Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Planning and Building Department



October 5, 2009


October 20, 2009


10 days, within 300 ft.





Honorable Board of Supervisors



Lisa Grote, Director of Community Development



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Consideration of Design Review and Grading Permit, to allow construction of a 5,364 sq. ft. single-family residence with an attached 635 sq. ft. garage, grading in the amount of 985 cubic yards, and removal of 12 trees on a 20,001 sq. ft. parcel located on Estrada Place in the unincorporated Palomar Park area of San Mateo County. (Appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, which denied an appeal of the Community Development Director’s decision, approving the project.)



Deny the appeal and uphold the Bayside Design Review Committee’s (BDRC) recommendation and the Community Development Director’s final decision to approve the project, by making the required findings and adopting the conditions of approval as shown on Attachment A, pursuant to Section 6565.3 of the San Mateo Zoning Regulations, and Section 8602 of the County Ordinance Code.



Proposal: The applicants are proposing to construct a new 5,364 sq. ft. single-family residence with a 635 sq. ft. attached garage. Construction requires grading in the amount of 985 cubic yards and the removal of 12 trees.


The Bayside Design Review Committee recommended approval of the design on June 6, 2007. The Bayside Design Review Committee made findings for the project with respect to the Design Review Standards based on the remoteness of the subject property, the fact that there is no predominant style of architectural design in the area, and that neither the proposed house, nor the neighboring houses, are visible from the street. The Community Development Director granted final approval of the design review and grading permit on October 1, 2007.


The project was then appealed to the Planning Commission on October 11, 2007 by neighboring property owners, Kurt Oppenheimer, and on October 12, 2007 by James Goodrich.


In the time between the filing of the appeal in 2007, and the May 27, 2009 Planning Commission hearing, there was a change in Planning staff which included the resignation of the Design Review Officer who worked on the project, and the appointment of a new one. Additionally, to address concerns raised in the appeal letters, the appellant conducted a second geotechnical study for the site. The study could only be completed outside of the rainy season. A report was received in April 2008, and was reviewed by the County’s Geotechnical Section in May 2008. These items, in addition to the volume of materials to be reviewed to prepare the report, were factors in the extended time frame for the initial appeal hearing.


Planning Commission Action: The proposed project was presented to the Planning Commission on May 27, 2009. Three Commissioners were unable to find that the design was compatible with the surrounding community. A proposed motion to sustain the appeal resulted in a two-to-two split vote (one Planning Commissioner was absent) and the appeal was therefore denied. As such, the Community Development Director’s approval of the project stands.



Kurt Oppenheimer and James Goodrich filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors within the 10-day appeal period, stating that the reasons for the appeal remain the same as those stated in the original appeal letter to the Planning Commission, specifically, that the project did not meet the Design Review Standards for Palomar Park found in Section 6565.16 of the Zoning Regulations and that additional geotechnical studies were needed. Three other letters (Attachment I) requesting reconsideration of the project’s approval were also submitted with similar concerns.


At the Planning Commission Public Hearing, the Commission received testimony from the appellant, the applicants, the County geotechnical staff, and the applicants’ geotechnical consultant and neighbors. At the hearing, three Commissioners stated that there were no concerns about the validity or extensiveness of the geotechnical studies which had been prepared for the project. The Design Review Standards 6565.16.A (Site Planning), B (Architectural Styles), C (Building Shape and Bulk) and L (Paved Areas) were the primary standards discussed at the hearing regarding the project’s compliance.


The Commission discussed: (1) that the architectural style was incompatible with the neighborhood; (2) that the building did not step down the hill with the topography; and (3) that the driveway/ paved areas were not minimized. However, only two of the four Commissioners agreed with all three points, resulting in a tie vote.


The approval of the Design Review and Grading Permits to allow the construction of a new single family residence, contributes to the Livable Communities 2025 Shared Vision because it is consistent with the County’s land use regulations, including the Palomar Park Design Review Standards, General Plan, and Zoning Regulations. The property is located within the Palomar Park neighborhood.


No fiscal impact.