Inter-Departmental Correspondence





November 22, 2004



10:00 a.m.



December 7, 2004



Honorable Board of Supervisors



Marcia Raines, Director of Environmental Services



Consideration of a Use Permit Amendment, pursuant to Section 6500 of the San Mateo County Zoning Regulations, to replace the existing tennis court lighting providing light to the six existing tennis courts at the Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club located off Alpine Road in the unincorporated Portola Valley area of San Mateo County. (Appeal from the Planning Commission’s decision denying the Use Permit Amendment based on the inability to pass a motion to approve it.)


County File No.:

PLN 2003-00060 (Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club)




Grant the appeal and approve the Use Permit Amendment for the tennis court lighting as agreed to by the parties through mediation by making the required findings and adopting the conditions of approval in Attachment A.




The Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club is requesting to replace its existing tennis court lighting serving the six existing tennis courts. The existing lighting levels are considered below levels required for a club or recreational play and the Club would like to increase the lighting levels to meet the needs of their members. The existing tennis courts have six light fixtures per court and the Club is requesting to replace with six new light fixtures per court.




Report Prepared By: Sara Bortolussi, AICP, Project Planner, Telephone 650/363-1839


Appellant/Applicant/Owner: Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club


Location: 3249 Alpine Road, Portola Valley


APNs: 077-171-030 and 077-171-040


Size: 0.48 acre (tennis court area only)


Existing Zoning: R-E/S-11 (Residential Estates/ 1-acre minimum lot size)


General Plan Designation: Residential/Future Study


Sphere-of-Influence: Town of Portola Valley


Existing Land Use: Swim and Tennis Club


Water Supply: Water is provided via an existing connection with California Water Service Company. The tennis court lighting project will not impact any existing water usage.


Sewage Disposal: Sewage disposal is provided via an existing connection with West Bay Sanitary District. The tennis court lighting project will not impact any existing sewage disposal.


Flood Zone: Flood Zone C, Area of minimal flooding. Panel 060311 0265B; Effective Date July 5, 1984.


Environmental Evaluation: An Initial Study and Negative Declaration was prepared for this project with a public review and comment period from January 13, 2004 to February 2, 2004. One comment was received from the Town of Portola Valley regarding reflective light resulting from the new light fixtures.


Setting: The Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club is located along Alpine Road in the unincorporated Portola Valley area. The tennis courts are located between Alpine Road and the existing tennis court office and lounge area. A portion of tennis court #5 is located adjacent to Los Trancos Creek. The tennis courts are surrounded by a 10-foot high fence and windscreen, and a portion of the fence in tennis court #5 will be increased an additional eight feet to keep tennis balls from entering the creek. All fixtures will be equipped with shields to prevent glare onto Alpine Road, a County scenic road.








January 29, 2003


Application submitted.


November 2003


Applicant requests staff to prepare an Initial Study and Negative Declaration to address environmental impacts of replacing the tennis court lighting.


December 16, 2003


Due to a change in the lighting manufacturer, revised plans submitted showing the revised tennis court lighting layout.


January 13, 2004


Initial Study and Negative Declaration posted for public review and comment.


January 29, 2004


Received a comment from Town of Portola Valley


January 30, 2004


Received response to comment from the applicant’s lighting consultant.


February 5, 2004


Evening Field Inspection by staff with residents along South Balsamina to view existing tennis court lighting.


March 24, 1004


Planning Commission public hearing. Based on an inability to pass a positive motion (2-2), the project was deemed denied by the Planning Commission.


April 12, 2004


Appeal filed by the Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club.


September 14, 2004


Board of Supervisors Public Hearing. Continued to November 9, 2004 to allow the parties to enter mediation.


November 9, 2004


Board of Supervisors public hearing. The parties presented a copy of an agreement as a result of the mediation. Staff requests a continuance to December 7, 2004 to prepare a staff report with conditions of approval that reflect the agreement between the parties.


December 7, 2004


Board of Supervisors public hearing.







The Planning Commission’s vote proceeded as follows. Commissioner Wong moved to approve the request but with lighting at a lower level, a maximum of 60FC, than the Club was proposing and Commissioner Kennedy seconded the motion. The vote was 2-2 (Commissioners Bomberger and Silver dissenting; Commissioner Nobles absent) and the application was deemed denied. Key factors in the Commission’s decision were the impacts of the new lights on the surrounding neighborhood, Alpine Road and Los Trancos Creek, as well as the safety of the Club members. The dissent was based primarily on concerns about the lighting impacts.





The issue of replacing the tennis court lighting fixtures at the Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club has generated concerns within the community. Key issues surrounded the number of lighting fixtures, the increased lighting levels and the impacts of those modifications on the surrounding community. After much discussion the parties involved, the Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club, the Ladera Community Association, representatives from the Town of Portola Valley and the surrounding neighbors, agreed to mediation to try and resolve the outstanding issues. The topics of discussion in the mediation involved not only the proposed tennis lighting, but involved conditions related to the existing and future operation of the Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club. An agreement between the parties was made and presented to the Board of Supervisors at the November 9, 2004 meeting. The agreement was reached on the day prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting and staff had not been given the opportunity to review the agreement prior to that meeting. Staff requested a continuance to December 7, 2004 to allow for time to review the agreement and prepare a report with conditions of approval that reflect the points of the agreement for the Board’s consideration. Staff has reviewed the agreement and determined that it does not conflict with any established regulations.





Conformance with the General Plan


The replacement of tennis court lighting complies with all applicable General Plan policies with specific discussion of the following:


Policy 1.31 (Regulate the Location, Siting and Design of Development in Sensitive Habitats) discusses the proper siting of development in these areas to have the least adverse impacts. A portion of tennis court #5 is located adjacent to Los Trancos Creek, which is a sensitive habitat area. All lighting fixtures will be equipped with shields directing light onto the court surfaces and away from the creek. An 8-foot extension to the surrounding fence will be erected on portions near the creek along tennis court #5, to keep all tennis balls within the confines of the court and out of the creek area. Conditions have been added to the project which address these issues. The proposed tennis court lighting will be located on the existing tennis courts, which are adjacent to Alpine Road. All lighting fixtures will be equipped with shields directing light to the court surface and away from Alpine Road.


Policy 6.14, (Site Planning for Public and Private Facilities) discusses designing sites to accommodate recreation uses that minimize adverse effects on the natural environment and adjoining private ownership as well as encouraging recreation sites that accommodate a variety of recreational activities. The Ladera Oaks Club is a private recreational facility, which has operated at this location for a number of years. The current lighting levels on the tennis courts are well below levels recommended for recreational play, which is why the Club is proposing to replace the fixtures. The Club does provide a variety of recreational activities for its members. All new fixtures will be equipped with shields, which direct light to the court surfaces and away from neighboring private property, sensitive areas and Alpine Road.


Policy 6.29 (Protection, Operation and Maintenance) allows for recreational facilities to operate and maintain their facilities. As stated above, the existing tennis court lighting levels are below recommended lighting levels for recreational play and the applicant is requesting these facilities be updated to allow for better visibility on the court when playing.


Conformance with the Zoning Regulations


Permitted Uses: The zoning of this parcel is Residential Estates. Section 6500 of the Zoning Regulations allows for the location of private clubs within this zoning district with the issuance of a conditional use permit. See below for further discussion.


Conformance with the Use Permit Regulations


The existing Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club has a conditional use permit to operate their private recreation facility at this location. As such, when the Club proposes to expand the Club’s facilities or activities beyond the limits currently established in this use permit, a Use Permit Amendment is required. In this particular case, the Club is requesting replacement of the existing tennis court lights serving the six existing tennis courts.


The proposed lighting system for each court will be controlled by a timer that will ensure that lights are on only during the agreed upon hours. All light fixtures will be equipped with light shields to reduce the amount of light that falls outside the courts and to reduce glare onto Alpine Road.


In order for the Board of Supervisors to grant the Conditional Use Permit Amendment, the Board must find:


“That the establishment, maintenance, and/or conducting of the use, will not, under the circumstances of the particular case, be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the neighborhood.”


Staff believes that, as conditioned, the replacement of the tennis court lighting will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the neighborhood. The existing lighting levels are considered well below lighting levels required for recreational play such that it can be dangerous playing tennis in the evening hours. The light shields will confine light to the tennis courts themselves reducing impacts onto Alpine Road and Los Trancos Creek. The requirements for lighting timers will help control the amount of time the lights are in use. Lastly, the parties most affected by the new lights have reached an agreement through mediation, which provides assurances that the use will not be detrimental to the neighborhood. For these reasons, staff believes the finding can be made to grant the Use Permit Amendment.





An Initial Study and Negative Declaration was prepared for this project at the request of the applicant. The document was posted for public review and comments between January 13, 2004 and February 2, 2004. One comment letter was received from the Town of Portola Valley. The issues discussed in the letter include: (1) light spillage between the tennis courts and the creek and a request to consider the use of cut-off shields on those light fixtures; and (2) the increase in lighting levels will increase the lighting that reflects into the sky resulting in an increase in the amount of glow from the lights and a request to have the lighting consultant assess the increase in reflected light.


Representatives for the Town of Portola Valley took part in the mediation sessions to resolve the outstanding issues related to the tennis lighting. Staff believes any issues the Town of Portola Valley may have had have since been resolved.





The project has been reviewed by all applicable reviewing agencies including the Building Inspection Section, Department of Public Works, Woodside Fire Protection as well as by the Ladera Community Association (LCA). All reviewing agencies have recommended approval of the project.




The upgraded tennis court lighting project keeps the commitment of Preserving and Providing People Access to the Natural Environment and associated goal number 15, provide residents with nearby access to green space such as parks and recreational opportunities. The upgraded tennis court lighting project contributes to this commitment and goal by providing a recreational facility usable during non working hours.




There is no fiscal impact of this project on the County.





Recommended Findings and Conditions of Approval


Location Map


Tennis Court Layout


Copy of Agreement


September 14, 2004 Board of Supervisors Staff Report


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Attachment A






Permit or Project File Number:

Board Meeting Date: December 7, 2004


PLN 2003-00060


Prepared By: Sara Bortolussi

For Adoption By: Board of Supervisors




Regarding the Environmental Review, Find:



That the Negative Declaration is complete, correct, adequate, and prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act and applicable State and County guidelines.



That, on the basis of the Initial Study, comments received hereto, and testimony presented and considered at the public hearing, that there is no substantial evidence that the project, if subject to the mitigation measures contained in the Negative Declaration, will have a significant effect on the environment.



That the Negative Declaration reflects the independent judgment of San Mateo County.



That the mitigation measures identified in the Negative Declaration, agreed to by the applicant, placed as conditions on the project, and identified as part of this public hearing, have been incorporated into the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan in conformance with California Public Resources Code Section 21081.6.


Regarding the Use Permit Amendment, Find:



That the establishment, maintenance, and/or conducting of the use, will not, under the circumstances of the particular case, be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the neighborhood.




Planning Division



This approval is for the replacement of the six existing 1,000 watt light fixtures on each of the Club’s six tennis courts with six modern 1,000 watt light fixtures at the same height as the existing fixtures, and the extension of parts of the fence on tennis court #5 as presented to Planning Commission on March 24, 2004. Any modifications to these plans, not authorized by this approval, will require a separate application for Use Permit Amendment and consideration by the Planning Commission at a public hearing.



There shall be annual administrative reviews of Ladera Oaks to check for compliance with all conditions of approval. Any expansions of the Club’s facilities or activities beyond the limits currently established in this use permit will require an amendment to this use permit.



The proposed lighting system shall be modified, if needed, so that the average in-bounds illumination (when measured as specified by the IESNA) never exceeds 60FC. Compliance with this condition shall be certified in writing by a lighting consultant upon installation, whenever the light fixtures are replaced or upgraded (excluding cleaning and relamping with similar light bulbs), and at any other times requested by the County. It is agreed that Ladera Oaks can replace its tennis lights from time to time in the future without additional use permit amendment as long as (1) the number of light fixtures is not increased, (2) the new bulbs do not exceed 1,000 watts per light fixture, (3) the new light fixtures’ lenses are not higher than 22 feet above the court surface, (4) the new light fixtures do not create more light spill or glare beyond the tennis court fences than the lighting system they replace, and (5) the new light fixtures do not cause the average in-bounds illumination (when measured as specified by the IESNA) to exceed 60FC.



All light fixtures shall be equipped with light cutoff shields in order to eliminate glare and light spillage onto Alpine Road, nearby residences and Los Trancos Creek.



All six tennis courts may be lighted from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Monday-Friday and from dusk (as determined by the photocell in the lighting system control panel, never before 4:00 p.m.) to 9:00 p.m. daily, year-round. Courts 3 and 4 may be lighted until 10:00 p.m. daily, year-round. Courts 5, and 6 may be lighted until 10:00 p.m. daily, March through October. Courts 1 and 2 may be lighted until 10:00 p.m. up to 20 times per year to accommodate interclub* play. The Club staff shall provide the staff, equipment, and/or procedures needed to make sure the lights go off by the times listed above.



A typical evening interclub uses 5 courts. Eight Ladera Oaks members play matches (3 doubles and 2 singles) against eight members of another club. An interclub usually lasts about 2 hours.



The Club shall monitor tennis activities to ensure that loud or unnecessary noise is not generated by such activities.



Tennis courts shall not be rented to the general public during hours of illumination.



No tennis play shall occur prior to 7:00 a.m. on weekdays or prior to 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Tennis play shall end by 10:00 p.m. daily.



The lighting system for each of the three 2-court pods at Ladera Oaks shall have its own on/off switch. There shall also be a motion detector on each tennis court, which will keep the lights on its 2-court pod turned on during the allowed hours of illumination for up to 10 minutes after it detects motion on that court. There shall also be time clocks, which override the on-court switches and motion sensors and prevent the tennis court lights from being turned on at times other than those allowed in the use permit.




A maximum of 80 interclub matches may be played annually with the tennis courts lights on.



A maximum of three tennis tournaments may be held annually with the tennis court lights on, and those tournaments shall end by 9:00 p.m. At least 75% of the participants at those tournaments must be Ladera Oaks members and none of the participants shall be professional tennis players (except the Ladera Oaks Tennis Pros). No other tennis tournaments may be played during hours of illumination. Open singles and doubles play, interclub matches, intraclub matches and member socials including twilight tennis socials are not considered “tournaments.”



Ladera Oaks will resurface its tennis courts at intervals not to exceed 48 months. When resurfacing its tennis courts, Ladera Oaks will use high quality commercial court coloring materials commonly used in the court resurfacing industry. The manufacturer’s published Tristimulas Value of the color(s) used on the in-bounds areas of the tennis courts shall not exceed the Tristimulas Value for “Winter Green” published by California Products Corporation in 2004, and the average of the manufacturer’s published values for the colors used on in-bounds and out-of-bounds areas shall not exceed the Tristimulas Value for “Winter Green” published by California Products Corporation in 2004.



There shall be no expansion of the tennis spectator facilities.



The applicant shall submit an erosion and sediment control plan, which delineates what erosion control measures will be used as well as where they will be installed. This plan shall be submitted, reviewed, and approved by the Planning Division before issuance of a building permit to begin the tennis court lighting upgrade. All approved measures must be installed and inspected prior to beginning any construction work on-site. The erosion control measures shall be maintained and replaced as necessary throughout the lighting replacement project.



Restrict the setting of the new light poles in court #5 to a June 15 to October 15 construction window. This will ensure that steelhead is not impacted by erosion or runoff pollution that may result from the project.



During the setting of the new light poles on court #5, use appropriate erosion control methods to keep exposed soils from being washed into the creek. A qualified biologist shall check the site once a week during construction to ensure that erosion control methods are maintained and effective.



Design and implement appropriate runoff and stormwater pollution control measures during construction to protect the creek from a chemical/oil spill incident from heavy equipment.



Assuming presence of California Red-Legged Frog (CRLF) and Western Pond Turtle (WPT) within the proposed work area along court #5, have a qualified biologist conduct a pre-construction survey for CRLF and WPT and remove any vegetation or debris that may provide cover or conceal these species. A qualified biologist shall brief construction workers on identifying CRLF and WPT. If any are found during work, workers are to stop and contact USFWS or CDFG and the San Mateo County Planning Division immediately.



Restrict all heavy machinery use to the existing concrete tennis court and paved parking areas to protect the creek bank from compaction.



If any vegetation is removed to install the new lighting poles, the applicant shall re-vegetate the area with shade tolerant natives. This shall be confirmed to have occurred prior to the final approval of the light installation.



Replace the current tennis court fence with a fence at least eight feet taller than the existing on the east side of Court #5 and the first 10-15 feet of the north end of court #5 in order to keep tennis balls out of the creek. If pruning is necessary in order to erect a taller fence, restrict coast live oak pruning to July or August (or as recommended by an arborist). The fence installation shall occur prior to a final approval of the tennis court lighting installation. The new fence shall match the existing fence.



If construction is to occur between February 15 and August 1, nesting raptors may be disturbed by construction activities. Conduct a pre-construction survey for nesting raptors. If nesting raptors are found, a buffer zone, (radius to be determined in consultation with CDFG) may be established around the nest during the breeding season.



During the construction phases of the project, the applicant shall be restricted to those limits indicated in the County Noise Regulations.



Ladera Oaks shall submit a landscape plan to the Planning Division for review and approval prior to issuance of the building permit and electrical permit for the new lighting. Copies of the landscape plan will also be provided to designated member(s) of the community. The goal of that landscaping plan shall be to improve the landscaping between the tennis courts and Alpine Road to increase the visual screening between the tennis courts, and Alpine Road and residences across Alpine Road. The plan shall recommend how to maintain that landscaping at a height at least one foot above the tennis court light fixtures along the Alpine Road side of the tennis courts. Once a landscaping plan is approved by the County, Ladera Oaks shall implement it prior to a final inspection on the building or electrical permits.



The applicant shall consult with a certified arborist regarding the additional planting of trees along the Alpine Road Corridor where existing vegetation has been thinned. In no case shall existing vegetation be placed in danger or removed, unless its health warrants removal. Any removal, however, will require a separate tree removal permit.



When the Club is hosting evening events, which end at 10:00 p.m. or later, the Club shall keep posted a sign within the clubhouse, requesting members and guests to depart from the Club in a direct and quiet manner.



Whenever the leased parking lot across Alpine Road is used after 10:00 p.m. in conjunction with weekend activities held at the Club, the Club shall ensure that a security guard is present in the leased parking lot to monitor and control noise associated with departing members and guests.



The current membership consisting of 325 full members and 200 associate members shall be the maximum membership allowed.



There shall be no amplified live or amplified recorded music allowed outside of the clubhouse.



Organized activities which generate noise, such as parties, dances, teen nights, etc., held at Ladera Oaks on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights shall end by 10:00 p.m. Such activities held at Ladera Oaks on Friday or Saturday nights shall end by midnight and amplified music at those Friday and Saturday night activities shall end by 11:30 p.m. Events held on Friday and Saturday nights, which were booked prior to adoption of this condition, must end by 1:00 a.m. The Club may schedule up to two social events for its members a year which end after midnight. These events must begin on Fridays, Saturdays, or on New Year’s Eve, and must end by 1:00 a.m. Amplified music at these events must end by 12:30 a.m.



The applicant shall immediately notify the County Planning Division if the applicant for any reason loses its right to use the parking facilities currently under lease.



A 6-month schedule of events shall be assembled and be made available to the neighbors or County upon request.



Swim meets shall be limited to five (5) swim meets per year.



No starter guns shall be used at swim meets, and any loud speakers used at swim meets shall be directed away from Alpine Road and Ladera.



Any swimming activities prior to 6:00 a.m. shall not adversely impact residents across Alpine Road. An adverse impact is defined as noise continuously and clearly audible to any such resident.



The high intensity deck lights for the swimming pool area shall not be illuminated prior to 5:00 a.m. or later than 10:15 p.m., except that they may remain on until 10:30 p.m. on swim meet nights. The low intensity lighting in the swimming pool area and the underwater pool lights will go off at by 10:15 p.m. daily and 10:30 p.m. on swim meet nights, except when needed by staff to perform quiet maintenance tasks.



Use of the fitness center shall be limited to Club members and their guests. Group classes of more than four participants within the fitness center shall occur outside the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.



The applicant shall, pursuant to Section 5021 of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code, keep the parking lot clean by using appropriate methods including but not limited to, sweeping and litter control.



Pursuant to Section 5024 of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code, the applicant shall keep Los Trancos Creek free of trash or litter, and maintain private structures in a manner that does not impair flow or remove riparian vegetation.



To minimize noise pollution, the ballroom doors shall be closed by 10:00 p.m. daily. When amplified music is being played at levels above 70 decibels, the ballroom doors shall be closed by 9:00 p.m. At 10:00 p.m. any furniture, heaters and serving stations set up outdoors for social events will be put away and guests will be encouraged to move indoors.



High intensity parking lot lights that are directly visible from Balsamina residences shall be turned off or dimmed by 1:00 a.m. on nights on which organized events continue after 10:00 p.m. and by 11:00 p.m. on all other nights.



When parking for events held at Ladera Oaks spills over to La Mesa Drive, (1) the Club will employ security guards and/or provide volunteers to make sure that cars park on only one (the north) side of La Mesa Drive; (2) Ladera Oaks may use traffic cones to mark the side where parking is not allowed; and (3) Ladera Oaks will post signs at the La Mesa Drive entrances to North Balsamina Way, South Balsamina Way, North Castanya Way, South Castanya Way, Dedalera Drive, Gabarda Way, stating that parking for the event being held at Ladera Oaks is not allowed on those streets. Outside of swim meets, the Club shall schedule no more than three events per year which require parking on residential streets across Alpine Road, and none which require parking on residential streets across Alpine Road after 9:00 p.m.



Ladera Oaks will attempt to find a practical way to reduce the volume of the starting system used at swim meets.



The conditions of approval reflect the agreement reached between the parties during mediation. In the event of any conflict, the terms and conditions in these conditions of approval shall supersede any prior conditions stated in the current use permit.



Representatives from Ladera Oaks shall meet with representatives from the Ladera community at least twice a year to address implementation issues and preempt future problems. If disputes arise regarding the Club’s compliance with the conditions of its use permit, representatives from the Club shall meet with representatives from the Ladera community to discuss and hopefully resolve the situation.


Building Inspection Section



The applicant shall obtain an electrical permit for the installation of the new lighting fixtures prior to beginning any work on-site.



The applicant shall obtain a building permit for any new fencing proposed.


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