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Meeting Date: January 10, 2017
LIVINGSTON PLANNING COMMISSION REGULAR MEETING DECEMBER 13, 2016
A regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on December 13, 2016. The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. by Chair Ranjeet Jhutti.
Commissioners Present: Chair Ranjeet Jhutti, Vice-Chair Mario Mendoza, Commissioner Adanan Bath, Commissioner Francisco Mendoza-Gonzalez, Commissioner Warren Umberg, and Alternate Commissioner Bob Wallis.
Commissioners Absent: None
Staff Present: Contract City Planner Randy Hatch and Sr. Administrative Analyst Filomena Arredondo.
Others Present: Panda Express representatives Chris Pope, Gary Wang, and Ruben Rodela; Luis Flores; and Katherine Schell-Rodriguez.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
ACTION MEETING MINUTES FROM THE MAY 24, 2016, SPECIAL PLANNING COMMMISSION MEETING AND ACTION MEETING MINUTES FROM THE SEPTEMBER 13, 2016, REGULAR PLANNING COMMMISSION MEETING
Motion by Commissioner Urnberg, seconded by Commissioner Mendoza-Gonzalez, to approve the minutes of the Special Planning Commission Meeting of May 24, 2016, and the minutes of the Regular Planning Commission Meeting of September 13, 2016. Motion carried 5-0, by the following roll call vote:
AYES: Chair Jhutti, Vice-Chair Mendoza and Commissioners Bath, Mendoza-Gonzalez, and Urnberg.
Chair Jhutti opened and cl6sed the public comment period at 7:05 p.m. as there were no public comments.
CHANGES TO THE AGENDA
Chair Jhutti moved the order of the public hearing items. Item 3b. was discussed before Item 3a.
INITIAL STUDY/MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION (IS/MND) AND MITIGATION MONITORING/REPORTING PLAN, TENTATIVE PARCEL MAP 2016-01, AND SITE PLAN AND DESIGN REVIEW 2016-03, LIVINGSTON COMMUNITY HEALTH
Livingston Community Health, Owner and Applicant, proposes a phased development of a 12.28-acre parcel. The first phase consists of a medical service campus with five structures and associated parking, landscaping and infrastructure improvements, including undergrounding of an adjacent canal. The next phase is anticipated to be commercial development, but no specific development plan has been prepared. An Initial Study of environmental effects was prepared for this project.
Chair Jhutti opened the public hearing at 7:07 p.m. No public comments were received. He then moved to continue the public hearing to the next Regular Planning Commission meeting of January 10, 2017, to allow both City staff and the applicant additional time to consider projected development impacts and ways to address those impacts. Motion carried by consensus.
SITE PLAN AND DESIGN REVIEW 2016-02, PANDA EXPRESS
Applicant, Gary Wang & Associates, Inc., proposes to construct a Chinese restaurant with drive-thru and 26 new parking stalls, plus new trash enclosure, grading, walkways, outdoor seating and landscape, 26,000 sq. ft. in size, at 412 Winton Parkway, Livingston, CA, located in an existing C-3, Highway Service Commercial, pad within the Livingston Commons Commercial Shopping Center, APN#: 022- 020-016.
Contract City Planner Randy Hatch presented the staff report and explained the project’s overall site plan, floor plan and elevations, along with the landscaping plan and the proposed colors and materials.
The property is vacant, approximately 29,280 square feet in size, and is located at the east side of Winton Parkway between Joseph Gallo Drive and "B" Street in front of Rancho San Miguel. The single story restaurant building will be approximately 2600 square feet in size with 1096 square feet of dining area. It is a rectangular building oriented parallel to Winton Parkway with the kitchen along the axis of the building closest to the street with the dining area toward the parking. The floor plans identify 66 seats and two rest rooms. An outdoor dining area is adjacent to the building toward the southeast corner with 16 seats defined by a patio railing. The patio is approximately 14 feet by 13 feet.
The basic finish of the building is a stucco-like wall system. Accent canopies of a composite decking material are provided along the main entrance. Above one of the main entrances, the drive-thru window, and along the building by the drive-thru lane, trellises are provided.
The main entrance into the site is the entrance to the whole center; it’s a joint entrance. The proposal meets all City standards and complies with parking requirements.
City Planner Hatch stated that trellis features and enhancements in terms of architecture details and different colors, along with outdoor dining option are some of the features staff looks for and compares to the City’s Design Guide.
As part of this plan, a conceptual landscape design was submitted and most of the plant material is found on the City’s landscape approved list, except for four shrubs that are not on the list, but are consistent with and compatible to those on the approved shrub list.
This is an infill development project and is exempt from CEQA. It falls under the umbrella of the Livingston Commons Shopping Center.
City Planner Hatch feels the site layout and building, as proposed and as conditioned, complies with all the requirements and standards applicable. He recommends approval of the project to the City Council based on the Findings and suggested Conditions of Approval.
The applicant representatives were in the audience to answer any questions.
Chris Pope, Design Manager, said he is working directly for Panda Express on this project. He thanked City Planner Hatch for the detailed summary of their application and added that they are excited to come to Livingston. He has been working very closely with the developer in the center to try to adapt and make sure that they fit with the surrounding community and the architecture. They spent a great deal of time adding some of the trellis features. They are happy with the product they are presenting today.
Gaty Wang, Architect with Gary Wang & Associates, Inc., thanked City Planner Hatch for the great summary of their product and the Planning Commission for their time.
Ruben Rodela also works with Gary Wang & Associates, Inc. He thanked City Planner Hatch for presenting their project. They are excited to be in Livingston and hopes their project is approved.
Chair Jhutti opened the public hearing at 7:20 p.m.
Luis Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive, Livingston, expressed concern with the traffic that this proposed business will bring to the Winton Parkway area. In recent City Council meetings there has been discussion about the need to expand Winton Parkway to two lanes going towards Highway 99 south bound. He hopes that is a consideration with this project because traffic really backs up in this area, not only in the street, but also in the parking lot at Rancho San Miguel. People cut through the parking lot and go around the back side and then they have speed bumps there that are really high and dangerous. If you are not going under two miles per hour, your bumper will hit.
Chair Jhutti asked what the forecasted traffic impact for this section is and what their mitigation plan is.
Chris Pope stated that for their restaurant, the percentage they see using the drive thru is only in the range of 35% compared to other restaurants such as McDonalds and Starbucks which are well over 50%. One of the reasons for that is the presentation of their food. Panda has a service line and when their guests come in, most of the time they want to see what’s offered on the service line before they order their food and then they usually dine in or take out, so they don’t really have drive thru stacking issues. IN terms of circulation and flow, they have options to circulate the site. They have cross access to both areas, so they have multiple points of egress and ingress.
• He is excited they decided to move to Livingston. The City needs the revenue.
• He expressed concern with the men’s restroom having only one toilet. McDonald’s and Jack in the Box have a wall urinal and a toilet. He would like Panda Express to put in a urinal and a partition for privacy to accommodate two people similar to what they have in the other restaurants.
Mr. Wang said in looking at their layout, he thinks they can accommodate a urinal, but a partition would require more space in order to be ADA compliant and have all the clearances required to meet code. He added they operate about 1900 stores and most of their stores operate this way.
Panda Express is a very proactive company. If they see the need for it, they will add it later.
Commissioner Umberg thinks it is better to add it now rather than later. With tour buses coming in, he thinks one restroom is insufficient.
Chair Jhutti asked where is the nearest Panda Express matching this capacity. Mr. Wang said in Atwater.
Chair Jhutti asked if one restroom has been sufficient for a restaurant this size at other locations. Mr. Wang replied, "Yes".
• Thanked the applicant representatives for coming to Livingston and for going above and beyond with the design, colors, materials, etc.
• Asked what type of marketing research was done for that area and what attracted them to the Winton Parkway exit.
Mr. Wang said they have a very extensive real estate department that goes out and does all the research and they try to incorporate the needs of the area.
Chris Pope said they also have a mobilized operations team and they do a lot of touring of the area where Panda Express is going to be. Some of the things they look at around the site is other restaurants in that location. They look for areas where they have several restaurant clusters where it is strong for sales and they also look for areas where they can put a free standing building with a drive thru.
• Asked how their experience was in working with the City of Livingston.
Ruben Rodela said he thinks the process was fairly straight forward. They had very good communication with the City. Planning staff was very helpful. Working with the developer and Gallo’s committee was good as well. They did go above and beyond based on a lot of the recommendations from Gallo’s committee.
City Planner Hatch explained there is a process that goes before the property owner review and that is the Gallo’s review. That process happens before they submit their application to the City. He added that Alison Chen from the Panda Express team was an initial contact and City staff had the opportunity to work with her while she was doing her beginning research in this community. Staff gave her some basic information and indicated that the community was receptive and desirous of such a use in this location, so there was some productivity on the part of City Staff to be responsive.
He added that the City is aware of traffic impacts on Winton Parkway, especially at the south
on-ramp where Winton Parkway narrows down to one lane as you get to the overpass. However, since this project is an infill project, it does not have to address these traffic impacts. They, of course, are paying their fair share of development impact fees.
Commissioner Mendoza-Gonzalez stated that if this project was essentially already looked at in terms of a conceptual level when the center was first proposed and is consistent with the City’s General Plan and zoning code, he really doesn’t see the point of them having to go before the Planning Commission. It should be approved administratively. He thinks that would expedite the process and encourage future development.
City Planner Hatch said he agrees with Commissioner Mendoza-Gonzalez; however, the City Council wants to be a little bit more involved and they retain the ability to look at projects and to require an enhanced review process.
Commissioner Mendoza Gonzalez thinks that is a little redundant to go to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council for this type of project. He would not like to delay any projects because they have to go to Planning Commission and City Council. Maybe the new Council coming in would take that into consideration.
• Asked what they have experienced in other cities.
Mr. Wang said it varies from City to City.
• Asked how quickly they will get started once they get Council approval.
Gary Wang said they would like to break ground as soon as possible. They have actually submitted plans to the Building Department already and are currently undergoing plan check review.
City Planner Hatch said by the time this item goes to City Council and assuming they approve the project, the building permits will be ready to be issued.
• Asked why the opening is considered facing east as opposed to any other direction.
Gary Wang said one of the things their development team considers when deciding that is that they are compatible with the rest of the center and they also want to have the entrance most convenient for the guests.
• Asked how they came up with the shrubbery around their project.
Gary Wang said it depends on the area and the climate to fit in with the area. When they put in plants, they want to make sure they will survive.
Chair Jhutti closed the public hearing at 7:50 p.m.
Motion by Chair Jhutti, seconded by Commissioner Urnberg, to adopt Resolution 2016-06 Approving Site Plan and Design Review 2016-02 for the Panda Express Restaurant. Motion carried 5-0, by the following roll call vote:
AYES: Chair Jhutti, Vice-Chair Mendoza, and Commissioners Bath, Mendoza-Gonzalez and Urnberg
Planning Commission Alternate Commissioner Wallis
• Asked if there was going to be a discussion regarding passage of Proposition 64 at Planning Commission level.
City Planner Hatch said he has been in discussions with the City Attorney has been attending some informational seminars regarding the passage of Proposition 64. This really doesn’t kick in until spring of 2018. That is when the State will actually issue a state license and a state permitting process. Unlike medical marijuana, which required a state process and a city process, Proposition 64 does not require a dual process. It is simply a state process. However, there is local land use authority and that remains and that will be what the City will look at for cultivation areas, processing areas, and retail areas.
Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston, said one of the things she learned from the City Attorney’s comments is that a person, by right, could grow six plants indoors, so although the City itself could not legally prohibit the growth of six plants, an apartment owner, as part of the leasing process, could prohibit the growth of marijuana on his property. The City could put in certain regulations to limit the private indoor growth, such as electrical requirements to prevent electrical fires.
• Asked what is being done about the three Planning Commission vacancies that expire on December 31, 2016.
City Planner Hatch said all the existing Commissioners are empowered to serve until such time that Council selects replacements. After the new Council is seated, City staff will present information to them.
Chair Jhutti asked if Alternate Commissioner Wallis would automatically move to a regular Commissioner seat since he has served on the Planning Commission as Alternate Commissioner, thereby making him more qualified as he has more experience.
City Planner Hatch said that is a Council decision.
• Noticed that the City’s Christmas tree on Main Street is missing a star.
Staff will convey that to the Public Works Department.
City Planner Randy Hatch
• The Planning Commission will be considering the Livingston Community Health project at their January 10, 2017, meeting. It is a pretty big project and its effect on transportation is involved because they will be dealing with the extension of Winton Parkway. City staff has ongoing meetings with the applicant, engineer, and environmental consultant to address all the project impacts.
• Planning staff is working with a couple of builders that are interested in building in existing vacant subdivisions. Much of that work is being done administratively.
• City staff is working with Motel 6. They are somewhat tardy in providing their revised plans. The City allowed them to move forward with the foundation work while the Building Department checked their revised plans, but they started to build walls without approval, so the City issued them a stop work order. They are now asking the City to allow them to build their walls without a permit at their own risk, but the City cannot allow them to build without the plans.
The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:10 p.m. APPROVED: January 10, 2017
Chair, RANJEET JHUTTI
Secretary of the Planning Commission, RANDY HATCH
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.