Five residents began their new two-year terms on the design review committee at the city commission’s most recent meeting on July 20.
Kevin Cheng, a returning committee member, and Corinna Wong and John Dustin, former alternate members, were sworn in as members of the committee, with Judy Johnson-Brody and Chris Huang sworn in as alternate members.
After taking the oath of office, Frank Hsu was unanimously selected to serve as the chairman of the committee. Committee members also unanimously selected William Dietrick to serve as the committee’s vice chairman.
Among their fellow colleagues, Hsu and Dietrick are the longest-serving members of the committee at 13 months of service.
Four new cases awaited the fresh and newly reorganized DRC last week.
1807 Windsor Road
The DRC unanimously approved a plan for a proposed elevator shaft at the two-story home. The elevator will give the resident—a 93-year-old, longtime resident of San Marino—access to his second-story master bedroom.
The owner also plans to enclose his second-story master bedroom balcony to provide an access point for the elevator in his bedroom.
The enclosed space will add approximately 150 square feet of livable space, according to the owner’s designer. The enclosed space will “give shelter as you’re entering and exiting the elevator,” he added.
The DRC objected to proposed domed acrylic skylights, which are discouraged by the city’s design review guidelines, according to a city staff report about the project. Flat skylights were suggested instead.
To avoid damages to the existing roof, the approved elevator shaft calls for a flat roof.
“I think it’s a well designed implementation for an elevator,” said Committee Member Kevin Cheng. In approval, John Dustin added, “I don’t think it’s going to be perceived as an addition when it’s done.”
1930 Marino Terrace
Unanimous approval was granted for a new front door with extended roof overhang and front yard designer wall, but not before committee members significantly altered the owner’s original proposal.
The owner, Wendy Lew, proposed a composite material and fiberglass—both not on the city’s preapproved materials lists—for a new double front door to replace an existing wood single door with two sidelights.
She cited energy efficiency, weather resistance, durability and low maintenance as reasons for her proposal.
“We understand it’s not the norm for San Marino, but we get a lot of light on that door,” said Lew, noting that the front of the house is not visible from the street.
Instead the committee mandated that Lew, for her new front door, should maintain a single wooden door with two sidelights.
After the owner’s presentation, City of San Marino Associate Planner Amanda Merlo explained that she told Lew to “be prepared with as much information as possible,” a common message given to homeowners who propose materials not on the preapproved materials lists.
Merlo listed warranty information, product specifications and installed examples of the new material in town as information that applicants should be prepared with.
Dustin concurred that seeing new materials installed would be the best assessment tool when dealing with products not on the city’s preapproved lists. Chairman Frank Hsu and Vice Chairman Bill Dietrick agreed.
“I’m sympathetic with getting people through here in a timely fashion,” Dustin said. “At this point, I don’t feel like I have enough information.”
1780 Warwick Road
The DRC unanimously approved a composite material roof for this two-story residence, which suffered significant fire damage four months ago.
According to San Marino codes, the city can only approve a composite material roof if the home in question already has one.
The committee made an exception for this residence, which had a wood shake roof, due to the roof fire that necessitated the change.
Additionally, committee members liked that the home’s two-story façade will make the new roof minimally visible from street level.
Committee Member Corinna Wong supplemented her approval of the roof with the comment that she wouldn’t want this approval to “open the door” to applications for a composite material roof from homeowners with a visible wood shake roof.
In regard to the neighborhood, Vice Chairman Bill Dietrick noted that Warwick Road’s roof diversity makes the subject home’s new roof compatible.
“One can find every possible roof we have in town on that street,” he said.
2565 Sycamore Drive
A plan to remove existing wood shingles from the front façade of a minimal traditional home passed the committee by a 5-0 vote.
The committee approved the plan, but not without some confusion caused by the limitations of the committee’s scope of review.
Associate Planner Amanda Merlo informed the committee members that their directions only extended to the façade’s new stucco finish—to match the rest of the home and neighboring homes—and the front door entry way molding.
Merlo’s comment came after Committee Member Dustin’s analysis of new windows, the rear yard and garage, which exhibited variations from the home’s existing plans.
Dustin disapproved of the owner’s decision to fully pave the rear yard, with Wong joining in that dissent.
“A house comes as a package. You want the back to match the front,” said Wong, noting that there is an expectation in San Marino that the city feels open and garden-like.
Given the limitations placed on the committee, it approved the project with the suggestions that the garage roof match the roof of the main home and that the rear yard be open and garden-like.