Planning Commission Recommends Approval of Kensington ALF

Posted 6/12/12 – The Planning Commission voted at a special meeting last night to recommend to the City Council that they approve the construction of the Kensington Assisted Living Facility, pending voter approval in the November election.  There were three items voted on, a Specific Plan for the project, a Text Amendment to the Municipal Code to create an Overlay Zone at the project site, and a Conditional Use Permit.  The Specific Plan, as amended, was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Paschall dissenting (Commissioners Replogle and Pendlebury were absent).  The Conditional Use Permit, as amended, was approved unanimously.  The Text Amendment to create an Overlay Zone was forwarded to City Council for approval, with recommendation from the Planning Commission that the Council do so.

The Commissioners went over the Specific Plan page by page, adding and deleting items and changing the verbiage.  The most contentious point during the discussion came when they arrived at a section which stated microwaves would be allowed in the units.  Some of the commissioners felt that by adding a microwave, they were adding the ability for food preparation to the room.  Those same commissioners felt that food preparation capabilities were the dividing line between the rooms being dwelling units or not dwelling units.  By redefining them as dwelling units, the project would not conform to Measure V, which limits density to 13 dwelling units per acre.

There was quite a bit of discussion as to the developer’s desire to allow residents that were capable of proper use of microwaves to have them, but the sticking point seemed to be the dwelling unit aspect of things.  Commissioner Vandevelde noted that as an architect, he did not consider having a microwave meant that a room was a kitchen, noting that pool rooms and home offices might have microwaves and not be considered kitchens.  Commissioner Spears noted that there are studio apartments in town that are considered dwelling units that do not have full kitchens.  Commissioner Pevsner noted that counters on which one cuts a sandwich could be defined as facilitating food preparation, and that there was no need to remove all the counters.  Ultimately, the developer agreed to include verbiage stating that they would not provide microwaves, but did not specifically prohibit residents from having them in their rooms.

We have requested that City staff advise us as to when the Council will consider the Kensington Project.  If I understand correctly, the County Clerk needs verbiage for a ballot measure on the Nov. 6th ballot by Aug. 10th.  I am attempting to confirm, and will update when I know for sure.