HomeReal Estate NewsHomeowner Requests Clearer Direction from Committee Members

Homeowner Requests Clearer Direction from Committee Members

The San Marino Design Review Committee attempted to provide more clarity to Ken Wiley, owner of a single-story home at 677 S. Santa Anita Ave., regarding design changes that would help the proposed two-story Cape Cod house receive the advisory body’s approval.

The DRC unanimously continued Wiley’s case to the committee’s Feb. 1 meeting to allow him time for modifications to the proposed house’s roof, square footage, lighting and doors and windows.

“This is becoming a quite costly and frustrating process,” Wiley complained to the committee at its Dec. 21 meeting, which was the third hearing for the proposed house.

“I think we’ve done pretty much everything that’s been asked of us in this process…and we come back and there’s a detail that wasn’t brought up in previous meetings,” Wiley said in response to comments from DRC Vice Chair William Dietrick, Member John Dustin and Alternate Member Judy Johnson-Brody.

Committee Member Corinna Wong recused herself from the hearing due to her proximity to the subject property.

“When this house first started out in this committee everyone commented that it was out of place in terms of its size and massing in that location,” Dustin said.

“They’ve gone very aggressively after the height of the house, but really the interior living volume has been unchanged,” he noted, giving Wiley and his architect credit for their efforts to address cosmetic issues.

“Visually, this house, in that location with its neighboring homes, looks substantially bigger and just addressing that one issue of the height of the roof causes other problems with the appearance of the project,” Dustin added, stating that reducing the roof height is not a good way to solve the proposed house’s massing.

Alternate Member Johnson-Brody had a different take on the project.

“I think that what, to me, still needs to be considered is a little bit more of a symmetrical look,” she said. “When you look at it straight on, everything in the house—all five windows and the doors—are symmetrical and then part of the house is hanging over by what looks like it could be two or three feet.”

“I would look for a window and door system that is fully coordinated. I would look for lighting that is a little bit closer into the upstairs doors so it doesn’t look as awkward,” Johnson-Brody suggested, recommend ing that one of the two light fixtures around the recessed entry way on the front façade be removed.

“I don’t really care about the square footage. You’re allowed a certain amount. You’ve worked within that and I’m fine with that. You’ve worked very hard to lower the height of the house. When you stand there it is no different than the house to the [north] of it,” she added.

Square footage was an important issue for Vice Chair Dietrick, who noted that the 3,683 square foot house was far from the legal neighborhood average of 3,008 square feet.

“I just can’t get over the square footage. I think that it’s large compared to the houses on the street,” he said. “It needs to be decreased in size a little bit to fit better on that street and preserve the streetscape of Santa Anita Ave.”

In response to Dietrick’s concerns, Wiley stated, “I think there’s a lot of focus being placed on the house to the south of us and not enough focus being placed on the houses behind us and to the north of us, which are two-story houses and larger in square footage.”

Absorbing his colleague’s comments, Dustin took a qualified approach.

“For me it’s not really an issue of the number of the square footage. It’s the appearance of the house visually,” he noted. “This proposal would be the second largest house in that legal neighborhood.”

“…Today,” Johnson-Brody tacked on to Dustin’s comment, adding that the house appears to have more of a bungalow style.

1665 Del Mar Ave.

The DRC also unanimously continued an application for a new detached three car garage, front yard fencing and other exterior modifications to its Feb. 15 meeting.

The committee did not favor the proposed vinyl material fencing.

“The materials selected by the applicant are not found in that neighborhood,” Committee Member Corinna Wong said. “There’s a lot of vinyl fencing and that’s not a material I want to see cropping up in our city”

The committee did not support replacing the existing brick driveway with a concrete driveway, stating that it would result in too much concrete in the front yard.

“Concrete is visually more striking than brick,” Dustin explained. Dustin added that six proposed light fixtures at the rear of the house would produce too much light.

“I would call this an 80s stucco house, which probably, to me, was the worst era of home building,” Johnson-Brody said of the proposal, noting that the proposed 18-inch by 24-inch wood columns would be too large.

In regards to the homeowner’s proposal to remove wood siding from the house, Johnson-Brody stated, “you’re taking a house that has beautiful wood features and turning it into a stucco box, and then you are taking brick out and you’re putting more concrete in and it’s just lessening the neighborhood and the house itself.”

Vice Chair Dietrick agreed with his colleagues and encouraged the homeowner’s representative, Michael Cheng, to review the city’s residential design guidelines with his clients.

Cheng agreed with many of the committee members’ comments, stating that he submitted the homeowner’s desired modifications.

“It’s not a problem, I knew it was going to happen” he said of the hearing’s outcome, noting that he told the homeowner that many of the proposed design changes would not work in San Marino.

1705 Durklyn Ct.

The Design Review Committee denied a proposal to construct a new two-story Spanish Colonial Revival house on Durklyn Ct., which is a cul-de-sac.

The proposed house’s architect, Steven Volbeda, made the committee aware of the project’s precedent-setting potential.

“Most of the [residents] on Durklyn Ct. actually are for us doing this home. And they’re looking themselves to do something larger, so they’re looking to this house to see what will happen with city approval,” Volbeda said.

Vice Chair Dietrick refuted Volbeda’s claim.

“It’s not a slam dunk as far as your neighborhood survey went,” Dietrick said, noting that there were several objections from neighbors.

Resident Michelle Lumley also alerted the committee of the potential precedent set by an approval of the proposal.

“If you make a decision to okay this two story house, you’re setting a precedent for all the cul-de-sacs with 1950s single story ranch [homes],” she said.

Committee Members Wong and Dustin agreed that the home would be incompatible with the neighborhood.

As she did earlier in the meeting, Member Johnson-Brody struck a different tone in her assessment of the proposal.

“When you are looking either to the left or the right of this home, you do see two-story homes, but on Durklyn itself there are no two-story homes,” she said.

“It is a very beautifully-designed home,” Johnson-Brody added. “It would increase the value of the homes of that neighborhood. It may concern some people in San Marino because it may be a precedent for other two-story homes, but I honestly think this would be a beautiful home.”


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