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Council to Hear Appeal of “Incomplete Concept Design Review Application” Decision for South Catalina Avenue Project

Multi-family development proposal in single-family residential zone deemed incomplete by city officials; applicant claims violation of state housing laws

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024 | 4:00 am

The Pasadena City Council on Monday is scheduled to hear and vote on an appeal of the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision which determined that an application for Concept Design Review for a proposed multi-family project at 615 S. Catalina Ave. is incomplete. 

The project plans, which encompass a new seven-story building with 49 residential units in the RS-6 single-family residential zone, have become a point of contention between the applicant and city officials.

According to a report by the Planning & Community Development Department detailing the incidents and procedures related to the project, the applicant submitted a Concept Design Review application for the project last March. After reviewing the application against the required submittal checklist, city officials determined that not all of the required material had been submitted. 

A letter listing three items that resulted in the determination of incompleteness was provided to the applicant: payment of application fees, design evolution information, and Zoning Code compliance or an application for a Zoning Map amendment or a Variance.

The applicant appealed the determination to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which upheld the determination of incompleteness on May 16 by a vote of 3-0. 

The applicant paid the application fees on May 17 after the Board of Zoning Appeals determination, the report said. The applicant then filed an appeal application to the City Council on May 28, claiming that the City violated Senate Bill 330 (the Housing Crisis Act), the Housing Accountability Act, the Permit Streamlining Act, and other unspecified state laws that preempt the city’s Zoning Code.

The report said that in response to the appeal, city officials now maintain that the application remains incomplete, as two of the three items requested in the incomplete letter have not been provided. The city also asserts that regardless of whether the project is eligible for the “Builder’s Remedy” under the Housing Accountability Act, the project must either comply with the Zoning Code or apply for a Zoning Map and General Plan Diagram amendment or Variance in order for the Concept Design Review application to be deemed complete and processed.

The city also contends that the project is ineligible for the “Builder’s Remedy” due to the city’s adopted housing element being in substantial compliance with state law before the SB330 preliminary application was submitted.

The City Council will now have to decide whether to uphold the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision and the determination that the Concept Design Review application is incomplete. 

According to the Planning and Community Development Department’s report, if the applicant provides the two remaining items – design evolution information and Zoning Code compliance, or an application for a Zoning Map amendment or variance – the Concept Design Review application could be deemed complete for processing.

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