Does This Look Like an Interior Remodel and 2nd Story Addition to You?...
We didn't think so. Let me back up... There's good news and bad news. The good news is that on May 5th City Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to extend the IDCO to allow the architectural firm and staff to continue drafting new Design Guidelines for New Construction in Burbank. Thank you to all the Preserve Burbank members who spoke at the meeting and sent emails in support of extending the IDCO beyond the original 45 day limit.
You may recall that on April 28th City Council was asked to evaluate 9 properties for "pipeline" status which would exempt them from the IDCO. You may also recall that a number of properties were granted pipeline status, others were rejected and some were sent back to the applicant and staff for further review. THE TWO PHOTOGRAPHS ABOVE are for the project at 1071 E. Angeleno, the first property that was reviewed that night and the first one to be voted into pipeline status by a narrow vote of 3-2. Remember, pipeline status has nothing to do with the size or design of the project. City Council was asked to evaluate each project on three criteria: 1. Were plans substantially complete as of the date of the IDCO? 2. Did the applicant act in good faith? 3. Was their failure to apply for a plan check and pay the plan check fee prior to the IDCO adoption beyond the applicant's control?
Several members of Preserve Burbank felt that with this particular property city staff presented documentation that showed it was the applicant's fault that the project had not been approved by the planning department prior to the IDCO deadline because they had also been requesting a "bonus .05% increase in their FAR" and were arguing with the planners over the required criteria to qualify for that increase in size. The applicant also failed to produce blueprints to support that they were "substantially complete." Joy Forbes, the Community Development Director held up another properties set of plans that night and said that "The plans are about this thick." Despite Joy's written emails to the applicant prior to the implementation of the IDCO warning them that their project would likely NOT be "grandfathered in" she seemed to contradict that position by aggressively stating to Council that this project SHOULD BE included in the pipeline.
On May 11th we wrote a letter to City Council to thank them for voting to renew the IDCO, but also shared our concerns about the approval for pipeline status for 1071 E. Angeleno and asked that they re-consider that decision. We were questioning the staff's presentation of this project and the lack of availability of the plans at the meeting as proof of being "substantially complete." We also questioned the "good faith" of the applicant submitting this project as an Interior Remodel with a Second Story Addition instead of a tear-down, which we think it really is. On May 12th, much to our delight, Council voted to bring the property back to the next City Council meeting for additional review. That brings us to last night's meeting...
As always, if you would like to watch the streaming video of the meeting you can click on this link and fast forward the video to 05:09:19 http://burbank.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=29&clip_id=6815
Prior to the meeting we sent another email to City Council outlining our opinions and concerns about how this project was presented to council on April 28th. We went into great detail about how we think the delay in this project was the applicant's fault and after viewing the blueprints currently at city hall, felt the project was and still is NOT substantially complete. We also adamantly objected to this project's being given the bonus .05% FAR based on terms proposed by the applicant which are not according to code and that the applicant still has not achieved in their plans. However, before they began discussing the project, all five members of City Council were informed by the City Attorney that a rescission of a property that had already been approved into the pipeline would require proof that the applicant had committed fraud or misrepresentation in their plan submission. She warned them that this could easily cause a lawsuit by the applicant. As we had never suggested the applicant had committed fraud, it was pretty much game over. That's the bad news.
The good news is that our email had enough additional issues in it to cause a rather healthy debate about the planning department's practices as it pertains to deadlines, permit expirations and general attitudes about enforcement of codes and negotiating with applicants as it pertains to code interpretation. We plan to pursue many of these issues as part of the New Design Guidelines and with the properties currently "in the pipeline." We'll keep you posted.