MARCH 1, 2005 CODE AMENDMENT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00530): DRAFT GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE MARCH 1, 2005 CODE AMENDMENT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00530): DRAFT GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE MARCH 1, 2005 CODE AMENDMENT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00530): DRAFT GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE: MARCH 1, 2005

SUBJECT: CODE AMENDMENT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00530): DRAFT GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Conduct a public hearing and introduce Ordinance No. ___ to enact the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

At the October 5, 2004 City Council meeting, the City Council unanimously endorsed Councilman Stern’s suggestion that the City adopt a Geologic Disclosure Ordinance, and referred this matter to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission reviewed the draft Ordinance at a duly-noticed public hearing on December 14, 2004, January 25, 2005 and February 8, 2005, and now forwards it to the City Council with a recommendation of approval.

BACKGROUND

On October 5, 2004, Councilmember Stern proposed that the City Council promulgate a Geologic Disclosure Ordinance requiring the disclosure of remedial grading for the purpose of enhancing soil stability and/or reducing geotechnical hazards through the recordation of covenants to the title of affected property. As proposed at that time, the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance would be triggered by moratorium exclusion requests and subdivisions of land involving remedial grading that results in either: (1) excavation, fill or combination thereof, in excess of one thousand cubic yards (1,000 CY) within any two-year period; or (2) excavation ten feet (10’) or more below preconstruction grade or fill ten feet (10’) or more above preconstruction grade. At the October 5th meeting, the City Council unanimously referred the draft Ordinance to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation at a duly-noticed public hearing.

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing to consider the draft Ordinance on December 14, 2004, January 25, 2005 and February 8, 2005. In the course of reviewing the draft Ordinance, the Planning Commission recommended expanding its scope to include any development proposal involving "significant remedial grading," as defined above. The Planning Commission also asked Staff and the City Attorney to prepare draft language for the covenant to be recorded to the title of affected property. The Planning Commission now forwards to the City Council its recommendations for the revised draft Ordinance and the draft covenant language.

DISCUSSION

Draft Ordinance

This code amendment is comprised of additions and amendments to Titles 15 (Buildings and Construction), 16 (Subdivisions) and 17 (Zoning) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code (RPVMC). The specific amendments are described briefly below, and in full detail in the attached draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance:

Based upon these proposed revisions, the draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance would only apply to landslide moratorium exclusion requests, applications for residential subdivisions (i.e., tract and parcel maps) and other development proposals that also propose "significant remedial grading." As mentioned above, the Planning Commission recommends the inclusion of other development proposals involving significant remedial grading. The rationale for this recommendation is a concern about the possibility of inequitable treatment of similarly-situated properties under the Ordinance as originally proposed. For example, the diagram below depicts a circumstance where there are two adjacent, vacant 1-acre lots, both zoned RS-2 and both containing similar areas of un-compacted fill that requires significant remedial grading (as defined in the Ordinance). The owner of Lot 1 proposes to build a new house requiring 1000 cubic yards of remedial grading, while the owner of Lot 2 proposes to subdivide the lot into half-acre parcels, requiring 1000 cubic yards of remedial grading to create suitable building pads. In this scenario (based upon the original Ordinance), the owner of Lot 1 would not be required to disclose the remedial grading conducted while the owner of Lot 2 would.

The Planning Commission believed that, although the burden of recording a covenant is minimal, the existence of such a covenant might "stigmatize" Lot 2 (as compared to Lot 1) in the eyes of potential future buyers. The Planning Commission further believed that, since the intent of the Ordinance is "to protect the public health, safety and welfare" and to "help ensure that future property owners are aware of the geotechnical sensitivity of their property and will assist in avoiding future grading or construction activities that may compromise site stability," it is appropriate to broaden the scope of the draft Ordinance to include any project involving significant remedial grading.

Draft Covenant

At the Planning Commission’s request, Staff prepared the attached draft covenant language in consultation with the City Attorney. As currently proposed, the covenant would briefly describe:

The Planning Commission also recommended including a "disclaimer" to advise future purchasers that the covenant does not constitute a geotechnical opinion, nor does it serve to guarantee that the remedial grading conducted or recommended will correct any geotechnical deficiencies on the affected property.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The subject of this code amendment is potentially applicable citywide and would require direct notification of more than one thousand (1,000) property owners. Therefore, pursuant to Section 65091(a)(3) of the California Government Code, a one-eighth-page public notice for the March 1, 2005 public hearing on the draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News on February 12, 2005. Staff mailed courtesy notices to seven (7) property owners with pending Planning applications that might be subject to the provisions of the draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance. Notice was also posted on the City’s website. As of the date this report was completed, Staff had received one telephone inquiry in response to the published hearing notice.

CONCLUSION

Planning Staff, the City Attorney and Councilmember Stern have prepared the draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance to require the disclosure of remedial grading for the purpose of enhancing soil stability and/or reducing geotechnical hazards through the recordation of covenants to the title of affected property. The Planning Commission reviewed this code amendment and forwarded a recommendation of approval to the City Council with revisions. Therefore, Staff recommends that the City Council introduce Ordinance No. ___ to enact the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance (Case No. ZON2004-00530).

FISCAL IMPACT

There is no fiscal impact to the City as a result of this code amendment.

ALTERNATIVES

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

  1. Introduce Ordinance No. ___ with amendments read into the record of tonight’s meeting.
  2. Identify any issues of concern with the draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance, provide Staff with direction for modifications, and continue the public hearing to a date certain for re-introduction of the revised Ordinance.

Respectfully submitted:

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

Reviewed by:

Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Ordinance No. ___

Draft covenant

City Council Staff report and Minutes of October 5, 2004

Planning Commission Staff report and Minutes of December 14, 2004

Planning Commission Staff report of February 8, 2005

ORDINANCE NO. ___

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING CHAPTERS 15.20, 16.20 AND 17.76 OF TITLES 15, 16 AND 17, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL TO REQUIRE RECORDATION OF COVENANTS THAT DISCLOSE THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF SIGNIFICANT REMEDIAL GRADING UNDERTAKEN ON CERTAIN PROPERTY

WHEREAS, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes is unique in that significant portions of the property within the City’s corporate boundaries are subject to conditions, including landslides, that affect the stability and developability of those properties; and,

WHEREAS, when significant remedial grading to stabilize the property and slopes is completed on property for which a landslide moratorium exclusion has been granted, or as a condition of approval of a landslide moratorium exclusion or in connection with the proposed subdivision and/or development of property, disclosure of the significant remedial grading to potential purchasers and subsequent owners is necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare because such disclosure will help ensure that future property owners are aware of the geotechnical sensitivity of their property and will assist in avoiding future grading or construction activities that may compromise site stability; and,

WHEREAS, on November 27, 2004, notice of a public hearing on this ordinance before the Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Commission was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News; and,

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on December 14, 2004, January 25, 2005, and February 8, 2005, at which time the public was given the opportunity to provide testimony; and,

WHEREAS, on February 9, 2005, notice of a public hearing on this ordinance before the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council was published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News;

WHEREAS, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on March 1, 2005, at which time the public was given the opportunity to provide testimony; and,

WHEREAS, pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code §§21000 et seq., ("CEQA"), and the State and Local CEQA Guidelines, the proposed Geologic Disclosure Ordinance is not a project, as that term is defined by State CEQA Guidelines §15378, that is subject to the provisions of CEQA. Further, the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance "is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects, which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment—[as is the case here]—the activity is not subject to CEQA." (State CEQA Guidelines, §15061(b)(3).) The Geologic Disclosure Ordinance has no potential for causing any significant effect on the environment, because no physical alterations to the environment could be approved or allowed by simply requiring the disclosure of significant remedial grading.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: The City Council has reviewed and considered amending Titles 15, 16 and 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code to effect full disclosure of significant remedial grading to potential purchasers and subsequent owners of residential properties under certain circumstances.

Section 2: The City Council finds that there is no substantial evidence that the proposed amendments to Titles 15, 16 and 17 of the Municipal Code would result in any significant environmental effects, because the amendment requires nothing more than disclosure of certain remedial grading, as defined herein. The City Council hereby finds, based on its own independent review, that it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment. Therefore, the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance is exempt from the provisions of CEQA, and no further CEQA analysis is required for this ordinance.

Section 3: The City Council finds that the amendments to Titles 15, 16 and 17 of the Municipal Code are necessary to preserve the public health, safety, and general welfare in the area.

Section 4: The City Council hereby amends Subsection 15.20.100 D. of Section 15.20.100 of Chapter 15.20 of Title 15 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code to read as follows:

15.20.100 Exclusions.

D. Conditions on Issuance of Approval. In granting any exclusion under this chapter, the City Council may impose such conditions as may be reasonably necessary to preserve the intent of the goals and policies of the General Plan and the provisions of the Municipal Code, which conditions shall include, but are not limited to, recording a covenant against the property documenting the nature and scope of any significant remedial grading, which is defined as excavation, fill or any combination thereof, which involves the redistribution of earth materials for the purpose of reestablishing the stability and continuity of said area, and which involves: (1) excavation, fill or any combination thereof in excess of 1,000 cubic yards within any two-year period, or (2) excavation ten feet or more below preconstruction grade or fill ten feet or more above preconstruction grade.

Section 5: The City Council hereby adds a new Subsection F to Section 16.20.120 of Chapter 16.20 of Title 16 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code to read as follows:

16.20.120 Soils/Geology Report.

F. Approval of a tentative parcel map, tentative tract map, or any final map that creates residential lots, shall be conditioned to require recordation of a covenant against the property if development of the subdivision requires significant remedial grading, which is defined as excavation, fill or any combination thereof, which involves the redistribution of earth materials for the purpose of reestablishing the stability and continuity of said area, and which involves: (1) excavation, fill or any combination thereof in excess of 1,000 cubic yards within any two-year period, or (2) excavation ten feet or more below preconstruction grade or fill ten feet or more above preconstruction grade. In addition, a note shall be placed on the final map stating that significant remedial grading is required in order to develop the subdivision. The final map note and covenant shall document the nature and scope of the significant remedial grading that is to be performed to enhance soil stability and reduce geotechnical hazards due to land movement or the presence of natural hazards.

Section 6: The City Council hereby adds a new Paragraph 9 to Subsection 17.76.040 G. of Section 17.76.040 of Chapter 17.76 of Title 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code to read as follows:

17.76.040 G. Conditions Upon Issuance.

9. For any remedial grading permit, the recordation of a covenant against the property subject to any significant remedial grading, which is defined as excavation, fill or any combination thereof, which involves the redistribution of earth materials for the purpose of reestablishing the stability and continuity of said area, and which involves: (1) excavation, fill or any combination thereof in excess of 1,000 cubic yards within any two-year period, or (2) excavation ten feet or more below preconstruction grade or fill ten feet or more above preconstruction grade. The covenant shall document the nature and scope of the significant remedial grading completed to enhance soil stability and reduce geotechnical hazards due to land movement or the presence of natural hazards.

Section 7: After the effective date of this Ordinance, it shall apply to all landslide moratorium exclusion requests, tentative tract map applications, tentative parcel map applications, final tract maps, final parcel maps and remedial grading permits that had not yet been approved by the City as of the effective date of this Ordinance.

Section 8: The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this ordinance and shall cause the same to be posted in the manner prescribed by law.

PASSED, APPROVED and ADOPTED this ___ day of _________ 2005.

________________________________

Mayor

ATTEST:

_________________________________

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, do hereby certify that the whole number of members of the City Council of said City is five; the foregoing Ordinance No. ___ passed first reading on _________, 2005, was duly and regularly adopted by the City Council of said City at a regular meeting thereof held on _________, 2005, and that the same was passed and adopted by the following roll call vote:

AYES:

NOES:

ABSENT:

ABSTAIN:

__________________________

City Clerk

RECORDING REQUESTED BY:

City of Rancho Palos Verdes

WHEN RECORDED RETURN TO:

City of Rancho Palos Verdes

Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

30940 Hawthorne Boulevard

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

NO RECORDING FEE PURSUANT TO

GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 27383

_________________________________________________________________________

COVENANT PERTAINING TO THE DISCLOSURE

OF SIGNIFICANT REMEDIAL GRADING

(GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE STATEMENT)

On {date of adoption}, 20##, the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes adopted Ordinance No. ###, thereby enacting the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance, which became effective on {effective date}, 20##. The purpose of the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance is to ensure that future property owners are made aware of the geotechnical sensitivity of their property, and to assist in avoiding future grading or construction activities that may compromise site stability.

The provisions of Ordinance No. ### are applicable to landslide moratorium exclusion requests, tract maps, parcel maps and remedial grading permits that were not approved prior to the effective date of Ordinance No. ###, and which also propose and/or require significant remedial grading. The Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code defines "remedial grading" as excavation, fill or any combination thereof, which involves the redistribution of earth materials for the purpose of reestablishing the stability and continuity of a lot or area. Pursuant to Ordinance No. ###, "significant remedial grading" is defined as remedial grading that results in either: (1) excavation, fill or combination thereof, in excess of one thousand cubic yards (1,000 CY) within any two-year period; or (2) excavation ten feet (10’) or more below preconstruction grade or fill ten feet (10’) or more above preconstruction grade.

On {date of approval}, 20##, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes conditionally approved a request for {application type} ({case number}) involving significant remedial grading subject to the provisions of Ordinance No. ### for the property located at and commonly known as {street address}, Rancho Palos Verdes, which is more completely described in the attached legal description (Exhibit ‘A’). The nature and scope of the significant remedial grading included {brief description of quantities and depth of cut and/or fill}.

As a condition of the City’s approval of {application type} ({case number}), this covenant is recorded to the title of the subject property in order to provide disclosure of significant remedial grading conducted upon the subject property to future potential purchasers of the subject property. The soils and geology reports, grading applications and plans, and other information regarding the nature and scope of the significant remedial grading proposed and/or required for the development of the subject property shall remain on file with the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes in the address file for the subject property, where it shall be available for public inspection during the Department’s regular business days and hours.

The recordation of this covenant shall not be interpreted or construed as a warranty, guarantee or certification that the remedial grading conducted or recommended to be conducted on the subject property has reestablished or will reestablish the stability and continuity of the subject property, nor shall this covenant be interpreted or construed as a geotechnical opinion regarding the current or future stability and continuity of the subject property.

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES:

______________________________ ______________________________

Joel Rojas Date

Director of Planning, Building

and Code Enforcement

STATE OF CALIFORNIA )ss

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES )ss

On _________________ before me, the undersigned, a Notary Public in and for said State, personally appeared _________________________________________, personally known to me or proved on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged that he executed the same in his authorized capacity, and that by his signature on the instrument the person, or the entity upon behalf of which the person acted, executed the instrument.

WITNESS my hand and official seal.

___________________________

Notary Public