the entitlement process (part II)

8.27.2014


It's been two months since we submitted our application to the Design Review Board, so what's the update? Drum roll, please.... I am very happy to say that after a lot of work and some tears, we finally got our approval from the DRB for the design of our house (3d rendering above). Our once ultra-modern house has turned into a mid-century modern one after this long, tedious process.

So what happened during these past two months? After our disappointing first meeting (which I mentioned here), we engaged our neighbors, whom were mostly against our design. Most of them made an effort to keep their distance and only sharing their opinions, while others became our friends and were helpful in suggesting different approaches (i.e. built examples, variances, scope change, etc). We took everyone's (friend or foe) comments into consideration and looked at it in all directions with our house. With sketches in hand, we presented the redesign to the DRB last month to see if we were headed in the right direction. I have to admit, it was not the most encouraging meeting. But with another layer of feedback, we turned the sketches into hard lines.

As I had mentioned previously, the submittal requirements are quite extensive. In order to get onto the agenda, drawings needed to be submitted to the Planning Department for review two weeks before each meeting. It was a scramble to get all the drawings in place but we did it... barely... and was back on the agenda.

However, before we could stand in front of the DRB again, I needed some community support to back our redesign. I reached out to the neighbors that left us their contact information. I even walked around the neighborhood at different hours of the day to catch a passerby to show them our renderings and floor plans.. It was well worth the effort because at the end, I got 6 names on a letter supporting our project. Having a support letter makes the voting process easier for the board member who is already in favor of your project.

At the final DRB meeting, there were 4 out of 5 members present (we need 3 to get the approval). We presented our project with our story, renderings, plans, and even a powerpoint presentation. Then, the floor was open to the public, there were a couple who spoke for our project, some who were neutral, and of course, those who were totally against it. The board then asked their questions and made their comments. In order for the DRB to approve any project that comes across their laps, they must find that the design and layout of the proposed development abides to the following (which the Planning Department refers to as the four findings):
  • Is consistent with the General Plan and any applicable design criteria for specialized areas. 
  • Will adequately accommodate the functions and activities proposed for the site, will not unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of neighboring, existing, or future developments, and will not create adverse pedestrian or traffic hazards.
  • Is compatible with the existing character of the surrounding neighborhood and that all reasonable design efforts have been made to maintain the attractive, harmonious, and orderly development contemplated by this Section, and the General Plan; and 
  • Would provide a desirable environment for its occupants and neighbors, and is aesthetically of good composition, materials, and texture, that would remain aesthetically appealing with a reasonable level of maintenance and upkeep. 
In the end the DRB concluded that our redesign checked off the list and we got the approval! Next up, permits! 

Thank you for those who have been reading and supporting us! Please check back in soon on our progress. 

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