The Pleasanton Planning Commission discussed a dispute between Valley Trails neighbors over one family's proposal to redesign the second story of their house last week before ultimately sending the proposal back to city staff for further modifications.
There is no timetable for when the commissioners will again debate the proposal from Yellowstone Court homeowners David and Sue Robles to convert their unconditioned loft space into new second-floor bedrooms and other amenities, according to community development director Gerry Beaudin.
"All five commissioners concurred with the motion to direct staff to work with the applicant on a design that removes the proposed window from the north elevation, improves the proposed front elevation and reduces the massing of the proposed second-story addition," Beaudin said after last Wednesday's meeting. "We'll bring the item back when we've worked through the Planning Commission's direction."
"In the meantime, staff will work with the applicant and neighbors to improve the design of the proposed addition," he added.
The Robleses' initial proposal called for redesigning their loft space into an approximately 740-square-foot addition, including creating four new bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and extending the roof height from 20 feet to 25 feet at their house at 3552 Yellowstone Court, off South Valley Trails Drive.
They received approval from the city's zoning administrator in May, but they appealed a condition put on their project to remove a proposed north-facing window -- a requirement added by the zoning administrator after hearing from the Robleses' next-door neighbors, who raised privacy concerns about new windows with views into their backyard pool area.
In their appeal, the Robleses said removing the window as required would force them to remove a bedroom from their design and negatively impact their property value, while also pointing out their next-door neighbors have a second-floor window that offers a view into their backyard.
More neighbors also contended there's a history of poor maintenance at the Robles property and security concerns related to people who stayed at the house -- including police activity, code enforcement calls and neighborhood vandalism -- and they argued allowing the new addition could exacerbate those problems.
The couple acknowledged that their adult children and associates of their adult children had stayed at the home for extended periods in the recent past, and that the police activity and calls for service were related to one of their children and because of neighbors reporting code violations or perceived violations, according to city staff.
They said they now need the additional bedrooms to accommodate growing grandchildren who are living with them, according to city staff.
Some neighbors argued, however, that allowing four new bedrooms for people to stay in would lead to more security problems, plus create a house out of scale with the Yellowstone Court neighborhood.
The commissioners did discuss the number of bedrooms during their meeting last week, but their focus was on the overall design proposal, Beaudin said.
"(The) commission's purview with respect to this project is design review and aesthetics, so the number of bedrooms was not the focus of the commission's direction. That being said, if the size of the addition is reduced, fewer bedrooms could be an outcome," he added.
City planning staff had recommended denying the Robleses' appeal and upholding the zoning administrator's original approval, but the commission instead sent it back to the drawing board for further modifications.
It's currently unclear when the project will be back before the commission for a final decision. Beaudin said city staff would notify the neighborhood once the new hearing is scheduled.