Action Meeting Minutes from the March 12, 2013, Planning Commission Regular Meeting.

Note from TheGardeningSnail. This page was prepared by bouncing a PDF file through a program that converts Image to Text and there may a few glitches. To see the PDF file, click on the May 14, 2013 Agenda Packet: Pages 3-12

Action Meeting Minutes from the March 12, 2013, Planning Commission Regular Meeting.





The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The meeting was called to order by Chair Flores at 7:02p.m.


Commissioners Present: Chair Luis Enrique Flores, Commissioner Alicia Estrada,, Commissioner Warren Urnberg, and Alternate Commissioner Michael Silva.

Commissioners Absent: Commissioner Mario Mendoza and Commissioner Francisco Castellanos.

Staff Present: Administrative Analyst Filomena Arredondo, Contract Planner, Miguel Galvez, City Intern Francisco Mendoza, and City Manager, Jose Antonio Ramirez.

Others Present: Mike Torres and Katherine-Schell Rodriguez


The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.


City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez updated the Planning Commission on the three grants recently awarded to the City.

• The Environmental Justice Grant of $100,000 from Caltrans.

This grant is to look at the connectivity of"B" Street and Winton Parkway. The Grant will allow the City to identify and consider improvements that facilitate connectivity. This effort will consist of a 5-day charrette process involving participation from professionals (transportation planners, architects, engineers) and the community. They will study the project area, generate an overall plan and identify a vision for Livingston. The charrette is slated for June 2013.

• The Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

This is a technical community assistance program that focuses on the principles of sustainability. AIA brings a team of volunteer professionals to work with community decision-makers and stake holders to help them develop a vision and framework for a sustainable future. On March 25, 2013, a sustainable design team will come to Livingston to conduct a 3-day assessment.

• Technical Assistance Grant from California Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism (CCNU).

Statewide CNU members will come to Livingston May 11-14, 2013 to collaborate on the design of community plans and form based codes for specific areas or corridors. They will partner with the City of Livingston to host a community charrette. After the charrette, they will put together a document to present to the City Council which is to be implemented over the course of time.

Commissioner Estrada asked how residents will be notified about the charrette.

City Manager replied notices will be mailed out with the utility bills, posted on Channel 2 and the City website, and announcements will be made at City Council and Planning Conunission meetings.

Commissioner Urnberg asked what funds are anticipated.

City Manager Ramirez replied it depends on what they find. That is why this is going to encompass a wide range of topics and ideas. There may be funds available right away and/or there will be mid-term and long-term possibilities.


a. Meeting Minutes from the November 7, 2012 Joint City Council and Planning Commission Special Meeting.

b. Meeting Minutes from the January 8, 2013 Regular Planning Commission Meeting.

c. Meeting Minutes from the February 20, 2013 Special Planning Commission Meeting.

Motion by Commissioner Estrada and seconded by Commissioner Urnberg, to approve the minutes from the November 7, 2012 Joint Special City Council and Planning Commission Meeting; the January 8, 2013, Regular Planning Commission Meeting; and the February 20, 2013, Special Planning Commission Meeting, with corrections. Motion carried 4-0, by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Chair Flores, Commissioners Estrada and Urnberg, and Alternate Commissioner Silva

NOES: None

ABSENT: Commissioner Castellanos and Mendoza ABSTAIN: None


Election of New Chair and Vice-Chair for 2013

Chair Flores asked if the Planning Commissioner wanted to do the elections of officers at this meeting or postpone it until all the Commissioners are in attendance.

Motion by Commission Estrada, seconded by Commissioner Urnberg, to postpone the Election of Chair and Vice-Chair to the next regular meeting to allow participation from all the Commissioners. Motion carried 4-0, by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Chair Flores, Commissioners Estrada and Umberg, and Alternate Commissioner Silva

NOES: None

ABSENT: Commissioner Castellanos and Mendoza ABSTAIN: None


Chair Flores opened the public comment period at 7:14p.m.

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

• The Proposition 218 hearing for garbage pickup fees will be discussed during the City Council meeting on March 19,2013, and if anybody wonders why Livingston is not already on a 2-can system, it is because when the old contract with Gilton Garbage Disposal was written back in 1997, it required the City to give eight years notice to Gilton before it could go out to bid for new garbage contracts, and as of March 2009, there were still three and one-half years left before the City could go out to bid. (Page 7 of the May 26, 2009 City Council draft meeting minutes.)

Water notifications and the implications for Planning. According to various staff reports and the California Department of Health 2011 Water System Inspection Report, the City has five wells that have high concentrations of 1-30 TCP in excess of 100 times State required notification levels. Also, according to this report, the City should provide more public notification than what is listed in the Annual Consumer Confidence Report.

At the last water rate stakeholders committee meeting, one of the consultants stated that standards for maximum contaminant levels are expected to be established around 2015 and that these standards are expected to be close to the already established notification level. Livingston already has five wells in danger of failing that maximum contaminant level standard, and treating for TCP is not cheap. The system for Well #8, (by Foster Farms) is expected to cost at least $1.5 Million to build and $150,000 per year to run and that is only the cost of treating one well for TCP. Now, add to that the arsenic, manganese, DBCP, and nitrate issues to be dealt with.

She reminded everyone about the letter the Department of Health sent the City warning them about enforcement actions if the City failed drinking water standards. City officials have to agree that Livingston’s water has issues that need to be addressed.

Chair Flores closed the public comment period at 7:20p.m.



Contract Planner Miguel Galvez presented the staff report.

The Council and staff have received inquiries from residents that want to add a patio or an accessory structure within the 15-foot rear yard setback, but they cannot because the current zoning regulations do not allow them to do that.

Contract Planner Galvez gave some examples.

A number of these people have contacted the City Council and that is why the City Council directed staff to have the Planning Commission consider this item. This zoning ordinance text amendment was brought to the Planning Commission twice in the last year. Both times the Planning Commission recommended denial. Nevertheless, a year has transpired since the last denial, so it is appropriate that since there are three new members on the Planning Commission, the Council choose to bring it back again for Planning Commission consideration.

The proposed zoning ordinance text amendment will affect the following zoning code changes: Table 1 -Development Standards

• Increase the maximum site coverage from 45% to 55% in R-1 zones.

• Increase the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) from 50% to 60%. Table 2- Building Structure Setback Requirements

• Reduce the minimum rear yard setback requirement from fifteen (15) feet to five (5) feet for one-story buildings.

• Maintain a 15-foot setback for two-story buildings. Section 5-3-16-1: Setback Exceptions

• 5-3-16-1 A) 3. e. Add language stating that "Accessory structures are prohibited within the five (5) foot rear yard setback in the R-1 zoning district."

Issues of concern

• Community’s desire to maintain the provision of private open space for kids to play or families to gather.

• A concern to protect privacy for our residents.

• Maintaining adequate access for fire suppression.

• Providing a variety of housing choices for our community.

• Providing increased flexibility in housing design or housing types.

• Promoting the efficient use of land that is in our City limits, which also protects important farmland.

Possible solutions

• Provide a percent coverage within the rear yard setback (like 50% or 60%) to maintain that private open space.

• Impose a second-story window review. Staff will look at placement of windows on 2-story homes to protect the privacy of the adjacent residence.

• Stagger the side yards.

Commissioners’ Questions

Alternate Commissioner Silva

• Asked for clarification of placing accessory structures in the rear yard.

Contract Planner Galvez said a storage shed, a shop, or a garage cannot be installed within the 15-foot rear yard setback under the current zoning regulations.

Commissioner Estrada

• Asked why this item was denied by the Planning Commission before.

Chair Flores explained it was denied unanimously both times. The biggest issue was privacy. There was a citizen who wanted to enter into the 15-foot setback and the Planning Commission thought if someone is on the second floor, they can look over into the neighbors’ houses and if this gets changed citywide, they felt that five feet was too small. They also thought it was a fire issue.

Discussion followed.

Intern Francisco Mendoza provided a slide show presentation of various residential properties. A lot of them in the old part of town have nice large lots. They have patios and storage sheds. The newer residential lots are smaller and have less yard space. There are instances where buildings are real close to the rear yard setbacks.

Chair Flores opened for public comment at 7:47p.m.

Mike Torres, 1616 s’h Street, said this problem with setbacks came before the Planning Commission twice already and they keep bringing it back. It seems as if they wanted to force it through. He is glad there are some common sense people on the City Council that have turned it down. He hopes this time around they are still thinking with common sense.

When he thinks of R-1 residential, he thinks of families. When families are looking to buy a house, the first thing they look for is schools, parks, stores. If they have children, they want some place for their children to play. If setbacks are changed to five feet for rear yard setbacks, you couldn’t have a back yard party or build a tool shed in the back yard because there would not be enough room. You couldn’t even put up a swing set or a picnic table.

There are provisions in other towns for the people that don’t want to have a yard. That’s when they go into gated communities or other homes that are smaller.

We are growing in size and we are getting more lot coverage and no yard. We are trying to make something work that doesn’t work.

He hopes the Planning Commission does not approve this. It got turned down twice already. You have to think about the problems this is going to create.

Chair Flores closed the Public comment period at 7:55p.m.

Commissioners’ Comments

Chair Flores

• He thinks five feet is too small. He is surprised this item came up again when it had already been denied.

Commissioner Estrada

• She concurs that five feet is too small and is concerned it may be a fire hazard, but she also understands the reason for this request. If the rear yard setback is approved, families have the option to go out and enjoy the various parks in town. She would like to come up with a way to make this work. She likes to have a variety of choices.

Commissioner Urnberg

• He would like to change the zoning code so that ground-mounted heating and air conditioning units and chimneys may only be permitted in the rear yard.

Discussion followed.

Motion by Chair Flores, seconded by Commissioner Umberg, to approve Resolution 2013-05, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending Low Density Residential Rear Setbacks Remain a Minimum of Fifteen (15) Feet For Both First And Second Stories. Motion carried 3-1 by the following roll call vote:

AYES: Chair Flores, Commissioner Umberg, and Alternate Commissioner Silva Commissioner Estrada


ABSENT: Commissioner Castellanos and Mendoza



Planning Commission

Commissioner Urnberg Nothing to report.

Commissioner Estrada Nothing to report.

Chair Flores

•As part of the Valley Futures Forum, Peter Katz will be speaking on March 131 5:30p.m., in the City Council Chambers, 1010 Tenth Street, Modesto. Peter Katz is really big on new urbanism. He will be discussing how incorporating "The Missing Metric" into development approvals can reduce regulations and improve cities. This is a beneficial event for Planning Commissioners to attend. Admission is free.

City Staff

Contract Planner Galvez

• Contract Assistant City Attorney Michael Minkler left the legal firm of Meyers Nave with which the City of Livingston contracts services. In discussing the matter with the City Manager, it was decided that at this point in time, legal representation during Planning Commission meetings will only be provided when requested and deemed necessary. If the Commissioners or City staff have a legal question on an agenda item, the item can be continued to the next meeting. Staff tries to proactively identify and discuss any legal issues with both the City Manager and City Attorney prior to the Planning Commission meeting.

• Staff is planning a series of Planning Commission workshops. The first workshop is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April l6, 2013, at 6:00p.m., in the City Council Chambers. This will be a joint workshop with the City Council to discuss ethics, conflicts of interest, and parliamentary procedures. Later, there will be other workshops addressing CEQA, Planning 101, and other topics.

• The rezoning proposal of the area bounded by Highway 99, Stefani Avenue, Swan Street and Franci Street requires a General Plan Amendment, so it has been postponed to be included as part of the overall General Plan update.

• Restated the information provided by City Manager Ramirez about the three grants recently awarded to the City.

• Staff gave commissioners copies of the Livingston Zoning Map and The Planning Commissioner’s Handbook. These are very useful reference guides especially when the Commissioners are reviewing agenda items.

• Planning staff would like to move to provide action meeting minutes instead of transcript or verbatim meeting minutes which take a lot of staff time to generate. Under this method, staff would list the agenda item. It would say who spoke at the public hearing and the items brought up and then the discussion points will be summarized and the final Planning Commission action will be recorded. If Commissioners or members of the public desire to hear the actual meeting proceedings, then they can listen to the audio recordings.

Chair Flores said Administrative Analyst Arredondo writes real good minutes and he appreciates reading them, but he knows it takes a lot of time to prepare them, so he favors moving to action minutes, but he would like some of the discussion added.

Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, said he likes to see the discussion in the minutes. He asked if this change is also for the City Council minutes.

Contract Planner Galvez said this request is only for the Planning Commission minutes.

Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, asked how staff will handle the public comment portion of the meeting.

Contract Planner Galvez replied comments will be summarized to provide the issues raised.

Following the discussion, the Planning Commission agreed by consensus to go to action minutes.

• At this time, there are no items scheduled for the next regular Planning Commission meeting of April 9, 2013.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:18p.m.

APPROVED: May 14,2013

clip_image001clip_image002Chair, Secretary of the Planning Commission,

MIGUEL GALVEZ (Contract Planner)

The written meeting minutes reflect 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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