Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Comission
   

FEBRUARY 15, 2005 JANUARY 2005 STORM DAMAGE FEE AND PERMIT WAIVER RESOLUTION FEBRUARY 15, 2005 JANUARY 2005 STORM DAMAGE FEE AND PERMIT WAIVER RESOLUTION


TO:
HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: FEBRUARY 15, 2005

SUBJECT: JANUARY 2005 STORM DAMAGE FEE AND PERMIT WAIVER RESOLUTION

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2005-__, thereby waiving certain fee and permit requirements for the repair of damage to slopes and retaining walls resulting from the rainstorms of January 2005.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On January 24, 2005, the City Council directed Staff to work with the owners of properties damaged by the rainstorms of early-January 2005 to expedite slope and retaining wall repairs and to waive permit fees. Staff has prepared the attached Resolution waiving certain fee and permit requirements for the repair of damage to slopes and retaining walls resulting from these storms.

BACKGROUND

Severe rainstorms struck the Palos Verdes Peninsula in early-January 2005, which resulted in damage to private slopes and retaining walls, and the creation of dangerous conditions at several locations in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. On January 24, 2005, the City Council directed Staff to take the necessary steps to waive application and permit fees and expedite the repair of damage related to the January 2005 storms. Staff has prepared the attached resolution in response to this direction.

DISCUSSION

Section 17.78.010 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code (RPVMC) allows the City Council to grant fee waivers, based upon a finding that:

  • The applicant or the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed by the applicant is a nonprofit corporation registered with the State of California; or
  • The use or activity proposed or the activities of the beneficiary of the use or activity proposed are charitable, educational or otherwise provide a substantial benefit to the public; or,
  • The applicant has demonstrated a financial hardship, as determined by the City Council, on a case-by-case basis.

On January 24, 2005, the owner of the property at 2 Martingale Drive—which experienced the most significant slope failure observed by the City—addressed the City Council regarding the repair of the damaged slope, wall and driveway, noting that this damage would not be covered by her homeowners’ insurance. Staff believes that the costs of slope and retaining wall repairs on other affected properties in the City will similarly be uncovered by homeowners’ insurance policies. As such, the costs of these repairs are likely to constitute a significant financial hardship to individual homeowners, thereby warranting the granting of a fee waiver. Staff recommends waiving all application, plan check and permit fees associated with the repair of failed slopes and retaining walls, including fees assessed by the Planning Division, the Building and Safety Division and the City’s geotechnical consultant. Staff further recommends that the waiver continue through the end of 2005.

In addition to waiving Planning application fees, Staff also recommends expediting the Planning Division’s review of the slope and retaining wall repairs where the slopes and/or walls would be restored substantially to their pre-existing conditions and appearance. Under typical circumstances, the Planning Division’s review of major grading applications (i.e., those involving more than fifty cubic yards (50 CY) of earth movement, cut or fill in excess of five feet (5’) in depth and/or grading on an extreme slope) may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months or more to complete. This review tends to focus on the aesthetics of the proposal, such as the height and materials of retaining walls, the steepness of slopes, the use of landscape screening and similar considerations. Planning Commission review of these applications is only triggered by non-remedial grading in excess of one thousand cubic yards (1,000 CY) or remedial grading in excess of five thousand cubic yards (5,000 CY). The repair of damaged slopes and retaining walls would constitute remedial grading and Staff does not believe that any of the expected repair projects will exceed the 5,000-cubic-yard threshold. As such, Staff envisions that the Planning review process would be expedited as an "over the counter" review in cases were the restored slopes and retaining walls would have substantially the same appearance as they did prior to the January 2005 storms. The pre-failure conditions on a given site could be documented through permit records and other information in the City’s files, as well as by the City’s recent aerial photographs and topographic data.

Expedited Planning review would also be available in the event that the pre-existing slope and/or retaining walls cannot be restored due to current Building Code requirements or geotechnical considerations. This will allow Staff to ensure that the aesthetic impacts of the restored walls and slopes are addressed through landscape screening; wall finishes and materials; and other reasonable conditions. However, if an affected property owner voluntarily chooses to expand the scope of any pre-existing slopes and/or retaining walls or conduct other non-remedial grading—when such expansions are not required due to Building Code or geotechnical considerations—expedited Planning review and fee waivers would not be available.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

At the time that this report was prepared, Staff had identified eight (8) incidents of slope and/or retaining wall failures that would be eligible for fee and permit waivers. The owners of these properties have been advised of the City Council’s consideration of this matter.

The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management has announced that a Public Assistant Applicant’s Briefing for property damage incurred during the January 2005 storms will be held on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The briefing will be held in the Sproul Room of the Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex, located at 13000 Clarkdale Avenue, Norwalk, CA 90651 (Thomas Guide 736-J2).

FISCAL IMPACT

As mentioned above, Staff has identified eight (8) eligible incidents of slope and/or retaining wall failures. Staff estimates that the total Planning, Building and geotechnical permit and review fees for a typical slope and retaining wall repair scenario would be approximately two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per incident, or a total of approximately twenty thousand dollars ($20,000). If the fee waiver resolution were adopted as currently proposed, these costs would be borne by the City’s General Fund.

CONCLUSION

Based upon the foregoing discussion, Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the attached Resolution, thereby waiving certain fee and permit requirements for the repair of damage to slopes and retaining walls resulting from the rainstorms of January 2005.

ALTERNATIVES

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

1. Do not adopt the attached draft Resolution.

2. Continue this matter to a future City Council meeting.

Respectfully submitted:

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

Reviewed by:

Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Resolution No. 2005-__

RESOLUTION NO. 2005-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES WAIVING CERTAIN FEE AND PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE REPAIR OF DAMAGE TO SLOPES AND RETAINING WALLS RESULTING FROM THE RAINSTORMS OF JANUARY 2005

WHEREAS, in early January of 2005, a series of severe rainstorms struck the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, causing extreme damage to private slopes and retaining walls and other dangerous conditions on adjoining private and public property throughout the City; and,

WHEREAS, the repair of this damage to private slopes and retaining walls will require the review of grading plans and soils reports and the issuance of remedial grading permits by the City’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department; and,

WHEREAS, the types of property damage sustained as a result of the storms of early January of 2005 are generally not covered by homeowners’ insurance, so that the costs of repairing this damage—including the cost of obtaining the necessary approvals and permits to complete the repairs—is likely to constitute a significant financial hardship for individual property owners; and,

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the affected property owners and the City as a whole to expedite the review and approval of the necessary plans to repair the damaged slopes and retaining walls as quickly as possible to avoid further damage to the affected properties and to adjacent private and public properties.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, DETERMINE, AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: The Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and his designees are hereby directed to expedite processing of applications for remedial grading permits necessary to repair or remediate damage or dangerous conditions resulting from the storms of January 2005 involving legal pre-existing slopes or retaining walls, insofar as the repaired slopes and walls are substantially the same configuration, location and height as the pre-existing slopes and walls. Such applications shall be processed as an expedited, "over-the-counter" review whenever possible. In the event that the repaired slopes and walls cannot be restored to their pre-existing configuration, location and height due to Building Code and/or geotechnical considerations, the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and his designees shall also expedite the review of such remedial grading permit applications in accordance with the criteria and purposes established in Section 17.76.040(A) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, and may impose reasonable conditions on said permits.

Section 2: The provisions of Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code Sections 15.18.060, 17.76.040(D)(5) and 17.76.040(H), relating to application, permit and appeal fees, are hereby waived for any application for a remedial grading permit necessary to repair or remediate damage or dangerous conditions resulting from the storms of January 1995 involving legal pre-existing slopes or retaining walls.

Section 3: This Resolution shall apply only to those applications for remedial grading permits necessary to repair or remediate damage or dangerous conditions resulting from the storms of January 2005 involving legal pre-existing slopes or retaining walls. Such applications must be completed and submitted to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department not later than December 31, 2005. The applicant shall complete any work approved by the Department within one hundred eighty (180) days of the approval of the application.

Section 4: This Resolution shall not apply to applications for voluntary expansion or intensification of any storm-damaged slope or retaining wall that is not required in order to comply with current Building Code and/or geotechnical requirements nor shall it apply to any other non-remedial grading, which shall be subject to the normal review processes specified in Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code Section 17.76.040.

Section 5: The provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) do not apply to this Resolution, or to any of the actions authorized subsequent hereto, pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21172 ("Exempts projects within state of emergency areas proclaimed by the Governor") and CEQA Guidelines Section 15269 ("Emergency Projects").

PASSED, APPROVED, and ADOPTED this __th day of ___________ 2005.

_________________________

Larry Clark, Mayor

_________________________

Carolynn Petru, City Clerk

State of California )

County of Los Angeles ) ss

City of Rancho Palos Verdes )

I, CAROLYNN PETRU, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2005-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting held on __________, 2005.

________________________

City Clerk