Archive for the ‘City Approval’ Category

Thanking the City of Monte Sereno and Preparing for Rain

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The first rainstorm of the year is forecasted to arrive tonight.  100% probability …

To prepare for the rain, we moved all of the wood inside the house, including the insulation from the deconstruction, and then we covered the soil in front of the house with the scrap wood from the old roof.  Also, Al and Bryan ensured the roof drains were clear and Al put some temporary downspouts in place from the Upper Flat roof to the Mid Level and Lower Level flat roofs.

We’re ready for some rain.

Thanking the City of Monte Sereno

With only 3,400 men, women and children living in Monte Sereno, it is a small community.  It is nice to be able to attend a City Council meeting and be able to speak for 3 minutes on any topic you wich.

Bryan attended the City Council meeting tonight and spoke for three minutes.  First, he showed two graphs, which he obtained from Acterra, regarding the extremely high consumption of electricity in the City of Monte Sereno.  Then, Bryan thanked three employees of the City of Monte Sereno.

Given the extra work that was done for us to meet all the requirements for our solar photovoltaic system, we wanted to thank the people involved.  Bryan, standing in front of City Council, thanked the Building Official, Howard Bell, the City Attorney, Kirsten Powell, and the City Manager, Brian Loventhal for working together to find a solution so we could have our solar permit signed off and our permanent meter released.

It was nice to be able to say, ‘thank you’.

Completing the Siding on the West Wall

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Dan, Al and Nep completed the siding on the West wall.  They put in the two pieces of siding on the West side of the North wall and will start on the East wall in the morning.

The best news of the day came with a phone call at 4:38 pm when Bryan received a call from Brian Loventhal, the City Manager with the City of Monte Sereno.  Brian said that they had a arrived at a potential solution to approve our solar photovoltaic system so they could do a ‘meter release’ and we could get out rebate.  Brian was going to have the City Attorney, Kirsten Powell, draft an agreement so they could release the meter tomorrow.

The deadline for our solar rebate is tomorrow …

Dan (left) and Al fitting a sheet of siding on the North side of the house.

 

The West side of the house, now completed. The siding has been primed and needs to be painted.

 

The siding on the entire West wall is now complete.

 

The North West corner of the house ...

 

The West side of the North wall, by Kate's bedroom.

 

Removing the Hollywood Juniper

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Yesterday, Bryan received permission from the City of Monte Sereno to remove the Hollywood Juniper from the back of the house.  Essentially, a Hollywood Juniper is a bush, or shrub, and is not covered by the Significant Tree ordinance.

We like to be squeaky-clean when it comes to following the ordinances in the City of Monte Sereno.

10.15.030 Significant trees; definition.

Trees deemed significant for the purpose of this Chapter are those whose visual importance to the neighborhood is sufficient to justify special efforts to protect and preserve them and whose loss would be of irremediable adverse impact on the environment. Factors to be considered in determining the significance of trees are age, size, rarity and appearance. Notwithstanding the preceding, each of the following is declared to be a significant tree or trees:

A. Oaks or redwood trees having a circumference greater than twenty (20) inches measured at a height of four (4) feet above ground level.

B. Any tree having a circumference greater than twenty-five (25) inches measured at a height of four (4) feet above ground level.

C. Any three (3) or more trees proposed to be removed from any parcel of property within a twelve (12) month period

Nik and Bryan worked on removing the Hollywood Juniper and then they made three trips to Guadalupe Land Fill with the debris.  Importantly, Guadalupe recycles and reuses garden waste so there was no land fill issues associated with the removal of the Hollywood Juniper.

Kate and Jo-Anne documented the event.  Kate will have an opportunity to help Bryan next Saturday …

Bryan starting to cut the Hollywood Juniper.

Bryan starting to cut the Hollywood Juniper.

Under Niks directions, Bryan continues cutting the Hollywood Juniper.

Under Nik's directions, Bryan continues cutting the Hollywood Juniper.

Kate and Bryan resting after cutting down (most of) the Hollywood Juniper.

Kate and Bryan resting after cutting down (most of) the Hollywood Juniper.

 

Nik cooling off in the trench and enjoying some cold water.

Nik cooling off in the trench and enjoying some cold water.

The Hollywood Juniper at Guadalupe Land Fill, ready for recycling.

The Hollywood Juniper at Guadalupe Land Fill, ready for recycling.

The job site is relatively clean at the front of the property.  This space will be needed to pur the dirt from our upcoming trenching activities.

The job site is relatively clean at the front of the property. This space will be needed to pur the dirt from our upcoming trenching activities.

The stump from the Canary Island Pine remains at the job site.  We had planned to use the rented chain saw to cut the stump into pieces.  It is too large so we will engage someone with a stump grinder to address this issue so we can start trenching at the front of the property.

The stump from the Canary Island Pine remains at the job site. We had planned to use the rented chain saw to cut the stump into pieces. It is too large so we will engage someone with a stump grinder to address this issue so we can start trenching at the front of the property.

Confirming the Location of Our Underground Utilities

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

We’re trying to get our CUDO cistern installed next week so that item is completed and stroked off ‘the list’ (an achievement for 2009).  This will require excavating so we need to confirm where the underground utilities are located.  Call before you dig …

Harvesting Rainwater at 17509 Via Sereno for Irrigation

Our plan is to harvest 100% of the rainwater from our roof and just under 100% of the rainwater from our hardscape for irrigation (the water from the driveway will flow into a small swale).  The water will be stored in an underground CUDO cistern (with capacity of 3,677 gallons).  We will have a pump in the cistern that will be connected to our irrigation system so we will avoid using potable water for irrigation.

LEED Points

Our design will provide LEED points in a number of areas.  Under WE 1.1 Water Reuse, we will get 3 (of 4) points for harvesting rainwater for external use.  We cannot use water inside the house so we are giving up one point here.  Since our system is designed to harvest rainwater from 100% of the roof area, we are eligible for an additional point for Exemplary Performance.

Also, we will receive points under SS 4 Surface Water Management under Sustainable Sites.  Specifically, we will receive 3 of 4 points for having over 90% of the hardscape surface water going to a cistern (SS 4.1 Permeable Lot), 2 of 2 points for Management of Runoff from Roof (SS 4.4) since we installed permanent stormwater controls to manage runoff from the home and we had a professional engineer design our lot to manage runoff from our home on site.  

Consequently, our complete underground CUDO cistern system will result in 9 LEED points (of 136 possible points).

Underground Requirements

Once the underground CUDO cistern is full, any additional water will flow to the back of the storm drain in an underground 6-inch pipe.  This design was approved by the Town of Los Gatos (they own the storm drain) and the City of Monte Sereno.  Yes, we will require easements fro  m each municipality.

The 6-inch underground pipe needs clear access to the back of the storm drain and it will go under the sidewalk.  This is where we need clear access from other utilities.  All of the services on Via Sereno are underground so we need to ensure the cable TV (Comcast), telephone (Verizon), water and sewer (San Jose Water Company), electricity and natural gas (PG&E) and street lighting and not located where we will be digging.

So … we marked our excavation locations with white paint and called USA (Underground Service Alert) so they could visit the site and identify where all of the underground services are located.

White paint showing where we plan to excavate from the underground CUDO cistern, under the sidewalk, to the back of the storm drain.

White paint showing where we plan to excavate from the underground CUDO cistern, under the sidewalk, to the back of the storm drain.

We’re Clear to Dig!

We received notification that all of the service providers (Verizon, PG&E, etc.) had been to our site and marked the location of their underground services.  There are no underground services in the path from our underground CUDO cistern to the back of the storm drain – we’re clear to dig!

Our biggest concern was that there could be some underground utilities in the dirt strip between the curb and sidewalk, which would increase the depth of the excavation for the drain and require us to dig by hand.

The markings are on Winchester Boulevard so there is nothing in the dirt strip at the left.  We're good.

The markings are on Winchester Boulevard so there is nothing in the dirt strip at the left. We're good!

Markings on the curb and sidewalk.  Note the very faint marking by the light standard showing the power source is going toward the sidewalk and not into the path of where we need to dig.

Markings on the curb and sidewalk. Note the very faint marking by the light standard showing the power source is going toward the sidewalk and not into the path of where we need to dig.

Proposing Changes to Monte Sereno’s Sign Ordinance

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Monte Sereno does not allow signs to be posted within the city boundaries.  The ordinance prohibits all signs and then allows five exceptions.

We would like a sixth exception so we can have a sign showing the ‘green’ features of our Eichler.  This will help to educate others in our community and we will meet the requirements for Awareness and Education (AE 1.3).

Background

Bryan addressed our City Council meeting several months ago, showing the City Council that other communities allow signs in front of LEED-H homes outlining their energy saving and other features.  Council directed Bryan to work the City Manager, Brian Loventhal, on proposing changes to the sign ordinance.

LEED-H Awareness & Education

Awareness & Education 1.3 states:

Display LEED for Homes signage, measuring six square feet or more, on the exterior of the home or building.

All of the homes pursuing Platinum certification in the Bay Area that we have toured have been able to put signs in front of their homes during construction.  Awareness and Education points are easy to achieve, relative to some of the other points available.

Examples of Signs in Front of LEED-H Homes Seeking Platinum Certification

Bryan has visited a number of homes in the Bay Area pursing Platinium certification under the LEED for Homes program.  These visits have included the Margarido House in Oakland (certified), 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto (under construction), and the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino (under construction).  Each of these homes have signs.

Sign in front of the Margarido House in Oakland.

Sign in front of the Margarido House in Oakland.

Sign in front of the Christiansen Pierret Residence at 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto.

Sign in front of the Christiansen Pierret Residence at 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto.

Sign in front of the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino.

Sign in front of the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino.

 City of Monte Sereno’s Sign Ordinance 10.13.010

Monte Sereno’s sign ordinance is as follows:

10.13.010 Signs, permits, scenic corridor exception.

No sign, billboard, poster, pennant, flag or display unit shall be erected, displayed, established or maintained within five hundred (500) feet of any road, highway, street or public place within the boundaries of the City except as otherwise provided herein.

A. One non-illuminated sign may be erected on each street frontage for any lot or building which serves solely to advertise the sale, lease or rental of or an offer to build to suit on the premises where the sign is located, provided the sign does not exceed six (6) square feet in area in a residential zone. This exemption is only available when all or part of the premises is actually available for the transaction advertised.

B. Non-illuminated, off-site, portable signs directing customers to the location of an open house which is for sale are permitted, unlimited in total number, but limited to one double faced sign per corner of an intersection or on a privately owned parcel. The signs shall not exceed an area of one (1) square foot per face and shall not be more than four (4) feet high. Open house signs shall contain no individual, or individual company advertising. Prior permission shall be obtained from the property owner if the sign is to be placed on a privately owned parcel. The signs shall be removed each day after the closing of the open house. Open house signs are an exception to the rule prohibiting off-premises signs and signs on public property.

C. The owner, occupant or resident of any property may erect and maintain without obtaining any permit one sign giving his name and address at his mailbox and one additional sign upon said property, neither of which shall be more than three (3) square feet in area.

D. Within the scenic corridor defined by the State of California upon designation of the Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, State sign Route 9, as an Official State Scenic Highway, only those signs allowed in Subsections A, B and C or existing on-premise signs as provided for in Subsection E shall be permitted.

E. Any existing on-premise sign lawfully established on or before the effective date of this Chapter may be maintained for a period of not to exceed three (3) months from the passage of this Chapter during which period the owner shall either remove the sign or make application for and receive a permit for the said sign under the provisions of this Chapter.

We drafted a sixth exemption and submitted it to the City of Monte Sereno today.  Our proposed wording is:

F. One non-illuminated sign may be erected on each street frontage for any building where such sign serves solely to describe the environmentally friendly features of the building materials and construction practices that follow a recognized national, State of California or local building environmental certification program provided the building has been registered under that recognized building environmental certification program. Signs allowed under this exemption shall contain no individual or individual company advertising.

The City Manager, Brian Loventhal, reviewed the proposed language and thought it was a good start.  He suggested that the certification program could be one recognized by the City of Monte Sereno, since the City has formally recognized Build It Green and LEED for Homes.  Also, he asked whether there should be a maximum size included in the ordinance.

Next Steps

Brian Loventhal will work on the wording and have this item included on the agenda at a City Council meeting in the next 60 days.

We will follow up on this.

Pausing for Sunshine …

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

The sun rose at 6:34 am this morning.  It was comforting to see the sunshine so the urgency to check the pump status was diminished slightly.  The days are getting longer and it will be nice to ‘spring ahead’ on Sunday morning.

Arriving at the job site, the pump was working and the water coming down Via Sereno was down to a trickle.  Still flowing, but just a trickle.  The sunshine was nice although there were periodic rain showers as large, dark clouds came in from the Pacific.  Overall, it rained almost a tenth of an inch today (0.08 to be precise).

The water coming down the street has slowed to a trickle.

The water coming down the street has slowed to a trickle.

(more…)