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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: SEPTEMBER 7, 2004
SUBJECT: GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT INITIATION REQUEST (CASE NO. ZON2003-00520); Applicant: City of Rancho Palos Verdes; Property Addresses: The upper portion of San Ramon Canyon, which encompasses the following properties: 30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30676, 30678, 30680, 30682 Palos Verdes Drive East; and 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2845 San Ramon Drive.
Staff Coordinator: Eduardo Schonborn, aicp, Associate Planner
Direct Staff to proceed with the proposed change in General Plan Land Use Designation for the subject area from Natural Environment/Hazard to Residential (1 to 2 dwelling units per acre); and a proposed change in the zoning from Open Space Hazard (OH) to Single Family Residential (RS-2).
This item is before the City Council because Staff is seeking Council direction to initiate a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change to eliminate the "Hazard" General Plan Land Use and Zoning designations for the Upper San Ramon Canyon area now that the San Ramon Drainage and Landslide Stabilization Project has been completed. It is proposed to change the Land Use designation from Open Space Hazard to Single-Family Residential. Staff believes that the amendment and change should be pursued for the following reasons: a) the area has been developed with, and currently maintains residential structures; b) the City’s Public Works Department has completed the San Ramon Drainage and Landslide Stabilization Project for the upper San Ramon Canyon area; and, c) the site conditions are not consistent with the existing Hazard Land Use designation since this area does not contain the extreme physical constraints described in the City’s General Plan.
When the City of Rancho Palos Verdes incorporated in 1973, properties within the City were classified under various zoning designations based upon certain physical and topographical conditions. Although the majority of the City is zoned Residential and most residential lots are completely within a Residential zone, there are certain areas within the City where residential lots are completely zoned Open Space Hazard (OH) or have a "dual zoning" designation, where a portion of the lot is zoned Residential and a portion is zoned Open Space Hazard. This typically occurs in situations where residential lots are in or adjacent to natural canyons. These designations currently exist for some properties along San Ramon Canyon, particularly those at the upper San Ramon Canyon (in the vicinity of Palos Verdes Drive East).
According to the City’s Zoning Map, the properties at the upper San Ramon Canyon area are either wholly designated OH (Open Space Hazard), or contain dual designations whereby the rear yard maintains an "Open Space Hazard" designation while the portion where the residential structures are located maintain "Residential" designations. The Open Space Hazard designation over these properties was established in 1975 upon adoption of the City’s Zoning Map.
In June 2003, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes officially completed a drainage and slope stabilization project for the upper San Ramon Canyon area. The project addressed the canyon erosion, drainage for the area, repair of the erosion-damaged slope, and stabilization of the landslide caused by the storm drain backup and overflow that occurred in 1998.
The upper San Ramon Canyon area consists of a total of 15 properties, each developed with a single-family residential structure. The properties include 30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30676, 30678, 30680, 30682 Palos Verdes Drive East; and 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2845 San Ramon Drive. This area is generally located between the head of the San Ramon Canyon on the southeast, Palos Verdes Drive East on the northwest, Calle Aventura on the northeast and San Ramon Drive on the southwest. All residential structures on these 15 properties were approved prior to the City’s incorporation, and the City has approved minor additions to some of the existing structures.
Pursuant to Development Code Section 17.68.030.B, "an amendment to…or a change of zone of any property within the city may be initiated by the director and/or planning commission, upon petition to the city council. The city council shall review the petition to determine if the requested amendment and/or change is necessary or desirable".
The objective of the general plan amendment and zone change for the upper San Ramon Canyon area as proposed by Staff is to have the boundary line between the land use designations and their respective Residential and Open Space Hazard Zoning Districts more closely reflect the topographic and slope stability conditions that now exist in the canyon area. As a result of this proposed amendment and change, the land use designation and OH boundary line would be adjusted on 15 lots.
The upper San Ramon Canyon area currently contains a General Plan Land Use designation of Natural Environment/Hazard, and is conversely zoned OH (Open Space Hazard). According to the City’s General Plan, "these areas possess extreme physical constraints and will be maintained in open space at this time…for the protection of public health, safety, and welfare. The constraints include: active landslides, sea cliff hazard, and extreme slope of 35 percent and greater" (City of Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan, page 194).
Staff believes that a General Plan amendment and zone change should be pursued to change the land use designation from Natural Environment/Hazard to Residential, and to change the zoning designation from OH (Open Space Hazard) to RS-2 (Single-family residential). Staff believes that the changes should be pursued for the following reasons. First, the upper San Ramon Canyon area has been developed with, and currently maintains residential structures that were approved prior to the City’s incorporation and are currently located within the OH Zone. Further, the City has approved additions, improvements and maintenance permits (i.e., plumbing permits, electrical permits, etc) for some of these residences.
Second, the City’s Public Works Department has recently completed the San Ramon Drainage and Landslide Stabilization Project for the upper San Ramon Canyon area. The project addressed the canyon erosion, drainage for the area, repair of the erosion-damaged slope, and stabilization of the landslide caused by the storm drain backup and overflow that occurred in 1998. In assessing the feasibility of this potential zone change, Staff has communicated with the engineering firm of record for the project (AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc.), which has verbally indicated that it makes sense to amend the OH boundary so that it follows the boundary of the drainage and stabilization project. The firm is prepared to provide a formal geotechnical evaluation and written statement to determine if there are any geologic or geotechnical conditions that would make the proposed zone change (and General Plan amendment) unadvisable. This information would be obtained from the firm and presented to the Planning Commission as part of the formal General Plan Amendment and Zone Change review process.
Third, Staff believes that the site conditions are not consistent with the existing land use designation since this area, which is developed with single-family residences, does not contain the extreme physical constraints described in the City’s General Plan (page 194).
New proposed residence in the project area:
On August 23, 2003, the Planning Commission upheld, on appeal, the Director’s conditional approval for a new 3,220 square foot one-story residence and attached garage on property located at 30650 Palos Verdes Drive East. As stated by a condition of approval, "Due to the OH (Open Space Hazard) zoning of a portion of the subject property where this project is proposed, this approval shall not be effective until a zone change is approved so that the new residence is no longer in the OH Zone." Although this approval is contingent upon a zone change, Staff’s initiation request is not based upon the project. Rather, it had been envisioned that an initiation request would be pursued for this general area after completion of the landslide stabilization project.
On July 12, 2004, Staff mailed letters to the 15 property owners informing them of the proposed Initiation request. Further, the City mailed notices to a total of 99 property owners within a 500-foot radius from the subject properties, and published a notice in the Peninsula News on August 21, 2004, informing the public of the public hearing and proposed Initiation request. The notice resulted in one correspondence to the City in favor of the Initiation request.
Should the City Council approve the initiation request, the processing of this proposed amendment and zone change would be paid from the general fund. Staff has received a cost proposal from AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc., the geotechnical firm of record for the San Ramon Drainage and Landslide Stabilization Project. The firm has indicated that the cost will not exceed $850.00, for which they will review the existing technical data obtained during the stabilization project, review the proposed zone changes, and subsequently provide a geotechnical opinion regarding the location of the proposed boundary change with respect to the exiting geotechnical conditions. This relatively minor cost would be paid for out of the Department’s budget and no budget adjustment is required.
The following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:
Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement
Les Evans, City Manager