Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: JANUARY 21, 2003

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. 2003-__, 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 November 19, 2002, the City Council began consideration of this appeal (see attached Staff report). As a result of discussion at that meeting, the City Council continued this matter to tonightís meeting by a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Ferraro dissenting. The developer was directed to prepare additional photographic simulations of the proposed 2-story homes on Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79, and to provide conceptual plans of the proposed 2-story residence (i.e., Plan 14). Staff also asked the developer to provide a proposed grading plan for the redistribution of 14,000 cubic yards of material toóand the ultimate revegetation ofóCity-owned Lot 80. The developer submitted additional information on January 6, 2003 and January 8, 2003. Therefore, this matter has been agendized for the City Councilís continued consideration at tonightís meeting.

DISCUSSION

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

As discussed in the previous Staff report, 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. The purpose of this condition was to minimize the apparent bulk and mass of the structures as viewed from Palos Verdes Drive West by maintaining a single-story profile on the upslope sides of these lots. In denying the requested revision, the Planning Commission found 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 for Conditional Use Permit No. 158.

At the November 19, 2002 City Council hearing, the developer presented photographic simulations of the proposed Plan 14 residences as viewed from the rear yard of a home on Rue Langlois, noting that there was little difference in apparent bulk and mass when compared to the approved upslope, split-level (i.e., Plan 6) residences on the same lots. However, it should be noted that the primary intent of the 1-story rear facade required by Condition No. S.1 for Conditional Use Permit No. 158 was to protect public views rather than private views. As such, Staff was concerned that, from the point of view of a bicyclist on the roadway or a pedestrian on the trail along Palos Verdes Drive West, the increased height of the rear facades of these homes would be apparent and the homes would appear noticeably larger and bulkier. Therefore, the developer has prepared photographic simulations of the view and aesthetic impacts of the 2-story homes, as seen from several points within the public right-of-way of Palos Verdes Drive West (see attachments). As requested by the City Council, these simulations include alternatives both with and without additional landscape screening.

Staff has reviewed the additional simulations provided by the developer. Simulations were prepared for north- and southbound motorists on Palos Verdes Drive West, as well as for pedestrians at the scenic turnout near Palos Verdes Drive West and Rue Beaupre. The simulation of the view of motorists on northbound Palos Verdes Drive West shows that homes on these lots will not be visibleóregardless of the type of houseódue to the site topography and the vertical alignment of the roadway. The simulation of the view of motorists on southbound Palos Verdes Drive West shows that a portion of the lower level of the home on Lot 37 would be visible, both with and without landscaping. However, it should be noted that once homes on are constructed on Lots 38, 39, 40 and 41, the homes on Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 would be largely blocked from motoristsí view. As such, based upon these additional simulations, it appears that the apparent bulk and mass of the proposed Plan 14 residences will have little or no impact upon motoristsí (and their passengersí) views from Palos Verdes Drive West.

With respect to the public view from the scenic turnout abutting Lot 80, however, Staff believes that the photographic simulations show that the bulk and mass of the lower levels of all four Plan 14 homes will still be apparent. It should also be noted that the width of the lower portion of the rear facade of the proposed Plan 14 homeówhich is made visible by the additional gradingóis approximately seventy-four feet (74í), while the width of the rear facade of the Plan 6 home is approximately sixty-four feet (64í), or ten feet (10í) narrower. While the appearance of the additional area of the rear facade exposed by the grading may be offset by additional landscaping, Staff believes that these Plan 14 homes will still appear slightly larger and bulkier than the approved Plan 6 homes because they will be taller and wider as viewed from the rear. Although the developer previously represented that the "courtyard" design of the Plan 14 residence would provide additional articulation to break up the bulk and mass of the building, it should be noted that the opening of the courtyard faces toward the side yard of the lot, not the rear yard (i.e., toward Palos Verdes Drive West). Therefore, as determined by the Planning Commission, it appears that the wider, taller rear facade of the Plan 14 residence would appear slightly more massive and bulky than the approved Plan 6 residence, and this would not be consistent with Condition No. S.1 for Conditional Use Permit No. 158, which was intended to minimize the apparent bulk and mass of these homes as viewed by public properties and/or rights-of-way.

Proposed Exportation of Material to Lot 80

Notwithstanding the Planning Commissionís recommendation, if the City Council is inclined to accept the proposed Plan 14 residence as an alternative to the approved Plan 6 residence, the City Council may also be receptive to the placement of additional fill on City-owned Lot 80. Based upon discussion at the November 19, 2002 City Council meeting, Staff asked the developer to provide a grading plan showing how the 14,000 cubic yards of material from Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 would be redistributed on Lot 80. Staff also asked the developer to provide information regarding its plans to implement the timely revegetation of Lot 80, as it related to the proposed grading and placement of fill. In response, the developer prepared the attached conceptual grading and revegetation plan for Lot 80.

As noted in the previous Staff report, approximately 28,000 cubic yards of material had been removed from Lot 80 for the San Ramon storm drain project by November 2002. With the completion of the this activity in December 2002, the Public Works Department has confirmed that a total of approximately 35,000 cubic yards of material was removed from Lot 80. It should be noted, however, that the developerís conceptual grading and revegetation plan proposes 64,000 cubic yards of fill on Lot 80. The initial phase of 14,000 cubic yards of fill would be the result of the proposed re-grading of Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 to convert them from upslope, split-level lots to pad lots. The developer then proposes that the balance of 50,000 cubic yards of fillódeposited in two phasesówould be the result of excess precise grading spoils from the remaining undeveloped lots in the Oceanfront community (it should be noted that, since these are precise grading spoils, this material could be removed from the site without violating the prohibition against export of rough grading material from the site). The revegetation of Lot 80 would then be phased to coincide with the completion of each phase of fill.

Staff has reviewed the conceptual grading and revegetation plan. The grading plan provides no detail regarding the proposed configuration of the re-graded areas of Lot 80. Staff believes that additional detail is necessary at this stage to ensure that the re-grading of Lot 80 will not result in adverse impacts upon adjacent properties or rights-of-way. Staff also notes that the developer proposes to place a quantity of fill on Lot 80 that is nearly double the amount that was removed by the City for the San Ramon storm drain project. Of greatest concern to Staff, however, is the amount of time that it would likely take to deposit all of this fill material on Lot 80. While the initial redistribution of the 14,000 cubic yards of export material from Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 to Lot 80 could probably occur fairly quickly, the additional 50,000 cubic yards of precise grading spoils from the remaining undeveloped lots in the tract could take several years to accumulate, if the developerís past performance is any indication. As such, Staff is concerned that the phased redistribution of soil to Lot 80 over an extended period of time could interfere with the implementation of the revegetation of this City-owned property.

The revegetation plan similarly provides no detail regarding the timing of implementation of each phase, although Staff assumes that it would occur shortly after the completion of each phase of grading. Currently, a portion of Lot 80 site contains sensitive coastal sage scrub (CSS) habitat area and the developer is obligated to revegetate the balance of this lot with native CSS species under the terms of the project approvals and the Section 4(d) permit issued by the City under the authority of its Natural Communities Conservation Planning (NCCP) program in 1997. Staff believes the placement of additional fill on Lot 80 should not be allowed if it interferes with future habitat restoration on the property in a timely manner. Recently, both the City and the developer have been put on notice by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the failure to begin revegetation of Lot 80 (see attached letter from USFWS). Given the current slow pace of construction in the Oceanfront community and the generally poor economic outlook in the coming year, Staff is concerned that waiting for the development of the all of the remaining vacant lots will unduly delay the revegetation of Lot 80. As such, if the City Council is inclined to allow the placement of fill on Lot 80, Staff recommends that such activity be allowed for a finite period of no more than one year.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This matter was continued to a date certain from the November 19, 2002 City Council meeting, so no additional public notice was required. As of the date this report was completed, Staff had received no additional public correspondence regarding this appeal.

Staff understands that the City Council may chose to uphold the developerís appeal and overturn the Planning Commissionís action. However, regardless of whether the City Council denies or upholds the developerís appeal, Staff believes that the developerís continued use of Lot 80 as a dump site for excess precise grading spoils should only be allowed to continue for a finite period of time so as not to unduly delay the revegetation of this City property.

CONCLUSION

On August 13, 2002, 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. With respect to the proposed change from upslope, split-level to pad lots, Staff believes that the developer has provided no new evidenceóat this or any previous City Council meeting at which this appeal was discussedóto suggest that the Planning Commissionís decision was based upon incomplete or inaccurate information. The additional photographic simulations provided by the developer demonstrate that the apparent bulk and mass of the full, 2-story Plan 14 homes on Lots 36, 37, 78 and 79 will be noticeably greater than that of the upslope, split-level Plan 6 homes, which would be inconsistent with the original approvals for the Oceanfront community. Staff also believes that there are viable alternatives to the proposed revisions that would be consistent with the development standards for the Oceanfront community, which were enumerated in the November 19, 2002 Staff report but which the developer has been reluctant to explore. Finally, Staff believes that the time necessary to complete the phased re-grading of Lot 80óas currently proposed by the developerówill conflict with the developerís obligation to revegetate this lot in a timely manner. Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the attached draft Resolution No. 2003-__, 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 more detailed grading and revegetation plan for the City property prior to final action by the City Council.

2. Deny the developerís appeal without prejudice, and provide direction to the developer that the continued use of Lot 80 as a dump site for excess precise grading spoils may only continue for a period of one (1) year or some other finite period.

3. Deny the developerís appeal with prejudice, and provide direction to the developer that the continued use of Lot 80 as a dump site for excess precise grading spoils may only continue for a period of one (1) year or some other finite period.

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

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:
Resolution No. 2003-__
City Council Staff report of November 19, 2002
Letter from USFWS regarding status of CSS habitat mitigation program
Photographic simulations of the Plan 14 residence (with and without landscaping)
Conceptual elevations and floor plans of the Plan 14 residence
Conceptual Grading and Revegetation Plan

RESOLUTION NO. 2003-__

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, November 19, 2002 and January 21, 2003, 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 ________ 2003, by the following vote:

AYES:

NOES:

ABSTENTIONS:

ABSENT:

_______________________
Douglas W. Stern, 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. 2003-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on __________, 2003.

_________________________________
City Clerk