Rancho Palos Verdes City Council




DATE: JUNE 3, 2003


Staff Coordinator: Ara Michael Mihranian, Senior Planner


Review Staff’s recommended process for appointing members to the ad hoc steering committee and the committee’s proposed scope of work, and provide Staff with further direction.


On February 8, 2003, a Joint Workshop was held between the City Council and the Planning Commission at which time the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee (referred herein as the "Committee") presented its recommended amendments to the existing Neighborhood Compatibility review process. At the same time, the Committee informed the Council that during its review of the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility requirement, the Committee identified sections within the Development Code’s Residential Development Standards that warranted further review and updating. In fact, the Committee recommended that the Council consider establishing another Committee to review the City’s residential development standards, particularly the lot density, lot coverage, and setback standards. The Committee indicated that they felt the Code’s current standards where drafted at a time when residential construction resulted in structures that are significantly different from the type of structures being constructed today. Therefore, the Committee felt that in addition to amending the Neighborhood Compatibility requirement, that the Council should eventually consider amending specific sections of the residential development standards.

In response to the Committee’s concerns, the Council directed Staff to agendize a future item to consider the formation of a new Committee with an assigned task of reviewing the City’s current residential development standards.


Appointment of Steering Committee

On December 4, 2001, the Council agreed to form a steering committee to review the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility requirement. At that time, Councilman Clark suggested that in addition to the Committee being comprised of two Council members and two Planning Commissioners, that the Committee also include 4-6 community representatives from the Council of Homeowners Association. The Council agreed with Councilman Clark’s suggestion and directed Staff to work with the Council of Homeowner’s Association in recruiting committee members.

Pursuant to Council direction, the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee was comprised of nine (9) members, five of whom were members of the Council of Homeowner’s Association. As noted by the Council and the Commission at the February 8th Joint Workshop, the composition of this Committee proved to be quite successful because it provided City officials with greater insight on citywide issues. As a result of the success with the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee, Staff is recommending that the Council consider a similar composition of members for the new Residential Development Standards Committee.

If the Council agrees with Staff’s recommendation on the composition of the committee, Staff believes that the Council has the following options to consider for appointing members to the committee:

  1. Retain the Current Members of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee and Assign the Committee with a New Scope of Work – Under this option, the Council would request the same members of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee to also serve on the Residential Development Standards Committee. The members would include Planning Commissioners Cartwright and Lyon, and community members Ken Dyda, Lois Karp, Vic Quirarte, Don Shults, and Diane Weinberger. The Council may consider this option beneficial in that these members are already familiar with the City’s Development Code and the specific areas of concern that were raised during the review of the Neighborhood Compatibility requirements. However, at this time, Staff has not confirmed whether these members are available to serve on the new Committee.
  2. If the Council finds this to be the preferred option, Staff will contact these individuals within the upcoming week. In the event some individuals are not available to serve on the new Committee, Staff can work with the Council of Homeowner’s Association to select replacement individuals.

  3. Select New Committee Members – Under this option, the Council may decide to form a Committee comprised of entirely new individuals, who may in turn provide new insight on areas of concerns pertaining to the Code’s residential development standards. If this approach is favored by the Council, the Council may wish to select its two members this evening and then the Planning Commission could select its two members at a future Commission meeting. Furthermore, Staff would work with the president of the Council of Homeowner’s Association to select 4-6 new community representatives.
  4. Combination of the Above Options - Under this option, the Council may consider combining the above options in its selection of new committee members. This would allow the new Committee to be comprised of both former members, as well as new members.

Using the approach taken by the Neighborhood Compatibility Committee as a successful guide, Staff anticipates that the Committee meetings would occur at City Hall during City Hall business hours. Based on past experience with the meeting schedule of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee, Staff is of the opinion that the optimal time for the Committee to meet would be Friday afternoons, unless otherwise instructed by the Council or the Committee.

Committee’s Proposed Scope of Work

As previously noted, the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee, in its review of the City’s residential development process, identified concerns with the current Development Code’s residential standards. Specifically, it was recommended that the new committee review the following:

  1. The single-family residential standards as they pertain to lot area and lot density: Some Committee members expressed concern that the latest trend of lot splits and subdivisions being proposed include lot sizes that are incompatible with the size of lots within surrounding neighborhoods. Although it is understood that these proposed subdivisions comply with the City’s existing residential development standards, there was concern that the resultant densities may be incompatible with the character of the neighboring lots.
  2. The Development Code’s lot coverage standards: A concern was raised by the Committee that the current maximum lot coverage standards result in smaller lots having greater lot coverage than larger lots. Specifically, in the RS-5 zoning district, the minimum lot size permitted in this zoning district is 8,000 square feet, while the maximum permitted lot coverage is 52% of the lot. Under this scenario, an 8,000 square foot lot could have up to 4,160 square feet of lot coverage, which may result in an overly-built lot because it is more than half of the lot size.
  3. The Development Code’s required setbacks: In addition to the lot coverage standards, some Committee members also believe that the setback standards may need to be increased so that there is more open space between residences.
  4. Gross Lot Area versus Buildable (Net)Lot Area: A concern was also raised by the Committee, as well as several Planning Commissioners, that the residential standards, such as lot coverage, should be applicable to the "buildable" lot area rather than the gross lot area. This would subtract portions of a property that cannot be developed, such as extreme slopes (35% or greater) and setbacks, from specific development calculations.

Based on information provided at the Joint Workshop, it is Staff’s understanding that the scope of work for the new Committee will be based on the above residential development issues. However, it can be expected that the scope of work will expand as the Committee begins to deal with the specific issues and Staff input is provided. Furthermore, the Council may wish to identify additional issues for review at this time.


Date of the First Committee Meeting

Pursuant to the Council’s direction with regard to the appointment of new members to the Residential Development Standards Committee, Staff anticipates the first meeting to occur in late July or early August. This is primarily contingent on the selection and availability of the new committee members.

Unless otherwise directed by the Council or the Committee itself, Staff anticipates the committee meetings to occur on Friday afternoons, similar to the Neighborhood Compatibility committee meetings.


The following alternative is available for the City Council’s consideration in addition to Staff’s recommendation:

  1. Direct Staff that no modifications be made to the Residential Development Standards of Title 17 of the Municipal Code.


The establishment of an ad hoc steering committee, assigned with the task to review the Development Code’s residential development standards, would have no fiscal impact on the City’s General Fund.



Based on the foregoing discussion, Staff recommends that the Council appoint members to the Residential Development Standards Committee and agree on the Committee’s scope of work, as it pertains to its review of the Development Code’s residential development standards.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, aicp

Director of Planning, Building

and Code Enforcement


Les Evans

City Manager