DATE: February 5, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Gary Gillette, Planner

Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2000-00047

PROPOSAL: A variance request to reduce the required number of parking spaces for a residential use from one to zero.



Applicant: Jack Tripp

Property Owner: Timberwolf Ventures

Property Address: 428 South Franklin Street

Legal Description: Lot 11, Block 83, Tidelands Addition

Parcel Code Number: 1-C07-0-K83-006-0

Site Size: 2,804 Square Feet

Zoning: WC, Waterfront Commercial

Utilities: CBJ Water and Sewer

Access: South Franklin Street

Existing Land Use: Vacant

Surrounding Land Use: North – S. Franklin St./Commercial & Residential

South – Gastineau Channel

East - Commercial & Residential

West - Vacant


The applicant proposes to develop a two-story frame building. The first floor of the building would provide retail space. The second floor would feature an apartment. The project features a waterside deck, which ultimately might become a part of a public seawalk along the waterfront.


The applicant proposes to include a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a new building which would features retail on the first floor. When apartments are included in mixed use buildings they are treated similar to a multi-family building in terms of parking requirements. The parking requirement for a two-bedroom apartment is 1.5 spaces. The subject building is in the PD-2 parking district therefore the parking may be reduced by thirty percent. Thus the parking requirement for the subject apartment is 1 space. Further, parking must be on the site of the building or within 100 feet of the site.

The applicant has requested a variance to reduce the number of parking spaces from one to zero. The applicant states the apartment would be occupied by the applicant who has parking spaces rented in the municipal parking garage. The city policy is to not allow the use of rented spaces in the municipal parking garage as a means to meet parking requirements of the CBJ Land Use Ordinance. Therefore, the fact that the applicant rents parking spaces in the garage is not pertinent to this variance request.

The statement that the applicant would occupy the apartment is also not pertinent. First, no matter who occupies the apartment there would likely be a parking demand. The allowed reduction in parking accounts for the situation that all residents in downtown apartments don’t own vehicles. Of course this doesn’t provide much relief when there is only one apartment. Secondly, there is no guarantee that the applicant will own the property for the long-term. Potential future owners may not use the apartment as planned by the applicant.

If this variance request is not approved the applicant desires a variance to the distance provision to allow the parking to be at the Rock Dump served by a shuttle vehicle. This second issue of distance to parking is the subject of a separate variance (VAR2000-00049).  


Hardship and Practical Difficulty

The CBJ Land Use Code at Section 49.20.250 (b) provides that where hardship and practical difficulties result from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature affecting only a specific parcel of property or structures lawfully existing thereon and render it difficult to carry out the provisions of Title 49, the Board of Adjustment may grant a variance in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Title 49. A variance may vary any requirement or regulation of Title 49 concerning dimensional and other design standards, but not those concerning the use of land or structures, housing density, lot coverage, or those establishing construction standards. The variance may be granted upon meeting the criteria of variance requirements as analyzed below.

The proposed building would be located on a site, which is a combination of tidelands and uplands. While it is true that this is not the only such site in the vicinity, relative to the available land for development in Juneau tideland sites are few and present unique construction challenges. The costs of developing the site for any development are substantially greater on such a site. In addition, this site is narrow, only 20 feet, and long which further limits development options.

Given these limitations it appears that the subject site would meet the first test of the variance provision that a hardship and practical difficulty exists. Specific variance criteria are addressed in the following section of this report.

Variance Requirements

In accordance with CBJ'49.20.250 (b), a variance may be granted after the prescribed hearing and after the Board of Adjustment has determined:

  • 1. That the relaxation applied for or a lesser relaxation specified by the Board of Adjustment would give substantial relief to the owner of the property involved and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.

    The applicant has indicated that there is not sufficient room on the site to develop the proposed building and the required parking for the apartment. Further, the current management policies governing the use of the municipal parking garage do not allow leasing spaces to meet land use requirements.

    The relaxation applied for would give substantial relief. With only one parking space required for the apartment there is no lessor a relaxation than that requested which would provide substantial relief to the applicant and be more consistent with justice to other property owners. Thus this criterion is met.

    2. That relief can be granted in such a fashion that the intent of this title will be observed and the public safety and welfare be preserved.

    The intent of Title 49 is found in Section 49.05.100. This section describes several concepts as the intent of the title that are relevant to this variance request: to ensure that future growth and development in the City and Borough is in accord with the values of its residents; and to identify and secure for present and future residents the beneficial impacts of growth while minimizing the negative impacts. Title 49 considers the values of the residents, both current and future.

    Much testimony has been heard on past variances for buildings in the vicinity of the subject project. The Gastineau Avenue neighborhood experiences a lot of vehicles parking on the streets from those occupying buildings on South Franklin Street. Developing the apartment without parking space would negatively impact surrounding areas. In addition, Gastineau Avenue is essentially a one lane two way street with many limitations. Parking on this street is difficult and poses several safety problems. It does not appear that the variance could be granted in such a fashion that the intent of this title will be observed and the public safety and welfare be preserved. Thus this criterion is not met.

    3. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.

    Not having parking allotted for the proposed apartment may result in tenants parking in neighboring areas. This situation would exacerbate the existing pressure on the limited parking options in the downtown area. Thus this criterion is not met.

    4. That the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved.

    The granting of the requested variance would not authorize uses not allowed in the WC, Waterfront Commercial zoning district. Thus this criterion is met.

    5. That compliance with the existing standards would:

  • (A) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use;

    Denying the requested variance may result in the applicant not being able to develop an apartment on the site. Other water related uses might be able to be developed on the site and meet the parking requirement. Thus this sub-criterion is not met.

    (B) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner which is consistent as to scale, amenities, appearance or features, with existing development in the neighborhood of the subject property;

    Neighboring properties feature single and multiple story buildings, retail uses, restaurants, apartments, and other uses. The applicant could develop the property in a number of ways and be consistent with the mix of uses, scale, amenities, or features of the existing development in the area. Thus sub-criterion (B) is not met.

    (C) Be unnecessarily burdensome because unique physical features of the property render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive;

  • The subject parcel is narrow and long which limits development options. The width is such that any parking provided on the lot would have difficulty turning around on the site. Therefore, parking would likely need to back out onto Franklin Street. Back out parking for commercial and multi-family uses are not allowed by the Land Use Code. Further, this parcel features unfilled tidelands which must be developed with piling and deck structures. Given these situations it appears that there are unique physical features of the property that render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive. Thus, sub-criterion (C) is met.

  • or

    1. Because of pre-existing nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel the grant of the variance would not result in a net decrease in overall compliance with the Land Use Code, CBJ Title 49, or the Building Code, CBJ Title 19, or both.
  • There are no pre-existing conditions nonconforming conditions on the site. Thus this sub-criterion does not apply.
  • Criterion 5 is met because sub-criterion (C) is met.


  • 6. That a grant of the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.

    Granting the requested variance would allow the development of an apartment in the downtown, which may be beneficial to the overall vitality of the downtown area. A detriment of granting the variance would be the spill over of parking into the adjacent neighborhood. There does not appear to be more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood, thus this criterion is not met.


    A review of the JCMP reveled that no enforceable policies apply to the project as a result of the requested variance.


    CBJ'49.20.240, Board of Adjustment Action, states that the Board of Adjustment shall hear all variance requests and shall either approve, conditionally approve, modify or deny the request based on the criteria in CBJ'49.20.250.

    Under CBJ'49.20.220, Scheduling and Fee, the director makes the following determination:

  • 1. Is the application for the requested variance complete?
  • Yes. The application contains the information necessary to conduct a full review of the requested variance. The application submittal by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conform to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters 49.15. Additionally, notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under Your Municipality, which ran on February 2, 2001. A public notice sign was posted on the site at least 14 days prior to the meeting and notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property.

    Under CBJ'49.70.900 (b)(3), General Provisions, the director makes the following Juneau Coastal Management Program consistency determination: 

  • 2. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
  • Not Applicable. No enforceable policies of the JCMP apply as related to the requested variance.

  • 3. Does the variance as requested, meet the criteria of Section 49.20.250 Grounds for Variances?

    No. The variance as requested does not meet the grounds for variance contained in the Land Use Code Section 49.20.250 Grounds for Variances. Specifically the request does not meet criterion 2, 3, and 6.


    It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director's findings and staff analysis, which concludes that the grounds for variances as contained in 49.20.250 (b) are not met. For these reasons it is further recommended that the variance be denied.