A proposed 20,542-square-foot single family residence and guest house on Berkshire Avenue near the Flint Canyon Tennis Club was approved Tuesday by planning commissioners, who praised the ingenuity of its designers.
The contemporary, flat-roofed concept was designed by Glendale-based Zohrabians Architects and Builders for a 3.78-acre lot containing a jurisdictional stream bed protected by a Los Angeles County flood hazard easement.
Plans include a two-story residence with attached three-car garage, a semi-subterranean 10-car garage, a detached guest house, a raised swimming pool with a lounge and a tennis court, all accessible by a perimeter driveway with three turnouts. The total height of the project is 28 feet, the maximum allowed for the site.
Grading and excavation of the property would lower the current building pad another eight to 10 feet to accommodate a 7,000-square-foot basement, whose area is not counted as part of the project’s total floor area. Despite its size, the most recent iteration of the project is much smaller than the original design, which was 40 feet high and presented more than 30,000-square-feet of developed space.
On Tuesday, planning commissioners considered a hillside development permit, second-floor review, conditional use permit for being more than 10,000 square feet in area and tree removal permit, among other entitlements.
The downward sloping lot is bordered by Berkshire Avenue to the west, the tennis club to the south and the easement and Flint Canyon Trail to the east. City planner Chris Gjolme said the property had previously been eyed by several developers whose plans never came to fruition.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re all fairly familiar with the property,” the planner told commissioners. “Over the years we have had a number of development proposals at this particular property, ranging from multiple subdivisions to potential multifamily developments.”
Commissioners asked about the visibility of the mansion’s roof, as the project would sit below street level, and about potential encroachment into the county easement.
Architect Patrick Zohrabians said a mechanical room would prevent equipment from being placed on the roof, while the roof itself would be nonreflective. The current proposal, he added, leaves the easement untouched.
In a public comment, Flintridge Canyon Tennis Club owner Horacio Tamborini said five instructional tennis courts on the north end of his property border the project site. He said he supports the project but asked commissioners to consider requiring a temporary construction fence taller than the regulatory 8 feet and reducing construction hours to accommodate lessons.
“We are going to be your good neighbors, and hopefully you’ll be the same,” Tamborini said to property owner Levik Hagobian, who was in attendance Tuesday.
Commissioners ultimately approved the project 4-0 (Commission Chair Rick Gunter was absent) with additional conditions regarding construction noise and the replacement of protected trees. They roundly praised the proposal for making good use of a highly unusual lot.
“It’s really a great design, something I think will be a welcome addition to La Cañada,” said Commissioner Jeff McConnell. “Hopefully sometime in the future, people will be trying to make a monument status out of this.”
Commission meeting days changed
Also Tuesday, planning commissioners approved changing the days they meet, from the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, to the second and fourth Thursdays.
They did so at the request of Assistant City Atty. Adrian Guerra, who recently accepted a city attorney position in San Bernardino County’s Grand Terrace. That city’s council meetings are held the same days as La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission meetings.
“I’ve been working here for 10 years and enjoy working with the city, the council and you all,” he said, adding the change would allow him to keep both positions.