Santa Monica’s Planning Commission unanimously denied an appeal of the City’s Zoning Administrator’s decision to allow a 67-inch hedge along the front yard of a property located on 227 Bay Street in Ocean Park.
The appellant’s attorney argued at the Commission’s November 11 meeting that the front yard hedge was creating a safety hazard when the owner of 225 Bay Street, Halil Parlar, backs his car in and out.
Paul Pearson, property owner at 227 Bay Street, explained to the Commission that his property is located on a busy commercial street and that a front yard hedge that is taller than the 42-inch legal City limit is needed “for safety” reasons. He also mentioned that he has two dogs and a 42-inch hedge would not be tall enough to keep his dogs from jumping out of his front yard.
Pearson’s wife, Anne, presented the Commission with a petition signed by 75 people who supported keeping their hedge taller than 42 inches. She explained that she had not registered her non-conforming hedge by the November 15, 2007 deadline because of a death in the family.
The Pearsons had also requested to be able to grow their west side yard hedge to 15 feet in order to shield their property from Parlar’s property. Parlar’s attorney claimed such a hedge height would cause his client’s property to lose needed sunlight and air circulation.
The City staff report stated, “During the Zoning Administrator hearing on November 11, 2008, staff documented a number of legal, non-conforming front yard fences and hedges along Bay Street that exceeded the 42-inch height limit (ranging from 48 inches to 132 inches). For that reason, the Zoning Administrator was able to make affirmative findings for the front yard hedge modification based upon its compatibility with other hedges in the neighborhood and the need for privacy from heavy foot traffic in the neighborhood generated by the site’s proximity to the C4 commercial district along Pico Boulevard, the Main Street Commercial District and the beach.” However, the Zoning Administrator did not approve the modifications requested by the Pearsons to have their side yard hedge exceed the City’s 12-foot height limit by 3 feet because such a hedge height would have “negative impacts on the adjacent 7-unit property’s sunlight, air and livability.”
Commissioner Jason Parry summed up the Commission reasoning for their decision when he stated the 67-inch hedge “is compatible with the neighborhood. It would not be injurious or detrimental to others in the area and it would not impair the integrity or ch—-aracter of the neighborhood.”