Rancho Palos Verdes City Council



DATE: MARCH 18, 2003


Project Coordinator: Ryan Luckert, Assistant Planner


Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a professional services agreement in an amount not to exceed $136,925 with Stewart Geo Technologies, Inc. (formally LanData Airborne Systems) to prepare new color digital orthophotographic maps that will be used to complete the City’s NCCP.


The Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement currently maintains a set of aerial maps and a set of "composite" maps of the entire City (the City is divided into 34 grids). The aerial maps consist of 34 sheets of non-digitized black and white photos taken in 1976 and non-digitized color photos taken in 1997. The "composite maps" were created in 1976 and consist of 34 sheets that indicate topography (contour lines) and legal parcels. These maps are utilized by Staff daily to prepare Staff Reports and answer questions from residents about the topography of their lot or neighborhood. However, because of their age, City approved subdivisions from the 1980’s and 90’s do not appear on the "composite maps" and more recent projects such as Oceanfront Estates, Seabreeze, Ocean Trails, do not appear on the aerial maps.

When the City began its NCCP program, it was envisioned by Staff that these two maps would be used to help complete the City’s NCCP. The parcel boundary information from the "composite map" would be used to delineate the preserve boundary between parcels and the aerial map would be used to better identify the location of existing habitat. However, it became apparent that to be any real value, both maps would have to be digitized and formatted to match the GIS map prepared for the NCCP and both maps would have to be updated. Therefore, approximately two years ago, Staff began investigating the process of updating the Department’s existing non-digital hard copy "composite" and aerial maps with digital orthographic maps (aerial photos) that include topography and parcel lines. Orthographic maps are similar to aerial maps in that they both show a photographic image. However because an orthographic map is digitized, the aerial photo image of the orthographic map can be integrated to match up with other digital maps. In the case of the NCCP, the existing digitized habitat map for the NCCP would be overlain with the new digitized aerial map, so that the NCCP maps could be fine-tuned to ensure that the mapped habitat coincides with the existing habitat.

Aside from the obvious NCCP related application, it became apparent that new digitized maps would provide a number of non-NCCP related applications that would greatly benefit the entire Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department, as well as other City Departments (these are discussed later in the Staff Report). As a result, the desired map product was discussed with the Directors of Finance and Public Works. It was agreed that in addition to meeting the NCCP and Planning Department needs, the desired digital maps should also be compatible with the City’s existing computer network, should be compatible with any future GIS (Geographical Information Systems) applications that may be deployed by the City, should be able to be placed on the City’s website, if so desired by the City, and should have the resolution and accuracy needed by the Public Works Department to use the digital maps for design work or other departmental needs.

With these objectives in mind, Staff began the process to select a qualified firm to provide the desired map product for the City. As a result of the selection process, Staff was able to identify a qualified firm and is now seeking Council authorization to award the contract to the selected firm.


The Selection Process

On January 3, 2002, Staff sent a Request For Proposal (RFP) to six (6) orthographic mapping firms within the greater Los Angeles area describing the "objective", the "desired product" and the "qualifications" needed for the City to select a firm for the preparation of the digital maps. It was made clear to the firms that the desired maps would need to contain color aerial photo imagery, accurate topography for the entire City and show all existing legal parcels in the City. In response to the RFP, the following three (3) firms submitted a proposal to the City:

  • Digital Map Products - $98,128.00
  • Stewart Geo Technologies (SGT) - $130,160.00*
  • S.W. Mapping Technologies - $74,200.00

*Amount listed was taken from initial proposal from LanData, which did not include subsequent modifications to the project that have raised the map cost to $136,925

-Amounts listed include an estimated amount of $23,000 for the acquisition of Los Angeles County Parcel Data ($1.50/parcel – approximately 15,330 parcels in City)

Staff invited the three candidates to present their proposals and demonstrate their services to representatives from the Finance, Public Works and Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Departments. On March 4, 2002, City Staff, which included the Directors from the departments listed above and Ted Vegvari from PV on the Net, met with the three mapping firms to discuss their proposals. It was the consensus of the three Department Directors that the SGT images shown to City Staff were of higher quality than of competing firms and their technical expertise was superior.

In discussing the map proposals, it was evident that there were different techniques that could be employed to produce the desired map product. It was also evident that the cost of each technique was directly proportional to the level of resolution and accuracy of the map product. For example, the lower the altitude of flight for the aerial photo, the higher the resolution and the better the accuracy. One of the competing firms proposed flying the aerials at a high elevation and then using scanning technology to produce the same image as if it was flown at a lower elevation. Flying at a higher elevation requires fewer photos, which in turn, requires less processing and conversely less cost. However, although the image may be similar to that flown at a lower elevation, if one were to attempt to zoom in on the image, the resolution and accuracy would not be similar to the image flown at a lower altitude. Stewart Geo Technologies’ proposal includes techniques that in Staff’s opinion would produce the best resolution and accuracy. This was particularly important to the Director of Public Works who envisions using the aerial photos for project design work. It was also noted that some other South Bay Cities (El Segundo), have flown digital aerial photos at higher elevations. However, Staff felt that because of the varying topography within our City, as compared to other non-peninsula South Bay Cities, techniques that produce the highest resolution and accuracy should be utilized.

With respect to technological expertise, it was the opinion of the City’s IT coordinator and Director of Finance Dennis McLean, and Ted Vegvari, that the SGT product would be the easiest to integrate into the City’s existing computer network. Furthermore, they expressed a higher confidence level with the SGT technical support team if and when computer network issues were to arise.

As a follow up, Staff contacted the City of Santa Monica and the City of Huntington Beach, two cities where SGT had completed similar projects. Staff traveled to Santa Monica to view the product in use and discuss the quality of the product with Mike Carson, the GIS coordinator for the City of Santa Monica. According to Mr. Carson, the City of Santa Monica was very pleased with the professionalism and the quality of work they received from SGT and highly recommended working with them. Additionally, Staff spoke with representatives from the City of Huntington Beach and they were also very pleased with SGT services and their professionalism.

Based on the content of the attached proposal, the level of experience with similar projects in other Cities, positive recommendations form other Cities, and the panel interview, it was the consensus of the Planning, Public Works and Finance Department Directors that SGT is the most qualified firm to provide the desired map product for the City.


The GIS Component

After it was agreed by Staff that SGT was the most qualified firm to deliver the desired map product (the orthographic aerials), Staff’s attention turned to how the new electronic map information would best be integrated into the City’s existing computer network and how the information would be best utilized by Staff to assist the City’s residents in preparing development applications, or simply for general information.

With the above objectives in mind, SGT introduced A.C.T. geographic information systems to Staff, a GIS firm who works directly with and for SGT, to provide a software platform that would allow all network users at City Hall to use the digital data that SGT will provide. As a result, the SGT proposal includes a GIS component called "GeoSmart.net". Specifically, the GeoSmart.net application is a program that would allow all City Staff to view the aerial color photos on their computers at their current workstations. The color photograph would then be overlaid with parcel data and contour lines. Each user would have the ability to view each individual layer for a property (aerial photo, topography, lot lines) or all layers together at one time. Furthermore, the software would allow users to zoom in and/or out on a property or group of properties and would allow users to query and retrieve Los Angeles County Assessor data for every parcel with a click of a button. In general, this software will allow all City Staff to answer the typical questions raised by the public every day.

Notwithstanding the merits of the GIS component, the Director of Finance & Information Technology is recommending that the GIS Component be deferred and considered as a Budget Policy Issue in conjunction with the FY 2003-2004 budget process immediately prior to the completion of this report.

Other Peninsula Cities:

City Staff has been in contact with the City of Rolling Hills Estates in an attempt to lower the cost of having the City flown by combining the two cities into one flight session. It is Staff’s understanding that the City of Rolling Hills Estates was thinking of pursuing a similar product as our City. Rolling Hills Estates Staff notified City Staff that they do not have money in the current budget for this type of project. With regards to other Peninsula cities, the City of Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes Estates have notified Staff that they have no interest in the project.


For the reasons noted above, Staff recommends that the Council authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a professional services agreement in an amount not to exceed $136,925 with SGT to prepare new color digital orthophotographic maps that will be used to complete the City’s NCCP.


The cost of purchasing the digital orthographic photos and from SGT would be $136,925. The total cost is broken down as follows:

Orthographic Maps:

  • Digital Orthophotography $75,415
  • Topography (contours) $24,745
  • Parcel and Ownership Data $26,656
  • Hardcopy Products $10,109

Total- $136,925

Because the maps are an integral part of the NCCP process, Staff believes that the purchase of the map information ($136,925) is an expenditure that qualifies as an NCCP expense. As a result, half of the expense would be paid by the Federal planning monies that have been received for completion of the NCCP. This would mean that $68,462.50 would be paid from the City’s budget. The Planning Department has allocated $80,500 in its budget for the replacement of the "composite" maps.

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

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager


- Proposal by Stewart Geo Technologies