Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: APRIL 1, 2003

SUBJECT: BORDER ISSUES STATUS REPORT

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Review the current status of border issues, and provide direction to the City Council Committee and Staff.

BACKGROUND

The following is the regular monthly report to the City Council on various "border issues" potentially affecting the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes.

DISCUSSION

Current Border Issues

Rolling Hills Covenant Church Expansion, Rolling Hills Estates

On March 17, 2003, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on the final EIR for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church (RHCC) expansion project and the related development applications. Since these applications include general plan amendments and zone changes for small portions of the RHCC property on both sides of Palos Verdes Drive North, the Planning Commission’s review of this proposal is advisory only, with the final decision to be made by the Rolling Hills Estates City Council.

The March 17th RHE Staff report recommended that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council certify the EIR but deny the proposed project. This recommendation was based upon the inconsistency of the project with City policies and standards for landscaping, traffic signal warrants and neighborhood compatibility. However, it should be noted that RHE Planning Staff conceptually supported the export of 20,000 cubic yards of soil from the RHCC site to Green Hills Memorial Park, in spite of significant and unavoidable adverse noise impacts to Rancho Palos Verdes residents and the current prohibition against the importation of fill to Green Hills under its master grading and development plan. The final EIR ultimately concluded that a smaller expansion alternative would be environmentally superior to the current RHCC proposal, while still fulfilling RHCC’s stated objectives for the project.

During their presentation to the Planning Commission, RHCC representatives stated that they wished to revise the project to implement the recommendations of the final EIR for a smaller expansion of the current facilities, and requested a 60-day continuance of the matter. The Planning Commission also heard testimony from the Rolling Hills Estates Neighborhood Coalition and members of the public. At the end of the evening, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission voted to grant RHCC’s request for a 60-day extension and continued the public hearing on the matter to May 19, 2003.

San Pedro Facility Restoration Advisory Board, US Navy/Los Angeles (San Pedro)

On March 8 and 9, 2003, the Times and the Daily Breeze, respectively, reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had rejected the 1999 reuse plan for the former Navy housing sites. In a letter to the City of Los Angeles, HUD stated that the 1999 reuse plan did not adequately balance economic development and the needs of the homeless. HUD further suggested that at least seventy-six (76) additional units be set aside for low-income housing, possibly within the San Pedro housing site on Western Avenue. HUD has given the City of Los Angeles ninety (90) days to develop a revised plan to address its concerns. Staff intends to continue monitoring the revised of any revised reuse plan for the former Navy housing sites.

New Border Issues

Chandler Quarry Reuse Plan, Rolling Hills Estates

On March 24, 2003, the Daily Breeze reported that the Chandler Quarry Reuse Committee had begun to review a conceptual plan for the reuse of the Chandler Quarry site in Rolling Hills Estates. According to the City of Rolling Hills Estates website, the City of Rolling Hills Estates established the Committee "to determine the opportunities, problems and potential benefits which may result from the undertaking of a program to convert the Chandler Landfill and the Rolling Hills Country Club into a new and productive use that is consistent with the General Plan, the property owners and the surrounding community." The Committee includes representatives of the cities of Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance and Lomita, the property owners (i.e., Chandler’s, Inc. and the Rolling Hills Country Club), and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The 220-acre site is located mostly in Rolling Hills Estates, with small portions encroaching upon the cities of Torrance and Lomita.

The conceptual plan described in the Daily Breeze includes expanding the current 6,112-yard Rolling Hills Country Club golf course to 7,000 yards; relocating and enlarging the existing, 30,000-square-foot clubhouse by 10,000 to 15,000 square feet; and constructing 160 to 200 new homes. Apparently, a similar but larger project was proposed in the mid 1980’s, but never moved forward. The Daily Breeze article notes that geology and hydrology studies for the project have been underway for more than a year, and Staff expects that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared for the project at some point. According to Rolling Hills Estates Planning Director David Wahba, the next Committee meeting will be held in June or July. He also stated that the Daily Breeze article was a pretty accurate representation of the project. We will try to obtain a copy of the conceptual reuse plan for presentation to the City Council on a future Border Issues report.

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

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Border Issues Status Report

Daily Breeze article regarding the Chandler Quarry Reuse Plan

BORDER ISSUES STATUS REPORT

Revised April 1, 2003

CONSTRUCTION OF A RECREATION FACILITY AT HARBOR HILLS (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES AND CITY OF LOMITA)

  • Last Update: September 3, 2002

The County has proposed construction of a 12,650 square foot recreation facility for the Harbor Hills Housing area. The $2.3 million project will consist of a gym, two multi-purpose rooms, a recreation office, sports equipment storage, a child care area for 36 pre-school children, a sheriff’s patrol office, a full service kitchen, restrooms and locker rooms. It will also include a 75-space parking lot.

Homeowners in Peninsula Verde were not offered adequate opportunity to comment on the project and have turned to the City to intercede on their behalf. A community meeting took place at the Harbor Hills Community Center on August 27, 2001 and was attended by then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart as well as homeowners from Peninsula Verde. In addition to strong objections to the County’s notification process for the project, the homeowners expressed concerns about lighting intensity, times of operation, children crossing PVDN, traffic, unsavory activities near the Lomita water tower and location of the recreation facility. A second meeting took place on September 12, 2001 to allow the County Regional Planning Department to go over the environmental approval process conducted for this project. The then-Mayor represented the City at this meeting. Issues raised by the homeowners included concerns about the notification process, environmental clearances and parking and grading on the hillside adjacent to their homes.

In response to concerns from then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart, Supervisor Knabe became involved in the matter. At their meeting on September 25, 2001, the County awarded the construction contract for the community center. However, in response to the concerns of the then-Mayor and then-Mayor Pro Tem, Supervisor Knabe, at the October 9, 2001 Board meeting received approval of his motion to: "Extend the time period for the Executive Director of the Housing Authority to report back to the Board from 30 days to 60 days regarding the Cities of Rancho Palos Verdes and Lomita’s specific concerns related to the planned construction of a community center and childcare center at the Harbor Hills Public Housing Development; and instruct the Executive Director of the Community Development Commission to postpone commencement of any construction until the Board further review the matter."

On Monday, October 22, 2001 then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart joined five or six Peninsula Verde residents and an equal number of Harbor Hills residents to discuss possible modifications to the Community Center plans. County Community development staff made the presentations, but Supervisor Knabe’s office was represented as well as County Counsel and the County Geologist. Harbor Hills’ staff was also in attendance. The County proposed relocating the 75-space parking lot away from the Peninsula Verde homes. In addition, they proposed reduced lighting in the parking lot. Our residents were pleased with these changes, but disappointed that the Community Center building could not be relocated further from the property line.

The City Attorney reported on her research into the environmental process in closed session at the November 7, 2001 City Council meeting. The City geologist also provided his comments on the project grading at the November 7, 2001 meeting. The City Council directed the City Manager to prepare a letter to Supervisor Knabe pointing out that the 60-day period within which the Board is expected to receive a report from the Housing Authority would expire on November 22, 2001. Prior to the expiration of the 60-day period the Council asked for assurances from the Supervisor, in writing, regarding design and operational changes. The letter, signed by former Mayor Lyon went out on November 12, 2001. So far there has been no response, although Dick Simmons, of the Supervisor’s office, has indicated that a letter is forthcoming. In addition, at the request of Dick Bruner (Peninsula Verde HOA) staff discussed the project with the City Manager of Lomita in mid-December 2001. Mr. Odom was aware of the project and said the proposed parking lot revisions were being reviewed by the Lomita Planning Department. He was not aware of any special interest in the project on the part of his Council or citizens groups.

On January 10, 2002, the City received the promised letter from Supervisor Knabe regarding design and operational changes to the project. These changes include relocation of the parking areas, the use of shorter lighting fixtures and lower illumination levels in the parking areas, limitations of the days and hours of operation for special events and child care services, dedication of two Sheriff’s deputies to the on-site field office, and adjustments to the building roof form and landscaping plans to reduce the impact of the project upon views from City residents in the Peninsula Verde community.

On April 2, 2002, the City received a copy of a memorandum from the Housing Authority to Supervisor Knabe’s office regarding the project schedule for the Harbor Hills Community Center. The project was scheduled from review by the City of Lomita Traffic Commission and Planning Commission in April 2002 and May 2002, respectively. Pending these approvals, the County intended to begin construction by early Summer 2002, with completion of the project to take approximately one year. Staff intends to monitor this project to ensure that the promised design and operational changes discussed above are implemented.

On May 13, 2002, Staff attended the City of Lomita Planning Commission hearing for the Harbor Hills Community Center (Site Plan Review No. 954). Several residents of the Peninsula Verde neighborhood addressed the Planning Commission with their concerns, including noise, geology, security and construction impacts. Staff also addressed the Planning Commission, suggested modifications to some of the proposed conditions of approval, and provided copies of letters from Supervisor Knabe and our geotechnical consultant, Zeiser Kling, to be included in the public record. The Planning Commission decided that it needed additional information from the County with respect to previous environmental analysis, noise, crime statistics for Harbor Hills and an alternate site plan suggested by Lomita Planning Staff. The matter was continued to the next Lomita Planning Commission meeting, which was held on Monday, June 10, 2002.

At the June 10th Lomita Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission heard additional testimony from the County and from Rancho Palos Verdes and Lomita residents. As a result, the Planning Commission conditionally approved the project, including conditions of approval that were recommended by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. The Lomita Planning Commission was scheduled to adopt a resolution finalizing this decision—and starting the 15-day appeal period—on July 8, 2002.

On July 8, 2002, the Lomita Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 2002-2 conditionally approving the site plan review application for the Harbor Hills Community Center. This action was almost immediately appealed by a Lomita resident. The Lomita City Council conducted a de novo hearing on the matter on August 5, 2002, denied the appeal and upheld its Planning Commission’s conditional approval of the project. The Lomita City Council subsequently adopted a Resolution conditionally approving Site Plan Review No. 954 on August 19, 2002.

PROPOSED EXPANSION OF ROLLING HILLS COVENANT CHURCH, 2222 PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)

  • Last Update: April 1, 2003

In late 2001, the project was still in the information-gathering phase. According to our information, the applicant was making changes to the project so the exact proposal had not been finalized. Generally, the project involves the construction of a new sanctuary building that would accommodate 2,250 seats, along with a new 3-5 level parking structure with 500 parking spaces. The Church also proposes to convert the existing sanctuary to a gymnasium/multi-purpose room for events such as wedding receptions. The preparation of the Initial Study was still underway to determine whether the project will necessitate an EIR or Negative Declaration. We expected to receive a notice when either document was prepared and circulated to the public.

On February 9, 2002 an article appeared in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News regarding an EIR scoping meeting for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. Although Staff did not attend the scoping meeting on February 12, 2002, we did download a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study from the Rolling Hills Estates’ web site (www.rollinghillsestates.com). The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of air quality, noise, public services, utilities, aesthetics and transportation/traffic. The deadline for public comments on the NOP was February 28, 2002, so on February 22, 2002 Staff forwarded comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. We expected that a draft EIR for the project would be available for further public comment some time in Summer 2002.

On August 26, 2002, the City received a revised Notice of Preparation for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. The most significant project revision was the proposed export of 30,000 cubic yards of material from the project site to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. With the proposed inclusion of Green Hills as the repository for the export of material from the project site, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes’ role in the review of this project was changed from "trustee agency" to "responsible agency." Accordingly, on September 6, 2002, Staff forwarded additional comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates, focusing on the issues of soil stability, air quality, hazardous materials and noise. The City of Rolling Hills Estates expected to release the draft EIR for this project in late September or early October of 2002.

On October 16, 2002, the City received the draft EIR for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. The revised project description included 20,000 cubic yards of export of material from the subject property to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park. The Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission conducted a public workshop on the draft EIR on October 23, 2002, which was attended by Staff and more than fifty other interested persons. At the workshop, Rolling Hills Estates Staff presented an overview of the CEQA process and the draft EIR, representatives of Rolling Hills Covenant Church presented a summary of their proposed project, and an opportunity was provided for public comment on the draft EIR. The draft EIR includes detailed analysis of several potential environmental effects of the project, covering the topics of land use and planning, aesthetics, traffic, circulation and parking, air quality, noise, public services and utilities. Staff presented preliminary oral comments on the draft EIR at the workshop, focusing on the issues of soil stability on the Green Hills site, air quality impacts related to the proposed export to Green Hills, and the discussion of project alternatives in the draft EIR. The 45-day public comment period for the draft EIR ended on December 2, 2002, and Staff prepared more detailed written comments that were submitted to the City of Rolling Hills Estates on November 7, 2002. These comments included the items in the draft EIR comments reviewed by the City Council on November 5, 2002, as well as additional comments regarding the traffic impact analysis for the project, as suggested by Mayor McTaggart.

On February 4, 2003, the City received notice that the final EIR for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project had been released. The final EIR includes a lengthy response to our draft EIR comments of November 5, 2002. The Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss the project applications and the EIR at a special meeting on Wednesday, February 12, 2003, and according to the Staff report published on the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ website, Rolling Hills Estates planners were recommending denial of the project. However, Rolling Hills Covenant Church requested a 30-day continuance of the matter, and the new Planning Commission hearing date had not yet been set as of March 4, 2003.

On March 7, 2003, the City received notice that the public hearing for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church (RHCC) expansion project had been rescheduled for March 17, 2003. According to the Staff report, Rolling Hills Estates planners were still recommending denial of the project. However, since the related development applications for the project include general plan amendments and zone changes to change the land use and zoning designations for small portions of the RHCC property on both side of Palos Verdes Drive North, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission’s review of this proposal was advisory only, with the final decision to be made by the Rolling Hills Estates City Council. The March 17th Staff report recommended that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council certify the EIR but deny the proposed project, based upon the inconsistency of the project with:

  • City policy for site landscaping to accent the design of a project, rather than to hide the project from view for aesthetic or privacy purposes
  • City requirements for new traffic signals to be justified by a signal warrant or documented roadway hazard, neither one of which applied to the two traffic signals proposed in conjunction with this application
  • Neighborhood compatibility standards for the City, which require new development to be consistent with immediate neighborhood character in terms of facade treatments, height, open space, roof design and building bulk
  • The mandatory findings for the approval of a variance for the height of the proposed parking garage

It should be noted that RHE Planning Staff conceptually supported the export of 20,000 cubic yards of soil from the RHCC site to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park, in spite of significant and unavoidable adverse noise impacts to Rancho Palos Verdes residents and the current prohibition against the importation of fill to the Green Hills site under its master grading and development plan. The final EIR ultimately concluded that a smaller expansion alternative would be environmentally superior to the current RHCC proposal, while still fulfilling RHCC’s stated objectives for the project.

During their presentation to the Planning Commission on March 17th, RHCC representatives stated that they wished to revise the project to implement the recommendations of the final EIR for a smaller expansion of the current facilities, and requested a 60-day continuance of the matter. The Planning Commission also heard testimony from the Rolling Hills Estates Neighborhood Coalition and members of the public. At the end of the evening, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission voted to grant RHCC’s request for a 60-day extension and continued the public hearing on the matter to May 19, 2003.

PROPOSED SOUTH COAST COUNTY GOLF COURSE ON FORMER PALOS VERDES LANDFILL (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES AND CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)

  • Last Update: February 4, 2003

On November 26, 2001, Planning Staff attended an environmental impact report (EIR) scoping meeting for the proposed Palos Verdes Golf Course in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The County’s Parks and Recreation Department is the lead agency for the EIR, with the actual document preparation being handled by the consulting firm, ESA. The project proponent is a development consortium, headed by Rob Katherman, which has a 2-year contract with the County to complete the land use entitlement process for the golf course.

The project site is the 160-acre former landfill located between Crenshaw Boulevard and Hawthorne Boulevard. Existing activities on the site include a co-generation and recycling facility for the old landfill, as well as the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ equestrian center. The developers propose an 18-hole, par-72 golf course and a 29,000-square-foot clubhouse. The contract with the County also requires the developer to provide a 7,000-square-foot area for an equestrian center in the immediate area surrounding the golf course, although the exact location of the new equestrian center has not been determined.

A major issue of concern raised by the ±150 people in attendance at the scoping meeting was the disposition of the existing equestrian center and trails on the site. Additional issues of concern included drainage problems for downslope properties in the City of Torrance; geologic concerns about the stability of the old landfill; health concerns regarding toxic materials and methane gas from the old landfill; concerns about the operation of the golf course such as noise, lighting, traffic and security; and construction-related impacts such as air quality, noise, vibration and truck traffic.

The developer’s consultant, ESA, anticipated that the Initial Study (IS) would be complete in early December 2001 and that a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR would be released at that time. The 30-day comment period for the NOP would end in early-to mid-January 2002, with expected public release of the draft EIR in late Spring 2002 and possible action by the County in Summer 2002. It was Staff’s impression that the November 26th scoping meeting was somewhat premature since the IS was not complete and the NOP had not been released. Staff also believed that this schedule may be overly optimistic, given the level of public concern expressed at the scoping meeting, and that it is more likely that the County will make no decision until some time in the fall. As of the end of January 2002, Staff had yet to receive a copy of the NOP for this project.

On February 11, 2002, the City received a copy of the NOP and Initial Study for this project. The deadline for public comment on the NOP was originally March 12, 2002. The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of air quality, noise and transportation/traffic. Based upon the review of the Initial Study, Staff has identified further significant concerns in the areas of hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality and recreation. These concerns were reflected in a draft comment letter that was reviewed by the City Council on February 23, 2002. Since that date, Staff received additional information regarding the former Palos Verdes landfill, and the draft NOP comment letter was revised to incorporate this additional information. Also, Staff contacted the County on February 26, 2002 to request a 30-day extension of the comment deadline for the NOP. As of late February 2002, the County had not yet responded to the City’s request. Therefore, Staff requested the City Council’s final input on the draft NOP comment letter on March 11, 2002 so that the comments could be submitted to the County Parks and Recreation Department by the March 12th deadline in the event that an extension was not granted.

On March 6, 2002, the County informed us that a 30-day extension of the NOP comment period had been granted. The new deadline for comments was April 11, 2002. The City Council took a final look at the draft NOP comment letter for this project on April 2, 2002. Based upon the City Council’s comments, a final comment letter on the NOP was forwarded to the County on April 5, 2002. According to the County, there is no expected release date for the draft EIR as of Winter 2003.

On June 4, 2002, the City received a packet of information from the County Sanitation Districts regarding the Palos Verdes Landfill. The packet consisted of eight fact sheets issued by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) between May 1990 and October 1995. The fact sheets were prepared and distributed in order to inform the public of the plans to identify, investigate and remediate any potential migration of contaminants from the Palos Verdes Landfill.

PROPOSED DEMOLITION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF RE/MAX OFFICE BUILDING, 2483 PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)

  • Last Update: July 2, 2002

On April 16, 2002, the City received a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for the RE/MAX office building project in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The project proposes the demolition of the existing, single-story 2,000-square-foot building and parking lot, and the construction of a new, single-story 5,950-square-foot office building. The project requires a number of discretionary approvals by the City of Rolling Hills Estates, including a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change, a Minor Deviation from the minimum site area for commercial development, a Precise Plan of Design and a Grading application for the importation of 5,700 cubic yards of fill.

The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of land use and planning, earth resources, water, air quality, transportation and circulation, biological resources, risk of upset, noise, public services, utilities, aesthetics, cultural resources, and recreation. It should also be noted that this project is just down the street from the Rolling Hills Covenant Church, which is also proposing a major expansion (see discussion above). The deadline for public comments on the NOP for the RE/MAX project was June 3, 2002. Staff intended prepare comments on the NOP and forward them to the City of Rolling Hills Estates.

On May 21, 2002, Staff forwarded the NOP comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. These comments identified potential issues of concern in the areas of geological problems, transportation and circulation and hazards. Staff intends to review the draft EIR once it is available and provide further comments on this project.

PROPOSED BUTCHER RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION, PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH BETWEEN PALOS VERDES DRIVE EAST AND MONTECILLO DRIVE (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)

  • Last Update: September 3, 2002

On July 10, 2002, the City received a Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for the proposed Butcher residential subdivision in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The subject property is a 6.41-acre site near the northeast corner of Palos Verdes Drive North and Palos Verdes Drive East. The developer proposes to create twelve residential lots and a private street parallel to Palos Verdes Drive North. The project requires a number of discretionary approvals by the City of Rolling Hills Estates, including a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change, a Tentative Tract Map and a Grading application.

The Initial Study identifies a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of land use and planning, earth resources, water, air quality, transportation and circulation, biological resources, risk of upset, noise, utilities, aesthetics and cultural resources. The subject property is also located adjacent to the site of the proposed new RE/MAX Palos Verdes office building and across the street from Rolling Hills Covenant Church, which is also planning a major expansion (see discussion above). A public scoping meeting for the Butcher subdivision was held on July 31, 2002, but Staff was unable to attend. However, Staff intended to prepare written comments on the NOP and forward them to the City of Rolling Hills Estates prior to the August 23, 2002 public comment deadline.

On August 12, 2002, Staff forwarded NOP comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. These comments identified potential issues of concern in the areas of biological resources, transportation/traffic, hazards and land use planning. Staff intends to review the draft EIR once it is available and provide further comments on this project.

SAN PEDRO FACILITY RESTORATION ADVISORY BOARD (DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND CITY OF LOS ANGELES)

  • Last Update: April 1, 2003

On August 19, 2002, the City received public notice for the annual meeting of the San Pedro Facility Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). The meeting was intended to provide an open forum for the discussion of the environmental investigations and clean-up activities at the Defense Fuel Support Point San Pedro Facility and adjacent housing areas on Western Avenue and Palos Verdes Drive North. Staff attended the August 28, 2002 meeting, at which Navy personnel presented updates on a variety of on-going soil remediation programs on the site, including:

  • The repair of ten leaking underground fuel storage tanks;
  • A phytoremediation test site, which is testing the effectiveness of using plants to treat groundwater contamination;
  • The timelines and funding availability for the clean-up of three other contaminated dump sites on the property; and,
  • Monitoring of a capped dump site adjacent to the Palos Verdes Housing site, a portion of which is leased to Marymount College.

There was also a presentation by the Peninsula Land Conservancy regarding its efforts to restore coastal sage scrub habitat and monitor the population of the Palos Verdes blue butterflies on the site.

There was no new information presented at the RAB meeting regarding the status of the transfer of the San Pedro and Palos Verdes housing sites to the various agencies identified by the San Pedro Reuse Committee in 1999. A portion of the housing along Taber Avenue was transferred to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2001 for the possible future expansion of Mary Star of the Sea High School. Also, information regarding the San Pedro Facility RAB is available on-line at:

http://www.efdsw.navfac.navy.mil/Environmental/SanPedro.cfm

On September 13, 2002, Staff spoke with Navy personnel regarding the transfer of the housing sites. According to the Minutes of the August 2001 RAB meeting, the transfer of these properties was being held up by the issue of Palos Verdes blue butterfly habitat on and adjacent to the housing sites. Consultations between the Navy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over the Navy’s proposed habitat plan reached an impasse in early 2002, which was only broken when the Navy agreed that it would retain ownership of a critical habitat area adjacent to the Palos Verdes housing site. Under this scenario, the various proposed recipients of the properties—including Marymount College—would be responsible for dealing individually with USFWS if any critical habitat issues arose on their respective properties as a result of their proposed reuse and/or redevelopment. However, the City of Los Angeles apparently objects to this scenario and has asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—which is the last Federal agency that needs to approve the transfer of the properties—to withhold any action on the San Pedro Reuse Plan until its concerns are addressed. Navy personnel indicated that HUD could unilaterally approve the Reuse Plan over the City of Los Angeles’ objections but has been understandably reluctant to do so. Nevertheless, the Navy believed that the transfer of the housing sites could be finalized by early 2003.

On October 28, 2002, the Daily Breeze reported that the impasse regarding the transfer of the former Navy housing sites had been broken, largely due to the efforts of Congresswoman Jane Harman and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. The transfer of the property to the City of Los Angeles was expected to be complete by the end of 2002. As a part of the property transfer, the Navy will set aside a 10-acre fenced preserve for the Palos Verdes blue butterfly, to be maintained and monitored by the Land Conservancy. The housing sites will ultimately be transferred to Marymount College, Rolling Hills Preparatory School, South Bay Crossings and the Kenny Nickelson Memorial Foundation for Homeless Veterans, all of whom were identified in the 1999 base reuse plan. However, the Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute (REI), which was slated to redevelop approximately 46.5 acres of the Western Avenue housing site, withdrew its plans for the site. With the withdrawal of REI, its portion of the San Pedro housing site will be put up for bid sale by the Navy in early 2003. The former REI portion—which is zoned R-1 and contains approximately 190 dwelling units—is expected to generate interest from the residential development community.

At the January 7, 2003 City Council meeting, Councilmember McTaggart reported that he had received a copy of the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for the Navy’s Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) San Pedro. The adoption of the INRMP is related to the clean-up of soil contamination at DFSP San Pedro and the transfer of the former Navy housing sites.

On January 18, 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that HUD was slated to make a final decision on the 1999 reuse plan in late January 2003, pending resolution of a revived dispute between the City of Los Angeles and Volunteers of America (VOA), a homeless advocacy group. VOA was one of the original applicants for the reuse of the former Navy housing, but was not one of the final recipients identified in the 1999 plan. VOA had been trying to increase the number of dwelling units set aside for low-income families and the homeless, particularly since the units formerly allocated to REI are now "up for grabs" with the withdrawal of REI’s proposal for the San Pedro housing site. The South Bay Daily Breeze subsequently reported on February 5, 2003, that the City of Los Angeles and VOA failed to reach a compromise, and the 1999 reuse plan was forwarded to HUD as originally approved.

On March 8 and 9, 2003, the Times and the Daily Breeze, respectively, reported that HUD had rejected the 1999 reuse plan for the former Navy housing sites. In a letter to the City of Los Angeles, HUD stated that the 1999 reside plan did not adequately balance economic development and the needs of the community’s homeless. HUD further suggested that at least seventy-six (76) additional dwelling units be set aside for low-income housing, possibly within the San Pedro housing site on Western Avenue. HUD has given the City of Los Angeles ninety (90) days to develop a revised plan to address its concerns.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY GENERAL PLAN UPDATE (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES)

  • Last Update: February 4, 2003

On November 22, 2002, the City received a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for a comprehensive update and amendment to the Los Angeles County General Plan. The project generally proposes to revise County growth policies by updating population and housing projections; revise and expand the boundaries of Significant Ecological Areas (SEA’s) to reflect recent biological surveys; revise the land use policy maps and other related general plan maps, plans and exhibits, and convert them to a digital computer format; revise the transportation policy maps to reflect recent updates and revisions to the County’s transportation network; revise the Conservation and Open Space element to incorporate the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES); and revise the boundaries of several County "islands" to reflect recent incorporations.

The Initial Study identifies a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the general areas of hazards, resources, services and other categories. Revisions to the County’s general plan would potentially affect the use and development of property on the Peninsula within the Academy Hills, Westfield and The Estates communities, as well as the South Coast Botanic Garden. In addition, Crenshaw Boulevard between Palos Verdes Drive North and Silver Spur Road is located in unincorporated territory, while Hawthorne Boulevard from Pacific Coast Highway to Palos Verdes Drive West is a designated County highway (Route N7). It should also be noted that the SEA’s depicted in the project description appear to include the landslide moratorium area and other large portions of the City, as well as the entire coastline of the Peninsula.

The County conducted a series of public scoping meetings between December 2, 2002 and December 10, 2002 to solicit input on the preparation of the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project. The deadline for public comments on the NOP was originally December 23, 2002, but has been extended to February 23, 2003. Additional information about the County’s General Plan update is available on-line at:

http://planning.co.la.ca.us/drp_revw.cfm#General Plan

Based upon the City Council’s input at the January 7, 2003 City Council meeting, Staff forwarded comments on the NOP to the County on January 14, 2003. Staff anticipates that a draft Environmental Impact Report and a draft County General Plan will be available for review and comment in late Spring 2003.

COASTAL MONITORING NETWORK COASTAL DEVELOPMENT PERMIT APPLICATION (LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT, et al.)

  • Last Update: March 4, 2003

In January 2003, the City was notified that the Lifeguard Division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, and the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program propose to create a network of web cameras and meteorological stations along the coastline of the County. The purpose of these cameras is to aid in staffing beaches, track rescue activity, create public education materials, safeguard property and preserve the environment. Twenty-seven cameras and three sets of meteorological instruments are proposed. One of the proposed camera locations is an existing utility pole at Abalone Cove Beach Park.

The County will be applying directly to the South Coast district office of the California Coastal Commission for a coastal development permit (CDP) covering the entire network. Staff will send a letter to the County and the Coastal Commission, authorizing inclusion of the Abalone Cove site in the CDP application, but also reserving the City’s right to review and further comment upon the CDP application before the Coastal Commission.

CHANDLER QUARRY REUSE PLAN (ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)

  • Last Update: April 1, 2003

On March 24, 2003, the Daily Breeze reported that the Chandler Quarry Reuse Committee had begun to review a conceptual plan for the reuse of the Chandler Quarry site in Rolling Hills Estates. According to the City of Rolling Hills Estates website, the City of Rolling Hills Estates established the Committee "to determine the opportunities, problems and potential benefits which may result from the undertaking of a program to convert the Chandler Landfill and the Rolling Hills Country Club into a new and productive use that is consistent with the General Plan, the property owners and the surrounding community." The Committee includes representatives of the cities of Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance and Lomita, the property owners (i.e., Chandler’s, Inc. and the Rolling Hills Country Club), and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The 220-acre site is located mostly in Rolling Hills Estates, with small portions encroaching upon the cities of Torrance and Lomita. This area has been designated in the Rolling Hills Estates General Plan for Commercial Recreation and Very Low Density Residential (i.e., one dwelling unit per acre) land uses. Additional information is available on the Rolling Hills Estates website at:

http://www.rollinghillsestates.com/planning/public_notices/index.cfm#chandler

The conceptual plan described in the Daily Breeze includes expanding the current 6,112-yard Rolling Hills Country Club golf course to 7,000 yards; relocating and enlarging the existing, 30,000-square-foot clubhouse by 10,000 to 15,000 square feet; and constructing 160 to 200 new homes. Apparently, a similar but larger project (i.e., 600 homes) was proposed in the mid 1980’s, but never moved forward in the face of strong community opposition. The Daily Breeze article notes that geology and hydrology studies for the project have been underway for more than a year. Staff expects that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared for the project at some point.

[Daily Breeze article, 3/24/03]

GOLF COURSE, HOMES PROPOSED FOR FORMER QUARRY LAND

By Nick Green

DAILY BREEZE

A $275 million project that would carve a 7,000-yard private golf course and up to 200 luxury homes out of a 220-acre tract encompassing a former quarry and country club in Rolling Hills Estates and Torrance has moved forward quietly over the past nine months, but the pace of planning has escalated in recent weeks.

Last week a committee organized by the city of Rolling Hills Estates overseeing the project had its first look at a conceptual design showing where the golf course and homes could be located on the steep site that includes such dramatic elevation differences as a 350-foot high knoll and a cavernous 150-foot deep crater.

Last month the boards of the Rolling Hills Country Club and Chandler’s Inc., which owns the former sand and gravel pit that now operates as a landfill for construction debris, endorsed what will be a collaborative effort to create the golf course and homes.

Within the next week the board of the 400-member country club, where membership fees can cost as much as $105,000, hopes to select one of two competing golf course architectural firms to design a layout it’s hoped will be completed by June.

"The landfill, which is approximately 70 acres, is not capable of structural development, but it’s highly suitable for a new golf course," said project director J. Michael Cope of Chandler’s Inc. "It’s a very unique opportunity from that perspective to reuse or recycle, if you will, industrial land that’s been used since the late 1930s into a new private recreational space."

If the development sounds familiar, it should. In 1985, Cayman Development Co. entered into negotiations to buy 267 acres of land that included the quarry site, country club and a 30-acre parcel that has since been donated as open space to the city of Rolling Hills Estates by the Chandler family.

The plan was to build a golf course surrounded by a luxurious, high-density 600-home development that included condominiums, town homes and single-family dwellings.

That project fell apart after residents protested the scale of the development and Cayman filed a lawsuit accusing Chandler’s of backing out of the agreement to sell.

Elements of the old plan—including a possible land swap between Torrance and Rolling Hills Estates—are being contemplated anew.

Nevertheless, the parties involved with this incarnation are trying hard to avoid old missteps.

For one thing, the latest project is smaller in terms of land area and number of homes.

Preliminary plans call for building somewhere between 160 and 200 luxury houses that are expected to sell for as much as $1.4 million apiece, Cope said. The homes would sit on about 65 acres in the middle of a 155-acre golf course that would snake around the property.

Moreover, what’s dubbed the re-use committee includes representatives from Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance and Lomita, which is adjacent to part of the tract, as well as representatives of nearby homeowners groups.

The idea is to provide as much notification and information to people who may be affected as possible, said Ralph Martin, a consultant to the country club.

So far, no firm opposition has emerged.

In fact, representatives of at least two homeowners groups in Rolling Hills Estates—a semi-rural community traditionally wary of development—like what they see so far.

Bill Pomeranz, a resident of the Montecello Homeowners Association in Rolling Hills Estates, peers down from his home into the dusty eyesore with its operating concrete plant and rumbling big rigs. He said he would much rather look at a verdant green golf course studded with glistening lakes and luxury homes like those in the rest of the community.

"We need to make sure the project is compatible," he said, "but in general we have been dealing with an industrial facility...and we’re anxious for that to develop."

Linda Dryer, a resident of Torrance’s Victoria Knolls neighborhood since 1963, whose home backs on to the country’s club’s 12th fairway, is more cautious.

Dryer has what she characterized as "significant concerns."

Those include views, erosion and landslides that worsened in the wake of the country club’s expansion of its golf course in 1969, noise ricocheting up the steep slope if homes are built below and adding more traffic to the often-gridlocked intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway.

"It could be a fine improvement to the area," said Dryer, who has been president of the 650-home Hillside Homeowners Association since 1985, "but many people paid premium prices for their property to have this golf course and the greenery to look upon rather than rooftops and traffic."

Dryer’s concerns encapsulate just a few of the potentially significant environmental challenges the project faces.

The country club’s 6,112-yard course will be reconfigured and enlarged, with much of it and a new driving range placed in the current landfill, which won’t be entirely filled in.

An unknown, but likely large amount of grading and earth movement will be necessary to sculpt the hilly site for the course, homes and a relocated and enlarged clubhouse 10,000 to 15,000 square feet larger than the present 30,000-square-foot facility on Palos Verdes Drive East.

Moreover, the landfill lies atop a 1,000-foot-deep aquifer, some 10 miles wide and 15 miles long. The underground basin is a significant source of drinking water for several South Bay cities, one reason why only uncontaminated dirt and construction rubble have been placed in the hole at the rate of 400,000 tons a year.

Chandler’s Inc. has spent the past 14 months conducting geology and hydrology studies.

City officials anticipate a detailed environmental analysis will be necessary, although proponents are optimistic they can overcome the hurdles.

"It’s a very expensive project and the residential development here on the (Palos Verdes) Peninsula has finally reached the point where it’s (economically) viable," Cope said. "This is a project that can happen in the next two to three years, depending on the economy."

Meanwhile, the entire site—the country club owns about 20 acres, Chandler’s Inc. about 160 and the balance by the eight grandchildren of late family patriarch Linden Chandler, a founding member of the country club—is subject to potentially tricky jurisdictional issues.

About 30 acres of the site suitable for building the homes is within the city of Torrance, but it is landlocked.

Since for logistical reasons it would be preferable to have all the homes receive their services from one city, the hope is to swap the Torrance land—designated as open space—for another portion of the golf course site.

"They don’t simply want to do a deannexation and give it to us," said David Wahba, Rolling Hills Estates’ planning director. "They want basically a land swap of equal size so they’re complying with their general plan requirements of providing open space to their residents."

Figuring all this out has city officials and project proponents scratching their heads.

"This is a very unique, very complex project," said Mike Mauno, the Torrance councilman who is the city’s liaison on the re-use committee, "but the net result of a successful project could be a conversion of an industrial use into a residential/recreational use that would benefit the South Bay as a whole."

Publish Date: March 24, 2003