TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: MARCH 15, 2005
SUBJECT: FORRESTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN - (APPLICANT: CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES)
Staff Coordinator: Ara Michael Mihranian, AICP, Senior Planner
Staff recommends that the City Council:
5) Review the proposed amendments to the Management Agreement between the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, and if deemed acceptable, execute the Agreement.
On Saturday, December 4, 2004 the City Council held a special meeting to review and consider the Forrestal Steering Committee’s recommended amendments to the Forrestal Management Plan. The amendments to the Management Plan and other related matters were presented to the Council as five action items under Staff’s
recommendation. However, due to the number of public speakers who attended the meeting to speak on the trail routes and uses proposed for the Preserve, the Council was only able to review the Trails Network Plan, which was a sub-section of Item No. 1 of the five (5) action items to be considered by the Council that day. As such, on December 4, 2004, the City Council adopted an amended version of the Trails Network Plan recommended by the Steering Committee (see attachment). Aside from the adoption of the Trails Network Plan, the remaining components of the recommended Council action were continued to a later meeting. The Council is being asked this evening to review and consider the items not addressed at the December 4th meeting.
Since the Council is being asked to continue its review of the five action items from the December 4th meeting, Staff has attached the December 4, 2004 Staff Report in its entirety. The Staff Report provides a detailed discussion of the five components of Staff’s recommendation, which for the most part has not changed since the December 4th meeting. The information that has changed since the December 4th meeting is contained in this Staff Report. In order to facilitate the Council’s review of the five action items, this discussion section has been divided into the five action items contained in the Staff Recommendation. Under each heading is a summary of the respective action along with a discussion of any related topics that have developed since the December 4th meeting. Furthermore, attached to this Staff Report is the Table originally presented to the Council at the December 4th meeting that summarized the concerns and issues raised by the public. The table has since been updated to include new issues that have arisen since the December 4th meeting. Additionally, the table now includes an "Council Action" column identifying whether the issue/concern has or has not been addressed by the Council as a result of the December 4th meeting.
The draft Management Plan was transmitted to the City Council on November 23, 2004. In the event a Council Member does not have a copy of the Management Plan, please contact Staff to arrange the delivery of a copy of the Management Plan.
1. Forrestal Management Plan
Staff recommends that the City Council review the Steering Committee’s recommended amendments to the Forrestal Management Plan, and if deemed acceptable, adopt the Forrestal Management Plan.
Forrestal Management Plan
Although the Trails Network Plan was conceptually approved by the Council, the Council stopped short of approving the actual Forrestal Management Plan. Therefore, Staff is now recommending that the Council take such action. A detailed explanation of the amendments prepared for the Forrestal Management Plan is contained in the attached December 4th Staff Report.
As indicated in the December 4th Staff Report, the Steering Committee’s recommended amendments to the Management Plan do not significantly change the document from the original version adopted by the City Council in 2001, and remains unchanged since the December 4th meeting. In summary, the Steering Committee is proposing amendments to the following Chapters of the adopted 2001 Management Plan: Chapter 3, Plan Implementation; Chapter 4, Biological Resources; Chapter 7, Trails; and Chapter 9, Signs. Furthermore, as indicated in the December 4th Staff Report, the City Attorney is recommending clarification changes to the Steering Committee’s proposed amendments to the Management Plan that involve a total of 8 pages within Chapter 3, Chapter 10, the Collection Policy contained in Chapters 4 and 6, and Appendix D. The City Attorney’s amended pages are attached to the December 4th Staff Report in a redlined format. No changes to the Management Plan are being proposed since the Council’s December 4th meeting.
Trails Network Plan
The Trails Network Plan is a component of the Forrestal Management Plan. At the December 4th meeting, the City Council reviewed the proposed Trails Network Plan and ultimately approved an amended version. At the December 4th meeting, the Council identified specific trail routes as being potentially unsafe for multiple uses (pedestrians, equestrians and bicycles) because of their current condition. Understanding that these trail routes have been used for years by multiple user groups, the Council felt that the official City trail maps should err on the side of public safety rather than historic use. However, the Council also recognized that the trail routes identified as being unsafe for multiple user groups at the present time could be repaired to re-introduce multiple uses at a later time, provided that the trail improvements can sustain such uses. Therefore, the City Council amended the Trails Network Plan recommended by the Steering Committee by incorporating specific components presented by the Sierra Club (see attached Trails Map and Minutes). In summary, the changes consist of the following:
In addition to the above amendments, the Council in its action on December 4th agreed to allow organized bike rides throughout the Preserve with City authorization, as well as agreed to allow the parking of equestrian trailers beyond the entry gate along the upper portion of Forrestal Drive (L-5) and along Intrepid Drive (L-6) with City authorization.
As a result, the following Chapters of the Management Plan will be amended as part of the final document to reflect the Council’s adopted motion to the Trails Network Plan:
It should be noted that as a result of the Council’s December 4th action to close specific trail routes from bicycle use because of public safety concerns, CORBA-PV is formally requesting that the Council consider re-designating these trails now for multiple use if appropriate trail repairs can be completed. This would allow the eventual uses to be considered during the design and environmental review of proposed repairs.
L-11 (Crystal Trail)
As mentioned above, the Council designated Trail L-11 for Pedestrian and Equestrian uses, provided that the drainage swale improvements could be designed to accommodate a trail for the combined uses. However, until the improvements are completed, this trail route is to remain closed. Staff has been working with Engineering consultants to devise a plan that would repair the drainage swales so that they are operable again with the least amount of impact to any surrounding sensitive habitat. Furthermore, based on the Steering Committee’s recommendation and the City Council’s action to maintain a trail within the general location of the drainage swales, Staff has also been working with the consulting Engineer to provide a trail route in this area.
Since the December 4th meeting, Staff has come to learn that the drainage swale improvements originally conceived are too costly and damaging to the surrounding environment because they would require substantial grading to redesign the slope. Therefore, the improvements will consist of cleaning the debris from the drainage swales and repairing the existing infrastructure so that the swales are once again operable. Areas of the drainage swales that have been eroded and undermined will be repaired by using pipes to carry water run-off from one end of the swale to the other end. Therefore, until extensive repairs can be made to the slopes with minimal impacts to the surrounding environment, Staff is recommending that Trail L-11 (Crystal Trail) remain closed on the Trails Network Plan until further notice.
It is possible that a trail can be constructed through the general area adjacent to the swales at the same time that work for the swale project is being done. It is proposed that a trail through this area be added to the list of trail projects to be designed and undergo environmental review.
2. Proposed Bicycle Ordinance
Staff recommends that the City Council review the Steering Committee’s recommended draft ordinance language regulating bicycle use within any City park and preserve, and if deemed acceptable, direct Staff to initiate the Code Amendment proceedings.
As indicated in the December 4th Staff Report, in order to regulate and enforce trail routes and uses within City parks and preserves, the Steering Committee is recommending that the City Council consider amending the existing ordinance that regulates equestrian uses to include bicycle uses as well. A detailed summary of the Steering Committee’s recommendation, as well as the suggested amended Code language, can be found in the December 4th Staff Report. If the Council finds the suggested language to be acceptable, direct Staff to initiate the code amendment proceedings to Section 12.16.080 of the RPVMC.
3. Educational Trails Unit and the Memorandum of Understanding
Staff recommends that the City Council review the Memorandum of Understanding between the City, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA), and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association to develop an Educational Trails Unit (ETU) led by a team of volunteers, and if deemed acceptable, direct Staff to execute the Agreement
The concept of an Educational Trails Unit (ETU) is to use volunteers representing various organizations to educate visitors to the Forrestal Nature Preserve to be responsible trail users. The ETU is an approachable, on-trail presence of responsible trail users that will provide trail users with information and hand-outs approved by the City, PVPLC, and the Steering Committee regarding the appropriate use of the Preserve. The ETU will assist the City and the PVPLC in its management efforts of the Preserve. At the present time, the organizations committed to volunteering their time to implement the ETU are the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association (PVPHA). However, the ETU is open to any interested organization with members who are willing to volunteer the time needed to implement the program.
Attached to the December 4th Staff Report for review by the Council is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is an agreement by and between the City, the PVPLC, CORBA, and PVPHA. The MOU establishes the framework under which the Educational Trails Unit (ETU) will operate. The City Attorney has reviewed and accepted the attached MOU. If the Council finds the MOU to be acceptable, direct Staff to execute the agreement. Otherwise, provide Staff with further direction regarding the concept of the ETU.
Since the Council’s adoption of the Trails Network Plan on December 4th, a concern was raised as to whether CORBA-PV would still be interested in participating in the ETU because specific trail routes were not designated for bicycle use. Since the December 4th meeting, City Staff and Staff from the PVPLC met with representatives from CORBA-PV. At that meeting, CORBA-PV expressed a strong interest in continuing to work with the City and the PVPLC on the ETU and developing a Preserve that can be enjoyed by all user groups while balancing recreational uses with habitat preservation (see attachment). In order to effectively implement the ETU, it is recommended that trained members of the ETU, who are authorized by the City, be allowed to ride all of the trails within the Preserve as part of their ETU duties when they are serving in that capacity.
4. Annual Reports
Staff recommends that the City Council receive and file the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Annual Reports submitted by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
The Management Agreement requires the PVPLC to submit an Annual Report to the City Council on the routine inspections of the Preserve. The Annual Report is to cover inspections of all facilities, improvement projects, habitat restoration projects, and other activities identified in the Management Agreement. In accordance with the Management Agreement, attached to the December 4th Staff Report are the Annual Reports for the reporting periods of 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 for review by the City Council. No significant issues or concerns are identified in the Annual Reports. The documents contain a summary of the trail improvement and habitat restoration projects completed to date, inspection reports, and a photo documentation of the Preserve. Therefore, Staff is recommending that the City Council receive and file the submitted Annual Reports.
5. Amendments to the Management Agreement
Staff recommends that the City Council review the proposed amendments to the Management Agreement between the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, and if deemed acceptable, execute the Agreement.
The Management Agreement between the City and the PVPLC defines the roles each entity is responsible for in the management of the Preserve. The Management Agreement has been in effect since June 5, 2001 (on a month-to-month basis since July of 2004). However, since amendments to the Management Plan are being considered by the Council, specifically relating to the implementation and administration process of the Plan, it is appropriate that the Management Agreement be updated as well.
The Management Agreement for consideration by the Council this evening is attached to this Staff Report. The attached Agreement includes the changes presented to the City Council on December 4, 2004 and the changes made to the Agreement since the December 4th meeting. Briefly, the most notable changes to the original 2001 Agreement are: 1) The elimination of the "whereas" clauses; 2) The inclusion of the administration roles of each managing entity that is consistent with the Management Plan (Section 2.B); 3) The expansion of the term of the Agreement from three (3) years to twenty-five (25) years to allow more options for grant applications; 4) Relocating the Operation and Maintenance Roles for each managing entity from the Agreement to Chapter 3 of the Management Plan; and 5) A clarification of the Indemnification and Non-profit Tax Exempt clauses. Furthermore, since the December 4th meeting, the Management Agreement was modified so that the term "Steering Committee" is replaced with the term "Advisory Board" and further clarified so that the City maintains complete authority and access to the Property.
Attached to this Staff Report is the PVPLC’s most recent policy regarding advisory boards and land management. The attached policy is intended to provide the Council with a better understanding of the role of the Advisory Board and the PVPLC as it relates to the City and the management of the City-owned Preserve.
Staff requests that the Council review the updated Management Agreement between the City and the PVPLC, and if deemed acceptable direct Staff to execute the amended Agreement. In the event the Council identifies concerns with the Agreement, The Council may wish to continue the matter relating to the Management Agreement to an adjourned meeting or to appoint a sub-committee, consisting of two Council Members, to meet with representatives from the PVPLC to discuss the Council’s concerns and to report its findings to the Council at a later date.
Weather Related Trail Damage at the Forrestal Property
As the City Council may recall from a previous report, the recent heavy rains caused substantial damage to several of the trail routes within the Forrestal Nature Preserve. In response, PVPLC Staff and Kurt Loheit (Forrestal Steering Committee member) conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the trails to assess the level of damage caused by the rain. As a result of their assessment, the following trails were deemed unsafe and signs were posted closing these trail routes until the appropriate repairs could be completed:
In addition, the following trails were partially damaged at specific areas, but not so severe as to require their closure:
As manager of the Preserve, the PVPLC prepared a trail repair program to address the trail damage and to provide appropriate remediation (see attachment). The majority of the damaged trail routes have been repaired by the PVPLC allowing the trails to be re-opened. However, the Flying Mane Trail (A-14) was so heavily damaged that repairs were not possible. A portion of the trail, referred to as "dead man’s curve," was undermined, leaving the trail very close to the edge of the cliff. The only apparent solution for this trail is to relocate it a safe distance away from the cliff edge, which will require constructing a new path with switchbacks resulting in some impacts to protected habitat. Including the design process and environmental review, this will likely take months to complete. Therefore the Flying Mane Trail will remain officially closed until an acceptable trail can be constructed.
To prevent future erosion damage, specific improvements are proposed to be completed this spring, such as the installation of water bars to direct water run-off away from the trail path. The City and the PVPLC will oversee these trail improvement projects. See the attached documents for more information regarding the trail repair program and the remediation projects as recommended by the PVPLC. City Staff will continue to monitor and update the Council on the trail repairs.
A public notice announcing the date and time of the public meeting was published in the Peninsula News and posted at City Hall, Ladera Linda, Hesse Park, and the entry points to the Forrestal Nature Preserve. Additionally, a public notice was sent to interested parties, list-serve subscribers, and the Ladera Linda HOA, Sea View HOA, and Mediterrania HOA presidents.
Joel Rojas, AICP
Director of Planning, Building
and Code Enforcement
ATTACHMENTS (the following items are not available electronically, except for the Updated Issues Table, and can viewed at the Planning Department at City Hall. The Trails Network Plan is available at the City’s Website under the Planning Department Quick Links)