The May 17, 2022, Coronado City Council meeting began with a proclamation for Public Works Week. City employee Mason Benoit was invited to accept the proclamation celebrating the hard work and dedication of Coronado’s public works professionals.
“Whereas public works professionals focus on infrastructure, facilities, and services that are of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the public health, high quality of life, and wellbeing of the people of Coronado,” Mayor Richard Bailey spoke, noting the work of the City’s engineers, architects, supervisors, analysts, technicians, and more. “…and whereas the year 2022 marks the 62nd annual National Public Works Week sponsored by the American Public Works Association, now, therefore, on behalf of the City Council and the City of Coronado, I hereby proclaim May 15 through 21 as National Public Works Week.”
The public works and engineering staff present at the meeting were recognized and Director of Public Services and Engineering, Leon Firsht, thanked Benoit for his professionalism and commitment throughout his career in Coronado.
During a period of public comment, a Cays resident spoke of his concerns regarding the Cays Park Master Plan and a desire to keep the park as an open, grassy space for all to use as well as to maintain the basketball court at the park. He cited his family’s diverse use and enjoyment of the park for many years and his hopes that it will remain an open space for many years to come for all to continue to utilize and enjoy.
Another community member who was previously the president of Coronado’s youth soccer league also spoke in regards to the Cays Park Master Plan, but specifically requesting an improvement of communication between the City and the community on issues like these. He mentioned difficulties navigating the City’s website to find where surveys are and when meetings are being held to relay back to families asking questions about them and wondered whether something could be set up to notify recreation and youth programs of relevant information regarding facilities topics that affects those programs.
A younger member of the community also spoke on behalf of preserving open space and fields of the Cays Park for her and her peers to continue to use for sports and recreation. “I love having the chance to represent Coronado when I put my jersey on every single day,” she mentioned. “Don’t make the case for smaller, keep with the big, open fields to keep our 92118 community active.”
Rena Clancy spoke on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce requesting that Item 10D on the agenda to review commercial parking standards be moved to the next meeting to give local business owners who couldn’t make it to the city council meeting a chance to attend and represent their businesses.
One community member spoke of Coronado’s lack of handicap accessible recreation equipment such as Mobi beach chairs and a desire for the City to better communicate with and include the community in discussion of this topic on what there is a desire for. She mentioned there has been discussion around this before the pandemic started but has seen very little actionable items since. Mayor Bailey mentioned that the City budget hearings will be happening in June and suggested the Council could consider these recreation items at that time.
Finally, Pat Robitaille spoke on behalf of FOCUS to thank the community for their participation in the organization’s recent fundraiser event and their generosity in helping raise 25% more than in previous years to benefit children in need. Robitaille thanked the City for the grants, use of City space, and other support that helped make that happen as well.
City Manager Tina Friend then spoke and introduced Coronado’s interim Recreation and Golf Services director, Ellen “Ellie” Oppenheim. Oppenheim has previous experience as the deputy city manager in San Diego and Parks Department director for both San Diego and Los Angeles, among other cities, and will be with Coronado while the City searches for a permanent replacement to the position.
Friend also mentioned that the City budget hearings have been moved to Tuesday, June 21, during the regular city council meeting and will be adopting the budget at a meeting on June 23 where the City will also have community grants discussions. As for the Cays Park Master Plan, Friend stated that after the landscape architects return to the City with the three alternatives, the City will do robust community outreach to get feedback on them and have a slow and deliberate process to bring those through the Parks and Recreation division and then to the City Council. The community can find updates on the project at https://commentcoronado.org/ as well as through the weekly City Manager Updates that can be subscribed to on the City’s website.
Moving onto the first of three public hearings, City Manager Friend gave a brief presentation explaining that the City received no follow-up of protest from any of the four businesses related to the Coronado Tourism Improvement District (CTID) in relation to the 2022-2023 CTID fiscal year plan reauthorizing the levying of assessments on these four hotels. As such, the council is clear to renew the districts which the council made a motion to do that passed with all councilmembers voting in favor (Councilmember Bill Sandke recused himself from the vote).
The Council then heard a public hearing presentation for a request for a one-lot tentative parcel map to allow for condominium ownership of two residential units at 456 Orange Avenue. The request is for a two story, two unit residential complex in an R4 Zone that would allow for a maximum of three units, but the applicant is proposing two in compliance with the general plan and zone. The complex would include the required four parking spaces.
A motion was made to support City staff’s recommendation of approval of the tentative parcel map and passed unanimously.
The final public hearing was in regards to a request for a historic alteration permit at 1115 Loma Avenue. The permit request included exceptions to zoning regulations to adjust the setbacks to follow the lines of the home, an additional 80 square feet to even out the roof and a roof deck addition to the historic building that would accommodate an attic space and changes to the garage space, and more. Staff recommended approval on all features except for the proposed changes to convert windows on the front elevation to become French doors as it goes against current City regulations for historic, Mills Act homes.
Councilmember Marvin Heinze asked the homeowner and architect on the project to walk him through the proposed floor area ratio (FAR) and setback exceptions, asking if some of the additional garage spacing being proposed could be reduced to the standard parking space of 18 feet and negate the need for the garage setback exception. The applicant explained the need for the space with the added bathroom and the current issues with how narrow the parking space is.
Sandke inquired about the 101 square feet for storage space which the applicant clarified was designed working under the Planning Commission’s standards for what constitutes an attic. The space will have a permanent staircase built for ease of access, but will not act as a loft or other room, only as a finished attic.
In discussion amongst the councilmembers, Councilmember Casey Tanaka asked for a clarification on the current City Code regarding historic alteration permits; specifically whether an applicant needed to meet certain requirements justifying why a change is proposed or if approval was simply based on the Council’s discretion under the ordinance.
City staff confirmed that there doesn’t have to be a need for a proposed change to be made, however for setbacks and height the ordinance does state that an existing setback or height can be utilized but not exceeded. Floor area ratio and lot coverage can be requested to be increased, and parking space size, location, or number or spaces can be requested to be decreased. There are no specifics given in the ordinance that any of these proposed changes be out of any specific necessity, however.
Tanaka then asked if, with the exception of the French doors, the requests in the 1115 Loma Avenue alteration permit are bringing forward any sort of changes that wouldn’t align with past approvals the city council has given. City staff mentioned that modifying the windows on the front façade would be a precedent, but otherwise the proposal falls within the realm of previously approved permits.
Sandke and Bailey suggested they would support the alteration permit given that the spirit of the intent of the changes as presented to the Council are adhered to. Heinze was wary of approving any unnecessary changes such as the request for the additional garage and attic space and the French doors for fear of setting a precedent that could be taken advantage of with future historic alteration permit requests from homes benefitting from the Mills Act.
In response, Sandke brought up that with the requested 80 square feet for the attic, the property would still fall below the allowable FAR requirements for the property were the owners to give up their Mills Act benefits as a historic property and rebuild the entire house. He also cited some instances in the past where the council has approved FAR extensions for historic properties.
Heinze recognized Sandke’s point, but mentioned that the homeowner does get the benefits of the Mills Act with reduced taxes that a new developer that would have increased FAR standards for the lot would not have access to. “One of the goals I have is not to overdevelop this community,” Heinze added, “So I am not interested in allowing and applying additional FAR if it’s not appropriate in my mind.”
Councilmember Mike Donovan began with a question for staff regarding the plan to utilize landscaping to hide the French doors and whether that could be regarded by the council in their deliberation or if they should simply be dealing with the proposed building changes. City staff responded that typically the landscaping would not be considered as a mitigation standard given that it’s much more of a temporary state and should the proposed hedge be removed at some point, then the mitigation for that particular modification would no longer exist.
Given that response, Donovan stated he wouldn’t be able to support the proposed changes to the front door given that it wouldn’t be in line with the spirit of preserving the historical nature and appearance of the property. He would support the staff and HRC recommendation of maintaining the lower level front windows. Tanaka agreed with Donovan’s conclusions and would support the staff recommendations for approval as well.
Tanaka also mentioned that the spirit of the ordinance and laws around historic properties grants these homeowners more leeway in non-visible areas of the property that don’t affect the historic façade, and as such doesn’t see a reason why the Council shouldn’t approve the requested FAR exceptions in this permit given that the Council has granted such exceptions to other historic homes in the past. Donovan agreed that the other requests within the permit application were for legitimate reasons and within the purview of allowable exceptions.
While Sandke said he could support the French doors given that they maintain the same shape and materials of the existing windows that they would be replacing, he understood the other councilmember’s viewpoints of keeping to the ordinance as strictly written that disallows changing windows on a historic property.
Donovan made a motion to accept the staff recommendation for the permit which passed unanimously.
Moving on to interagency committee reports, Heinze mentioned the three issues Cal Cities recently discussed; the $933 million in unfunded state monies, $180 million to assist in organic waste recycling, and advocating for funding for creating a new housing and economic development program to help cities finance housing projects and development. Heinze also mentioned some presentations he heard that included keeping city employees’ wellbeing and mental health in mind during and after a crisis, succession planning in city government, and a land use and zoning presentation.
Sandke reported on MTS’s summer transportation programs that include incorporating the ferry to provide opportunities for people to use the ferry at reduced rates as well as the free summer 904 shuttle. Bailey mentioned that SANDAG has identified two sites for a proposed new transit connection to the airport that would include the Port of San Diego site and Santa Fe Depot as potential hubs to the airport.
The council meeting was then adjourned. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 7, at 4 p.m.; for more information you can visit the City’s website at https://www.coronado.ca.us/449/Agendas-Minutes.
VOL. 112, NO. 21 - May 25, 2022