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D R A F T
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 3, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 P.M. by Mayor pro tem Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard. Roll call was answered as follows:
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor pro tem Clark
ABSENT: Mayor Gardiner
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager Petru; Assistant City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Finance Dennis McLean; Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Senior Planner Kit Fox; Assistant to the City Manager Park; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and Recording Secretary Denise Bothe.
The flag salute was led by Assistant City Manager Petru.
MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS: None.
Mayor pro tem Clark announced the recycle winner for the month of January, Yola Gerst, who will receive a check for $250, which represents a year of free refuse service. He encouraged everyone to recycle.
Tina Bothamley provided a brief overview of the Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors team project. She announced that Palos Verdes High School is the only high school in the nation that qualified to participate in this challenge -- which is sponsored by the United States Department of Defense -- to build an autonomous vehicle that will travel from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in under 10 hours. She stated that there were some extraordinary students present at the meeting who would make a presentation and noted that there are many others working behind the scenes to help put this vehicle together. She highlighted the generous donations that have been received from American Honda, EMC Corporation, and stated that there are many other companies that have donated money or supplies for this venture. She stated that the challenge will take place on March 13, 2004; that they hope to win the $1 million prize for Palos Verdes High School; and she reiterated that this is the only high school in the nation that qualified, competing against other schools, such as Carnegie Mellon, Cal Tech, and other prestigious technical schools.
Chris Seide, Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors project leader for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), stated that the team consists of 25 core high school students, along with 10 parent mentors that guide this team along the way; and explained that this challenge has been put on by the Defense Department to create a fully autonomous, unmanned vehicle that can drive from L.A. to Las Vegas in 10 hours or less on March 13, 2004. He stated that the team has been working on this project since April 2003 and noted that it is almost complete; advised that the team was required to submit a 10-page technical study, which was submitted last October; and advised that because of that study, Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors became 1 of 19 teams accepted out of 86 applicant teams in the United States vying for this challenge. He mentioned that Palos Verdes High School is the only high school in the nation that entered this competition; and highlighted some of this event’s competitors: Carnegie Mellon, Cal Tech, Northrop Grumman, Virginia Tech, etc. He noted that major sponsors have offered supplies and cash; stated that American Honda donated the Acura that will be utilized in the challenge; that EMC Corporation donated electronic controls that will guide and control the car to its destination point; and that other donations were received from Goodyear, USC and UCLA.
Aaron Schwartz, Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors vehicle team leader, reiterated that American Honda and EMC Corporation are the major donors of this project; explained that the electronic controls and joy stick donated by EMC Corporation will allow the control and operation of this car to its destination point; and stated that the teams are divided into 3 separate teams, his team being the one that makes modifications to the vehicle. He stated that Joe Beeble was not able to attend the meeting, but mentioned that his team utilizes computers, cameras and a laser system to pinpoint obstacles in the road, thereby diverting the path of the vehicle and avoiding those obstacles.
Katrina DeSimone , Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors vehicle team leader, announced that today, the vehicle’s acceleration had been successfully demonstrated on a golf cart; noted that the autonomous vehicle is running; advised that testing is under way to demonstrate the vehicle’s steering, braking, accelerating as it uses a GPS system – noting that the vehicle will be able to steer, accelerate and brake under computer control; stated that the laser range finder is operational; and highlighted the generous donations from Palos Verdes High School Booster Club, American Honda, and EMC Corporation. She added that the team is still in dire need of help and distributed a package that highlights the current list of equipment needed by the team. She thanked the City Council for allowing them to make its presentation; noted that the team members will be attending various peninsula City Council meetings within the next month; and she invited everyone to witness the team’s qualification and inspection demonstration March 8th-12th and to witness the race on March 13, 2004.
In addressing Mayor pro tem Clark’s inquiry, Mr. Cy stated that this presentation had been made within the last week before the Palos Verdes School Board.
Mayor pro tem Clark thanked the team for their presentation; and highlighted the students great accomplishments in this prestigious challenge, competing with various specialty institutes, such as Carnegie Mellon, Cal Tech, etc., and for being the only high school in the nation to participate.
(2) Presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation to Dylan C. Chodos for his Arc Angel project.
Captain Jay Zuanich, commander of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station proudly invited Dylan Chodos to provide input on his Arc Angel program.
Dylan Chodos stated that he is an 8th grader at Palos Verdes Intermediate School; that he recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah; and explained that as part of his Bar Mitzvah celebration, he is participating in a charity of his choosing, selecting to bring the Arc Angel program to the Lomita Sheriff’s Station. He explained that Arc is an acronym for "at-risk children"; and stated that he is currently collecting sports balls, such as basket balls, footballs, soccer balls, and handballs, to be distributed by the Sheriff’s deputies to the children who are playing or hanging around on the streets. He expressed his belief that by giving a new ball to a child on the street, it helps to create a line of communication between the children and the law enforcement officers and helps to bring calm. Mr. Chodos expressed his desire to continue on with this effort until he is finished with high school, in 4 years. He mentioned that he will be writing letters to Big 5, Sportsmart, Sports Chalet and similar businesses to ask for donations; advised that everyone who attended his Bar Mitzvah was asked to bring one new ball for this program; and stated that he will also be using his Bar Mitzvah funds to purchase new balls for this program. He added that the local Big 5 store has given him discounts on the ball purchases for this program – pointing out that he has brought to the Lomita Sheriff’s Station approximately 300 balls thus far; and he urged everyone to participate in this program by bringing at least one new ball to the Lomita Sheriff’s Station for the Arc Angel program. He thanked the Lomita sheriffs for their kind help and support.
Captain Zuanich stated that he brought Mr. Chodos to one of the station briefings; and added that the officers were moved by Dylan’s generosity. He mentioned that Dylan and his mother have been back to the Lomita Sheriff’s Station at least two times since his original visit with a net full of balls that the deputies have placed in the back of their cars and distributed to the children in all the cities the officers patrol. He noted his delight with this program and added that Dylan will continue his efforts with this program for the next 4 years.
On behalf of the City Council and Rancho Palos Verdes, Mayor pro tem Clark presented Dylan Chodos with a Proclamation of Appreciation for his efforts and generosity, stating that he is a positive role model and an outstanding illustration of good things young people can do in communities. He expressed best wishes and continued success with this program.
Captain Zuanich presented Dylan Chodos with a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of his exemplary efforts with the Arc Angel project at the Lomita Sheriff’s Station.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda as submitted. No objection was noted.
Lois Larue, 3136 Barkentine Road, stated that she has been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) since 1977, having joined after an altercation had taken place with a local art exhibit at the library in Palos Verdes Estates; and stated that she was a member of the board of directors of the ACLU for 3 years and that she was the president of the ACLU’s South Bay Chapter.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Wolowicz noted the following meetings/events he attended:
Councilman Long noted the following meetings/events he attended:
Councilman Stern noted the following meetings/events he attended:
Mayor pro tem Clark noted the following meetings/events he attended:
OLD BUSINESS/CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
City Manager Evans stated that last Thursday, he attended an all-day event with Sheriff Lee Baca and other City Managers; and advised that Sheriff Baca indicated that his budget would be cut by $108 million, which will require him to eliminate 1,000 deputies from the force. He stated that this cut will impact cities through decreases in helicopter services, SWAT teams, Special Forces, gang patrols; but stated that these cuts in services will not necessarily impact RPV because this City contracts for these services. He announced that Sheriff Baca anticipates a 1-percent increase in the cost of service to the Contract Cities.
Miscellaneous Items for Action:
Continued Items for Action:
Continued Items Listed for Information Only:
Councilman Stern stated that the Minutes from December 2, Page 2, need to reflect the correct spelling of Senator Karnette.
Councilman Long requested pulling Consent Calendar Item No. 3 from the Agenda.
City Manager Evans noted for Councilman Stern that staff does not believe the Emergency Preparedness plan will exceed $66,000.
Mayor pro tem Clark announced that because he works for the Defense Department at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, he would recuse himself from consideration of Agenda Item No. 16, 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Process -- noting that he is not permitted to engage in any discussions in this regard.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to approve the amended Consent Calendar, pulling Agenda Item No. 3, and amending the December 2, 2003 Minutes. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, and Mayor pro tem Clark
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 December 2, 2003 and December 16, 2003 and the Adjourned Regular Meeting January 20, 2004.
Approved the Minutes, with the amendment to the December 2, 2003 Minutes.
Request for Proposals to Prepare a City Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Authorized staff to solicit Request for Proposals (RFP's) for professional consulting services to prepare a City Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan as required by the FEMA Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.
With regard to conducting an assessment of natural hazards that pose a threat to jurisdictions, Councilman Long asked that staff investigate what, if any, areas within RPV have residents who are not able to procure homeowner’s insurance except through the California Fire Plan.
November 2003 Treasurer's Report.
Received and filed the November 2003 Treasurer's Report.
December 2003 Treasurer's Report.
Received and filed the December 2003 Treasurer's Report.
Request for Waiver of Fees for View Restoration Permit No. 161
Approved the requested fee waiver.
Resol. No. 2004-05: Register of Demands.
ADOPTED RESOL. NO. 2004-05, 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.
Resol. No. 2004-06: Funding for Study of Potential Girls Softball Field Locations.
ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-06, AUTHORIZING A BUDGET INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF $15,000 FOR CONSULTANT SERVICES TO ASSIST STAFF IN STUDYING PROSPECTIVE SITES FOR GIRLS’ SOFTBALL FIELDS.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to amend the third whereas clause in the proposed resolution as follows: "WHEREAS, the services of a professional consultant are required to assist staff in creating specific plans, budgets and timetables for the construction of up to four girls’ softball fields at locations in the City other than Lower Point Vicente." The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor pro tem Clark
# # # # # # # # # # # # #
Resol. Nos. 2004-07 and 08: Agreement to Exchange Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for FY 2003-2004.
The staff report recommended the following: (1) Conduct a public hearing to receive citizen input on the exchange of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds between the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and the City of West Hollywood for Fiscal Year 2003-2004; (2) Approve the exchange of $150,000 from the City of Rancho Palos Verdes Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation for $93,750 in General Funds from the City of West Hollywood; (3) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-07, APPROVING AND AUTHORIZING AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AND THE CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD REGARDING THE TRANSFER OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT FUNDS FOR FY 2003-2004; (4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-08, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2003-42, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2003-04, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY'S GENERAL FUND; and (5) Authorize the City Manager and City Clerk to execute the Agreement with the City of West Hollywood; (6) Defer any decision on how to program funds generated by the sale of CDBG funds until the fiscal year 2004-05 budget cycle.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to concur with staff recommendation.
Mayor pro tem Clark questioned if staff had any understanding of how West Hollywood plans to use these funds that were acquired from RPV.
In response to Mayor pro tem Clark’s inquiry, Director Allison stated that staff is only aware that the funds will be utilized for a large project.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if there was some way to investigate how other cities that exchange CDBG funds with RPV utilize these funds, expressing his belief that this knowledge may be able to improve RPV’s negotiation of a higher rate.
Director Allison stated that staff would look into this issue.
Mayor pro tem Clark explained that the reason RPV is offering these CDBG funds is due to the cancellation of some anticipated projects that RPV envisioned, projects for which the City is no longer able to carry through.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, and Mayor pro tem Clark
Appeal of a Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2003-00039),
City Clerk Purcell noted that the City Council had been provided copies of all late correspondence in regard to this matter.
Councilman Long stated that this item was originally decided by the Planning Commission at a time when he was on that Commission; noted that he has reviewed the materials and now realizes that he did not participate in the subsequent discussion; and that, therefore, he would not be recusing himself from consideration of this matter this evening. He stated that he did not have an opportunity to visit the site; and explained if he decides this lack of visiting the site would affect his ability to make an adequately informed decision, he would then abstain from the vote, but that he will reserve that decision until all the evidence has been presented this evening.
Councilman Stern noted that he and Mayor pro tem Clark visited with Mr. Gupta, Mr. Steadly, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Steinbach, and a number of other residents to discuss this proposal; and stated that much of what they heard from the residents is already in the staff report and the related materials.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that he also visited this site.
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented staff report and the recommendation to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-__, DENYING THE APPEAL THEREBY UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION'S APPROVAL OF GRADING PERMIT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW (CASE NO. ZON2003-00039) TO ALLOW THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE AT 30637 CALLE DE SUENOS.
Councilman Long noted his belief that this proposed home will fit within the 16’ x 30’ envelope; and that no portion of the proposed structure will be high enough to trigger the height variation permit analysis.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that Councilman Long’s understanding of the proposed building is correct; and noted that the elevation differential between the two housing tracts is approximately 60 feet.
With the aid of some photographs that he had taken on his site visit, Councilman Stern highlighted the viewing area standing from the sliding glass door of Mr. Gupta’s home; and commented on the approximate viewing area following the completion of the proposed project. He addressed the erection of a 6-foot fence on the applicant’s property and what possible impacts that will have on Mr. Gupta’s view of Catalina Island; advised that a swimming pool is being proposed; and noted that just beyond the existing chain link fence is a pathway and stairway that leads from Calle de Suenos down to the school below – pointing out that this is a public area that children will be traversing. He noted his concern for the children’s safety and expressed the importance of properly securing the private property pool.
Carl Steadly, 30615 Calle de Suenos, stated that the new house will have a 4-car garage situated perpendicular to the curving street, pushing the structure all the way to the back of the property; and expressed his concern that this will create one large wall that will block his view. He explained that all he is seeking is that the project applicant eliminate one of the parking garages and rotate the house to follow the contour of the street, believing that this would restore part of his Catalina Island view. He addressed his concern that because his property and Mr. Gupta’s property are on a separate survey map from the project applicant, they were not permitted to be involved in any of the discussions regarding view impacts; and he pointed out that while they are technically in a separate neighborhood, his home and Mr. Gupta’s home are more directly impacted by the proposed project than 80 percent of the houses within their homeowners association. He stated that it would be helpful to have a silhouette erected at the site, giving everyone a better idea of why this house should be moved further to the street and to follow the contour of the street.
Councilman Stern explained that the view impairment issue is not the same analysis as the neighborhood compatibility analysis and that Mr. Steadly and Mr. Gupta were not required to be included in the discussion regarding view impact, noting that the view impact issue is analyzed on a different scale. He reiterated staff’s comment that as long as the house remains under the 16’ x 30’ envelope, it does not give rise to a view impact analysis; and stated that in terms of neighborhood compatibility, it too is measured under a different set of analyses.
Mr. Steadly expressed his concern that the project applicant would preserve the view corridor for the neighbors across the street, but that the project applicant would not protect his view corridor. He expressed his belief that he and Mr. Gupta are much more affected than the other houses in that development by this proposed house is pushed so far to the back.
Councilman Long stated that if the proposed grading is down in elevation, there is no need to consider impact on view because the grading itself does not adversely impact the view; and explained for Mr. Steadly that the City’s ordinances do not give the City the right to deny the project applicant because his proposal does not trigger any view impact analysis.
Mr. Steadly reiterated that this project will create a huge wall effect; that it is pushed too far back on the lot; and that it will obliterate his view of Catalina Island.
Anshoo Gupta, 30621 Calle de Suenos, echoed the same concerns expressed by Mr. Steadly; stated that he has enjoyed his unobstructed view of Catalina Island for 10 years; that he considers this to be his retirement home; pointed out that he has recognized all this time that there would one day be a house next door and that he would lose some of his view; but explained that he had not imagined his view would be so drastically impacted.
Councilman Stern stated that he is sympathetic with the loss of view and noted that the project applicant is entitled to take advantage of the same view.
Mr. Gupta expressed his belief that the proposed house is much larger than the existing houses in the area.
Mayor pro tem Clark explained that the proposed house is in a different residentially zoned area than Mr. Gupta’s and Mr. Steadly’s; that because of this difference, the properties have different standards that must be followed; and stated that a neighborhood compatibility analysis of homes in the R-2 versus R-1 areas is not permitted. He highlighted the fact that the proposed home is part of an estate/custom development in the R-1 zone, and that Mr. Gupta’s home is part of a subdivision development in the R-2 zone. He noted that the neighbors should have been aware there was a good possibility that this empty lot, which is zoned for residential development, would have been developed one day.
Mr. Gupta clarified that he is only asking that the project applicant eliminate one of the garages, which should create 10 feet of additional view of Catalina Island. He stated that his lifestyle will be drastically changed with the loss of this view and that it will have a negative impact upon his property value. Mr. Gupta stated that currently, he has a 180-degree view; and he reiterated that this project would completely obliterate his view of Catalina Island.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned how the elimination of the one garage would affect his view.
Mr. Gupta explained for Councilman Wolowicz that he believes the elimination of one of the garages will open his view corridor to Catalina Island by 10 feet.
Dennis Swing, 30675 Calle de Suenos, stated that he lives a couple houses down from the proposed project and Mr. Gupta’s home; expressed his support for the project applicant’s proposal; advised that the Rice family has gone through an extensive process to get plans approved for the house; stated that the Rice family has presented their plans to the homeowner’s association; and stated that because Mr. Rice has complied with all the rules and regulations, he should not have his proposal denied. He added that all 11 members of the homeowner’s association have given their support of Mr. Rice’s proposal; stated that the Rice family has spent a lot of time and money to get this project approved; and expressed his opinion that the vacant lot is unsightly and that the new project will enhance the area.
Jon Cartwright, 30630 Calle de Suenos, stated that he has lived at this address for 18 years; and advised that he had written two letters in support of the project applicant -- one as the President of the Panorama Estates Homeowner’s Association and one as the homeowner of the house directly across the street from this proposed lot. He urged the City Council to deny the appeal and allow the Rice family to build their beautiful house. He pointed out that Mr. Rice’s house will impact the view of 6 houses – 4 houses inside the Panorama Estates and 2 houses outside; noted that all of those view impacts are below the 16-foot threshold; that Mr. Rice’s home is being built within the 16’ x 30’ envelope; noted that all the grading is downward; and that because of these findings, view impact issues should not be a consideration because of Mr. Rice’s adherence to the regulations. He stated that every homeowner in that area should have known that one-day a house would have been built on this empty lot, at least 16 feet high, and at least as large as the houses on that side of the street. He advised that Mr. Rice had consulted with the neighbors; that Mr. Rice had designed and situated the house in a manner that is compatible with his neighborhood and that minimized view impairment; pointed out that the design of the Rice home as presented allows him a view corridor along his property; that it also allows his neighbor to the south a view corridor; that it allows the neighbors on the west side of the street, both inside Panorama Estates and outside, expansive views; and he urged the City Council to allow these homeowners to keep these views.
Mr. Cartwright explained that the private road which serves as a common driveway is only 34-feet wide; that the lots extend into the street; that if Mr. Rice’s house were to be moved toward the street, it would create a closed, funnel effect and that it would negatively impact the entire design concept of this development; and that it would eliminate his view corridor. He stated that the Rice house would be the largest in Panorama Estates in terms of square footage, but that it will not be larger in footprint. He explained that the house is positioned so that it has a 16-foot ridgeline from the street; that it will not appear to be massive or out of scale with other homes in Panorama Estates; and that, instead, it will maintain and enhance the feeling of spaciousness and openness to make this development unique and a special place to live – pointing out that all the homes in Panorama Estates are set back in a manner that makes the development open and spacious. He again urged the City Council’s support of Mr. Rice’s proposal as presented; and expressed his belief that Mr. Rice’s home will be a significant enhancement to his community and to the City.
Councilman Long stated that if the proposed home was moved closer to the street, it would be too close to the street, closer than the other existing houses, and that it would only be moving it out of one view impacted area into another view impacted area; and asked for confirmation by staff that in evaluating neighborhood compatibility, one of the provisions of the City’s code is that the Council cannot consider houses in another zoned area.
Addressing Councilman Long’s inquiry, Director Rojas stated that his understanding is correct under the newly adopted guidelines.
Referring to the pictures in regard to the impact of repositioning the proposed house, Councilman Stern expressed his belief that the Rice family has planned the siting of the house in a logical way that does not create a funnel effect at the entrance of the roadway; noted his concurrence with the comment that if the house were moved forward, it would create a different view impairment; noted that part of the problem lies in the way the properties are configured; and explained that the analysis doesn’t delve into the view impact issue because of the 16’ x 30’ envelope.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that he and Councilman Stern talked to the neighbors and studied the proposal from different view points in the neighborhood; and he asked Mr. Cartwright how much of his current view will be lost once this home is built.
In response to Mayor pro tem Clark’s inquiry, Mr. Cartwright approximated that he will lose 70-75 percent of his current view with the proposed plans for Mr. Rice’s house, approximately three-quarters of the view he has enjoyed for almost 19 years.
Mr. Cartwright explained for Councilman Wolowicz that this proposed house will be set back further than the other existing houses; and that if the footprint were moved closer to the curb, it would end up obstructing the remainder of his view. He stated that the house is moved at least 10 feet closer to the street than the rest of the houses; and he expressed his belief that Mr. Rice did this in order to help with the view impairment to the neighbors. He added that the houses along the west side are all L-shaped houses, where the garage sticks out from the living quarters; and explained that the applicant was able to take advantage of that northeast section and put his garages in that position, but that the rest of the house pretty much is aligned with the existing houses. Mr. Cartwright explained that the houses are of equal distance on either side of the road; that the road itself curves; that at the point where Mr. Gupta’s, Mr. Rice’s and his house intersect, it would be at the furthest point east as Calle de Suenos curves back again; and expressed his belief that it’s practically an impossible situation to build a house of reasonable size on this lot without impairing views.
Renee Cartwright, 30630 Calle de Suenos, noted her support for Mr. Rice’s proposal, urging the City Council’s support; stated that if Mr. Rice were to reposition his house further to the east, the association would be opposed because it would close in the neighborhood and create a funnel effect; and pointed out that as presently designed, Mr. Rice’s proposed home will be aesthetically aligned with the existing houses on that street. She expressed her belief that the positioning of the house had more to do with the alignment within the neighborhood rather than view impairment.
Jody Rice, project applicant, explained that this has been a long process; commented on the numerous discussions that have taken place with City staff and architects to determine what would be permitted to be built on site; advised that many studies were conducted, such as land surveys, geological surveys; and noted that he sought staff’s approval of the architect’s plans. Mr. Rice stated that the entire homeowner’s association and other neighbors living beyond the 500-foot notification radius had been contacted and advised of the plans for this house; noted that Mr. Gupta was Fed-Ex’d a copy of the plans for the proposed house; and stated that the site was silhouetted for the footprint. He noted that the proposed excavation had been reduced to approximately 850 cubic yards; and stated that moving the house backward would cost a tremendous amount of money because of the additional excavation, believing that it would far exceed 1,000 cubic yards.
Mr. Rice stated that the 4-car garage is for the vehicles he and his wife will be driving and for the vehicles his sons will be driving in the future; explained that the house has been positioned to follow the contour of the property; that the front has a dead area where the street curves and that the house was turned outward in this dead area for the benefit of preserving some of the Malibu view for one of the neighbors and for Mr. Cartwright’s view corridor. Mr. Rice commented on the design of the house; stated that Mr. Gupta will not be looking into a massive walled structure; explained that large windows will be positioned and will be free of window dressings that will create a very open and attractive view for Mr. Gupta to see through to the ocean. Mr. Rice explained that Mr. Gupta still has a view of Catalina Island from his property, from his kitchen and dining room and from his upstairs rooms; and that the view of Catalina Island that he will be losing will only be from the south corner at the bottom level of his house. He advised that because a swimming pool will be built, he would be erecting a 6-foot fence.
Mayor pro tem Clark noted his understanding from the correspondence received that the design of Mr. Rice’s home went through several iterations in order to take into account not only the homeowner association neighbors’ views, but also Mr. Gupta’s and Mr. Steadly’s views.
Mr. Rice mentioned that the plans were also flipped so that the northwest corner could have large open windows that Mr. Gupta would be able to look through to the island.
Mr. Rice noted for Councilman Wolowicz that he will erect a 6-foot fence all along the backside of his property; and stated that the City requires open aesthetics to this fence.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to concur with staff’s recommendation to deny the appeal.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned how much input was sought from Mr. Gupta in regard to seeking his input.
Addressing Councilman Wolowicz’ inquiry, Director Rojas explained that various discussions have been undertaken with Mr. Gupta and other neighbors, but explained that there are different guidelines to consider for different zoning areas.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his lack of ease in Mr. Gupta’s and Mr. Steadly’s belief that they were excluded from view impact discussions with the rest of the homeowner’s association, believing that there should have been more communication among Mr. Rice and these two homeowners that will end up losing a large portion of their view; and he questioned what the impact would be if this house were moved closer to the curb.
Director Rojas noted for Councilman Wolowicz that moving the house closer to the curb would most likely create other negative impacts to the neighborhood.
Councilman Long highlighted the purpose and importance of adhering to the City’s guidelines; stated that the City is not in a position to require on a case-by-case basis of what someone’s home should look like; pointed out that this house will not require a height variation permit because it falls within the acceptable height requirement; and, therefore, the fact that it significantly impairs someone’s view is of no consequence. He stated that because the grading will be done in a downward position, it will not impair the view; expressed his belief that the proposed home is compatible with the existing neighborhood; and pointed out that even if Mr. Rice were to eliminate one of the 4 garages, he would not have to decrease the proposed square footage of the house. Councilman Long expressed his belief that the proposed house is as close to the street as can reasonably be done to maintain compatibility with the character Panorama Estates; and stated that he does understand the proposed project will significantly impair views but that there is nothing the City can do about it – pointing out that almost any reasonable construction on this site would impair views. He noted that Mr. Gupta will retain a wonderful view; and that this project will result in a significantly greater loss of view for the other neighbors; expressed his belief that Mr. Rice has gone to great effort to minimize the view impact to all neighbors; and that because Mr. Rice’s proposal is consistent with the City’s ordinances, there is no reason to deny his proposal.
Councilman Stern stated that the analysis conducted was the correct analysis and that it is the Council’s job to see that all rules were adhered to, which has been done with this proposal.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that he does not believe the elimination of the Catalina Island view is a significant view impairment for Mr. Gupta; that both these properties/homes were set up to take advantage of the dramatic ocean views; and noted that Mr. Gupta will have an approximate 140-degree view following construction of Mr. Rice’s house. Mayor pro tem Clark stated that while he sympathizes with the homeowners who have enjoyed this view across the vacant lot for many years, they should have understood that it was permitted for residential development. He stated that Mr. Rice has the right as the property owner to develop this lot in a thoughtful manner and in conformance with the City’s codes, as has been done; and that following extensive review and analysis by staff, he stated that he would uphold the Planning Commission’s decision and allow Mr. Rice to proceed with building this beautiful home, believing that this home will not only add value to this subdivision, but also add value to the entire area. He expressed his belief that Mr. Rice has been a good neighbor not only to the homeowner’s association members, but also to those neighbors living on the other development.
City Attorney Lynch expressed her belief that it would be useful to incorporate into the resolution more of the analyses and statements that were articulated by the City Council; and she suggested that if the City Council made a decision on this matter that staff be permitted to bring back an amended resolution on the next City Council Consent Calendar for adoption. She stated that it would be helpful to include some of the City Council’s comments and that it would make the record more clear as to the basis for their decision.
No objection was noted to bringing back at the next City Council meeting the amended resolution.
Councilman Long noted his disagreement with Mayor pro tem Clark’s belief that blocking the view of Catalina Island is not a significant issue, and he requested that the additional findings that will be included in the amended resolution should be findings that the entire City Council agrees with.
Hearing no objection to the motion to deny the appeal, Mayor pro tem Clark so ordered approval of the motion.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor pro tem Clark recessed the meeting at 9:02 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 9:10 P.M.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented staff report and the recommendation to provide staff with direction on the status of the Equestrian Committee.
With regard to Page 2 of staff report, Councilman Stern questioned what staff anticipates in the way of permits that may be sought in the next few years.
Addressing Councilman Stern’s inquiry, Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that it is difficult for staff to foresee any future large domestic animal permit requests.
Director Rojas added that the 2 permits City Council had acted on had special rules attached because they involved nonprofit agencies; but in terms of a resident asking for a permit to keep horses on a vacant lot, as written in the code, he stated that the City hasn’t had any of those in quite some time and that it would be difficult to gauge.
Councilman Stern questioned from a historical perspective, how many disputes have come before the Equestrian Committee for resolution.
Responding to Councilman Stern’s question, Director Rojas explained that when the Equestrian Committee was first formed, there were some disputes, approximately 6 to 8 in the first year or two; and noted that these disputes would be handled and solved without City Council input.
Councilman Stern questioned if the role/function of the Equestrian Committee has changed any in the recent past, other than their consideration of an equestrian center, manure composting guidelines, and trails.
Director Rojas indicated that as far as staff is aware, those are the only issues.
Highlighting the approximate 14 hours of staff time needed each month to staff the Equestrian Committee meetings and provide support, Mayor pro tem Clark questioned what these hours equate to in terms of financial impact to the City.
In response to Mayor pro tem Clark’s question, City Manager Evans estimated that the use of one clerical person and one professional planner costs the City approximately $700 to $800 each month.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if the Equestrian Committee’s work on the trails can be taken over by staff and/or considered by the Open Space Task Force.
Addressing Councilman Wolowicz’s question, City Manager Evans stated that representatives of the Equestrian Committee are very active on other committees, such as the Forrestal Steering Committee; advised that the Equestrian Committee has been working on putting together an equestrian center that has been considered by the Open Space Task Force; but he noted his opinion that members of the Equestrian Committee could still perform those functions without necessarily being members of the Equestrian Committee.
Councilman Stern stated that it would be helpful to understand what in the charter of the Equestrian Committee remains unfulfilled, if anything, and beyond that, assuming there is something that the group believes should be done by the Equestrian Committee; and he questioned the need to possibly amend the Equestrian Committee’s charter.
Gordon Leon, 38 Narcissa Drive, Chairman of the Equestrian Committee, stated that it is true the Committee’s initial charter of taking care of the animal permits and complaints have been resolved by the Equestrian Committee, that the Committee’s workload on that front has diminished over the past years. He explained that over the years, this Equestrian Committee has developed into a valuable skill base of residents that focus on equestrian issues; stated that when he was appointed to this Committee several years ago, the Committee had been encouraged to deal in several areas, such as the equestrian trails and the equestrian park; and that because of the encouragement to do so, the Committee has taken an active role in these additional issues, although they are outside of the Committee’s original charter. He expressed the belief that having overlapping charters with the Open Space Task Force puts everyone in a difficult situation and stated that these overlapping charters do not serve the City well. Mr. Leon stated that in order to be able to effectively deal with the equestrian issues, the Equestrian Committee should be the sole organization that considers these issues with its skilled member base.
Mr. Leon explained that there are several very important issues that are coming up specifically having to do with the equestrian park, integrating that park into the City in an appropriate manner, developing adequate plans for the location and configuration of the park, integrating it within the preserve, and options for management of the park; and reiterated his suggestion to centralize the equestrian issues under one entity, under the Equestrian Committee, and to get rid of the overlapping charters that currently exist.
With regard to the use of staff resources for the Equestrian Committee, Mr. Leon stated that the minutes could be taken by a member of the Committee; and suggested that the Equestrian Committee have final actions at the Committee level, where only appeals would come before the City Council -- similar to the way it works with the Planning Commission. He expressed his belief that the Equestrian Committee not only serves the interests of the equestrian community, but that it also serves the interests of the non-equestrian community in the City.
Highlighting the purpose of this Committee to serve as a forum for people to bring in issues of concern, Councilman Stern asked Mr. Leon if this is routinely happening.
Addressing Councilman Stern’s inquiry, Mr. Leon stated that the public has brought issues before the Equestrian Committee in regard to the trails, moving toward a unified trail system; and that members of the Portuguese Bend preserve, as well as local trainers, have commented on issues concerning the equestrian center.
Councilman Stern noted his concern that there may be a public perception that the Equestrian Committee is not objective when considering horse-related matters – citing the lack of public input at the Equestrian Committee concerning the Pony Club matter. He stated that 4 to 6 individuals came to the City Council meeting to voice their objection to the Pony Club’s proposal to increase the number of horses permitted, but that these same individuals had not gone before the Equestrian Committee to voice their opposition. He noted that if this is the public perception that the public is wasting their time coming before the Equestrian Committee, then it is his belief that the Committee has evolved into an advocacy group for the equestrian community and that it is not a fair forum. He asked Mr. Leon if he believed this to be the case.
Responding to Councilman Stern’s inquiry, Mr. Leon stated that he would have a difficult time speaking to that as a public perception. He expressed his belief that the issue is truly a structural one, wherein the nonprofit large animal permits are set up to go before the City Council for final approval and that there is no decision-making process by the Equestrian Committee – pointing out that in this case, the charter has set the group up for failure; and stated that if the charter had included the Equestrian Committee as a final decision-making body and not purely an advisory body, that more people would participate in the Committee hearings.
Councilman Stern stated that Mr. Leon’s point is well taken in terms of the overlapping charters as they presently exist, and questioned whether the equestrian issues that Mr. Leon has articulated are really a subset of the Open Space Task Force issues. He stated that he does not think the trail issues belong to one committee, and that he is not sure how it should work since the trails are used by other people within the community.
With regard to the equestrian park, Mr. Leon stated that because it will be placed in open space, he does understand the Open Space Task Force dealing with the allocation of space for equestrian activity; but he stated that he and the Equestrian Committee question why the Open Space Task Force should influence the configuration of an equestrian park; and noted that the Open Space Task Force should deal more with zoning-related issues, allocating the space within the peninsula. He stated that the Equestrian Committee should have the majority input on the equestrian park and with the configuration of the equestrian trails.
Councilman Long questioned where the City should draw the line for special interest committees as a way of offering input into the use of public and private land.
Responding to Councilman Long’s question, Mr. Leon explained that there are issues that are more significant than others; and stated that while he tends to agree that there are land use issues having to do with the zoning ordinances as opposed to the structure of the Equestrian Committee, the difference here is that the Equestrian Committee would be more of a consulting role to the Planning Commission and the City.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if the Equestrian Committee could effectively function with a reduced meeting schedule, possibly meeting on a quarterly basis, but to be able to meet on an on-call basis in case something special should arise that would necessitate an additional meeting to take place.
Mr. Leon, responding to Councilman Wolowicz’s question, explained that there are some elements of the Committee focus that would function fine on a quarterly basis; but stated that there are also some issues currently before the Equestrian Committee that need to be discussed on a routine and frequent basis, such as the creation of manure disposal guidelines -- pointing out that some issues would take months to resolve. He stated that there are some things that are far enough off where the Committee would only need to meet on a quarterly basis; and stated that as soon as the site is selected for the equestrian park, it may be necessary for the Committee to conduct meetings on a monthly or weekly basis.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that he appreciates and commends the efforts of the former and current members of the Equestrian Committee, noting that the Committee has resolved some significant issues in this community; and pointed out that this Committee started with 9 members and that over time, it has accomplished a great deal of the original charter; and mentioned that past, committees have been eliminated when those committees have fundamentally declared a victory in their charters, such as the View Restoration Commission. Recognizing that a very important skill base has evolved from this Committee, Mayor pro tem Clark asked Mr. Leon if he could envision a future state whereby members of this Committee and the community would act in an advisory role to assist staff and the City Council with equestrian-related issues on an as-needed basis.
In response to Mayor pro tem Clark’s question, Mr. Leon commented on his experience with utilizing a certain skill base for his employer for a particular activity; stated that a group of skilled experts would be hired to participate in a productive manner with a certain program; that when that program is completed, the skilled experts are reduced to part-time staff; but explained that at this point, this skilled expert staff becomes less effective because their allegiance begins to go elsewhere and that the skill base at that point begins to evaporate very quickly. Mr. Leon pointed out that there are a lot of people in the community that are concerned about equestrian issues; and he expressed his belief that it would be too difficult to retain the skilled base on an as-needed basis. Mr. Leon reiterated that the Committee has started to contribute in additional areas other than just the large animal permits.
Mayor pro tem Clark commented on times when the City needs to eliminate committees that have completed their missions; stated that consideration needs to be given to the interests of the entire community, not only the equestrian community; and questioned what are the financial impacts to the City to continue with a committee that many say has completed its mission.
Kay Bara, 1 Peppertree Drive, representing the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association, urged the City Council to not eliminate the Equestrian Committee; stated that the Committee has been helpful in many areas; and pointed out that the City does not have to pay for this valuable equestrian knowledge. Ms. Bara explained that this is the one sport where zoning issues have to be taken into consideration, where property values are involved, and that because of these related issues, it becomes a higher financial priority when compared to other special interest groups, such as hikers. With respect to opposition at the Equestrian Committee meetings, Ms. Bara expressed her belief that it’s always the same 4 people that say the Equestrian Committee is not fair and that she does not believe that is a general perception in the community. With regard to the limited number of people applying to serve on the Equestrian Commission, Ms. Barra explained that there was some confusion concerning the term limits for those who are currently on the Committee; and advised that there are now 9 applicants who are seeking to serve on the Equestrian Committee. She expressed her belief that this is not the time to eliminate the Committee, highlighting the manure program and the equestrian park; and she urged the City Council to give this Committee at least one more year to work on the issues; and if necessary, suggested that the City Council re-evaluate the need to eliminate the Committee at that time.
Mayor pro tem Clark asked Ms. Bara if she could envision a future state whereby members of this Committee and the community would act in an advisory role to assist staff and the City Council with equestrian-related issues on an as-needed basis.
Ms. Bara noted for Mayor pro tem Clark that she would prefer the Committee to stay intact; believing that on an as-needed basis would not be sufficient.
Focusing on trails and the equestrian center, Councilman Stern asked the Committee members why they believe its members cannot effectively work within the parameters of the Open Space Task Force meetings, expressing his belief that the equestrian members would play a significant role in working with the Open Space Task Force, and allowing for a unified approach as to how to address all these needs.
Ms. Bara, responding to Councilman Stern’s question, and explained that the Equestrian Committee members have somewhat participated with the Open Space Task Force; advised that not too many people on the Open Space Task Force understand horses and the needs of the equestrian community; and expressed her belief that the Open Space Task Force will end up pitting one group against another – stating that the groups have already become solidified. She expressed her belief that it will not work. She noted her preference to keep the Equestrian Committee together and, if necessary, have it meet less often – pointing out that if it meets too infrequently, it will lose its momentum and cohesiveness.
Councilman Long asked Ms. Bara what are the current horse-related issues in the City.
Addressing Councilman Long’s inquiry, Ms. Bara explained that presently, the two largest issues are the trails and the equestrian center, multiple use trails that have to be sorted out for everyone’s use.
Councilman Long questioned why the Equestrian Committee believes the issue of trails is a horse issue, why does the input on trails need to come from the Equestrian Committee, and why should there not be a Trails Committee wherein the City seeks equal input on a level playing field for everyone’s enjoyment.
Ms. Bara noted for Councilman Long that the equestrian community believes it is essential to protect horse trails; and stated that other groups should be able to use the trails, but explained that the Equestrian Committee is able to provide the expertise on the trails. She expressed her belief that the needs of the equestrian community will get lost in the shuffle with the Open Space Task Force if the Committee is not able to provide the necessary input.
Richard Bara, 1 Peppertree Drive, explained that the Equestrian Committee started with 9 members; stated that there are 4 Q zones in RPV; that originally, there were representatives from at least 3 of those zones; and that during the first year of the Committee’s existence, the disputes in the various Q zones were a big factor with the Committee. He stated that it then became necessary for every member living in a particular Q zone to recuse themselves when a dispute arose between two residents of that same zone. He stated that the work of the Committee evolved over the years; and that when an issue came up, one member of the Equestrian Committee and a City staff member would visit the site to inspect the problem and would come up with a recommendation, and that it would then be necessary for that Committee member to recuse themselves from that particular case. He stated that somewhere in this term, it became an even number (6) of Committee members; expressed his belief that the Committee needs to be increased to 9 members; and urged the City Council to allow the Committee to remain intact for at least one more year. He stated that in the next year, this Committee should meet on a monthly basis and no less than a bi-monthly basis, if reduced in number.
Mr. Bara stated that input on the trails and the equestrian park is important; explained that the Equestrian Committee should have priority in providing input for the trails they use – pointing out the importance of protecting the dwindling trails in the City and all over the peninsula in the past years. He pointed out that the Equestrian Committee is becoming more proactive in the protection of these dwindling trails and the Committee is starting to see some progress in this area all over the Peninsula. Mr. Bara stated that the Equestrian Committee has done such a good job, that the disputes hardly arise anymore; and stated that residents are aware that the Committee is tending to the equestrian-related issues. He mentioned that when staff and a Committee member go out to address an issue, it oftentimes can be solved on the spot and never reach the Committee; and that the issues are smaller and are able to be solved much easier now that the process is in place.
Mayor pro tem Clark asked Mr. Bara if he could envision a future state whereby members of this Committee and the community would act in an advisory role to assist staff and the City Council with equestrian-related issues on an as-needed basis.
In response to Mayor pro tem Clark’s inquiry, Mr. Bara stated that taking into consideration the major issues currently being addressed, a reduced meeting schedule would delay productivity, expressing his belief that the City will not bring the trails issue to the most informed people, if any at all; and that this inaction would only allow the trails to continue to disappear. He stated that the Equestrian Committee is very interested in the trails and that the Committee is being very proactive in saving them; and he stated that the equestrian park needs full-time attention from an experienced and skilled Equestrian Committee. He added that the manure issue is another topic that needs to be addressed on a monthly basis throughout the next year in order to see progress.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if there has been a major increase in the number of horses in RPV in the last few years; and questioned what conversations have taken place with the P.V. Peninsula Horsemen’s Association, wondering if the discussions address areas outside of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Mr. Bara noted for Councilman Wolowicz that the City has not witnessed a drastic increase in the number of horses in RPV; stated that there should be a liaison from the Committee to work with the Peninsula cities on solving the trail problems; and noted that an asserted effort is being made to address the dwindling trails on the east side and the connector trails through Rolling Hills. He stated that if someone is interested in using the trails in Rolling Hills, that they must first get permission and wear a badge while traversing those trails – noting that this is done for safety purposes. He expressed his belief that all of the peninsula cities are not doing enough to assist in the effort to save and maintain the trails.
Charlene O’Neil, 33 Headland Drive, expressed her belief that an Equestrian Committee is different from other special interest groups seeking to use the trails because of the agricultural/equestrian zoning related properties and unique issues with usage; and she stated that these zones will always need special input to address the maintenance and that the City will need to utilize the knowledge of someone who is familiar with the needs of the equestrian community – pointing out that the City will always realize some type of fiscal impact for use of staff and/or professional input for these special needs. Ms. O’Neil advised that every stable on the peninsula has a waiting list of those seeking to board their horses; and stated that in some cases, the waiting lists have a waiting period of up to two years. Addressing the concern that no one attended the Equestrian Committee to voice any opposition to the Pony Club’s proposal, Ms. O’Neil stated that it is her belief people did not voice any opposition at that Equestrian Committee meeting because staff was recommending approval for the Pony Club to expand to two more horses and that the Equestrian Committee was in concurrence with that recommendation. She stated that this City’s future with the new golf course, the new hotel, and hopefully the 1,500 acres of open space should also include a horse park and well-maintained trails; and stated that the Committee should be maintained in order to foster the awareness of equine management within the Q districts, urging the City Council to keep the Equestrian Committee together.
Ray Van Dinther, 28180, PVDE, highlighted her dream and reality of finally owning horse property on the Peninsula; and stated that when she first moved to the here, she had requested to become a member of the Equestrian Committee but was told that the City was not seeking any additional members -- pointing out her desire to once again apply for service on this Committee. She commented on the two trails which have completely disappeared in the last year because of the peninsula cities’ inaction on maintenance issues -- one being Martingale Trail and another being Sol Vista Trail. She advised that the trails have become very dangerous from lack of proper maintenance; and noted her strong belief to have and maintain designated trails for the equestrian community. She explained that it is very dangerous to ride horses on streets next to fast-moving vehicles; and noted that because of the vanishing trails, she is having to ride her horse more and more on the streets that have no barriers for her and her horse’s protection. Ms. Van Dinther reiterated her desire to serve on this Committee.
Carolyn Bojorquez, 11 Mustang Road, RPV, stated that she is puzzled with the City’s willingness to spend $15,000 for someone to look into the possibility of a girl’s softball field, and that some in the City are questioning the fiscal impact for the Equestrian Committee to meet and confer on issues concerning the placement of an equestrian park and trail maintenance – pointing out that it costs much less for this Committee to meet than $15,000. She stated that the trails and the equestrian community help to make this a unique city; and stated that the Equestrian Committee should not be in jeopardy of being eliminated after doing a thorough job in completing the work of its charter – noting that there are other issues the Committee needs to address.
Mayor pro tem Clark asked Ms. Bojorquez if she could envision a future state whereby members of this Committee and the community would act in an advisory role to assist staff and the City Council with equestrian-related issues on an an-needed basis.
Ms. Bojorquez noted for Mayor pro Clark stated that there are some issues that don’t need to be discussed on a monthly basis, but expressed her belief that the Equestrian Committee needs to meet on a regular basis to discuss the issues dealing with the equestrian park, manure and trails issues.
Jack Smith, 32025 Sea Ridge Circle, Board Member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association, expressed his concern with the future of the Equestrian Committee; explained that horse issues are a big part of the equestrian community all over the peninsula; and stated that it is very appropriate for this City to have an Equestrian Committee that is made up of those from the equestrian community and the non-equestrian community. He urged the City Council to keep the Equestrian Committee intact; and stated that instead of this City choosing to eliminate this Committee, that the City require it to meet on a less frequent basis.
Madeline Ryan, 28328 Palos Verdes Drive East, advised that there is a significant issue in this City which is a direct threat to the equestrian community; stated that this issue needs to be taken up with the Equestrian Committee as soon as possible; and she urged the Council to allow the Committee to at least convene one more time to discuss this critical issue before it eliminates this Committee. She stated that the matter of dire concern deals with development of second units on the horse properties in the Q District – highlighting her concern that there currently is no provision in the City’s code to set aside any square footage for future horse-keeping.
Arlene Block, Chairperson of the Equestrian Subcommittee of the Recreation and Parks Task Force, advised that she is not a member of the equestrian community and stated that her work on this issue has been an interesting process; and noted that all the information she has gained in regard to the equestrian needs has come from the Equestrian Committee – noting that there is nowhere else to go in this City for the information that is needed to do her work on this subcommittee. She stated that the Equestrian Committee has provided information concerning the equestrian park and trails, such as placement of the equestrian park, financing, integration of the park with other horse programs on the Peninsula, etc.; and stated that the Equestrian Committee has been very valuable to her work on the subcommittee. She suggested that the City Council at least keep the Equestrian Committee together as long as the Recreation and Parks Task Force needs that Committee’s expertise.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if anyone from the Equestrian Committee is serving on the Open Space Task Force.
City Manager Evans noted for Councilman Wolowicz that no one from the Equestrian Committee applied to serve on the Open Space Task Force.
Ms. Block stated that many of the Equestrian Committee members have consistently attended the Open Space Task Force meetings and have provided input.
Councilman Stern noted his agreement that the Equestrian Committee members do provide valuable input for the City’s benefit, but he questioned whether the original structure and intent of the Committee is still an appropriate structure for the issues of concern articulated this evening.
Addressing Councilman Stern’s inquiry, Ms. Block stated that there is no other structure in place that would give the kind of input that the Equestrian Committee has been able to provide; and she stated that in terms of getting a valuable group of people, with slightly different views all focused on the equestrian community, that has been a very valuable resource.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor pro tem Clark recessed the meeting at 10:31 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 10:40 P.M.
(Equestrian Committee item continued.)
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, that the Equestrian Committee continue for one more year; that it meet as often as its members and staff determine it is appropriate, up to once a month; that the meetings not exceed the amount to operate as is reflected in the present budget for this Committee; that the formation of this Committee will be re-examined in one year to determine if this body is needed; that staff will solicit more applications to bring the membership up to 9 members, who will serve one year on this Committee; that the City Council will reserve judgment on the size of the Committee until such time as all applicants have been interviewed – interviews/appointments to be done as expeditiously as possible; that in addition to the Committee’s existing charter, that the Committee would not be given the authority to make final decisions on any matter; that the Committee will provide advice on land use issues to the Planning Commission; that it will provide advice on an equestrian center and other equestrian-related issues to the Open Space Task Force; that it will provide advice to the City Council and staff on horse care and issues concerning the handling of manure; that it will provide advice to the City Council and Planning Commission on trails, the preservation of trails, and that it will attempt to coordinate with other Peninsula cities on the preservation of trails; and that the City Council will look at the progress and reports relating to the issues set forth in its charter and re-evaluate the Committee one year from now.
Councilman Stern stated that the Equestrian Committee was set up for a specific purpose, a purpose which has been successfully achieved; explained that on a philosophical level, he is opposed to keeping institutions intact if they have done what they were supposed to accomplish; and noted his concern that this Committee may have become somewhat of an advocacy group for the equestrian community – pointing out that while there is nothing wrong with its advocacy interests, it should not be done in this forum. Councilman Stern stated that he realizes the equestrian community interests are different and unique and noted that he could support the motion; but he stated that the Committee needs to recognize that its role, in his view, is not to advocate the interests of the equestrian community only; that if the members want to be advocates for these equestrian interests, that it needs to be done by a separate entity, not the Equestrian Committee. He reiterated his concern that no one had attended the Equestrian Committee meeting to voice opposition to the Pony Club proposal. Councilman Stern expressed his belief that the frequency of the Committee meetings should be reduced in number; and stated that some of the issues of concern articulated this evening should be done at the Open Space Task Force level.
Mayor pro tem Clark expressed his belief that the current Equestrian Committee can declare a victory with the intent of its charter; stated that taking into account all the testimony, he is convinced there is an ongoing need for the Equestrian Committee to meet and confer for one more year; and noted that he would like for the City Council to revisit in one year the structure and value of this Committee to determine if the Equestrian Committee continues to be of value to the City. Mayor pro tem Clark supported the suggestion that the Equestrian Committee meet on an as-needed basis; and mentioned that last year, two of its meetings were cancelled due to the lack of a quorum. He stated that potential new Committee members should only be appointed to serve for one year; and stated that the Equestrian Committee should appoint one or two members to be liaisons who will regularly attend the Open Space Task Force meetings so that the expertise that’s embodied in the membership of the Equestrian Committee has continuity of input to the Open Space Task Force as it moves forward on broader issues. He stated that he would support giving the Equestrian Committee additional scope in its charter.
Councilman Long echoed Councilman Stern’s concerns with the perception that the Equestrian Committee has become an advocacy group for the equestrian community.
Responding to Councilman Wolowicz’s inquiry regarding the intent of the motion, Councilman Long stated that if the Equestrian Committee wants to address other topics over and above what has been discussed this evening, the Committee would need to come before the City Council for approval before it spends any time on other issues of concern.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor pro tem Clark
The appointment of members to the Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee.
The staff report recommended that Council agree on the membership criteria and scope of work of the Residential Development Standards Committee.
City Manager Evans explained that the Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee would be modeled after the Neighborhood Compatibility Committee, consisting of 2 City Council members, 2 Planning Commission members, and hopefully the 3 applicants who were not appointed to the Planning Commission and perhaps 2 other at-large members.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved to approve staff recommendation; directed staff and the City Clerk to contact Kristine Denton, Steve Perestam, Jim Slayden, Frank Lyon and Jon Cartwright in writing, inviting them to join the Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee; moved to direct the Planning Commission to appoint 2 members to serve on this Committee; and that Councilman Wolowicz and Councilman Long serve on the Committee, as well as 2 members from the Planning Commission.
Councilman Stern noted his preference to invite anyone in RPV to serve on this Committee and that the applicants be selected from the pool of applications.
Councilman Long suggested that the interviews be conducted on March 2, 2004; and Councilman Long seconded the motion.
Hearing no objection, Mayor pro tem Clark so ordered.
Ridgegate Drive Vacation.
Senior Engineer Jules presented the staff report and the recommendation to approve the request to formally initiate the vacation of Ridgegate Drive and direct staff to continue to work with the Ridgegate Drive Community throughout the vacation process.
Highlighting Page 5, Section 1d of the Resolution, Councilman Stern noted the requirement for the signatures of at least 50 percent of the directly affected property owners to support the request for vacation; pointed out that only 156 out of the 603 property owners had responded to the survey; and questioned what justification, if any, was given by the homeowner group for bringing this issue before the City Council when the required number of signatures had not been attained.
Director Allison commented on staff’s interaction with this community; and explained that while staff is cognizant of the required process, staff brought this matter forward in its attempts to be responsive to the residents’ concerns.
Councilman Long questioned whether the limited number of signatures indicates the community’s lack of support for the street vacation.
Responding to Councilman Long’s inquiry, Senior Engineer Jules explained that the community was hoping that just based on the results of the survey, that it would initiate enough interest; and stated that the community now understands more fully the conditions of the resolution and that the community members will canvass their community to receive the required number of signatures.
Councilman Long questioned what other options had been considered prior to coming to the option of street vacation.
Senior Engineer Jules noted for Councilman Long that only Option A had been implemented, the speed limit signs and rumble strips.
Councilman Long questioned if speed bumps had been tested on Ridgegate Drive.
Senior Engineer Jules stated that the Ridgegate community’s request for speed bumps was denied by the Traffic Committee and appealed to the City Council, and not approved by the City Council; she explained that Ridgegate Drive is a collector street, not a residential street; and noted that the community has petitioned that Ridgegate Drive be treated as a residential street – pointing out that speed humps are only recommended for residential streets.
Director Allison noted for Councilman Long that there are no homes facing onto Ridgegate Drive; explained that it is a connector for other arterials; advised that Ridgegate Drive is a 30-mile-per-hour street; and that speed humps are only permitted on residential streets where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. He noted that staff advised this community that the City could not allow speed humps on Ridgegate Drive because it is not a residential street; and that if this community continues to want the speed humps, that it would have to take the steps necessary to make Ridgegate Drive a private street.
Clifford Schroeder, 28030 Ridge Cove Court, president of the Ridgegate Homeowner’s Association, stated that this is a gated residential community with 352 individually owned houses; advised that it is managed by an elected board of governors and four standing committees of volunteers; that the association has an annual budget of slightly over $1 million; that its income is generated from the monthly homeowner association fees; and mentioned that the expenses are primarily for utilities, landscaping maintenance, insurance, personnel, administrative costs, service contracts, maintenance repair costs, etc. Mr. Schroeder advised that this proposal is being brought before the City Council because the traffic on Ridgegate Drive is a hazard to school children, residents, and the service workers. He stated that this area of the street has a P.V. Transit bus stop that is used by the school children and that special education school buses also utilize this street for pickups/drop-offs. He advised that vehicles routinely ignore the flashing school bus lights; and explained that Ridgegate Drive is the only means of ingress and egress to this community for the residents and service personnel.
Councilman Wolowicz asked if the homeowner’s association had conducted any updates on the traffic survey.
Addressing Councilman Wolowicz’s inquiry, Mr. Schroeder expressed his belief that the City had conducted 2 traffic surveys, but that the homeowner’s association had not done any on its own.
Bob Kaminski, 28201 Ridgecrest, president of the Miraverde Homeowner’s Association, expressed his concern with the speeding vehicles on Ridgegate Drive; explained that for those vehicles coming out of the east complex, there is a line-of-sight problem; that there is approximately 125 feet towards Hawthorne Boulevard; that a motorist seeking to egress that side of the complex only has 125 feet to safely clear that intersection; and stated that this creates an unsafe condition for all motorists and pedestrians involved. He advised that the City’s survey has shown that speeds of 45 to 50 miles per hour are attained and that at 125 feet, it is not enough length for a vehicle to safely stop.
Mr. Kaminski stated that the Miraverde Homeowner’s Association has a budget of approximately $1 million; that it has 275 families living in the complex; and he urged the City to do something to help rectify the speeding and safety problem in this area. He stated that the two associations would be willing to do a traffic survey.
Charles Ingraham, 28181 Ridgecove Court South, stated that the associations are doing all they can to make Ridgegate Drive safe; and with the aid of slides, Mr. Ingraham highlighted the problems with the roadway. Mr. Ingraham explained that Ridgegate Drive is approximately three-quarters of a mile long; that it is unadorned with any stop signs; and stated that Ridgegate Drive runs through the complex, through Miraverde, and back out again to Hawthorne Boulevard. He explained that Ridgegate Drive was originally 1,500 feet long and that it later became 3,600 feet long to satisfy the need of the Miraverde developer. As a result of this last development, Mr. Ingraham explained that the associations have requested the City’s help to end the increasing speeding problem.
Mr. Ingraham advised that in 1998, the City started the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program; and that in 1999, the associations pleaded with the Traffic Committee and Public Works Department to be part of this program. Mr. Ingraham explained that this traffic calming program entitles a residential area to relief through various tools to control traffic if 1) the traffic through a street is at least 1,500 cars per day; 2) if 64 percent of the vehicles exceed the nominal 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, which is the citywide residential speed limit; and 3) if there is significant cut-through traffic. As a result of working back and forth with the City, he stated that the traffic engineer conducted approximately 4 traffic studies; that in one study, the results indicate that one car was below 25 MPH; that 82 percent of the cars exceeded the 30-MPH speed limit; that most of the cut-through traffic occurs at 8:00 A.M. and again from 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.; that the number of vehicles utilizing this road each day is 3,700; and that of those 3,700 cars per day, approximately a quarter of the vehicles was cut-through traffic. Mr. Ingraham pointed out that this community more than doubles the criteria to qualify for assistance, both in speed and in traffic number.
Councilman Stern noted that the study also indicates a lot of the speeding is done by the complex residents.
Mr. Ingraham stated that as a result of the studies, the associations requested to be included in the traffic calming process; and mentioned that the street is almost three-quarters of a mile long and that it has no stop signs, cross-walks, traffic lights or speed humps. He stated that the associations were told by the City that because this is not considered a residential street, it would not qualify for the traffic calming program; and he noted that this matter appeared before the City Council in April 2003 – stating that it was the City Council’s decision for the association to gather more input from the community in regard to this matter. He stated that the community survey indicates the majority of the answers support the need to solve the speeding problem on Ridgegate Drive; and expressed his belief that something needs to be done immediately to make this a safer roadway.
Mr. Ingraham urged the City Council to allow the associations to at least put in a temporary cul-de-sac until the street vacation process is completed; explained that the cul-de-sac would be located approximately midway between the property line of both communities; stated that the cul-de-sac could consist of trees in containers, barriers, strobe lights, speed bumps, signage; and noted that the hammerhead turn-arounds meet the Fire Department requirements. He stated that all these portable safety devices can be bought or rented for an instant cul-de-sac and can be installed within one week. He stated that portable speed bumps can be obtained within 24 hours; and suggested dropping the speed limit for the cul-de-sac to 15 MPH. Mr. Ingraham stated that the cost to each association would be approximately $4,400, approximately $10 per homeowner in each complex. He added that the cul-de-sac would be placed far enough back from the intersection of the main street so as not to negatively impact traffic/pedestrian safety.
Councilman Stern questioned how this plan would stop the complex residents from speeding.
In response to Councilman Stern’s inquiry, Mr. Ingraham expressed his belief that the cul-de-sac would automatically slow down all traffic on this street; advised that there are at least 8 security guards in the complex who work all shifts; and that these security guards do issue traffic citations. He noted that the residents can be cited for speeding in the complex; stated that if the same resident is cited for speeding a second time, they can be assessed a higher fee; and that if this person becomes a chronic offender, the association could ultimately build up a case to foreclose on that person’s property -- noting that it has happened before.
Responding to Mayor pro tem Clark’s invitation to provide further input, Director Allison explained that staff would be reluctant to put in any kind of barricade until the vacation process has run its course. Director Allison provided input on the history of the associations’ struggle to get this speeding problem resolved; explained that the Traffic Committee has struggled with this issue; that there is not much that can be done with this roadway because it is technically not a residential street; that there haven’t been any accidents; and that there are no houses that front this road – all of which is relevant in the traffic calming program. He stated that the program is aimed at allowing residents to safely use their front yards while cars are traversing the road.
Councilman Stern expressed his belief that the erection of a couple stop signs on this street would slow down the speeding vehicles.
Addressing Councilman Stern’s comment, Senior Engineer Jules explained that studies indicate stop signs are not the best traffic calming device, believing that it does not slow down speeders, that speeding drivers try to make up for lost time.
Councilman Stern stated that he is not eager to vacate public property and that it would not be his first choice in finding a solution to this problem.
Councilman Wolowicz expressed his concern that this roadway cannot qualify as a residential area; stated that he is troubled with the burden being placed on the residents to come up with a solution to this problem; and noted his discomfort with skipping over less severe solutions to this problem. He expressed his preference that before he would approve a street vacation, staff should investigate less severe options to slow down the speeding traffic in this area.
Councilman Long echoed the concerns with vacating public property; questioned what the City will get in return for losing this asset, and how the City would go about appraising this property.
City Manager Evans explained that the residential streets are defined in the State’s Vehicle Code by how many homes line the street, how wide the street is, etc.; and advised that the City is restricted to the 25 MPH speed limit for a residential street. City Manager Evans advised that there has been an enormous amount of work done by staff on this matter; that staff has a clearer understanding of the City Council’s perspective with regard to the options; and that at this time, he would suggest that the City Council allow staff to take this issue back for further study.
Councilman Stern expressed his belief that this proposal needs to go back to staff for further analysis; stated that at this point, he is not in favor of a street vacation option; that staff should investigate less drastic alternatives to solve this problem; and stated that the residents need to obtain the required number of signatures for anything that will be proposed.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to direct staff to return to City Council with a specific recommendation that has been studied to deal with the speeding problems in this area.
Councilman Wolowicz asked that staff’s investigation be done as expeditiously as possible.
Mayor pro tem Clark thanked those in the audience for there input this evening.
There being no objection, Mayor pro tem Clark so ordered.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to waive staff report. No objection was noted.
The staff report recommend that the Council review the current status of border issues and provide direction to the City Council Committee and Staff.
Because of Mayor Gardiner’s absence, Mayor pro tem Clark relayed the Mayor’s concerns with the sufficiency of the technical analysis and reports related to the landfill and stated that the Mayor had questioned whether there was any convergence of some of the findings with what the City’s consultant had found and why some of the findings that are in the documents that City Council received were not discovered by the City’s consultant.
Councilman Stern expressed his preference that rather than replicate the same approximately 30-page Border Issues report, that staff place this full report on the City’s website and that staff only print for Council agenda packets those pages that include new information, updates. No objection was noted.
With regard to Page 33 of the Border Issues report -- Shaping the Future 2025-Release of Los Angeles County Draft General Plan -- Councilman Long stated that when the release of the Los Angeles County Draft General Plan occurs, that the City should focus in particular on those unincorporated areas of the County which are adjoined/separated by a width of no more than one house from this City.
Resol. No. 2004-09: Budget Adjustment to allow the entire Planning Commission to attend the 2004 Planners Institute Conference.
Staff recommended that Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-09, APPROVING A $5,000 BUDGET INCREASE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT'S MEETING AND CONFERENCES BUDGET ACCOUNT.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Stern, to approve staff recommendation.
Councilman Long suggested having some of the members of the new Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee attend this conference.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that the primary focus of the conference is for Planning Commissioners to explore not only their primary duties as Commissioners, but also to explore specific areas of interest; and noted that there is some merit to having some of the subcommittee members attend who are working on focused areas of planning, but stated that he is not convinced with sending the others.
Councilman Long then suggested that members of the Planning Commission who are on that committee make a point of looking for the conference forums that would be of relevance to the new Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee, making sure that the City has a representative attend those particular forums.
Councilman Stern expressed his belief that there may not be enough forums at the conference to be of focused interest to the new Residential Development Standards Ad Hoc Steering Committee.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor pro tem Clark
2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Process.
Mayor pro tem Clark reiterated that he would recuse himself from this matter.
Councilman Wolowicz moved to waive staff report. No objection was noted.
The staff report recommended that Council consider adopting a position of opposition to closure or relocation of the Los Angeles Air Force Base; consider a resolution or letter(s) in opposition to the closure; and consider a financial contribution to the Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance.
Councilman Wolowicz advised that several South Bay cities have made contributions to the Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance fund to help protect the Air Force Base in El Segundo; and expressed his belief that this City should contribute to the fund just as many of the neighboring cities have done. He stated that a significant part of the economy of this City’s residents is dependent upon this base. Councilman Wolowicz highlighted the City’s draft letter to the Secretary of Defense, wherein the letter addresses the concern with the loss of intellectual capital – pointing out that a major portion of this City’s residents could be faced with the prospect of relocating to another state; and stated that this will be the first step for the City in showing its support for the Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance. Councilman Wolowicz stated that there would be a second milestone coming up in approximately a year in which all of the evaluations will be studied and brought to the attention to all concerned.
Councilman Wolowicz moved that the City Council adopt a position of opposition to the closure or relocation of the Los Angeles Air Force Base; that the City be aggressive in writing letters related to the BRAC closure process; and that the City provide $10,000 to the Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance.
Councilman Long stated that the letter’s reference to the loss of intellectual capital is persuasive; noted his preference for the shorter and more succinct sample letter that strongly emphasizes the loss of this intellectual capital; suggested that it might be worth mentioning in the letter that during the times of high Federal deficits in the 1980’s, that California was a net surplus state and that it had sent more money to Washington than it ever got back; and stated that he is inclined to support the proposal even though he feels, in general, that the City should not get involved in issues that are not local and that are very political in nature. He stated that he does not believe this issue can be divorced from local issues because of the potential impact on members of this community. With regard to donating the $10,000, Councilman Long stated that he needs a better understanding of what the money will be used for, what the budget will be, and what the deliverable will be.
Councilman Stern stated that the City should support the maintenance of the Air Force Base, believing that its existence has an economic impact upon the South Bay cities and many of this City’s residents; and echoed Councilman Long’s concerns with the use and purpose of the funding. He noted that he would be more comfortable donating $5,000 in these uncertain economical times.
Councilman Wolowicz noted that the money will be used for lobbyist activities, ad campaigns, research issues with regard to impacts, and the overall fight to keep the base open; and he stated that the City should be able to get some specificity on how the alliance will be utilizing the funding.
Councilman Stern questioned if the contribution issue can be deferred to a future Council meeting, allowing time to investigate the alliance’s plans for the use of the funding.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that he is not aware of any urgency issues for the contributions; and advised that members of the alliance Committee are planning presentations before various municipal City Councils to address this issue and seek financial support.
Councilman Long requested that the Committee make a presentation before this body.
Councilman Wolowicz withdrew the $10,000 funding portion of his motion, but added that the funding issue should be agendized as soon as possible; and that the motion also include a funding presentation from the appropriate committee on how the alliance will utilize the funds.
Councilman Long seconded the motion. No objection was noted.
Budget Meeting Schedule for FY 04-05.
Staff recommended that Council select two dates in mid-April to early May for the City Council budget review sessions (only one date may be necessary).
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to schedule the budget meetings for Tuesday, April 20, 2004, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.; and Tuesday, May 4, 2004, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.
Proposed City Council Workshops.
Staff recommended that Council set dates and times for Council joint meetings with the Traffic Committee and the Planning Commission.
It was the consensus of the City Council to conduct the joint meetings as follows: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 with the Traffic Committee; and Tuesday, June 29, 2004 with the Planning Commission.
Councilman Long questioned the need and plans for a joint workshop with the Planning Commission; noted his concern with supporting the workshop topics/agenda in the abstract; and noted his discomfort with the lack of knowledge of what exactly these two bodies will be discussing at that workshop.
Addressing Councilman Long’s comments, City Manager Evans explained that the proposed topics for the workshop are tentative and that the agenda topics will be subject to change between now and the dates of the joint meetings.
Because of the important decisions made by the Planning Commission, Mayor pro tem Clark expressed his belief that the City Council and the Planning Commission should jointly meet on a yearly basis in order to interact with each other and communicate goals and objectives.
Councilman Stern expressed his support with meeting in a joint workshop manner on a yearly basis with the Planning Commission.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his support with jointly meeting with the Planning Commission on a yearly basis.
Councilman Long clarified that he does not want the public to get the perception that the City Council is guiding the Planning Commission on specific cases; and stated that as long as he feels assured the agenda won’t be designed to do that, and then he would support a workshop.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT
City Attorney Lynch stated that the City Council expressed its desire to meet in closed session with its negotiators to give instructions on the terms of an amendment to the City’s franchise agreement with Cox Communications.
At 12:54 A.M., the City Council meeting was adjourned to 6:00 P.M., February 17, 2004, at Hesse Park, Fireside Room, to interview candidates for chair of the various advisory boards.