TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF RECREATION AND PARKS
DATE: MARCH 29, 2005
Staff Coordinator: Matt Waters, Administrative Analyst
Approve conceptual plan for Upper Point Vicente Park; or direct staff to develop a process to assist the Council in developing a plan.
In May 2002, the City Council established the Open Space, Planning and Recreation and Parks Task Force to study a wide range of recreation and open space issues facing the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. From its inception, a significant portion of the Task Force’s resources were focused on developing a plan for Upper Point Vicente Park. The Upper Point Vicente Subcommittee, after meeting with local residents and interested parties, developed a detailed plan for the site including a gymnasium, pool, various sports courts, a remodeled City Hall Complex, band shell, village green, and other amenities. A number of groups including the San Pedro YMCA, Zenith Aquatic Program (ZAP) and the Palos Verdes Art Center were interested participants.
After review and approval by the Task Force, this plan, as well as several other options for the site, was included in the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Strategic Plan that was presented to the City Council at a joint workshop on June 29, 2004. The Task Force also recommended considering a partnership with a second entity such as the YMCA. City Council endorsed the recommendation that Upper Point Vicente be envisioned as a multi-purpose civic center. Council reiterated the importance of Upper Point Vicente as a civic center at its January 8, 2005 Tactical Planning Workshop.
Upper Point Vicente was acquired from the federal government in 1979 after the Nike Missile Site had been declared surplus property. The entire site is 73.35 acres in size. The City owns in fee title 8.23 acres of relatively level land on the hilltop adjacent to Hawthorne Boulevard, which was acquired from the federal government for the development of a Civic Center.
The remaining 65.12 acres of City-owned property is largely undeveloped although an approximately 5.5-acre portion of this area has been leased for many years to a dry farming operation. The U.S. Coast Guard also owns a 3.93 acre parcel overlooking the Point Vicente Lighthouse, which is the site of several communications towers and an abandoned WWII-era artillery bunker.
Regarding the Upper Point Vicente site, the General Plan states: "It is the City’s intent to use the (Upper Point Vicente) site for a civic center and parkland. While the Nike Site is not the geographic center of the City, it has the potential for becoming a strong focal point for the community. A civic center . . . ringed with parkland, would be a good focus for the City." In addition, the discussion of Institutional land uses on page 197 states: "Recreational activities are generally compatible with institutional uses and are often part of such uses."
Below are four possible options for developing Upper Point Vicente from the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Strategic Plan presented to Council on June 29, 2004 and included in the Strategic Plan presented for Council’s consideration this evening. Option #1 is the plan approved by the Open Space, Planning and Recreation and Parks Task Force.
Option 1: As Proposed by the Task Force (see attached conceptual design)
The following three options were developed by City staff as possible alternatives to the all-encompassing proposal made by the Task Force.
Option 2: As Civic and Cultural Center
Option 3: As Civic Center and Recreation Center
Option 4: As Civic Center and Open Space Access
When the City acquired the parcel on Upper Point Vicente that is zoned Open Space Recreation from the federal government, the quitclaim deed included several deed restrictions. One of the restrictions required that the Program of Utilization (POU) previously submitted by the City to the Department of the Interior’s National Parks service in March 1976 and amended in April 1978, govern the future use of the site. There are no deed restrictions on the 8.23 acres owned in fee simple; however, any plan developed for this site would have to be compatible with existing POU restrictions and zoning requirements. The parkland is conditioned by deed to allow continuous public access for recreation use in perpetuity. Any changes to the proscribed Program of Utilization, including lease or concession agreements, must be approved by the National Park Service and the State Department of Parks and Recreation. Based on past contacts with the National Park Service, staff feels that it would be possible to amend the POU if the Council wishes to pursue the conceptual plan or some variation thereof.
While some of the options for the site listed above require less intensive development and construction than others, a number of concerns are pertinent to any significant development at Upper Point Vicente and would need to be further analyzed if the City Council decided to proceed with developing a plan for a civic center complex at this site. These concerns include access/sightline analysis, parking/circulation, grading/phasing, impact on existing maintenance yard, and impact on trails/habitat.
City Council, on June 29, 2005, made the following motion: "To resolve the future of the Upper Point Vicente site through a planning process that starts with identifying all the environmental constraints on the property, including NCCP and hazardous materials issues."
A "Phase 1" preliminary environmental constraints study of the site was submitted by the firm of Jones and Stokes in May, 2004. This study comprised a review and analysis of existing reports and documents that have occurred on the site in recent years as well as a review of databases and other sources of information. The report examined existing conditions, environmental conditions and constraints, historical and cultural conditions, and potentially hazardous conditions. It also evaluated potential risks from former military activities, potential future site uses, and other potential uses. The report concluded that additional research may be required prior to any onsite development to adequately gauge potential site impact.
A preliminary comparison of the NCCP with the conceptual plan presented by the Task Force indicates that the suggested developments are compatible with the boundaries of the NCCP subarea plan although further analysis and refinement of the plans dimensions and buffer requirements is merited.
Public Outreach Results
On the following page is a chart excerpt from a professional telephone survey conducted by the firm of Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, and Associates in 2003 assessing residents’ preferences for specific development proposals for the Upper Point Vicente site. Results show a high level of support for trails systems, a village green, swimming pool, athletic courts and fields, a gymnasium, and a band shell. Support was stronger for renovating City Hall than for building a new facility. Opinions were about evenly distributed regarding a dog park. The only idea that was opposed more than it was supported was constructing a subterranean parking structure at the site.
Additionally, a public workshop, designed specifically to elicit public response to Upper and Lower Point Vicente design possibilities, was held on September 24, 2003. Feedback from the workshop indicated a high level of interest, but no clear consensus.
Current Joint Use on Site
In addition to housing the City Hall offices, the City currently shares the use of the Upper Point Vicente property with three lease tenants. The first is Palos Verdes on the Net, which occupies a portable building adjacent to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department’s building and is used as a computer-learning center. Palos Verdes on the Net also leases the old Cable Television Studio previously occupied by Cox Communications and is using this building as a multimedia studio. The second lease is the 90-foot high monopole and its associated support equipment, which currently supports antenna equipment for two commercial telecommunications carriers and one utility company. These two tenants are located on the portion of the site that the City owns in fee title and is zoned Institutional. The third lease is to the last remaining Japanese-American farmer on the Peninsula, Mr. James Hatano, who dry farms an approximately 5.5-acre area on the south slope adjacent to the Salvation Army property. Mr. Hatano’s lease pre-dated the City’s acquisition of the property in that he has been farming on the property at least since 1973 when it was still an active military site. Mr. Hatano’s farm is located in an area of the property that is zoned Open Space Recreation (OR) and subject to the federal deed restrictions and Program of Utilization.
Potential Joint Uses on Site
A number of different organizations have approached the City in recent years regarding use of Upper Point Vicente. The Task Force recommended that Council "Consider partnering with outside non-profit organizations to fund and build recreational and/or cultural facilities on the Upper Point Vicente site, including but not limited to the Palos Verdes Art Center, YMCA, and Zenith Aquatic Program." A number of potential joint uses are discussed below.
The Task Force, based on the YMCA representatives’ initial interest, incorporated a proposed gymnasium and public pool facility into the conceptual design for Upper Point Vicente. While YMCA representatives continue to express interest in the project, they still prefer a measure of assurance from the City Council that it conceptually supports this project before they take the next step of committing any YMCA funds for initial marketing and feasibility studies. In considering this request, staff has identified the following issues of concern related to the proposed YMCA facility:
The proposed location of the gymnasium and pool facility is in an area of the site with a General Plan land use designation of "Recreational – Passive." The City’s General Plan would need to be amended to accommodate the proposed active recreational uses on this portion of the site.
Palos Verdes Art Center
The Palos Verdes Art Center has also expressed an interest in the Upper Point Vicente site as a potential location for a new and expanded facility. The Art Center has outgrown its current facility at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Crestridge Road and proposes to locate their new facility on the south promontory of the Upper Point Vicente site, adjacent to the existing missile silos. The Art Center has expressed interest in a more extensive environmental analysis of the area.
Staff has identified the following issues of concern related to the proposed Palos Verdes Art Center facility:
Palos Verdes Unified School District
Staff has held preliminary discussions with Palos Verdes Unifies School District officials including Superintendent Ira Tobin. A joint City/School District administrative facility at Upper Point Vicente was discussed and made conceptual sense to management staff from both agencies. The School District’s staff is about one-third the size of the City staff. Each agency could potentially have its own building at Upper Point Vicente while sharing a City Council/District Board meeting room, lobby, conference rooms, kitchen facilities, lounge, and other public areas.
Other Potential Joint Uses on Site
Two area of Upper Point Vicente, Upper Point Vicente West and East, were visited and evaluated by City Council during a public tour of potential softball sites on June 5, 2004. Subsequently, the City Council, has refined the search for potential softball sites to Hesse Park and Ryan Park. The Zenith Aquatic Program (ZAP) has submitted a proposal to build and operate a pool and gymnasium on approximately the same location as the YMCA site. The majority of the issues raised regarding YMCA also apply to ZAP’s proposal. Finally, the Rancho de los Palos Verdes Historical Society has contacted staff about the possibility of relocating its museum to the Upper Point Vicente site.
Suggested Process For Refining the Concepts
Ultimately, the Council may wish to accept proposals for the construction, maintenance and operation of approved components from qualified tenants such as the YMCA, ZAP, Art Center, Historical Society, School District, Youth Sports, etc.
Taking into account current staffing levels and resources along with the importance, complexity, and unique nature of this site, it is clear that the service of a professional consultant would prove highly beneficial if Council wishes to proceed with initial development of a civic center complex. The many issues implicit in a project of this magnitude necessitate a careful and professional approach. The design, zoning, community impact, environmental, and compliance issues would be best handled by a professional consultant who would assist staff in preparing preliminary cost figures, evaluating the pros and cons of possible joint ventures with other agencies, and designing alternatives for the Council’s future consideration. At Council’s direction, staff will prepare a request for proposals, soliciting preliminary consultant services for tasks approved by the Council.
The Upper Point Vicente Site, with its majestic open space, panoramic views, and outstanding potential richly merits careful study and review. The Task Force focused much of their attention on this site and the City Council has continued to emphasize the importance of the site to the community at large, both as a prime component of the NCCP as well as a potential civic center complex. This report outlines a number of possible options as well as many issues that require additional analysis. Further direction from the City Council, as well as the services of a professional consultant, are essential at this stage of Upper Point Vicente’s progress.
If Council directs staff to initiate preliminary design studies for a civic center, the cost of initial professional consulting services for this project is estimated to be approximately $50,000 in available FY 04-05 General Fund reserves. A statement of estimated general fund reserves is attached.
Director of Recreation and Parks
Upper Point Vicente Conceptual Design
Program of Utilization Map
Statement of Estimated General Fund Reserves