Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: MARCH 16, 2004

SUBJECT: DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (DEIR) FOR THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES NATURAL COMMUNITIES CONSERVATION PLANNING (NCCP) SUBAREA PLAN

RECOMMENDATION

Conduct a public hearing for the purpose of obtaining public comment on the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The DEIR for the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan has been completed and released to the public for review and comment. In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the DEIR must circulate to the public for 45 days, during which public agencies, organizations and any interested persons have the opportunity to provide written comments on the content of the DEIR. At this time Staff is presenting the DEIR to the City Council and providing an opportunity for the public to provide comment on the DEIR in a public forum.

BACKGROUND

The City has been working on the preparation of an NCCP Subarea Plan since 1997. The NCCP Subarea plan is the document that identifies the habitat that is to be conserved, the responsibilities and mechanisms for managing the habitat Reserve and the funding mechanisms for acquiring and managing the Reserve.

A preliminary draft of the City’s Subarea Plan was presented to the Resource Agencies in June 2002. Staff modified the Plan to address the feedback received from the Resource Agencies and presented the basic strategies of the Draft Plan to the City Council on February 4, 2003. At that time, Staff was seeking Council approval of the basic strategies of the Plan since they included the conservation of City-owned parcels, City commitments to funding (both for land acquisition and habitat management) and planning efforts that could affect other open space planning projects in the City. On February 4th, the Council reviewed and agreed with the basic strategies of the Subarea Plan thus paving the way for

the plan to be formally submitted to the Resource Agencies for conceptual approval. After the Plan was conceptually approved by the Resource Agencies, it was released to the public in June 2003 and the CEQA mandated EIR process commenced.

The first step in the EIR process was the circulation of a Notice of Preparation (NOP), which gave the public the opportunity to comment on what should be included in the analysis of the EIR. Based on comments received from the public, a DEIR has now been prepared for public review and comment. The purpose of this item is to conduct a public hearing to allow the public to provide comments on the DEIR in a public forum.

DISCUSSION

The DEIR Scoping Process

Upon completion of the Draft NCCP Subarea Plan in June 2003, an Initial Study was prepared in accordance with CEQA. Based on the Initial Study, feedback from the Resource Agencies, and consultation with the City Attorney, Staff determined that the preparation of a focused EIR would be necessary to analyze the impacts of the proposed NCCP Subarea Plan. Accordingly, the City issued a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for preparation of the EIR on June 25, 2003, initiating a 30-day public scoping period that concluded on July 25, 2003. The purpose of the NOP was to indicate formally that the City was preparing a DEIR for the NCCP Subarea Plan and, as Lead Agency, was soliciting input regarding the scope and content of the DEIR. The NOP was distributed to all Responsible and Trustee Agencies, as well as other agencies and members of the public who may have an interest in the NCCP Subarea Plan. Comment letters were received from the following persons, agencies, or organizations in response to the NOP:

  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Park Service
  • State of California Department of Transportation
  • Southern California Association of Governments
  • County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works
  • County of Los Angeles Fire Department
  • York Long Point Associates, L.P.
  • California Native Plant Society
  • Endangered Habitats League
  • Los Serenos de Point Vicente

  • Vic Quirarte
  • Jim Knight
  • Kathy Snell
  • Ann Shaw and Dena Friedson

In addition, a public hearing was held on July 15, 2003 by the City Council to discuss the Draft Subarea Plan and solicit public comments on the NOP. The following individuals and

organizations provided comments at the public hearing:

  • Jim Knight
  • Jack Downhill
  • Dale Warren, Southern Bay Archery Club
  • Barbara Sattler, California Native Plant Society
  • Ann Shaw

During the public scoping period, comments were received on environmental issues, as well as comments regarding the content of the Draft Subarea Plan. Environmental concerns raised are addressed in the DEIR, while comments regarding revisions to the Draft Subarea Plan will be addressed once the Subarea Plan is finalized. The DEIR contains a summary of the environmental concerns raised during the scoping period and where they are addressed in the document (page 1-4 of the DEIR). In addition, copies of the NOP, distribution list, and letters received in response to the NOP are included in Appendix A of the DEIR. Copies of the DEIR have been provided to the City Council under separate cover.

DEIR Analysis and Conclusions

 

Through the scoping process and preparation of the Initial Study, three environmental factors were considered potentially significant and are analyzed in detail in Section 5 of the DEIR. The impacts and mitigation measures related to these three factors are summarized in Table 2-1 of the DEIR (a copy of the summary table is attached for easy reference). The conclusions of the impact analyses for these three factors are summarized as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Biological Resources

The DEIR identifies impacts to regional habitat linkages, vegetation, sensitive species and edge effects and concludes that the impacts would be significant. However, because the proposed NCCP Subarea Plan would involve the purchase and dedication of 684.5 acres for inclusion into a habitat Reserve, a long term habitat restoration program, and a long-term habitat management plan, the DEIR also concludes that the biological impacts would be mitigated to a less than significant level (the analysis discussion can be found on pages 5-1 to 5-28 in the DEIR).

  • Land Use/Planning

The DEIR concludes that there would be no significant impacts to Land Use and Planning since the proposed Subarea Plan does not propose development projects, its implementation would preserve the physical setting of the community, and the City’s General Plan and Municipal Code would be amended to conform to the Subarea Plan provisions (the analysis discussion can be found on pages 5-28 to 5-47 in the DEIR).

  • Recreation

The DEIR concludes that there would be no significant impacts to Recreation since the boundaries of the proposed Reserve were developed to be consistent with existing uses of public recreation facilities, the proposed Subarea Plan does not propose development of specific recreational activities or facilities, the proposed Subarea Plan would increase the acreage of public lands available for passive recreation and the proposed Subarea Plan would be consistent with the City’s Parks Master Plan and Conceptual Trails Plan (the actual analysis discussion can be found on pages 5-48 to 5-59 in the DEIR).

DEIR Comment Period

The DEIR is currently being circulated for public review and comment for 45 days as mandated by State law. The DEIR became available on Friday, February 20, 2004 and the comment period will end on Monday, April 5, 2004. A Notice of Availability of the Draft EIR (attached) has been transmitted to the State Clearinghouse, Responsible Agencies, local interested parties, and NCCP listserve subscribers. Hard copies of the DEIR are available to review and/or purchase at City Hall. In addition, copies are available for viewing at Hesse Park and the local libraries. Furthermore, the document is available on the City’s website to view and/or download.

 

 

The State mandated 45-day comment will conclude on April 5, 2004. During this time, all interested agencies and parties have the opportunity to provide written comments on the content of the DEIR. In addition, the public has an opportunity this evening to provide comments on the NOP in a public forum. All written comments received by the City will be given equal consideration as any oral comments received this evening.

All written comments and oral testimony received during the comment period will be provided to the City’s NCCP consultant for incorporation into a Final EIR. The Final EIR will contain formal responses to the comments received during the DEIR comment period, including any changes to the EIR text as a result of the comments. Staff anticipates that the Final EIR will be completed by late May 2004, after which time, it will be presented to the City Council, along with the Final NCCP Subarea Plan and Implementation Agreement, sometime by late June or early July.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Draft Subarea Plan

As mentioned earlier, the NCCP Subarea plan is the document that identifies the habitat that is to be conserved, the responsibilities and mechanisms for managing the habitat preserve and the funding mechanisms for acquiring and managing the preserve. It is the document that is the basis for the environmental analysis of the DEIR and the public review and discussion of the plan. Eventually, it is the document that is submitted to the Resource Agencies for approval. The Draft Subarea Plan was released to the public in June 2003 and the basic strategies of the Subarea Plan are described in Section 3 of the DEIR.

The Draft Subarea Plan will be amended to incorporate the various public comments made as part of the NOP scoping period, as well as any additional comments raised during the current DEIR comment period. It is anticipated that the amended Plan will be made available to the public sometime in May 2004 and will eventually be presented to the City Council along with the Final EIR and Implementing Agreement.

Federal Environmental Review

Because approval of the City’s NCCP will ultimately result in the granting of a federal "take" permit by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the City’s NCCP Subarea Plan is also subject to the environmental review mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Anticipating this dual review process, the document has been prepared to function as an EIR to satisfy CEQA and an Environmental Assessment (EA) to satisfy NEPA. Although the text of the EIR describes the document as an EIR/EA, the document is currently being circulated as an EIR to satisfy the CEQA process only. Once the Final

EIR is prepared, it, along with the Subarea Plan and Implementing Agreement, will be submitted to the USFWS to begin the NEPA review process. According to the USFWS staff, the NEPA process could take 3 months to complete.

NCCP Link to the Portuguese Bend Acquisition Strategy

Completion of the City’s NCCP is intertwined with the City/PVPLC’s efforts to secure State and Federal funding to acquire the private lands necessary to complete the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve (the bulk of the City’s NCCP Reserve). The acquisition strategy continues to be a two-pronged effort, which involves securing Resource Agency approval of the NCCP (from the local San Diego and Carlsbad offices), while at the same time securing a funding commitment from the State (from the Wildlife Conservation Board) from the millions of state bond monies earmarked for habitat/open space conservation.

FISCAL IMPACT

No fiscal impact would result, as no action or approval, other than the solicitation of public comment on the DEIR, is being proposed at this time.

Respectfully submitted,

Joel Rojas

Director of Planning, Building,

and Code Enforcement

 

Reviewed by:

Les Evans

City Manager

Attachments:

Table 2-1 from DEIR

Notice of Availability

DEIR (under separate cover to City Council only)