DATE: February 5, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Gary Gillette, Planner

Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00004

PROPOSAL: A variance request to reduce the required number of parking spaces, and increase the allowed distance for off-site parking, for a proposed retail use.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant: Jack Tripp

Property Owner: Timberwolf Ventures

Property Address: 428 S. Franklin Street

Legal Description: Block 83, Lot 11, 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 Street/Commercial/Residential

South - Public Dock/Gastineau Channel

East - Commercial/Residential

West - Vacant

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant proposes to develop a two-story frame building of approximately 4,100 square feet. The first floor would provide retail space while the second floor would feature a two-bedroom apartment. The project features a waterside deck of approximately 400 square feet, which ultimately may become a part of a public seawalk along the waterfront.

BACKGROUND

General – This variance request is relative to the parking requirement for the retail use of the proposed building. The applicant proposes to reduce the parking from the Parking District 2 (PD-2) standard to the Parking District 1 (PD-1) standard. Further, the applicant proposes to provide the parking at the Rock Dump, which is greater than 500 feet from the use.

The applicant has requested a variance for residential parking. This issue will be addressed in separate staff reports (VAR2000-00047 and VAR2000-00049).

Parking - The proposed project is located in the PD-2 parking district. This provision of the CBJ Land Use Code allows the required parking to be reduced by 30 percent, in other words the project must provide 70 percent of that normally required. The proposed building features 2,337 square feet of retail on the first floor and a shared utility room on the second floor. The parking requirement for the retail portion of the proposed building is as follows:

Retail: 2,337 square feet / 200 = 11.7 x .7 = 8.19 or 8 parking spaces

Utility: 58.5 square feet / 200 = .3 x .7 =.2 parking spaces

TOTAL RETAIL PARKING REQUIRED (PD-2) = 8 spaces

The applicant requests that the parking requirement be reduced to the PD-1 standard, which allows the number of spaces to be reduced by 60 percent, in other words the project must provide 40 percent of that normally required. In 1996 CDD performed a cursory survey of businesses that serve primarily customers arriving by cruise ships (attached). It was found that the parking demand was generally for the employees. This demand coincidentally equates to that required under the PD-1 standard. Based on the PD-1 standard the parking requirement for the retail portion of the subject building is as follows:

Retail: 2,337 square feet / 200 = 11.7 x .4 = 4.68 or 5 parking spaces.

Utility: 58.5 square feet / 200 = .3 x .4 = .1 parking spaces

TOTAL RETAIL PARKING REQUIRED (PD-1) = 5 spaces.

Distance to Parking – The Land Use Code requires parking for commercial uses to be on the site of the development or within 500 feet of the site. The applicant proposes to provide the required parking on a lot at the Rock Dump, which is approximately 6,200 feet from the site. The applicant’s proposal is to serve the remote lot by a shuttle van.

Richard Stone, partner in two downtown buildings, which provide a remote parking lot at the Rock Dump served by a shuttle, commented that it is not being used as anticipated. He indicated that he has made tenants aware of the service, that he has a vehicle available for the shuttle, it is insured, is scheduled to be on call during peak periods and hourly thereafter. He believes he has made a good faith effort to inform tenants in an attempt to meet the provisions of the variance granted to him.

The applicant proposes a remote parking and shuttle system similar to Mr. Stone’s. The applicant would lease parking spaces at the Timberwolf Enterprises warehouse located at the Rock Dump. There is adequate space on the warehouse site to accommodate the required parking for the proposed building and the existing warehouse/office use. When an employee arrives at the remote parking lot they would have a location in the building to wait for the shuttle. The shuttle would be operated during hours that the business is open. The shuttle would operate to coincide with peak employee arrivals and at shift changes and be on call at other times to serve emergency trips.

A loading zone at a nearby business (Timberwolf Gifts) located on the deck behind the Warner’s Wharf building would provide a convenient off-street drop-off/pick-up location for the shuttle vehicle. Additionally, the applicant has indicated that employee rules would require those who drive to work utilize the remote parking and shuttle service.

ANALYSIS

Park and Shuttle

Based on discussion with other property owners with park and shuttle arrangements it is clear that the program in not being utilized as anticipated. The primary difference between the applicant’s proposal and others is that this is a single tenant building operated by the applicant who is willing to require his employees to utilize the remote parking and shuttle service. Given this commitment, the program may have a better chance of being successful. While the applicant proposes to require employees who drive to work to utilize the system this may be difficult to monitor and enforce. These factors cause concern that the proposed park and shuttle system may not be utilized. Once approved by the Commission, it would be virtually impossible to go back and require an alternative solution to the parking situation if the system did not work.

Thus the dilemma: If the system works it would be beneficial to solving some of the downtown parking problem, however, if the system doesn’t work it would exacerbate the overall parking situation downtown. With the "will it work", or "will it not work" dilemma in mind, the following analysis is presented.

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.

    Number of Parking Spaces - The proposed use is retail targeted primarily to the cruise ship market but is located in PD-2. Other similar uses in the downtown area are located in the PD-1. Based on a CDD survey it appears that the parking demand for retail businesses catering to cruise ship passengers is primarily that of the employees which is equivalent to the PD-1 standard.

    Based on the parking demand study, it appears that the relaxation applied for by the applicant would give substantial relief to the owner of the property and be consistent with justice to other property owners.

  • Thus, criterion 1 is met for reducing the number of parking spaces.

  • Distance to Parking - The proposed building as designed would occupy the entire site and there appears to be no readily available property within 500 feet of the project. Further, it appears there is no readily available property for parking significantly less distance from the site than that of the Rock Dump.

    The relaxation applied for by the applicant would give substantial relief. Given that there is no identifiable property for parking less distance from the site than the Rock Dump there is no lessor a relaxation that would give substantial relief to the owner of the property and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.

  • Thus, criterion 1 is met for increasing the distance to parking.

  • 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 CBJ Land Use Code provides a statement of intent for the title at CBJ 49.05.100. In summary, the purposes that apply to this request intend to ensure that future growth and development in the City and Borough are in accord with the values of its residents; to identify and secure, for present and future residents, the beneficial impacts of growth while minimizing the negative impacts; to ensure that development is the appropriate type, design and location; and to recognize the economic value of land and encourage its proper and beneficial use.

    Number of Parking Spaces - The variance to reduce the number of parking spaces is consistent with demonstrated demand for downtown businesses catering to the cruise industry. There have been no safety issues identified as a result of reducing the number of parking spaces for the proposed building. After reviewing the application materials and the intent of this title it appears that the variance request 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, criterion 2 is met for reducing the number of parking spaces.

  • Distance to Parking - The variance to increase the distance to parking to allow use of a remote parking lot at the Rock Dump served by a shuttle may be a viable solution if it is utilized on a regular and on-going basis. There have been no safety issues identified as employees would park in one location and be transported to the business site in a shuttle vehicle. Therefore, if the park and shuttle system is utilized the variance can be granted such a fashion that the intent of this title will be observed and the public safety and welfare be preserved.
  • Thus, criterion 2 would be met for increasing the distance to parking if the park and shuttle system is successful.

  • However, if the park and shuttle system is not utilized granting the variance would not be in accordance with the values of CBJ residents and would result in negative impacts of growth. Further, employees may park in various locations throughout the neighborhood which could cause safety issues while travelling from parking to the site of the business. Under these circumstances, granting the variance would not observe the intent of this title and the public safety and welfare would not be preserved.
  • Thus, criterion 2 would not be met for increasing the distance to parking if the park and shuttle system is not successful.

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

    Number of Parking Spaces – The proposal to reduce the number of parking spaces for the retail use which is targeted primarily to the cruise ship passengers is consistent with demand of other businesses in the area of the proposed building. No evidence is apparent that granting the requested variance to reduce the number of parking to the PD-1 standard would injure nearby property. Thus, criterion 3 is met for reducing the number of parking spaces to the PD-1 standard.

    Distance to Parking - If the park and shuttle system is successful it would seem that no injury would occur to nearby properties as those utilizing the system would park out of the area.

  • Thus, criterion 3 would be met for distance to parking if the park and shuttle system were successful.

  • However, if the park and shuttle system were not successful the impact would be to exacerbate the existing pressure on the limited parking options available in the downtown and would cause injury to nearby properties.
  • Thus, criterion 3 would not be met for distance to parking if the park and shuttle system were not successful.

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

    Number of Parking Spaces / Distance to Parking - Granting of the requested variances would not authorize used not allowed in the Waterfront Commercial zoning district.

  • Thus, criterion 4 is met for reducing the number of parking spaces and increasing the distance to parking.

  • 5. That compliance with the existing standards would:
  • (A) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use;
  • Number of Parking Spaces / Distance to Parking - The proposed project of retail space is allowed in the WC, Waterfront Commercial zoning district subject to approval of a conditional use permit approved by the Planning Commission. There are design options that may allow a permissible use on the property along with the required parking. These might include elevating portions of the building to accommodate parking or to reduce the size of the building to allow parking on the lot. Other permissible uses that might require less parking may be accommodated on the site

    Thus, sub-criterion (A) is not met for reducing the number of parking spaces or increasing the distance to parking.

  • (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;
  • Number of Parking Spaces - Other development in the neighborhood of the proposed project are retail, office, and residential uses. Generally the retail uses cater to cruise ship clientele. Some of the neighboring buildings were constructed in the past when parking was not required, some received variances to the number of parking spaces to the PD-1 standard, and others are in the PD-1 district. Additionally, a survey of demand for similar uses revealed that the PD-1 standard is a reasonable requirement for downtown buildings. Given these facts, requiring the applicant to provide the number of parking spaces of the PD-2 district would seem to 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.

  • Thus, sub-criterion (B) is met for reducing the number of parking spaces.

  • Distance to Parking - The downtown area, particularly along South Franklin Street, is a mix of various sized single and multiple level buildings. Most do not provide on-site parking. Some were constructed in the past when parking was not required, some received variances to the number of parking spaces and the distance to parking. Others have provided parking off-site at the Rock Dump or on lots along Gastineau Avenue.

    The mass and scale of the proposed building is similar to others in the area. There are few options available to develop the proposed building with on-site parking. There is however an option to provide the parking at the Rock Dump which is approximately 6,000 feet from the site. Given these circumstances it appears that compliance with existing standards would 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.

  • Thus, sub-criterion (B) is met for increasing the distance to parking.

  • (C) Be unnecessarily burdensome because unique physical features of the property render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive;
  • Number of Parking Spaces / Distance to Parking - 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 uses is 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 for number of parking spaces and for increasing the distance to parking.

    or

  • (D) 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.
  • Number of Parking Spaces / Distance to Parking - There are no pre-existing nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel.

  • Thus, sub-criterion (D) does not apply.

  • Number of Parking Spaces and Distance to Parking - Criterion 5 is met because Sub-Criterion (B) and (C) are met for reducing the number of parking spaces and for increasing the distance to parking.

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

    Number of Parking Spaces - Based on the survey performed by CDD of uses similar to the proposed project, the reduction of the number of parking spaces to that of the PD-1 would not seem to pose any detriments to the neighborhood. The benefits to the neighborhood would include the development of a viable business on a currently vacant parcel. Therefore there would be more benefits than determents as a result of granting the requested variance.

  • Thus, criterion 6 is met for reducing the number of parking spaces.

  • Distance to Parking - If the variance to allow parking at the Rock Dump is granted and the park shuttle system is successful there would be no apparent detriment to the neighborhood. The benefit to the neighborhood would include the development of a viable business on a currently vacant parcel. Therefore there would be more benefits than determents as a result of granting the requested variance provided that the remote parking and shuttle system is successful.
  • Thus, criterion 6 would be met for increasing the distance to parking if the park and shuttle system is successful.

  • However, if the park and shuttle system were not successful the detriment to the neighboring area would be increased congestion and increased pressure on an already limited parking supply. While the benefit to the neighborhood would include the development of a viable business on a currently vacant parcel, the lack of adequate parking is seen as a serious detriment, which would only make the current downtown parking situation worse. Therefore, there would not be more benefits than determents as a result of granting the requested variance.
  • Thus, criterion 6 would not be met for increasing the distance to parking if the park and shuttle system is not successful. 

    JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

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

    FINDINGS

    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 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?

    Number of Parking Spaces - Yes. Based on the above analysis the requested variance meets the Grounds for Variance criteria contained in the Land Use Code.

    Distance to Parking – If shuttle is successful - Yes. Based on the above analysis the requested variance meets the Grounds for Variance criteria contained in the Land Use Code.

    Distance to Parking – If shuttle is not successful - No. Based on the above analysis the requested variance does not meet the Grounds for Variance criteria contained in the Land Use Code. Specifically Criteria 2, 3, and 6 are not met.

  • RECOMMENDATION

    Number of Parking Spaces - It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested variance to reduce the parking requirement to the PD-1 standard. The variance would allow the development of a building for retail use and calculating the required parking at the PD-1 standard.

    Distance to Parking - It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director's analysis and findings and deny the requested variance because there is evidence that past efforts to utilize a park/shuttle program for retail uses on South Franklin Street have not been successful. Further, the requested variance does not meet the criteria of 49.20.250 (b) Grounds for Variance.

    The Board of Adjustment, after its public hearing, may determine that the proposed park/shuttle program will be successful and that the variance request as applied for by the owner meets the criteria of 49.20.250 (b) Grounds for Variance, then it is recommended that the following conditions be included in the variance approval:

  • 1. The applicant shall ensure that all employees who drive to work use the remote parking lot at the Timberwolf Enterprises warehouse site at the Rock Dump.
  • a. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the owner shall submit to the Community Development Department proof of ownership and insurance of a vehicle type which would serve to shuttle employees between the remote parking lot at the Rock Dump and the proposed building. The shuttle vehicle shall be operated to serve the proposed building for a minimum of 30 years.

    b. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the owner shall submit to the Community Development Department a copy of employee rules which specifies that all employees who drive to work must utilize the remote parking lot at the Rock Dump.

    c. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the owner shall submit to the Community Development Department a lease agreement for a minimum of 30 years for use of the required number of parking spaces at the Timberwolf warehouse site at the Rock Dump.

    d. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the applicant shall cause a deed restriction to be recorded with the state recorder for the Timberwolf Enterprises parcel at the Rock Dump to provide the required number of parking spaces for exclusive use for occupants of the proposed building.

  • 2. Commencing with the occupancy of the building, the owner shall submit to the Community Development Department, on a form approved by the Community Development Department, at the end of each month that the building is open and operational, for a period of five years, a log record of those employees who utilize the parking lot at the Rock Dump and shuttle. This record shall indicate the total number of employees and identify which of those drive to work and those who arrive by other means.

    3. Prior to issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall submit to CDD an accurately scaled parking lot plan for the remote parking lot at the Rock Dump and identifying the required number of parking space reserved for the proposed building.

    1. If at some time in the future the City and Borough of Juneau or a private party implement other mechanisms for fulfilling parking requirements, then the Community Development director may authorize the applicant to participate in such program.
    2. The applicant shall ensure that a shuttle parking space is provided at the Timberwolf Gift location, which is a reasonable distance from the proposed building.
    1. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the applicant shall submit to the Community Development Department a lease agreement for a minimum of 30 years for use of a shuttle parking space at the Timberwolf Gift location at Werner’s Wharf.

    b. Prior to issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy (which ever comes first) for the building, the applicant shall cause a deed restriction to be recorded with the state recorder for the Timberwolf Gift location at Werner’s Wharf to provide the required parking space for use by the shuttle vehicle.