Alternatives for Cecil Place lot on the table

March 11, 2002

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- The Planning Commission will review tonight three

proposals to develop an 18,000-square-foot Eastside property, which has

been the center of a heated debate among neighbors.

Michael Schrock, the developer of an unusually large property in the

200 block of Cecil Place, submitted two tentative parcel maps to divide

his property into two parcels -- in addition to his originally proposed


three-lot configuration.

Schrock said the revised proposal will give city officials a viable

option if they choose not to endorse his three-house plan.

"I really just hope the Planning Commission can get behind this one

and we can get this all over with," Schrock said.

His first alternative calls for one parcel of 10,389 square feet and

the second of 8,500 square feet. The second proposes an

11,097-square-foot front parcel and 7,792-square-foot rear parcel. In

both scenarios, the larger plot would house the existing two-story home,

saving the rear parcel for another owner-occupied house to be built.

A staff report, written by city planners, analyzes the two proposals

but fails to recommend a preferred option. Previous proposals for three

units on the property gained staff and Planning Commission

recommendations but failed to get the endorsement of City Council


Schrock and his business partner Fritz Howser have gone in circles

with planning staff, the Planning Commission, the City Council and

neighbors, altering their proposed project according to various


A rezoning permit was ultimately denied, and the developers chose the

option to subdivide the large lot into three.

At the last Planning Commission meeting, commissioners made it clear

that a three-house proposal would not survive City Council scrutiny and

urged Schrock to consider alternatives. They unanimously postponed the

issue to give Schrock time to submit maps for a two-parcel project.

While both subsequent proposals meet city codes, the concept of a

house behind a house is not consistent with the neighborhood pattern, the

staff report stated. City planners were also concerned that the long

driveway, required to access the rear home, could create disputes between

the two home owners over maintenance responsibilities.

Planners also outlined two alternatives of their own, one of which

calls for the demolition of the existing house to create two, vertical

lots with street frontage.

At the last meeting a handful of neighbors supported that proposal.

Schrock said that is not an option as he has poured about $100,000

into renovating the front house. He feels he has made enough


"You give them an inch, they take a mile. You give them two houses,

they want you to tear down the one that still stands," Schrock said.

* Lolita Harper covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)

574-4275 or by e-mail at o7 lolita.harper@latimes.comf7 .

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