Chapter 17.21

17.21.010 Purpose

The provisions of this Chapter are intended to establish a Site Plan Review process by which certain types of development projects and structures are subject to a discretionary review approval process before the Approval Authority, to ensure that the site plan, building layout, size, shape, scale, mass, height, architectural design, architectural components, materials, colors, landscaping and other aspects of the physical plan for the development project are compatible with neighboring developments, are appropriate for the site, and achieve the highest level of design that is feasible for the project. The City intends to use this Site Plan Review process to improve the aesthetic character of the community, preserve and enhance property values, protect adjacent properties from adverse impacts caused by development projects, assist private and public developers to be more cognizant of public concerns for the aesthetics of projects, and bring about a community that is safe, functional and attractive. (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 03-03, adopted by City Council January 28, 2004.)

17.21.020 General Provisions

A.    No person shall undertake, conduct or use, or cause to be undertaken, conducted or used, any development project(s) which requires Site Plan Review, without having first complied with the provisions of this Chapter.

B.    Where the use proposed, the adjacent land uses, environmental significance or limitations, topography, or traffic circulation is found to so require, the reviewing authority may establish more stringent regulations than those otherwise specified for the applicable zone district in which the project site is located.

C.    The following uses have been determined to be exempt from Site Plan Review requirements:

1.    Interior remodels which do not result in substantial changes in the character of the occupancy or use, or cause greater impact on traffic or waste disposal, as determined by the Director of Building and Safety and Planning Director;

2.    Alterations to building exteriors not resulting in significant changes of use, drainage patterns, parking, traffic, easements, or greater impacts on infrastructure and public services, as determined by the Planning Director;

3.    Repair and maintenance of structures or parking areas, unless constrained by existing infrastructure and existing drainage patterns and/or easements;

4.    Replacement and/or repair of a structure partially destroyed by fire, flood or other natural occurrence, when the repair of such structure is determined by the Director of Building and Safety and Planning Director to be consistent with the design, use and intensity of the original structure, and consistent with the zoning and General Plan designations;

5.    Expansions to multiple residential, commercial or industrial buildings or structures of less than twenty-five (25) percent in total floor area or fifteen hundred (1500) square feet, whichever is greater, where the proposed expansion will not result in a change in the land use or intensity, or cause increased impacts on existing infrastructure and public services, as determined by the Planning Director. A new Site Plan Review or Major Modification shall be required where an addition, which combined with any addition approved within thirty-six (36) months of the filing of the application, exceeds twenty-five (25) percent of the total floor area or fifteen hundred (1500) square feet, whichever is greater;

6.    Reductions of floor or building area within a previously approved Site Plan Review where it is determined that the modification would not result in a significant change in circumstances requiring additional environmental or planning review.

7.    Single-family residential development (one residence per parcel) and duplex development (two residences per parcel), on existing lots of record.

D.    Where permitted by the zone and unless otherwise specified, the following uses shall require approval of a Site Plan Review.

1.    Any use which is listed as permitted with Site Plan Review in the applicable zone district;

2.    Any new construction of a commercial, industrial, multiple family residential, or institutional use (including public and quasi-public facilities), except as otherwise specified in this Ordinance.

3.    Additions to pre-existing multiple residential, commercial or industrial structures or uses which have been legally established under the provisions of an approved Site Plan Review and which are permitted as such in the applicable zone district, which will result in an increase in total floor area of twenty-five percent (25%) or greater, or expansions of one thousand five hundred (1,500) square feet or greater;

4.    Projects involving a change or intensification of land use, when the new use is permitted in the underlying zone district with Site Plan Review.

E.    All applications for Site Plan Review or a Major Modification of a Site Plan Review shall be reviewed by the Hearing Officer, which shall be the Planning Director or his/her designee, except as otherwise provided by PMC 17.20.080.

F.    Any use existing on the effective date of this Zoning Ordinance which was permitted subject to an approved Site Plan Review shall be deemed a pre-existing use. Such use may continue in accordance with this Division, provided that the use is operated and maintained in compliance with the conditions prescribed at the time of its establishment, if any. Any expansion, alteration, or reconstruction of a building housing a previously approved Site Plan Review use which has become non-conforming due to adoption of this Ordinance or any subsequent amendments thereto, shall comply with Chapter 17.29 PMC regulating non-conforming uses until such use is brought into conformance with this Zoning Ordinance. Any use existing on the effective date of this Ordinance which would require approval of a Site Plan Review to be established in that zone, but for which such approval has not been obtained, shall be deemed a Non-Conforming Use and regulated by Chapter 17.29 PMC.

17.21.030 Application Procedure

A.    Pre-application conference

A conference between City staff, any referral agencies deemed necessary by the City, and the applicant may be conducted pursuant to PMC 17.20.030.

B.    Formal application submittal

1.    The project applicant must be the property owner or an authorized agent of the property owner.

2.    After a pre-application conference has been held, when applicable, the applicant shall prepare a comprehensive site plan and complete the required application forms supplied by the City. The applicant shall file said plans and application with the Planning Department, along with the required fee as adopted by the City Council. Information requested on the application form and other processing requirements, including but not limited to number of copies requested, maps, graphics or informational reports and studies, shall be determined by the Planning Department.

3.    The applicant may be required to clarify, correct or supply additional information before the application is determined by the City to be complete. Upon making the determination as to whether the application conforms to these standards, the City will notify the applicant in writing when the application has been accepted, or whether the application has been deemed incomplete, within the time limitations outlined in PMC 17.20.050.

C.    Site plan

The application shall be accompanied by the required number of site plan maps, drawn at a minimum scale of 1"=20' or other scale approved by the Planning Department, on standard sheets of 24" by 36". The site plans shall indicate the location of all known and proposed easements and improvements; structures and improvements proposed to be demolished, relocated, or constructed; and all other pertinent information which can be graphically depicted on the plan, as specified in the checklist provided by the Planning Department.

D.    Drawings and elevations

Elevations showing the general appearance, features and heights of proposed structures shall be submitted, as required on the application checklist.

When required by the Planning Department, drawings and elevations shall be submitted in addition to those accompanying the site plan, which shall include but not be limited to the following:

1.    Roof overhangs and any other parts of the structures that protrude from the building surfaces.

2.    Details indicating rooftop screening materials, methods, and a view analysis of proposed screening, when required.

3.    Uses of each room or floor plans, if required.

17.21.040 Approval Requirements

A.    A Site Plan Review approval shall apply only to the property for which the application was made, and shall apply to that property as long as the use for which approval was granted is in effect, regardless of changes in ownership.

B.    A project approved by Site Plan Review shall be inaugurated within thirty-six (36) months from the effective date of the decision. One or more extensions of time, not to exceed a total of twenty-four (24) months from the original expiration date, may be granted pursuant to PMC 17.20.120.

C.    The following requirements may be placed upon the development project by the reviewing authority as conditions of approval:

1.    Dedications and/or easements for streets, alleys, drainage, public utilities, recreational trails, flood control, and such other rights-of-way as may be determined essential to the orderly development of the site and abutting properties.

2.    On and off-site improvements, including but not limited to the following:

a.    Grading, drainage, and drainage structures necessary to protect the public safety;

b.    Curbs and gutters, street pavement, sidewalks, street lights and traffic control devices, and bus turnouts and shelters; all road improvements are to be constructed pursuant to plans and specifications of the Public Works Department of the City of Palmdale;

c.    Adequate water service and fire protection equipment, pursuant to plans and specifications of the Public Works Department of the City of Palmdale and Los Angeles County Fire Department;

d.    Sanitary sewer facilities and connections;

e.    Services from public utilities where provided;

f.    Street trees and landscaping;

g.    On-site landscaping, walls and/or fences, trash enclosures, and lighting fixtures;

h.    Pedestrian walkways and site amenities, including seating and other fixtures, where appropriate;

i.    In addition to the above requirements, the reviewing authority shall require such additional improvements and facilities as determined reasonably necessary for the proper development of the site and the area.

17.21.050 Determination by the Approval Authority

(Zoning Ordinance Amendment 03-03, adopted by City Council January 28, 2004.)

No Application for Site Plan Review shall be approved by the Approval Authority unless the application, in its final submitted form, or as conditioned, meets all of the following criteria:

A.    The design and layout of the proposed development or structures is consistent with the City’s General Plan, any applicable specific plan, any applicable design guidelines, and the development standards set forth in this Zoning Ordinance;

B.    The design of the structures, including layout, size, shape, mass, height, architectural elements and other design factors are appropriate to the size and shape of the lot and are compatible and harmonious with the uses and structures on adjacent properties;

C.    The design of the project will provide a desirable environment for its occupants, the visiting public and its neighbors through the use of high-quality building materials, design elements, colors textures and landscape features; and

D.    The building materials and design features are of a quality and type that will remain aesthetically appealing over time without necessitating frequent and unrealistic maintenance or replacement.

17.21.060 Revisions and Modifications

Revisions or modifications of Site Plan Review cases can be requested by the applicant.

A.    Minor revisions

A revision or modification to an approved Site Plan Review such as, but not limited to, minor changes in the site design, parking or building placement, which will not increase or change the use or intensity of the site, may be acted on by the Planning Director upon submittal of an application, required materials and applicable fees for Minor Modification, pursuant to PMC 17.26.040.

B.    Major revisions

A major revision or modification to an approved Site Plan Review such as, but not limited to, change in conditions, expansions, intensification, location, or hours of operation, may be requested by the applicant. Such request shall be processed through application of a Major Modification or new Site Plan Review, pursuant to the provisions contained in this Division.

17.21.070 New Applications Following Denial

Following the denial of an application for a Site Plan Review, no application for a Site Plan Review for the same or substantially the same use and design on the same or substantially the same site shall be filed within one (1) year from the date of denial.