By: Cory Bilicko
At its May 16 meeting, the Signal Hill Planning Commission conducted three public workshops and a public hearing, as well as receiving a community development director’s report regarding lighting fixtures at a local Honda dealership.
The first public workshop concerned plans for a new custom single-family dwelling at 1900 Temple Ave. The project is a 2,991-square-foot two-story home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and an attached 780-square-foot three-car garage on an 8,264-square-foot vacant lot in a residential low-density zoning district.
After staff presented specifics on the proposed design, including the color choice for the home, the commissioners made remarks on the project, particularly concerning its color, which is yellow.
Commissioner Shannon Murphy commented that she did not like the color, which appeared to be “mustard,” especially since the plan includes large areas with no design elements to break it up. Colleen Doan, associate planner in the Community Development Department, then clarified that the color is actually more of a pastel, despite its appearance on the rendering posters.
Doan and the commissioners offered ideas for adding design elements, such as a stone veneer in the front of the home and “a more inviting” entranceway.
The Signal Hill City Council had previously denied a project consisting of 10 two- and three-story units at 1933 Temple Ave. Developers submitted a new application for a revised project consisting of all two-story units and one less unit.
The Planning Commission workshop Tuesday night served as the first step in the review procedure. The workshop highlighted revisions to the plans, the specific plan with the proposed deviations with the underlying residential high-density zoning and new view-analysis reports. Staff also provided an overview of a related neighborhood meeting on Feb. 6.
“This is becoming a high-profile site,” Doan said. “It’s something we’ve been looking at for so many months– and years actually–now, and yet it’s fallen into quite a disrepair state. Today I was out [at the site], and their trash bin was full, plus there’s trash piled all over the place.”
Doan also mentioned overgrown weeds on the property.
She lamented having to engage code-enforcement on the site at the same time the city council is being asked to approve the revision.
“The previous project, of course, went through a very robust planning process, and [the city] council did deny it without prejudice in January of 2017,” Doan said. “That was based on building heights and view impacts.”
After hearing from the developers, who said they will indeed clean up the property, commissioner Tom Benson said he respects the work that has been completed on the project thus far, and he acknowledged various challenges concerning it, including the mitigation of noise and privacy concerns, as well as the fact that the parcel of land is a challenging one.
“In Signal Hill, we live in a higher-density area,” Benson said. “We’re in Southern California. It will always be that way. In communal living, like condominiums, privacy and noise is always something that is a concern.”
The commission also considered a zoning ordinance amendment to allow indoor soccer facilities in the light-industrial district and a conditional-use permit (CUP) to allow Outbreak Soccer to operate at 2953 Obispo Ave.
“Futsal Soccer opened as a non-traditional use in 2011, and based on three things– the location, the characteristics of the use and the original operator– hindsight from staff’s conclusion was that the location was not the best fit, and, in fact, indoor soccer may be unique from other athletic training facilities.”
According to staff, several residents living near the location have complained about the amount of noise and light produced by the indoor soccer facility. Outbreak Soccer operators were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting and assured the commission they have indeed addressed the issues by scheduling matches accordingly and communicating with residents.
Planning Commission Chair Devon Austin acknowledged the facility operators’ efforts to address residents’ concerns and thanked them.
“When the new owners (Outbreak) took over, and I just want to compliment you,” Austin said, “my phone stopped ringing.”
The commission also discussed approving a one-year extension of a CUP for seven consolidated drill sites that Signal Hill Petroleum (SHP) owns and operates.
SHP currently has a CUP that allows for oil and gas production at the sites, as well as storage, processing and transport of products. The CUP is set to expire on June 30, so SHP has requested a one-year extension to allow them to continue activities uninterrupted while staff continue discussion regarding a long-term extension.
After discussion, in which staff acknowledged SHP’s responsible operations, Commissioner Jane Fallon motioned to approve the resolution, and Commissioner Rose Richard seconded it. The commission then voted to approve it.
Fred Angiuli, general manager of Long Beach Honda, which is located in Signal Hill, requested approval of modifications to the exterior lighting at the parking lot of the dealership. The existing light fixtures are not energy-efficient but match the appearance of others in the city’s auto center. However, the proposed fixtures, which are energy-efficient, do not match those already in place at the center.
Staff recommended that the commission maintain a precedence by upholding the existing auto center lighting design standard of round light fixtures.
After hearing remarks from Angiuli, who explained that Honda’s corporate office had mandated the change, the commission decided that the matter required further discussion.
The Planning Commission announced that Andrew Barber of CPA and accounting firm Crisell & Associates, 2199 E. Willow St., has been selected for its Beautification Award, for “the contemporary and attractive redesign of the building’s exterior.”
Austin also introduced Phllis Thorne as the new administrative assistant in the Community Development Department.