Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: FEBRUARY 3, 2004

SUBJECT: EQUESTRIAN COMMITTEE

Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Provide staff with direction on the status of the Equestrian Committee.

BACKGROUND

As stated in Municipal Code Section 17.46.070, the Equestrian Committee was established in 1997 with the purpose "to advise the Director, Planning Commission and City Council on technical matters pertaining to the implementation and enforcement of this chapter [Chapter 17.46 – Equestrian Overlay District], to assist with the resolution of disputes regarding the keeping of large domestic animals, to discourage the boarding of more than four horses and other large domestic animals, and to consider conditional large domestic animal permit applications."

Originally, the Equestrian Committee was established with 9 members, with the intent that the members would consist of horse and non-horse owners. However, only 7 members were appointed when appointments were last made in 2002 (since there were only 7 applicants) and one person has resigned; as such, only 6 members currently serve on the Committee. The terms for 4 of the 6 members will expire in March of 2004 and the City is currently considering new appointments to the Committee. As part of the recent recruitment for new committee/commission members, three people applied for the Equestrian Committee and one person listed the Equestrian Committee as a fourth choice. It should be noted, that one person has not been interviewed by the City Council since the application was submitted after the last City Council meeting. As such, during the appointment of committee/commission members at the January 20, 2004 meeting, the City Council asked that an item be presented to discuss the future status of the Equestrian Committee.

DISCUSSION

Equestrian Committee meetings are scheduled to occur on the second Thursday of each month. In 2003, the Equestrian Committee held ten meetings (November and October were canceled due to lack of quorum). During this time frame, the Equestrian Committee conducted a public hearing on one Conditional Large Domestic Animal Permit (Pony Club), provided staff with feedback on trails, worked with the Open Space Task Force regarding the Equestrian Center, selected a representative to serve on the General Plan Steering Committee, and began an outreach program to provide access to available equestrian services to the peninsula equestrian community. It should be noted, the Conditional Large Domestic Animal Permit that the Committee reviewed was for a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit organization (the Portuguese Bend Pony Club), which requires final review and approval by the City Council.

In order to assist the City Council in their discussion of the future status of the Equestrian Committee, staff compiled the following list of pros and cons of maintaining the Committee:

Pros:

  • The Equestrian Committee considers all Conditional Large Domestic Animal Permits. Although only one such permit was reviewed by the Committee in 2003, if the Committee is disbanded this permit review authority will need to be transferred to staff, the Planning Commission or the City Council.
  • The Committee has a member on the General Plan Update Steering Committee, thus providing input from the equestrian community on the General Plan goals and policies.
  • The Equestrian Committee can be used to assist with the resolution of disputes regarding horse keeping activities in order to help avoid the filing of formal code enforcement actions. Although no disputes were taken to the Committee in 2003, any future disputes that may come up would need to be resolved through the typical code enforcement process.
  • The Equestrian Committee has been working with the Open Space Task Force to help identify a location for an equestrian center.
  • The Municipal Code allows composting of manure pursuant to City guidelines, however no formal City guidelines exist. Staff anticipated that the Equestrian Committee would develop manure composting guidelines this year.
  • The Equestrian Committee serves in an advisory role to the City Council and Staff for all equestrian matters.

Cons:

  • As experienced in the public hearing for the Pony Club last year, there may be a public perception that the Equestrian Committee is not objective when considering horse related matters. As a result, hearings before the Committee may have little to no public testimony, whereas the public would save its testimony for the same hearing before the City Council. Such a public perception may make the Committee ineffective for acting on horse keeping permits.
  • Approximately 14 hours of staff time each month is needed to staff the Equestrian Committee.
  • The workload of the Equestrian Committee is very light. For example, there have only been 2 Conditional Large Domestic Animal Permits approved by the Committee, both of which are for 501(C)(3) Non-Profit Corporations and required City Council review for final approval, and Staff seldom has to take a horse related dispute to the Committee.

It should be noted, if the City Council determines the best course of action is to disband the Equestrian Committee, staff recommends that a Code Amendment be processed to address the transfer of the Committee’s permit granting authority and remove references of the Equestrian Committee from the Development Code.

CONCLUSION

Based on the apparent lack of interest of the public to serve on the Equestrian Committee and the light workload of the Committee as discussed above, staff is seeking the City Council’s direction on the status of the Equestrian Committee.

FISCAL IMPACT

Staff believes that the City Council’s action on this matter may have a positive fiscal impact upon the City. Disbanding the Committee will save approximately 14 hours of staff time per month.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed:

Les Evans, City Manager