The Pleasanton Planning Commission discussed three residential improvement projects proposed for the outskirts of downtown last week.
The evening meeting Feb. 28 featured a public workshop to review a homeowner's plan to build two new apartments behind his small single-story house, as well as commissioners signing off on two home additions that were opposed by neighbors who appealed city planning staff's earlier approvals of those projects.
The largest of the three projects proposes to bring a two-story, duplex apartment building to the back part of a 0.17-acre residential lot at 4722 Harrison St., located just off West Angela Street, three blocks from Main Street but still within the Downtown Specific Plan area.
The existing 1,042-square-foot house, which dates back to 1949, would remain in place at the front of the property, but the current detached two-car garage, attached patio cover and backyard hardscape and landscaping, including all four trees, would be removed to make way for the two apartments.
Johnson Lyman Architects' initial design calls for the new building to feature two apartments side by side, each with kitchen, living room, half-bathroom and dining area downstairs and bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. The units would be connected by a garage on the first floor and living space on the second floor.
The architecture would be minimal traditional style, similar to the existing house at the front, according to city staff. The site would include five parking spaces, with two uncovered spots in back between the house and apartments, two in the apartments' garage and one outside of the back apartment.
Commissioners supported the project's general concept, including the building size and apartments' layout, but they offered suggestions to refine and improve the proposed architecture and site design, according to city staff.
The design review application is expected to return to the commission for final consideration in the coming months after the applicant works with city planning staff to update the proposal after hearing the commissioners' feedback.
While discussing the proposed Harrison Street apartments, city staff noted there have been a variety of residential infill projects approved in recent years to bring new housing units to existing residential lots in the downtown area, most notably along Augustine Street.
One of the appeals the commission debated last week would also bring a new housing unit to downtown -- in the form of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).
Property owners at 565 St. Mary St. (located at the Pleasanton Avenue intersection) want to remodel the back part of the first floor of their house with a larger family room and bathroom for the main home and then attach a new ADU behind that, offering separate living quarters with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space.
There would also be an addition tacked onto the second floor of the main house, expanding two bedrooms and adding a new bathroom, library, office and outdoor terrace.
The city's zoning administrator approved the project in January, but the next-door neighbors appealed that decision to the commission, arguing that the new terrace would infringe on their privacy and that the city miscalculated the floor area ratio for the project.
City staff disagreed with the appellants, saying that the project includes provisions to adequately address neighbors' privacy concerns and that the floor area calculations were updated and the ratio remains in compliance with city rules governing how much overall living space a property can have.
The commissioners concurred, voting unanimously to deny the appeal and uphold the prior project approval.
They also unanimously denied the night's other appeal, this one over the zoning administrator's approval in January of a design review application for an addition and new garage for a house five blocks outside downtown, at 588 E. Angela St. -- near the Las Lomitas Drive intersection.
For that project, the property owner wants to build a 1,611-square-foot addition among the first and second floors of his existing house, along with a 211-square-foot garage.
One next-door neighbor opposes the project, arguing the addition could cause slope stability and drainage issues for her property, which sits lower than the project site. In her appeal, she asked that the addition be moved farther away from the property line or that she be given assurances that she would not be held liable for repairs if the slope between the property fails.
City staff contended that the design review stage was not the appropriate time in the process to work out slope stability and drainage concerns, but they told the commission those issues would be adequately addressed during the final building permit phase.
Both commission decisions could be appealed to the City Council, but neither appellant has pursued it to date. The appeal window closes March. 15.