M I N U T E S
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
MARCH 15, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 7:11 p.m. by Mayor Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Wolowicz, Long, Clark, Stern
(Councilman Stern joined the meeting in progress at 8:55 p.m.)
ABSENT: Gardiner (excused absence due to illness)
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Finance Dennis McLean; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Director of Parks and Recreation Ron Rosenfeld; Senior Planner Ara Mihranian; Senior Planner Kit Fox; Associate Planner Eduardo Schonborn; Deputy City Clerk Carla Morreale; and, Minutes Reporter Debra Presutti.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Director Joel Rojas.
As part of the Mayor’s "Did You Know Facts," Mayor Clark presented an overview of the City’s e-mail list serve system and encouraged residents to visit the City’s web site, sign up to receive information on topics of particular interest, and welcomed them to provide feedback on the web site’s operation.
Lloyd Tripp and Joseph Kennedy were selected as recyclers of the month. Mayor Clark encouraged the City’s residents to continue their recycling efforts.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Long requested that Item No. 8, Claims Against the City by Arturo Morales, be removed from the Consent Calendar.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda, as amended.
Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, Chairman of the Measure P Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, provided an overview of the School District’s voter-approved parcel tax expenditures over the previous year. He reminded the audience that Measure P provides an annual $3.5 million over five years to maintain School District programs which would have been cut due to the current state budget crisis. He noted that the eight member Oversight Committee, recognizing their fiduciary responsibility to utilize these funds for specific non-recurring costs rather than ongoing expenses, was achieving the goals of maintaining small class size and academic programs, purchasing new textbooks, and retaining qualified teachers and staff. He advised that proposed expenditures for 2004-2005 would include, but was not limited to technology replacement and retention of staff to student ratios.
Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that the 10-mile per hour signs in the Portuguese Bend landslide area of PV Drive South had been removed. She advocated for their replacement due to the large bumps present in the roadway.
CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
Mayor Clark reminded the audience that items previously discussed and continued to a future meeting could be found on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested that Item No. 7, Storm Cleanup, be removed from the Consent Calendar for some brief comments.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to approve the Consent Calendar, as amended, with the removal of Item Nos. 7 and 8. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
ABSENT: Stern, Gardiner
Motion to waive full reading
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council members after the reading of the title.
Approval of the minutes
Approved the Minutes of February 1, 2005 Adjourned Regular Meeting (Advisory Board Chair Interviews), February 15, 2005 Adjourned Regular Meeting (Advisory Board Interviews) and February 19, 2005 (Emergency Meeting).
Tarapaca Storm Drain
Reviewed and reconfirmed with a 4/5th vote, the City Council’s action on December 21, 2004, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00530), Draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance (Introduced on March 1, 2005).
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 416, THEREBY ENACTING THE GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE.
2004-2005 Rainy Season Storm Damage Fee and Permit Waiver Resolution.
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-21; THEREBY WAIVING CERTAIN FEE AND PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE REPAIR OF DAMAGE TO SLOPES AND RETAINING WALLS RESULTING FROM THE RAINSTORMS OF THE 2004-2005 RAINY SEASON.
Best of the Northwest – Judging Panel
Endorsed the selection of Councilman Gardiner, Gabriella Holt and Ted Vegvari as a Judging Panel for the "Best of the Northwest."
Removed from Consent Calendar. See below.
Claims Against the City by Arturo Morales
Removed from Consent Calendar. See below.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOL. NO. 2005-22, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ALLOWING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEMANDS AND SPECIFYING FUNDS FROM WHICH THE SAME ARE TO BE PAID.
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Removed from Consent Calendar:
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested that Director Allison explain how the Western Avenue sinkholes had impacted the City’s storm drain budget.
Director Allison advised the Council that, as a result of the storms primarily in February but also in December and January, the City was compelled to close the roadway and clean up debris on 25th Street at the border with San Pedro. He explained that the intense rainfall in February also caused the closure of PV Drive South between Long Point and Point Vicente, that it took the City a day and a half to remove mud and debris from this particular location; that many private residential properties in the same general area sustained damage which also caused mud to flow from these properties onto City streets; and, that there were unexpected problems on Western Avenue at Summerland. He advised the Council that these events forced the City to expend an unanticipated $300,000 out of the General Fund on storm-related cleanup activities. He further advised the Council that $750,000 had been allocated to repair the sinkhole at Western and Westmont and, while staff was working diligently with Caltrans to recover some of these expenses, it could take up to three years to receive what will likely be only a partial reimbursement.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to 1) Authorize the expenditure of up to $300,000 on cleanup activities related to storms of December 2004, January 2005 and February 2005; 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005–23; A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2004-45, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2003 -2004, TO INCREASE THE STORM DRAIN MAINTENANCE BUDGET FOR ACTIVITIES RELATED TO STORM CLEANUP IN THE AMOUNT OF $300,000; and, 3) Authorize expenditures with the firms Savala Equipment Rental for equipment rental services; Coastal Traffic Systems, Inc. for Traffic Control Services; National Plant Services for storm drain video inspection; and, Advanced Geoscience to conduct a sub-surface exploration at Summerland Drive.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Clark
ABSENT: Stern, Gardiner
Claims Against the City by Arturo Morales
Councilman Long stated that it was his understanding that the Government Tort Claims Act was devised to allow claimants an opportunity to present claims to the City with enough information to allow the City to consider those claims and attempt to reach a compromise. He indicated that during his tenure on Council he had observed that claims often not only contained inadequate information but also simply included a one-line indication that the City’s Claims Administrator, Carl Warren & Company, had advised the City to reject the claim. He noted that these statements were presented without any indicating if an investigation had been performed, thereby failing in his opinion to provide the City with an opportunity to receive adequate information to negotiate and, hopefully, resolve the claim. He stated that, while it had been his practice to abide by these routine denials of claims, in this instance, the claimant was a judge, leading him to suspect that the claim may have merit. He requested clarification as to whether claims on which no action was taken were still considered denied.
City Attorney Lynch responded that Councilman Long’s understanding was true, but a longer statute of limitations for the claimant to file a lawsuit was provided in this situation.
Councilman Long declared that he took issue with voting to deny a claim without having sufficient information. He indicated that in some cases he might well vote to grant a claim, and, choosing to use this case as an example, stated that he would abstain from the vote.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested an explanation of the process.
City Attorney Lynch advised that denial of a claim did not stop the investigation process and that one purpose of the claim rejection was to invoke a shorter statute of limitations so the matter can be brought to court while the event was still relatively recent and facts could be more readily ascertained. She indicated that staff could request that the adjuster provide more information in connection with their recommendations.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Clark, to reject the claims and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Councilman Long reiterated that he would abstain from the vote because he did not favor deny claims for which the City’s claims adjuster had not provided a proper investigation, description, and recommendation consistent with the purpose of the Government Tort Claims Act.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Clark
ABSENT: Stern, Gardiner
Case No. ZON2004-00409 (Revision to Height Variation No. 884 and Amendment No. 2 to Tract No. 31617) Applicant/Property Owner: Sal Ahamed; Subject property: 6270 Ocean Terrace Drive
Mayor Clark declared the Public Hearing open.
Director Rojas advised Council that the applicant’s neighbor had requested a continuance in light of the fact that there are only three Council members available to hear and decide the matter.
Councilman Long stated that he had been unable to make a site visit and, although he believed that he had enough information to make a decision, would be inclined to honor the neighbor’s request to continue the item to another meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that the matter presented some very complicated issues and he wanted to make certain that both sides had ample opportunity to express themselves.
Mayor Clark asked if the applicant would be agreeable to a continuance.
Mr. Knable, representing Sal Ahamed, stated they would not agree to a continuance but would accept the resolution if a contingency were inserted that he be allowed the opportunity to negotiate the agreement language drafted by the City Attorney.
Mayor Clark requested a summary staff report, saying that he would recall the speaker after that presentation.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council that the current agreement was prepared two years earlier, at a time when the applicant was without representation, saying that she would welcome Mr. Knable’s participation in revising the document. She suggested that Council select a date to continue the item to, but provide the opportunity for speakers present that evening who might be unable to attend that subsequent meeting to address the matter.
City Manager Evans indicated that the earliest known date when all Council members were expected to be present was April 19th.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that he would prefer to continue the matter due to its complexity coupled with the fact that the Council operated most effectively when all its members were present.
Mayor Clark determined that there were no audience members wishing to speak to the item that would be unable to attend the subsequent meeting and agreed that a continuance would likely be in the best interest of both parties.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to continue the public hearing to April 19, 2005. The motion carried by acclamation.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz reported that he had met with Barbara Dye on March 4th to receive an update on the funding and acquisition processes the PV Land Conservancy was currently undertaking; he attended Whale of a Day on March 5th, saying that he was again reminded of the value of the Point Vicente property to the community; and, he attended the Committee on Updated Building Standards on March 7th. He sadly announced the death of Tom Papadakis, saying that the community will be a bit poorer for his passing.
Councilman Long indicated that he had participated in the Read Across America program at Point Vicente Elementary School by reading to one of the third grade classrooms, saying it was the most fun he has had as a Councilman; he met with Steve Kaplan, representing one of the property owners in a Height Variation Permit item, on March 8th; he met with School Board member Ellen Perkins on March 9th to discuss cooperative efforts between the City and the School Board with particular emphasis on recreational opportunities; and, he also attended the Budget Workshop on March 12th, saying that he found it, like the other Council Saturday meetings, to be very productive.
Mayor Clark reported that he participated in an Executive Board Telethon for the L.A. Division of the League of California Cities on March 2nd; as a member of the Council Subcommittee on Long Point, he attended a meeting on March 4th to discuss the status of the resort, saying that proposed refinements to the project were discussed and a conceptual overview was scheduled to be presented to the Council on April 5th; he attended Whale of a Day on March 5th, extending his compliments to the Recreation and Parks Department, Ron Rosenfeld, Holly Starr, the docents, and the entire staff who worked on the project and made it a tremendous success; he attended the monthly Mayors’ Breakfast on March 11th; along with Tom Heinsheimer, Mayor of Rolling Hills, participated in the Iranian Women’s Bazaar welcoming the new year for the Iranian population; he attended a Student in the Law class at Peninsula High, saying Officer Tony del Pinto did an outstanding job and provided something of enormous value to the youth of the community; he participated in the second Budget Workshop on March 12th; and, met with John Jaacks, of the Peninsula Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, to discuss ways the Boy Scouts might be engaged in activities to support the community and the City.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, following a tradition initiated in 2002, presented Mayor Clark with a pair of license plate frames recognizing him as Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor for 2005.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:08 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 8:19 p.m.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
The Agenda items were reordered as follows: Items 12, 11, 14, 15, 13, 16 and 17.
Sixteen-Month Expenditure Plan for the Water Quality & Flood Protection Program and Enterprise Fund
City Manager Evans noted that Council had previously discussed the possibility of creating a 16-month expenditure plan to help expedite some of the top priority storm water control projects in order to minimize future damage similar to the events experienced in January and February.
Director Allison presented the staff report, supplemented by a PowerPoint slide presentation.
Mayor Clark queried staff as to what elements remained to be accomplished over the three-year period and requested clarification on how the proposed projects related to the overall Storm Drain Master Plan (SDMP).
Director Allison explained that there were some new projects and some that were previously identified in the SDMP, saying that the new interim projects were not identified in the Storm Drain Master Plan Update, but they did not obviate the need for the overall SDMP.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz declared that it was important to remember that the City was in essence being forced to spend a substantial sum of money on storm drain repairs, noting that it created a very unsettled feeling because no one wanted to be in the position of spending funds before they were in the bank. He remarked that, although the funds will come out of the General fund reserve, if there was any further deterioration of the storm drains along PV Drive East or an acceleration of problems in other areas, that it would certainly cause the City’s reserves to run down very quickly.
Mayor Clark inquired as to how this might impact the proposed storm drain user fee. He noted that some of the proposed projects were interim projects that did not constitute a full replacement or restoration of these facilities, and asked if those projects were considered to be "building blocks" from an engineering standpoint with respect to their ultimate renewal.
Director McLean answered that it was unclear at this time how the storm drain user fee might be affected. He advised Council that the McCarrell Canyon project was beginning to move forward and would have an impact on cash flow, noting that staff would be working diligently on the matter over the next several weeks.
Director Allison explained that all the interim projects were aimed at increasing flood protection, noting that a few of the improvements, such as McCarrell Canyon, might include state of the art detention basins - some of which could ultimately be abandoned and not utilized for the final project. He indicated that this would likely result in several hundred thousand dollars of materials that will not be utilized in the final configuration.
Mayor Clark queried staff if the justification for this expenditure was to basically ensure there would not be the same immediacy of problems experienced with the recent storms and, noting that some of the new projects were not part of the SDMP, inquired as to how much more of the City’s General fund reserves were being considered to essentially "front load" these urgent projects.
Director McLean answered that an additional $1 million dollars was being requested up front.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz to 1) Approve a 16-month expenditure plan for the Water Quality & Flood Protection Program; 2) Establish a Water Quality & Flood Protection Program Enterprise Fund for renewal and improvement of the City’s storm drain infrastructure; 3) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-24; A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2004-45, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004-2005 TO PLACE FUNDING IN THE CITY’S WATER QUALITY AND FLOOD PROTECTION ENTERPRISE FUND; 4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-25; A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2004-45, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2004-2005 TO INCREASE THE CITY’S CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT FUND; 5) Authorize the expenditure of $445,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund for FY 04-05; and, 6) Authorize the expenditure of $100,000 from the Water Quality and Flood Protection Enterprise Fund for FY 04-05.
Councilman Long briefly noted he was very glad that progress was being made as an outgrowth of a very productive set of meetings. He indicated that it was lamentable that some expenditures would only be interim measures that would not be maintained in the final improvements, saying that was an unfortunate result of neglect. He indicated that he learned during a recent examination of the history of rainfall in Southern California over the last 75 years that there really was no "average" rainfall in the region, saying it was either way above or far below and that the City owed it to its citizens to be prepared for the extreme situations.
Councilman Wolowicz clarified that this proposal was not developed directly as the result of two recent Council meetings, but was actually the outgrowth of much study and in-depth discussions over the last two-and-a-half years to define the problem and determine how best to fund correcting the City’s storm drain deficiencies.
Councilman Stern joined the meeting in progress at 8:55 p.m.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Clark
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:56 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:04 p.m.
City Advisory Boards
The Council members present took the following actions: 1) Appointed the following six applicants to the Traffic Safety Commission: Kenneth Giles, Lawrence Klein, Jeffrey Lewis, Ava Shepherd, Damon Willens, and Paul Wright, each with a two-year term of office until February 2007; and, agreed to defer the appointment of the last member to March 29, 2005; 2) Set April 19, 2005, as the date to interview candidates for chair of the Traffic Safety Commission; 3) Deferred to March 29, 2005 appointment to the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Susan Cote; said term of office until March 2006; 4) Appointed Robert Nelson to the Finance Advisory Committee to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Lori Zorn; said term of office until January 2008; and, 5) Reappointed the seven current members of the Equestrian Committee, with terms due to expire in March 2005, for an additional one-year term until March 2006; 6) Set March 29, 2005 as the date to interview candidates for chair of the Equestrian Committee; 7) Authorized staff to begin the recruitment to fill four expiring terms on the Emergency Preparedness Committee; and, 8) Selected June 21, 2005, as the date to conduct interviews for the Emergency Preparedness Committee during the 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. time frame.
On behalf of the entire Council, Mayor Clark congratulated the new Commission members, applauded all who applied, and encouraged other citizens to volunteer their services on the City’s Advisory Boards. He declared that for the past several years there had been a tremendous number of extremely qualified residents volunteering to serve their community and the fact that some were selected to serve and others were not, was not a negative reflection on anyone’s capabilities.
Councilman Long echoed the Mayor’s sentiments and noted that, while he would not normally comment on an applicant for whom he did not vote, he found Ms. Stanislav Parfenov to be an extraordinary man and encouraged him to stay active and interested in City politics and public service. He stated that he was quite impressed with him and expressed confidence that, if he remained interested, he would gain the background and experience necessary to serve in the future.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz agreed with Councilman Long’s comments, saying that Mr. Parfenov expressed a high level of interest in public service and the things going on around him that Mr. Wolowicz hoped was shared by many of his peers.
Western Avenue Task Force
City Manager Evans presented the staff report.
Mayor Clark reminded his colleagues that, although this matter got ahead of Council unintentionally, he still believed that it provided a great opportunity for the City and urged his colleagues to accept Los Angeles Councilwoman Hahn’s invitation, saying it could be the first in a number of very important collaborations between the two cities.
Councilman Stern agreed with the premise, particularly in relation to the traffic problems on the Western Avenue corridor, saying that the collaborative approach was the only sensible model since RPV shared a border with the City of Los Angeles that was under the control of Caltrans, giving no single jurisdiction the ability to effectuate plans to address and solve the traffic problems on this section of roadway. He expressed concern with the statement expressed in an email from the interim chair indicating that work would be completed by May 31, 2005, saying that it seemed totally unrealistic since no plan was in place. He voiced concern that the proposed organizational structure was not adequately designed to achieve what he understood to be the goals, saying that these were not the types of issues that residents had the ability to solve without technical and engineering input and expertise.
Mayor Clark said the he believed the intent was to form a joint resident-based task force supported by staff and engineering experts from the two jurisdictions.
Councilman Stern remarked that this proposal had moved forward far too quickly to gain the kind of input that would have structured it more effectively. He indicated that a better format would have been to allow time for the jurisdictions’ traffic engineers and related professionals to participate in some town hall style meetings where public input from a broad based group could enlighten them on the problems and they could then work together to determine how best to address them. He noted that he supported the item because he wanted to see the process get underway, but he did not believe it was very well designed.
Mayor Clark indicated that a more realistic time schedule needed to be defined. He noted that the Task Force was currently waiting for RPV to join them and that by including representation from the community with staff’s support a great deal could be accomplished.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that he, too, wanted to see things move forward. He voiced concern over the fact that he had recently learned that approximately a decade before Caltrans was alerted to the fact there were some ripples on Western Avenue, which were described as leakage or seepage. He indicated that he was rather perturbed that although Caltrans was aware of this situation nothing was done until the extent of the problem made itself known in the form of very large sinkhole. He expressed hope that whatever agencies were involved -- the City of RPV, the City of Los Angeles, Caltrans, or whomever – they would be responsive to the findings of this Task Force. He stated that it would be appropriate for representatives from the City’s Traffic Safety Commission and/or the City’s Traffic Engineer to participate in this group; that the thoughts articulated by Councilman Stern and Mayor Clark regarding the City’s concerns should be provided in writing to Councilwoman Hahn; and, that the Mayor should contact his peers in this matter to reiterate that RPV was ready to proceed, outlining the concerns and issues to effectuate greater coordination.
Councilman Long concurred that this was indeed something worth participating in and that a different timetable needed to be set. He recommended advertising for and obtaining applications for RPV appointments to the Task Force as expeditiously as possible; and, that Councilwoman Hahn be requested to reaffirm her appointments of City of L.A. residents, noting that she had appointed an RPV resident to the Task Force which presumably was an oversight on the Councilwoman’s part.
Councilman Stern suggested that representative appointments should actually be open to anyone who can contribute by providing information to the traffic engineers and other professionals so they fully understand the scope and magnitude of the problems.
Councilman Wolowicz agreed, adding that there were many businesses along Western Avenue and that community should definitely be allowed to sit on this committee and have a voice in the matter.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to direct staff to send a letter to Councilwoman Hahn and the City of Los Angeles stating that the City of Rancho Palos Verdes had decided the following: to participate in the Western Avenue Task Force with other agencies; to recruit for applicants to the Task Force from interested parties including residents, business owners along Western Avenue, and staff and/or Traffic Safety Commission members; to interview and appoint eight members to the Western Avenue Task Force on April 19, 2005; and, to request a revised master schedule.
Senate Bill 274
Councilman Long indicated that a colleague had recently advised him of this bill pending in the State Legislature which would require people running for City Council to first resign from any City commission(s) or committee(s) on which they were serving even though there was no assurance of their being elected. He indicated that he believes it was an unwise bill that would make it even more difficult for general law cities to encourage their citizens to make the time commitments necessary to serve on these bodies.
Councilman Stern questioned if staff had any knowledge of the rationale behind Senator Romero’s proposed bill.
Mayor Clark noted that he had read an email from Jennifer Quan, Executive Director of the L.A. Division of the League of California Cities, indicating that Senator Romero was attempting to correct a problem that arose in her community when someone was simultaneously appointed to two bodies and refused to resign from one.
City Attorney Lynch suggested that a letter be written to Senator Romero requesting removal of Paragraph B from the bill, where it indicated that one must resign from a commission before being elected. She noted that the remainder of the bill was basically a restatement of existing provisions.
Mayor Clark advised that Council’s unanimous position was to direct staff to send a letter in opposition to Senate Bill 274, and suggesting the deletion of Subparagraph B under Section 1.
Councilman Long departed the meeting at 9:54 p.m. due to health reasons.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 9:54 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 10:03 p.m.
Forrestal Management Plan
Mayor Clark proposed that the Council address the items as follows: the Forrestal Management Plan, the Code Amendment, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and any updates to the Trail Usage Plan. He requested that Barbara Dye, Executive Director of the PV Peninsula Land Conservancy, join staff on the dais.
Planner Mihranian presented the portion of the staff report addressing the Management Plan. He advised Council that the Management Plan that was currently available to the public did not reflect Council’s December 4th action on the Trails Network Plan, saying that the entire document would be updated and made available as soon as Council made its final decision.
Mayor Clark requested clarification of the Implementation Plan in Chapter 3.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the Implementation Plan was revised to clarify that what was formerly the Steering Committee was now the Advisory Board with respect to how the property was to be managed and that the agreement was between the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
Ms. Dye added that the City Attorney had revised the agreement between the City and the PVP Land Conservancy and that she had made revisions to Chapter 3 to make it consistent.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that the management contract between the City and the Conservancy presented him with many questions and concerns, which Ms. Dye and the City Attorney had adequately explained and addressed. He stated that he viewed this not only as a Council member but also as a resident of the community, saying that his single greatest focus was that the ultimate decision maker should be the City as the property owner. He indicated that the City had a responsibility vested in it by the residents and therefore must have the ultimate authority, saying that this would be a precursor to the larger agreement for the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve and would provide a good format to follow.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council that the Agreement and the Management Plan described the Conservancy as the property manager. Any changes to the Plan, as well as any proposed projects for the forthcoming year will be presented to Council as part of the annual review process. She noted that Council could terminate the agreement at any time upon 30 days’ notice if it was unhappy with the management of the Forrestal Preserve; so she felt comfortable that the authority definitely resided with the City Council.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz queried if Council should not also have the lead responsibility over any rerouting of trails or if that would inhibit management of the Preserve.
City Attorney Lynch responded that, if a trail route was to be significantly altered, it would have to come before Council as part of a Plan revision; if some emergency repair was necessitated that would not involve rerouting but would perhaps require some adjustment to address erosion or some other issue, that would be in the purview of the Conservancy.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, noting that the issue of trails, routes, and rerouting had consumed the majority of discussion to date, declared that he wanted to make certain everything was done correctly.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council that the Plan currently designated the various routes and, if any changes were proposed, they would have to come before Council for consideration.
Ms. Dye indicated that she had compiled a sequence of events that would fall into place once Council approved the Management Plan which included the solicitation of nominations to the Advisory Board, installation of signs on the trails, selection of the Advisory Board members, the Conservancy taking the lead to prepare the project list with input from the Advisory Board and City staff, Council’s review and approval of the project list, environmental review for all projects, Council’s approval of the environmental reviews, and Council’s prioritization of projects. She commented that the concept was to have a list of projects approved by the Council with yearly recommended changes or additions to the list and a provision for specific or special needs, reiterating that it was specifically stated that no project or rerouting can occur without prior Council approval.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz said that he was initially concerned about having essentially one yearly opportunity to address matters, noting that the inclusion of language stipulating that either group has the ability to request a meeting alleviated his concern somewhat with the caveat being that contemplation of major changes would be an automatic trigger to officially bring the item before Council. He indicated that he wants it patently clear that the Advisory Board was participating as advisors and did not have the authority to make final decisions on behalf of the City.
Councilman Stern remarked that the overarching change made with regard to the Advisory Board provided a very workable structure and made the lines of authority very clear in terms of the Land Conservancy as the City’s manager of the property and the Advisory Board as an entity to assist the Conservancy in performing its job.
Mayor Clark requested an explanation of how the expansion of the agreement term from three to twenty-five years would allow more grant application opportunities.
Ms. Dye explained that one of the reasons the Land Conservancy was able to obtain nearly $2 million in grants for the White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro was due to its 25-year management agreement with the City of Los Angeles, which enables it to apply for and receive grants that would otherwise not be available.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz inquired if the termination clause specified with or without cause.
City Attorney Lynch advised that the termination clause was 30 days, with or without cause, with each party being required to first provide a notice to appear so, in the event the matter was a technical violation, an opportunity to fix the problem was granted.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked for clarification if the concept of passive and non-passive, as defined in the agreement, included bicycle and equestrian riding as passive activities.
Director Rojas agreed.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated that he would like to ascertain whether the language in the section regarding assignment was adequate to protect the City from a lien inadvertently or deliberately being created on the property.
City Attorney Lynch advised that staff would include specific language to address that issue.
Mayor Clark requested clarification of the intent of the language in Section C, Use of the Preserve, saying that the text could lead an individual wanting to use the Preserve to conclude that they needed prior approval from the Conservancy.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the language was intended to prevent a number of large groups from using the area at the same time with consequent overuse of the property, as well as prevent the possibility of too many individuals using the same trails simultaneously. She noted that, while the intent was not to preclude or preempt individuals, another sentence could be inserted to make it clear and a number, i.e., eight, ten, or more could be included to define a "group."
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, noting that ownership of the conservation easements would go to the Conservancy once the Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) took effect, adding that he was troubled that one entity would own the property and one would own the easements. He inquired if there was a mechanism in place to resolve any potential conflict.
City Attorney Lynch advised that the document did not establish those easements but rather created management rights for purposes of the NCCP. She indicated that the State would require conservation easement on the property, which would go to the Conservancy and, if for some reason the Conservancy no longer managed the property, it would likely transfer the easement to another organization such as the Audubon Society or the Department of Fish and Game. She explained that the easement essentially prevented the City from ever changing its mind about conserving the property and deciding instead to build a golf course, for example, on the property.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz voiced concern that if there should ever be a separation between the two entities, the City would own the land but not the easement, saying that he did not understand the mechanics of how this would actually work but that he would like to make certain this fact was not overlooked as the process moved forward. He stated that the best time to avoid a conflict was at the beginning of an agreement, not at some point in the future when the relationship was being dissolved.
City Attorney Lynch agreed and indicated that staff would make sure these issues were addressed when the conservation easement was established. She stated that her vision was that the City would own the property; the Wildlife Conservation Board would hold the conservation easement and management would be conducted by the PV Land Conservancy. She reiterated that the sole purpose of the easement was to preclude the City from developing the property in the future and had nothing to do with the management of the property.
Councilman Stern explained that ownership, conservation, and management interests must all dovetail, saying that there cannot be a management plan that was inconsistent with the conservation easement. He indicated that it was very logical to have an entity that merely holds the conservation easement because its basic duty was to ascertain that the NCCP obligation was being fulfilled. He stated that he was not concerned about this aspect because having a watchdog over the conservation easement was consistent with everything that the City was trying to achieve.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to enter into the restated agreement as presented to Council on Saturday with those few amendments that Councilman Wolowicz and Mayor Clark mentioned.
Councilman Stern requested that City Attorney Lynch read back the proposed amendments.
City Attorney Lynch outlined the changes she had made to the Draft Management Agreement document as follows: 1) added language concerning use of the Preserve on Page 4, Paragraph C including, "A group shall consist of 25 or more persons"; and that, "Nothing herein shall imply that individual use of the Preserve will be inhibited or impaired in any way …"; 2) added a sentence to Paragraph 15 "This shall not create any lien against the property; the Conservancy shall not do anything that places liens on the property or have any liens placed against the property."
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Stern, Clark
ABSENT: Gardiner, Long
Mayor Clark suggested next addressing the MOU with respect to the Educational Training Unit (ETU) between the City, the Conservancy, CORBA, and the Palos Verdes Horseman’s Association. He commented that he believed the intent of the ETU was an excellent idea.
Councilman Stern agreed that it was a very good model, adding that he hoped more groups would participate because it was actually the community and other interested groups that would make the program a success.
Ms. Dye indicated that it was a very innovative form of management that should garner respect around the state if it could be made to work successfully. She explained that her support of the program was basically on a trial basis because there were challenges such as determining what the training program would consist of and how it would be monitored. She envisioned the program coming back for Council approval prior to its implementation.
Jim Knight, Rancho Palos Verdes, said that it was unclear to him who would be the lead person involved in enforcement and education. He noted that there was an overlay of various functions associated with the ETU and he was not sure at what point it changed from an educational unit to one of enforcement. Commenting that one of the goals was to encourage conservation through education; he asserted that there were other organizations with a better knowledge and understanding of the habitat that would be more appropriate to serve this purpose, saying that he hoped they would come forward to participate. He voiced concern over the propriety of assigning the task of education to a mountain biking group, reiterating that people more knowledgeable about the actual habitat should provide the educational component.
Ms. Dye responded that the ETU would provide education about rules for trail use, saying that the plan was to design a training program that would emphasize that the job of the ETU was not enforcement but rather to advise people regarding the importance of staying on the trails. She indicated that the groups volunteering to assist with the program so far had not included any experts on habitat conservation.
Deborah Powers, introduced herself as an educator working with youth in various outdoor programs, a member of the CORBA Steering Committee, and a future volunteer for the ETU. She indicated that the main intent of the ETU was to serve as an approachable on-trail presence to promote responsible trail use. She asserted that just because someone engaged in mountain biking did not mean that they were not an environmentalist or a conservationist, noting that people can have multiple interests. She indicated that the educational program would provide a link between all users, saying that they envisioned their role as ambassadors promoting good will, identifying visitors’ needs, reporting hazards, informing the public about proper trail etiquette, becoming docent leaders and, depending on the ultimate plan adopted, encouraging preservation and educating visitors about the natural environment, as well as trail and habitat maintenance. She thanked the City of RPV for all its efforts in making the Forrestal Preserve a reality.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 10:59 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 11:06 p.m.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that she had neglected to mention earlier in regard to the agreement between the City and the Conservancy that she added the language "including the rerouting of trails," on Page 5 where it indicated that the Conservancy would not make any changes to the Plan without first obtaining approval from Council.
Hersh Kelley, representing the local Palos Verdes South Bay Sierra Club, noted that there were some internal issues that limited their participation and association with other organizations but that there was a possibility that they could be involved in the ETU. He stated that he would conduct some research into the structure and charter of the entity and, if the Sierra Club were allowed to participate, he would solicit for volunteers.
Barbara Sattler, Rancho Palos Verdes, advised she was not officially speaking on behalf of the California Native Plant Society but the comments from this organization would likely be the same as hers. She voiced concern with the name "Educational Trails Unit," opining it was misleading and confused the actual role of the entity. She indicated that it appeared that the primary function of this group was to encourage good behavior on the trails and as such she would prefer a name like "Trails Unit," "Trail Assistance," or "Trail Etiquette." She declared that the role of an educator was very important and that people who valued the importance of accurately disseminating information about the Preserve were very uneasy about granting educational authority to this entity. She advised the Council that it was also very important that the materials provided to the public be pre-approved by the Advisory Board or other appropriate authorities to ascertain whether the information they contained was factually accurate, saying that often well-meaning individuals combined a little training with their own misconceptions and perpetuated misinformation that could be detrimental to the goal of preservation. She suggested changing the name of the ETU; rewording the first four lines of Section A of the draft MOU by omitting the first and fourth lines; and, rewording the third line to read "encourage preservation through printed materials reviewed and approved by the Forrestal Advisory Board and appropriate subject authorities."
Ms. Dye agreed with Ms. Sattler that the materials should be reviewed and approved by the Land Conservancy and the City, saying that PVPLC had a good track record in terms of its materials and reports on environmental matters. She concurred that doing things correctly was essential and advised that the Conservancy was in the process of establishing a scientific advisory board, which she anticipated would review the printed materials, saying that she envisioned the materials given to visitors would be about the size of a business card. She commented that she liked the educational component, noting that the group’s purpose was to serve as a pleasant reminder that the facility was a preserve and the habitat needed to be protected, saying that she believed it would be proper for the ETU to function as an educational link.
Angelika Brinkmann-Busi, stated that it was a good idea to include volunteers in trail etiquette enforcement; however, the idea that authorized trained members of the ETU be allowed to ride all the trails in the Preserve needed to be clarified because the intent was that they not ride all the trails, but only those that were official public trails. She remarked that ETU members needed to be clearly identified as such from a distance and should operate under fairly strict guidelines and limitations. She advised that the Western Tail-Blue Butterfly, which was thought to be extinct, was recently discovered feeding on Astragalus plants growing very close to one of the trails, saying that hikers were more easily able to avoid those plants and it might be prudent to temporarily close those trails to bikers and equestrians.
Ms. Dye indicated that the discovery of the butterfly was one reason continued active management of the Preserve was important. She advised Council that it might be appropriate to relocate a trail, put up temporary fencing to prevent people entering sensitive areas, or even consider closing certain trails, saying that good management could include many appropriate options.
Senior Planner Mihranian, responding to Ms. Brinkmann-Busi’s concern regarding identification of ETU members, advised Council that members would wear some type of uniform to distinguish them as part of the ETU.
Ann Shaw, Rancho Palos Verdes, declared that she was very leery of this idea, saying that, while it was great to have people available to instruct others how to behave on the trails, the Steering Committee had an eight-hour discussion about proper trail use and where pedestrians, bikers, and horses should be allowed to go, yet the staff report reads "In order to effectively implement the ETU, it is recommended that trained members of the ETU who are authorized be allowed to ride all of the trails in the preserve as part of their duties." She inquired if she had misread the report.
Ms. Dye advised that the sentence should be clarified to indicate the officially designated trails, saying that the intention was to allow ETU members to ride on those trails in order to discourage use in certain areas by their fellow cyclists. She explained that they needed to have access to the trails and could walk their bikes where appropriate, noting that they had not yet figured out all the logistics.
Ms. Shaw stated that it appeared her interpretation was correct; that if someone wore an ETU T-shirt, they could ride on any trail in the Forrestal Preserve whether it was appropriate for cycling or not. She queried if that was Council’s intent on December 4th and declared it seems a very backhanded way of allowing CORBA members to ride on all the trails.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked if that same logic would apply to equestrians, saying that there needed to be consistency in terms of biking and horseback riding on the trails.
Ms. Dye indicated that there were trails that were not suitable for equestrians and a determination of where the ETU members would be allowed to go still needed to be made. She advised that these topics would be brought back to Council if approval were granted to move forward.
Ms. Shaw maintained that it appeared that the Land Conservancy was so anxious to have volunteers that they were willing to allow CORBA members to ride on trails that were not appropriate for biking.
Councilman Stern remarked that Ms. Shaw raised some very valid points, but he agrees with Ms. Dye that this idea needed to be more fully thought out. In terms of focusing only on cyclists as the ETU, he indicated that if volunteers from other groups decided to participate, they could provide the same educational value. He stated that he certainly would not want to see the ETU used as a mechanism to gain backdoor access to the Preserve, saying that the details still needed to be worked out but that he did not believe that was the intention.
Ms. Shaw commented that she viewed the ETU more as enforcement by people trained to explain to others about proper trail usage or to help correct inappropriate behavior. She stated the proposal was brought forward by CORBA, who would patrol the trails on bikes, and inquired if there was in fact a real problem that needed to be addressed. She indicated that when she visited the Forrestal Preserve it was not overrun with people and the problems she was aware of involved younger bikers in pursuit of a thrill-seeking experience.
Dena Friedson, Palos Verdes Estates, voiced concern about the CORBA proposal, noting that the current plan indicated that no trails should be widened to accommodate particular uses, so she saw no reason for bikers to have access to all the trails. She suggested that if CORBA was interested in providing information to the public, they should only be on the trails designed for bikers.
Ms. Dye stated that she was not sure if it was worth putting together the ETU if this group would only be allowed on the loop trail around Fossil Hill, noting that some of the most fragile areas were above the quarry bowl and the goal was to create something to deal with problems and make the overall management of the Preserve result in better habitat protection. She noted that there were still many issues to figure out and, if Council provided some type of authorization for the Conservancy to move forward, the particulars could be worked out and brought back for Council approval.
George Fink, President of the Ladera Linda Homeowners Association, echoed the concerns of the previous speakers, noting that he also read with alarm the line in the staff report which indicates that the "ETU shall ride all trails." He indicated that the members of his HOA had no problem with cyclists riding on trails designated for bikes or those targeted for equestrian use by horses strictly for patrol purposes.
Sunshine, Rancho Palos Verdes, recommended that Council consider why certain prohibitions were established, saying that, if bicyclists were prohibited on certain trails because of erosion issues, the educators needed to know to walk their bikes in those areas. She asserted that the reasons for eliminating specific uses on certain trails needed to be elucidated so the people patrolling those trails were not doing the things that they were supposed to be preventing. She commented that in order to pass the word around about proper trail usage, the ETU must be able to access the entire Preserve.
Kurt Loheit, Rancho Palos Verdes, advised that he was responsible for developing three volunteer programs similar to the ETU, most notably in the Santa Monica Mountains, and indicated that the goal of these programs was to provide an interface so people can exchange information on appropriate trail use behavior. He stated that the position of the CORBA PV group was they would not ride on trails that were not open to bikes, believing that to do otherwise would be an inappropriate use of a volunteer program, noting that they would adhere to the trails open at the time. He indicated that these were issues that could be worked through and resolved. He offered to provide whatever assistance necessary to implement the program, saying that statistically 80 to 85 percent of all stops are interpretive and who better to address interpretive issues than peer-to-peer interfaces.
Mayor Clark asserted that this particular component needed more work and recommended that Council remand the matter back to staff and the Conservancy to further craft the MOU, as well as the role and responsibilities of the ETU.
Ms. Dye reiterated that she was not convinced that it was worth all the time and energy to implement this program if CORBA members were only going to be authorized to ride on a small portion of the trails now open to them.
Councilman Stern noted that expanding trail usage for bicycles had yet to be determined, and added that he did not view this model as limited to the Conservancy and CORBA, but rather the Conservancy with a variety of interested volunteers. He indicated that, while it may be a relatively limited program initially, it was worth the effort because others in the community who were not cyclists would ultimately step forward to participate.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz echoed Councilman Stern’s thoughts and agreed that the concept of the ETU was a very good starting point. He indicated that CORBA PV formally requested that Council consider redesigning some trails for multiple use and Council had given that suggestion some consideration. He indicated that the issues of safety and environmental protection were intertwined, saying that he was heartened by the fact that CORBA had stepped forward and appreciated all the work they has done.
Greg Scarich, CORBA Board member, recommended that Council approve the MOU as drafted, with one change to clearly indicate that others were allowed and encouraged to participate, saying that CORBA would then develop a plan. He stated that the point was well taken that CORBA was anticipating other trails to be opened, but noted that it was not quid pro quo situation.
Mayor Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to remand the MOU back for further consideration and refinement by staff and the PV Land Conservancy.
Councilman Stern reiterated his belief that the ETU was a good idea, saying that he hoped Council adopted something along that line because it could play a significant role in the management of the Forrestal Preserve.
Mayor Clark directed the discussion to next item regarding the draft ordinance pertaining to bicycle use in the Preserve.
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.
Councilman Stern noted his understanding that, at the present time, the City did not have an ordinance addressing biking in parks but that signs were posted which prohibited this activity. He requested that staff clarify under what authority those signs were posted.
Director Rosenfeld explained that there was a difference between rules and City ordinances. He indicated that past Councils thought it more appropriate for City staff to enforce rules rather than have the Sheriff’s Department issue tickets for things like bike riding or driving golf balls in a City park. He likened park rules to the requirements to be quiet when visiting a public library or no running at a public pool.
Councilman Stern noted that the proposed ordinance covered the Forrestal Preserve as well as the City’s other parks, but it seemed that the criteria the Steering Committee focused on neglected to consider that the other parks were also involved. He indicated that there was nothing included in the draft ordinance that addressed how it would be implemented in City parks, saying that it could be problematic to have an ordinance with broader application than just the Forrestal Preserve.
Mayor Clark inquired if the proposed ordinance would make it impermissible for someone to ride a bike through a City park.
Director Rosenfeld answered that the City currently enforced a rule indicating no bikes were allowed in City parks.
Mayor Clark requested an explanation of the rationale for that, saying that a number of people in the community have asked him why the City had such a policy.
Director Rosenfeld explained that the City’s parks were not originally designed for bike riding, saying that safety as it related to multi-use had always been a great concern for the City. He noted that Hesse Park in particular was home to many seniors’ programs and there was a walking path around the baseball fields, which could be incompatible with bicycling. He indicated that the City had enacted this rule in order to maintain the safety of its parks.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated that the issue of safety always led him to the issue of liability. He commented that he was wresting with the fact that the ordinance appeared to apply to both passive open space preserves and active participation parks, saying that he did not believe that was intended. Noting that he has seen parks in other cities where youngsters were riding bikes, he inquired if staff was aware of other cities that allowed bicycle use in their parks.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the ordinance was drafted in conceptual terms and needed some refinement to distinguish between the types of facilities being addressed. She indicated that with the advent of extreme sports many cities had taken action to preclude bicycle riding, skateboarding, and similar activities, within their developed parks, while other cities required those uses to be conducted in designated areas only, saying that she has seen both open and restricted parks.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated there were a number of instances, such as at a beach area, where there were shared pedestrian and cycling paths. He remarked that a concept similar to that used in ski areas might be applied here, where skiers who are abusive of the rules lose their lift ticket. He indicated that signage could also be posted indicating bicyclists who exceed a specified speed would be cited, with the appropriate speed limit to still be determined.
City Attorney Lynch advised that, while activities like skiing and skateboarding have been categorized as inherently dangerous, a person taking a stroll that gets run down by a bicyclist was not in the same category, so the typical immunities would not apply.
City Manager Evans indicated that there were speed limits on some of the shared bicycle/pedestrian paths in Huntington Beach and this city used painted lines to indicate which side of the roadway to stay on, and to delineate crossings where users must stop. He indicated that even with this configuration there had been serious injuries and even some deaths resulting from bicycles running into pedestrians.
Mayor Clark reiterated that a number of parents in the community were asking why the City would not allow their children to ride bikes in the parks.
City Manager Evans responded that it was a Council policy, but that it could be changed.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested that staff bring back a report on the use of bicycles in City parks; with one part specifically addressing bicycle use in active parks and another dealing with bicycle use in those areas designated for passive activities. He indicated that perhaps the issue needed to be determined on a park-by-park issue, but since the evening’s focus seems to be specifically on the Forrestal Preserve, he would rather not cloud the issue any further.
Councilman Stern agreed that it made sense to get more information before determining how this topic might be harmonized with the City’s objectives.
Mayor Clark directed the discussion to the Forrestal Management Plan.
Sunshine, Rancho Palos Verdes, commented that the letter designations for the segments of the Palos Verdes Loop Trail that were within the Forrestal Preserve should be consistent with the City’s Conceptual Trails Network Plan, indicating that these trails segments should be denoted with an "A." She indicated that these trails should be given the highest priority to be opened, thus providing the main thoroughfare through a given area and connecting the Peninsula’s various parks and facilities. She requested that Council renumber the trails shown in the Plan; not to reroute them or change their use designation, but simply use the "A" designation on the trails that provided the ideal route for the PV Loop Trail through the Forrestal Preserve, which would change trail L12 to A12, et cetera.
George Fink, representing the Ladera Linda Homeowners Association, brought to Council’s attention discrepancies between the minutes of the December 4th meeting and some of the trail use designations reflected on the trail map on circle Page 26 of the current staff report. He outlined several concerns, which he submitted to Council via correspondence dated March 15, 2005.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that the map had been updated after reviewing the tapes and minutes of the December 4th meeting to reflect staff’s understanding of the Council’s decision. He stated that the minutes referred to the Sierra Club alternative and the Steering Committee’s Plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked staff to examine the minutes and the tapes, in order to reconcile any differences and to propose appropriate changes if the minutes were found to be in error, saying that, ultimately, the minutes would be the permanent official record of the Council’s decisions related to this matter.
Councilman Stern noted that it was very important that the map reflects what Council wanted, and not necessarily what the minutes indicated.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that the staff report was based on detailed notes and a revision of the Plan staff made while viewing the videotape of the Council meeting. He specifically recalled requesting Council’s clarification as to whether trail L11 should be pedestrian only or pedestrian/equestrian, adding that the idea was that it would ultimately allow some type of trail connection once repaired.
Mr. Fink suggested that significant consideration be given to the actual routing of what was shown as trail L11, saying that it traveled along a swale, which may not be an appropriate structure to support a public trail.
Ms. Dye indicated that she met with staff from the Public Works Department at the site and was confident that the trail cannot go along the swale, saying that the only way to build a trail in this location would be to go along the ridge and tie it into trail L4, just above the "L" in the word Crystal on the current map. She commented that the trail would be placed on the trail project list and, if approved, would be properly designed and go through the environmental review process.
Jim Knight referred to the proposed bicycle ordinance and indicated he was not sure that dividing out the passive activity would actually achieve Council’s purpose. He noted that Grandview Park was a designated passive park, was not part of the NCCP, and did not have any habitat issues; so this and similar parks may need to be addressed in a different manner. He indicated that he recently walked trail L3 where he noticed a number of Astragalus plants along the entire edge of the trail, with much of it hanging over the edge of the trail. He advised that these were the host plants for the PV Blue Butterfly and the Western Tail-Blue and, since these plants could attract very sensitive butterfly species, Council may want to consider how to address that issue.
In reference to the law enforcement aspect of the Plan, Mr. Knight pointed out there seemed to be some suggestion at a previous meeting that the Sheriff was going to patrol the Preserve with motorized vehicles. He suggested that this might not be appropriate since those types of vehicles were wider than a typical off-road bicycle and could damage the trails. He also noted that the noise generated by motorized vehicles would destroy the quiet enjoyment of the Preserve. He indicated that he had spoken to members of the Sheriff’s Equestrian Posse, who indicated they could be available on horseback if police enforcement was needed, adding that he thought it might be wise to explore that possibility. He noted that there might also be instances where emergency access to the area would be required, such as for a fire or medical emergency, and suggested that an access protocol be developed for those entities needing to enter the area in order to minimize disturbance of the natural habitat.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz agreed that the access protocol for emergency services was a good idea.
Ms. Dye indicated it was a requirement of the NCCP.
In response to concerns about the noise issue, Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that he had recently attended a Peninsula Regional Law Enforcement Committee meeting where two Sheriff’s Deputies demonstrated off-road motorized bikes that were very quiet, saying that he believed they were also being used to assist with traffic enforcement on paved roads around the Peninsula, specifically the Palos Verdes Drive East Switchbacks. He indicated that the Sheriff would be approaching the Conservancy to further explore the idea of using these motorized bikes within the Preserve. He expressed concern that some members of the public will not obey the rules and he did not feel that it was appropriate for the docents or ETU members to try to enforce the laws. He felt that in some situations, intervention by official law enforcement officials would be necessary.
Ms. Sattler expressed concerns regarding the Council’s motion at the last meeting pertaining to trail designations which allowed for modifications to the trail use designation by "additional openings of trails to be considered after improvement work is performed," indicating that it was unclear to her how that decision-making process would occur. She remarked that it seemed rather backward that improvement work would occur prior to Council’s consideration of trail changes. She stated that she was somewhat reassured that the procedure requires proposals for trail modifications, et cetera, but expressed concern that there were currently proposals for trail maintenance and improvements necessitated by the recent storms or substitute trails for the swale on L9, saying that those could all have potential significant impacts and should be projects requiring full environmental review prior to approval. She indicated that the City should avoid piecemeal impacts to habitat and species under the guise of routine trail maintenance or improvements with the goal of widening trails for expanded use. She reminded Council that the Forrestal Preserve was one of the Peninsula’s most biologically diverse areas, noting that all of the species there, many of which were locally rare, deserved protection whether or not they were officially designated as special status species.
Ms. Sattler advised Council that the December 4th minutes should be corrected where it indicated there were 17 locally native species, saying that the number was actually 70. She recommended that extreme care be taken to ensure that any improvement or maintenance activities avoid impacts whenever possible. She recommended that members of the Advisory Board have expertise and knowledge of the species and habitats that the Preserve was created to protect. She requested that Council consider her proposal for adding a new section to the Management Plan regarding education, saying that, although the Steering Committee incorporated part of her suggestion, it changed her idea for creating an implementing or education committee. She indicated that this may be more appropriate to include in the NCCP and noted that it would be critical in gaining broad public support and protection for the species in the Preserve.
Ms. Powers urged Council’s consideration of a multi-use trail system that was fair to all users and that covered all types of trail use in order to protect the natural environment of the Forrestal Preserve and the longevity of its trails. She stated her belief that making the trails multi-use would create an atmosphere of teamwork among the varied user groups, saying that it was unclear to her why the trail usage plan adopted on December 4th indicated that some of the trails were closed to mountain bikers. She remarked that this sent a mixed message and noted that, if the trails were considered unsafe for mountain bikes they should also be considered unsafe for equestrians, adding that perhaps these trails should be closed temporarily to all users and reopened when improvements had been made. She suggested that options other than trail closures might also be considered, such as one-way trails or hike-a-bike sections.
Greg Scarich, speaking on behalf of Troy Braswell, expressed confusion regarding some of the elements in the Trail Network Plan, specifically relating to trails A13, A14 and L1, portions of which Council considered to be unsafe. He suggested that, since the City’s trails expert had made recommendations to remedy unsafe conditions, those trails should be designated for bike use but closed temporarily for safety reasons. He further indicated that it was unclear why trails L2, L3, L8, and A15, which were presently safe and suitable for bicycles, were closed. He advised Council that bicyclists regularly dismounted their bikes and walked on trail sections they did not feel confident to ride on, so the preponderance of trail managers did not close entire trails just because of a few difficult sections and reminded the Council that the City Attorney had stated that the City bears no liability for this type of activity. He indicated that CORBA had made an exemplary attempt to demonstrate responsibility by providing a large number of volunteers to assist with trail work, saying that they felt they were performing all of the manual labor, while being unfairly discriminated against.
Councilman Stern, speaking to the trails usage issue, noted that only three Council members were present at the meeting and, for that reason and others, he was not eager to revisit what he believed was a preliminary decision. He indicated that Council had not made any changes to its decisions of December 4th according to the staff report, noting that Mother Nature had made a few changes during the intervening period that, unfortunately, had not been kind to many. He remarked that it would not be fruitful to spend any more time on this topic, given the hour, and stated that it was an open issue that Council would revisit at a more appropriate time.
Mayor Clark and Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz concurred with Councilman Stern’s comments.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz to: 1) Adopt the Steering Committee’s recommended amendments to the Forrestal Management Plan with verification of the review of the Minutes of December 4, 2004 for consistency with the City Council’s intent; 2) Review the Steering Committee’s recommended draft ordinance language regulating bicycle use within City parkland, and direct Staff to return with a staff report dealing with issues related to bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian use in active vs. passive parks; 3) Review the Memorandum of Understanding between the City, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association to develop an Educational Trails Unit (ETU) led by a team of volunteers, and remand this back to staff to make refinements related to the creation of the ETU; 4) Adopt the amended and restated Management Agreement between the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy; and,
Mayor Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 5) Receive and file the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Annual Reports submitted by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
Both motions passed with no objection.
Proposed Elimination of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.
Councilman Stern directed that the letter sent out on this issue exactly match the one shown on circle Page 6 of the staff report.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Pro Tem Wolowicz, to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-26; OPPOSING PRESIDENT BUSH’S PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM AND URGING CONGRESS TO RETAIN THE CDBG PROGRAM AS A SEPARATE, DISTINCT PROGRAM WITH A FY 2006 BUDGET AT THE LEVEL OF FY 2005 ALLOCATIONS; and, 2) Authorize the Mayor to send letters to California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer opposing the elimination of the CDBG program. The motion passed without objection.
A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, Amending Resolution No. 2004- 45, the budget appropriation for FY04- 05, to increase the RPV TV Channel 33 Budget for Memberships and Dues
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-27; AMENDING THE FY 04-05 BUDGET BY APPROPRIATING FUNDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,100 FOR MEMBERSHIP IN NATOA AND $25 FOR MEMBERSHIP IN SCAN NATOA; and 2) Appoint NATOA representatives.
The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Stern, Clark
ABSENT: Gardiner, Long
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch advised that no action was taken with respect to the negotiations for the potential purchase of open space property and that the review of the City Manager’s performance did not occur since all five members of the City Council were not present.
Mayor Clark formally adjourned the meeting at 1:43 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, at Fred Hesse Community Park to conduct interviews for chair of the Equestrian Committee, to be followed by a City Council Workshop regarding the Draft Open Space Planning and Recreation & Parks Strategic Plan at 7:00 p.m.