8/2/2018 Irvine Planning Commission Meeting Notes


  1. More light poles to be installed throughout city for installation of small cell wireless technology in order to boost internet service in Irvine.
  2. Affordable housing for seniors in Great Park Neighborhoods designed at minimum required standards. (Susan’s comments: After the commission meeting, Patrick Strader, from Starpoint Ventures real estate developers, personally told me that he does not offer other design options that might better meet the needs of seniors, like Universal Design, because it is not required. Anthony Kuo, after the meeting, stated that many seniors do not want Universal design. I asked him if he knows what universal design standards are, and he said “no” even though I described them in my public comment. I told him that the Planning Office has a handout describing them and he could read it. I said that the Universal design concept refers to installing items that can be adjusted to meet ADA accessibility standards when needed and the cost of Universal design is not all that costly at time of construction).
  3. Original approval of development projects in Great Park bypasses planning commission approval with City Council having sole right of approval. (Susan’s comment: Is the City Council acting in their role as City Council or in their role as the Great Park Board? What restrictions are placed on the role of the planning commission for Great Park developments?)
  4. The Planning Commission was asked to analyze the Veteran’s Cemetery option of the ARDA site. The scope of the analysis study was quite broad.

Present were: Dustin Nirschl (Fox), Greg Smith (Shea), Patty Bartlett (Schott), John Duong

(Lalloway) and Anthony Kuo (Wagner)

Agenda Item 1: Approval of minutes: Approved

Agenda Item 2: Presentation on Small Cell Wireless Design on streetlight poles.

The presentation was to introduce the Planning Commission to the proposals submitted by Verizon and SCE.

SCE and Verizon have submitted 9 applications (an application required for each light pole) for installation of special light poles designed for small cell wireless technology to boost large cell internet services for cell phones in Irvine to replace the current SCE light poles. Various pole styles were presented. The SCE light poles have the equipment fully enclosed and not visible, but the light poles would be taller than the current light poles. Planners stated that over time it is likely that thousands of poles would be located throughout Irvine.

Another option would be for the city to install the special light poles which would give the city more flexibility in choosing the design of the light poles, however, the light poles would have to have electric meters on them and the city would have to pay for the electricity. Under this option the small cell technology could create a revenue source for Irvine.

Kuo: Kuo asked what would happen if SCE installed a pole then decided it no longer wanted to service the pole. The presenter stated that SCE would pay to replace the SCE pole. Kuo also voiced concern about having inconsistent pole designs and thus stated that there would have to be an agreement on design ordinance standards. Planners responded that currently the cell poles are owned by SCE and some privately owned poles.

Nirschl: When Nirschl asked about the cost of the poles to the city, the planners said that poles in city that are 10 years or older will have to be replaced and the city will pay a decommissioning cost. Planners said that if the city owned the poles and collected the revenue, the city would have flexibility in design options. SCE has their own styles which they will have as options to choose from. Nirschl asked staff to provide guidelines regarding the consequences of denying applications for small cell wireless poles.

Smith: Smith stated that he wants consistency in light poles throughout villages and cities and he does not want the cheapest option as he does not want to lower standards for poles. Smith said that aesthetics has priority over price. Smith wants compatibility between the poles and existing aesthetics in the city. Smith prefers option that will allow the city to dictate and control the pole design. Smith further stated that he wants the meter boxes underground so that the boxes are out of sight.

Bartlett: Bartlett said that she is worried about all the pockets in Irvine where there is no cell phone, GPS, or internet connection. Bartlett wants to make sure that all areas are given poles. She also reported that she is concerned about aesthetics.

Duong: Wants estimate of what the built out quantity of poles will be.

Agenda item 3:Third Amendment to Great Park Neighborhoods Master Affordable Housing Plan and conditional Use Permit. Patrick Strader was present representing the applicant.

This is a plan for 2 senior affordable apartment complexes, site 1 for 22 units, and site 2 for 165 units. 19 units or 10 % of the units will be ADA accessible, and the rest will be ADA adaptable at the apartment owner’s expense. The applicant has applied to re-locate the complexes from district 5 and 6 to District 1 in planning area 51. The applicant has also applied to reclassify 1056 units in the development to additive as a retroactive additive classification. The additive classification issue has been continued to a future planning commission date. Site 1 is to be very low income and site 2 to be very low income and moderate income apartments. Planners stated that this project has no nexus with the Irvine Land Trust.

Public Comment (mine):

I spoke about the fact that all seniors are in declining condition over their remaining life span and will eventually need ADA Accessible amenities. If the apartments do not have them, then they are designed not as permanent housing, but as temporary housing. I also said that owners are more likely to terminate leases with impaired seniors rather than spend money to upgrade the apartments. I suggested that the apartments have universal design amenities which are designed to meet seniors’ needs throughout their life span such as raised toilets, raised outlets, lowered light switches and temperature controls, and adjustable counters and closet poles. I said that the cost of Universal Design amenities is not all that expensive at time of construction. I also complained about the plans describing Residents Services office in site d1 for 22 apartments and no Residents Services office in site 2 for 165 residences.

Applicant reported that both sites had residents’ services office but the offices had different names. Applicant said that anyone could put in grab bars. (Susan’s concern: It appears that Patrick Strader thinks that the only design requirements for ADA accessible units is grab bars.)

Smith: Greg asked the applicant, Patrick Strader, if the conditional use permit could be amended to make the owners of the apartments obligated to upgrade the apartments should seniors require ADA accessible amenities. Applicant said that there is no mandated enforceable requirement but could ask the owners to volunteer to make the upgrades free of cost. It was pointed out that the original project permit and approval was made by the City Council only and thus bypassed the Planning Commission as this is the practice for the property in the Great Park. Greg Smith informed the public that therefore the Planning Commission cannot amend the agreement between the City Council and the applicant. Greg told the applicant that he should understand that the owner operator must adapt apartments to ADA accessible units as needed. (Susan’s question: why does the applicant come to the planning commission for approval to amend the conditional use permit for changing location of apartment sites but planning commission cannot amend other conditions of approval? Does this mean that the Planning commission can amend existing conditions, but cannot add conditions?)

Approval given: 3-0 with Duong and Bartlett recusing themselves due to conflict of interest.

Agenda item 4: Major modification to master plan for tract in Portola Springs:

The modifications do not add residential units bust increase the size of unit lots and homes. The floor plans of units have been changed and therefore need revision of project conditions of approval.

Approval: 5-0.

Agenda Item 5: Smith’s memo wanting to discuss scope of City Council’s direction to analyze the ARDA site for Veteran’s Cemetery location and submit analysis by Sept 6, 2018.

Smith reported that the directive from City Council did not mention the golf course and Smith asked that both sites be evaluated and analyzed. Planning staff said that the Sept. 6th date for completion and submission of the analyses could possibly not be met but the Planning Department would try. Smith reported that the scope of the analysis was set forth by the City Council which included working with the legal team to assess contractual obligations, prepare time lines for decontamination project, working with Finance Commission to assess costs, and Traffic study by Transportation Commission.

Public Comments: Public comments pointed out that the voters had spoken and that State, Federal and local entities have approved the ARDA site and this request by City Council is a stalling tactic. Public Comments also pointed out that both sites have substantial contamination.

Smith: Planning Commission needs more direction for staff as to who all needs to provide input into the review and analysis. He also said that both the ARDA and Golf Course sites need to be analyzed.

Bartlett: Bartlett said that this is a stall tactic and the the city should just follow the voters will. Bartlett did agree that the scope of the analysis should include the Golf Course site.

Duong: Duong asked whether the ARDA site analysis had been made before.

Approval of plan to analyze both ARDA and Golf Course sites using documents already obtained and others as needed.