The San Marino City Council denied an appeal to revoke extending the expiration dates of building permits for construction at 1001 Rosalind Road during its May 27 meeting. The 3 to 1 decision by the council paves the way for completing the construction by May 31, 2017.
Councilman Steven Huang was the only council member in favor of upholding the appeal. Vice Mayor Richard Sun recused himself from the hearing since he lives within 500 feet of the subject property.
The appeal was filed by Chris Norgaard, attorney for the Jones and Lam families, following a March 23 decision by the San Marino Planning Commission to extend the building permits. The two families live at properties adjacent to the Zhong family’s property at 1001 Rosalind Road.
The Jones and Lam families have jointly fought the proposed landscape and home plans since 2008, when permits for 1001 Rosalind Road initially received approval from the Planning Commission.
The city council approved the project when it was first appealed in 2008 and returned to the issue for a second time at its May 11 meeting. May 27 was the third time council members heard the case of 1001 Rosalind Road.
The council denied the appeal, but added a slew of new conditions that the Zhongs must abide by during the planning and building process.
These additional conditions include adding the City of San Marino and owners of the adjacent properties as insured parties in the $5,000,000 general liability insurance; submitting proof of insurance by June 22, 2016; prohibiting delivery of materials and supplies to the site outside permitted construction hours; prohibiting parking and construction staging on any city streets; requiring adherence to the 2014 landscape plan; providing a status report every three months to the Planning Commission starting on June 22, 2016; adhering to the construction schedule from September, 2015; increasing the penalty for breaching a condition to $2,000 per day; and increasing the first, second and third months’ penalties for failing to complete the project to $20,000, $50,000 and $100,000 respectively.
“You have the right to build, but you do not have the right to do it whenever and whatever you want,” said Mayor Allan Yung, who proposed the stiffer fines for failure to complete the project.
“For the neighbors, I believe denying the project now, making them run through the loops again, will only extend an additional time when you look at the hole in the ground more, and that is probably not what you want,” Mayor Yung added.
The Zhong’s landscape architect, Katherine Harvey, provided the landscaping details about how the Zhongs plan to block neighbors’ views of any unattractive sights.
Harvey walked the council and neighbors through every tree, planted and not yet planted. She characterized her proposed plan as “a restoration project,” which includes many native trees, and “a reflection of what we heard from the neighbors about screening.”
“The larger trees are now moving to the perimeter and not the center of the site,” Harvey added.
Norgaard was not as concerned about proposed trees as he was about the trees that were damaged by construction vehicles then subsequently removed, which he claimed violated city codes.
Norgaard quoted a letter from the Zhong’s arborist Rebecca Latta to City Arborist Ron Serven in which Latta identifies damages that were in violation of the City of San Marino’s Preservation of Trees code.
“If we go down this present route [of denying the appeal], there really are no teeth in these conditions,” he said. “They get what they want from the city, but they don’t give back on the conditions.”
In response to the Mayor, Norgaard said, “the adjacent neighbors prefer to look at the hole in the ground and get the project rolling in the right way.”
Jeff Jones of 1100 Oak Grove Avenue requested a revocation of all conditional use permits and the entitlements for 1001 Rosalind Road. This would require the Zhongs to go through the current design review and planning approval process, which would hold them to certain codes adopted by the city in the last few years that do not currently apply to the property.
Jones also requested more tree cover between his property and the Zhong’s property. The Zhong’s Landscape Architect, Katherine Harvey, responded that cutting more holes in the ground will create complication for the present root system.
She also noted that smaller trees will have a better opportunity to grow vigorously than a larger tree that was grown in a box, even though it will take a longer amount of time for full tree screening.
Additionally, Jones protested the size of the home, claiming that without proper tree cover that he will be looking directly in the second floor of the proposed 10,000 sq. ft. home.
John Schroder, attorney for the Zhong family, defended his client’s intention to finish the home on time.
“We’re very committed to finishing off the job as expeditiously as we can,” he said. Schroder added, “If there’s a solution that will give greater canopy cover, we will consider that.”
The Zhong’s landscape plan includes 101 trees. Thus far, they have constructed retaining walls, a bridge, half of a 10-car subterranean garage and a foundation for the home. They plan to start work on the home and tennis court in the near future.