Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

TO:HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM:DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE:FEBRUARY 4, 2003

SUBJECT:IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES FOR COMPLETION OF THE NATURAL COMMUNITY CONSERVATION PLANNING (NCCP)/OPEN SPACE ACQUISITION PROJECT

 

RECOMMENDATION

1) Consider the implementation strategies proposed by Staff and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to complete the City’s NCCP program and related Open Space Acquisition Project; 2) Direct Staff to proceed with submission of the draft NCCP Subarea Plan to the Resource Agencies; and 3) Retain the services of a professional lobbyist to assist the City/Conservancy in its efforts to secure state bond monies for funding the conservation transaction.

BACKGROUND

The City has been working on the preparation of an NCCP Subarea Plan since 1997. A historical chronology of the City’s efforts is attached. One of the major stumbling blocks in completing the NCCP has been the inability to get the Resource Agencies and the two major private landowners in the City (Barry Hon and York Long Point Associates) to agree on a habitat preserve design. While the two major landowners sought to exclude certain portions of their properties from the habitat preserve, leaving the possibility that they could one day be developed, the Resource Agencies objected to the configuration and location of the landowners’ non-preserve areas. A major breakthrough in the process occurred in 2001, when the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) announced a deal to purchase 722 acres of property owned by both parties in the Portuguese Bend area of the City. At that point, the focus of the NCCP shifted to the open space acquisition deal, as it would address the preserve design concerns previously expressed by the Resource Agencies (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and California Dept. of Fish & Game).

In 2002, the City’s "compromise" preserve alternative was amended to reflect the proposed acquisition and after numerous meetings and discussions with Resource Agency representatives, a basic draft preserve design was formulated that addressed their concerns. After receiving a favorable response on the proposed preserve design,

Staff’s efforts turned to completing the actual draft Subarea Plan. The Subarea plan is the document that identifies the habitat that is to be conserved, the responsibilities and mechanisms for managing the habitat preserve and the funding mechanisms for acquiring and managing the preserve.

A preliminary draft of the City’s Subarea Plan was presented to the Resource Agencies in June 2002. Based on the feedback received from the Resource Agencies, Staff has been working with Barbara Dye, the new Executive Director of the PVPLC, and the City’s NCCP consultant to complete the Subarea Plan in a manner that addresses the Resource Agency’s issues. Staff is now at a point in the process, where the Subarea Plan is close to completion for submittal to the Resource Agencies. However, the Subarea plan contains conservation strategies that involve City-owned parcels, City commitments to funding (both for land acquisition and habitat management) and planning efforts that could affect other open space planning projects. Therefore, Staff is requesting that the City Council review and agree with the basic strategies of the Subarea Plan before it is formally submitted to the Resource Agencies and released to the public. To facilitate this review, a Subarea Plan Summary has been prepared (attached) for the Council’s consideration.

Completion of the City’s NCCP is intertwined with the City/PVPLC’s efforts to secure State and Federal funding to acquire the private lands necessary to complete the Portuguese Bend Regional Open Space Park (area that would become the bulk of the City’s NCCP preserve). Therefore, in order to adequately review and discuss the NCCP and the related conservation strategies, it is important for the Council to also review the overall strategy for the Portuguese Bend acquisition, and what role the NCCP plays in the strategy. A summary of the basic strategy, and an accompanying flow chart, have been prepared by Barbara Dye for the Council’s review (attached).

 

DISCUSSION

Strategy for the Portuguese Bend Acquisition

In December 2000, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and PVPLC entered into a formal partnership in support of the acquisition of open space lands within the Portuguese Bend area for the purpose of conserving wildlife habitat and open space for the benefit of the residents of the City. With guidance from the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Open Space Acquisition, which is made up of Mayor Stern and Mayor Pro Tem Clark, former PVPLC Executive Director Keith Lenard led the acquisition efforts until late last year when Mr. Lenard left the Conservancy. Barbara Dye has taken over for Mr. Lenard as Executive Director and is now responsible for implementing the acquisition strategy.

As described in the attached summary and illustrated in the attached flow chart, the acquisition strategy continues to be a two-pronged effort, which involves securing Resource Agency support for the NCCP (from the local San Diego and Carlsbad offices), while at the same time securing a funding commitment from the State (from the Wildlife Conservation Board) from the millions of state bond monies earmarked for habitat/open space conservation. Securing Resource Agency support for the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan is needed to validate the need to acquire the open space and establish the habitat preserve. Conversely, the success of the habitat conservation plan hinges on the ability to assemble a large enough preserve that will ensure the viability of the habitat and related protected species. As noted in an attached memorandum dated January 29, 2003 from Craig Brown (the PVPLC’s lobbyist) and Barbara Dye, completing the NCCP is clearly the first priority in the process.

In order to help secure a funding commitment from the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), the acquisition strategy includes the hiring of a professional lobbyist to assist the City in its efforts. City and PVPLC Staff have identified Joseph Caves as a lobbyist who has been very successful in obtaining funding for projects from the WCB and has experience with NCCP related funding. City and PVPLC Staff believe that we are at a point in the process where we can benefit from the services of Mr. Caves to facilitate the dialogue between the City and WCB. A letter containing Mr. Caves proposed scope of work is attached. The cost for Mr. Caves’ services would be $5,000 per month plus authorized expenses.

At this time, Staff seeks City Council feedback on the proposed acquisition strategy. If the strategy is acceptable to the City Council, Staff recommends that the Council retain the services of a professional lobbyist to assist the City/Conservancy in its efforts to secure state bond monies for funding the conservation transaction.

NCCP Subarea Plan Summary

As mentioned earlier, the NCCP Subarea plan is the document that identifies the habitat that is to be conserved, the responsibilities and mechanisms for managing the habitat preserve and the funding mechanisms for acquiring and managing the preserve. It is the document that becomes the basis for the environmental analysis of the plan (CEQA and NEPA), and the public review and discussion of the plan. Eventually, it is the document that is submitted to the Resource Agencies for approval. A summary of the City’s Draft Subarea Plan has been prepared (attached) for the Council’s review and consideration. The Summary addresses the major components of the Subarea Plan and provides short descriptions of the various proposed strategies.

Throughout the City’s NCCP preparation process, the Resource Agencies have made it clear that they will only approve the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan if they are convinced that the plan provides comprehensive conservation and management of state and federally protected species (the California gnatctacher, the PV Blue Butterfly, etc.). Provided below is a discussion of how conservation and management are being addressed in the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan.

Conservation

The conservation aspect of the City’s NCCP is addressed through the preserve design. The Resource Agencies are looking for a preserve that conserves a majority of the remaining coastal sage scrub habitat in the City in a manner that provides ample corridor linkages between habitat cores and minimizes fragmentation. As noted earlier, the Resource Agencies believe that the City’s latest preserve design proposal appears to achieve this. The key elements of the latest preserve design proposal (Alternative C1) are as follows (acreages are approximate):

  • It would conserve approximately 90% of the 1,236 acres of Coastal Sage Scrub habitat remaining within the City.
  • It would include 715 acres of City owned land, 10 acres of County owned land, 3.5 acres of Federally owned land and 20 acres of PVPLC owned land
  • As part of the 715 acres of City owned land, the entire 98-acre Barkentine property would be used as mitigation for past and future habitat losses (please refer to the Subarea Plan Summary),
  • It would include 700 acres of privately owned land that is targeted for acquisition, including all of the 423-acre Hon Portuguese Bend parcel, the 44-acre Hon Agua Armaga parcel and the 228-acre York Upper and Middle Filiorum parcels.
  • It would not include 10 acres of the most level, usable and disturbed portion of the City’s Upper Pt. Vicente property to allow for passive and active recreational activities.
  • It would not include 10 acres of the County owned Lower Pt. Vicente property (roughly the area between PVIC and PVDW) to allow for the continued agricultural use of the property.
  • It would not include 40 acres of the eastern portion of the York Lower Filiorum parcel, which is the subject of a currently active Moratorium Exclusion request.
  • It would not include 15 acres in the lower active landslide area (Hon property) to allow for active recreational activities and an access point to the preserve.
  • It would not include the undeveloped portions of the County-owned Friendship Park, as County representatives have requested that it be excluded from the preserve.
  • It would not include any City parks (developed or undeveloped), as they provide little to no habitat value.
  • It would not include any undeveloped canyons, hillsides or open space owned by private individuals or HOA’s unless the property owners agree to allow the City/Conservancy to access and maintain the properties.

It should be noted there is significant amount of privately owned open space acreage in the City (300-400 acres) that is not included in the preserve, but will be conserved as open space due to General Plan/Zoning, Development Code and private deed restrictions. These areas are referred to as "Neutral lands" in the Subarea Plan and will be denoted as such on preserve design maps.

As noted above and described in the attached Subarea Plan Summary, the City’s primary conservation strategy is to acquire several key privately owned parcels and dedicate selected City-owned lands for the creation of the preserve. All lands set aside in the preserve for mitigation and all lands acquired with public funds would be protected with conservation easements. At this time, Staff seeks City Council feedback on any of the key elements of the proposed preserve design. Unless otherwise directed, Staff will move forward and complete the Subarea Plan with the above-described preserve design as its basis.

Unfortunately, due to recent modifications to the preserve design, maps of the latest version were not available to include with the Staff Report. Staff expects to have hard copies of the maps available at the meeting, as well as the ability to display the map on the power point projector.

Management

The management aspect of the NCCP is addressed through the Subarea Plan. Whereas previous meetings with the Resource Agencies focused on the preserve design, more recent conversations with the Resource Agencies have focused on the management aspects of the City’s Plan. The Resource Agencies want to know who is going to be responsible for managing the habitat preserve, how is it going to be managed and how is the management going to be funded. Based on a preliminary review of an early draft of the Subarea Plan, the Resource Agencies specified that the following 3 key issues need to be completely addressed in the plan:

1) Acquisition component

Because a significant amount of the preserve is proposed to be assembled through land acquisition, the Resource Agencies requested that the City’s plan be further developed

to verify that the total acreage can only be acquired by purchase. The concern being that the plan does not place a disproportionate burden on the State to fund the creation of the preserve.

In response, the draft Subarea Plan proposes that in addition to the approximately 700 acres of privately-owned lands that are being sought for acquisition, approximately 745 acres of existing public lands will also be dedicated to the preserve. The intent is to demonstrate that the total acreage of the preserve will not be entirely reliant on acquisition and that the acquisition component will be matched in value by a contribution of publicly owned land. A breakdown of the various acreages is contained in the attached Subarea Plan Summary.

To further demonstrate that the preserve will not be entirely reliant on acquisition, the proposed Subarea Plan also identifies approximately 125 acres of privately owned lands that could also be contributed to the preserve. Approximately 95 of these acres involve the "neutral lands" described earlier, which cannot be developed due to zoning or private deed restrictions, but also cannot be included into the preserve without the landowners’ consent. The Subarea Plan identifies a number of HOA-owned open space properties that contain habitat, which could be included into the preserve, if the HOA’s agree to the PVPLC/City managing the habitat and access can be obtained. There is also the possibility of up to 45 acres of the York Long Point Associates’ Lower Filiorum property being contributed to the preserve in connection with a subsequent development or exclusion application. A breakdown of the various acreages is contained in the attached Subarea Plan Summary.

With regards to the habitat acquisition, although there is a substantial reliance on the state to fund the proposed acquisition deal ($17 million of the proposed $27 million deal), it is proposed that acquisition funding will also be pursued from other sources. This includes a proposed City contribution of $1 million and $6 million in private funding generated by the PVPLC. A discussion of the proposed acquisition deal funding is contained in the attached Subarea Plan Summary.

At this time, Staff seeks direction on the following strategies related to the acquisition component of the proposed Subarea Plan:

  1. The inclusion of the 715 acres of listed City properties into the preserve.
  2. Whether to contact the listed HOA’s and pursue inclusion of their properties into the preserve.
  3. Reducing the acquisition need (cost) by excluding a portion of Lower Filiorum from the preserve.
  4. The proposed City contribution of $1 million towards the acquisition deal

2) Restoration Component

As previously noted, the City’s primary conservation strategy is to acquire several hundred acres of key privately-owned parcels and to dedicate several hundred acres of publicly-owned lands. This would result in the conservation of approximately 90% of the existing habitat within the City. Due to this strategy, the original Subarea Plan proposed little to no habitat restoration. The Resource Agencies expressed a concern that there is a need for non-native plant control within the preserve and requested a restoration plan to address this need.

In response to the Resource Agencies’ concern, the proposed Subarea Plan includes a restoration plan, which will need to be approved by the Resource Agencies, City and PVPLC. The restoration plan would propose to enhance/restore the most practicable amount of disturbed habitats within the preserve, emphasizing those that are directly adjacent to conserved habitat. As described in the attached Subarea Plan Summary, the PVPLC would be responsible for preparing a 5-year Restoration Plan that would involve the restoration of 5 acres each year. In addition, the PVPLC would prepare a Targeted Exotic Plant Removal Plan that would focus on the removal of invasive plants at selected sites throughout the preserve.

At this time, Staff seeks direction on any of the strategies related to the proposed restoration component.

3) Management and Monitoring

The Resource Agencies expressed a concern that the Subarea Plan provide better justification for proposed management and monitoring costs. The Resource Agencies are looking to be reassured that there is adequate funding in place to carry out the habitat restoration and preserve maintenance described in the Subarea Plan.

The Subarea Plan needs to identify the entity that will be responsible for managing the habitat preserve and how the management will be funded. As discussed in the attached Subarea Plan Summary, it is proposed that the City enter into a formal agreement with the PVPLC to manage all of the conserved land in the preserve and any additional acquired lands. This strategy takes advantage of the PVPLC’s experience with other habitat management projects on the Peninsula and substantially reduces the cost of the plan’s management component, since it would reduce the need to hire management consultants. It is foreseen that the existing agreement between the City and the PVPLC would be used as a model for the preserve management program.

It should be pointed out that in NCCP Subarea Plans, it is typically the lead agency who would be burdened with the cost of managing the preserve. In such cases, the lead agency usually has to hire consultants to manage the preserve and perform the necessary re-vegetation and maintenance work. Additionally, the lead agency usually creates a funding mechanism where future projects that require habitat re-vegetation pay into a habitat restoration fund. Our situation is unique in two ways. One, we would be relying on the PVPLC to manage the preserve, which eliminates the need to hire consultants. Secondly, since the preserve design would ensure minimal impacts to habitat, not much money would be generated from future projects to offset the costs of restoration. As a result, the bulk of the restoration costs will have to be absorbed by the City and PVPLC. However, this is not to say that the City and PVPLC would not pursue habitat restoration grants nor impose a habitat restoration fee for future projects that impact habitat and require mitigation.

Based on several discussions between the PVPLC, City Staff, and the various volunteers and consultants performing habitat maintenance services, the cost of carrying out the maintenance responsibilities proposed in the Draft Subarea Plan has been calculated at $235,000 per year. As discussed in the attached Subarea Plan summary, it is proposed that the City contribute $100,000 per year towards the management funding, in addition to a contribution of $25,000 for in-kind services, such as public safety and trash removal.

At this time, Staff seeks direction on the following strategies related to the proposed reserve management:

  1. Agreement that the preserve will be managed by the PVPLC
  2. Whether to commit $100,000 annually toward the preserve management
  3. Whether to require private parties responsible for future habitat losses to pay for the mitigation associated with their projects.

FISCAL IMPACT

Thus far, the City has expended approximately $290,000 on the NCCP program. The City has also received state and federal funding to assist in preparing the NCCP. Thus far, the City has received 2 Federal Grants totaling $275,000 and 1 State Grant for $20,000. Since the federal grant requires a dollar for dollar match by the City, the revenue is recognized at a rate of 50% of total expenditures. The State grant does not have a matching requirement and can be used to match the federal funding. It is estimated that it will cost approximately $164,000 to complete the NCCP. The City’s current budget contains a balance that is sufficient to finish the NCCP.

The cost of hiring Mr. Caves, as a lobbyist for one year, would be $60,000. Although these costs could be paid for from the City’s NCCP budget, they would not be eligible for the federal match. Furthermore, the NCCP budget did not anticipate such an expenditure. Therefore, if the City Council agrees to hire Mr. Caves, Staff will identify the funding mechanism when the contract is presented to the Council for execution.

 

CONCLUSION

The City has been working on the preparation of an NCCP Subarea Plan since 1997. The City is now at a point in the process, where the NCCP Subarea Plan is close to completion for submittal to the Resource Agencies. However, the Subarea plan contains conservation strategies that involve City-owned parcels, City commitments to funding (both for land acquisition and habitat management) and planning efforts that could affect other open space planning projects. Therefore, Staff is requesting that the City Council review and agree with the basic strategies of the Subarea Plan before it is formally submitted to the Resource Agencies and released to the public. Furthermore, completion of the City’s NCCP is intertwined with the City/PVPLC’s efforts to secure State and Federal funding to acquire the private lands necessary to complete the Portuguese Bend Regional Open Space Park. Therefore, in order to adequately review and discuss the NCCP and the related conservation strategies, Staff is requesting that the Council also review the overall strategy for the Portuguese Bend acquisition.

Respectfully submitted,

Joel Rojas

Director of Planning, Building,

and Code Enforcement

 

Reviewed by:

Les Evans

City Manager

 

Attachments:

City of RPV NCCP History

Subarea Plan Summary

Strategy for Portuguese Bend Acquisition

Acquisition Strategy flow chart

Memo from Craig Brown dated January 29, 2003

Letter from Joseph Caves dated January 23, 2003


 

 

Natural Communities Conservation Planning

Subarea Plan Summary

 

January, 2003

 

RPV Natural Communities Conservation Subarea Plan - Summary

Introduction

The City of Rancho Palos Verdes NCCP Subarea Plan (Plan) has been prepared to maximize benefits to wildlife and vegetation communities within the City and region (see Preserve Design map, attached) pursuant to the requirements of the Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act of 1991 (NCCP, California Fish and Game Code §2800, et seq.). The Plan provides for the comprehensive management and conservation of multiple species, including, but not limited to, species protected under the state or federal ESA.

 

The Plan identifies habitat to be conserved in the City’s proposed Reserve, the mechanism for this conservation (e.g., acquisition, easement, etc.), and interim protection measures for habitats not expected to be ultimately conserved. The Plan establishes actions the City will take to obtain ESA Section 10(a) take authorizations for covered species, including current and future management, maintenance, and compatible uses (e.g., passive recreation) of conserved lands as well as funding for habitat management. The process for mitigating development on habitat not conserved, and how permits and take authorizations for covered species will be obtained, is also identified. These considerations form the basis for developing an Implementing Agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (Wildlife Agencies). In this manner, the authority for infrastructure development and land use decisions is to be retained by the City, and will be enhanced by its ability to self-issue endangered species take authorizations consistent with the Plan and Implementing Agreement (IA).

The City’s primary conservation strategy is to acquire several key privately-owned parcels, dedicate selected City-owned lands, and have the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy manage this Reserve network with the assistance of the City and the Wildlife Agencies. A long-term habitat restoration program is also a critical component of the Plan. The proposed Reserve is designed to be consistent with NCCP standards and guidelines and the issuance criteria for ESA Section 10(a) take authorizations for species covered by the Plan. The Reserve conserves the most practicable amount of regionally important habitat areas and provides adequate habitat linkages between patches of conserved habitat.

Based on a revegetation plan to be approved by the Resource Agencies, the City and PVPLC will enhance/restore the most practicable amount of disturbed habitats within the Reserve, emphasizing those areas that are directly adjacent to conserved habitat in order to enhance habitat patch size and habitat linkage function (i.e., areas with moderate to high potential for successful restoration).  

1. Reserve Components

The Reserve will be composed of public and private biological open space lands (all acreages approximate) as follows:

A. Existing Public Lands (745 acres)

1. City-owned lands (318 acres) already dedicated as biological open space to be included in the Reserve

    • 102-acre Switchbacks Parcel
    • 53-acre Shoreline Park Parcel
    • 163-acre Forrestal Parcel

2. City-owned land (98 acres) to be dedicated to the Reserve as mitigation for past and planned public and private impacts (see below for more information on the impacts)

    • 98-acre Barkentine Canyon (Parcel 4)

3. City owned land to be dedicated to the Reserve (299 acres)

    • 55 acres of Upper Point Vicente Parcel (City Hall Parcel)
    • 69 acres of Abalone Cove Parcel
    • 17-acre Del Cerro Buffer
    • 12-acre Crestridge parcel
    • 71 acres within the CPH Subregion One Project
    • 75 acres within the Ocean Trails Project (not yet transferred to the City)

4. Other Public/conserved Lands (30 acres)

    • 10 acres of County-owned Lower Point Vicente Park and the Fishing Access area (which may be transferred to City ownership)
    • 20-acre Lunada Canyon Preserve owned by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy

B. Private Lands (125 acres)

Private development projects will contribute 140 acres of biological open space to the Reserve:

    • 45 acres within the York Lower Filiorum Parcel
    • 6 acres within the York Long Point Parcel (bluff face)
    • 13 acres associated with the Calle de Suenos Project
    • 18 acres (easement) within the Portuguese Bend Club
    • 23 acres associated with the Sea Breeze development
    • 25 acres associated with Peninsula Point
    • 10 acres associated with Lunada Point

C. Priority Acquisition Areas to be Purchased (700 acres)

The City, PVPLC, Los Angeles County, and the Wildlife Agencies will provide funds for the purchase in fee and dedication to the Reserve approximately 700 acres of privately-owned lands that are considered regionally important:

    • 423-acre Hon Portuguese Bend Parcel (407 acres will be included in the reserve, and 15 acres in the lower active landslide area will be an "active recreation area," to serve as an access point.)
    • 44-acre Hon Agua Amarga Parcel
    • 228-acre York Upper and Middle Filiorum

D. Neutral Lands

There are some "Neutral Lands" that will exist outside of the Reserve boundary, but are not likely to be developed in the future. The Land Conservancy and the City will work to obtain conservation easements over these lands and add as many to the Reserve as is practical. These neutral lands can be placed into the following two categories:

    1. Extreme Sloped Lands on Private Property
    2. Habitat on extreme slopes (greater than 35 percent grade) located on private property consist of primarily undeveloped canyons and slopes scattered throughout the City. Most are concentrated on the City’s east side Pursuant to the City’s municipal code, steep slopes are not allowed to be developed.

    3. Lands Zoned Open Space Hazard

Public and private properties zoned Open Space Hazard are assumed to be not developable due to unstable geologic conditions or other physical constraints. Detailed geotechnical investigations and application to exclude lands from this land use designation would be required to approve development on these lands.

 

2. Mitigation Requirements

The City has identified a total of 18 City projects and 13 private projects that would be covered by the Plan, resulting in approximately 63 acres of unavoidable loss of coastal sage scrub within or outside of the proposed Reserve. A total of 88 acres of sage scrub habitats are estimated to occur outside the proposed Reserve and Neutral Lands boundaries. Future project impacts to sage scrub habitats, estimated at potentially 59 acres would be mitigated through the establishment of conservation easements (additions to the Reserve) or restoration of priority disturbed areas within the Reserve.

A. City Projects

City Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Projects will involve an unavoidable loss of coastal sage scrub habitat of 22.4 acres. This will be mitigated by acquiring and donating land to the Reserve in a 3:1 ratio of acreage donated to impacts.

B. Private Projects

The City expects that 13 recent past and future planned private projects will involve 22.4 acres of unavoidable loss of coastal sage scrub habitat. Mitigation for these losses would be provided by the revegetation of acreage at a 3:1 mitigation ratio to be funded by the property owner, or by the dedication to the Reserve of privately-owned or City-owned land, in a 3:1 ration of acreage preserved to impacts.

Mitigation for these losses will be as follows:

Impacts RevegPreservation

Revegetation of reserve acreage4.2 acres 12.6

Donation of privately-owned land to the reserve9.1 acres 27.3

City land donated for CIP projects22.7 acres 68.1

City land donated for private projects 9.1 acres 27.3

TOTAL 45.1 12.6 122.7

For any unplanned and unexpected future projects, the City expects that unavoidable CSS impacts will be mitigated through the establishment of conservation easements or the restoration of disturbed areas within the Reserve boundaries.

3. Land Use

  1. Permitting
  2. The Wildlife Agencies will issue to the City a 50-year authorization to take species covered by the Subarea Plan. Additionally, this Subarea Plan will eliminate most Wildlife Agency involvement in project-specific review and approval. Impacts to wetlands must continue to be regulated through the Clean Water Act, Fish and Game Code Section 1600 et seq and local regulations, although coverage for endangered species through this Subarea Plan should facilitate any consultation required between the USFWS and ACOE.

    Those third-party beneficiaries undertaking land development will be allowed to take covered species and habitats incidental to project construction, operation, and maintenance based on the approvals extended to the project through the local project permitting process.

    Any proposed development of land in the City would first require consistency with the appropriate provisions of the updated Municipal Code of Ordinances. Upon approval of the Subarea Plan, the City will use its land use authority to implement the provisions of the Plan. Consistency with the Subarea Plan will be a mandatory finding of the CEQA review process.

    B. No Surprises

    The Implementing Agreement will assure that the conservation/mitigation identified in this Plan and implementing regulations is implemented and the City will not be required to commit additional land, land restrictions, or financial compensation, beyond that described in the Plan, for the protection of any covered species. If, in the future, a covered species that is not listed, becomes listed as endangered or threatened by the federal or state governments, the take authorization will become effective concurrent with its listing.

  3. Documentation/Reporting

The issuance of take authorizations will be documented by the City by maintaining a list of all approvals under the Subarea Plan, which is attached or appended to the plan and updated annually. An annual meeting will be held between the City and the Wildlife Agencies to review and coordinate Subarea Plan implementation.

  1. Habitat Acquisition

Using funds generated in Los Angeles County (e.g., Measure A), the City has previously expended $11.8 million for the purchase of the Forrestal and Barkentine properties. In addition, the City will dedicate 569 acres of City-owned land for exclusive habitat use. If an equivalent area were purchased from private owners for habitat or open space use, corresponding cost is estimated to be more than $5 million.

The City of RPV engaged a firm to conduct an appraisal of the land proposed for acquisition. Based on a review of over 2,400 acres of land sales for habitat or open space use in coastal Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the appraisal estimated that the price of undeveloped land in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, when purchased for biological open space, would range from $0.75 to $1.05 per square foot, or approximately $37,000 to 39,000 per acre. Accordingly, the estimated cost of additional habitat acquisition for the entire preserve will be approximately $27 million.

For habitat lands to be acquired, the following candidate sources of funds would be pursued:

USFWS "Section 6" funds

$2Million

California Wildlife Conservation Board

$10 Million

California Coastal Conservancy

$7 Million

Los Angeles County

$1 Million

City of Rancho Palos Verdes

$1 Million

Private funding (PVPLC)

$6 Million

Total

$27 Million

 

All lands set aside in the Reserve as mitigation for development occurring outside the Reserve and lands acquired for the Reserve with public funds will be protected with conservation easements. Any lands dedicated in fee to the City, will also be protected by a conservation easement. All conservation easements to be established under this plan are to be held by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy or another entity acceptable to the Wildlife Agencies, and the wildlife agencies will be third-party beneficiaries to these conservation easements.

5. Reserve Management

In implementing this plan, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes will enter into a contract with Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) to manage all of the conserved land in the Reserve and additional lands as acquired. The existing agreement between the City and PVPLC for management of the Forrestal Nature Preserve can be a model for the expanded management program

A. Ongoing Funding:

The goal of the Plan is to establish an endowment to cover all of the costs of ongoing revegetation, management and monitoring. The PVPLC has an endowment of approximately $500,000 at this time. Until an endowment sufficient to cover the entire costs of Reserve management is funded, the City and the PVPLC will dedicate resources at a level sufficient to fund the required work.

The Plan includes a Property Analysis Record (PAR) that uses a detailed database of habitat management costs developed for conservancies to calculate ongoing funding needs. Its analysis of the proposed revegetation, management and monitoring tasks for the Reserve resulted in an initial cost of $260,000 and annual costs of $205,000. This program requires detailed data by individual cost area, including frequency and cost per hour for all services.

Based on the needs identified by the PAR, a funding commitment for habitat restoration and Reserve maintenance and monitoring will be provided on an annual basis as follows (all numbers to be adjusted for inflation):

City
$100,000
cash
City
$ 25,000
in-kind services
City
$ 15,000
private lands requirements
PVPLV
$ 25,000
cash
PVPLV
$ 25,000
in-kind services
PVPLC
$ 50,000
volunteer time
Total
$240,000
 

The City’s in-kind services will include such items as public safety, trash removal, storm drain maintenance, etc.. Private lands requirements will include obligations of projects such as Oceanfront Estates and Ocean Trails to maintain habitat at the project’s cost or using income from an endowment. The PVPLC in-kind services will include staff time and equipment use. The additional $20,000 for the initial work will be provided by the City and PVPLC on an equal basis.

    Public Use Master Plan.

Before the Reserve is open to the public for compatible passive recreation, a Public Use Master Plan (PUMP) shall be developed jointly by the City and the PVPLC to address issues such as public access, trailhead locations, parking, trail use and maintenance, fencing, signage, lighting (if any), fire and brush management, minimizing impacts to adjacent neighborhoods and private property, public involvement in advisory capacities, and other issues that may arise. This plan will be reviewed by the public and the Wildlife Agencies.

The Plan provides management guidelines and measures for the development of the PUMP, to reduce habitat impacts of land uses within and adjacent to the Reserve. The PUMP for the Reserve shall be reviewed by the Wildlife Agencies for consistency with these guidelines and approved before the Reserve is opened to the public. Among the activities to be permitted as regulated by the PUMP are the following:

    • Creation and maintenance of a recreational trail system consistent with the RPV Conceptual Trails Plan (dated 1993, and as amended thereafter). A Trail Plan for the Reserve will be developed through the PUMP process. It shall consider impacts to habitat and covered species of all trails. This plan shall be reviewed and approved by the Wildlife Agencies. Existing trails within the Reserve not included in the reserve trail plan will be closed and appropriate measures shall be taken to prevent public access and restore CSS habitat.
    • Where required, landslide abatement activities may occur within the Reserve. Temporary disturbance areas will be revegetated with CSS species after completion of abatement activities.
    • Selected drainage improvements, linear utility easements, and existing access roads within the Reserve will be maintained and upgraded as required. An access protocol will be created to facilitate access by utility agencies to areas within the reserve while preventing, to the maximum extent possible, environmental damage.
    • All brush management should occur outside of the reserve, except where existing development adjoins the reserve boundaries

C. Reserve Habitat Plan

The Habitat Manager (PVPLC) shall develop a Reserve Habitat Restoration and Management Plan (RHP) for the reserve, working with a qualified Restoration Ecologist approved by the Wildlife Agencies. This plan may consist of a number of subsidiary plans and reports, and shall by reviewed and approved by the City and the Wildlife Agencies.

1. Outline of components and reporting requirements:

(a) Year One Plans (may be combined or issued separately)

    • Initial Management & Monitoring Report – Baseline plant, gnatcatcher and blue butterfly surveys and data analysis
    • Predator Control Plan (based on the initial surveys, this plan will make provision for the control of cowbirds, feral cats and other non-native predators; it will be revised every three years or if additional controls are needed)
    • Restoration Plan (in order to encourage long-range planning, this plan will cover a five-year planning period; it will be revised every three years)
    • Targeted Exotic Plant Management Plan (based on a survey of all of the lands in the preserve, this plan will designate 5 acres or 20 sites where invasive plants will be removed during the year ahead; it will be done every year)

(b) Annual Plan

    • Targeted Exotic Plant Management Plan

(c) Yearly Reports (may be combined or issued separately):

    • Monitoring Report on Active Revegetation Areas (using standard monitoring protocol as detailed in the Revegetation Plan, this will report on the status of the revegetation efforts within the Reserve)
    • Report on Targeted Exotic Plant Management Plan efforts (this will report on each year’s invasive plant removals)
    • Report on Covered Species Monitoring (years without Comprehensive Report) (this will provide for the covered species monitoring required by the NCCP; the surveys will be done a the same time as the survey for the Targeted Exotic Plant Management Plan.)
    • Habitat Tracking Report (this will provide the information on the status of habitat lost and conserved as required by the Plan; it will be produced jointly by the City of RPV & PVPLC)

(d) Every three years

    • Comprehensive Management and Monitoring Report, Surveys & Data Analysis regarding plants, gnatcatchers and butterflies
    • Updated Predator Control Plan
    • Updated Revegetation Plan

2. Specifics of Some Plan Components

    1. Restoration Plan

The PVPLC will develop a 5-year Restoration Plan that will include at a minimum the preparation of one 5-acre parcel each year through non-native removal, and the revegetation of 5 acres each year. Each year’s restoration will take place on the previous year’s 5 acres of site preparation. This plan will be reviewed and approved by the City and the Wildlife Agencies, and will be revised every three years, after a year of comprehensive monitoring. The plan will address restoration design, installation procedures, maintenance and monitoring program, and success criteria.

As funding permits, additional restoration will be performed within the Reserve. If recommended by the Restoration Biologist, the planning and monitoring of additional acres may be incorporated into the 5-year plan. For revegetation funded by any past or future projects, a site-specific Restoration Plan may be developed with monitoring requirements appropriate to the situation, or the work may be included in the 5-year plan.

(b) Targeted Exotic Plant Removal Plan

Each year the PVPLC shall perform a survey of all of the properties included in the Reserve to identify locations where exotic species are prevalent. A letter plan will be developed selecting 5 acres or 20 small sites for plant removal each year. The plan will:

    • Prioritize areas for exotic species control based on aggressiveness of invasive species and degree of threat to the adjacent native vegetation

    • Eradicate species based on expected biological benefit and feasibility of successful implementation.

At the end of the year, a letter report will be prepared showing the locations of targeted exotic plant removal, with before and after photographs of the work that was done.

In the years without a Comprehensive Survey, the locations of the covered plant species will be visited and photographed by the surveyor in the course of the exotic removal effort. A brief summary of the condition of the plants with identified locations will be included in the report, along with photographs. Several typical locations for bright green dudleya will also be included in the report. Any significant changes to the populations of these plants will be called to the attention of the City and the Wildlife Agencies immediately.

3. Reporting

All biological monitoring data will be statistically analyzed and presented in a letter report every year, with comprehensive report every three years, along with recommendations (including remedial measures, as necessary) for the next year's management program.

 

D. Other Issues

1. Adaptive Management

Report documents will provide specific management recommendations to reverse declining trends in habitat conditions or species’ populations. Adaptive management may include re-prioritizing monitoring efforts, as indicated by monitoring results and the resultant degree of management required for a given resource. For example, if a specific population proves to be stable over a period of time (e.g., 10-20 years), then the frequency of monitoring may be reduced, particularly if a species’ habitat and physical site characteristics remain unchanged and another species or populations requires more intensive monitoring due to declining trends. The remediation and adaptive management program will achieve the objectives of providing correcting actions where (1) resources are threatened by land uses in and adjacent to the Reserve, (2) current management activities are not adequate or effective, or (3) enforcement difficulties are identified.

2. Species Reintroduction

The decision to reintroduce a species depends on a number of species-specific and site-specific factors, and any reintroduction effort will require detailed planning and monitoring, as well as available funding for planning and implementation. At the current time, existing information on target species within RPV may not be sufficient to determine whether or not reintroduction efforts are warranted. Guidelines on determining the appropriateness of reintroduction, as well as reintroduction methodologies, are provided below in the event that covered species monitoring indicates that such efforts are warranted. Any reintroduction program will be coordinated with the Wildlife Agencies.

3. Research Recommendations

Research recommendations are provided grouped into several generalized categories, including basic inventories, habitat and life history studies, population biology and genetic studies, habitat restoration and/or population reestablishment studies, and management studies.