Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2002

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT REVISION FOR PROPOSED MODIFICATIONS TO FOUR (4) LOTS IN THE OCEANFRONT COMMUNITY, LOCATED AT 32, 34, 36 AND 38 VIA DEL CIELO (PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2002-00282)

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2002-__, denying the appeal without prejudice and upholding the Planning Commissionís denial of the requested conditional use permit revision (Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282).

BACKGROUND

On March 17, 1992, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 92-27, thereby approving (on appeal) Conditional Use Permit No. 158, Coastal Permit No. 94 and Grading Permit No. 1439 to establish a residential planned development (RPD) in conjunction with the approval of Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628. Conditional Use Permit No. 158, et al. established architectural and site development standards for the seventy-nine single-family residences to be built as a part of the project, including setbacks, building height and open space requirements. These approvals have been revised several times over the past five years (see attached summary).

On August 13, 2002, the Planning Commission considered the developerís request for a further revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 158 (Case No. ZON2002-00282) to revise the projectís development standards to allow the excavation and export of 14,000 cubic yards of material from Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 of Tract 46648, also known as 32, 34, 36, and 38 Via del Cielo. The re-grading of these lots would convert them from upslope lots to pad lots, which would allow for the development of full, 2-story homes rather than upslope, split-level homes. The Planning Commission denied this request without prejudice by adopting P.C. Resolution No. 2002-21 by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Lyon dissenting, Vice Chairman Long abstaining, and Commissioners Coté and Duran Reed absent. On August 26, 2002, the developer, Makallon RPV Associates LLC, filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commissionís action. This appeal was previously agendized for the City Councilís consideration on October 15, 2002, but was continued to tonightís meeting at the developerís request.

DISCUSSION

The subject properties are four (4), upslope lots in the Oceanfront community. The developer has requested permission to change the projectís development standards to allow the removal of a total of 14,000 cubic yards of material from the rear portions of these upslope lots in order to convert them into pad lots. The developer has suggested depositing and spreading this material on the adjacent open space area (Lot 80), but this is City property and the developer does not have authorization to place additional fill there, nor have they formally requested permission to do so. As such, it is Staffís position that all 14,000 cubic yards of material would need to be exported from the Oceanfront community. The purpose of the proposed revision is to allow the development of full, 2-story homes on these lots rather than the upslope, split-level homes that are already approved. The developer proposes for the maximum ridgelines of these future 2-story homes to be the same as or lower than the maximum ridgelines of the approved upslope homes. However, the conditions of approval for the Oceanfront project specify that the subject lots will be upslope lots, and also prohibit the export of material from the site as a part of the rough grading to create these lots.

The developerís appeal letter does not articulate the bases of the appeal of the Planning Commissionís action. However, as reflected in the Minutes of the August 13th public hearing, the bases appear to be that 1) the proposed exportation of 14,000 cubic yards of material from the four subject lots could be of benefit to both the developer and the City; and 2) the proposed change from upslope, split-level homes to full, 2-story homes on the four subject lots would have no new adverse view or aesthetic impacts. On November 6, 2002, the developer provided Staff with additional cross sections and photographic simulations of the view impacts of the proposed homes upon properties on Rue Langlois (see attachment).

Proposed Exportation of Material

Condition No. I.13 of P.C. Resolution No. 92-27 for Conditional Use Permit No. 158 states that "[all] grading shall be balanced on site" with respect to the rough grading of the project to create the subject lots (as opposed to the precise grading of existing lots to develop the homes). The 1992 environmental impact report (EIR) for the project assumed balanced rough grading of the site and did not include any analysis impacts related to export from or import to the site.

The rough grading of the Oceanfront community did not require the exportation of any material from the site. During the course of precise grading for the development of individual homes, however, excess spoils from the excavation of foundations and swimming pools was removed from residential lots. The developer "stockpiled" these precise grading spoils on Lot 80, rather than removing them for dumping at an approved off-site location as is normally the case. This is because, at the time that precise grading operations began for the construction of homes, the developer still owned Lot 80 since the final tract map had not yet been recorded. Furthermore, since rough grading operations were still on-going on the site, it was impossible to distinguish between the spoils from the rough and precise grading operations.

In early 2002, when the Public Works Department identified the need for fill material for the San Ramon storm drain project and the presence of these excess spoils on the Cityís property, it arranged for the export of this material to the San Ramon site. To date, approximately 28,000 cubic yards have been removed from Lot 80 for the San Ramon project. As mentioned above, since this material was the result of precise (as opposed to rough) grading operations, it could have been removed from the site from the outset of the project, so Staff determined that the removal of this material would be consistent with Condition No. I.13 for the Oceanfront project. However, the proposed 14,000 cubic yards of additional grading to reconfigure the subject lots constitutes rough (as opposed to precise) grading, and the exportation of this material would not be consistent with Condition No. I.13. In denying the requested revision, the Planning Commission expressed its concurrence with Staffís position.

It should be noted that the developer does not propose to export this material from the site, but to spread it on the adjacent City property. The developer does not currently have the Cityís permission to do this, which is why the Planning Commission contemplated the need for this material to be exported in order for this revision to be approved. The developer has noted that the City might be able to use this material for the San Ramon project, as it has done in the past. The Public Works Department has indicated that it might need additional soil for the San Ramon project, but the amount of soil needed is uncertain at this time, and it is possible that none of this material will be needed. The developer has also suggested that this soil might be needed for the Point Vicente Interpretive Center remediation and expansion, but the Public Works Department has indicated that the soil will not be needed for this project. Therefore, it is unclear at this time if there are any City projects that would benefit from the export of this material.

If it so chooses, the City Council could authorize the placement of this additional material on City property (i.e., Lot 80). However, it should be noted that a 4-acre portion of the 14-acre Lot 80 site contains sensitive coastal sage scrub (CSS) habitat area and that the developer is obligated to revegetate the balance of this lot with native CSS species (to date, the developer has begun CSS revegetation on other open space lots in the Oceanfront community, but not on Lot 80). With the City Councilís authorization, the placement of 14,000 cubic yards on Lot 80 would be consistent with Condition No. I.13 for the Oceanfront community, so long as it does not interfere with future habitat restoration on the property. However, as discussed below, the Planning Commission had additional concerns about the proposed change in house type that warrant consideration before a decision is made on the developerís appeal.

As mentioned above, the proposal to export 14,000 cubic yards of rough grading spoils from the site was not analyzed in the 1992 EIR prepared for the Oceanfront project. Since the Planning Commission denied the proposed revisions, no additional environmental analysis has been conducted. If it is the City Councilís intention to require or allow the exportation of rough grading material from the Oceanfront community, additional environmental analysis and a formal application for a grading permit revision will be required. Under this scenario, the City Council could deny this appeal without prejudice, direct the developer to prepare and submit the appropriate additional and revised applications (including the necessary supplemental EIR), and allow the Planning Commission to review these revised applications at a future date.

Change in House Type from Split-Level to Full 2-Story

Condition No. S.1 of P.C. Resolution No. 92-27 for Conditional Use Permit No. 158 stipulates that the height limits for Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 are to be sixteen feet (16í) on the upslope side and twenty-six feet (26í) on the downslope side. This is consistent with the approved Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628, which depicted all four of these lots as split-pad lots with a 10-foot-tall transitional slope between the upper and lower pads. The purpose of this condition was to minimize the impairment of public views of the ocean from Palos Verdes Drive Westóand to minimize the apparent bulk and mass of the structuresóby maintaining a single-story profile on the upslope sides of these lots.

The developer proposes for the split-level upslope homes on the subject lots to be replaced with full, 2-story homes. This would result in a 2-story rear facade rather than the 1-story rear facade currently approved, although the maximum ridgeline elevations of the homes would be the same or lower than currently approved. The developer states that the reason for this change is the inability to sell the split-level home designed for these lots (Plan 6) due to 1) consumer resistance to the homeís interior layout; and 2) the cost of the retaining wall required for its construction (it should be noted that similar retaining walls are also required for the construction of the split-level downslope homes in the Oceanfront community, which are generally located on the seaward side of Via del Cielo). It was Staffís position that the change from a 1-story to a 2-story rear facade would result in an increase in the apparent bulk and mass of these homes as viewed from other homes in the Oceanfront community (i.e., Lots 38 and 39) and adjacent City property and public right-of-way (i.e., Palos Verdes Drive West), which would be inconsistent with Condition No. S.1 and Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628. In denying the requested revision, the Planning Commission expressed its concurrence with Staffís position.

At the August 13, 2002 Planning Commission hearing, the developer presented a cross section depicting the view and aesthetic impacts of the 2-story homes, as seen by motorists on southbound Palos Verdes Drive West (see attachment). This cross section purported to show that the lower portions of the rear facades would be obscured from motoristsí views by the existing topography and proposed landscape plantings. This cross section was not fully analyzed by Staff prior to the August 13, 2002 hearing, but Staff now believes that, from the point of view of a bicyclist on the roadway or a pedestrian on the trail along Palos Verdes Drive Westówhose line-of-sight would be probably be higher than that of a motorist or passenger sitting in a passing vehicleóthe increased height of the rear facades of these homes would be apparent. The developer has also prepared cross sections and photographic simulations of the view and aesthetic impacts of the 2-story homes, as seen from the rear yard of a home on Rue Langlois, located across Palos Verdes Drive West from Lot 80. Staff agrees that the photographic simulations appear to show little difference in appearance between the 1- and 2-story rear facades from this vantage point on Rue Langlois. However, Staff believes that the difference would be more apparent from equivalent views in the rear yards of homes on Rue Valois and/or Via Rivera, which look down upon (rather than over) the subject lots. Also, it should be noted that the primary intent of the 1-story rear facade required by Condition No. S.1 and Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628 was to protect public views rather than private views.

It should be noted that, as an alternative to the developerís proposal, Staff had originally suggested "splitting the difference" between the upper and lower pads on the subject lots (i.e., dropping the upper pad 5 feet and raising the lower pad 5 feet) to create a pad lot. This would allow the rough grading to be balanced on site, which would be consistent with the 1992 approvals. Under this scenario, Staff recommended retaining the current maximum ridgeline elevations for these lots (16 feet above the current upper pad and 26 feet above the current lower pad), which would result in a maximum ridgeline elevation of 21 feet above the new pad elevation, and limiting the homes on these reconfigured lots to a single story. Staff believed that such an alternative would be more consistent with the 1992 approvals than the developerís current proposal in that all rough grading would be balanced, the maximum ridgeline elevations of the lots would not change and the appearance of a single-story structure would be maintained, as viewed from the rear. Another possible alternative suggested by Staff would be to redesign the Plan 6 residence to address the perceived deficiencies that have apparently made this particular floorplan difficult to sell. However, the developer did not express interest in pursing either of these alternatives, and instead opted to pursue its proposal, which was denied by the Planning Commission.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

On September 25, 2002, public notices were mailed to the applicant, the property owner and nineteen other property owners within a 500-foot radius of the subject lots. On September 28, 2002, public notice of the October 15, 2002 public hearing for the appeal of Case No. ZON2002-00282 was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News. Notice of this proposal was also provided to interested parties through the "listserv" feature on the Cityís website. The developer subsequently requested the continuance of this matter to the November 19, 2002 City Council meeting, which was granted by the City Council on October 15, 2002. As of the date this report was completed, Staff had received one letter in opposition to and one letter in support of the proposed project (see attachments).

CONCLUSION

The Planning Commission found that the developerís request was inconsistent with the original approvals for the Oceanfront project and was, therefore, unable to make all of the necessary findings for its approval. Staff believes that the developer has provided no new evidence to suggest that the Planning Commissionís decision was based upon incomplete or inaccurate information. Staff also believes that there are viable alternatives to the proposed revisions that would be consistent with the development standards for the Oceanfront community, but which the developer has been reluctant to explore. Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the attached draft Resolution No. 2002-__, thereby denying the developerís appeal without prejudice and upholding the Planning Commissionís decision on Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282.

FISCAL IMPACT

If the City Council denies the developerís appeal, there will be no fiscal impact to the City as a result of this action. If the City Council upholds the developerís appealóin whole or in partóthe developer will be entitled to a full or partial refund of the $940.00 appeal fee, pursuant to Section 17.80.120 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code. Under this scenario, the costs associated with the processing of the developerís appeal will be borne by the Cityís General Fund.

ALTERNATIVES

The alternatives available for the City Councilís consideration include:

  1. Uphold the developerís appeal, thereby overturning the Planning Commissionís denial of the requested revision to the development standards for the Oceanfront community, and direct Staff to prepare an appropriate Resolution and conditions of approval for adoption at the next City Council meeting. If selected, this alternative should also include authorization for the developer to place fill on City property (Lot 80) and a requirement for the developer to provide a grading plan for the City property prior to final action by the City Council.

2. Deny the developerís appeal without prejudice to allow the submittal of revised applications for the export of material from the Oceanfront community. The Planning Commission and City Council would review these revised applications at a future date to be determined.

3. Deny the developerís appeal without prejudice to allow the developer to pursue an alternative that does not involve the export of material from the Oceanfront community, such as redesigning the Plan 6 residence or altering the proposed rough grading to balance it on site. The Planning Commission would review these revised applications at a future date to be determined.

4. Deny the developerís appeal with prejudice, thereby preventing the developer from submitting a request for any similar revision to the development standards for the Oceanfront community for a period of one (1) year.

Respectfully submitted:
Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Resolution No. 2002-__

Applicantís appeal letter

P.C. Resolution No. 2002-21

Planning Commission Minutes and Staff report of August 13, 2002

CUP 158 revision history

View cross section from the public right-of-way of Palos Verdes Drive West

Public correspondence

Project plans and photographic simulations

RESOLUTION NO. 2002-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSIONíS DENIAL OF A REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT REVISION (CASE NO. ZON2002-00282) TO ALLOW REVISIONS TO THE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS FOR THE PROPERTIES AT 32, 34, 36, AND 38 VIA DEL CIELO (LOTS 36, 37, 78 AND 79 OF TRACT MAP NO. 46628 (OCEANFRONT)) TO ALLOW 14,000 CUBIC YARDS OF ADDITIONAL ROUGH GRADING TO LOWER THE REAR PORTIONS OF THE LOTS AND CREATE PAD LOTS, AND TO ALLOW THE CONSTRUCTION OF TWO-STORY, RATHER THAN SPLIT-LEVEL, HOMES ON THESE LOTS

WHEREAS, on March 17, 1992, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 92-27, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 158 in conjunction with Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628 for a residential planned development of seventy-nine single-family lots and five open space lots on a 132-acre vacant site, located seaward of the terminus of Hawthorne Boulevard at Palos Verdes Drive West, between the Lunada Pointe community on the north and the Point Vicente Interpretive Center on the south; and,

WHEREAS, on February 25, 1997, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 97-12, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 158-Revision 'A' for minor revisions to certain conditions of approval related to the relocation of Lots 78 and 79 of Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628, as required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and this action was subsequently upheld by the City Council on March 11, 1997; and,

WHEREAS, April 14, 1998, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 98-13, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 158-Revision 'B' for miscellaneous revisions to the development standards for Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628; but this action was subsequently overturned on appeal to the City Council on June 16, 1998; and,

WHEREAS, on November 28, 2000, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2000-41, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 158-Revision 'C', et al. for three tract entry observation booths on the interior streets of the tract, as well as modifications to the tract perimeter fencing and the installation of tract identification signage, which was subsequently upheld on appeal to the City Council with the adoption of Resolution No. 2001-08 on February 8, 2001 but appealed to the California Coastal Commission on February 26, 2001 and has been held in abeyance; and,

WHEREAS, on July 10, 2001, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2001-16, denying without prejudice Conditional Use Permit No. 158-Revision ĎDí and Coastal Permit No. 94-Revision ĎBí for a proposal to allow the main roof ridgeline of the residence at 74 Via del Cielo (Lot 33 of Tract 46628) to be oriented less-than-perpendicular to Palos Verdes Drive West; and,

WHEREAS, on September 25, 2001, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2001-31, approving Conditional Use Permit No. 158-Revision ĎEí for revisions to the tract development standards to allow the encroachment of 30-inch-tall planters, seat walls and fire pits and 42-inch-tall pool equipment and built-in barbecues into the rear-yard setback areas; and,

WHEREAS, on June 10, 2002, the applicant, Makallon RPV Associates llc, submitted an application for a further revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 158 (Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282) to allow the reconfiguration of Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 of Tract 46628, also known as 32, 34, 36 and 38 Via del Cielo, from upslope lots to pad lots; and,

WHEREAS, on July 8, 2002, the application for Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282 was deemed complete by Staff; and,

WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code Sections 21000 et. seq. ("CEQA"), the State's CEQA Guidelines, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 15000 et. seq., the City's Local CEQA Guidelines, and Government Code Section 65962.5(f) (Hazardous Waste and Substances Statement), Staff found no evidence that the denial of Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282 would have a significant effect on the environment, and determined that the proposed project was statutorily exempt (Section15270) from the provisions of CEQA; and,

WHEREAS, on August 13, 2002, the Planning Commission adopted P.C. Resolution No. 2002-21, denying the requested revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 158 (Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282) without prejudice; and,

WHEREAS, on August 26, 2002, the applicant filed a timely appeal of the Planning Commissionís action denying the requested revision to Conditional Use Permit No. 158 (Planning Case No. ZON2002-00282); and,

WHEREAS, after notice issued pursuant to the requirements of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing to consider said appeal on October 15, 2002 and November 19, 2002, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE, AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: The City Council upholds the Planning Commissionís action of August 13, 2002, and the following findings of fact with respect to the request for a conditional use permit revision (Case No. ZON2002-00282) to modify the development standards for Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 of Tract Map No. 46628:

A. The site is not adequate in size and shape to accommodate the proposed project becauseóin their current configurationóthe development of full, 2-story homes on the existing lots is not possible. In addition, the development of full, 2-story homes on these lots will be inconsistent with the original approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 158 and Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628 because the homes on these lots were only intended to present a single-story façade to the open space area and Palos Verdes Drive West to the rear. By contrast, the City has already approved the development of upslope, split-level homes on these lots, which are consistent with the intent and purpose of the original approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 158 and Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 46628.

B. In approving the subject use at the specific location, there will be a significant adverse effect on adjacent property or the permitted use thereof because the 1992 approvals and environmental impact report (EIR) for the Oceanfront project assumed that all rough grading on the site would be balanced, with no import or export of material. The proposed project would involve the export of approximately 14,000 cubic yards of material from the rear portions of Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 to change them from upslope lots to pad lots. This would result in a significant number of truck trips (approximately 700 to 1000) to export the material, the impacts of which were not analyzed in the 1992 approvals and environmental analysis for the project.

C. The proposed use is contrary to the General Plan because the goals and policies of the General Plan acknowledge "[scenic] views [as] one of the most valuable natural resourcesÖon the Peninsula" (General Plan, p. 77). The conversion of the subject lots from upslope to pad configuration would allow for the development of more massive-appearing homes on these lots, particularly as viewed from the rear. The proposed re-grading would allow for the development of full, 2-story homes rather than the upslope, split-pad homes originally envisioned for these lots under the 1992 approvals, which could significantly alter the visual impact of the rear elevations of these homes, as viewed from other homes in the Oceanfront community and adjacent City property and public right-of-way.

D. The proposed project is not consistent with the performance criteria of the OC-3 (Urban Appearance) overlay control district, which state that development shall not "[result] in the change in elevation of the land or construction of any improvement which would block, alter or impair major views, vistas or viewsheds in existence from designated view corridors, view sites or view points at the dates of adoption of the General Plan and the Coastal Specific Plan in such a way as to materially and irrevocably alter the quality of the view as to arc (horizontal and vertical), primary orientation or other characteristics"; but the proposal to re-grade the subject lots has the potential to adversely affect public views that are identified in the Cityís General Plan and Coastal Specific Plan.

Section 2: The time within which the judicial review of the decision reflected in this Resolution, if available, must be sought is governed by Section 1094.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable short periods of limitation.

Section 3: For the foregoing reasons and based on the information and findings included in the Staff Report, Minutes and other records of proceedings, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby denies without prejudice the request for a conditional use permit revision (Case No. ZON2002-00282) to allow revisions to the development standards for the properties at 32, 34, 36, and 38 Via del Cielo (Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 of Tract Map No. 46628 (Oceanfront)) to allow 14,000 cubic yards of additional rough grading to lower the rear portions of the lots and create pad lots, and to allow the construction of two-story, rather than split-level, homes on these lots.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this __th day of ________ 2002, by the following vote:

AYES:

NOES:

ABSTENTIONS:

ABSENT:

_______________________
John McTaggart, Mayor

ATTEST:

____________________
Jo Purcell, City Clerk

State of California )
County of Los Angeles ) ss
City of Rancho Palos Verdes )

I, JO PURCELL, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2002-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on __________, 2002.

_________________________________
City Clerk