Rancho Palos Verdes City Council

DECEMBER 21, 2004 GENERAL PLAN INITIATION REQUEST (CASE NO. ZON2004-00511) (Applicant/Owner: Steven & Lori Nolls; Property Address: 27 Rockinghorse Road) DECEMBER 21, 2004 GENERAL PLAN INITIATION REQUEST (CASE NO. ZON2004-00511) (Applicant/Owner: Steven & Lori Nolls; Property Address: 27 Rockinghorse Road)




SUBJECT: GENERAL PLAN INITIATION REQUEST (CASE NO. ZON2004-00511) (Applicant/Owner: Steven & Lori Nolls; Property Address: 27 Rockinghorse Road)

Staff Coordinator: Eduardo Schonborn, aicp, Associate Planner


Allow the applicant to submit the necessary applications and proceed through the review process for a proposed change in General Plan Land Use Designation for the subject site 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 the property owners of 27 Rockinghorse Road are seeking Council direction on whether to initiate a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change to eliminate the "Hazard" General Plan Land Use and Zoning designations that traverse the subject property. It is proposed to change the Land Use designation from Open Space Hazard to Single-Family Residential, and change the Zoning from Open Space Hazard to Residential, RS-2. Staff believes that the applicant’s request may have merit because the site has been developed with, and currently maintains a residential structure, and because the site conditions do not contain the extreme physical constraints described in the City’s General Plan. Allowing the applicant to proceed through the formal General Plan Amendment and Zone Change application process would enable the Planning Commission to review the details of the request and make a recommendation to the City Council.


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.

According to the City’s General Plan Land Use Map, the subject parcel has a Natural Environment/Hazard designation. However, according to the City’s Zoning Map, the parcel contains a dual designation. Specifically, since the subject property is a flag lot, the flag portion of the lot maintains an "Open Space Hazard" designation while the pole portion where the driveway access is located maintains a "Residential" designation (please see attached map). The Open Space Hazard designation was established in 1975 upon adoption of the City’s Zoning Map.

On September 24, 2004, the property owners submitted an application for a General Plan Amendment Initiation Request (GPAIR) for the subject property to relocate the boundary line of the General Plan Designation and the Zoning Map’s OH designation on their property. The application was deemed complete on October 25, 2004. Pursuant to Council Policy No. 33 (see attached), notice of the GPAIR was sent to all 69 property owners within 500 feet of the subject site on December 3, 2004. Additionally, notice was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on December 4, 2004.


The subject site is a 19,990 square foot parcel, which is a flag-lot located on the north side of the street. The site is accessed from a single driveway at the "pole" portion of the lot, while the residence and detached garage is located on the larger "flag" portion of the lot. The residence currently measures ±2,950 square feet, while the detached garage measures 400 square feet, for a total structure size of ±3,350 square feet. The subject property, as indicated above, contains two Land Use and Zoning Designations whereby the residence is wholly within the OH boundary area.


Pursuant to Development Code Section 17.68.030.C, "any person having an interest in land may file an application with the city council for a change of zone…upon submission to the director of an initiation application 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".

Council Policy No. 33 establishes the process for General Plan Amendment Initiation Requests. This policy makes the GPAIR an option that applicants can pursue prior to the submittal of a formal application of a General Plan Amendment. This process serves as a benefit to applicants since it allows the applicant to gauge the City Council’s outlook on a proposal.

General Plan Amendment Considerations:

According to the applicant, the objective of the general plan amendment and zone change requests are to have the boundary line on their property adjusted such that the entire parcel is wholly designated and zoned Residential. This re-designation and rezoning would allow for the construction of additions to the residence, since the residence is entirely within the OH boundary. They believe this change would bring the site into consistency with the residential development of the site. The subject site has been developed with, and currently maintains a residential structure that was approved and constructed prior to the City’s incorporation, but is currently located within the OH Zone

The developed portion of the subject property contains a General Plan Land Use designation of Natural Environment/Hazard, and is conversely zoned OH (Open Space Hazard), while the access portion of the subject property is designated and zoned Residential. 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).

According to aerial photographs of the area, the subject property and the general area north of Rockinghorse Road, have been developed by creating building pads within the hillside of the canyon. However, as indicated above, the residence, and the associated building pad, was constructed prior to City incorporation. Further, since the subject property is developed, a site visit did not reveal any evidence of natural habitat on the property and, with the exception of the transitional slopes between the building pads on the adjacent properties, there are no extreme slopes on the subject property.

Zone Change Considerations:

In order to bring the zoning in compliance with the requested General Plan land Use Designation, the applicant is requesting to modify the zoning of the property to Single Family Residential (RS-2). According to Municipal Code Section No. 17.02.010, the purpose of the single-family residential district (RS) is to provide for individual homes on separate lots, each for the occupancy of one family, at various minimum lot sizes, to provide for a range of yard and lot sizes which are based on the general plan of the city, and to provide for other uses that are associated and compatible with residential uses designated in this title.

By changing the zoning, the subject property would be consistent with the other properties along Rockinghorse Road. The change in zoning, however, would only be specific to this property and would leave the adjacent properties to the south, north and west of the project site within the OH Zoning designation. Thus, the OH boundary line would meander around this property, but would not create an "island" of Residentially zoned property within the larger OH boundary area.

The minimum lot size in the RS-2 zone is 20,000 square feet. The subject site is 19,990 square feet, which includes the private street easement. Since this would create a non-conforming situation, the applicant has expressed that a lot line adjustment will be pursued to ensure that the subject property measures at least 20,000 square feet in area.

Review Process:

Should the applicant submit the formal General Plan Amendment and Zone Change applications, the applicant must also submit geotechnical information to the City Geologist attesting that the changes will not impact the area from a geotechnical aspect. Further, the City’s Geologist must approve such information prior to processing the applications. Once the geology review has been completed and the applications deemed complete, the applications will be forwarded to the Planning Commission for its review and consideration. The Planning Commission will make a formal recommendation on the proposed applications, which will then be forwarded to the City Council for consideration. The City Council will have the final decision on the matter. Therefore, should the City Council advise the applicant to submit the applications at this time, it does not guarantee that the General Plan Amendment and Zone Change would be approved. Likewise, if the City Council were to advise the applicant to not submit the applications, the applicant may still opt to proceed with the formal applications.


As noted above, notice of the GPAIR was sent out to all property owners within 500 of the subject site on December 3, 2004. As of the date this report was prepared, there were no letters received in response to the notice.


Should the General Plan Amendment and Zone Change applications be submitted, the fees collected for the applications would offset the cost of processing the applications.


In addition to Staff’s recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:

  1. Identify any issues of concern and continue the request to a future meeting to allow Staff and/or the applicant to provide additional information; or,
  2. Recommend that the applicant not pursue the proposed General Plan Amendment and Zone Change. If this alternative is chosen, however, the applicant and/or property owner may still proceed with an application for a General Plan and related development approvals, pursuant to City Council Policy No. 33.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement


Les Evans, City Manager


  • Zoning Map of the area around 27 Rockinghorse Road
  • Surveys of the subject property