TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING, AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: APRIL 19, 2005
SUBJECT: AN URGENCY AND A NON-URGENCY ORDINANCE RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF COASTAL SAGE SCRUB HABITAT, ESTABLISHING REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES APPLICABLE THERETO
Adopt Urgency Ordinance No. ___, thereby establishing amended regulations and procedures for the conservation and management of coastal sage scrub habitat and introduce Ordinance No. ___, a non-urgency version of the same urgency ordinance.
The City is still actively engaged in the preparation and final approval of a Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) for the City. Although the NCCP was approved by the City Council in August 2004, approval of the final NCCP by the state and federal resource agencies is still pending. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified Coastal Sage Scrub (CSS) as critical habitat essential to the conservation of several endangered and threatened species, including the coastal California gnatcatcher. There is approximately 1,250 acres of CSS habitat within the City, most of which will be protected by the City’s NCCP. In order to avoid the unregulated removal of CSS through weed abatement and other activity before the NCCP goes into effect, Staff is recommending that the City Council adopt a CSS protection ordinance this evening.
The City Council adopted an urgency ordinance related to the conservation and management of CSS on May 20, 2003. On July 1, 2003, the urgency ordinance was extended by the City Council to May 16, 2005 to allow time for a non-urgency version to be adopted through the City’s code amendment process.
On June 24, 2003, a draft ordinance was presented to the Planning Commission for its review and consideration. Based on public testimony and Planning Commission discussion, the draft ordinance was subsequently amended and discussed by the Planning Commission at its July 8, 2003, July 30, 2003, September 23, 2003 and October 14, 2003
meetings. Eventually, at the October 28, 2003 meeting, the Commission agreed to table the item allowing staff to bring back the draft ordinance at a future date.
After a weed abatement request was submitted in accordance with the urgency ordinance in late 2003, Staff felt that it would be better to bring the non-urgency draft ordinance back to the Planning Commission after the City’s NCCP is approved. Although the City’s NCCP has not been formally approved by the resource agencies, Staff presented an amended draft non-urgency ordinance back to the Commission for review on April 12, 2005. The draft ordinance presented to the Planning Commission differs from the original urgency ordinance, which was approved by the City Council in 2003, in that it has been modified to address some of the deficiencies identified by property owners and the environmental community with respect to the current urgency ordinance. In addition, the Planning Commission suggested some additional revisions, which have been incorporated into the ordinances that are being presented this evening.
The draft ordinance is attached for the City Council’s review. In summary, the draft ordinance provides the following:
There was public testimony and written correspondence from the environmental community presented at the April 12, 2005 Planning Commission meeting that the ordinance did not do enough to protect other sensitive plants besides CSS. In addition, there was public testimony and written correspondence from property owners that the ordinance was too far-reaching and constituted a regulatory "takings ". The City Attorney, who was present at the April 12th Planning Commission meeting, stated that the ordinance, as presently drafted, does not constitute a taking. However, the City Attorney has expressed caution about extending protections to sensitive species that are not currently listed by the state or federal government as threatened or endangered species.
As such, only minor modifications were made to the draft ordinance, including a clarification that the City will comply with the CEQA review process, as suggested by the California Native Plant Society.
On Monday, April 11, 2005, Staff met with state and federal resource agency officials to discuss the status of the resource agencies’ review of the NCCP. The resource agencies are close to completing their review of the Plan and it appears that only minor modifications are being requested. Staff expects to receive all the resource agency comments sometime within the next 4 weeks. In addition, the resource agencies asked to see the code amendments described in the NCCP that are required to be adopted by the City for the purpose of incorporating the NCCP into the City’s Development, Zoning Map and General Plan. It was noted that it would likely take months for the City Council to formally adopt such amendments due to the required public review process. Therefore, in order to not hold up the NCCP, Staff is considering the adoption of another urgency ordinance to establish interim protection to all the sensitive species covered by the NCCP until the NCCP is formally approved and in effect. To the extent that any forthcoming NCCP regulations are inconsistent with the provisions of this ordinance, this ordinance can be modified accordingly.
Staff recommends that the City Council make a motion to read the urgency ordinance by title only, waive further reading and adopt the urgency ordinance and make a motion to read the regular ordinance by title only, waive further reading and introduce the non-urgency ordinance.
Director of Planning, Building
and Code Enforcement
Planning Commission excerpt minutes
ORDINANCE NO. ___
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF COASTAL SAGE SCRUB HABITAT, ESTABLISHING REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES APPLICABLE THERETO AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE.
THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. The City Council finds and declares all of the following:
Section 2. Title 17 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code is hereby amended by adding Chapter 17.41 thereto to read as follows:
"Chapter 17.41. Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation and Management.
17.41.010. Short title.
17.41.020. Purpose and intent.
17.41.030. Application of chapter.
17.41.050. Prohibited conduct.
17.41.070. Application to the director.
17.41.090. Violations and penalties.
17.41.010. Short Title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Rancho Palos Verdes Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation Ordinance."
17.41.020. Purpose and intent. This chapter establishes policies, regulations, and standards necessary to ensure that the City will continue to realize the benefits provided by its natural environment. The City Council finds and declares that it is necessary to adopt this chapter to promote the public health, safety and general welfare by providing requirements and procedures that reduce adverse impacts on threatened or endangered species, which could be directly created or indirectly induced by the unregulated removal of CSS habitat and other vegetation that is occupied by threatened or endangered species, regardless of whether such removal occurs in connection with proposed and existing developments. Coastal sage scrub habitat has been designated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat essential for the continued survival of, among other species, the coastal California gnatcatcher. Therefore, this chapter establishes a regulatory process for approval of weed abatement and other activities undertaken on properties that are greater than two acres in size and contain CSS habitat to ensure that such activity does not jeopardize the continued viability of any endangered or threatened species due to the removal of, or impact to, occupied habitat.
17.41.030. Application of chapter. This chapter shall apply to all properties in the city that are greater than two acres in size within the geographical limits of the City that contain CSS habitat, as depicted on the City’s most current NCCP map, including any areas subsequently annexed by the City, unless state or federal law prescribes otherwise. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to authorize the removal of any plant, including without limitation CSS, which would constitute a violation of any other applicable state or federal law or regulation, including without limitation, the Endangered Species Act.
17.41.040. Definitions. For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
17.41.050. Prohibited conduct. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, business, corporation, or any other entity to perform habitat modification work on any CSS habitat, or perform weed abatement on any property greater than two acres in size that is within the geographical limits of the City and contains CSS habitat, as depicted on the City’s most current NCCP map, without first complying with the provisions of this Chapter.
17.41.060. Exemptions. The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to any of the following activities, provided that the requirements of this chapter are satisfied:
17.41.080 Appeal. The applicant or any interested person (as defined in section 17.96.990 of the City’s municipal code) may appeal a decision issued by the director pursuant to Section 17.41.070 to the City Council, pursuant to Chapter 17.80 (Hearing Notice and Appeal Procedures) of this title. The property owner shall not take action to perform any weed abatement activities authorized by the director’s decision until the appeal period has been exhausted.
17.41.090 Violations and penalties. A violation of any provision of this chapter is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Any person found to have violated any provision of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a separate and distinct offense for each day, or portion thereof, during which such violation continues, and shall be punishable accordingly. In addition to the foregoing, the City may require re-vegetation work be performed by the violator, at a ratio to be determined by the director, and may assess a fine in an amount necessary to assure that the CSS that was improperly removed can be replaced and maintained for a minimum period of five years or until the CSS is reestablished and sufficient to cover any other costs incurred by the City in achieving compliance with this Chapter. Further, the City shall not accept for processing, or grant approval of, any application for development, use, permit, or other entitlement pursuant to Titles 15, 16, or 17 of the Municipal Code until such time that the property owner has complied with the provisions of this chapter and other applicable provisions of the Municipal Code.
Section 4. If any section, subsection, subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion of this ordinance, or the application thereof to any person or place, is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remainder of this ordinance. The City Council hereby declares that it would have adopted this ordinance, and each and every section, subsection, subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, subdivisions, sentences, clauses, phrases, or portions thereof be declared invalid or unconstitutional.
Section 5. This ordinance has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements of CEQA, the State CEQA Guidelines (14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15301), and the City’s environmental guidelines. This ordinance establishes a regulatory process for the protection of the environment. Accordingly, the City Council finds the ordinance to be exempt from CEQA as a Class 8 Categorical Exemption in accordance with the State CEQA Guidelines (14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15308).
Section 6. The City Clerk shall cause this Ordinance to be posted in three (3) public places in the City within fifteen (15) days after its passage, in accordance with the provisions of Section 36933 of the Government Code. The City Clerk shall further certify to the adoption and posting of this Ordinance, and shall cause this Ordinance and its certification, together with proof of posting, to be entered in the Book of Ordinances of the Council of this City.
Section 7. When this Ordinance No. ____ becomes effective, Ordinance No. ____U is hereby repealed, and Chapter 17.41 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code is readopted and codified as set forth herein.
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. ____ 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: