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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: FEBRUARY 3, 2004
SUBJECT: BORDER ISSUES STATUS REPORT
Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner
Review the current status of border issues, and provide direction to the City Council Committee and Staff.
The following is the regular monthly report to the City Council on various "border issues" potentially affecting the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Current Border Issues
Rolling Hills Covenant Church Expansion, Rolling Hills Estates
The mediation process between the project proponents and opponents is continuing. To Staff’s knowledge, there is no set date for this matter to return to the Rolling Hills Estates City Council.
South Coast County Golf Course, Los Angeles County/Rolling Hills Estates
On November 18, 2003, the City Council decided to hire The Source Group, Inc. (TSG) to review and comment upon technical portions of the Draft EIR. During December 2003, TSG reviewed the Draft EIR and the large body of additional information regarding the proposed County golf course submitted to the City by other interested parties. TSG’s comments were incorporated into a draft comment letter prepared by Staff that was reviewed by the City Council on December 16, 2003 and January 6, 2004. Also on January 6, 2004, the City was advised that the public comment period for the Draft EIR would be extended to March 4, 2004.
The City Council directed changes to Staff’s draft comments, which were finalized and forwarded to the County on January 15, 2004. Staff has asked TSG to review additional information about the project, and based upon this review Staff expects to prepare supplemental comments to the County for the City Council’s review prior to the March 4, 2004 comment deadline.
Los Angeles County General Plan Update, Los Angeles County
The City last commented on this project on January 14, 2003. On January 20, 2004, the City received the attached notice of the release of a Draft Preliminary General Plan from the County. At this time, there is no deadline for comments on the document, although a community workshop will be held in the Harbor Gateway area on March 9, 2004. Staff will continue to monitor this project.
Harbor-South Bay Water Recycling Project, Army Corps of Engineers/SBMWD
The City last commented on this project on May 21, 2003. On November 26, 2003, the City received the attached response to its comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment/Initial Study. Construction of the complete project is expected to take until 2010.
Waterfront Gateway Development Project, Port of Los Angeles
Staff reviewed the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for the project, and provided the attached comments to the Port on December 11, 2003. Staff’s comments focused on aesthetic, security and traffic issues.
New Border Issues
There are no new border issues on which to report at this time.
Previous Border Issues
Garden Village Shopping Center, Los Angeles (San Pedro)
The renovation of the Garden Village shopping center in San Pedro has been complete for a year. On January 5, 2004, the City received notice of a January 29, 2004 Zoning Administrator’s hearing regarding the shopping center. The subject of the hearing was the review of the effectiveness of conditions of approval regarding the sale and dispensing of alcoholic beverages at the Albertson’s supermarket. Staff was unaware of any complaints or specific community concerns in this matter. However, Staff attended the hearing and will provide an oral summary at tonight’s meeting.
Joel Rojas, AICP, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement
Les Evans, City Manager
Border Issues Status Report
Comments on the South Coast County Golf Course DEIR
Notice of the County’s Draft Preliminary General Plan and community workshops
Response to comments on the Harbor-South Bay Water Recycling Project
Comments on the Waterfront Gateway Development Project MND
Notice of Zoning Administrator’s hearing for the Garden Village shopping center
BORDER ISSUES STATUS REPORT
Revised February 3, 2004
CONSTRUCTION OF A RECREATION FACILITY AT HARBOR HILLS (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES AND CITY OF LOMITA)
The County has proposed construction of a 12,650 square foot recreation facility for the Harbor Hills Housing area. The $2.3 million project will consist of a gym, two multi-purpose rooms, a recreation office, sports equipment storage, a child care area for 36 pre-school children, a sheriff’s patrol office, a full service kitchen, restrooms and locker rooms. It will also include a 75-space parking lot.
Homeowners in Peninsula Verde were not offered adequate opportunity to comment on the project and have turned to the City to intercede on their behalf. A community meeting took place at the Harbor Hills Community Center on August 27, 2001 and was attended by then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart as well as homeowners from Peninsula Verde. In addition to strong objections to the County’s notification process for the project, the homeowners expressed concerns about lighting intensity, times of operation, children crossing PVDN, traffic, unsavory activities near the Lomita water tower and location of the recreation facility. A second meeting took place on September 12, 2001 to allow the County Regional Planning Department to go over the environmental approval process conducted for this project. The then-Mayor represented the City at this meeting. Issues raised by the homeowners included concerns about the notification process, environmental clearances and parking and grading on the hillside adjacent to their homes.
In response to concerns from then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart, Supervisor Knabe became involved in the matter. At their meeting on September 25, 2001, the County awarded the construction contract for the community center. However, in response to the concerns of the then-Mayor and then-Mayor Pro Tem, Supervisor Knabe, at the October 9, 2001 Board meeting received approval of his motion to: "Extend the time period for the Executive Director of the Housing Authority to report back to the Board from 30 days to 60 days regarding the Cities of Rancho Palos Verdes and Lomita’s specific concerns related to the planned construction of a community center and childcare center at the Harbor Hills Public Housing Development; and instruct the Executive Director of the Community Development Commission to postpone commencement of any construction until the Board further reviews the matter."
On Monday, October 22, 2001 then-Mayor Lyon and then-Mayor Pro Tem McTaggart joined five or six Peninsula Verde residents and an equal number of Harbor Hills residents to discuss possible modifications to the Community Center plans. County Community development staff made the presentations, but Supervisor Knabe’s office was represented as well as County Counsel and the County Geologist. Harbor Hills’ staff was also in attendance. The County proposed relocating the 75-space parking lot away from the Peninsula Verde homes. In addition, they proposed reduced lighting in the parking lot. Our residents were pleased with these changes, but disappointed that the Community Center building could not be relocated further from the property line.
The City Attorney reported on her research into the environmental process in closed session at the November 7, 2001 City Council meeting. The City geologist also provided his comments on the project grading at the November 7, 2001 meeting. The City Council directed the City Manager to prepare a letter to Supervisor Knabe pointing out that the 60-day period within which the Board is expected to receive a report from the Housing Authority would expire on November 22, 2001. Prior to the expiration of the 60-day period the Council asked for assurances from the Supervisor, in writing, regarding design and operational changes. The letter, signed by former Mayor Lyon went out on November 12, 2001. So far there has been no response, although Dick Simmons, of the Supervisor’s office, has indicated that a letter is forthcoming. In addition, at the request of Dick Bruner (Peninsula Verde HOA) staff discussed the project with the City Manager of Lomita in mid-December 2001. Mr. Odom was aware of the project and said the proposed parking lot revisions were being reviewed by the Lomita Planning Department. He was not aware of any special interest in the project on the part of his Council or citizens groups.
On January 10, 2002, the City received the promised letter from Supervisor Knabe regarding design and operational changes to the project. These changes include relocation of the parking areas, the use of shorter lighting fixtures and lower illumination levels in the parking areas, limitations of the days and hours of operation for special events and child care services, dedication of two Sheriff’s deputies to the on-site field office, and adjustments to the building roof form and landscaping plans to reduce the impact of the project upon views from City residents in the Peninsula Verde community.
On April 2, 2002, the City received a copy of a memorandum from the Housing Authority to Supervisor Knabe’s office regarding the project schedule for the Harbor Hills Community Center. The project was scheduled for review by the City of Lomita Traffic Commission and Planning Commission in April 2002 and May 2002, respectively. Pending these approvals, the County intended to begin construction by early Summer 2002, with completion of the project to take approximately one year. Staff intends to monitor this project to ensure that the promised design and operational changes discussed above are implemented.
On May 13, 2002, Staff attended the City of Lomita Planning Commission hearing for the Harbor Hills Community Center (Site Plan Review No. 954). Several residents of the Peninsula Verde neighborhood addressed the Planning Commission with their concerns, including noise, geology, security and construction impacts. Staff also addressed the Planning Commission, suggested modifications to some of the proposed conditions of approval, and provided copies of letters from Supervisor Knabe and our geotechnical consultant, Zeiser Kling, to be included in the public record. The Planning Commission decided that it needed additional information from the County with respect to previous environmental analysis, noise, crime statistics for Harbor Hills and an alternate site plan suggested by Lomita Planning Staff. The matter was continued to the next Lomita Planning Commission meeting, which was held on Monday, June 10, 2002.
At the June 10th Lomita Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission heard additional testimony from the County and from Rancho Palos Verdes and Lomita residents. As a result, the Planning Commission conditionally approved the project, including conditions of approval that were recommended by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. The Lomita Planning Commission was scheduled to adopt a resolution finalizing this decision—and starting the 15-day appeal period—on July 8, 2002.
On July 8, 2002, the Lomita Planning Commission adopted Resolution No. 2002-2 conditionally approving the site plan review application for the Harbor Hills Community Center. This action was almost immediately appealed by a Lomita resident. The Lomita City Council conducted a de novo hearing on the matter on August 5, 2002, denied the appeal and upheld its Planning Commission’s conditional approval of the project. The Lomita City Council subsequently adopted a Resolution conditionally approving Site Plan Review No. 954 on August 19, 2002.
Construction of the Harbor Hills recreation facility began during Summer 2003. Staff will monitor the construction of the facility to ensure that any significant construction-related impacts to Rancho Palos Verdes residents are minimized or avoided.
PROPOSED EXPANSION OF ROLLING HILLS COVENANT CHURCH, 2222 PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)
In late 2001, the project was still in the information-gathering phase. According to our information, the applicant was making changes to the project so the exact proposal had not been finalized. Generally, the project involves the construction of a new sanctuary building that would accommodate 2,250 seats, along with a new 3-5 level parking structure with 500 parking spaces. The Church also proposes to convert the existing sanctuary to a gymnasium/multi-purpose room for events such as wedding receptions. The preparation of the Initial Study was still underway to determine whether the project would necessitate an EIR or Negative Declaration. We expected to receive a notice when either document was prepared and circulated to the public.
On February 9, 2002 an article appeared in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News regarding an EIR scoping meeting for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. Although Staff did not attend the scoping meeting on February 12, 2002, we did download a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study from the Rolling Hills Estates’ web site (www.rollinghillsestates.com). The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of air quality, noise, public services, utilities, aesthetics and transportation/traffic. The deadline for public comments on the NOP was February 28, 2002, so on February 22, 2002 Staff forwarded comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. We expected that a draft EIR for the project would be available for further public comment some time in Summer 2002.
On August 26, 2002, the City received a revised Notice of Preparation for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. The most significant project revision was the proposed export of 30,000 cubic yards of material from the project site to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. With the proposed inclusion of Green Hills as the repository for the export of material from the project site, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes’ role in the review of this project was changed from "trustee agency" to "responsible agency." Accordingly, on September 6, 2002, Staff forwarded additional comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates, focusing on the issues of soil stability, air quality, hazardous materials and noise. The City of Rolling Hills Estates expected to release the draft EIR for this project in late September or early October of 2002.
On October 16, 2002, the City received the draft EIR for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project. The revised project description included 20,000 cubic yards of export of material from the subject property to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park. The Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission conducted a public workshop on the draft EIR on October 23, 2002, which was attended by Staff and more than fifty other interested persons. At the workshop, Rolling Hills Estates Staff presented an overview of the CEQA process and the draft EIR, representatives of Rolling Hills Covenant Church presented a summary of their proposed project, and an opportunity was provided for public comment on the draft EIR. The draft EIR includes detailed analysis of several potential environmental effects of the project, covering the topics of land use and planning, aesthetics, traffic, circulation and parking, air quality, noise, public services and utilities. Staff presented preliminary oral comments on the draft EIR at the workshop, focusing on the issues of soil stability on the Green Hills site, air quality impacts related to the proposed export to Green Hills, and the discussion of project alternatives in the draft EIR. The 45-day public comment period for the draft EIR ended on December 2, 2002, and Staff prepared more detailed written comments that were submitted to the City of Rolling Hills Estates on November 7, 2002. These comments included the items in the draft EIR comments reviewed by the City Council on November 5, 2002, as well as additional comments regarding the traffic impact analysis for the project, as suggested by Mayor McTaggart.
On February 4, 2003, the City received notice that the final EIR for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church expansion project had been released. The final EIR includes a lengthy response to our draft EIR comments of November 5, 2002. The Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission was scheduled to discuss the project applications and the EIR at a special meeting on Wednesday, February 12, 2003, and according to the Staff report published on the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ website, Rolling Hills Estates planners were recommending denial of the project. However, Rolling Hills Covenant Church requested a 30-day continuance of the matter, and the new Planning Commission hearing date had not yet been set as of March 4, 2003.
On March 7, 2003, the City received notice that the public hearing for the Rolling Hills Covenant Church (RHCC) expansion project had been rescheduled for March 17, 2003. According to the Staff report, Rolling Hills Estates planners were still recommending denial of the project. However, since the related development applications for the project include general plan amendments and zone changes to change the land use and zoning designations for small portions of the RHCC property on both side of Palos Verdes Drive North, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission’s review of this proposal was advisory only, with the final decision to be made by the Rolling Hills Estates City Council. The March 17th Staff report recommended that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council certify the EIR but deny the proposed project, based upon the inconsistency of the project with:
It should be noted that RHE Planning Staff conceptually supported the export of 20,000 cubic yards of soil from the RHCC site to the adjacent Green Hills Memorial Park, in spite of significant and unavoidable adverse noise impacts to Rancho Palos Verdes residents and the current prohibition against the importation of fill to the Green Hills site under its master grading and development plan. It should be noted that, on February 19, 2003, Green Hills Memorial Park submitted an application to amend its master plan to allow (among other things) the importation of fill to the site from RHCC. The final EIR ultimately concluded that a smaller expansion alternative would be environmentally superior to the current RHCC proposal, while still fulfilling RHCC’s stated objectives for the project.
During their presentation to the Planning Commission on March 17th, RHCC representatives stated that they wished to revise the project to implement the recommendations of the final EIR for a smaller expansion of the current facilities, and requested a 60-day continuance of the matter. The Planning Commission also heard testimony from the Rolling Hills Estates Neighborhood Coalition and members of the public. At the end of the evening, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission voted to grant RHCC’s request for a 60-day extension and continued the public hearing on the matter to May 19, 2003.
At the May 19, 2003 hearing, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission reviewed the revised proposal for the RHCC expansion project. The revised proposal reduced the capacity of the new sanctuary by six hundred (600) seats, and also reduced the overall heights of the new sanctuary and the parking structure so that a variance was no longer required for the project. However, with the revisions to these structures, the quantity of grading export from the site increased nearly 75% to 34,400 cubic yards, with this material still proposed to be exported to Green Hills Memorial Park. Rolling Hills Estates Planning Staff recommended certification of the EIR, although they still had concerns regarding the compatibility of the project with the surrounding residential neighborhoods. In addition, Staff had a concern regarding the increased quantity of export from the site and the impact that this would have upon residents in the Rolling Hills Riviera community. Therefore, Staff urged the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission to endorse the Chandler Quarry export alternative identified in the EIR, which would divert the 34,400 cubic yards of export to some other approved disposal site rather than to Green Hills. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission voted certify the Final EIR but deny the project as proposed. The Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission subsequently adopted resolutions memorializing this action on June 2, 2003.
On June 24, 2003, the Rolling Hills Estates City Council considered these recommendations. The Staff report reiterated our concerns (as expressed to the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission on May 19th) regarding the noise and air quality impacts to Rolling Hills Riviera residents that would result from the proposed soil export to Green Hills Memorial Park if the project were approved, and advised the Rolling Hills Estates City Council that further analysis of an export alternative would be needed if the project were to be approved. The Rolling Hills Estates City Council heard public testimony from the project applicant, supporters and opponents, and adjourned the meeting to the following evening (June 25, 2003) to conclude its deliberations. On June 25, 2003, the Rolling Hills Estates City Council deliberated further but did not reach a decision. As such, the matter was carried over again to July 8, 2003.
On July 8, 2003, the Rolling Hills Estates City Council asked its Staff to prepare a list of policy issues to be considered in a future workshop on the project, directed Staff to work to identify possible candidates to act as facilitators for such as workshop, selected two Councilmembers to participate in future interviews of the facilitator candidates, and continued the matter to July 22, 2003. The date and time for the facilitated workshop was not determined on July 8th, but may be selected at the July 22nd meeting.
On August 12, 2003, the Rolling Hills Estates City Council selected a consulting firm to mediate the conflict between proponents and opponents of the Rolling Hills Covenant Church project. Discussions between the mediator and the stakeholders are set to begin in early September 2003. As of early 2004, the mediation process was still on-going.
PROPOSED SOUTH COAST COUNTY GOLF COURSE ON FORMER PALOS VERDES LANDFILL (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES AND CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)
On November 26, 2001, Planning Staff attended an environmental impact report (EIR) scoping meeting for the proposed Palos Verdes Golf Course in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The County’s Parks and Recreation Department is the lead agency for the EIR, with the actual document preparation being handled by the consulting firm, ESA. The project proponent is a development consortium, headed by Rob Katherman, which has a 2-year contract with the County to complete the land use entitlement process for the golf course.
The project site is the 160-acre former landfill located between Crenshaw Boulevard and Hawthorne Boulevard. Existing activities on the site include a co-generation and recycling facility for the old landfill, as well as the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ equestrian center. The developers propose an 18-hole, par-72 golf course and a 29,000-square-foot clubhouse. The contract with the County also requires the developer to provide a 7,000-square-foot area for an equestrian center in the immediate area surrounding the golf course, although the exact location of the new equestrian center has not been determined.
A major issue of concern raised by the ±150 people in attendance at the scoping meeting was the disposition of the existing equestrian center and trails on the site. Additional issues of concern included drainage problems for downslope properties in the City of Torrance; geologic concerns about the stability of the old landfill; health concerns regarding toxic materials and methane gas from the old landfill; concerns about the operation of the golf course such as noise, lighting, traffic and security; and construction-related impacts such as air quality, noise, vibration and truck traffic.
The developer’s consultant, ESA, anticipated that the Initial Study (IS) would be complete in early December 2001 and that a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR would be released at that time. The 30-day comment period for the NOP would end in early-to mid-January 2002, with expected public release of the draft EIR in late Spring 2002 and possible action by the County in Summer 2002. It was Staff’s impression that the November 26th scoping meeting was somewhat premature since the IS was not complete and the NOP had not been released. Staff also believed that this schedule may be overly optimistic, given the level of public concern expressed at the scoping meeting, and that it is more likely that the County will make no decision until some time in the fall. As of the end of January 2002, Staff had yet to receive a copy of the NOP for this project.
On February 11, 2002, the City received a copy of the NOP and Initial Study for this project. The deadline for public comment on the NOP was originally March 12, 2002. The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of air quality, noise and transportation/traffic. Based upon the review of the Initial Study, Staff has identified further significant concerns in the areas of hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality and recreation. These concerns were reflected in a draft comment letter that was reviewed by the City Council on February 23, 2002. Since that date, Staff received additional information regarding the former Palos Verdes landfill, and the draft NOP comment letter was revised to incorporate this additional information. Also, Staff contacted the County on February 26, 2002 to request a 30-day extension of the comment deadline for the NOP. As of late February 2002, the County had not yet responded to the City’s request. Therefore, Staff requested the City Council’s final input on the draft NOP comment letter on March 11, 2002 so that the comments could be submitted to the County Parks and Recreation Department by the March 12th deadline in the event that an extension was not granted.
On March 6, 2002, the County informed us that a 30-day extension of the NOP comment period had been granted. The new deadline for comments was April 11, 2002. The City Council took a final look at the draft NOP comment letter for this project on April 2, 2002. Based upon the City Council’s comments, a final comment letter on the NOP was forwarded to the County on April 5, 2002.
On June 4, 2002, the City received a packet of information from the County Sanitation Districts regarding the Palos Verdes Landfill. The packet consisted of eight fact sheets issued by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) between May 1990 and October 1995. The fact sheets were prepared and distributed in order to inform the public of the plans to identify, investigate and remediate any potential migration of contaminants from the Palos Verdes Landfill.
By May 6, 2003, the draft EIR for the project was still not available. However, there were some related developments during Spring and Summer 2003:
On September 30, 2003, Staff received a copy of the long-awaited draft EIR for the proposed project. The draft EIR is being publicly circulated for a 67-day period between September 29 and December 4, 2003. In addition, three community comment meetings on the draft EIR will be held on October 22nd (at Los Verdes Golf Course), October 30th (at the South Coast Botanic Gardens) and November 1st (at the Torrance Hilton). The document can be accessed on-line via the Internet at:
Staff reviewed the document and coordinated with the City of Rolling Hills Estates Staff in preparing formal comments on the draft EIR. Staff anticipated presenting the draft comments to the City Council for its review and comment at the November 5, 2003 meeting.
In response to the City Council’s direction, Staff requested a 90-day extension of the public comment period for the Draft EIR on October 14, 2003. On October 17, 2003, the City was advised that the comment period would be extended to a total of ninety (90) days, thereby ending on December 30, 2003. The County also indicated that the October 30th public comment meeting at the South Coast Botanic Garden would be held at 7:00 PM rather than 2:00 PM. Mayor Stern subsequently spoke with Supervisor Knabe on November 6, 2003, and Supervisor Knabe expressed a willingness to extend the comment period to at least January 30, 2004 and perhaps further. However, as of November 18, 2003, the comment period still officially ended on December 30, 2003.
On October 22, 2003, the County conducted the first in the series of public comment meetings on the Draft EIR. More than two hundred (200) people attended the meeting. The County presented an overview of the project and the findings of the Draft EIR, and accepted public comments. However, several attendees were very dissatisfied with the format for submitting these comments, which involved expressing comments individually at several stations set up around the room, with each station focusing on a group of related environmental impact issues.
At the November 5, 2003 meeting, Staff reported on the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (RWQCB) concerns regarding spills at the former landfill, as reported to Councilman Gardiner by Joan Davidson. Staff followed up on this issue and obtained copies of the past year’s correspondence between RWQCB and the County Sanitation Districts regarding non-storm water discharges at the site, including Incident Notifications for spills that occurred on January 22, 2003, May 12, 2003 and September 6, 2003. While the May 12th incident at Ernie Howlett Park had been reported to the City Council previously, the other two incidents had not. Brief synopses of these other incidents are as follows:
On August 1, 2003, RWQCB issued a Notice of Violation to the Sanitation Districts, citing repeated failures of the Districts’ Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Best Management Practices (BMPs) to prevent non-storm water discharges. The notice specifically cited six (6) incidents between June 2000 and May 2003. The Districts were ordered to submit a revised SWPPP to RWQCB by September 5, 2003; to submit a revised monitoring program for BMPs to RWQCB by September 22, 2003; and to meet with RWQCB staff on August 8, 2003 to discuss the causes of these discharges and the Districts’ plans to remedy the situation.
The Sanitation Districts met with RWQCB staff on August 8, 2003 and August 27, 2003, and asked for a time extension to submit the requested items to RWQCB. RWQCB extended the compliance deadline to September 30, 2003. The Sanitation Districts submitted a revised SWPPP and monitoring program to RWQCB on September 30, 2003. RWQCB has received these documents and is drafting a Clean-Up Abatement Order to formalize the steps that the Districts have agreed to take to prevent the recurrence of non-storm water discharges on the site.
On November 18, 2003, the City Council decided to hire The Source Group, Inc. (TSG) to review and comment upon technical portions of the Draft EIR. TSG reviewed the Draft EIR, as well as the body of information regarding the proposed County golf course submitted to the City by Joan Davidson and others. TSG comments were submitted to Staff on December 8, 2003. Staff, in turn, incorporated TSG’s comments into a draft comment letter that was reviewed by the City Council on December 16, 2003 and January 6, 2004. Also on January 6, 2004, the City was advised that the public comment period for the Draft EIR would be extended to March 4, 2004. The City Council reviewed and modified Staff’s draft comments on January 6, 2004, which were forward to the County on January 15, 2004. At the City Council’s direction, TSG will review additional information about the project, and Staff expects to prepare supplemental comments to the County for the City Council’s review prior to the March 4, 2004 comment deadline.
PROPOSED DEMOLITION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF RE/MAX OFFICE BUILDING, 2483 PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)
On April 16, 2002, the City received a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for the RE/MAX office building project in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The project proposes the demolition of the existing, single-story 2,000-square-foot building and parking lot, and the construction of a new, single-story 5,950-square-foot office building. The project requires a number of discretionary approvals by the City of Rolling Hills Estates, including a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change, a Minor Deviation from the minimum site area for commercial development, a Precise Plan of Design and a Grading application for the importation of 5,700 cubic yards of fill.
The Initial Study identified a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of land use and planning, earth resources, water, air quality, transportation and circulation, biological resources, risk of upset, noise, public services, utilities, aesthetics, cultural resources, and recreation. It should also be noted that this project is just down the street from the Rolling Hills Covenant Church, which is also proposing a major expansion (see discussion above). The deadline for public comments on the NOP for the RE/MAX project was June 3, 2002. Staff intended prepare comments on the NOP and forward them to the City of Rolling Hills Estates.
On May 21, 2002, Staff forwarded the NOP comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. These comments identified potential issues of concern in the areas of geological problems, transportation and circulation and hazards. Staff intended to review the draft EIR once it was available and provide further comments on this project.
As of July 1, 2003, the proposed project had been scaled back from 5,950 square feet to 3,995 square feet and the size of the new parking lot reduced from 25 spaces to 16 spaces. In addition, the revised project is now described as involving only "minor grading," as opposed to the 5,700 cubic yards of fill originally proposed. A revised Initial Study (IS) was prepared, and the City received a new NOP from the City of Rolling Hills Estates on September 3, 2003.
The new Initial Study identifies a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of aesthetics, cultural resources, hydrology/water quality, geology/soils and land use/planning. The deadline for public comments on the NOP for the RE/MAX project was October 3, 2003. Staff prepared comments on the NOP and forwarded them to the City of Rolling Hills Estates on September 8, 2003. These comments identified potential issues of concern in the areas of biological impacts to California gnatcatchers and their habitat; emergency access and response impacts from construction in the public rights-of-way of Palos Verdes Drive East and Palos Verdes Drive North; and cumulative traffic impacts of the larger office building. Staff intends to review the draft EIR once it was available and provide further comments on this project.
PROPOSED BUTCHER RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION, PALOS VERDES DRIVE NORTH BETWEEN PALOS VERDES DRIVE EAST AND MONTECILLO DRIVE (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)
On July 10, 2002, the City received a Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for the proposed Butcher residential subdivision in the City of Rolling Hills Estates. The subject property is a 6.41-acre site near the northeast corner of Palos Verdes Drive North and Palos Verdes Drive East. The developer proposes to create twelve residential lots and a private street parallel to Palos Verdes Drive North. The project requires a number of discretionary approvals by the City of Rolling Hills Estates, including a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change, a Tentative Tract Map and a Grading application.
The Initial Study identifies a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of land use and planning, earth resources, water, air quality, transportation and circulation, biological resources, risk of upset, noise, utilities, aesthetics and cultural resources. The subject property is also located adjacent to the site of the proposed new RE/MAX Palos Verdes office building and across the street from Rolling Hills Covenant Church, which is also planning a major expansion (see discussion above). A public scoping meeting for the Butcher subdivision was held on July 31, 2002, but Staff was unable to attend. However, Staff intended to prepare written comments on the NOP and forward them to the City of Rolling Hills Estates prior to the August 23, 2002 public comment deadline.
On August 12, 2002, Staff forwarded NOP comments to the City of Rolling Hills Estates. These comments identified potential issues of concern in the areas of biological resources, transportation/traffic, hazards and land use planning. Staff intended to review the draft EIR once it was available and provide further comments on this project.
As of July 1, 2003, the proposed project had been withdrawn and was being re-designed to address issues raised in the original Initial Study (IS). Staff expects to review and comment upon the revised IS upon its receipt from the City of Rolling Hills Estates.
SAN PEDRO FACILITY RESTORATION ADVISORY BOARD (DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND CITY OF LOS ANGELES)
On August 19, 2002, the City received public notice for the annual meeting of the San Pedro Facility Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). The meeting was intended to provide an open forum for the discussion of the environmental investigations and clean-up activities at the Defense Fuel Support Point San Pedro Facility and adjacent housing areas on Western Avenue and Palos Verdes Drive North. Staff attended the August 28, 2002 meeting, at which Navy personnel presented updates on a variety of on-going soil remediation programs on the site, including:
There was also a presentation by the Peninsula Land Conservancy regarding its efforts to restore coastal sage scrub habitat and monitor the population of the Palos Verdes blue butterflies on the site.
There was no new information presented at the RAB meeting regarding the status of the transfer of the San Pedro and Palos Verdes housing sites to the various agencies identified by the San Pedro Reuse Committee in 1999. A portion of the housing along Taper Avenue was transferred to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2001 for the possible future expansion of Mary Star of the Sea High School. Also, information regarding the San Pedro Facility RAB is available on-line at:
On September 13, 2002, Staff spoke with Navy personnel regarding the transfer of the housing sites. According to the Minutes of the August 2001 RAB meeting, the transfer of these properties was being held up by the issue of Palos Verdes blue butterfly habitat on and adjacent to the housing sites. Consultations between the Navy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over the Navy’s proposed habitat plan reached an impasse in early 2002, which was only broken when the Navy agreed that it would retain ownership of a critical habitat area adjacent to the Palos Verdes housing site. Under this scenario, the various proposed recipients of the properties—including Marymount College—would be responsible for dealing individually with USFWS if any critical habitat issues arose on their respective properties as a result of their proposed reuse and/or redevelopment. However, the City of Los Angeles apparently objects to this scenario and has asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—which is the last Federal agency that needs to approve the transfer of the properties—to withhold any action on the San Pedro Reuse Plan until its concerns are addressed. Navy personnel indicated that HUD could unilaterally approve the Reuse Plan over the City of Los Angeles’ objections but has been understandably reluctant to do so. Nevertheless, the Navy believed that the transfer of the housing sites could be finalized by early 2003.
On October 28, 2002, the Daily Breeze reported that the impasse regarding the transfer of the former Navy housing sites had been broken, largely due to the efforts of Congresswoman Jane Harman and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. The transfer of the property to the City of Los Angeles was expected to be complete by the end of 2002. As a part of the property transfer, the Navy will set aside a 10-acre fenced preserve for the Palos Verdes blue butterfly, to be maintained and monitored by the a land conservancy group. The housing sites will ultimately be transferred to Marymount College, Rolling Hills Preparatory School, South Bay Crossings and the Kenny Nickelson Memorial Foundation for Homeless Veterans, all of whom were identified in the 1999 base reuse plan. However, the Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute (REI), which was slated to redevelop approximately 46.5 acres of the Western Avenue housing site, withdrew its plans for the site. With the withdrawal of REI, its portion of the San Pedro housing site will be put up for bid sale by the Navy in early 2003. The former REI portion—which is zoned R-1 and contains approximately 190 dwelling units—is expected to generate interest from the residential development community.
At the January 7, 2003 City Council meeting, Councilmember McTaggart reported that he had received a copy of the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for the Navy’s Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) San Pedro. The adoption of the INRMP is related to the clean-up of soil contamination at DFSP San Pedro and the transfer of the former Navy housing sites.
On January 18, 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that HUD was slated to make a final decision on the 1999 reuse plan in late January 2003, pending resolution of a revived dispute between the City of Los Angeles and Volunteers of America (VOA), a homeless advocacy group. VOA was one of the original applicants for the reuse of the former Navy housing, but was not one of the final recipients identified in the 1999 plan. VOA had been trying to increase the number of dwelling units set aside for low-income families and the homeless, particularly since the units formerly allocated to REI are now "up for grabs" with the withdrawal of REI’s proposal for the San Pedro housing site. The South Bay Daily Breeze subsequently reported on February 5, 2003, that the City of Los Angeles and VOA failed to reach a compromise, and the 1999 reuse plan was forwarded to HUD as originally approved.
On March 8 and 9, 2003, the Times and the Daily Breeze, respectively, reported that HUD had rejected the 1999 reuse plan for the former Navy housing sites. In a letter to the City of Los Angeles, HUD stated that the 1999 reuse plan did not adequately balance economic development and the needs of the community’s homeless. HUD further suggested that at least seventy-six (76) additional dwelling units be set aside for low-income housing, possibly within the San Pedro housing site on Western Avenue. HUD has given the City of Los Angeles ninety (90) days to develop a revised plan to address its concerns.
On May 6, 2003, Staff in the office of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn advised the City that neither Councilwoman Hahn nor Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn proposed or supported any alteration to the 1999 reuse plan. The Councilwoman’s’ Staff indicated that the City of Los Angeles was working on a response to HUD’s concerns, which was scheduled to be transmitted to HUD. Ultimately, the City of Los Angeles did not respond to HUD’s concerns by the June 7, 2003 deadline, effectively reiterating its endorsement of the original 1999 reuse plan.
On June 20, 2003, Staff contacted Navy personnel regarding the next steps in the property transfer process. Based upon the City of Los Angeles response (or lack thereof) to HUD’s comments about the 1999 reuse plan, HUD has sixty (60) days to issue a final determination regarding the disposal of the property. If HUD stands by its previous position that at least seventy-six (76) additional units be set aside for low-income housing, then HUD has the authority to decide what agency or entity will receive those units. Pending HUD’s final determination, the Navy has made no decision regarding the disposition of the housing sites. However, once a final determination is issued, the Navy will transfer the property based upon the allocation program outlined in the 1999 reuse plan (as modified by HUD). Any unallocated portions of the property (i.e., the former Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute portion) will be put up for public sale to the highest bidder.
HUD rejected the 1999 reuse plan for the former Navy housing sites in San Pedro on August 13, 2003. According to Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s office, the Navy now plans to auction off the Western Avenue portion of the property to the highest bidder. As mentioned previously, the property is zoned R-1 and would be expected to be developed with market-rate single-family homes.
On September 8, 2003, a representative of Councilwoman Hahn’s office made a presentation to the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council regarding the disposition of the former Navy housing sites in light of HUD’s rejection of the 1999 reuse plan. Also present at the meeting were representatives of Marymount College, Rolling Hills Preparatory School and Volunteers of America (VOA).
Councilwoman Hahn’s representative made it clear that HUD’s request for seventy-six (76) additional units for the homeless was only a recommendation to the Navy, which has the final authority to determine the allocation of the property. She further stated that the Navy has indicated that it intends to comply with "spirit" of the 1999 reuse plan and the "intent" of HUD’s recommendation. To this end, the Navy expects to transfer all of the property on the Palos Verdes site in general accordance with the 1999 reuse plan. However, with the exception of one acre and two structures allocated to the Kenny Nickelson Memorial Foundation for Homeless Veterans, the balance of the San Pedro/John Montgomery site—containing two hundred forty-five (245) dwelling units—will be put up for Internet bid auction, and potential bidders will be advised of their obligation to provide for seventy-six (76) units of homeless housing. This obligation can be satisfied by 1) buying out the homeless services providers (i.e., VOA and San Pedro Enterprise Community (SPEC)) for the value of the units; 2) agreeing to provide the units on-site as a part of a future development project; or 3) some combination of both of these alternatives. The Navy now hopes to dispose of all of its former housing by the end of 2003.
On October 1, 2003, the RAB held its annual meeting. Staff attended the meeting, at which Navy personnel presented updates on a variety of on-going soil remediation programs on the site, including:
With respect to this last issue, Navy personnel stated that the Navy had issued a Finding of Suitability to Transfer (FOST) for the San Pedro/John Montgomery site, thereby clearing the way for its sale. However, a FOST had not yet been issued for the Palos Verdes site.
In response to Councilman Clark’s comments at the October 7, 2003 City Council meeting, Staff contacted Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s office regarding any further action by the City regarding the transfer of the housing sites. According to Staff in the Councilwoman’s office, the transfer of the housing sites is proceeding and the City of Los Angeles is not taking any further action to delay it or to re-open the process to another reuse committee. On November 5, 2003, Staff prepared a draft letter to the Navy expressing the City Council’s position that the reuse plan should be implemented and the housing sites transferred as approved by the reuse committee and the Los Angeles City Council in 1999. This letter was finalized and sent to the Navy on November 6, 2003.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY GENERAL PLAN UPDATE (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES)
On November 22, 2002, the City received a copy of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for a comprehensive update and amendment to the Los Angeles County General Plan. The project generally proposes to revise County growth policies by updating population and housing projections; revise and expand the boundaries of Significant Ecological Areas (SEA’s) to reflect recent biological surveys; revise the land use policy maps and other related general plan maps, plans and exhibits, and convert them to a digital computer format; revise the transportation policy maps to reflect recent updates and revisions to the County’s transportation network; revise the Conservation and Open Space element to incorporate the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES); and revise the boundaries of several County "islands" to reflect recent incorporations.
The Initial Study identifies a number of potentially significant environmental impacts in the general areas of hazards, resources, services and other categories. Revisions to the County’s general plan would potentially affect the use and development of property on the Peninsula within the Academy Hills, Westfield and The Estates communities, as well as the South Coast Botanic Garden. In addition, Crenshaw Boulevard between Palos Verdes Drive North and Silver Spur Road is located in unincorporated territory, while Hawthorne Boulevard from Pacific Coast Highway to Palos Verdes Drive West is a designated County highway (Route N7). It should also be noted that the SEA’s depicted in the project description appear to include the landslide moratorium area and other large portions of the City, as well as the entire coastline of the Peninsula.
The County conducted a series of public scoping meetings between December 2, 2002 and December 10, 2002 to solicit input on the preparation of the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project. The deadline for public comments on the NOP was originally December 23, 2002, but has been extended to February 23, 2003. Additional information about the County’s General Plan update is available on-line at:
Based upon the City Council’s input at the January 7, 2003 City Council meeting, Staff forwarded comments on the NOP to the County on January 14, 2003. Staff anticipated that a draft Environmental Impact Report and a draft County General Plan would be available for review and comment in late Spring 2003, although this was not the case.
On January 20, 2004, the City received notice of the release of a Draft Preliminary General Plan from the County. At this time, there is no deadline for comments on the document, although a community workshop will be held in the Harbor Gateway area on March 9, 2004.
CHANDLER QUARRY REUSE PLAN (CITY OF ROLLING HILLS ESTATES)
On March 24, 2003, the Daily Breeze reported that the Chandler Quarry Reuse Committee had begun to review a conceptual plan for the reuse of the Chandler Quarry site in Rolling Hills Estates. According to the City of Rolling Hills Estates website, the City of Rolling Hills Estates established the Committee "to determine the opportunities, problems and potential benefits which may result from the undertaking of a program to convert the Chandler Landfill and the Rolling Hills Country Club into a new and productive use that is consistent with the General Plan, the property owners and the surrounding community." The Committee includes representatives of the cities of Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance and Lomita, the property owners (i.e., Chandler’s, Inc. and the Rolling Hills Country Club), and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The 220-acre site is located mostly in Rolling Hills Estates, with small portions encroaching upon the cities of Torrance and Lomita. This area has been designated in the Rolling Hills Estates General Plan for Commercial Recreation and Very Low Density Residential (i.e., one dwelling unit per acre) land uses. Additional information is available on the Rolling Hills Estates website at:
The conceptual plan described in the Daily Breeze includes expanding the current 6,112-yard Rolling Hills Country Club golf course to 7,000 yards; relocating and enlarging the existing, 30,000-square-foot clubhouse by 10,000 to 15,000 square feet; and constructing 160 to 200 new homes. Apparently, a similar but larger project (i.e., 600 homes) was proposed in the mid 1980’s, but never moved forward in the face of strong community opposition. The Daily Breeze article notes that geology and hydrology studies for the project have been underway for more than a year. Staff expects that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared for the project at some point.
HARBOR-SOUTH BAY WATER RECYCLING PROJECT (ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS/WEST BASIN MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT)
On May 1, 2003, the City received a copy of the Draft Environmental Assessment/Initial Study (DEA/IS) for the Harbor-South Bay Water Recycling Project, which was prepared jointly by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and the West Basin Municipal Water District (WBMWD). The project is a part of WBMWD’s water infrastructure improvement regional recycled water project. Fourteen (14) project laterals are proposed throughout the Harbor and South Bay areas. Two (2) of these laterals—Lateral 6B and Lateral 7—would serve properties within the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, including Green Hills Memorial Park, Los Verdes County Golf Course and other City parks and facilities. Although most of the proposed project would consist of trenching in public rights-of-way for the placement of water lines, Lateral 7 also proposes the construction of a reservoir at or near Highridge Park in the City of Rolling Hills Estates.
The deadline for public comments on the DEA/IS was May 29, 2003. Staff reviewed the DEA/IS and forwarded comments to ACOE on May 21, 2003. On November 26, 2003, the City received a response to its comments on the DEA/IS.
WATERFRONT GATEWAY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (PORT OF LOS ANGELES)
On November 14, 2003, the City received the proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for the Waterfront Gateway Development Project in the Port of Los Angeles. The project objectives are to enhance public access to the waterfront; provide a pedestrian-friendly corridor between the existing uses surrounding the cruise ship terminal and John S. Gibson, Jr. Park at Harbor Boulevard and Fifth Street; and provide a system of plazas and gathering spaces along the waterfront. The major components of the proposed project include:
The MND identifies potentially significant environmental impacts in the areas of air quality, biological resources, cultural resources and noise. Although none of these appear to directly affect the City and its residents, the project may have operational impacts upon Peninsula residents as a whole if it is ultimately successful in drawing more people to the waterfront for recreational purposes. Staff reviewed the MND and provided comments to the Port on December 11, 2003. Staff’s comments focused on aesthetic, security and traffic issues.