Fees for public parking are limited to no more than is charged in the city lot across the road.
Developer Joe Hanauer asked for the added height to accommodate a 250-square-foot addition to the project and approval of one smaller-than-regulation-size parking space, out of the 31 on the site, to fulfill parking requirements for the enlarged area.
The City Council may approve additional height in the district when recommended by the Planning Commission, which is responsible for design review in the downtown.
Additional height is subject to required findings:
*Special circumstances on the property, including shape, size, topography, location or surroundings;
*Variance needed for the preservation and enjoyment of a substantial property right of the applicant;
*Granting the variance will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, convenience and welfare, nor injurious to nearby property or improvements; and
*The variance will not be contrary to the objectives of city ordinances or general plan.
City staff recommended approval of the variance after reviewing the findings and also found the proposed changes to the façade to be consistent with design review criteria and compliance with required Coastal Development Permit findings.
"The height only goes to 27 feet and does not exceed the [citywide] 36-foot limit," Montgomery said.
In addition to the public use of parking on the site, Hanauer sweetened the pot with an offer to mount two poster display cabinets on the exterior wall at pedestrian level to promote local non-profit organizations' events.
Hanauer would have preferred to include promotion of events held by the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Playhouse and the festivals, but the commission refused.