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RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
JANUARY 20, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 7:09 p.m. by Mayor Gardiner at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Wolowicz, Long, Clark, Stern, and Gardiner
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; Administrative Analyst Matt Waters; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Minutes Reporter Debra Presutti.
Councilman Long led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Gardiner encouraged everyone wishing to speak on the Proposed Conceptual Plans for Point Vicente to do so and requested as a time-saving mechanism that members of organized groups might wish to have one member take a block of time and make a presentation on behalf of the entire group rather than having each individual member use their allotted time.
Kaleeno Daczko was chosen as recycler of the month. Mayor Gardiner congratulated the winner.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Long, that Item No. 8, the Appointment of members to the City’s Committees and Commissions, be moved to the beginning of the Agenda.
The amended Agenda was approved without objection.
Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed her preference that public comments not are taken at the beginning of the meeting before any discussion of the matters has occurred. She also commended Director Allison for repairing a large bump on Palos Verdes Drive South and requested the City direct its attention to repairing the remainder of the road.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Wolowicz attended a function of the L.A. Division of the League of California Cities on January 8th as the guest of Mayor pro tem Clark. He participated in the first Tactical Planning Workshop of the new City Council on January 10th and complimented the City Manager and his staff for contributing guidance on the foundation and structure of the discussion, adding the meeting provided a great start for the year. On January 12th he participated with the other Council members in the California Contract Cities tour where they met with a number of other elected officials and discussed the State’s budget issues, including the proposed $15 billion bond measure, which he noted is receiving support from both sides of the aisle.
Councilman Wolowicz attended a Palos Verdes Transit Authority meeting on January 15th where he met with the auditor. He mentioned that former Council members John McTaggart and Barbara Ferraro were recognized and presented certificates for their work on behalf of the City. On January 16th he emceed the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce where the potential closure of the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo and the importance of its retention were discussed.
Councilman Long noted that he also attended the January 8th League of Cities dinner and the California Contract Cities legislative tour and noted that the financial situation in Sacramento is extremely dire.
Councilman Stern attended the League of California Contract Cities annual trip to Sacramento on January 8th and commended Mayor pro tem Clark for arranging a meeting of the full City Council with the Chairperson of the Assembly Budget Committee.
Mayor pro tem Clark noted that the Council’s prioritized areas of focus decided at the Tactical Workshop which took place on January 10th will be posted on the City’s website.
Mayor pro tem Clark mentioned that a bipartisan group representing approximately ten percent of the Assembly is being formed within the State Assembly to attempt to cross the boundaries between the two political parties which have polarized legislative dealings in Sacramento for the past several years. He stated that Assemblyman Alan Loewenthal is among the members who have recognized that cooperation is imperative to provide a healthy State government and improve the situation in California, and he encouraged other Council members and legislators to join in this bipartisan caucus.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated he is now the Vice Chair of the California League of Cities Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee which held its first meeting on January 15th. He remarked that the $15 billion bond initiative on California’s March ballot must pass in order to eliminate the State’s incurred debt and provide a new baseline. He further noted that the Governor and the Administration are being encouraged to support the November ballot initiative sponsored by the League which will constitutionally guarantee the State government can no longer unilaterally deprive cities and counties of their revenue sources.
OLD BUSINESS/CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
City Manager Evans presented a brief overview of the telephone problems experienced by many residents of the Seaview area over the recent holiday season and introduced Mike Murray of Verizon to address the matter.
Mike Murray, External Affairs Manager of Verizon, apologized for the inconvenience caused by the recent telephone outages. He explained that a sudden power surge went beyond the initial piece of damaged equipment causing further detriment to the system. He commended the City’s Director of Public Works, Dean Allison, for handling a difficult situation extremely well and focusing with Verizon on the primary concerns of service restoration and forward-looking safeguards.
Dennis Hayes, representing the Operations Group of Verizon, explained that the system was extensively damaged by an unknown power source, making restoration more difficult and time consuming than usual. He stated the system is currently up and running and new equipment using the latest technology has been ordered which will provide enhanced services.
Mayor Stern requested an explanation of why such a substantial amount of time was taken to correct the problem, adding the repair time seemed much longer than should be acceptable to either Verizon or the City’s residents.
Dennis Hayes responded Verizon’s normal turn-around time is 24 hours, clarifying that does not necessarily mean the problem can be solved in that time frame. He explained that power surges caused damage to the system creating a domino-like effect so each time the problem appeared to be solved for one set of customers another group was subsequently affected.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested that Verizon explore the causes and outcomes of this incident, share that information with the community, and provide assurance there will not be a recurrence of this situation.
Councilman Wolowicz remarked that an unknown power failure for a neighborhood of this size is unacceptable and added that a 24-hour turn-around time might be fine for an individual residence but, when it affects an entire neighborhood, is also not acceptable. He noted that a great deal of concern and doubt were created by not only the system failure but the amount of time taken to repair it, especially given the amount of attention recently focused on disaster preparedness.
Dennis Hayes agreed and clarified that a normal service request receives 24-hour attention but a large outage of any type is addressed immediately upon Verizon’s notification.
Councilman Wolowicz reiterated Mayor pro tem Clark’s request that once the reason for the power failure is determined Verizon share that information with the City staff and Council.
Mayor Gardiner thanked the representatives for attending the meeting to publicly address the issue, advising it would be helpful if Verizon voluntarily provide information back to Council so residents will be informed about what actually occurred and what steps are being taken to prevent future occurrences.
Erika Barber, of the Seaview Residents Association, stated that she and other residents of Seaview were without phone service from December 23rd through the 31st, right through the holidays. She thanked the City Council and the Verizon representatives for their assistance in addressing and resolving the situation and requested information related to the cause is forthcoming.
Lenee Bilski, of the Seaview Residents Association, thanked the Council for bringing attention to the matter and providing the Verizon representatives to address residents’ concerns. She indicated the telephone service is a public utility and is a necessity not just a convenience, noting that in communities serviced by other providers an outage of this magnitude is treated as an emergency. She stated that Verizon needs to determine the cause for this situation and ensure that it does not reoccur.
Mike Murray indicated that Verizon would report back to the City on the causes and lessons learned, adding they will continue working to determine the source for the power surge. He remarked that he understands the importance of communications in peoples daily lives, apologized to everyone impacted by the situation, and agreed to arrange a meeting with the residents of the affected neighborhood to provide pertinent information.
# # # # # #
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Appointment of members to the City’s Committees and Commission.
Appointed William Gerstner, Jack Karp, Jim Knight, Paul Tetreault, and Samuel Van Wagner to the Planning Commission; appointed Tracy Bristol, Ava Shepherd, and Damon Willens to the Traffic Committee; and, appointed Benkai Bouey, Mark Grimme, William Smith, and Lori Zorn to the Finance Advisory Committee.
It was the consensus that Planning Commission Members Van Wagner and Tetreault were appointed for a two-year term of office, and that Finance Advisory Committee Member William Smith was appointed for a two-year term of office.
Councilman Stern noted that Council members were provided a wonderful opportunity to interview an extraordinary group of applicants each of whom could easily fulfill the job and perform it well. He apologized to those candidates not selected, adding it is unfortunate they could not all be chosen.
Mayor pro tem Clark echoed Councilman Stern’s sentiments and remarked that the applicants reflect the depth and quality of leadership within the community. He recommended that Council proceed to appoint Craig Mueller as Chair of the Planning Commission, noting that he was Vice Chair the previous year and has acted as interim Chair since Councilman Long’s election.
Councilman Stern noted that while he agrees with Mayor pro tem Clark’s comments, he would prefer to follow the process that has been adopted which would allow all members of the Commission interested in serving as Chair to submit their names and be interviewed, adding he would like to provide all seven members that opportunity.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, that the Chair not be appointed at this time. The motion passed on a three - two vote with Mayor Gardiner and Mayor Pro Tem Clark voting no.
Councilman Stern requested that the matter of the Equestrian Committee be agendized, commenting that he was not convinced of the need to continue the committee, but, rather than prejudge it, he would like to hear what mission remains for the committee.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested to agendize Council’s consideration of establishing a subcommittee to work on zoning, lot coverage, and setbacks as a follow-up to the Neighborhood Compatibility Committee. He suggested inviting applicants not appointed to the Planning Commission to seek appointment to that subcommittee to continue work on that portion of the Development Code which is a major planning issue facing the City.
Miscellaneous Items for Action:
Continued Items for Action:
Proposed Conceptual Plan For Upper Point Vicente and Open Space Planning and Recreation and Parks Task Force Update
Administrative Analyst Matt Waters presented the staff memorandum of January 20, 2004.
Councilman Stern mentioned that a number of potential sites for girls softball have been identified in a memo from Task Force Vice Chairman Jim Knight and queried if staff had evaluated the viability of any of these sites.
Analyst Waters replied that a list of these sites was just provided at the last Task Force meeting and staff has not yet had a chance to examine them. He noted the Campo Verde in the City of Palos Verdes Estates site is of particular interest because it may be able to accommodate at least two softball fields.
Councilman Stern mentioned the Plan of Utilization for the Lower Point Vicente property and inquired what types of activities are consistent with that plan.
Assistant City Manager Petru responded that the City does not have a copy of the County’s Plan of Utilization, saying staff does not know the specific land use restrictions but believes the basic components for utilization are very similar to the City’s plan for Upper Point Vicente.
Councilman Wolowicz queried how long it would take staff to assess Vice Chair Knight’s the proposed alternative girls softball sites. He noted there are many fields within RPV and outside its borders, adding it is critical to get feedback on these sites to know exactly what options are available.
City Manager Evans explained that when Council originally directed staff to investigate alternative softball sites a consultant was hired to look at and provide recommendations on Upper and Lower Point Vicente, Hesse Park, Grandview Park, and Ladera Linda since the Task Force had suggested these locations might be most appropriate. He indicated much work has been going on in the Task Force, saying staff was trying to respond to and support their recommendations rather than branch out in other directions. He noted that other sites could certainly be explored.
Mayor pro tem Clark opined that this is a Peninsula-wide issue and the other jurisdictions as well as the School District need to be involved in the need assessment aspect as well as the location of sites for sports fields.
City Manager Evans indicated that at the staff level he has engaged in discussions with representatives from Rolling Hills Estates, Palos Verdes Estates, and the School Superintendent to identify potential locations, adding that with the exception of Lower Point Vicente it does not appear that any site exists that will accommodate four fields. He noted that a dialogue with Todd Anderson’s girls’ softball group needs to take place to discuss a possible compromise or fewer fields.
Don Stephenson, Rancho Palos Verdes, Chairman of the Maintenance and Improvements Subcommittee of the Task Force, explained that the intent of the subcommittee was to visit all the parks and open spaces of RPV, evaluate them, and weigh them against current and expressed needs of the community. He indicated they held a public focus group to get input from the local residents of the Lower Hesse Park area regarding the placement of ball fields there and vehement opposition to the idea was expressed. He stated that in February 2003 a meeting was convened to discuss land use for Lower Point Vicente where the docents presented their plans and Todd Anderson of the Palos Verdes Youth Athletic Group specifically addressed the needs of girls’ softball. Since parking and access are conducive, it is one of the flatter parcels examined, and there are no local resident issues, the focus returned to Lower Point Vicente and the possibility of reaching a compromise to satisfy both interested parties.
Joan Barry, Rancho Palos Verdes, speaking on behalf of the Los Serenos de Point Vicente docents, indicated the docents have taught natural and cultural history to visitors for 20 years. She outlined their proposal to create a walk back in time, including trails through natural habitat, a Tongva Indian village, an archeological dig, a geology site, and an historic Japanese dry farm all connected to the experience of the new Interpretive Center. She noted that each of these components need adequate space between them to maintain their individual integrity and remarked that last year’s commissioned survey revealed the City’s residents prefer to use available space to create and maintain more open and natural areas. She opined that placing softball fields in close proximity to these features would be a distraction from the learning environment and implored Council to agree that the quiet ambiance of one of the last pieces of coastal land in Rancho Palos Verdes should be preserved for the good of culture and history.
Mayor pro tem Clark, noting that there is a constituency in the community that favors an alternative use for sports fields and facilities, inquired about her position relative to satisfying those needs.
Joan Barry responded there are many other sites on the Peninsula that could accommodate softball and pointed out a recent study by the docents identifying 18 potential sites.
John Olguin, of the Cabrillo Aquarium and Maritime Museum, spoke on behalf of the Indian museum, saying it would be a wonderful addition adjacent to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center and noted that arrangements have been made for many artifacts collected from Tongva villages in the Malaga Cove area in the 1920’s and 1930’s to be loaned to the center upon its completion.
Bill Lama, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the vote on Lower Point Vicente provides an opportunity for Council to provide an amazing gift to the people of Rancho Palos Verdes and the surrounding area by maintaining the peace and beauty of one of the last remaining open spaces on the Peninsula. He noted that the proposed living history museum would provide a unique hands-on educational experience for children and a rare look at the tradition of Japanese dry farming that was once prevalent in this area.
Dale Ann Sato, described her work with the Peninsula Center Library on the 40 Families Project which seeks to trace the ancestry and history of those Japanese American families on the Peninsula from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s. She mentioned the close connection between these pioneering members of the community and the proposed living history museum and the wonderful opportunity to share this relatively unknown aspect of local history. She explained that James Hatano, who embodies the spirit of those early residents and has been rooted on this land in Rancho Palos Verdes for 50 years, is the last remaining Japanese American dry farmer on the Peninsula and advocated he be allowed to remain, working his farm and collaborating as a living exhibit in the proposed Lower Point Vicente project.
Vic Quirarte, Rancho Palos Verdes, mentioned that in collaboration with the Conservation Committee the docents have visited 18 sites and compiled a list of alternatives compatible with girls’ softball, noting that 37 locations have been identified and measured. He requested that these sites be further investigated before making a decision to include softball fields on Lower Point Vicente.
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 8:57 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:03 p.m.
Stephanie Brito, Rancho Palos Verdes, remarked that as Council considers the use of one of the last open spaces of coastline in Los Angeles County they have the power to preserve the quiet beauty of Lower Point Vicente by maintaining it as a natural space historically used by the Tongvas, European settlers, and Japanese Americans all in harmony with the natural setting. She opined that the docents’ plan would continue this type of use and make it more widely available to children and the general public than would the placement of baseball diamonds. She noted that people come from far away to visit the Palos Verdes Peninsula and urged that this precious jewel be preserved for those who appreciate the quiet beauty of nature.
Betty Riedman, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 24-year resident, reiterated Councilman Clark’s position that the lack of athletic fields is a Peninsula-wide problem and RPV should not be expected to furnish all the softball fields for the area, suggesting the other three cities step up to the plate and provide some of the needed space. She stated it is incompatible to combine active and passive use on Lower Point Vicente, noting it is a very special place that, once urbanized, cannot be returned to its natural state.
John Nieto, Rancho Palos Verdes, mentioned the PERT motto, "Do the most good for the most people," in relation to the decision on Lower Point Vicente. He stated this is a special site which would lend itself perfectly to becoming an outdoor education laboratory, noting the uniqueness of the area’s geology, the historical aspect of Japanese dry farming already in existence on the site, as well as the early Tongva villages and settler activity of days gone by, all occurring in a wonderful natural setting with the occasional glimpse of whales on the horizon. He sympathized with the athletic needs of the community but said this is the wrong site to include them.
Dave Tomblin, representing the Palos Verdes Unified School District, introduced himself as one of the liaisons assigned by the School Board to work with the City, noting his availability to answer questions in that capacity.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested information on the completion of a new girls softball field at Palos Verdes High School and the possibility of a second one being constructed.
Mr. Tomblin replied that a new varsity girls softball field is opening a the PV High School site this season and that a potential second field, for which there is a tremendous need, is still in the planning stages. He noted that additional competition for existing fields by lacrosse and soccer teams continues to increase the already conflicting scheduling demands.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if a general inventory of School District land has been performed to determine the availability of land that could potentially be used for fields.
Mr. Tomblin responded there is an inventory and that a proposed agenda item is making its way to the Board to create an Asset Committee to review the School District’s assets and land for potential joint ventures.
Councilman Wolowicz suggested that accelerating this project could play a major role in responding to youth activity needs on the Peninsula and requested an inventory be provided to staff, including any land that might be excluded from the list because of renovation or other associated costs.
Dave Tomblin briefly described that while most areas on the Peninsula have separate Little Leagues for boys where a family that lives in a location like Lunada Bay can attend games in their respective neighborhoods, the Girls Softball League is a Peninsula-wide situation creating a need for combined fields in one area.
Mayor Gardiner thanked Mr. Tomblin for participating in the meeting, saying the City looks forward to cooperating with the School District.
Richard Kowasaki, a member of the 40 Families Research Project and docent at the Peninsula Library, stated his grandparents were farmers on the Peninsula dating back to 1925-’26. He remarked that Mr. Hatano is very significant as the last of a tradition of farmers and an irreplaceable member of the cultural history of the area and urged Council to support the docents’ Lower Point Vicente proposal and maintain this vital piece of heritage.
Julie Sulman, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 23-year resident and docent in the Local History Room of the Palos Verdes Library, reiterated the importance of maintaining the window of cultural history provided by Mr. Hatano’s working farm, adding it is all that remains of the many acres farmed by members of the 40 Families Project in the early 1900’s before their forced relocation to internment camps in 1941. She strongly urged Council to preserve it, saying the farm is truly a piece of living history and its location contiguous to the Interpretive Center makes it a natural for inclusion in the imaginative plan for the outdoor living history museum.
Midori Kamei, spoke in favor of including the Japanese farm as part of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, saying it provides a wonderful opportunity to preserve a bit of history for future generations.
Diane Tanaka, Vice President of the South Bay Japanese American Citizens’ League and Chair of the South Bay Oral History Project, briefly described the importance of preserving and teaching the history and contributions of Japanese Americans to the greater South Bay and Palos Verdes area. She urged Council to allow Mr. Hatano to continue to care for the land he has worked on the Peninsula for more than 50 years, saying this would be a wonderful contribution to the living history museum, providing an existing example of these specialized farming techniques and the family and cultural history of the area.
Ann Shaw, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 37-year resident, stated early Council members and staff wisely recognized Lower Point Vicente as a passive recreation area and included that definition in their application for ownership of the parcel, noting that this Council has another opportunity to make a decision regarding a piece of land that embodies the unparalleled beauty of RPV. She urged Council’s timely decision that all active recreational uses for the area are inappropriate and direct those advocates of the other many worthwhile activities to find more suitable sites.
Linda Gonzalez, an educator in Tongva culture, introduced herself in the traditional Yaqui language of her people, saying she is one of a diverse group of Indians, environmentalists, and naturalists working together to save the sacred sites of Native Americans in the Los Angeles area. She said that saving Lower Point Vicente would help promote environmental and educational opportunities for children and the community as a whole to learn firsthand about the traditions, history, and heritage of the Tongva people who once inhabited this region, noting that Palos Verdes was the most densely populated area in their territory. She stated the Tongva have a spiritual tie to the land and feel it incumbent upon them to speak for protection of all the sites before they are gone forever. She beseeched Council to vote against desecration of this pristine site and instead to acknowledge and honor the Tongva as the first indigenous people of Palos Verdes.
Wayne Kalayjian, Rancho Palos Verdes, a five-month resident, said, unlike many of the long-time residents who have spoken and have grappled with this issue for months or years, he has no agenda but is attempting instead to provide some context which might assist Council’s decision. He stated he appreciates the importance of baseball and softball in our community and culture; he indicated that as a civil engineer and architectural historian he has worked on many projects to preserve sites and rehabilitate historic structures so he also appreciates the texture, meaning, and intangible benefit these sites provide to the associated communities. He remarked that building on Lower Point Vicente would alter the character and historical significance of this magnificent site forever and recommended maintaining its natural state.
Todd Anderson, Rancho Palos Verdes, representing the Peninsula Youth Sports Council, remarked that he is the first person to speak on behalf of recreational sports for the community’s children and noted that some of these children and their parents had come to the meeting to speak on the matter but had since left, the hour now being nearly 10:00 p.m. He reminded Council that the issue of children wanting to play recreational sports and the lack of facilities on the Peninsula was brought to the attention of City staff four years ago, saying there are not even enough sites for the high school teams and that was before the new high school opened and newly sanctioned events like lacrosse and hockey entered the scene. He stated the Sports Council has done the surveys, looked at all the potential sites that could accommodate the various recreational leagues, and presented this information to Council, but the problem has yet to be resolved.
Mr. Anderson indicated that after reviewing plans for other potential sites in the area, the Open Space and Recreation Task Force and their two subcommittees agreed that Lower Point Vicente is the only feasible site on which to provide regulation-size fields and noted that the leagues have never taken a position against any other proposed use on the site, preferring to approach the matter in a spirit of compromise. He further indicated his belief that the uses proposed by the docents and youth recreation are complementary, adding, from a community-planning perspective, to locate these activities in a way that is centralized and consolidated for parking, access, utilities, et cetera makes a great deal of sense. He strongly urged Council to seriously consider the information before them and ask whether accommodating recreation actually precludes any other use of the site.
Mayor Gardiner expressed great concern at Mr. Anderson’s comment that children had come to speak on the matter, noting no mention had been made nor was there any record of anyone specifically requesting to speak early because of children. He sincerely apologized to any speaker who may have been missed.
Councilman Stern asked if the updated list of sites prepared by the docents had been presented to Mr. Anderson for his evaluation.
Mr. Anderson responded he has been provided no information regarding those sites and their feasibility.
Councilman Wolowicz stated his understanding that four sites now exist for the softball league and inquired how many more sites are needed.
Mr. Anderson replied that they are looking for four regulation-size fields, optimally in a cloverleaf layout, in one single location.
Councilman Wolowicz opined that accommodating four regulation-size fields in any one location is highly unlikely.
Councilman Long commented that Lower Point Vicente is truly an exceptional piece of land and in considering the proposals for its use it is not necessarily that they are competing but rather must meet the standard of being truly exceptional. He inquired what makes this the only feasible site uniquely and exceptionally suited for softball fields as opposed to all the other sites that might exist.
Mr. Anderson replied that it is the only feasible site on the Palos Verdes Peninsula to place four regulation-size girls’ softball fields together.
Joseph McGuinness, Rancho Palos Verdes, representing the 450 members of the Girls Softball League, explained that softball means a great deal to these girls now and in their futures. Acknowledging that culture and history are very important, he opined that nothing is more important than the community’s children; that there is no greater duty upon Council than to these children; and, no greater treasure should be recognized. He added that, history and culture aside, these children should be the first priority and requested Council to withhold making a decision on Lower Point Vicente until they have shown these children where they can play softball. He concluded by saying they would love to be neighbors with the docents and believed the uses are compatible because of the timing, adding that softball fields can also be beautiful.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked that Mr. McGuinness’s impassioned plea does not go unheard, stating, however, that it is not Council’s responsibility to solve the problem of this multi-jurisdictional issue but rather the solution will come from earnest efforts by the School District and all four jurisdictions on the Peninsula.
Mayor Gardiner inquired if four fields could be located that meet the League’s needs in every other respect except being in a single location would that satisfy their requirement or is the co-location of the fields the most important factor.
Mr. McGuinness responded that the social aspects of girls softball make dispersing the fields less desirable, adding they would be satisfied with two fields together. He noted they have explored this matter for a number of years, believing that if another place was available, Council would have provided it and the League would already be there. He reiterated his request that Lower Point Vicente not be taken away until other fields have been located.
Mayor pro tem Clark, noting the focus seems to be more on the co-location of the fields than the fields themselves, questioned if Friendship Park, which the docents identified as being capable of accommodating four fields, had been investigated.
Mr. McGuinness replied that, although it sounds familiar, he would be misleading Council to say he knows one way or another since Todd Anderson had been the one exploring all the possibilities.
As a point of clarification, Councilman Stern commented that the public needs to understand that whatever decision Council arrives at in this matter it should not be interpreted as a vote against a particular activity.
Wendy Norris, Rancho Palos Verdes, mother of three daughters who play in the Palos Verdes Girls Softball League, extolled the benefits of athletics, saying there is measurable evidence suggesting that girls involved in organized sports are more likely to have higher self-esteem and lower levels of depression, develop healthy habits, have a more positive body image, and avoid the physical and psychological pitfalls of adolescence; that statistically those who participate are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies, more likely to pursue a college education, and significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer. She indicated they learn teamwork, discipline, leadership, sportsmanship, and how to live a balanced life, juggling the responsibilities of school with practice and games. She remarked that strong girls make strong women and the community needs to encourage girls to achieve success in sports and in life.
Lisa Carroll, a 36-year resident of Rancho Palos Verdes and mother of a daughter who plays softball and a son involved in softball, soccer, and basketball, stated the community desperately needs a home for girls’ softball and expressed amazement this situation has been going on for four years. She opined that Lower Point Vicente is the ideal location to accommodate the needs of both girls’ softball and the docents, adding Council has an opportunity to step up and do something that will benefit the children of this community.
Bob Alvarado, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 12-year resident and Board member of the Palos Verdes Girls Softball League, said he has two young daughters who have played in the league and AYSO. He noted they are specifically looking for four fields in one location or at least two and two in addition to the ones they already have through the School District, adding that Lower Point Vicente is unique because all four fields can be placed there. He suggested that if Council believes this property is so extraordinary that it should not be used for the purposes proposed by either the docents or the League, they should advise everyone collectively so the process of researching alternatives can begin.
Gary Tavetian, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 9-year resident with a daughter who has played softball for the last few years, spoke as a parent and a member of the community, saying that what distinguishes Palos Verdes Peninsula from anywhere else is the sense of community and togetherness. He noted that he and his daughter have met people and made many friends throughout the Palos Verdes community by spending time on the fields. He stated it is imperative that the League be kept together because going to separate fields diminishes the experience, separating the girls from their friends and the other parents, and breaking that special sense of community. He added no one present has questioned the need for girls softball only the location of the fields, noting that placement of those fields at Lower Point Vicente would essentially stop future development there, protecting that open space and creating something useful for the children to enjoy.
Mayor Gardiner requested clarification of the exact number of fields needed, saying he has heard both the numbers 4 fields total and 8 fields total.
Todd Anderson answered that 8 to 12 fields are needed just for practice and at least 4 for the number of teams currently playing. He noted there are no lights in the community at night; so practices and games must be scheduled during daylight hours further inhibiting the use of existing sites. He concluded by saying that a total of 5 fields are necessary.
Councilman Wolowicz said now the number 5 has come up and again queried how many fields total are being requested.
Mr. Anderson stated that a total of 5 are needed.
Councilman Wolowicz inquired if the League would consider dividing the growing number of girls playing softball into two to four leagues and suggested that by centralizing them much like Little League teams into geographic areas closer to homes they might replicate a formula that has worked well on the Peninsula for some time.
Mr. Anderson replied that dividing 450 girls into separate leagues still leaves the challenge of needing the fields and finding the locations to accommodate them, saying they are not aware of any place on the hill where two fields can be co-located other than at Lower Point Vicente; so the question again becomes why not there.
Mike Juneau, Open Space Task Force Member, Rancho Palos Verdes, urged that no major land use decision be made on Lower Point Vicente until the Task Force provides their final recommendation to the City Council. He indicated that in most communities the farm on Lower Point Vicente would be considered industrial zoning and not parkland. He advised the consideration relevant to that parcel is to take over an area with a commercial development on it and essentially turn it into a donation of parkland that would be controlled and maintained by the City but with the construction paid for by private organizations.
Sunshine, Open Space Task Force Member, Rancho Palos Verdes, mentioned that the Task Force’s request for approval of the concept of active recreation at Upper Point Vicente was made specifically to expedite some of the processes involved such as finding mechanisms to pay for the grant lands. She requested that Council needs to provide guidance to the Task Force and the stakeholders on whether to initiate the zone change procedure to permit active recreation on the area of Upper Point Vicente with no deed restrictions.
Mayor Gardiner thanked all the speakers for their courteous and thoughtful discussion, saying it is refreshing to be in an environment surrounded by such splendid participants.
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 11:02 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 11:06 p.m.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to instruct the Open Space, Planning and Recreation Task Force to formulate uses for Lower Point Vicente that do not include active recreation; and, instructed staff to formulate a budget and set of proposed locations for up to four additional softball fields at other locations within the City other than Lower Point Vicente.
Mayor pro tem Clark offered a friendly amendment that instead of instructing staff to establish a budget and a set of four softballs sites within Rancho Palos Verdes to direct the City Manager to engage with the other city managers and superintendents on a comprehensive review of possible alternative sites for additional softball fields on the Peninsula.
Councilman Long said he viewed that as a parallel effort and as the maker of the motion declined to accept the amendment.
Mayor Pro Tem Clark moved to direct the City Manager to engage with the other city managers and superintendents on a comprehensive review of possible alternative sites for additional softball fields on the Peninsula. Lacking a second, the motion died.
Councilman Stern agreed philosophically that Lower Point Vicente has unique value to the community, believing that softball fields or other active recreational uses there would create an incompatibility, detracting from its unique character. He also agreed Council must make a significant effort to find another location for active recreational needs, recognizing they may be unable to provide the co-location of fields that the Girls Softball League considers optimal.
Councilman Long explained the thinking behind his motion is to preserve the uniqueness of Lower Point Vicente by allowing only those things compatible with its special character. He said while he recognizes the need for more active recreational facilities, this is not the right place. He indicated Council was careful to exclude the dry farming area in approving the docents’ recent grant application, saying while the farmer is there and wishes to continue farming, he should be accommodated, but there is no plan for anyone to run that farm once he is gone. He further explained that instructing staff to return with proposals and a budget to locate up to four softball fields elsewhere in the City does not imply the City should bear the entire burden but rather should start making progress.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked the greater use for Lower Point Vicente is for preservation and expansion of the Interpretive Center to a living educational museum, adding he is also convinced there is a fundamental need on the Peninsula for more youth sports facilities which is why two years ago he began pursuing an initiative in an attempt to bring the other jurisdictions and their electeds together to solve Peninsula-wide issues.
Councilman Wolowicz prefaced his position by clarifying it should not be interpreted as a mandate against something. As the father of two daughters who grew up participating in sports on this Peninsula, he expressed an understanding and sensitivity to the need for more facilities. He said he is agitated by what he considers the lack of a complete study of the matter, adding it is incumbent on staff in conjunction with the Task Force to conduct an exhaustive and expeditious study to identify all the available options, adding he does not believe it is appropriate to delay the process waiting for other jurisdictions to take action.
Mayor Gardiner commented that RPV is blessed with adults who donate enormous amounts of time for the benefit of the youth and other residents of the community, adding Council would be remiss by not resolving this issue tonight. He indicated his support for the motion because it clarifies what is an unacceptable use on Lower Point Vicente and also directs steps be taken to assist girls softball in meeting their needs, saying he is struck by the fact that four years have gone by without resolution of the issue. He recommended the City take the forward initiative then look to the other jurisdictions for assistance.
City Manager Evans indicated that the current motion contains no budget, estimating the cost to be approximately $25,000.
Councilman Long further amended his motion to include the recommended budget of $25,000; and, directed staff to return to Council with proposed locations, budgets, and timetables for up to four softball fields located within Rancho Palos Verdes but in areas other than Lower Point Vicente as soon as practical.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked that Councilman Long’s motion disappoints him because it places the burden on RPV to solve girls softball needs for the entire Peninsula.
Councilman Long responded the motion directs locations, budgets, and timelines but does not specify the City will assume the responsibility for those four fields. He said this provides the opportunity for negotiation with the other cities to bear a fair share of the burden, adding that by waiting for the other jurisdictions to take action first nothing will ever get done.
Mayor Gardiner clarified the City is not committing to fund anything other than the performance of a study to determine cost and availability.
City Manager Evans advised that since the study will be performed specifically within Rancho Palos Verdes the cost estimate is closer to $15,000 or less.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to maintain Lower Point Vicente for passive recreational use only; recommend a budget of $15,000 to conduct a study of available sites for softball fields in Rancho Palos Verdes other than Point Vicente; direct staff to investigate and bring back action plans, budgets, and timetables for the construction of up to four softball fields at locations in Rancho Palos Verdes; and, direct staff to gather information necessary to support negotiations with the other cities on the Peninsula for softball locations on sites within their jurisdictions but not to return with action plans for those sites.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to approve a request from the Palos Verdes Art Center to perform a preliminary investigation of the former Nike missile silos for potential reuse as part of a community art center; authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a Professional Services Agreement with Jones & Stokes for the performance of a site characterization study for Upper Point Vicente; and, continue all other aspects of the item.
Mayor pro tem Clark recommended that this focus session on the Open Space Conceptual Plan for Upper and Lower Point Vicente be utilized to take input from the stakeholders, the public, and staff; have answers provided to some preliminary questions; then adjourn the item to a date certain for Council to meet and engage in the decision-making process.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to address each property separately, beginning with a discussion of Lower Point Vicente then moving on to Upper Point Vicente; and, upon hearing sufficient information, Council would provide direction to the Planning Committee and adopt a budget resolution. The motion passed without objection.
The motions passed on the following roll call votes:
AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Clark, Stern and Mayor Gardiner
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 11:32 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 11:42 p.m.
Randy Flint, representing the Aquatic Design Group, indicated his company’s consulting services were commissioned by the group Zenith Aquatic Program, or ZAP, to provide design work for a potential aquatic center for Upper Point Vicente. He stated his group was formed in 1984 and has extensive experience designing competitive and recreational pools throughout California and other parts of the world. He advised that after a quick appraisal of the pools in the area, including Palos Verdes and Peninsula High Schools and the Miraleste Intermediate School, he determined they are all lacking in terms of accommodating programs for the community. He also indicated there are problems specific to pool depth and size, noting there is a possible liability issue in relation to depth. He suggested performing a detailed analysis to determine whether community needs are more recreational such as water aerobics or learn-to-swim programs; or competitive such as age-group swimming, springboard diving, or water polo then design pools around those requirements.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if Mr. Flint believes the depth of the existing pools creates a danger.
Mr. Flint responded the National Federation of High School Swimming requires a depth of four-and-a-half feet for competitive diving, saying the Peninsula High pool has starting blocks located in only four feet of water. He explained that his group and other professionals are now designing at six feet seven inches.
Jerry Magner, Rancho Palos Verdes, a resident since 1982 and President of the Zenith Aquatic Program, remarked there are no community pools nor gyms for public use anywhere on the Peninsula, saying ZAP’s vision for Upper Point Vicente is a community center with a gym and indoor and outdoor pools; a safe environment for children and adults to recreate: play tennis or basketball, go swimming, walk around the park, or just have a cup of coffee. He stated the ZAP Foundation is prepared to fund and manage such a facility and strongly urged Council to allow them to develop a business plan for future consideration.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if the ZAP Foundation is an existing or start-up entity.
Mr. Magner replied they are a start-up entity.
Barbara Walch, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 40-year resident, provided one definition of agoraphobia as fear of open spaces, saying it appears to be rampant in many of the proposals being presented. She noted that bit-by-bit the open spaces of the community are being taken away, adding she is definitely opposed to any big, obtrusive structures on Upper Point Vicente.
Roland Driskell, Rancho Palos Verdes, requested Council keep the space next to Villa Capri and St. Paul’s Church passive open space as outlined in the NCCP, saying open space is like money in the bank because in time its value will increase due to its limited supply; whereas swimming pools, art centers, and other proposed improvements are very costly. He urged saving the community’s open space.
Robert Yassin, Executive Director of the Palos Verdes Art Center, briefly described their proposal for use of space on Upper Point Vicente and the Nike missile sites for a new art center and museum complex. He noted the Art Center, which has been in business for nearly 74 years and served thousands of visitors, is looking for space, adding they believe they can do something quite spectacular with the UPV site and can raise the funds to construct and operate it. He commended staff and the Open Space Task Force for their efforts and requested Council approve their request to hire a consultant to perform a study to ascertain if the location is feasible for this project.
Councilman Wolowicz noted the proposal of 49,000 square feet is roughly five times their current space and inquired if the proposed facility will fit over the existing structures or if new ones will need to be constructed. He also asked how long this site could be expected to accommodate projected future growth.
Mr. Yassin explained that the facility would be built over the current footprint of the Nike sites, connecting the spaces between them that are underground. Recognizing the future cannot be predicted, he conjectured the site would probably accommodate future growth in a community this size for a substantial number of years, perhaps 25 to 30, noting the nice thing about the underground layout is spaces can initially be left open between the two facilities and ultimately be enclosed to produce more space without increasing the actual footprint of the building, adding it is an ideal location in that respect.
Barbara Sattler, Rancho Palos Verdes, thanked Council for their thoughtful decision regarding Lower Point Vicente and stated it would be premature to tentatively support any element of the conceptual plan as it now exists for Upper Point Vicente, adding she does not believe it accurately reflects the surveyed community priorities which clearly indicate the primary concern being preservation of natural parklands. She explained there are numerous environmental concerns that are not addressed in the proposed plan, including fire fuel modification clearances around buildings and the irrigation of playing fields that could impact the habitat areas. She indicated the City Hall property is historically a prime gnatcatcher habitat area that also contains special status plants that need to be protected if possible. She requested Council consider other potential sites for amenities such as gymnasiums or other large structures.
Councilman Long, recognizing the conceptual plan crowds many things into the area, asked what priority ranking she would recommend; which things she believes are appropriate to consider for this site and which should be located elsewhere.
Ms. Sattler replied she believes large structures such as gymnasiums are inconsistent with the public’s desire for open space and indicated that playing fields or courts might be compatible depending on their location.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his understanding that the original NCCP specifically designated this area for active use.
Ms. Sattler responded there is some discussion about buffers and outside impacts into the NCCP, a major one being fire fuel modification. She explained that in proposing a building adjacent to the NCCP a consideration would need to be made to keep the fuel modification requirements out of the preserve area; similarly, if you have irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers for greens or playing fields, those things will impact the habitat and need to be designed with adequate buffers.
Councilman Wolowicz expressed concern about the NCCP as now written, saying the buffer requirements seem to greatly diminish the active space area and requested staff to accurately determine how much total space is actually available for active use.
Dave Tomblin, representing the Palos Verdes School District, informed that discussions have been held by Dr.Tobin and City Manager Evans about potential joint opportunities between the City and the School District.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if the proposed gym could be placed on one of the school sites.
Mr. Tomblin replied that, although this matter has not yet been brought before the Board, he has participated in a meeting with a potential joint venture partner about the possibility of a gym being located on the Peninsula High site, adding that the discussions so far are strictly exploratory.
Julie Turner, Executive Director of the San Pedro and Peninsula YMCA, mentioned one of the quandaries of running recreational facilities for families is travel time and convenience, adding in order to involve the residents of the Peninsula in the programming and activities the YMCA has to offer, a facility is needed on the Peninsula. She indicated the YMCA Board of Managers has been pursuing opportunities to acquire land or enter into a partnership to develop a facility in the community and noted that in 2000 they hired a consultant to perform a marketing survey to ascertain what type of facility might work on the Peninsula. That study and the Task Force’s analysis of community needs both showed that a YMCA-type facility would be very successful here. She echoed earlier comments about the value of activity and sports in children’s lives, saying the YMCA has a great deal of experience working with communities to develop programs that help build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities, adding they are very interested in being considered as a partner should the City decide to develop a recreational facility.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if the YMCA would provide funding for the construction of the site.
Ms. Turner responded yes, they would perform a capital campaign to raise the money necessary to fund the project.
Shari Twidwell, representing the Zenith Aquatic Program, a 30-year resident, clarified ZAP is not requesting a determination on any aspect of their proposal but rather the approval to move forward and work on a more detailed plan for Council’s future consideration.
Todd Anderson, representing the Peninsula Youth Sport Council, reiterated the lack of recreational facilities on the hill and the number of children wanting to participate, saying it would be a more efficient use of Upper Point Vicente to consider accommodating a youth center, senior center, and arts center; all tremendous uses for a site designated for active recreational use. On behalf of all the recreation leagues on the Peninsula he expressed the unanimous opinion that a gymnasium and pools are the most appropriate use for that site and strongly urged Council’s support.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to continue the item.
City Manager Evans suggested consideration be given to Item No. 3, the request from the Arts Center to fund and perform a preliminary investigation of the Nike missile site, saying it will benefit the City no matter what ultimate decision is made regarding use.
Councilman Long amended his motion, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to adopt staff recommendation No. 3 and continue all other aspects of the item. The motion carried without objection.
Continued Items Listed for Information Only:
Appointment of City representative to the Los Angeles West Vector Control District. (From December 16th to March 2, 2004)
Agenda Format: Proposed revisions. (From December 16th to March 16, 2004.)
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to approve the Consent Calendar.
In relation to the Gift for Parks item, Councilman Long noted the City is accepting a gift from Ralph’s and opined a better donation of their money might be to contribute to their employees’ health insurance.
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 January 6th and January 7, 2004.
Approved the minutes.
Purchase of tax defaulted property.
Authorized the Mayor and the City Clerk to sign an Agreement to Purchase Tax-Defaulted Property for a 0.17-acre vacant parcel located at the end of East Crest Road, adjacent to the federal radar dome facility at San Pedro Hill.
Claim against the City by Gail Mayer.
Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Gift for Parks.
Accepted the Gifts for Parks donations and directed staff to prepare letters for the Mayor’s signature expressing the Council’s thanks and appreciation.
Resol. No. 2004-04:Register of Demands.
ADOPTED RESOL. NO. 2004-04, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ALLOWING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEMANDS AND SPECIFYING FUNDS FROM WHICH THE SAME ARE TO BE PAID.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Clark, Stern, Gardiner
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
Mayor Gardiner mentioned he would be in Vancouver for the next Council meeting, saying he has an interest in the Traffic Committee report being presented and requested it be moved to the meeting on the third Tuesday in February instead.
Councilman Wolowicz requested two items be added to future agendas: within the next three months, an interim financial statement and budget be presented which would allow Council to monitor budget comparisons; and, an item to discuss the possible formation of a City foundation regarding the use of Upper Point Vicente properties and the acquisition of necessary funds.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch reported Council did not discuss the first two items and no action was taken; on the last item, the case of Abrams vs. Rancho Palos Verdes, Council voted unanimously to seek a review from the entire Ninth Circuit.
The meeting was formally adjourned at 12:40 p.m. in memory of the passage of Director Dennis McLean’s brother, Mike McLean; and John Beringer, formerly of the Rancho Palos Verdes Homeowners Association.