COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
STAFF REPORT TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION
ALEX HINDS, DIRECTOR
SUMMIT DRIVE LAND DIVISION, PRECISE DEVELOPMENT PLAN,
AND MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION
Item No: 7A & 7B Application No’s: DP 00-18/LD 00-15
Applicants/Property Chris Baumsteiger, Oscar
Owners: Quezada, Rod Taylor
Property Address: 1 Summit Drive, Woodacre Assessor's Parcel: 172-360-59
Hearing Date: July 10, 2006 Planner: Ben Berto
RECOMMENDATION: Continue the environmental review
LAST DATE FOR ACTION: 60 Days from adoption of the Mitigated Negative
Staff recommends that the Planning Commission conduct a public hearing on the Initial Study and proposed
Mitigated Negative Declaration pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), for the proposed
three-lot residential subdivision Land Division and Precise Development Plan. After public testimony, the
Planning Commission should close the hearing and provide direction to staff and the applicants on any issues
that may need further clarification or analysis prior to making a decision on the project, and continue the hearing
to a date uncertain.
The project sponsors, Chris Baumsteiger, Oscar Quezada, and Rod Taylor, are requesting Land Division
approval to divide an existing 24.63-acre parcel located at One Summit Drive into three parcels, and
Development Plan approval for the residential development of those parcels. The subject property consists of
Remainder Parcel Six of the Skye Ranch subdivision. Remainder Parcel Six has been determined by the Skye
Ranch Master Plan and a subsequent Certificate of Compliance to have a development potential of up to three
The applicants are proposing to divide the property into three separate single family residential lots of 8.67
acres, 9.72 acres, and 6.24 acres, respectively. Lot 1, proposed at 8.67 acres, would occupy the northwestern
and lowest portion of the existing site, and would also extend to the western property line of the parent parcel.
A septic drainfield area is proposed in the lot’s easternmost side to serve the proposed residence. Lot 2,
proposed at 9.72 acres, would occupy the southwestern portion of the existing property, extending to the western
property line of the parent parcel. A strip of Lot 2 is proposed to extend downhill along the side of Summit
Drive and then out on its north side, to provide a septic drainfield area for the proposed residence. Lot 3,
proposed as the 6.24 acre site, would occupy the southeastern portion of the existing site, and features the
highest elevation on the subject property, 1080 feet. A portion of Lot 3 extends north and downhill across
Summit Drive to provide a septic drainfield location for the residence.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 1 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
A house site envelope (building envelope) is proposed on each of the lots, defining the extent of and area within
which structural development could take place on each site (with exception of the septic drainfield area). All
three housing sites are proposed to be accessed from a driveway that would begin where Summit Drive
A road vacation application is being processed by the County Department of Public Works to abandon the
portions of Summit Drive, starting with the edge of the Buckeye Circle right-of-way and then running uphill to
the upper(southern)-most portion of the applicants’ property. Vacation of the public road right-of-way would
enable the access drive to the three proposed residences to be built with a paved cross-section of 12 feet, plus a
5-foot public trail and fire pullouts, much more consistent with the configuration of the existing fire road with
respect to slope, width, and location. Maximum retaining wall height at any point on the driveway would be
less than 5 feet, with typical heights 1-3 feet, and several sections where no retaining wall is required. Public
access currently runs up Summit Drive across the property to County open space, access that was formally
created in the Skye Ranch Master Plan and Marin County Open Space District purchase of open space lands. A
private driveway in lieu of public roadway would lessen some design issues concerning a public trail alongside
the driveway, due to the 8 foot reduction in driveway width versus a roadway, lower retaining walls, and
reduced impervious surface and runoff. All existing public access, utilities, and other easements, would be
retained by the respective public agencies under this application. A fire department approved hammerhead
turnaround is proposed for the upper end of the driveway, using an existing shallow cut located on the east side
of the fireroad in the beginning of the grassy open area. Minimal grading will be involved.
Land Use Designation: SF3, (Single-Family 3, Minimum lot size 1 to 5 acres)
Zoning: RSP 0.05, Single family residential planned, One unit per 20 acres
Lot size: 24.6 acres
The Summit Drive project is located at 1 Summit Drive, (APN # 172-360-59), commencing at the locked gate
on the Summit Drive fireroad and extending both uphill and east and west from the gate. The gate side
boundary is located approximately 150 feet south and uphill of the intersection of the Summit Drive paved road
stub and Buckeye Circle, and the parcel lies one mile southeast of the downtown core of the village of
The subject property at One Summit Drive, Woodacre contains 24.63 acres on a single parcel. It was created as
Remainder Parcel 6 in the Skye Ranch Master Plan and Subdivision approved by the County in 1983. The
property is located on a north-facing slope of varying steepness, with elevations ranging from 620 feet to 1080
feet. A majority of the site is wooded, with a small grassy area in an upper southeast portion of the site. The
property features a fire road extension of Summit Drive, which intersects Buckeye Circle approximately 150
feet north and downhill of the property. Summit Drive functions as a public non-vehicular access route to Marin
County public open space, which abuts the subject property on the west, south, and east property lines. A Marin
Municipal Water District (MMWD) water tank is located inside the northeast corner of the site. Approximately
15 properties developed with single family homes abut the subject property’s north (downhill) boundary.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 2 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
The site contains a portion of a blue-line intermittent stream, and is also contains two or three other ephemeral
stream drainages, all of which drain into Woodacre Creek and then San Geronimo Creek. These qualify for
protection under the County’s adopted Stream Conservation Area setback policies contained in the Countywide
Plan. The woodlands portion of the site contains a variety of trees including Douglas fir, redwoods, several oak
species, California bay, and Madrone, as well as a variety of understory shrubs. Biotic surveys of the site
conducted for the applicant report that the grasslands contains a variety of grass species, mostly non-native but
including some native grasses and forbs. No plant species have been identified on the site as being threatened,
rare, or endangered. Spotted owls conceivably move through the property area, although none are known to nest
on the property. There is no grazing or other agricultural uses on the property.
Geologically, the property is underlain by Franciscan formation melange, consisting of crushed and weathered
bedrock, and overlain by clay-rich soils with some swell potential. The site contains areas falling within
Stability Zones 2, 3, and 4 of the Relative Slope Stability Map prepared by Salem J. Rice, with Stability Zone 2
generally applied to slightly sloping to gently sloping areas, Stability Zone 3 applied to moderately sloping to
more steeply sloping areas, and Stability Zone 4 applied to possible landslide areas and areas of possible lower
Vegetation includes a variety of plant communities, including: open grassland meadows, mixed chaparral
shrub, mid-successional forest, and mature coniferous forest. Vegetation on the various proposed building
envelopes were analyzed on two occasions by a two different biologists hired independently by the applicants.
Only one threatened, endangered, or sensitive plant species, California bottlebrush grass (Elymus californicus),
was found on the subject property, and it was not found on any of the building envelopes.
The Community Development Agency has provided public notice identifying the applicant, describing the
project and its location, and giving the scheduled date of the public hearing in accord with California
Government Code requirements. This notice has been mailed to all property owners within 600 feet of the
subject property, and interest groups and interested persons for the project area.
The project includes Summit Drive Land Division and Precise Development Plan applications to divide an
existing 24.63-acre site into three residential parcels: Lot 1 – 8.67 acres, Lot 2 – 9.72 acres, and Lot 3 – 6.24
acres. The 24.6-acre parent parcel is currently undeveloped with the exception of an existing metal MMWD
water tank. The new single family residential development proposed on each of the three parcels is as follows:
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 3 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
Lot 1, also entitled the Quezada Parcel, is proposed to contain a total of 8.67 acres. It is located in the wooded,
lowest portion of the parent parcel elevationally, and features varying, northerly-aspect slopes with an average
grade of 35 percent. Lot 1 would feature a building envelope of 20,211 square feet (.46 acres) in a wooded area
in the (southernmost) portion of the existing site on the north side of Summit Drive. The area under the
footprint of the house averages 39 percent grade. Lot 1 adjoins the majority of the currently residentially
developed parcels on Redwood Drive and Buckeye Circle that are next to the existing property. Lot 1 intersects
Summit Drive approximately 260 feet from the current parcel’s north property line. The proposed building
envelope is located in the highest in elevation portion of the proposed lot, immediately adjacent to the Summit
Drive driveway on the outside of a turn, and is a minimum of 160 feet from the nearest currently developed
neighboring parcel. Building envelope and public access/utilities areas are proposed to contain 20,211 square
feet and 553 square feet of area, respectively. The building envelope would range in elevation from
approximately 810 feet to 860 feet. A “private activity area” 2.18 acres in area is proposed in the northeastern
portion of the lot, located between the proposed building envelope and the neighboring developed properties.
Functions and activities such as a septic drainfield, equestrian area, or sports area, would be allowed in this area.
Areas designated “open space area” and “conservation easement area” totaling 6.01 acres are proposed for the
majority of Lot 1, extending roughly from the middle of the lot near an intermittent stream to the west edge of
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 4 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
Development proposed for Lot 1 includes a 4,940 square foot, three-level ranch-style residence with a detached,
approximately 750 square foot accessory building, potentially to be used for a second unit, in the lower area of
the building envelope. The residence would include an approximately 400-square foot, two care attached
garage, for total structural development on the site of 5,690 square feet. Total site coverage for the structures
(including water feature) is proposed to be 6,400 square feet. Maximum height of the residence would be 30
feet. Proposed materials include a composition shingle roofing and wood shingle and lapped hardiplank siding.
short, shared driveway with Lot 2, and includes two parking stalls. A Outdoor patios and a water feature
immediately below the house are also proposed. A total of 280 cubic yards of cut and 360 cubic yards of fill are
proposed. The applicant’s arborist Nine trees are proposed to be removed to accommodate development on this
Lot, of which three reportedly have health or structural conditions that exempt them from tree removal permit
Lot 2, also referred to as the Baumsteiger Parcel, would contain a total of 9.72 acres. The lot would be steeply
sloping (47% grade at the house footprint), with a predominantly north-facing aspect (the building envelope
slopes to the north and west. The major portion of Lot 2 intersects Summit Drive approximately 420 feet from
the current parcel’s north property line. The lot would be located on a steep (53 percent) slope within a wooded
portion of the parent parcel, and contains upper portions of several intermittent stream courses. The building
envelope for Lot 2 is proposed just uphill of the Lot 1 building envelope, adjacent to the north side of Summit
Drive. The building envelope is proposed to contain 23,793 square feet (.55 acres) of area, and would be
located on a steep (47 percent) slope in a clearing in the woods previously created by the applicants. The
building envelope would range in elevation from 810’ to 910’. Two “private activity areas” comprising 1.53
acres are proposed. The first is proposed adjacent to and uphill (south of) the building envelope, traversing the
headwaters of an existing intermittent stream and extending to the southerly boundary of the parcel. The second
private activity area is proposed for the extreme westerly (and downhill) portion of the lot. The downhill private
activity area would be used for the septic leachfield, while the uphill area is proposed for uses such as an
equestrian pad, sports area, and related terrain grading structures (e.g., small retaining walls).
Public access and utility easement areas are proposed for 17,230 square feet of the parcel. “Open space” and
“conservation easement” areas totaling 7.24 acres are proposed governing a majority of the site, from the center-
east portion of the site to its westerly boundary.
Development within the building envelope includes a residence with 4,750 square feet of habitable area
including a detached office/study and a 1,100 square foot basement area, plus a two-car, 400 square foot garage,
for total structural development of 5,850 square feet. The office/study building is proposed immediately
southwest (uphill) of the primary residence and would contain a 300 square foot, one-car carport. Total site
coverage for the structures (including the water feature) is proposed to be 7,100 square feet. The top of the roofs
of both the residence and the study will be close to the level of Summit Drive, reducing visual impacts. The
primary residence will consist of three levels (including the basement), with a maximum height of 30 feet. The
office/study structure would be on one level, with a maximum height of 20 feet. A total of 21 trees are proposed
from removal to accommodate development on this lot, of which 13 are reported as exempt from tree removal
permit requirements due to poor health or structural condition.
Lot 3, also referred to as the Taylor parcel, is primarily located east of Summit Drive and extends from the
highest elevations of the existing property to the property’s northerly boundary of the existing parcel on Summit
Drive. Lot 3 contains a combination of wooded and grassy area, in the lower and upper portions of the site,
respectively, with a west-to north-facing slope varying from level to steep and averaging 33 percent, with a 29
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 5 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
percent slope under the house footprint. The proposed Lot 3 building envelope would be located in an easterly
direction from Summit Drive. The driveway access point is located east across Summit Drive from the Lot 2
building envelope and is approximately 660 feet up Summit Drive from the existing north property boundary, on
the edge of an existing grassland. The building envelope would contain 31.163 square feet (.72 acres), and
would have an elevation range from 872’ to 960’. An unmapped “private activity area” containing 1.39 acres
would be located outside of the primary building envelope. Lot 3 would also contain a variety of easements (for
MMWD’s tank site, the project’s water tank, access, and utilities) totaling .79 acres. Private open space area of
3.34 acres is also proposed.
Proposed development within the building envelope includes a ranch-style residence containing 5,180 square
feet of living space, a detached 560 square foot garage, and a 750 square foot accessory building, for total
structural development of 6,490 square feet. Total site coverage proposed with the structures (not including the
water feature) is 6,490 square feet. The southernmost (uphill) wing of the residence is proposed to extend into
the grassland portion of the lot, as is the proposed water feature, while the majority of the house will be located
and screened within the existing wooded area. The accessory building would be located south and slightly east
of the proposed residence, at the edge of the treeline. A total of 17 trees would be removed to accommodate
proposed development on Lot 3, of which seven are reported as exempt from tree removal permit requirements
due to poor health or structural condition.
Areas outside designated development envelopes and septic drainfield areas are designated as “private open
space” and “private conservation easement” areas and proposed to remain as permanent private open space.
This area, with the exception of a potential future public trail, will remain in private ownership but will be
designated as permanently undevelopable through conservation easements to be offered to the Marin County
Open Space District (MCOSD). Existing public pedestrian access on Summit Drive through the current
property to County Open Space will remain, with a 5-foot wide aggregate trail surface proposed off the uphill
(east) side of the driveway. In addition, the applicants have agreed to provide MCOSD a floating easement area
on the site, which would be located within the designated “private open space” and “private conservation
easement” areas. The intention for this floating open space easement area is to allow for and eventually provide
an additional public trail alignment (besides the edge of the driveway) so the public has an open space access
option in addition to the edge of the driveway.
The applicants are proposing a 10,000 gallon fire storage water tank on top of the grassy knoll in the southeast
portion of Parcel 3, occupying a 0.15 acre easement area. This tank will be winched into place and buried
underground to reduce visual impacts. The location of the tank will facilitate use of a residential sprinkler
system even in the event of a power outage that affects the ability to operate generators, compressors, etc.
MMWD also currently has a 32,000 gallon metal water tank in the middle of the eastern side of the property.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 6 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
areas Private activity
Private open Private open
Remainder Parcel Status
The project site and nearby lands have a significant history with respect to acquisition of open space and the
development of the County’s public trail network in the San Geronimo Valley. The recent history starts with the
historic 1,617-acre Skye Ranch. Skye Ranch was approved for a 117-lot subdivision, Master Plan, and Precise
Development Plan by the County in 1983. As part of the approved project, 285 acres were designated for
permanent public open space, and sixteen lots were received final map approval. In 1995, the Marin County
Open Space District purchased 1,297 acres of the remaining 1,377 acre Skye Ranch property. The purchased
land, together with the originally protected acreage, is now appropriately known as the Gary Giacomini Open
Space Preserve. Out of the original 1,617 acres, approximately 81 acres of designated potentially developable
land remained, distributed among six remainder parcels. The total theoretical maximum development potential
on those remainder parcels, as designated in the Open Space land purchase, is 12 residential parcels. Remainder
parcel 6, the project site, was given a maximum development potential of 3 residential lots, consistent with the
As described above, the property currently has a dedicated public street right-of-way on Summit Drive, running
up through the property, as well as a 20 foot public access easement on the fire road portion of Summit. The
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 7 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
public right-of-way dates from the time when the original Skye Ranch subdivision was approved, which would
have resulted in additional development uphill from the subject property and an accompanying need for public
roads. As part of their applications with the County, the applicants are requesting that the County vacate the
Summit Drive public roadway. Marin County Department of Public Works, Real Estate Division, is processing
the vacation application, which would have the effect of converting the public street (or fireroad) into a private
driveway. The application would be considered by the Planning Commission at the time they review the merits
portions of the project.
Staff supports the applicants efforts to pursue vacation of the roadway. As mentioned in the remainder parcel
discussion above, the public roadway status is reflective of the greater development potential of the original
Skye Ranch subdivision. Because most of the subdivision development potential has been extinguished,
including any further up Summit Drive than the property, there is no more need for a public roadway.
Preserving Summit Drive as a public roadway, on the other hand, forces any development proposal to either
construct the improved portions of the access road to County road standards, or to justify why sundry variances
to those public road standards are appropriate or necessary. Early iterations of this application reflected
attempts to build access to those road standards, necessitating a considerably wider paved surface and lower
maximum grade, which in turn would have resulted in much higher retaining walls and hundreds, if not
thousands, of cubic yards of grading.
There are some important caveats to the road vacation. The first is that all current public access rights and other
easements remain. From the early stages of the project review, DPW’s Real Estate Division has worked to
ensure that every right and easement will be fully set forth and preserved in the vacation agreement. The
applicants have had no issues with that. The second caveat is that the public road vacation is contingent upon
the approval and vesting of this Land Division and Precise Development Plan. Thus, in the event this project
does not go forward to completion and, for example, the property is sold, there will be no issues about the
public versus private status and rights on Summit Drive, with the acrimony and debate that could result.
Public access and how it is constituted has been a prominent issue throughout the history of this project.
Maintaining public access is very important. To their credit, the applicants understand this, and have been in
negotiations with the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) to ensure that not only does the public
access up Summit Drive remain, but that an additional public access option is available on the site. In the event
that the Summit Drive access winds up less than desired for some, the Open Space District can construct an
alternative route to continue to satisfy the public access imperative. Consistent with other proposals where an
exact alternate route has not yet been finalized, MCOSD is in process to obtain an easement for a large area on
the site, within which a “floating trail easement” is included. The benefit of this approach is that final trail route
selection and construction depends on a thorough appraisal of detailed site conditions and the ability to make
adjustments that reflect actual field conditions. By starting with a larger area and acknowledging that within
that area a 20-foot trail easement somewhere exists, within which an eventual possibly 4 or 5 foot wide trail may
be constructed, the imperative for continued, permanent public access is met without expending an unnecessary
amount of resources on design at this time. Those resources and design again require the ability to respond and
adjust to field conditions during construction. Within the broader floating trail easement area, MCOSD is
confident that they can construct a trail that is consistent with their design standards and will not generate any
adverse environmental impacts.
One final observation relating to public access, the currently proposed “private activity areas” appear to raise the
possibility of foreclosing certain alternative public access options, for example if public access were not allowed
through those areas. Generally, designated open space areas, not activity areas, are best suited to establishment
of public trails, since it minimizes the possibility of conflict with private uses on those properties. Although the
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 8 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
proposed private open space areas constitute a majority of the property, the open space does not all connect (see
second diagram above). For example, access from off of Summit Drive to public open space appears to be
precluded, including access on the east side of the property.
Whether the boundaries of the intervening private activity areas are adjusted to accommodate more continuous
or connecting private open space depends on many factors, including the presence of sensitive habitat (e.g.,
riparian areas), slope, vegetation, potential visual issues, and proposed uses. It may be necessary to adjust or
reduce the “private activity areas” somewhat to reflect those factors (see Recreational Facilities discussion
An Initial Study has been prepared and circulated for the Las Cumbras Master Plan and Land Division, pursuant
to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The County Environmental
Coordinator has recommended granting a Mitigated Negative Declaration of potential environmental impacts.
The Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration are proposed for review by the Planning Commission to
make a determination about whether it is adequate and complete for the purposes of making a decision on the
proposed project pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Initial Study evaluated all
the topical issues identified, including: land use and planning, geophysical, water, transportation/circulation,
biological resources, hazards, public services, utilities and service systems, and aesthetics and visual resources
(please refer to the Initial Study and proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration [Attachment 17] and the staff
analysis and response to public comments following in this report). In order to ensure that potentially
significant environmental impacts have been fully mitigated at this time, the Initial Study identifies those areas
where potential exists for adverse environmental impacts, and applies appropriate mitigations. With those
mitigations, the proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration was able to find that the modified project would not
have potentially significant impacts on the environment.
A number of key environmentally-related issues have been identified by staff below, and are also reflected in the
public comments on the Initial Study. These include the areas of Geophysical, Water, and Utilities and Service
Systems. The following summarizes some of the key issues and points out where additional clarification may
be necessary, or where public comment warrants response.
1. Land Use and Planning.
Land Use Designations. The Initial Study determined that the project, as mitigated, would be in compliance
with the environmental goals and policies of the Countywide Plan (CWP) and the San Geronimo Valley
Community Plan. The project is located in the Inland Rural Corridor, as established by the Marin Countywide
Plan (CWP), and has a CWP land use designation of SF3 (Single Family Residential, one unit per five acres to
one unit per acre). The proposed land division is consistent with the SF3 land use designation because the three
parcels proposed have a gross density of 8.21 acres, less than one unit per five acres. The existing zoning, RSP
0.05 (Residential single family planned, one unit per 20 acres), is consistent with the CWP land use designation.
As discussed above, the zoning density derives from the original property subject to the Skye Ranch Master
Plan, and is consistent with the density established for that property. Approval of the Skye Ranch Master Plan
and subsequent Open Space purchase preserved over a thousand acres of open space, and concentrated
remaining development potential into a limited number of remainder parcels, including this property.
Preservation of open space, including by clustering houses, is listed in CWP Policy EQ-4.1 and Programs EQ-
4.1a and EQ-4-1d.. All proposed development within this 24.6 acre site is clustered within 50-500 feet of each
other. The majority of the existing site area (16.6 acres or 67.5 percent) is proposed to be preserved as
undevelopable private open space. (It should be noted that of the 8 acres of non-open space areas, 6.7 acres, or
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 9 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
27.2 percent, is proposed for building and private activity areas, the remaining 1.3 acres or 5.3 percent is
proposed for access and utilities.) The project will also comply with CWP Policies EQ-2.1 through EQ-2.6
pertaining to Streamside Conservation Areas, by avoiding any development within 100 feet of any watercourse,
and, as amended will relocate the water tank consistent with CWP Policies EQ-3.18 through EQ-3.20 pertaining
to avoiding any development along ridgelines. Detailed policies governing community character are listed in the
discussion on the San Geronimo Community Plan, below.
San Geronimo Community Plan
The Countywide Plan governs the project area through the detailed objectives, policies, and programs contained
in the San Geronimo Community Plan (SGVCP). These include: (1) Protection of Natural Site Amenities, (2)
Maintain the Rural Character of the Valley, (3) Water Tanks, (4) Residential Development on Large Parcels
Outside Village Areas, (5) Recreational Facilities, (6) Roadway and Circulation, and (6) Natural Hazards.
Protection of Natural Site Amenities. The project has, for the most part, thoroughly reviewed and adequately
protected the natural amenities present on the site. SGVCP Policy CD-1 requires a thorough site analysis. The
applicants have provided a variety of information relating to the proposed project and site, including: an initial
and follow-up biotic survey, a hydrology report, preliminary geotechnical investigation, on-site sewage disposal
report, and tree inventory and evaluation.
The site features a number of natural amenities, including a grassy upper part of the site next to County Open
Space, the upper reaches of a drainage course, and a mixed coniferous woodland. Trees were cut down and
removed from the site prior to project submittal. Public comments note that additional trees are proposed to be
removed with the project. To some extent, a tradeoff is proposed with respect to relocating development out of
the visually more prominent, less impacting locations higher on the site, and into the wooded areas lower down.
The applicants’ proposed development locations on Lots 1 and 2 take advantage of areas within which trees have
either previously been removed, or where the tree inventory and evaluation notes that the trees proposed for
removal are relatively low value. It is quite possible that the house area will be reduced and/or relocated, further
reducing potential additional impacts on trees. The proposed project has been revised to address several of the
issues raised by the original development proposal, for example, protection of ridgelines (Policy ER-1.3),
minimizing surface runoff (Policy ER-1.5), and protecting the riparian environment (Policy ER-2.1). For
example, while the original proposal did not maintain adequate stream setbacks, the current project complies
with Streamside Conservation Area (SCA) 100-foot setbacks. The residences respect views from the backyards
of existing residences on Buckeye Circle and Redwood Drive, being situated a minimum of 200 feet from the
nearest residences, with intervening, undisturbed vegetation to be located in between, protecting the views and
privacy of existing neighbors (Program CD-1.2f). Grading will also be substantially reduced for the currently
proposed driveway as opposed to previous roadway. Grading outside the building footprints is shown on the
plans as being be kept to a minimum as well, consistent with Program CD-1.2i.
The proposed location for the residence on Lot 3 has the potential for significant environmental impacts with
respect to tree removal (Policy ER-1.8 and CD-1.1) and, to an extent, views (Objective ER-1.0 and Policy CD-
6.1). Specifically, the south wing of the residence is located in the grassy area out from the edge of the treeline.
A total of 17 trees are proposed to be removed to accommodate the residence’s proposed location, of which only
seven are reportedly in poor health or structural condition. An additional nine oaks are located within five feet
of proposed construction. Staff recommends that the house on Lot 3 be relocated approximately 35 feet further
north and west (not east as noted in the Initial Study) and redesigned, which could preserve nine of the trees now
proposed to be removed, all but one of which are identified as in fair or better condition. With the residence so
relocated further downhill, the nine large oaks now located within five feet of the proposed construction would
gain additional setbacks from disturbance and therefore would much less likely to be adversely affected..
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 10 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
Additionally, the 10,000 gallon water tank proposed in a grassy area at the highest elevation portion of the site
raises concerns about view impacts from the adjacent County open space area (also see Fire Supply Water Tank
Maintain the Rural Character of the Valley. The residences in both Lots 2 and 3 were, in a previous project
iteration, visible from public open space above the property. The residence on Lot 2 has been mitigated with
respect to its visual appearance, and the Lot 3 residence, if redesigned and relocated to the northeast, would not
have an adverse affect the rural and visual character of the development and site, consistent with Policy CD-1.2
and Program CD-1.2f. The proposed location of the accessory building for Lot 3 within the grassy area would
also have an adverse visual effect on the character of the site, and should be relocated within the wooded area in
a manner that also minimizes impacts on trees.
A number of public commentors have written that the 6,010 square foot average house and outbuilding size is
substantially enough out of character with the San Geronimo Valley so as to constitute a potential significant
environmental impact. Staff acknowledges in the section of this report on Utilities and Service Systems that the
applicants have not demonstrated that the design of the septic system adequately provides for the house sizes
proposed. However, it is difficult to make a persuasive argument that the size of the homes in and of themselves
constitute a potentially significant impact in terms of consistency with valley character. Several commentors
have noted that a number of houses of similar size have been approved in San Geronimo Valley in recent years.
The San Geronimo Valley Community Plan does not contain explicit standards for appropriate house sizes.
Finally, the houses are set back over 200 feet from the nearest residences. Relative scale impacts on the
frequently cited 1,700 average house size in the neighborhood lessen with the project houses’ substantial setback
from existing residences.
Some public comments have expressed dismay with the maximum driveway width. The paved width of the
proposed driveway is 12 feet for most of its length. Some additional pavement width is necessary to
accommodate the fire pullouts (a minimum width of 18 feet is standard to accommodate fire apparatus and
simultaneous oncoming traffic) and driveway approaches for Lots 1 and 2. While the added pavement width
may not be optimal from the standpoint of impervious surface area, the relatively small square footage involved
is not a compelling significant impact. To be consistent with the County’s development standards, it may be
desirable to reduce the width at some of the driveway approaches, but this can be evaluated at the merits stage.
Fire Supply Water Tank. The applicants have agreed to relocate the proposed 10,000 gallon fire-fighting water
tank from the top of a grassy knoll on an open ridge that is the most visible landform on the property. This
pragmatically recognizes that water tank issues are important enough to be mentioned in several SGVCP
policies and programs, which discourage visible ridge-top locations (for example, Policy CD-1.5 and Program
CD-1.5a). Unless the Planning Commission is favorably inclined to consider the knoll-top location, staff
recommends directing the applicants to develop the location and design characteristics of a site further down the
hill (for example, at a site near Lot 3’s proposed accessory structure, where the applicants’ previously removed
Residential Development On Large Parcels Outside Village Areas. SGVCP Policy CD-6.1 and Program CD-
6.1a direct residential development on large parcels outside village areas to be clustered on one portion of the
site, with the remainder of the site open space (preferably public, or private if that is not possible). If possible,
development should be located adjacent to existing streets, with any new roads designed to minimize water
runoff, visibility, and grading. Under Policy CE-1.4, new development is also charged with preserving the
views and privacy of neighbors.
Several public comments stated that the house or houses should be more closely clustered to the existing village
boundaries (i.e., existing houses). The Initial Study states that the general residential layout strikes a reasonable
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 11 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
balance. The houses are clustered in fairly close proximity to each other and to existing residential development,
while avoiding placing the houses so close to the neighbors that their privacy is adversely affected. Consistent
with SGVCP Policy CD-7.1, the applicants are proposing to grant a private, permanent open space easement for
the undeveloped portion of the site. The applicants are also working with MCOSD on granting a floating trail
easement over the private open space portions of the site that provides an option for future public access to open
Recreational Facilities. As mentioned in the section above entitled public access, it is critical to preserve public
access through this site. Both the County Department of Public Works (DPW) and MCOSD have noted that
placing the public access trail on the side of the previously proposed, wider roadway was problematic, especially
in the longer term, due to concerns about maintenance, erosion, and safe footing. Similarly, public comments
have questioned the viability of the trail, due to concerns about long-term maintenance, safety due to limited
area for pedestrians, equestrians, etc.
County staff realize that the shoulder of a fairly steep driveway is not an optimal location for a public trail. For
example, continuously maintaining a trail on the side of the driveway in near-optimal condition could prove
difficult in the long run. The applicants similarly recognize concerns that may exist with a shoulder as a sole
option. They are currently developing a floating trail easement area with MCOSD to provide an important
alternative trail alignment option. As discussed above, a number of trail location and design details will need to
be explored in order to ensure that continuous public access is assured over the long term. These include
stipulating in any agreement what is the applicants’ responsibility in terms of long-term trail maintenance. It is
quite possible that the boundaries of the proposed “private activity areas” will need to be shifted and/or reduced,
and floating trail easement areas broadened, to enhance options for future trail alignment. For example private
open space area on the east side of Summit Drive should extend up to the south property boundary. More details
on the side-of-the-driveway trail design may also need to be developed by the applicants in project review to
reach a comfort level about design adequacy.
Roads and Circulation . As discussed in the Initial Study and above, under Rural Character, the proposed
vacation of Summit Drive by the applicants will the project’s impacts and benefit its design. The resulting
driveway serving the development can closely match the existing fire road with respect to grade and width. The
roadway will be designed to sheet flow water runoff to the outer, downhill (or west) side of the road, minimizing
net increase in offsite runoff from the asphalted or concreted driveway surface.
The proposed vehicular access point to the residences have been noted by several public commentors as
resulting in a maximum paved width of at least 30 feet. The architect for the project has selected a shared
driveway design that enables the Lot 2 (upper) residence on the driveway to be located well below roadway
level. While the total amount of paving for the driveways to the two houses may be reduced, there is no
evidence that the paved width per se constitutes a potential impact.
Some other public commentors have noted that the access road system up to the property, including and
particularly Redwood Drive, is narrow, steep, and winding. Commentors have suggested that a possible total of
six dwelling units would result in an excessive increase in traffic on the road system. While staff agrees that
public street access to the property is all the above, traffic currently operates at level-of-service A in the vicinity
of the project. The additional traffic from three or even six houses is not going to have an appreciable impact on
traffic volumes - perhaps one vehicle every five minutes at peak conditions. The applicants will be required to
pay their fair share Public Transportation Facilities Fee for traffic improvements in the San Geronimo Valley.
As noted in the SGVCP, improvements to existing roads should be considerate to the area’s rural character and
minimizing grading. The applicants will also have to demonstrate that the sanitary system can accommodate the
potential second units in order for them to be considered for approval. They have not done so to date.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 12 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
Natural Hazards. The proposed development is in an area of substantial fire hazards. However, the applicants
will be required to install a 10,000 gallon water tank dedicated for fire fighting purposes, and to comply with all
fire hazard reduction mitigation measures recommended by the Marin County Fire Department. The water tank
will improve firefighting capabilities. Additional requirements such as sprinklering will ensure that these
residences do not add to existing natural hazard conditions.
The Initial Study found that the proposed project will adequately reduce to less than significant the potential for
impacts related to geological factors. The property is underlain by Franciscan formation bedrock. Slope
stability was reported by the applicant’s geotechnical engineer as quite variable. Stability reports from Earth
Science Consultants have been submitted for this project, and include subsurface investigations and
recommendations on grading, fill, other earthwork, foundations design, and subsurface and surface drainage.
Numerous public commentors on the project, however, have pointed out that the reports have not been
unequivocal in their findings and recommendations with respect to the project. For example, the most recent
report, dated May 15, 2006 includes the following statements:
We recommend that the proposed development generally be built in conformity with the existing hillside grade
so as not to upset the existing site equilibrium. Generally all site grading, including cutting and filling, should
be avoided or minimized as much as possible…
From many years of geotechnical engineering experience in Northern California, we have observed that
generally the larger the amount of site grading that occurs within a project, the greater the risk of long-term
problems, including sloughing, sliding, erosion, and maintenance.
Therefore, we feel that it is important to keep the site grading at this project to a minimum. (pp. 14-15)
Based on our 39 years of geotechnical engineering experience within Northern California, we have found that
concrete slab on grade floors are not compatible with highly expansive soil conditions. (p. 33)
The applicants are proposing residence designs that make extensive use of grading cuts, retaining walls, and
what appears will be slab on (below existing) grade floors. This is desirable from the standpoint of lessening
visible mass and bulk. However, it is possible to build residences on the site that result in very little grading, cut
or fill, or retaining walls. For example, houses could be built on grade utilizing a pier and grade beam
foundation. The information and recommendations provided by the geotechnical consultants, as incorporated
into the mitigations in the Negative Declaration, are detailed and appear to adequately reduce the potential for
significant impacts. However, some repot recommendations, as noted above, may not be adequately reflected in
the proposed foundation designs. Staff recommends that the proposed foundation designs and grading plan be
reconsidered in the context of the findings and recommendations of the geotechnical report. The geotechnical
engineer should also more explicitly assess the suitability of the locations of the proposed building envelopes to
accommodate the proposed foundations and grading, with specific recommendations on whether they are
appropriate for the geological conditions on each building site. It may also be desirable for the County to obtain
a peer review of the geotechnical report’s findings and recommendations. The applicants may conversely
decide to redesign the houses and their foundation systems to more fully integrate with all of their geotechnical
consultants recommendations. Elimination of the below existing grade areas would reduce the residential
square footage, also helping potential concerns about sewage system design capacity and valley character.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 13 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
The Initial Study found that with mitigations, the proposed development would not significantly increase surface
stormwater flows from the property into drainage systems. As also noted in the Geophysical section, a variety
of mitigations have been included in the project that will minimize increases in runoff and potential erosion.
Several public commentors have questioned the accuracy of portions of the applicants’ hydrological report
(from Heinz Griesshaber), noting that the later addendum corrected an error in his earlier report and that several
errors remain. The public comments question what impact the assumptions about current off-site runoff
conditions have on proposed off-site improvements, and request more details about those improvements. The
applicants and their hydrological consultant should be prepared to clarify their understanding of off-site
conditions and the project’s proposed off-site improvements, and what effect those improvements will have.
The project site is located in a wildland interface area, where the potential risk of wildland fires is substantially
higher than in a more urban setting. Several public comments have raised concerns about fire hazards. The
County Fire Department has submitted mitigations to address fire risk, which include provision of a 10,000
gallon water tank to serve the residences, and several requirements pertaining to access, defensible space, and
design (including sprinklering). The water tank would of course be available for fire department use in the
event of any fire in the area, a net benefit with respect to fire safety.
5. Utilities and Service Systems
The applicants have received preliminary approval of their septic system from Marin County Environmental
Health Services (EHS). However, EHS notes, and a public commenter has also written, that the applicants have
not provided information on whether the system can accommodate residences larger than the 2,800 square foot
preliminarily approved. The currently proposed residences have individual, habitable areas that are at least
2,000 square feet larger, not including the proposed detached accessory buildings that they would like to be
considered for possible second units. Therefore, the applicants should be prepared to either document that the
proposed septic systems can accommodate the additional square footages, or reduce the size of the structures so
that they are consistent with the square footage limits of the currently proposed septic systems. As a further
note, if the area of the houses and accessory structures is proposed by the applicants for reduction, it may also
address some of the geotechnical issues - for example, the extensive cuts now proposed for the dug-in lower
levels could be avoided if the lower levels were eliminated and the houses built on grade. A reduction in house
sizes would also address some of the concerns the neighbors have expressed about the inconsistency of the
currently proposed house sizes with the neighborhood’s rural character.
Several public commentors have also expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the existing water supply
system and the potential impacts that this project could have on the water supply. The MMWD letters on this
project have made no mention of inadequate water supply in the Buckeye Circle neighborhood. If the 3-inch
water main size reported in neighbor’s letter is accurate, staff agrees that the current circumstance may be a
cause for concern. MMWD is requiring the applicants to upgrade the existing 3-inch piping to 6-inches from
the MMWD Buckeye Circle water tank to Summit Drive, so the inadequate MMWD facilities that may affect
the applicants’ project is being addressed. No documentation has been submitted, nor is any impact noted by
MMWD, that the applicants’ project may have a worsening affect on the general neighborhood’s water supply.
OTHER MERIT-RELATED COMMENTS:
Disruption of the physical arrangement of a community, expanding outside the Village boundaries. The three
larger than average homes propose do not constitute a significant environmental impact in an of themselves.
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 14 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
Appropriate scale issues can and should be addressed in the merits-related portion of the project review,
although as noted above there may be questions about some of the utilities serving those larger homes. Some of
the questions about the number and location of the houses relates more to public concerns about three new
houses where they may have been an assumption that open space began. The project property is a developable
site, and any development will have some impact on the current, undeveloped, attractively forested character of
the site. The best that can be hoped for is development that respects the intrinsic constraints of the site and
preserves much of its character. A majority of the site is out of the public viewshed, to the west, and will remain
in its natural, undeveloped state.
Air quality impacts. Several public comments assert that the dry season construction will generate dust.
Construction conditions such as requiring periodic watering of the fire road until it is paved, plus the distance
from the construction areas to the nearest existing residences, result in their being no environmental impact.
Those conditions will need to be applied to the project.
Spotted owls. Woodacre is known generally as Spotted Owl habitat. No known nesting or roosting sites have
been identified on the property. It is sufficient to apply an investigation prior to construction, and standard
seasonal construction limitations, to ensure that potential impacts to Spotted Owls will not be significant. The
majority of the site remains completed undeveloped, and the majority of the upper-canopy trees which the owls
prefer will also remain.
Possible project duration and monitoring. Some public comments have raised the issue about the possible
length of time it may take to complete the project, and accompanying construction and disruption related issues.
It certainly is in the applicants’ best financial interests to vigorously pursue the project to completion. The
County typically includes conditions relating to timely completion of the project, including deadlines for
expiration of approvals if, for example, certain building improvements and inspections are not achieved within a
certain time. Monitoring accompanies issuance of permits. In a high profile project such as this, the County can
also count on the public to assist in reporting any violations of conditions of approval.
The project as proposed has made substantial progress in evolving to address environmental issues and better
comply with County policies and standards since it was originally submitted. Staff continues to support the
recommended Mitigated Negative Declaration pursuant to CEQA, and the general subdivision design and
density, with the qualification that further clarification is provided in the areas discussed above and summarized
below, in order to assure that no possibility of significant impact exists.
Geotechnical to ensure that the proposed designs are consistent with the geotechnical consultant’s
Drainage, to document that project circumstances and off-site conditions are fully incorporated into the
Public access, proposed options and details that ensure public access through this site will be adequate
on a permanent basis.
Septic, to either verify that the proposed system is adequate for the size of the project, or the project has
been reduced consistent with system design parameters
Staff recommends that the Planning Commission review the administrative record, conduct a public hearing, and
provide direction to the applicants on any issues to which they should respond, and continue the hearing to a
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 15 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc
(Owing the two hundred page length of the following documents, in the interest of conserving paper they have
been provided in paper form only in the staff report packets to the Planning Commission members. Copies of
the documents are available for review at the Community Development Agency from 8:00am to 4:00p.m. daily.)
1. Preliminary Geotechnical Evaluation, Proposed Land Division 3 Proposed House Sites, Geotechnical
Investigation 3 Proposed Houses, and Supplemental Geotechnical Investigation Three Proposed Houses,
Earth Science Consultants (10/15/98, 1/29/00 and 5/15/06)
2. Hydrology Report No. 2, Summit Drive Extension 3 Lot Land Division P.D.P., Heinz Griesshaber, Civil
3. On-site Sewage Disposal Report for Minor Land Division on Summit Way, Questa Engineering
4. Biotic surveys of the proposed Summit Drive Extension and subdivision project, Woodacre; and
Supplemental biotic surveys of the proposed Summit Drive Extension and subdivision project, Charles A.
Patterson, Plant Ecologist, (10/3/98 and 7/17/00)
5. Informational Criteria for Homebuilders, Summit Drive Extension, C.R. Baumsteiger Construction, Inc.
6. Declaration of Restriction, and /Agreement for Construction Maintenance of Private Driveway Drainage
System, Landscape and Irrigation, Fire Water Tank, and Public Roadway Improvements, (draft) Chris
Baumsteiger, Oscar Quezada, and Rod Taylor, (received 11/13/01)
7. Tree Report for Summit Drive Extension 3 Lot Subdivision, Douglas Nix, Ralph Osterling Consultants, Inc.,
8. Memoranda from Marin County Department of Public Works, (12/17/01, 12/21/01,12/2/05, 12/9/05)
9. Memoranda from Marin County Fire Department Bureau of Prevention and Investigation, (6//27/01 and
10. Memoranda from Marin County Environmental Health Services, (11/27/01 and 12/2/05)
11. Memoranda from Marin County Open Space District, (7/3/01, 12/8/05, and 4/26/06)
12. Letters from Marin Municipal Water District, (12/5/05, 3/24/06, and 6/19/06)
13. Letters from neighbors: Buckeye Circle Neighbors, San Geronimo Planning Group, Save the Valley, Joan
Bardwell, Theresa Koke, Adi Girroir, Kathleen and Barry Lowenthal, Christin Anderson, Eric and Chris
Morey, Veronica Kleinberg, Environmental Action Committee, Sierra Club Marin Group, Thomas Eller,
Kathy and Keith Kurpita, Charles Bookoff, Geoff Bernstein, Maria L.E.
14. Signed petition and sample support letter (21 copies of same language letter received)
15. Precise Development Plan – 3 Lot Land Division, Summit Drive, Woodacre, California, Jay Hallberg, and
Summit Drive Extension, 3 Lot Land Division and Precise Development Plan, Arma Architectural Services,
(Revised, received 6/16/06) as follows:
Title sheet (sheet T1)
Site Plan Overview (sheet TS2)
Lower Grading Plan (sheet TS3)
Upper Grading Plan (sheet TS4)
Lower Drainage and Utility Plan (sheet TS5)
Upper Drainage and Utility Plan (sheet TS6)
R/W Profiles (sheet TS7)
R/W Sections and Additional Details (sheet TS8)
Site Plan Lot 1 (sheet TS9)
Site Plan Lot 2 (sheet TS10)
Site Plan Lot 3 (sheet TS11)
16. Summit Drive Extension (folder, received 6/16/06)
17. Summit Drive Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration
PC Staff Report
JULY 10, 2006
Item Nos. 7A & 7B, Page 16 C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\c5e3ba43-e343-4e0f-997f-a67276b5cc20.doc