Rancho Palos Verdes City Council Agenda July 16,2002





MAY 7, 2002

The meeting was called to order at 6:07 P.M. by Mayor McTaggart at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file. After the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call was answered as follows:

PRESENT:Ferraro, Gardiner, Stern, and Mayor McTaggart


Planning Commission:

PRESENT: Jon Cartwright, Chair; Susan Cote, Tom Long, Frank Lyon, Craig Mueller, Clara Duran Reed, and David Tomblin


Finance Advisory Committee:

PRESENT: Stephen Wolowicz (Chair), John Curtis, Bill Smith, and Rick Wallace

ABSENT: Earl Butler, Becky Clark, and Gina McLeod

Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Finance Director Dennis McLean; Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost, City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Deputy City Clerk/Recording Secretary Jackie Drasco.


Mayor pro tem Stern moved, seconded by Mayor McTaggart, to approve the agenda. Motion carried 4-0-1.

Recess To Closed Session and Reconvene: At 6:08 P.M. the meeting recessed to a closed session on motion of Mayor McTaggart. At 6:25 P.M. the meeting reconvened.


City Attorney Lynch reported that regarding a new lawsuit, the Council voted 3-1-1 (with Mayor pro tem Stern abstaining, Councilman Clark absent) to indemnify Mayor pro tem Stern; and the Council voted 3-0-1 (with Councilman Clark absent) to indemnify City Attorney Lynch. She indicated that regarding future litigation plans, Mayor pro tem Stern would take the lead with her office on that matter.



(1) Overview of existing land use on Crestridge Road;

(2) Overview of undeveloped land on Crestridge Road. A) The Belmont – formerly Marriott project site, B) the privately held, un-entitled vacant property, and C) the RDA owned vacant property.

(3)Overview of allowed uses in the Institutional Zone.

Deputy Director Pfost described the size, location, zoning, permitted uses of the properties and entitlement process and provided information on neighboring developments and vacant lots.  He then gave a history of the properties which explained why the workshop was called.

Deputy Director Pfost raised the issue of affordable housing requirements; deadlines; surplus funds; and, how these properties might help meet the requirement.

A discussion then followed between the Deputy Director, staff, the City Council, Planning Commission, and Finance Advisory Committee regarding affordable housing.

Deputy Director Pfost said that the Redevelopment Agency bought the property in 2000; a decision had to be made regarding how it would be developed by 2005; that affordable units would be low to very low income; that five of the 13 units required could potentially be built on this property; and, that Ocean Trails was responsible for developing the remaining 8 units;four units could be on the Ocean Trails site and four units elsewhere in the City.

Councilman Gardiner asked how firm was the requirement of 13 units and if the units had to be built in the City.Deputy Director Pfost said that 13 was the requirement shown in the City's Housing Element and was firm for now but that there was pending litigation filed by SCAG against the State that could change the required number.

Mayor McTaggart said that the Housing Element had been conditionally approved but depending on the outcome of the SCAG lawsuit, it was possible that each city would be given an increased number of units.

Councilman Gardiner asked if it was required that the units be located in the city.

City Attorney Lynch said that the units had to be in the city and she added that there were restrictions on in-lieu monies also.

Mark Mandell from the City Attorney’s office, said the goal is to have the affordable units and that it did not necessarily matter which funds were used.

City Attorney Lynch said that even if the housing set-aside money was given to the County, this would not change the number of affordable units required within the City.

Mayor McTaggart mentioned that if the obligation is met within the City, additional units could be placed within ten miles of the City.

Councilman Gardiner thought a summary indicating constraints would be helpful to show the goal to be achieved.

Councilwoman Ferraro pointed out that a regional approach would be helpful, particularly for cities which are completely built out, but thus far, this concept had always been defeated.

Planning Commissioner Reed asked if the City could subsidize existing housing.

Deputy Director Pfost said that of the 13 units required, 25% of them could be accomplished through subsidy and that since Ocean Trails plans to have four onsite affordable units and four offsite subsidized units, for a total of 8 units, the next five will have to be new.

Mayor McTaggart felt that a clarification of the current law as it applied to all affordable housing activities in the City would also be helpful.

Deputy Director Pfost explained that recent legislation required the expenditure of RDA set-aside funds for family housing, rather than senior housing, based on the City’s population determined in the 2000 census. He said that details were in the staff report.

Councilman Gardiner asked who made up the difference between the actual cost of construction and the affordable price and could the unit be sold immediately.

City Attorney Lynch said that the RDA could make up the difference and that the restrictions run with the property for 30 years.

Deputy Director Pfost clarified that a General Plan amendment would be required to make the units multi-family and that if the City purchased the site from the RDA, a senior housing project could be allowed. He said that staff did not expect a decision this meeting but merely a consideration of options.

Mayor pro tem Stern asked for an explanation of the option of the use of the City’s in-lieu funds.

Deputy Director Pfost said that an affordable senior housing project could be used if the City used in-lieu funds to buy the property from the RDA.

Mayor pro tem Stern said it appeared that this action would not insure meeting the requirement for the number of affordable units.

Deputy Director Pfost said that if in-lieu funds were used to purchase the property from the RDA, there would not be enough funds to use for building the structure.

Mayor pro tem Stern said that he was concerned about the 18% senior population which meant that senior housing would not count toward meeting the affordable unit requirement.

Deputy Director Pfost clarified that the in-lieu funds were separate from the set-aside funds and units built with in-lieu funds would count toward the 13.

Councilman Gardiner asked if the restrictions applied only to senior housing.

City Manager Evans said that restriction applied only to set-aside funds.

Councilwoman Ferraro’s understanding was that if the City bought the property from the RDA with other funds, then these would have to go back to the RDA.

Mayor pro tem Stern said he understood that the in-lieu funds were not restricted and could be used for senior housing and the in-lieu funds would go to the RDA which would take the set-aside funds over the one million dollar limit. However, he wondered what the purpose of the RDA set-aside funds would be since the affordable housing needs would be met by using the in-lieu funds.

City Manager Evans said that those funds could be used to subsidize homes or funds could be turned over to the County to bring the balance below one million dollars.

Mayor pro tem Stern asked if that meant that new housing was not necessary.

Mayor McTaggart replied that 25% of the RDA set-aside money could be used to refurbish sub-standard housing in the City.

Planning Commissioner Tom Long asked if the restriction against using the RDA set-aside funds applied also to the affordable units for disabled persons or for assisted living for ADA identified persons.

Mark Mandell said that he would have to look into that.

Chair Wolowicz, asked if there was a clock running for use of the in-lieu funds.

City Attorney Lynch said there was a time period during which in-lieu had to be used but she did not know the information off the top of her head.

Chair Wolowicz asked what triggered the beginning of a time restriction and suggested that this type of information could be placed on the summary chart also.

Mayor McTaggart asked if any other clocks were ticking.

Mark Mandell, said that the five-year clock is the only one running right now and that applied to holding property without taking any action toward affordable housing.

Councilman Gardiner said that to maintain the most flexibility, the Council should take no action at this time.

Presentation by Parties that have submitted Statements of Interest in the RDA owned property (Palos Verdes Art Center, Exceptional Children's Network, Standard Pacific, Peninsula Seniors, Affirmed Housing Group, Corporation for Better Housing, and a City Park).

Robert A. Yassin, representing the Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 West Crestridge, explained that the center needed to be expanded to continue and expand its activities. He described the international competition online for the best design for the expansion and the elements hoped to be included. He felt that use of the properties in question would provide the extra space the Art Center needed and improve traffic flow because the new driveway would be placed on Crestridge further from Crenshaw.

Jack Downhill, 20 Vanderlip Drive, representing the Exceptional Children’s’ Network, explained activities by this group headed by Corinne Hickson and Claudia Krikorian. He explained that Ms. Hickson had just given birth the day before and Ms. Krikorian was unavailable also so he was speaking for them. He expressed interest in the use of properties being discussed for a facility to include 20 classrooms with 40 to 50 parking spaces. He said that a complete presentation had not been prepared but if the Council had an interest, this would be done.

Alan Boeker, representing Standard Pacific Homes, 1983 West 190th Street, Suite 250, Torrance, CA 90504, provided background on the company and a history of their actions taken to develop this site. He felt that their proposed project would be good for the neighborhood and said that it would include a public park buffer along Crenshaw Boulevard that would be owned and maintained by the homeowners association that would be formed.

Dan Withee, architect for Standard Pacific Homes, 1983 West 190th Street, Suite 200,Torrance CA 90504, reported that he had been involved with this site for eight years and he felt their development would fill a need for residents who wanted to move to a new home without leaving the community. He made reference to large drawings posted on an easel and described the facility and amenities which would be available for residents. He explained that traffic, aesthetic, and view issues had been considered and that the buildings were designed to be small with low-pitched roofs to fit into the natural slope to address grading issues. He also felt the small buildings designed in a Santa Barbara-type architectural style would be less institutional than one large building. He expressed a desire to assist with providing a senior center between their proposed facility and the one proposed by Belmont with a single driveway at the far western portion of their land to improve traffic egress and ingress. He asked the Council to think of all these parcels as one large piece of property.

Steve Kaplan, Real Estate Land Use Counsel for Standard Pacific Homes, 1983 West 190th Street, Suite 200, Torrance, CA 90504, said that they were seeking clarification on age restrictions for their proposed condominium project and said that Standard Pacific Homes was willing to provide a building pad for the Peninsula Seniors to build a Senior center, to purchase the parcel on the corner to replenish the City’s affordable housing funds, to take steps to mitigate traffic issues and to include five affordable units. He realized that age restrictions and zoning were issues.

Peninsula Senior President Bill Baum and Vice President Gene Hollander said that the site was ideal for a senior center and suggested that a joint powers group could be formed for funding.

Mayor pro tem Stern asked who would make up the Joint Powers group.

Gene Hollander said that it was hoped it would be the four Peninsula cities and possibly Los Angeles County and he explained that their first choice for location would be on the corner but the second would be the proposition offered by Standard Pacific Homes.

Councilman Gardiner said that he was amenable to more than one use on the site, if the details could be worked out, and this might include a Senior center, affordable housing, and possibly a park with art work sprinkled through it.

Mr. Hollander said that street parking could be eliminated with the proper parking facility and it was hoped that this parking might serve the Palos Verdes Art Center as well because most of the Art Center’s activities were on the weekend and most of the Peninsula Seniors activities were during the day on weekdays.

Ginger Hitzke, Affirmed Housing Group, 200 East Washington Avenue, #208, Escondido, CA 92025, presentation focused on affordable rentals and for sale housing. In response to a query from Councilwoman Ferraro, she provided annual figures for a family of four for middle, low, and very low-income categories.

Charles Brumbaugh, representing Corporation for Better Housing and Indian Ridge Crest Gardens, L.P., 100 West Broadway, #1250, Glendale, CA 91210, discussed the circumstances which led to the lawsuit he had filed against the City for what he considered to be injustice in the City’s refusal to sell the property back to him. He understood the requirement to build affordable family units, rather than affordable senior units and felt that type of project might be more successful as well. He reiterated his desire to repurchase the property to develop a project which would meet zoning and other restrictions and said that in spite of the financial strain caused by the City, he was ready to develop a project the City could be proud of.

Planning Commissioner Reed asked Mr. Brumbaugh if he had spoken to the Peninsula Seniors lately. Mr. Brumbaugh said that he had not had any contact with the group after they decided not to participate in his plan.

David Lamb, representing Simpson Housing Solutions, 320 Golden Shore, Suite 220, Long Beach, CA 90802, stated that should the City need assistance with affordable housing, he would appreciate the opportunity to work with the City Council and staff.

Public Testimony

Ray Mathys, 5738 Whitecliff Drive, said that many proposals have come and gone and it appears that there might be an opportunity to meet many needs with a combination of uses by different developers and he was in favor of this type of plan.

Libby Aubrey, 29433 Indian Valley, said that she represented an informal Rancho Palos Verdes cultural group made up of City residents. She provided the Council with a written description of a proposed cultural center and asked them to consider such a project.

Barbara Arbuthnot, 28856 Crestridge Road, was pleased that the properties were being considered together and thought that many interesting concepts had been presented. She was in favor of a park and preserving open space.

Jim Hathaway, 28955 Crestridge Road, was concerned about providing an aesthetically pleasing development that would be the first sight when motorists entered the City on Crenshaw Boulevard. He favored a park and open space or maybe the Standard Pacific Homes with less density. He felt confident that the Council would approve a plan that would be acceptable to the residents.

Linda Puentes, 5575 Mistridge Drive, said that she looked down at this corner from her home and she favored a natural setting that she felt would be an enrichment for the City and its children.

Presentation and discussion of issues identified by the City Council, Planning Commission and Finance Advisory Committee.

At this time City Manager Evans gave a presentation on the possibility of a park at this location. He discussed the section of the property along Indian Peak, which was a narrow highly traveled street that could provide no on-street parking. He said that this portion of the site had unstable, steep slopes. He said access would have to be from Crestridge and he referred the Council to a drawing in the staff report that showed a possible decomposed granite trail on a gentler slope. He said that possibly a park similar to Lower Hesse Park could be developed for little cost except for the $702,000 to purchase the land from the RDA. He explained that there was little habitat value and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy was not interested in the site as open space.

Councilwoman Ferraro asked if such a park would require a zone or General Plan amendment and City Manager Evans said no.

Mayor pro tem Stern felt that Standard Pacific Homes’ concept of two parcels being considered as one might be feasible and he wondered how a City park might be included in that plan.

City Manager Evans said that he had met with Standard Pacific Homes but this concept had not been discussed in detail until possible Council interest could be determined.

Mayor McTaggart felt it was important to determine the current geology of the site.

Councilman Gardiner requested that a matrix be created for comparison of the alternatives, to show their consequences, funding options, effects of affordable housing, and possible combinations of uses.

Mayor pro tem Stern agreed it was important to know the consequences of actions taken.

Chair Wolowicz added that possible conflicts between a combination of two proposed uses could be shown in the matrix also.

Mayor McTaggart asked the Planning Commission to comment.

Planning Commission Chair Cartwright stated that the City had much experience with potential development on the Crestridge properties and that each time the same issues arise, such as aesthetics, traffic, parking, the mass of the structure and it was also important to define the acceptable uses. He said that the City should investigate other possible sites to accommodate senior housing or affordable housing needs and agreed that a matrix would be helpful. He said there was not enough information on any of the plans presented to make specific comments.

Planning Commissioner Long said that from a Planning Commission perspective, it was hoped that this workshop would make a start to identify the needs of seniors, not just of the Peninsula Seniors group but all seniors in the community. He suggested that a survey be taken of the elderly in the City.

Councilman Gardiner asked for suggestions on how the Council could evaluate the various options without starting the clock ticking.

City Attorney Lynch replied that the Council could identify what it felt were the best options and ask staff to seek additional details.

Councilman Gardiner said that for him the appealing aspects of a project would include a park, a feeling of openness, a lack of structures, and a cooperative effort with the Palos Verdes Art Center.

Mayor McTaggart suggested that further discussion of possibilities be agendized after Councilman Clark has an opportunity to view the tape of this meeting. He wanted to make sure that actions taken by the Council do not unintentionally start a clock running. He found the idea of a joint powers authority to be nebulous and wanted to make sure that the affordability concept was maintained. He said that the County has a system for maintaining affordable housing; that he had asked Supervisor Don Knabe if that group would be willing to work with the City; and, it appeared that they would. He wanted to avoid any situation that would result in the City becoming a landlord for units.

Planning Commissioner Tomblin thought a matrix would be very helpful because of the different restrictions and consequences.

Commissioner Reed stated that she liked the idea of a number of projects on one site and a tangible comparison like a chart would be of assistance.

Planning Commissioner Mueller, said that he had envisioned the workshop to include a closer look at acceptable uses for these properties and he agreed that there was a need to determine how many other properties in the City might be available for similar uses. He added another use of youth recreational facilities, which would not necessarily have to be on this site but somewhere in the City.

Planning Commissioner Lyon emphasized the need to determine if the proposed projects were economically viable, stating that some of them probably were more like wish list items.

Planning Commissioner Cote liked the idea of looking at all the properties at once, rather than piecemeal, especially for combining uses.

Councilman Gardiner felt that determining what City property was available overall was good idea, as well as non-City property which might be available and he agreed that financial analysis was important but he did not want to discourage dreams because the money will be available if it is the right vision.

Mayor McTaggart asked for comments from the Finance Advisory Committee.

Chair Wolowicz agreed that an inventory of properties for various uses was important and that the commercial viability of projects should be analyzed.

Mayor pro tem Stern agreed that thinking of the properties as one parcel and combining projects would be a good idea if it is feasible, and would likely improve the difficult ingress and egress on this site. He mentioned a catchall provision in Section 17.26.030, Paragraph "N" of the code regarding institutional use which stated "such other uses as the director deems to be similar and no more intensive" and he thought could be a loophole for allowing other uses.

Councilwoman Ferraro supported the concept of multiple use and felt it was important to maintain the institutional zoning since there was so little in the City. She felt a combination of a park, affordable housing, and a senior center would be great for the community.

Mayor McTaggart said that he would consider a zone change but only if it was the only way the City was able to meet its affordable housing requirement and he reiterated that it was important to maintain the affordability aspect of the units so that the City did not have to become a landlord. He agreed with Mayor pro tem Stern’s comment that there was a possible loophole in the code which gave discretion to the Planning Director.

Councilwoman Ferraro said that the provision seemed to be a good idea but it might give the impression that a loophole might be the way to go.

Mayor pro tem Stern said he not necessarily think the code should be changed but it could be.

City Attorney Lynch pointed out that the Director said that condos were not appropriate in that zone.

City Manager Evans suggested that staff bring back a project that meets the zoning, incorporates a senior center and a park and, suggested that RDA set-aside fund restrictions be ignored for the moment. He said that he did not see the Council changing the zoning or giving up the idea of some multi-use project. He felt use of the property was most important and that the issue of the set-aside funds could be dealt with later.

Mayor pro tem Stern said that there was a possibility that the PV Art Center might need a certain amount of space and it could be fit into this development. The Art Center would have the financial resources to pay for what they want but funding could become an issue for a "wish list" item.

City Manager Evans questioned if the site was large enough for multi-use without being bulky.

Councilman Gardiner felt that the Planning Commission could make this determination and he did not want to stifle creativity.

Discussion between Staff and workshop members, led by a professional meeting facilitator with the goal of either reaching closure on this issue and/or identifying a next step.

Lou Hexter, the facilitator the City hired to assist with this discussion then presented his conclusions and the next steps that should be taken. He felt that the presentations helped define the vision for these properties. He saw the value of opportunities in combining uses on the site. He noted the discussion of acceptable uses for the site and said it was important to keep in mind the goal to be accomplished and felt that the forum worked well to focus on the goals and to point out restrictions and potential problems resulting from certain developments. He stated that the presentations were concise and the public comments indicated a well-informed citizenry. He felt that if the groups assembled continued as a joint group, the next discussion could be focused on few options. He felt that the partnership of the public and private sector could complete a project that either group could not accomplish alone. He said that he would be available after the meeting if needed.

Mayor pro tem Stern suggested that staff facilitate communication between any of the parties who made presentations who have a desire to work together.

ADJOURNMENT: The meting adjourned at 8:40 P.M. on motion of Mayor McTaggart.