Rancho Palos Verdes City Council





OCTOBER 21, 2003

The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. by Mayor Stern at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.

Roll call was answered as follows:

PRESENT: McTaggart, Ferraro and Mayor Stern

ABSENT: Clark, Gardiner (excused)

Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Minutes Secretary Debra Presutti.

Mayor pro tem Ferraro led the Pledge of Allegiance.


Mayor Stern reminded everyone of the City Council and School Board elections on November 4th and urged everyone to cast their vote.


Don Barnes was selected as the recycler of the month. Mayor Stern encouraged everyone to continue recycling.


City Attorney Lynch requested to add an emergency item to the Agenda regarding an extension being granted in the Ortolano matter.

Councilman McTaggart moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Ferraro, to approve the Agenda as amended. Motion carried without objection.


Mayor pro tem Ferraro moved, seconded by Councilman McTaggart, to approve the Consent Calendar as follows:

Motion to waive full reading.

Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all council members after the reading of the title.

Minutes of September 16, 2003.

Approved the minutes.

Notice Of Completion Fiscal Year 2002-2003/Fiscal Year 03-04 Sidewalk Repair Program.

(1) Accepted the work as complete; (2) Authorized the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder; and if no claims are filed 35 days after recordation, to notify the surety company to exonerate the Payment and Performance bonds; and (3) Authorized the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment to Damon Construction 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion contingent upon no claims being filed against the contractor.

Appointment of Members to the Klondike Canyon Geologic Hazard Abatement District Board of Directors.

Appointed John McCarthy, Tyler McCoy and Dean Allison to serve on the Klondike Canyon Landslide Abatement District Board of Directors for a full four-year term until September 2007.

Resol. No. 2003-87: Amendment To Cafeteria Health Plan Flexible


ORDINANCE NO. 399: Business Permits And The Regulation Of Massage Establishments


Resol. No. 2003-88: Register of Demands.


The motion to approve the consent calendar carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: McTaggart, Ferraro and Mayor Stern


ABSENT: Clark and Gardiner

# # # # # #


Establishing a fee to appeal the decision of the Director of Public Works on public right-of-way permits.

Mayor Stern declared the public hearing open.

City Clerk Purcell reported that notice had been duly given and that no written protests were received by the City.

Director Allison presented simultaneously the staff memoranda of October 21, 2003, discussing Item No. 8, the establishment of a fee to appeal a decision on public right-of-way permits; and, Item No. 9, the establishment of a process for approval of aboveground facilities on a public right-of-way.

Councilman McTaggart noted the ambiguity of the language "whenever possible" as it relates to locating antennas on arterials and suggested instead to require such arterial placement.

Director Allison responded that to this point the City has demanded that antennas be placed along arterials and there has been compliance in the majority of cases. He explained that the more difficult cases are now coming in for approval, some of which have very valid reasons such as system performance that preclude their being installed on arterials. He added that solid justification would be required before approving any alternate placement.

City Attorney Lynch noted that the proposed ordinance had been drafted with flexibility in mind, saying that the language can certainly be strengthened to provide a more stringent standard when an arterial is located nearby. She indicated she would be reluctant to include an absolute prohibition to alternate placement, advising this could create an entirely different set of problems.

Director Allison explained that all utility companies will be required to submit a computer rendering of the before and after appearance of anything installed above ground and that property owners in the immediate vicinity would be notified. He also indicated that anything ten feet or more above ground would require a mock-up to determine if views would be impacted. He further explained that, if negative public feedback were received, City staff would try to work with the utility companies at the expense of the applicant company to address that negative feedback. He noted that the recommended $800 appeal fee basically calculated how much staff time is involved to bring the matters before Council for review.

Councilman McTaggart questioned if it would be possible to "front load" the application fee with the $800 and refund the money if there is no appeal since the business is the one encroaching into a residential zone. Mayor Stern mentioned that he had suggested something similar to the City Manager.

Mayor pro tem Ferraro commented that $800 is a significant amount to require of a resident to appeal something that in all likelihood would be a blight on their neighborhood.

City Attorney Lynch recommended that Council establish a fee in any amount they find reasonable, suggesting perhaps $50 or $100, stating that situations do arise where residents might prefer not to have something in their area which otherwise satisfies all the criteria and this fee would serve as an incentive to encourage those people to think twice before bringing forth unnecessary appeals. She noted there is a standard provision included to refund 100 percent of this fee to a successful appellant.

Mayor Stern suggested that the permit process move forward at the staff level as articulated and, if no resident or Council member requests that a hearing take place, the hearing can be avoided and the money charged to the applicant as part of the permit process would be refunded. He stated that if residents or Council request a hearing, it is far more equitable to the City’s residents that the cost is borne by the permit applicant. He concurred with the idea of implementing a substantially lower fee than the proposed $800 to deter residents from initiating unwarranted appeals.

Mayor Stern opined that the permit process should apply to every aspect of a given project, including not only antennae but cabinets and other components as well and indicated that the issues of noise, vibration, and light generation should also be addressed. He recommended trying to implement target dates for permit renewals, stating this would allow the City to focus unified attention and resources on a combined renewal rather than having permits sunset piecemeal over the next decade. He further noted this could also be advantageous in ensuring that the best and newest technology is provided to the City’s residents.

In response to Councilman McTaggart’s and Mayor Stern’s concerns regarding notification of the abandonment of a facility, City Attorney Lynch suggested that a 30-day notice be required upon the cessation of use of any facility.

Councilman McTaggart suggested adding a provision that the City receives reasonable cost of removal if an abandoned facility is not removed in a timely manner.

Joan Barry, Rancho Palos Verdes, objected strenuously to the $800 fee, saying it would be a terrible burden to impose on a citizen since they, as taxpayers and residents, do not instigate these issues and generally are in opposition because of a change being created in their neighborhood which could adversely impact their views and property values. She agreed with the idea of assessing a refundable fee on the utility companies which might encourage them to seek out alternatives and find better solutions.

John Dailey, Rancho Palos Verdes, concurred that the $800 fee on residents is far too high and queried why citizens should be required to bear a financial burden for appealing to the City Council regarding problems being brought into their neighborhoods by outside entities. He indicated that residents consider the Sprint installation on Ganado Drive to be an invasion of the privacy of their quiet residential neighborhood, adding that it is destroying their quality of life and aesthetics, blocking views, and reducing property values. He commented that he became aware of the proposed ordinances only the previous day and requested at least a month’s extension be granted to allow time for residents to adequately study them and make suggestions.

Creasie Adams, Los Angeles, on behalf of SBC, indicated that some of the items in the proposed ordinances are rather problematic and expressed concern that they may violate Section 253-C of the Telecommunications Act. She noted that since the matter is still in draft form, it would allow SBC to work with staff on addressing some of these concerns, adding that their overall goal is to work with staff to create a resolution that will meet the needs of the City and its constituents.

Mayor Stern queried if any of the other telecommunications companies have been heard from on this matter.

City Attorney Lynch stated that she has received a request from one of AT&T’s lawyers to have the matters continued, and an attorney from Sprint sent a letter making several comments and suggestions and also stated his opinion that a number of the provisions are in violation of the Telecommunications Act. She added that it was staff’s goal to get these matters on the agenda in order to get comments back from Council, the public, and the providers.

Leslie Daigle, representing AT&T and Verizon Wireless, stated that the policies being considered are very important to them and requested the matters be continued to allow more opportunity for review.

Marcella Low, Public Affairs Manager for the Gas Company, pointed out that the aboveground facilities the Gas Company has in the slide area are there specifically for safety purposes and, therefore, should be exempted from the ordinance. She also requested more time be granted for review of the ordinances.

City Attorney Lynch clarified that theses facilities are, in fact, not exempted from the ordinance.

Councilman McTaggart moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Ferraro to continue the public hearing until November 18th and also to continue the matter on developing a process for incorporating in the application for the permit an appeal fee and lower the fee charged by residents who appeal location of facilities. The motion carried with no objection.


Establishment of the process to approve aboveground facilities in the public right-of-way.

Combined with above item.

Annual Holiday Reception.

Councilman McTaggart moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Ferraro to waive the staff report. Motion carried without objection.

Mayor pro tem Ferraro moved, seconded by Councilman McTaggart, to select December 1st as the date for the annual holiday reception. Motion carried without objection.

Palos Verdes Loop Trail Signage.

Assistant City Manager Petru presented the staff memorandum of October 21, 2003.

Mayor Stern requested an explanation of how the actual adoption process works, what it entails, what the obligations are, and how long it remains in effect.

Sunshine, Rancho Palos Verdes, brought an example of the actual signage for Council members to view. She explained that the Palos Verdes Loop Trail was originally proposed by the L.A. County Regional Recreational Plan of 1957 and that in the early 1980’s it was discovered that about 85 percent of the trail route was still in use. The concept of people committing to adopt trail segments was implemented in order to focus attention on filling in the missing links of the trail and assuring their adequate representation at public hearings to protect them from possible future development. She further explained that a form is given to prospective adopters in which they describe what they are willing to do to assist with a trail segment and how they would utilize that segment. Based on those descriptions and responses, Sunshine then ascertains which segments are available and identifies a segment for that individual to adopt, whereupon a form solemnly pledging their commitment to that trail segment is executed. She noted that the adoptions are for life or until the individual is no longer able to meet their commitment.

Councilman McTaggart queried whether Palos Verdes Estates has changed their earlier position on this matter.

Sunshine replied that PVE has a relatively new forester who is taking some aggressive stands on prioritizing certain trails and they have recently implemented a process of reviewing their parkland standards and rethinking their priorities where encroachment is occurring.

In response to Mayor Stern’s concern about the fiscal impact of installing and maintaining the signs, Sunshine said that the signs are proposed to go at the end of each of the segment breaks. She explained that there are 100 quarter-mile segments around the hill; so the breakdown would be 43 signs in Rancho Palos Verdes, 31 in Palos Verdes Estates, 24 in Rolling Hills Estates, and 3 in Rolling Hills. She noted that the City of Rolling Hills Estates has offered to incur the cost of installing the signs in their city as part of their regular trail maintenance. She indicated that at this point, however, the only request being made is to approve the "In Memory of" language proposed to be used on the signs.

Councilman McTaggart asked if the matter has been presented to the Coastal Commission.

Assistant City Manager Petru answered that it is premature at this point but that once the updated Trails Network Plan is draft it will be presented to the Coastal Commission for their review and comments.

Sunshine explained that since a portion of the signage is in the coastal zone, it will be coordinated with the California Coastal Trail signs, adding that step is definitely way down the road.

Mayor pro tem Ferraro moved, seconded by Councilman McTaggart, to approve in concept the memorial signage for the loop trails pending coordination with RHE and approval by the Coastal Commission. Motion carried without objection.

Coolheights Trail Easement

City Attorney Lynch explained that Ralph Ortolano, Jr., contacted the City late the previous week requesting an opportunity to have various legal descriptions reviewed by an independent engineer or surveyor. She noted that although this review has not been fully completed, the surveyors Mr. Ortolano spoke with expressed concern over some of the legal descriptions and have been in contact with the City’s engineer who has agreed to make certain changes. She stated that she and another lawyer in her office have met with Mr. Ortolano and have reached agreement on the legal descriptions and are now working to ascertain that everyone is satisfied that the legal descriptions appropriately depict the areas being conveyed. She recommended continuing the October 27th date for two weeks or to November 10th to allow the Ortolanos the opportunity to have these documents checked to their satisfaction.

Ralph Ortolano, Jr., Rancho Palos Verdes, stated they have reached agreement on the legal matters and are now in the process of working out problems with some of the metes and bounds descriptions. He opined that it would be in the City’s best interest to ensure that this process is properly done and requested that the City bear part of the cost for this review.

Mayor Stern noted that the City has already paid their share of this by paying the City Attorney and staff members who have spent time on this matter.

Councilman McTaggart moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Ferraro, to grant the extension and continue the matter to November 10th. Motion carried without objection.

As a point of clarification, City Attorney Lynch explained that the discrepancies at issue were actually stylistic descriptions of where the boundaries run rather than their having been incorrectly described by the City’s engineer.


Mayor pro tem Ferraro mentioned that she was kindly welcomed at a neighborhood block party she attended recently on Rockinghorse Road. She also participated in a beach cleanup at Abalone Cove Beach with many volunteers from the city.

Mayor pro tem Ferraro stated that she attended a PV Transit meeting the previous week and clarified that due to the strike and the fact that many drivers do not want to cross picket lines buses are being allowed to park at night at City Hall on a temporary basis. She commented that she attended the City’s 30th Anniversary celebration and thanked everyone who worked on it for orchestrating such a lovely event.

Councilman McTaggart expressed his appreciation to the members of the City staff, adding they are generally unseen by the public and certainly not mentioned often enough for the wonderful service they provide.

He attended a meeting of the LAX Noise Round Table on October 8th to discuss errors and omissions in the proposed Master Plan. On October 9th he attended a meeting of the Vector Board where it was announced that the West Nile Virus has been detected in Riverside, Imperial, and Los Angeles Counties. He reported that as of that meeting 6,411 cases of infection and 134 deaths have been verified nationwide this year. He noted that with winter coming, a slightly lower probability of infection can be expected but, when the spring rains fall, those numbers will climb. He stated that so far only Riverside County has verified one human exposure to the virus and recommended that individuals finding crows, ravens, magpies, and jays that have been dead for less than 24 hours to contact the West Nile Virus hot line number at 877-WNV-BIRD to file a report. He also provided the California Department of Health Services website address, www.dhs.ca.gov, and their information number, 866-847-2246. He indicated that this is, unfortunately, something California citizens are going to be hearing more about in the future and urged people with flu-like symptoms who have not been exposed to the flu to consider seeking immediate medical attention.

On October 10th Councilman McTaggart attended an MTA South Bay Sector Governance Council meeting where approval of the staff modified route changes was recommended. He noted that the staff was very attentive to the public’s concerns and made considerable changes. He stated that weekend service on the 225 and 226 routes was lost but added it will be maintained during the peak boarding periods when many school children and some domestic workers use it. On October 15th he met briefly with the South Bay Cities Council of Governments to review their mission statement and goals.

Councilman McTaggart attended the County Integrated Waste Task Force meeting on October 16th in Alhambra. He explained that one of the issues before the body is the use of noncombustible destruction in the conversion technology of waste materials. He commented that he has been appointed to a special task force to study this issue and promote its positive elements which include making usable products of the ash, such as building blocks, as well as providing an energy source from the distillate. He noted that for some reason the Waste Board is not supportive of this technology and the goal of this task force is to educate them on the many benefits.

On October 17th Councilman McTaggart attended the City's 30th Anniversary party with his wife.


Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, reminded everyone of the upcoming election and urged them to vote on November 4th.

Sunshine, Rancho Palos Verdes, requested clarification of the previous meeting’s discussion of the Coolheights Trail and her impression that one trail is broken into three separate legal easements.

Director Rojas clarified that the trail is indeed broken into three easements.

Sunshine expressed concern that if one of these easements is abandoned or changed in some way, the entire trail could be blocked, making the other two easements useless.

City Attorney Lynch explained that all three segments are dedicated as permanent easements, which only the City can undo, by conveyance.

Ralph Ortolano, Jr., Rancho Palos Verdes, opined that the Ganado Trail matter discussed at the previous City Council meeting was not adequately publicly noticed and requested Council to reconsider its decision on that item. He urged the matter be agendized for a future meeting, stating that many residents in his community have an expectation that this trail should be preserved.

ADJOURNMENT: Mayor Stern adjourned the meeting at 8:26 p.m. with a reminder that due to the upcoming election the next meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 5th rather than Tuesday the 4th.