1/17/19 Planning Commission Highlights

Present were: Dustin Nirschl (Fox and new chair), Stephen Huang (Khan), Greg Smith (Shea), Michael Carroll (Kuo), and Jeff Pierson (Wagner)

Planning commission is limited to discussing development issues that are related to the type of agenda item in question: Vesting Tract Map approval for 1780 residential units in Area 51 Great Park Neighborhood.

Staff report by Victo Mendez: The project will include 5 private parks and a child care facility.  The project Environmental Impact reports were done before 2013.

Public comment questioned whether supplemental EIR studies were done after the State EIR requirements were amended in 2013 to address climate change. Comment asked whether the project agreement includes a notice for renters and buyers of the school district that the development is assigned to because the Great Park Neighborhood appears to be located within the Saddleback school district.

Patrick Strader (applicant representative) responded in a public comment: As the EIR is not related to Tract Map approval, it is not an issue that the Commission can discuss at this time.  This development project is located within the Irvine School District and disclosure of school district assignment will be given to all owners.

Tract Map approved 5-0.

Selerno, an Irvine Community Land Trust 80-unit low income housing development with Wraparound services is coming to Irvine.

Staff report by Stephanie Fredi:  The applicant for this project has applied for density bonus in exchange for reduced In Lieu of Park Fees and reduction of pool patio size.  The development will have accommodation for very low income, low income and affordable income classifications.

Public Comment: Commenter requested time frame for maintaining income classifications as the documents were unclear.  Commenter said that the understanding is that the apartments and income classifications were “in perpetuity”. Commenter asked about Wraparound services for the homeless and mentally ill population. Commenter asked the city to request OCTA to place a bus stop closer to the development. Commenter also asked for amenities to address global warming such as solar panels, charging stations, water collection, and purifying systems.

Mark Asturias, ICLT Executive Director, report: Asturias reported that the affordable classifications are in perpetuity which means that the term for the affordable income classification is 99 years. After each 99-year period the control of the property will revert back to ICLT or other operators for another 99 years.

Nirschl asked Mark if there was a goal to service particular populations.

According to Asturias, the funding comes from a number of different sources, such as Families Forward, Regional Center and other organizations for the disabled, organizations that support the mentally ill population, and the Veterans Administration. Each group is assigned a specific number of units in exchange for the funding.  Asturias said that there will be Wraparound services provided to meet the needs of the various populations. There will be an office on site with staff to assist residents with obtaining services.  There is also a bus pull out at the location, so OCTA will likely put a bus stop there after the residents move in.

Pierson requested that California Green environmental standards be met such as solar panels and charging stations. Asturias responded that there will be energy efficient features and charging stations.

Nirschl asked for an OCTA bus stop.  He said that the traffic studies assume lower population than will actually reside in the units, and thus will create more traffic than the traffic studies assume.  There will be a need to reduce traffic by means of bus transportation.

Belding (Planning Staff) reported that the traffic studies followed the standard calculation methodology for determining the population of the project.

Master plan was approved 5-0.

Application for approval of a conditional use permit for AT&T wireless communication equipment installation on 3 replacement SCE street light poles.

Staff report by Katie Berg Curtis: Due to the increased demand for wireless coverage, AT&T has applied to replace 3 street light poles with poles that are equipped with wireless equipment that is placed on top of the poles and covered with a shroud. Ongoing maintenance will be provided.

The Irvine Company and members of the public have reported concerns about exposure to radio frequency waves and concerns that the replacement poles will lower property values.

The staff report stated that the projects meet State and Federal radio frequency standards and the city is not allowed to change the standards. Staff reported that there is a short period allowed (60-90 days) from date of application to obtain city approval of the project, and failure to meet the deadline would give automatic approval for the installation of the wireless equipment.

Public comments complained about health concerns as a result of the radio waves emitted by the equipment and the adverse effect the project would have on property values.  Comments stated that the proliferation of light poles makes residential areas look like they are slowly turning into an industrialized area.

Smith stated that this project is the first step in changing the character of the Irvine Community.  He reported that Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile have applications for replacement of light poles for wireless equipment.  There will be many hundreds of such poles installed in Irvine.  Smith stated that Irvine development plan has an emphasis on appearance and aesthetics, and these poles do not meet the aesthetics standard and will end up having adverse socioeconomic consequences. Smith asked who chooses the design of the poles.

Staff: SCE chooses the design for the poles that they lease to the wireless providers.

Smith voiced concern that the poles would interfere with other existing services that use radio or wireless communication.

Staff reported that SCE said that there has been no experience of interference. Staff reported that according to State and Federal Law neither health related concerns nor aesthetics is a legal reason to deny approval of the projects.

Public Comment: Commenter stated that there is new small cell technology available. These small cell installation have smaller ranges, but are less conspicuous.

Gehrich:  The city is working on a small cell technology ordinance for the City Council agenda, but the approval decision has to be made before the ordinance will be adopted.

Nirschl requested attorney to provide an opinion on the legal rights of the city with regards to this issue and then moved to continue this agenda item for the 2/21/19 Planning Commission Meeting.

Motion passed 5-0