 24/7 at an existing residence located at 2919 Franquette Street, Livingston, generally located on the north side of Franquette Street, east of Aldrich Avenue, on property zoned R-1 (Low Density Residential), APN# 143-296-003.

Contract Principal Planner Schoettler presented the staff report and recommended denial of this Conditional Use Permit. He stated the Planning Department is responsible for determining approved uses in various districts throughout the City. This site is located in the R-1 zoning district and "Ambulance Service" is not listed as a permitted use within that zone. Normally, an "Ambulance Service" would be permitted in a commercial or industrial zone. Although this application is for a business that serves the public, it is not publicly funded, it is a private business. The business does not meet the Home Occupation regulations nor is it considered Transitional Housing, Residential Day Care, Boarding House, or any other of the typical residential uses that are described in the Land Use Table in the Zoning Ordinance. Of the land uses described in the Livingston Municipal Code, "Commercial Services" is the description that comes the closest to matching the intended use. With those concerns in mind, it becomes difficult to make some of the findings required to grant a Conditional Use Permit for this proposal.

Livingston Municipal Code 5-6-9: (E) lists the Criteria that shall be followed in considering an application for a Conditional Use Permit. It spealcs to things like noise, traffic, smoke, odor, dust, and vibration. For an ambulance service, noise and traffic are probably the two main concerns.

An ambulance service would be using a siren most likely at some point as they respond to calls and then the traffic is probably something that would be out of character for a single family neighborhood when the emergency vehicle is leaving to respond to calls. It’s not so much an issue of too much traffic, but unexpected traffic. There is also the issue of setting a precedent.

Planning staff received one comment letter from a neighbor to the site expressing some concern about this use.

Staff recommends that if the Planning Commission is inclined to approve this Conditional Use Permit, they consider imposing some conditions of approval.

Commissioners Questions/Comments:

Chair Flores

• Asked if there was any input received from the Police and Fire Departments.

Contract Planner Owen said the Fire Department did not make any official comments, but there was some concern about the speeding and about the response time that might be needed depending on the nature of the call.

Commissioner Castellanos

• He lives on the north side of Walnut Avenue, not far from this location. He expressed some concern with noise.

• Asked why the applicant wants to locate the ambulance service at this location. Chair Flores opened the Public Hearing at 7:32 p.m.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163

• She has two opposing philosophies that are in conflict. On one hand, there is the philosophy of, "If we can make it work, why not? It’s a good idea to have increased response times and ambulances a little closer to home." On the other hand, there is the philosophy of fairness, especially when you talk about things like parking. There are businesses already permitted in the Zoning Ordinance that have not been allowed to take advantage of this benefit because of parking, and now we have another use that is going before the Planning Commission asking for some slack. Ifyou want to allow something like this, you need to amend the General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance so that everybody plays by the same rules.

• In the City’s current parking regulations, there is an exception for the tow truck weight class with appropriate signage paid for by the owner. She asked if the size and weight of the ambulance would fall into that weight class and how would the City address parking a non-personal vehicle in a residential area.

Steve Melander, General Manager for Riggs Ambulance Service, 160 Ocean Court, Atwater,

CA, said he prepared a PowerPoint presentation and was ready to address all the questions and concerns. He gave some background on Riggs Ambulance Service which has been the contracted ambulance provider for Merced County since 1948.

Mr. Melander stressed the importance of having a dedicated police force, fire department, and ambulance in each community. He said Livingston is currently the only city in Merced County that does not have a dedicated 24-hour paramedic ambulance. Currently the closest communities that have a dedicated ambulance are Delhi and Atwater. In 2012, there were 1079 ambulance responses in Livingston, an average of 2.96 responses per day. During an emergency, every minute counts. It makes a big difference to have a dedicated ambulance in your community responding to these calls. He added they currently have ambulances in the Cities of Gustine, Los Banos, Dos Palos, Merced, and Atwater.

Mr. Melander said their primary ambulance they run in Merced County is called a Type II ambulance. It is a Ford E350 cargo van ambulance. It has a diesel engine. The weight of the vehicle is standard. Noise generated by the ambulance is the same as an F250 pick-up truck. It fits quite well in the driveway.

He explained crew changes will occur at approximately 6:30 a.m. at their primary headquarters in Merced. There will be no people coming and going or personal vehicles parked on the street. The only vehicles parked at the residence will be an ambulance and a supervisor’s vehicle that visits once a day performing daily inspections of the station. No business will be conducted at

the residence. You won’t see the crew members outside. They rest when they are not on calls and they prepare for immediate responses.

Why that location? Because there is not a great rental market in this community, commercial or residential, that meets their needs. This house met their needs. It is close to the main roadway and has sleeping quarters.

As for the concern about making a lot of noise in a residential neighborhood, it is their policy not to sound lights and sirens in residential areas. They wait until they leave the residential neighborhood. That is their current practice. They have not had any neighbor complaints in other cities.

Commissioner Castellanos said he doesn’t see a problem as long as they don’t turn on lights in the residential neighborhood.

Commissioner Urnberg said he read in the newspaper that Riggs Ambulance’s contract is up in August and the contract is up for bid. He asked what happens if the other company gets it.

Mr. Melander explained the ambulance bidding process and added they have had the contract for 65 years and they are confident they will be awarded the contract for another 10 years. However, iff they get outbid, then Riggs Ambulance will be out of business forever.

Chair Flores stated the Planning Commission cannot maim a Planning decision based on contracts.

Vice-Chair Mendoza asked if all of the neighbors were notified of this proposal.

Contract Planner Owen stated City staff mailed out Public Hearing notices to property owners within a 300-foot radius.

Chair Flores opened the Public Hearing at 7:54 p.m.

Nancy Cartwright, 2940 Franquette Street, said she got a public hearing notice in the mail, but most of her neighbors, who are mainly renters, said they did not get one. She stated she and her neighbors have the same kind of concerns already raised.

• Asked how many staff members will be living there. Mr. Melander said a maximum of three staff members.

• Asked if they have a visitation policy.

Mr. Melander replied the policy is very strict.

• Asked if there were going to do structural changes to the house facade.

Mr. Melander replied they would only putting a sign in the front door that says that building serves as medical housing for personnel.

• Asked who takes care of the yard.

Mr. Melander said they will hire a yard service to take care of the yard.

• Asked why they picked Livingston.

Mr. Melander replied to reduce response time. Livingston is the only city in Merced County that does not have a dedicated 24-hour ambulance post.

• Asked what the general response time to Livingston is when they come from out of the area.

Mr. Melander said 6-7 minutes.

• Asked what happens if the community later finds it is not working out for them and they make a formal complaint.

Contract Principal Planner Schoettler said if the Conditional Use Permit is approved, staff would recommend periodic reviews, six months or one year. The Planning Commission has the opportunity to revoke the permit or continue with another review down the road.

• Asked Mr. Melander if they have received any complaints from residents in other cities.

Mr. Melander said the only complaint they received was that they forgot to turn off their alarm on the ambulance itself. He added Riggs Ambulance is a community partner. If they hear about any complaints, they will take it very seriously.

Chris Unruh, 2825 Tulare Court, said he supports Riggs Ambulance in his neighborhood. They deal with a lot of noise distractions in that area already (trucks, motorcycles, loud music), so the ambulance would not be a problem.

Chair Flores closed the Public Hearing at 8:08 p.m.

Commissioners Comments/Questions: Commissioner Urnberg

• He used Riggs Ambulance once and they provide good service, but he doesn’t think they belong in residential areas. He would rather see it in the outskirts of town.

Commissioner Castellanos

• He is okay with it as long as no lights and sirens are turned on in the residential neighborhood.

Vice-Chair Mendoza

• He sees no problem with it. He knows they provide good service. He would prefer they respond to a call in two minutes rather than in ten.

Chair Flores

• Asked where Riggs is housed in other cities in relation to zoning.

Mr. Melander replied all are located in residential areas, except for Atwater which is in commercial zoning.

• Agrees with Planning staff and Commissioner Urnberg that this specific use is incompatible in residential areas. His decision is strictly from a Planning perspective and has nothing to do with their quality of service.

• If the rest of the Commission wants to approve this Conditional Use Permit, he strongly recommends that conditions be set and that the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance be amended to be compatible. He does not want to set precedence.

Commissioner Silva

• Thinks an ambulance service in town is good. He supports the project. Chair Flores closed the Public Hearing at 8:20 p.m.

Motion by Vice-Chair Mendoza, seconded by Commissioner Castellanos, to adopt Resolution

2013-14, A Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Approving Conditional Use Permit 2013-06 for Riggs Ambulance Service, subject to the following six conditions:

1. Lights and siren on the ambulance shall not be activated until the vehicle has exited the neighborhood.

2. The ambulance shall adhere to speed limits while within the surrounding neighborhood.

3. The backup alarm shall be deactivated while the vehicle is entering the neighborhood.

4. Crew changes shall occur at the business site in Merced. No employee vehicles shall be parked at the site in Livingston.

5. No additional signage (beyond a door-mounted sign) is permitted.

6. The project will be reviewed by the Planning Commission for compliance with operational conditions of the Conditional Use Permit at six months and one year after start of business. The applicant will be notified of such reviews.

Motion carried 3-2 by the following roll call vote

AYES: Vice-Chair Mendoza and Commissioners Castellanos and Silva

NOES: Chair Flores and Commissioner Urnberg


Contract Principal Planner Schoettler explained there is a 10-day appeal period. Any dissatisfied party can file an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council.

Chair Flores said he hopes there will not be any legal consequences for the City due to this decision.

Contract Principal Planner Schoettler mentioned he believes the City’s Planning application requires applicants sign an indemnification agreement so that if somebody were to sue the City over the Planning Commission’s decision, they would pay legal costs.


Planning Commission Commissioner Urnberg

• He has noticed quite a few vehicles running stop signs in town and frequent speeding in the industrial area.

• He asked that a flyer be mailed out with the water bills to remind residents about the 72-hour street parking limitation and about prohibited parking on the front lawn. There are too many vehicles, boats and RV’s being parked in the street and/or on the lawn for long periods of time. It makes our City look bad.

• Welcomed aboard new contract planners.

Commissioner Castellanos

Nothing to report. Vice-Chair Mendoza Nothing to report.

Commissioner Silva

Nothing to report.

Chair Flores

• Asked why Briarwood off of "B" Street, coming from Winton Parkway, has no line or denotation of where the street separates. It doesn’t make sense to him.

• Welcomed aboard new contract planners.

City Staff

Contract Principal Planner Schoettler

• Thanked everyone for welcoming his firm to the Livingston community.

• It was a little unusual for them to come in and make a denial recommendation to the Planning Commission, especially on their first meeting, but the ambulance service Conditional Use Permit was a little bit unusual. He wants the applicant to know it was nothing against them. It is just a zoning and planning issue.

Contract Associate Planner Owen

• City staff received two applications for the Alternate Planning Commissioner vacancy. These two applications will be presented to the City Council at their regular meeting on August 20, 2013.

• Rancho San Miguel is still slated to start construction in 2013.

Administrative Analyst Arredondo

Nothing to report.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:28 p.m.

APPROVED: December 10, 2013



Secretary of the Planning Commission, HOLLY R. OWEN

The written meeting minutes re;fiect a summary of specific actions taken by the Planning Commission. They do not necessarily reflect all of the comments or dialogue leading up to the action. All meetings are digitally recorded and are an official record of the meeting’s proceedings. Digitally recorded verbatim minutes

are available, upon request, and may be obtained at Livingston City Hall.


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