The San Marino Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit to operate a yoga and meditation studio at 2260 Huntington Dr.
Clarisa Ru will operate Green Heart Yoga, the new occupant of the 2,618 square foot, two-story commercial space, which was once the home of the San Marino Tribune and, later, Lizzie Driver.
“I find it kind of odd that we don’t have [yoga studio and meditation center] in our community,” said Ru, who mentored five San Marino High School students last year.
“I think it would be a nice offering for our community. Yoga is available to all ages and all populations.”
Commissioners were supportive of the proposed use, but wanted to mitigate potential issues associated with limited parking space.
“The operator is also proposing to install a bicycle rack to encourage alternative transportation modes and to reduce on-site parking demand for the business,” informed Eva Choi, a planner with the City of San Marino, noting that the location had four tandem spaces behind it and two spaces leased to it from the adjacent city hall parking lot.
In the city’s staff report, Choi recommended that commission evaluate the parking situation one year after Green Heart Yoga opens its doors.
Commission Vice Chairperson Susan Jakubowski suggested that the commission evaluate the parking situation after 6 months of operation instead of the staff recommended one-year mark.
Alternate Commissioner James Okazaki also suggested an evaluation every six months.
The commission ultimately approved the staff recommended condition of a one-year check up in addition to a suggested condition from Commission Chairperson Marcos Velayos.
“It’s only really an issue if there are a ton of people and they’re coming and they’re driving and parking at city hall. And we’ll hear about it if that’s the issue,” Velayos contended. “The applicant will be ultimately responsible for ensuring customers do not use city hall parking and will implement appropriate steps which may include modifying operations to ensure that the project’s parking can satisfy demand,” he proposed.
Velayos reasoned, “If people are using parking that they’re not allowed to use at city hall, we’d rather have you figure out the solution to the problem than us trying to guess at a solution right now.”
Commissioner Howard Brody seconded Velayos’s proposed condition, adding, “I have meditated on this and completely support it,” which was received with laughter.
Ru assured the commission that her website and studio would include messages to encourage customers to walk, bike or carpool to the studio, and not park in city hall parking spaces.
Choi also explained that the business would operate seven days a week and would not host more than one session at any given time. The location would also include a small retail space in the front, according to Ru’s application.
1750 Chelsea Rd.
Commissioners approved modifications to two conditional use permits and two design review actions, which were previously approved in November 2015.
Per city staff’s recommendation, the commission denied a different part of the application—a variance for a five-foot high side yard wall located within 10 feet of the sidewalk.
The approval included the condition that the homeowner shall provide a city-approved tree protection plan for all mature trees on, near, or adjacent to his property, to be approved by Ron Serven, the city’s environmental services manager. Tree relocations shall follow the same approval process.
Steve Dahl, the project’s architect, explained that the modification request was a result of cost.
“We found that what we had gotten approved was way too darn expensive. It just was going to break the bank,” Dahl said, noting the existing plate height and roof pitch would be maintained. “Instead of a mini-mansion last time, you’ve got a house remodel,” he said of the new proposal, adding that the new project will include less excavation.
However, Dahl disagreed with city staff’s recommendation to deny the proposed five-foot retaining wall.
“The property can accommodate a taller wall than the code allows in a manner that is compatible with the neighborhood. However, staff cannot find that the physical circumstances of the property would warrant a deviation from the code,” the staff report stated, noting that most of the wall would be out of public view.
“We’re going to get rid of that five-foot fence across the top and tuck it underground by cutting through the hill with the driveway,” Dahl responded, referring to the proposed wall as “subterranean screening.”
“The gate, which we’re proposing should be five-feet—continue that line—will be five feet lower than what you have out there right now,” he added, claiming that the code of a four-foot wall within 20 feet of the sidewalk would result in more excavation.
“What started out as a cost-cutting measure turned into a better product,” Dahl concluded.
Dahl’s retaining wall found its only supporter in Okazaki, who—like his colleagues—approved of the rest of the proposal as well.
“I could support all the conditional changes, including the one-foot difference in the height of the wall. For me it’s okay because it’s an unusual condition,” he said.
“I can’t see how we could meet [the legal findings for] a variance here,” said Brody, adding an amendment that the owner implement a maintenance plan to give the home—which has been vacant for six years—an occupied appearance.
Chairperson Velayos stated, “The variance findings just cannot be made. We have very specific legal findings we need to make and I just don’t think they can be made in this case.”
In regard’s the Brody’s recommended amendment, he added, “If it is going to continue to be vacant after this approval, we want to ensure that, at least, the site is being maintained properly.” The owner of the residence was present for the hearing.
An application to operate a music academy at 2491 Huntington Dr. was withdrawn from consideration by its applicant.
An application to appeal the decision of the San Marino Design Review Committee to deny a proposed two-story house and detached two-car garage was also withdrawn from consideration by its applicant.
The Planning Commission will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, Apr. 26 at 7 p.m. at 2200 Huntington Dr.