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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 24

Meeting Date: October 9, 2007

Subject/Title: Public hearing on an appeal filed by Sal Rahmany of the Planning Commission’s denial of a conditional use permit (CUP 07-18) to operate a check cashing business known as the Quick Check Cashing Store, located at 6660 Lone Tree Way (Suite 6), within Lone Tree Center

Prepared by: Erik Nolthenius, Principal Planner

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
Adopt the attached resolution approving the appeal filed by Sal Rahmany, reversing the decision of the Planning Commission and approving CUP 07-18 for the Quick Check Cashing Store.

PREVIOUS ACTION
• On September 4, 2007, the Planning Commission voted 2-2 (with one abstention due to a conflict) to approve CUP 07-18, resulting in a denial of the application.

• On September 5, 2007, Sal Rahmany appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council.

• On September 25, 2007, the City Council set the date of October 9, 2007, for the public hearing on the appeal.

BACKGROUND
The appellant is proposing to operate a check cashing service in Lone Tree Center, south of WinCo Foods, in a vacant tenant space approximately 1,250-square-feet in size. The business, known as the Quick Check Cashing Store, is proposed to provide a variety of services, including check cashing, money orders, money transfers, utility payments, short-term consumer loans, payroll advances, faxing, copying, and mailing. The business is proposed to operate Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The president of the business, Sal Rahmany, currently operates at three other Bay Area locations, including San Francisco (993 Shotwell Street), Concord (3531 Clayton Road), and Antioch (1848 A Street).

After Mr. Rahmany received his business license, he spent the next several weeks making interior improvements to the space, without benefit of a building permit. Mr. Rahmany also submitted an application to the City for building signage, at which time it was determined by staff that the operation of a check cashing business in this shopping center required approval of a conditional use permit. Mr. Rahmany was informed of this, and subsequently submitted a conditional use permit application to the City on August 6, 2007. Staff reviewed the application and believed that with the appropriate use permit conditions, the business could operate at this requested location without causing any adverse impacts on other uses in the area. As a result, staff recommended that the Planning Commission approve the application subject to certain conditions, including the submittal of detailed/enhanced security conditions to the Police Department prior to commencement of the use.

The use permit application was considered by the Commission on September 4, 2007. In addition to the applicant and the developer of Lone Tree Center, one Brentwood resident spoke in favor of the project. No one in opposition to the project spoke at the meeting. The Commission discussed a number of land use issues, including the potential for loitering around the business, the lack of detailed security measures provided for Police Department review, the extent of improvements that were made to the interior of the space without City approval, the lack of visibility from Lone Tree Way, and the inappropriateness of the location based on its proximity to residential areas.

There was some support from the Commission for approval of the application as conditioned. The support was based primarily on the beliefs that the services provided by the proposed business are needed by residents and that the location is appropriate based on the mix of existing uses within Lone Tree Center. A motion to approve the use permit was made, but failed due to a 2-2 vote (Ayes – Bristow and Gildersleeve; Noes – Cushing and Weber; Abstain – Stirling). Mr. Rahmany subsequently appealed the Commission’s decision, citing the fact that security details have been resolved with the Police Department, as well as his reliance on the granting of his business license and the substantial amount of money that he spent making improvements to the interior of the space.

It should be noted that in accordance with Brentwood Municipal Code Section 17.880.003(H), this appeal is being heard “de novo” which allows the City Council to consider all issues, whether or not they were initially raised at the Planning Commission hearing.

ANALYSIS
At the Planning Commission meeting, much of the discussion regarding negative impacts of the proposed use focused on security concerns of the business. Prior to the Commission meeting, staff had been unable to acquire a security plan from the applicant in time to present to the Commission for its consideration. In staff’s opinion, such a plan may have been helpful for the Commission’s consideration of the proposed use, particularly on the issues regarding security, such as loitering, Police Department coordination, and surveillance alternatives given the lack of direct visibility from Lone Tree Way. The key issue with respect to the Planning Commission’s decision was the lack of a detailed security plan being provided by the applicant.

Subsequent to the Commission meeting, the applicant took the opportunity to develop and discuss security measures at length with the Police Department. The result is that the applicant and the Police Department have agreed to certain security measures, and the Police Department is satisfied that the applicant can and will comply with each of them. These measures will also address each of the Commission’s concerns. As the Council will see by condition of approval number 10 in the attached resolution, the final security requirements, which meet and in some cases exceed those measures conditioned on financial institutions, will need to be approved by the Police Department prior to commencement of the use.

Staff believes that a number of the concerns raised by the Planning Commission have been addressed with the security measures that have been agreed to. The Police Department is satisfied with the progress/adequacy of the security measures. Therefore, staff recommends approval of the appeal. The attached resolution reflects the proposed findings and conditions of approval for the project. The conditions would become effective upon approval of the appeal by the Council. The required findings are described in detail below.

It should be noted that staff is sympathetic to one of Mr. Rahmany’s concerns, in that he felt the business license implied his use was approved, although business licenses include a note that the business operator should check with the Community Development Department (Planning Division) to verify that the zoning of the site is appropriate prior to commencement of the use. The Planning Division is currently in the process of developing an ordinance requiring the approval of zoning certificates for all new businesses, which would help to prevent this type of situation from happening again in the future.

FINDINGS

Staff recommends that the City Council make the following conditional use permit findings which are incorporated in the attached resolution and which are required for approval of a CUP.

1. The harmony in scale, bulk, coverage and density of the proposed project is consistent with and compatible to the existing and proposed land uses around the subject site, in that the proposed Quick Check Cashing Store will be located within an existing building, with no additions or expansions to the existing exterior, thereby maintaining the approved scale, bulk, coverage and density of the building.

2. The availability of public facilities and utilities is adequate to serve the proposed use, in that the Quick Check Cashing Store would be located within a building where public facilities and services are currently provided, including sewer, water, electricity, phone, etc.

3. There would be no harmful effect upon the desirable neighborhood character with approval of this permit due to the proposed location within a commercial building with no exterior additions proposed and a busy thoroughfare separating the site from residential properties to the south as well as conditions of approval related to daily operations and security. Any and all concerns relative to security of the business and/ or its vicinity have been addressed to the satisfaction of the Police Department, and final security measures for the business will be reviewed and approved by the Police Department prior to commencement of the use.

4. The subject site will have adequate pedestrian and vehicular circulation and parking available, in that there are two vehicle access points via the main driveway off Lone Tree Way centrally located on the site and one secondary driveway off of Lone Tree Way located on west side of the property through the Brentwood Junction shopping center. Pedestrian movements are facilitated by paved and landscaped walkways between the different buildings on the site.

5. The generation of additional traffic would be minimal due to the relatively small size of the project, Lone Tree Center being designed for vehicle use and the capacity of the surrounding streets being able to adequately handle the proposed increase in use due to Lone Tree Way being a major east-west thoroughfare able to handle expanding traffic needs.

6. The location, design, landscaping and screening, and overall site planning of the proposed Quick Check Cashing Store is appropriate being that the business is located in an existing center which provides an attractive, useful and convenient working and community-service area, and the fact that the project has been landscaped in accordance with the original approval of the center and is located close to public transportation and arterial streets.

In the event that after the hearing of the appeal, the City Council does not believe that these findings can not be made, and therefore, does not believe that the conditional use permit can not be approved, the City Council should state its reasons. Then, staff will prepare findings to reflect the issues addressed by the Council and prepare a denial resolution for the City Council’s review and adoption at the next City Council hearing.

FISCAL IMPACT
The appeal fee of $122 has been paid by the appellant.

Attachments
1. Draft Resolution, Approving the Appeal, Thereby Approving the Conditional Use Permit to Operate the Check Cashing Business
2. Appeal letter from Sal Rahmany, dated “Received September 12, 2007”
3. Excerpt of the September 4, 2007 Planning Commission meeting minutes
4. September 4, 2007 Planning Commission staff report



CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD APPROVING AN APPEAL FILED BY SAL RAHMANY, REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION DENYING CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT (CUP 07-18) AND APPROVING CUP 07-18 TO ALLOW THE OPERATION OF A CHECK CASHING BUSINESS KNOWN AS THE QUICK CHECK CASHING STORE, LOCATED AT 6660 LONE TREE WAY, SUITE 6, WITHIN LONE TREE CENTER (APN 019-010-039).

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission considered Conditional Use Permit No. 07-18 as part of a noticed public hearing to allow the operation of a 1,257-square-foot business known as the Quick Check Cashing Store located at 6660 Lone Tree Way, Suite 6, and denied the application by a 2-2-1 vote at its regular meeting of September 4, 2007; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission denial was appealed by Sal Rahmany on September 5, 2007, within the 10-day appeal period stipulated in the Brentwood Municipal Code; and

WHEREAS, on September 25, 2007, the City Council set the appeal date for October 9, 2007; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Public Hearing was distributed to all property owners of record within 300 feet of the project site and published in the Brentwood Press on September 28, 2007, in accordance with City policies and Government Code Section 65090; and

WHEREAS, the project is consistent with a previously prepared and approved environmental impact report for Lone Tree Center in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), such that no additional environmental review is necessary; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has held a public hearing, reviewed said conditional use permit request, and has studied the compatibility of this request with adjacent land uses, and has considered this request in accordance with the conditional use permit criteria established in §17.830.005 of the Brentwood Municipal Code; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has considered the staff report, supporting documents, public testimony, and all appropriate information that has been submitted with the proposed project; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, based on the facts in the staff report, written and oral testimony and exhibits presented that:

A. The City Council hereby finds that:

1. The harmony in scale, bulk, coverage and density of the proposed project is consistent with and compatible to the existing and proposed land uses around the subject site, in that the proposed Quick Check Cashing Store will be located within an existing building, with no additions or expansions to the existing exterior, thereby maintaining the approved scale, bulk, coverage and density of the building.

2. The availability of public facilities and utilities is adequate to serve the proposed use, in that the Quick Check Cashing Store would be located within a building where public facilities and services are currently provided, including sewer, water, electricity, phone, etc.

3. There would be no harmful effect upon the desirable neighborhood character with approval of this permit due to the proposed location within a commercial building with no exterior additions proposed and a busy thoroughfare separating the site from residential properties to the south as well as conditions of approval related to daily operations and security. Any and all concerns relative to security of the business and/ or its vicinity have been addressed to the satisfaction of the Police Department, and final security measures for the business will be reviewed and approved by the Police Department prior to commencement of the use.

4. The subject site will have adequate pedestrian and vehicular circulation and parking available, in that there are two vehicle access points via the main driveway off Lone Tree Way centrally located on the site and one secondary driveway off of Lone Tree Way located on west side of the property through the Brentwood Junction shopping center. Pedestrian movements are facilitated by paved and landscaped walkways between the different buildings on the site.

5. The generation of additional traffic would be minimal due to the relatively small size of the project, Lone Tree Center being designed for vehicle use and the capacity of the surrounding streets being able to adequately handle the proposed increase in use due to Lone Tree Way being a major east-west thoroughfare able to handle expanding traffic needs.

6. The location, design, landscaping and screening, and overall site planning of the proposed Quick Check Cashing Store is appropriate being that the business is located in an existing center which provides an attractive, useful and convenient working and community-service area, and the fact that the project has been landscaped in accordance with the original approval of the center and is located close to public transportation and arterial streets.

B. The City Council hereby approves the appeal filed by Sal Ramney, reverses the Planning Commission decision denying Conditional Use Permit No. 07-18, and approves CUP 07-18, subject to the conditions of approval listed in Exhibit "A", attached hereto and made a part of this resolution, and all City standards applicable to this project.

This permit shall terminate on October 9, 2008, unless actual development or operations have begun within said period. However, such period of time may be extended by the Planning Commission upon application filed at any time before said period has expired.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at its regular meeting of October 9, 2007, by the following vote:


EXHIBIT "A" TO
CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO.
CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL FOR
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 07-18


1. The proposed project shall be established and continuously operated in substantial conformance with the written narrative, and other project submittals dated “Received, August 6, 2007” unless otherwise amended by the conditions of approval contained herein. Minor changes to the plans and operation may be allowed subject to the approval of the Community Development Director if found to be in substantial conformance with the approved exhibits.

2. This use is required to comply with these conditions of approval as long as the use is on the subject site. As such, the site shall be available for periodic re-inspections, conducted at the discretion of City officials, to verify compliance.

3. The applicant shall obtain all required check cashing permits from any overseeing organization prior to commencement of the use and shall maintain said permits at all times while the use is operating. Copies of said permits shall be submitted to the Community Development Department prior to commencement of the use.

4. On-site signage shall be allowed in accordance with the standards of the approved master sign program for Lone Tree Center, and shall be submitted to the Community Development Department prior to installation for review and permitting.

5. Windows and doors shall not be obscured by placement of signs, dark window tinting, shelving, roll–up coverings, racks or any obstructions at any time; any existing obstructions shall be removed prior to commencement of the use to the satisfaction of the Community Development Director and the Chief of Police.

6. No temporary or portable signs shall be allowed except for temporary banner signs in accordance with the Brentwood Municipal Code.

7. Exterior and interior window and door bars are prohibited at all times.

8. The applicant shall maintain the area surrounding the use including but not limited to the trash enclosure area, sidewalk, and parking lot area in a clean and orderly manner at all times.

9. In the event that the applicant proposes to modify the hours of operation beyond 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday or other aspects of the business or modify the exterior of the building or site, the modification shall be subject to the review of the Community Development Director. The Community Development Director may approve the modification or refer the matter back to the Planning Commission if judged to be substantial.

10. The applicant shall adhere to the security measures approved by the Police Department at all times.

11. All approved security measures shall be installed by the applicant and operational prior to commencement of the use, to the satisfaction of the Police Department.

12. Prior to occupancy, the applicant shall obtain and receive final approval for all necessary building permits, to the satisfaction of the Chief Building Official.

13. The applicant shall install a minimum of 7mm, clear, anti-penetration film to all windows and install the camera security system specified by the Police Department, prior to commencement of the use.

14. If operation of this use results in conflicts pertaining to parking, noise, traffic, loitering, public safety or other impacts, at the discretion of the Community Development Director, this conditional use permit may be referred to the Planning Commission for subsequent review at a public hearing. If necessary, the Commission may modify or add conditions of approval to mitigate such impacts, or may revoke said conditional use permit bound upon applicable findings.

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