Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: JULY 1, 2003

SUBJECT: ZON2003-00294 (CODE AMENDMENT) - A REQUEST TO AMEND TITLE 17 OF THE CITY'S MUNICIPAL CODE ESTABLISHING REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF COASTAL SAGE SCRUB HABITAT AND THE RELATED EXTENSION OF URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 391U.

RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends that the City Council adopt Urgency Ordinance No. ___U, extending Urgency Ordinance No. 391U for 10 months and 15 days from July 1, 2003.

DISCUSSION

The City is actively engaged in the preparation of a Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) for the City. The purpose of the NCCP is to provide for the regional protection of critical habitat while allowing for compatible local land use. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified Coastal Sage Scrub (CSS) as critical habitat essential to the conservation of several endangered and threatened species, including the coastal California gnatcatcher. There is approximately 1,250 acres of CSS habitat within the City.

In order to avoid the unregulated removal of CSS while the NCCP is being prepared, the City Council adopted an Urgency Ordinance related to the conservation and management of CSS on May 20, 2003. An Urgency Ordinance was adopted because a landowner in the City was proposing to perform weed abatement/brush clearing in an area that contains CSS, which is in close proximity to an area of CSS that has been historically occupied by gnatcatchers.

Staff intends for the City Council to adopt a non-urgency, permanent ordinance to address this issue at a forthcoming Council meeting, after the Planning Commission has reviewed the proposed ordinance and forwarded a recommendation for the Councilís consideration. Because the non-urgency Ordinance will implement a review process that will be contained in Title 17 of the Municipal Code (the Development Code), the Commission must first review the draft Ordinance before the City Council can adopt it.

Although the Planning Commission has held a public hearing regarding the permanent ordinance, the Commission deemed further deliberations to be necessary before forwarding a recommendation to the Council. In light of this delay, it is necessary to extend Urgency Ordinance No. 391U to ensure that the protections afforded by the interim ordinance remain in place until such time as the permanent ordinance is operative. Government Code Section 65858 allows for an extension of up to 10 months and 15 days, however if necessary, an additional extension of one additional year could also be granted. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, staff does not envision the need for any further extensions of the interim ordinance.

Public notice of this item meeting was provided by publication in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on June 7, 2003.

ALTERNATIVE

The City Council could allow Ordinance No. 391U expire on July 4, 2003, and thereafter enact a permanent ordinance.

CONCLUSION

Staff and the City Attorney recommend that the City Council adopt an urgency ordinance extending Ordinance No. 391U for an additional 10 months and 15 days, thereby ensuring protection of CSS habitat and other occupied habitat until such time as a permanent protection ordinance is adopted.

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

Reviewed:
Les Evans,
City Manager

Attachments

Ordinance No. 391U
Draft Ordinance Extending Urgency Ordinance No. 391U

ORDINANCE NO. ______U

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES EXTENDING ORDINANCE NO. 391U, AN INTERIM ORDINANCE RELATED TO THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF COASTAL SAGE SCRUB HABITAT, ESTABLISHING REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES APPLICABLE THERETO, AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF.

WHEREAS, on May 20, 2003, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes adopted Ordinance No. 391U, which adopted an interim ordinance related to the conservation and management of coastal sage scrub habitat, established regulations and procedures applicable thereto, and amending the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the provisions of Government Code Section 65858, a public hearing was duly noticed, pursuant to the provisions of Government Code Section 65090, to be held at the regular City Council meeting of July 1, 2003, so that the City Council could receive public testimony regarding the Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission held a duly notice public hearing regarding the adoption of a permanent Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management ordinance on June 24, 2003, at which time the Planning Commission continued the discussion of the ordinance to a future meeting; and

WHEREAS, Ordinance No. 391U will expire on July 4, 2003, unless otherwise extended pursuant to Government Code Section 65858; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission has not yet concluded its deliberations regarding the text of a permanent Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management ordinance, but intends to forward a recommendation to the City Council in the future after deliberations have concluded; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has yet to consider the text of a permanent Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management ordinance, but intends do so after receiving a recommendation from the Planning Commission; and

WHEREAS, the City has been advised that owners of certain properties in the City have removed CSS previously, and that these property owners will continue to remove CSS habitat in the future, and

WHEREAS, the City was informed by a letter dated May 16, 2003, from York Long Point Associates that that organization intended to "mow grass/weeds", or conduct "weed abatement activities," on an approximately 90 to 100 acre area that has been previously shown to contain CSS plant communities, and which has the potential to be occupied by the Gnatcatcher, and without completion of a biological survey of the site to ascertain whether the 90 to 100 acre weed abatement area is currently occupied by the Gnatcatcher, it is possible that the weed abatement activity could violate the Cityís NCCCP 4(d) permit requirements and the Federal Endangered Species Act.

WHEREAS, because a permanent Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management ordinance has not yet been enacted, a 10 month and 15 day extension from the date of the adoption of Ordinance No. 391U is necessary to provide sufficient time to enact a permanent ordinance;

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Ordinance No. 391U, adopted on May 20, 2003, is hereby extended for an additional 10 months and 15 days from the date of adoption of this ordinance.

Section 2. Ordinance No. 391U is extended for the period specified in Section 1, so that the City will be able to prepare and adopt a permanent Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management ordinance.

Section 3. The City Council finds and determines that the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and welfare requires the extension of Ordinance No. 391U, and that this interim ordinance is enacted as an urgency ordinance pursuant to Government Code Section 65858 and shall take effect immediately upon adoption. Said finding and determination is based upon the recitals set forth above and the following:

A. Pursuant to the authority provided by the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act of 1991(commencing with Section 2800 of the California Fish and Game Code), the City has entered into a formal planning agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game ("DFG") for the purpose of implementing a natural community conservation plan ("NCCP") to provide for the regional protection and perpetuation of natural wildlife diversity while allowing compatible land use and appropriate development and growth in areas where there is coastal sage scrub ("CSS") habitat.

B. The City is actively engaged in the planning and preparation of a NCCP pursuant to the planning agreement. During the planning period, it is desirable to ensure that activity in the City is consistent with the goals, objectives, and efforts of the NCCP process through the adoption of regulations that both respect property rights and protect the public health, safety and general welfare.

C. CSS habitat supports a unique diversity of plant and wildlife species and is a valuable natural resource for the City and its residents. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS") has identified CSS habitat as critical habitat essential to the conservation of several endangered and threatened species, including the coastal California gnatcatcher (the "gnatcatcher").

D. Unregulated removal of CSS, results in the elimination of critical habitat, reduces the natural species diversity in the City, and appreciably reduces the likelihood of the continued survival of the gnatcatcher, particularly if such removal occurs during the breeding season of the gnatcatcher, which occurs annually between February 15 and August 31.

E. CSS conservation and management is consistent with the efforts of the City and the requirements of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game and will support the natural resource management activities of the City in its role as lead agency in the preparation of the sub-regional NCCP for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Sub-area.

Section 4. The City Council declares that the provisions of this interim ordinance are severable. If, for any reason, any sentence, paragraph, or section of this interim ordinance is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such determination will not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of this interim ordinance.

Section 5. The City Clerk is directed to certify to the passage and adoption of this interim ordinance and to cause the full text of this interim ordinance to be published as required by law.

PASSED, APPROVED and ADOPTED this 1st day of July, 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 whole number of members of the City Council of said City is five; the foregoing Ordinance No. ____ was duly and regularly adopted by the City Council of said City at a regular meeting thereof held on _____________, 2003, and that the same was passed and adopted by the following roll call vote:

AYES:

NOES:

ABSENT:

ABSTAIN:

___________________________
City Clerk