Rancho Palos Verdes City Council Agenda July 16,2002
   

TO:HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM:DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE:JULY 16, 2002

SUBJECT:LONG POINT RESORT PROJECT (CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 215, ET. AL.)

Prepared By:Ara Michael Mihranian, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Review and discuss the respective responses to questions submitted to Staff by the general public, the Planning Commission, and the City Council on the proposed project, and if deemed acceptable by the Council, direct Staff to prepare the appropriate Resolutions and Conditions of Approval for consideration at the August 20, 2002 meeting.

BACKGROUND

On June 16, 2002, the City Council continued the public hearing discussion on the Long Point Resort Hotel project, at which time, the Council was presented with a detailed description of the various components of the project. After hearing a presentation by the project applicant and receiving public testimony, the Council expressed a number of questions with various components of the project. Specifically, the Council sought more information on parking adequacy, potential view impacts, hotel operations (spa facility, golf academy, and hotel rental room accommodations), biological impacts, traffic impacts, golf safety, and public amenities, to list a few. As such, the Council felt that a decision on the project applications could not be made until its questions and concerns had been adequately evaluated and addressed.

Therefore, the Council unanimously agreed that should any Council Member have specific questions about the proposed project, that each Council member should submit their questions or concerns to Staff prior to the next public hearing date. Additionally, the Council directed Staff to compile the questions submitted, along with the questions and comments submitted by the Planning Commission, Finance Advisory Committee, and any other interested parties, and provide specific answers that can be reviewed by the Council at the July 16, 2002 meeting. Furthermore, the Council requested that the applicant assist Staff in responding to the questions pertaining to the hotel and golf academy operations. The Council also requested that the applicant revise the video presentation to more accurately reflect the visual impression the project will have when viewed from the lower portion (eastbound direction) of Palos Verdes Drive South. As such, the Council continued the public hearing on the proposed project to its July 16, 2002 meeting.

DISCUSSION

Response to Questions

In response to the City Council’s direction, Staff received formal questions from Mayor Pro-Tem Stern and Councilwoman Ferraro, as well as questions from interested parties (Ann Shaw, Jim Knight, Barbara Sattler, and Marianne Hunter) since the last public hearing. Staff has compiled and formatted the questions and comments submitted by the Council, as well as previous questions and comments submitted from various Planning Commissioners (Vice Chairman Long, and Commissioners Mueller and Duran-Reed) and the general public, into a table for review at tonight’s meeting. Attached to this report is the question and response table prepared by Staff and the City’s environmental consultant that contains each question and comment, and the respective response. Since the content of the questions vary, Staff categorized each question based on the subject matter to assist in the organization of the responses. Furthermore, in an attempt to pare down the size of the table, Staff has paraphrased several of the questions and identified in parenthesis the origin of each question.

It should be noted that the applicant has assisted Staff on the questions that pertain to the operation of the resort hotel and golf academy facility, as well as specific design or architectural elements of the hotel buildings. Therefore, some of the applicant’s responses have been incorporated in the attached response table. Notwithstanding, attached to this report is an unedited copy of the applicant’s responses for further review by the Council if desired.

Visual Simulations

At the June 18th City Council meeting, the applicant presented a video presentation, simulating the visual impression of the proposed project as viewed from a helicopter flying over the project site and a vehicle traveling east on the upper inland portion of the westbound lane of Palos Verdes Drive South. According to the applicant, the presentation was intended to provide the Council, as well as the general public, with an instrument for assessing the visual impact that the project would have on the surrounding environment, specifically as it pertains to views from the Coastal Specific Plan’s defined view corridors. Furthermore, the video presentation was to provide the Council with a visual perspective of the proposed architectural style of the associated buildings, as well as the surrounding landscaping.

After viewing the applicant’s video presentation, the Mayor Pro-Tem Stern expressed a concern with the angle of the video, as well as the speed traveled while filming. Furthermore, Staff felt that the imagines portrayed in the video may not accurately depict the potential view impacts caused by the height of the Villas, as well as the remaining hotel buildings, since the video was taken from a higher elevation on Palos Verdes Drive South. Therefore, in response to Mayor Pro-Tem Stern’s concern, as well as Staff’s concern, Staff requested that the applicant revise the video so that the perspective is taken from the lower portion of the eastbound lane of Palos Verdes Drive South. Staff believes that this would demonstrate a more consistent and accurate depiction of the visual impacts resulting from the building heights, specifically the villas. Furthermore, this will provide the Council an opportunity to evaluate the ridgeline height limitation condition imposed by the Planning Commission in its October 9, 2001 decision. It should also be noted that the Council asked that the applicant provide Staff with a copy of the original and revised video for the record.

According to the applicant, the video presentation has been revised so that the perspective is from a person walking along the sidewalk abutting the property on the lower portion of Palos Verdes Drive South, in an westerly direction, that is from the eastern portion of the property to the Los Angeles County Fishing Access site. If desired by the Council, the applicant has indicated that the revised video can be presented at tonight’s meeting.

It should also be noted that at a past meeting, the City Council requested that the applicant build a scaled model of the proposed project so that the Council can better evaluate the scale of the project. As such, the applicant has agreed to construct such a model. However, due to the size of the model and the required detail, the applicant does not believe a finished product will be available for review by the Council until the end of August 2002. Staff will continue to update the Council on the progress of the scaled model.

Lower Pool Facility

At the time the City was processing the applicant’s (Destination Development) original proposal to construct a resort hotel and nine hole golf course on the former Marineland property, which also included the use of the City owned Upper Point Vicente Park Area, the plan for the hotel area included the construction of a new cabana structure, as well as a new pool and spa (referred herein as the "lower pool"), within the City’s designated Coastal Setback Zone. Pursuant to the Development Code, new structures, such as the lower pool facility, that are located within the Coastal Setback Zone are prohibited. Therefore, Staff informed the applicant to either: 1) Revise the site plan by deleting the proposed structure from the plan, 2) Relocate the structure beyond the Coastal Structure Setback Line (which is 25 feet landward of the Coastal Setback Line), or 3) Submit a Variance application to consider relief from the City’s Coastal Setback requirements.

Since neither revised plans nor a variance application were submitted to the Planning Department to address the lower pool facility within the Coastal Setback Zone, the Planning Commission in its October 9, 2001 decision recommending that the City Council conditionally approve the proposed resort hotel project, imposed a condition (see attachment, Condition No. 29) that denied the construction of the lower pool facility in its current location, unless a Variance approval was obtained by the City under a separate application. As such, on June 6, 2002, the applicant filed Variance No. 489 with the Planning Department to allow the construction of the proposed lower pool facility within the Coastal Setback Zone.

On July 9, 2002, the Planning Commission was to begin the public hearing proceedings for the applicant’s variance request. However, due to a lack of quorum for this item, the Commission was not able to open the public hearing. Therefore, the item is now scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission on July 23, 2002. It should be noted that the reason for lack of quorum is that only four commissioners were present that evening and Commissioner Cote recused herself from the public hearing since she resides in close proximity (approximately 1,100 feet) to the project site. Staff intends to use this time to work with the applicant in addressing the concerns identified in the July 9, 2002 Staff Report. As such, Staff will provide the Commission with an updated Staff Report on the variance request.

It should be noted that in order for the City Council to consider the Variance application in association with the remaining project applications previously reviewed by the Planning Commission, the Commission must first review the merits of the applicant’s Variance request, and then forward its recommendation to the City Council. Upon the Commission’s decision, Staff will agendize the applicant’s Variance request and issue the appropriate public notice.

Hotel Operations

At the June 18th meeting, the Council expressed a concern with the operation of the hotel restaurants, spa and golf academy facilities, and whether such facilities will be accessible to the general public. In response to the Council’s concerns, the applicant has indicated that the hotel restaurants and golf academy facility will be available to the general public. As for the spa facility, which includes the pool, the applicant has indicated that in addition to its availability to hotel guests, such facilities will be available to the general public via a daily fee. According to the applicant it is uncertain at this time what the entrance fee would be, but it will be comparable to similar spa facilities. A detailed explanation on this subject matter can be found in the applicant’s letter, that is attached to this report. Furthermore, the applicant has indicated that if desired by the Council, a detailed presentation on this subject matter can be given at the meeting.

Hotel Parking

At the June 18th meeting, a concern was expressed by the Council regarding the project’s proposed parking. According to the Council’s direction, the applicant was asked to furnish the Council with a detailed explanation of the parking analysis that was conducted for the project. The Council asked the applicant to demonstrate how the parking analysis concluded that a total of 825 parking spaces (not including the 100 public parking spaces) would adequately serve the project when considering hotel room accommodations (550 hotel and casita rooms, each villa unit provides individual parking in the form of a garage and driveway), banquet and conference facilities, spa and golf academy facilities, restaurants, and associated employees.

It should be noted that the applicant’s parking analysis prepared for the project is attached to this report. Furthermore, the City’s peer review of the applicant’s parking study is contained on pages 5.12-39 through 5.12-45 of Volume I of the Certified EIR. The conditions of the parking study were reviewed by the Traffic Committee, as well as the Planning Commission, and found to be acceptable. Nevertheless, the applicant has indicated in his attached letter that a detailed presentation will be given to the Council at the July 16th meeting, explaining the methodology used to conclude that the proposed parking will adequately serve the operation of the hotel and its ancillary operations.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Permit Streamlining Act

It should be noted that the original project involved a General Plan Amendment for the Upper Point Vicente Area, which had a significant effect on the Permit Streamlining Act requirements. General Plan Amendments, by their nature, are legislative acts and are not subject to the strict processing timeframes. Therefore, the standard one-year processing time applicable to projects for which an Environmental Impact Report is required, was inapplicable. However, since the proposed project no longer involves a General Plan Amendment, the requirements of the Permit Streamlining Act are now applicable.

Pursuant to Section 65950 of the California Government Code, the public agency (City of Rancho Palos Verdes) shall render a decision on the project applications 180 calendar days after certification of the EIR. Since the project EIR was certified on May 7, 2002, the City Council has until November 4, 2002 to take action on the project applications.

Public Comments

Attached to this report are the public comments (including e-mail messages) received since the June 18th City Council meeting. Public comments submitted after the transmittal of this report will be provided to the City Council the night of the meeting.

FISCAL IMPACT

The processing of the proposed project applications will have no significant fiscal impact on the General Fund in that the applicant is to cover all costs associated with the City Attorney’s review of the project and the EIR Consultant’s preparation of the required environmental documents.

CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing analysis, Staff seeks the City Council’s direction as to whether the proposed project is deemed acceptable, thereby warranting the preparation of the appropriate Resolutions and Conditions of Approval. In the event the Council finds the project to be acceptable, Staff recommends that the appropriate Resolutions and Conditions of Approval be presented to the Council at its August 20, 2002 meeting.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to Staff’s recommendation, the following alternative is available for consideration by the City Council:

  1. Identify any additional issues of concern with the proposed project, and provide the applicant with further direction in modifying the project, and continue the public hearing to a date certain to review the project modifications.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Joel Rojas

Director of Planning, Building and

Code Enforcement

 

Reviewed by:

 

Les Evans

City Manager

Long Point Resort Project (Conditional Use Permit NO. 215, ET. AL.), Response to Questions (PDF Format)

ATTACHMENTS (the following attachments are available for review at City Hall Planning Department unless otherwise noted)

  • Response to Questions Table with attached letters (See Below)
  • Applicant’s letter dated July 9, 2002
  • P.C. Condition No. 29 (Lower Pool Facility)
  • Applicant’s Parking Study (Prepared by LSA, dated May 24, 2000)
  • Public Comments