Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: APRIL 15, 2003

SUBJECT: ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION DENYING LARGE DOMESTIC ANIMAL NONCONFORMITY STATEMENT NO. 26 (SUTTON, 16 PEPPERTREE DRIVE)

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2003-__, memorializing the City Council’s action of March 18, 2003 with respect to Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26.

DISCUSSION

On March 18, 2003, the City Council concluded its review of the disputed Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 and, based upon the evidence that was presented, determined that the subject properties did not qualify for the "grandfathering" of nonconforming horse boarding and/or keeping pursuant to Section 17.46.080 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code. This action, in effect, denied the Sutton’s request under Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26. At the City Attorney’s suggestion, Staff has prepared the attached draft Resolution to memorialize the City Council’s action in this matter.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The property owner and the interested parties have been advised of the City Council’s consideration of this draft Resolution. However, because the hearing on this matter has been closed, the only public input that can be provided is on the issue of whether the content of the draft Resolution accurately reflects the decision that was made by the City Council on March 18, 2003. Thus, the public will not be able to re-argue the substantive issues that were raised in this case.

CONCLUSION

Based upon the previous City Council discussion, public testimony, Staff reports, Minutes and other records of these proceedings, Staff recommends adoption of the attached draft Resolution denying Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26.

FISCAL IMPACT

The subject matter of this item will have no fiscal impact upon the City, regardless of the action taken.

ALTERNATIVES

The alternatives available for the City Council’s consideration include:

  1. Adopt the draft Resolution as proposed by Staff.
  2. If the Council finds that the draft Resolution is inaccurate or does not reflect accurately the Council’s decision, give direction to Staff to modify the draft Resolution, which could be read into the record at the April 15th meeting, or if the revisions are extensive, continue consideration and adoption of the draft Resolution to the next City Council meeting.

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

Reviewed by:
Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Resolution No. 2003-__

RESOLUTION NO. 2003-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING LARGE DOMESTIC ANIMAL NONCONFORMITY STATEMENT NO. 26 FOR THE KEEPING AND/OR BOARDING OF MORE THAN FOUR (4) HORSES ON TWO CONTIGUOUS PARCELS TOTALING 4.016 ACRES IN AREA, LOCATED AT 16 PEPPERTREE DRIVE

WHEREAS, Section 17.46.080 (Nonconformities) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code provides for the filing of nonconformity statements related to the keeping and/or boarding of large domestic animals in the City; and,

WHEREAS, on October 3, 1997, Everett and Marlene Sutton, the owners of two contiguous parcels at 16 Peppertree Drive in the Portuguese Bend community, timely submitted Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, pursuant to Section 17.46.080 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code; and,

WHEREAS, Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 stated that, as of February 1, 1997, ten (10) horses were kept on the Sutton’s combined parcels, of which seven (7) horses were boarded, and requested permission to "grandfather" these numbers of kept and boarded horses for the combined properties in perpetuity; and,

WHEREAS, on October 6, 1998, Staff conducted a site investigation to verify the information presented in the Suttons’ nonconformity statements, and observed four (4) horses on the subject property on that date; and,

WHEREAS, in 1999, Staff sought direction from the City Council regarding the final disposition on any disputed nonconformity statements, and the City Council determined that it would make the final determination on any such disputed statements; and,

WHEREAS, on August 20, 2002, Staff completed its review of Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 and determined that, based upon the provisions of Chapter 17.46 (Equestrian Overlay (Q) District) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code and the evidence available at the time, a maximum of ten (10) horses could be kept on the Sutton’s property in perpetuity, of which a maximum of seven (7) horses could be boarded in perpetuity, pursuant to Section 17.46.080(C)(3) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code; and,

WHEREAS, on September 3, 2002, Staff’s determination regarding Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 was contested by Joe Deeble; and,

WHEREAS, after providing notice to all interested parties, the City Council discussed Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 at a regular public meeting on October 15, 2002, January 21, 2003, February 18, 2003 and March 18, 2003, at which time all interested parties were given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence;

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

Section 1: The City Council hereby makes the following findings of fact with respect to Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26:

A. The Suttons filed Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 timely on October 3, 1997, the deadline established by Section 17.46.080 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code. Pursuant to Section 17.46.080(A) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Suttons’ statement included:

1. Proof of the ownership of the lot or parcel;

2. A statement identifying the owner of each animal purportedly kept on the subject property as of February 1, 1997;

3. A statement of any other conditions for which a waiver was requested; and,

4. Permission from the Suttons for a City representative to enter upon said lot or parcel to verify the nonconforming condition(s).

B. The Suttons’ properties at 16 Peppertree Drive are located in the Portuguese Bend Equestrian Overlay (Q) District, one of four Equestrian Overlay (Q) districts established pursuant to Section 17.46.090 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code.

C. The Suttons’ property consists of two parcels, of which one is developed with a home and the other contiguous parcel is "vacant", as that term is defined in Section 17.46.020 and is used throughout Chapter 17.46 of the Municipal Code. The developed parcel (Lot 15 in Block 1 of Tract 14118) is 24,200 square feet in area and the vacant, contiguous parcel (Lot 16 in Block 1 of Tract 14118) is 150,718 square feet in area. Both parcels exceed the minimum size requirements for the keeping of large domestic animals, as established by Section 17.46.020 of the current Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code and Section 17.12.020 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code that was in effect prior to May 1997.

D. The Suttons claimed to have legally kept ten horses on the two combined parcels on February 1, 1997, based upon the size of the combined parcels. This is greater than the four horses permitted by Section 17.46.020 of the current Development Code and equal to the ten horses that could have been permitted by Section 17.12.020 of the Development Code that was in effect prior to May 1997. The Suttons’ statement claimed that three of the horses were their own, and the remaining seven were boarded horses owned by four other parties. The City attempted to independently verify the number of boarded horses kept on the property on February 1, 1997 by directly contacting the four owners of the seven boarded horses listed on the Suttons’ statement. Based upon the responses received from three of these four horseowners, the City Council found that the available evidence only supported the presence of one boarded horse on the property on February 1, 1997, in addition to the Suttons’ three horses. This was consistent with the number of horses observed on the subject property by City Staff on October 6, 1998 (i.e., four horses), and was also consistent with the written and oral testimony of many neighbors surrounding the Suttons’ property, which was based upon their personal experience and observation of the subject properties as far back as the late 1950’s. At the public hearing, Joe Deeble, Robert Maxwell, Betty Strauss, Daphne Clark and Jeanne Smolley all spoke about their personal observations and experiences of living near the Suttons’ properties in 1997, and provided consistent testimony that there were no more than three to five horses kept on the Suttons’ property at that time, except for a brief period when additional horses were brought in to artificially inflate the number of horses on the property for the purpose of filing the nonconformity statement. By contrast, neither the Suttons nor any of the persons who submitted letters regarding the boarding of their horses on the Suttons’ property ever appeared before the City Council to personally testify to the facts in support of Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26. Therefore, the City Council finds that, based upon the preponderance of the available evidence, no more than four horses were kept on the Suttons’ property on February 1, 1997, and only one of these horses was boarded, which was not a nonconforming condition and, therefore, not eligible for "grandfathering" pursuant to Section 17.46.080 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code.

E. The Suttons provided evidence that they owned own the subject property on July 1, 1975, and claimed that they were legally boarding five (5) or more horses on the subject property on that date. Based upon these claims, the Suttons requested that the number of boarded horses "grandfathered" for the subject property be granted in perpetuity, pursuant to the so-called "pre-1975 boarding exemption" under Section 17.46.080(C)(3) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code. The Suttons provided conflicting and inconsistent written testimony from a number of parties regarding the number of horses present on the subject property on July 1, 1975. City Staff reviewed the City’s property records for the subject property and found no conclusive evidence regarding the number of horses present on July 1, 1975, although an August 19, 1976 Planning Commission Staff report for Special Animal Permit No. 6 stated that the Suttons "[had] previously kept a maximum of six (6) horses at one time on said property, and presently [maintain] only one [horse]." In addition, oral and written testimony from many neighbors surrounding the Suttons’ property, which was based upon their personal experience and observation of the subject properties as far back as the late 1950’s, indicated that fewer than five horses were present on the Suttons’ property on July 1, 1975. At the public hearing, Robert Maxwell, Betty Strauss, Daphne Clark and Jeanne Smolley all spoke about their personal observations and experiences of living near the Suttons’ properties in 1975, and provided consistent testimony that there was generally no more than one horse kept on the Suttons’ property at that time. By contrast, neither the Suttons nor any of the persons who submitted letters regarding the boarding of their horses on the Suttons’ property ever appeared before the City Council to personally testify to the facts in support of Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26. In order to qualify for the so-called "pre-1975 boarding exemption" under Section 17.46.080(C)(3) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code, the Suttons needed to prove that they both owned the subject property and legally boarded five or more horses on it as of July 1, 1975. Therefore, the City Council finds that, based upon the preponderance of the available evidence, fewer than five horses were legally boarded on the Suttons’ property on July 1, 1975, which was not a nonconforming condition and, therefore, not eligible for "grandfathering" in perpetuity pursuant to Section 17.46.080(C)(3) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code.

Section 2: Based upon the foregoing discussion, written and oral public testimony, the Staff reports, Minutes and other records of these proceedings, the City Council finds that there was no reliable, verifiable evidence of any nonconforming horsekeeping and/or -boarding activities on the subject properties on either February 1, 1997 or July 1, 1975, that could be "grandfathered" for the Suttons’ properties at 16 Peppertree Drive. As such, the request for Large Domestic Animal Nonconformity Statement No. 26 is denied. Based upon this determination, the following horsekeeping activities are permitted on these properties, pursuant to Chapter 17.46 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Development Code:

A. A maximum of four (4) horses may be kept on the two combined properties; and,

B. Of the four (4) horses allowed to be kept on the two combined properties, any or all of them may be boarded horses.

Section 3: None of the uses or activities authorized by this Resolution shall be construed as allowing, or having the effect of allowing, the keeping and/or boarding of any number of horses by the Suttons in violation of the terms of the March 5, 2002 plea agreement in the case of People of the State of California v. Everett W. Sutton (Case No. YA048989).

Section 4: The time within which the judicial review of the decision reflected in this Resolution, if available, must be sought is governed by Section 1094.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable short periods of limitation.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 15th day of April 2003.

___________________________ MAYOR

ATTEST:

_______________________________

CITY CLERK

STATE OF CALIFORNIA )
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ) ss
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES )

I, JO PURCELL, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, do hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2003-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on April 15, 2003.

City Clerk

City of Rancho Palos Verdes