JUNE 21, 2005

The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes, and was immediately recessed to closed session. Mayor Clark reconvened the regular session at 7:13 p.m.

Roll call was answered as follows:

PRESENT: Stern, Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Clark

Also present were City Manager Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru; City Attorney Lynch; Director of Finance McLean; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas; Director of Public Works Allison; Accounting Manager Downs; Senior Engineer Dragoo; Senior Administrative Analyst Gyves; Assistant City Attorney Harris; Assistant to the City Manager Park; and, Minutes Reporter Presutti.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led jointly by Planning Commissioner Bill Gerstner and Finance Advisory Committee Member Bob Nelson.


Mayor Clark shared with the audience that he had received two pieces of correspondence: a letter from Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn thanking the City for its participation in the Western Avenue Task Force; and, a letter from Dr. Godfrey Pernell, the Mayor of the City of Rolling Hills, pledging his City’s 2002 Resource Bond Act Per Capita Fund for the Portuguese Bend Open Space Project, allocating an additional $5,199 to its previously donated funds.

Mayor Clark presented that evening’s Did You Know Fact on the topic of fireworks safety during for the upcoming 4th of July activities. At the request of Mayor Clark, Assistant Fire Chief Glonchak and Lomita Sheriff’s Station Captain Zuanich made brief statements on the precautions being taken by their respective departments to respond to the Fourth of July holiday and what citizens could do to celebrate responsibly.


Mayor Clark announced Joseph Brady as Recycler of the Month and encouraged the City’s residents to continue their recycling efforts.


Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that late correspondence had been received on Item No. 22, Status Report Regarding Construction Issues at 2 Yacht Harbor Drive, along with a request to speak to this item from the author of the correspondence.

In light of the lengthy agenda and the number of people in attendance, Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz proposed completing items 1 through 14, along with the City Council Oral Reports and the Closed Session Report during the current session, at that evening’s meeting, ending that evening’s meeting by 11:00 p.m., and then taking up the remaining items 15 through 22 on the following evening starting at 7:00 p.m.

Mayor Clark suggested indulging this request, indicating it appeared likely that there was perhaps seven to nine hours worth of agenda items and that it was imprudent for the public, City staff, and Council to attempt to accomplish the City’s business by working into the early hours of the morning.

Councilman Long recommended that Council proceed through the meeting as quickly possible and see how far the meeting could progress by 11:30 p.m., indicating that it would present a great difficulty for many to rearrange their schedules to accommodate a second meeting on such short notice.

Councilman Stern concurred, saying he would be unavailable the following evening.

Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to approve the Agenda. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered, with the caveat that the Council would consider the remaining items at the 9:30 p.m. Pause to Consider Remainder of the Agenda.


Tina Bothamley, Rancho Palos Verdes, read a short press release from the Pentagon regarding the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). She proudly announced that of the 40 teams selected to advance to the semifinals, including universities, individuals, and corporations from 16 states and Canada, Palos Verdes High School qualified for the second year in a row to compete in the DARPA Ground Challenge. She expressed appreciation to the community for their support during the past year, saying that she was looking forward to keeping everyone apprised of how the students were doing throughout the competition.

Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that she has noticed several people congregating near a gate leading into the Portuguese Bend landslide area, saying she believes the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy was opening the gate and encouraging people to ride their horses in the area.

Barbara Sattler, Rancho Palos Verdes, followed up on an e-mail she submitted regarding CEQA review and biological consultations, by urging Council to consider adopting a policy which put the City in charge of all such reviews and reports rather than first being filtered through the project applicants.




Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised 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.



Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that late correspondence and a request to speak had been received regarding Item No. 2, Approval of the March 15, 2005 Minutes.

Mayor Clark called for the speaker on Item No. 2.

Bob Mucha, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Council’s December 4, 2004 motion regarding the Forrestal Management Plan, which was subsequently approved on March 1, 2005, contained the only trail use changes authorized by Council and should have been incorporated into the Forrestal Management Plan to effectuate Council’s direction. He reported that upon review of the Forrestal Management Plan, he found six unauthorized changes in the text and map, saying that if those changes reflected a correction to the previous motion, that motion should be amended in the public record to provide a baseline in the event the Plan was further reviewed and/or revised.

Councilman Long noted that Mr. Mucha’s comments refer to an item not actually on that evening’s agenda, saying that the purpose of addressing the minutes was merely to ascertain if they accurately reflected what was said and done, not to change them to reflect what might have been said or done better. He requested that staff respond to the matter as a non-agenda item.

Director Rojas indicated that Council approved the Forrestal Management Plan and the trails map at the March 1, 2005 meeting, saying that a discrepancy was noted at that time between the trails map and the December 4, 2004 minutes. He stated that Council directed staff to review the December 4th minutes to ensure that they accurately reflected the approved trails map, and noted that staff would be bringing back an amendment to the December 4th minutes to Council in the near future in conjunction with several other items related to the Forrestal Preserve.

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 (301)

Approved the Minutes of March 15, 2005 and April 5, 2005.

Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain (604 x 1204)

Reviewed and reconfirmed by a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Council’s previous action on December 21, 2004 to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.

Rescind Award of Three Non-Exclusive Commercial Refuse Collection and Disposal Services Annual Agreements for 2005 (1301)

Rescinded approval of non-exclusive commercial refuse collection and disposal services agreements that were awarded for the year 2005 to: Avel Roll Off, Art's Special Waste, Inc. and Ace Roll Off Rubbish Service, Inc.

Amendment to the Agreement for Legal Services – Richards, Watson & Gershon (103)

Approved the Amendment to Legal Services Agreement with Richards, Watson & Gershon.

Amendment to the City Manager’s Employment Agreement (1101)

Approved the sixth amendment to the City Manager’s employment agreement.

Notice of Completion for the City Hall Elevator Project (1201 x 1204)

1) Accepted the work as complete; 2) Authorized the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder; and if no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation, and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, notice the surety company to exonerate the payment and Performance bonds; and, 3) Authorized the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment, to 2H Construction, Inc., 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the County Recorder contingent upon no claims being filed on the project, and the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond.

Amendment of Existing Contract for Building and Safety Services (1203)

Approved the amended Services Agreement with Charles Abbott Associates (CAA) that eliminated the services of a City Building Official, included the issuance of additional permits into the scope of work, and extended the term of the contract an additional 2 years to June 30, 2007.

Adoption of California Electrical Code (201)


Purchase of Tax Defaulted Property (602 x 1101)

Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to sign an Agreement to Purchase Tax-Defaulted Property for a 0.17-acre vacant parcel located at the end of East Crest Road, adjacent to the federal radar dome facility at San Pedro Hill.

City Maintenance Contract Extensions (1204)

Approved a one-year extension for FY 05 – 06 to Bell Building Maintenance for Building Maintenance, Bennett Landscape for Median Maintenance, TruGreen Landcare for Roadside Maintenance, and TruGreen Landcare for Park and Trails Maintenance.

Reso. No. 2005-67: Register of Demands


Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve the Consent Calendar.

The motion to approve the Consent Calendar carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Stern, Clark

NOES: None

ABSTENTIONS: Councilman Gardiner abstained on both sets of minutes.

# # # # # #


Reso. No. 2005-68: Citywide Landscaping and Lighting Maintenance District (901)

Director Allison made a brief presentation of the staff report.

City Manager Evans advised Council that this item represented the long-discussed fund balance in the City’s 1911 Act Assessment District of approximately $900,000, saying that Council had directed staff to try to find a way to return the money and indicated that this hearing represented the first step in getting that money back to the taxpayers.

Mayor Clark declared the Public Hearing open.

Councilman Stern explained that the issue originated as an attempt to identify a mechanism for the City to lawfully refund money that had sat dormant in an account for quite some time. He noted that there were many constraints on returning the funds, but that the staff recommendation appeared to be the legal means to achieve that goal.

City Attorney Lynch clarified that the City cannot actually refund the money but can allocate the funds to appropriate expenditures or provide a credit against the annual assessment.

Councilman Long advised that the genesis of this matter actually came about through Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz’s carefully scrutiny of the City budget and other financial reports, saying that a mechanism had finally been discovered to release those funds.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that while he may have identified the funds, it was Councilman Long’s diligence and persistence that brought the matter to this point.

Mayor Clark closed the Public Hearing.

Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to 1) Request staff to modify the Engineer’s Report prepared for the Citywide Landscaping and Lighting Maintenance District for fiscal year 2005-2006 to utilize a portion of the existing fund balance to maintain citywide traffic signals and safety lighting and thereby reduce the amount of the assessment that is levied against properties in the city for this cost; 2) Conduct a public hearing on the proposed levy and collection of assessments within the Citywide Landscaping and Lighting Maintenance District for fiscal year 2005-2006 and the Engineer’s Report as modified in accordance with No. 1 above; and, 3) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-68, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES MODIFYING THE ENGINEER’S REPORT, MAKING CERTAIN FINDINGS, AND CONFIRMING A DIAGRAM AND ASSESSMENT FOR THE 2005-06 FISCAL YEAR IN CONNECTION WITH THE CITYWIDE LANDSCAPING AND LIGHTING MAINTENANCE DISTRICT PURSUANT TO THE LANDSCAPING AND LIGHTING MAINTENANCE ACT OF 1972, PART 2 OF DIVISION 15 OF THE CALIFORNIA STREETS AND HIGHWAYS CODE.

The motion passed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Gardiner, Wolowicz, Long, Stern, Clark

NOES: None

Reso. Nos. 2005-69 and 2005-70: Proposed Storm Drain User Fee (602 x 604)

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that late correspondence on the item had been previously distributed.

City Manager Evans provided the staff report with the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation.

Mayor Clark reported that the City had used a comprehensive team of expert consultants, in conjunction with the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) and City staff, to determine the proposed approach to financing the City’s infrastructure renewal program. He requested that Director McLean introduce the team who worked so diligently on this project.

Director McLean introduced the City’s consulting team: Consulting Engineer Joan Cox, of Harris and Associates; Financial Advisor Jim Fabian, of Fieldman and Rolapp; City staff members: Accounting Manager Kathryn Downs; Senior Administrative Analyst Gary Gyves; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Senior Engineer Ron Dragoo; Assistant City Attorney Robin Harris, of Richards, Watson & Gershon; City Attorney Carol Lynch; and, City Manager Les Evans; and, expressed his gratitude to Bob Nelson, Gina McCloud, Becky Clark, and the other members of the FAC.

Mayor Clark, noting this particular item had a fairly uniquely structured Public Hearing process, advised that the first matter of business would be the adoption of the corresponding resolution.

City Attorney Lynch indicated that Council had previously directed staff to maintain as much privacy as possible during the mailed ballot election process, saying that the City Clerk had retained all protests as confidential items pursuant to that direction and they would now become matters of public record upon commencement of the Public Hearing.


The motion carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Stern, Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Clark

NOES: None

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that 12,492 notices were mailed to affected property owners on May 6, 2005 in addition to notice being duly published on June 4, 2005 and that a total of 55 written protests had been received to date.

Councilman Gardiner queried how many written protests would be required to change Council’s direction.

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru responded that 6,246 plus one would be required.

Councilman Gardiner commented that in speaking to residents in the community most believed attempting to overturn Council’s direction would be a hopeless endeavor since it would be nearly impossible to accumulate enough written protests. He declared that he remained unconvinced that this method accurately reflects popular opinion on the subject.

Councilman Long questioned how protests were segregated from appeals.

City Attorney Lynch advised that any use of the word "protest" or anything received in writing appearing to challenge the process was counted as a protest even if appeal language was also included.

Councilman Gardiner inquired what percentage of residents was not being asked to pay the user fee.

City Manager Evans answered approximately 20 percent.

Councilman Gardiner, noting that there was some question about whether the School District would have to pay the user fee, asked if that matter had been resolved.

City Attorney Lynch advised Council that the Government Code contained a provision indicating that school districts could only be required to pay a fee if they agreed to do so, saying that, while the City can send notice requesting them to pay the fee, unless the school district agreed, the City had no legal ability to compel payment.

Councilman Gardiner queried if the information provided by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association citing a California Supreme Court case decision that required the school district to pay had been taken into account.

City Attorney Lynch answered that the legislature adopted Government Code Section 5499.3 in response to that case to clarify that municipalities did not have the ability to impose fees on school districts, reiterating that there was a provision in the law indicating that the school district must agree to pay the fee instead.

Councilman Gardiner questioned the accuracy of the estimated yearly revenue to be derived from the user fee, given the discretion of certain entities to pay or not.

Director McLean answered that staff had made it clear in each presentation and staff report that the City’s ability to collect fees from the school district and certain other agencies remained questionable.

Mayor Clark requested an explanation of why 20 percent of the City’s residents would not be required to pay the user fee.

City Manager Evans explained that many of the storm drains in the City emptied into a backbone system owned by the County of Los Angeles. He noted that a property owner living in an area that did not drain into a City-owned facility would not required to pay the fee, saying that the fee would only be required of those making use of the City’s drainage system.

Councilman Long advised that he was one such property owner whose property did not drain into the City’s system and, as such, would not be required to pay the fee. He noted that those residents who nonetheless wished to contribute to the program could do so, as he had, and donate $86 directly to the City’s Enterprise Fund, saying that he was recently informed that another civic-minded member of the City had also contributed for her properties. He encouraged other residents whose properties could not be assessed to make their contributions as well.

Councilman Stern, noting that the process being embarked upon was dictated by Proposition 218, inquired if the City had any ability to include and charge those residents who did not drain into one of the City’s storm drains.

City Attorney Lynch answered that the City did not have that authority because those residents were not being provided a direct benefit or service from the proposed user fee.

City Manager Evans further noted that because they were not using a City facility, these residents could not be charged the fee.

Councilman Stern stated that Proposition 218 also mandated that only those property owners who ultimately would be required to pay the fee were allowed to vote on the matter. He reported that the proposed ordinance contained language requiring that each fiscal year commencing in 2007 the City Council will conduct a public hearing and determine whether to collect the storm drain user fee for the upcoming year and, if so, the rate, taking into account the current and projected revenues of the City, including but not limited to property, sales, and transient occupancy taxes. He stated this was a critical component of the proposed user fee because it meant that every year during a publicly noticed meeting Council would have to decide, based on the state of events at that time, whether to maintain the fee, reduce it, increase it a maximum of two percent, or repeal it altogether.

Mayor Clark remarked that within the City there were communities with private streets and storm drains. He inquired whether property owners would be subject to the user fee if their private facilities drained into a City-owned facility.

City Manager Evans answered that these properties were using the City’s facilities if their private facilities drained into a City-owned facility and, therefore, would be subject to the user fee.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz noted that a number of people had responded in support of the proposal, saying that he was surprised to learn that those in favor outnumbered those opposed by two to one. He commented that some of those residents who voiced no opposition did, however, request a recalculation of their fee, saying that those revisions appeared to be related to the size of the parcels.

Director McLean explained that shortly after the notices were mailed out, several residents with larger parcels informed staff that they believed the calculation overstated their impervious coverage and consequently their user fee, saying that staff responded by performing an actual calculation of the impervious percentages for residential parcels over three quarters of an acre and, based on those calculations, the fees on 280 parcels were reduced. He noted that every residential parcel in excess of three acres in addition to the approximately 125 non-residential parcels had already undergone an actual calculation of their impervious percentage.

Mayor Clark asked how confident staff was in the sampling process used to calculate the user fees and impervious factors for smaller properties in light of the results of the actual impervious calculations performed on the larger properties.

Joan Cox indicated that sub-consultants were hired to examine the sampling for those impervious percentages, saying that approximately 1,000 out of 10,000 residential properties were sampled and a recommendation was provided on how to stratify them based on area and median counts. She advised Council that the ranges were fairly wide due to the large variety of property sizes encountered but noted that staff believed the sampling was statistically accurate and far more precise than the data included in the L.A. County Public Works’ Hydrology Manual. She further explained that because median calculations were used, 50 percent of the properties would be higher and 50 percent lower, saying that this was simply the nature of median calculations.

Councilman Stern inquired if staff had a sense of how close the deviation was from the median in each category, noting the fee per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) was roughly $86 and asked if the tendency was to go from 100 down to 70.

Joan Cox reported that staff could not make such a determination without examining each individual parcel.

Councilman Gardiner remarked that he was aware of an individual who complained about a $200 calculation, which was subsequently revised down to $68. He cautioned that care should be taken when using the word "median" in place of the word "mean," saying that there could be a considerable variance in the results of each statistical methodology.

Ms. Cox concurred.

Councilman Gardiner commented that according to the Howard Jarvis group, the burden of the current number was on the City rather than the residents and inquired if staff was confident that the City had satisfied that burden.

City Attorney Lynch responded that no methodology was going to be perfect, saying that the City’s consulting team provided a system which staff believed was acceptable, especially given the fact that there was an appeal mechanism built in to allow property owners to point out suspected errors so that the City could make the appropriate corrections, if necessary, and adjust the fees accordingly.

Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:50 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:04 p.m.

Mayor Clark declared the Public Hearing open.

Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, voiced support of the storm drain user fee, saying that it was the most equitable method because it was based on a property’s contribution to runoff; the revenues from the fee were restricted to a specific use and could not be diverted unlike a parcel tax which went into the City’s General Fund; the fee was limited to a two percent per year maximum increase after a public hearing was conducted; the fee could be reduced if projected expenditures were lower or additional revenue became available; the dedicated funds would allow the City to borrow money cost effectively for projects that exceeded available revenue; and, there was an automatic sunset of the user fee upon completion of the program. He concluded by stating that no formula was perfect but rather perfection was a pursuit that would go on forever while the problem continued to worsen.

John McTaggart, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke in favor of a parcel tax, saying that everyone used the roads so everyone should be required to pay to repair the City’s storm drain system. He suggested waiting three to five years when revenue from other projects would begin to filter into the City, saying that no consideration had been given to the income that would be generated by the Long Point resort hotel and the Ocean Trails golf course. He stated that by implementing a parcel tax at that point additional revenue would be available and not as much parcel tax money would be required to meet the projected costs. He noted that roads were the single largest component in the flood control plan, saying that by exempting some properties when all residents use the roads placed an unfair burden on those required to pay. He remarked that Council had spent an excessive amount of money on programs to market the user fee, saying that those residents who were not allowed to vote on this and objected to the large amount of money being spent on this type of "education" had no recourse except in casting their votes for Council members in November and were disenfranchised in the meantime. He declared that because there was no reasonable sunset on the fee, every property owner in the project area would be saddled with all the expense and had absolutely no recourse. He questioned whom the exempted residents would turn to when their storm drains fail and opined that the formula used to calculate the fee inherently made no sense. He proclaimed that the storm drain user fee was essentially a tax and was unfair to most of the City’s residents.

Jon Cartwright, Rancho Palos Verdes, speaking on behalf of the RPV Council of Homeowners Associations (CHOA) as its President, commended Council for tackling the City’s deteriorating storm drain system, saying that CHOA was pleased a process had been undertaken which would allow property owners to vote on a proposed user fee to help repair and maintain that system. He advised Council, however, that when a show of support was requested at a recent meeting to recommend that Council continue this process, not a single hand was raised, noting that the major concerns were lack of a sunset clause, which made the fee unacceptable to most CHOA members; difficulty understanding how the fee estimates were calculated; and, questions regarding the accuracy of those estimates. He stated that the consensus was that there was a definite need to move forward and repair the infrastructure but not with an open-ended fee in perpetuity. He requested that Council reconsider the issue of a sunset clause, suggesting a five-year sunset with an option for renewal by the voters, saying that, if it was impractical because it would eliminate the City’s ability to borrow, providing a sunset provision at the 10th, 15th, or 20th year. He stated that CHOA believed a sunset clause would give the voters a voice in designing the program, making make it more palatable to the residents. Addressing the complexity of the fee calculations, he suggested that including a diagram showing how the fee was calculated would make it easier to understand. He concluded by urging Council to adopt CHOA’s recommendations of establishing a sunset clause and simplifying the fee presentation so residents could better comprehend the process and have a better assurance that the fees were fair and accurate.

Jack Downhill, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he supported repairing the City’s storm drains. He opined that because everyone in the City would ultimately benefit, directly or indirectly, all should be required to pay an equitable share, noting that whether one resided in a condominium or a mansion, everyone enjoyed the benefit of not having sinkholes, flooding and mud flows. He opposed the user fee because only 80 percent of the City’s property owners would be taxed; the tax would be in perpetuity; and, even after revisions, the fee calculations did not accurately represent the amount of runoff contributed since the impervious percentages did not account for gutters and downspouts nor whether the property was up or down sloped. He asserted that streets, rather than individual properties, comprised the greatest percentage of impervious area in the City, saying that it was probable that streets accumulated more than half of the storm drain water. He objected to the money spent to "define, spin, and sell" this item, saying that those funds certainly could have been put to better use. In conclusion, he stated that he would place infrastructure behind only police and fire as a priority item, saying that, if the City had reserves funds, they should be used for this purpose.

Ernest Strauss, Rancho Palos Verdes, reminded Council that Proposition 13 was adopted by an overwhelming vote of the general public many years ago, saying that since then it was being chipped away bit by bit and property taxes had gradually been increasing for one reason or another. He agreed that the infrastructure needed repair but asserted that the current proposal placed a great burden on many senior citizens in the community. He strongly urged Council to either call for a general election or involve all property owners in the City because everyone would benefit and be affected by it to some degree.

Becky Clark, Rancho Palos Verdes, current Vice-Chair and former Chair of the FAC, reported that it had taken three-and-a-half long years and over 50 public meetings to bring the issue to this point. She urged Council to proceed with the storm drain user fee mailed ballot and adopt the resolution. She advised that two-and-a-half to three years earlier, the first iteration of the financing alternatives matrix was presented to Council, saying that many reiterations of that matrix had been developed since that time and the team had explored every financing alternative. She opined that the current proposal was the most equitable way to proceed. In response to comments about a sunset clause, she stated that she would be willing to support such a provision if it were 30 years in duration. She indicated that five years was not workable for a variety of reasons, saying that it was very difficult to plan five years of capital improvement projects; projects would be completed in only one portion of the City; and, if another emergency such as San Ramon Canyon or Tarapaca Canyon were to occur, the City would be unable to effectively borrow against a fee with a five-year sunset. She advised Council that storm drain improvements were an extremely important issue statewide, noting that ACA-13, a bill pending at that time before the legislature, would take storm drain user fees out of the procedural steps under which they were currently governed and place them in the same category as sewer and water fees. She indicated that the bill was designed in response to the huge problem of pollution control and storm drains within the State and was expected to pass fairly easily, saying that this could dramatically change the process, making it akin to Council’s implementing a storm drain user fee immediately after this hearing if no majority protest were received.

Carol Sefchek, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that she agreed with the need for storm drain repairs but disagreed with the source of money to pay for it. She noted that 2,800 people did not receive a notice because their properties did not utilize the City’s storm drain system and would not be asked to pay, saying that according to that same argument, she should be excluded from paying the school fees because she had no children. She opined that as public servants Council had refrained from using the word "tax," but that was essentially what the user fee was -- a tax. She displayed a tea bag as a historically American symbol of protesting wrongful taxation.

Beverly Ackerson, Rancho Palos Verdes, voiced support for repairing the storm drains but objected to the user fee having no sunset provision, saying that she believed a sunset was necessary to allow public review of the program as it moved forward. She opined that requiring only certain people to pay the fee would cause friction among RPV’s residents and would divide a community that had always worked together. She queried why revenues from the golf course and hotel projects were not being considered to fund some of the expense and suggested that a mail ballot might not be a good idea because there was always the risk of receiving the mail too late to be counted. She concluded by urging more study of the entire process, saying she was not convinced the user fee was the best method in the long run but at least it should be further explored and fine tuned rather than going to a vote at the current time.

Ian MacDonald, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated he and his wife did not object to the storm drain user fee, but did take issue with the way the fee was being assessed for their property. He indicated that he was not aware he needed to submit a written objection, saying that he would put it in writing forthwith.

City Attorney Lynch indicated that Mr. MacDonald could submit his objection on a speaker slip, saying it could then be counted that evening as a written protest.

Ken DeLong, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke in favor of the storm drain project, saying that he had great confidence that Director Allison and his staff had developed a reasonable program for maintaining the City’s storm drains. He noted, however, his opposition to the user fee as presently constructed. He asserted the matter should have received much higher priority, saying that storm drains were a need not merely a want; that the issue had been known about for quite some time; and, that after police and fire, infrastructure should be the City’s next priority. He faulted various Councils for funding needs rather than wants in the past, saying that he understood the annual funding for the Point Vicente Interpretive Center would be around $250,000. He inquired whether it might be more appropriate to find a different funding source for the PVIC, saying that, while it was nice, he wondered how many citizens would prefer that the money be spent on storm drains instead. He made the same observation regarding the money Council had spent on the acquisition of the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve.

Bob Nelson, Rancho Palos Verdes, introduced himself as a FAC member and advised Council that the FAC had voted unanimously to move forward with the storm drain user fee as proposed, noting that he personally favored a higher fee because this was a crucial problem which needed to be addressed promptly. He asserted that the current proposal provided the most equitable method of fee calculation and noted there was a sunset in the form of the annual City Council meeting on the matter.

Charlie Shriver, Rancho Palos Verdes, agreed that timely maintenance and repair of the storm drains was a necessity and that the cost should be equitably shared by the City’s residents, however he believed that the proposed method was not fair nor logical. He reminded Council that the Portuguese Bend community currently paid for maintenance and repair of its roads and canyons which served as their storm drains, noting that the dewatering wells, for which they also paid, dramatically reduced the damage to Palos Verdes Drive South by greatly slowing the landslide thereby saving the City a substantial amount of money for additional road repair. He stated that the assumption that unimproved parcels did not contribute storm water runoff was erroneous; indicating that during heavy rainfall runoff from large parcels of undeveloped land flowed onto his driveway, through his property, and into Alta Mira Canyon carrying with it his gravel pads and garden vegetation. He noted that residents including homeowners, renters, and owners of vacant land all enjoy the use of the City’s roads and storm drain infrastructure to a more or less equal extent. He opined that the fee should not be based on the size of one’s house and the impervious area of their property, saying that if vacant land was exempt, vacant land surrounding a house should also be exempt.

Tim Kelly, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted that many of his comments had already been addressed, saying that there definitely appeared to be a trend in those remarks concerning the equity of the user fee and the issue of a sunset. He questioned what impact the approximately 280 appeals already received were going to have on the average if the fees for those parcels were reduced, saying that all the City’s residents should equally pay no more than absolutely necessary and that a sunset clause should be included.

Jim Moore, Rancho Palos Verdes, speaking on behalf of the Pacific View HOA, commented that, although the City had been discussing this issue for approximately four years, only about 10 percent of their HOA members were aware of it and many did not understand the basic fundamentals. He reported that most of those people believed there was a problem that needed to be fixed, saying that the underlying question remained as how to accomplish it in a fair and equitable manner. He advised Council that their membership of 384 homes firmly would not support the user fee without a sunset clause. He indicated that the argument that not having a sunset would cause a problem in the event the City needed to borrow funds was questionable because many citizens did not agree that borrowing was prudent in the first place. He urged Council to move forward to fix the problem but to include a sunset clause and implement a uniform and simple fee.

Barry Anderson, Rancho Palos Verdes, commended Council, staff, and everyone else involved for doing a remarkable job in addressing a major problem. He opined that those opposed to the user fee are taking a rather simplistic view of what it had taken to arrive at this point. He disagreed that any subterfuge or "spin" was employed to cloud or shade the issue and urged his fellow citizens to vote in favor of the issue, saying that the storm drains needed repair and the assessments were really not that onerous.

Kay Finer, President of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, speaking on their behalf, voiced support for the proposed RPV Water Quality and Flood Protection Program. She declared that continued storm drain failures had the potential to negatively impact the business community, noting the cost of preventive work would be significantly less for everyone than having to perform work under emergency conditions. She urged Council to work with business owners to reduce the fees as much as equitably possible.

William Nickel, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed confusion over two seemingly contradictory statements: that all homeowners whose property drained into a City-maintained storm drain would be charged a user fee and, if the property did not, no fee would be assessed. He advised Council that Rockinghorse Road was located on a ridge between two canyons and, while he was not aware of any City-maintained storm drains within their homeowners association, 159 homes in that association received notice of the proposed user fees. He reminded Council that Rockinghorse Road was a private street and statements made at a Community Leaders’ Breakfast earlier that year indicated that the City would not maintain private roads. He stated that he recognized the benefit everyone received from adequate storm drains throughout the City but did not believe that their community should be charged if there were no drains that would not be maintained by the City in their neighborhood.

With no further speakers wishing to comment, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that 3 additional written protests had been received during the hearing, bringing the total to 58.

Mayor Clark reminded all property owners that this represented the final occasion to submit a written protest, saying that anyone wishing to do so should take advantage of this opportunity prior to the final tabulation.

Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 10:02 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 10:12 p.m.

Mayor Clark closed the Public Hearing and advised that one additional written protest was received during the break, bringing the total number to 59. He turned the matter over to Council for discussion.

Councilman Stern thanked everyone who spoke and submitted correspondence on the item, saying that he appreciated the input. He reported that staff realized there was a problem with the City’s storm drains approximately a decade earlier, saying that there appeared to be unanimous agreement there was a problem that needed to be fixed but there was concern about how best to finance this critical necessity. He remarked that during his tenure on Council there had been sinkholes, canyon failures, mudslides and flooded homes. He advised the audience that the repair to San Ramon Canyon cost $3.4 million with $2.7 million coming out of the City’s reserves, and that work was still being done to correct the sinkholes on Western Avenue although it appeared that the City would not have to bear the entire financial burden. He asserted that the proposal was a good and equitable program into which a soft sunset had been already been included in the form of a requirement that the City Council examine the fee every year, evaluate the remaining need for repairs and the revenue streams available at that time, and then make a determination whether to retain the fee at its current level, increase it consistent with the two percent Proposition 13 maximum, reduce it, or repeal it. He remarked that he was sensitive to the fact that many people mistrust elected officials, stating for that reason he would be willing to propose a 30-year sunset.

Councilman Stern explained that a parcel tax would be substantially less equitable, saying that this type of tax was extremely regressive and posed serious concerns for homeowners because an equal amount was assessed on each parcel regardless of its value or use. In response to criticisms about the user fee compared with a parcel tax, he indicated that Proposition 218 dictated that a user fee must be allocated by benefit and that only those being asked to pay the fee be allowed to vote on it. He stated that, while there was a logical argument for every major issue being decided by the registered voters in the City, it seemed far more equitable to put this vote only to those who would ultimately be required to pay for it. He observed that everyone had seen the results of ignoring this need, saying that pipes did not rust through as a result of one rainy season but were a long-term consequence of deferred maintenance and that the problem would continue to worsen if not addressed. He stated that when staff brought forward plans to address the storm drain deficiencies and the associated costs, Council opted not to include Priority 3 projects and to lengthen the duration of the program to 30 years in order to complete those projects deemed most necessary, while attempting to balance the cash flow and reduce the burden on the City’s residents. He reported that the most pressing needs appeared to be on the east and south sides of the City, saying that, if the 30-year period was shortened, the practical impact would be that residents citywide would be paying for something that would benefit relatively limited areas. He explained that, in order to attack the problem in a meaningful and equitable manner, a sufficient period of time was necessary to address all the identified projects.

Councilman Stern indicated that another attribute of having a sufficiently long program was that a dedicated income stream with an adequate timeline would allow the City to borrow at exceedingly low rates in the event of an emergency. He maintained that significant inefficiencies would be created if the period were shortened, especially to some of the time frames suggested by the public speakers that evening, because it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to complete all the necessary projects within those time frames. He followed up on the recommendation to utilize future hotel revenue as the funding source for this program by reminding Council that the first entitlement for the Long Point project was granted in the early ‘90’s, but times turned bad and that hotel project was never built. He noted that, while everyone was extremely optimistic about the current entitlement on the property, the bottom line was that the City would probably not receive any revenue from this project for many years to come. He further remarked that the resort hotel industry was exceedingly volatile and was likely to provide a revenue stream that would fluctuate from year to year.

Councilman Stern concluded his remarks by saying that, if the City was to embark on this critical capital improvement program, he did not believe gambling on the volatility of Transient Occupancy Tax revenues would get the job done. He reminded Council that

General fund revenue could be spent on anything this or any subsequent Council chose, but a user fee restricted the money to a very specific purpose, not allowing it to be diverted for another use, and guaranteeing that the projects would be completed. He reiterated that the program had been designed to require Council to conduct a public hearing every year to evaluate the need for the fee and its amount; that the sitting Council would then have the ability to reduce the rate or repeal the fee if TOT or another revenue stream became available. He proposed that Council adopt the program with a 30-year sunset.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz questioned whether staff had any response to the concerns posed by Mr. Nickel, the Rockinghorse Road resident.

Director Allison recommended that Mr. Nickel come talk to the staff in the Public Works Department, saying that it may well be that his property drained directly into a private drain before ultimately going into a public one but he would rather not speculate on the matter without first checking the City’s records.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that a very long road had been traveled to reach this point, noting that he was on the FAC in 2000 when this item was initially presented. Regarding concerns about this matter being rushed, he stated that the first financing matrix identified 13 different proposals, which were subsequently whittled down to the most meaningful, with initial cost figures ranging from $20 million to $40 million. He reported that staff assembled a group of qualified professional consultants to work with the FAC, which ensured the cumulative knowledge of many individuals to explore the issue and furnish advice to Council. He noted that the most difficult issue then and now was the concept of fairness, saying that everyone agreed there was a problem and the remaining question was in determining the most equitable approach. He reminded his colleagues that an initial $4 million expenditure had already been made that winter when Mother Nature emphasized the urgency and importance of addressing the problem. He indicated that he generally opposed taxes but recognized that the City needed to take action promptly and had no other source of revenue.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz addressed the projected hotel revenue by noting it may be his conservative fiscal tendency, but he did not count money before it was in the bank. He noted that when the hotel project first came to the City, there was a request for a nine-hole golf course and a projected opening date of 2004 at which point it would begin generating revenues, saying that, while he agreed there was now a developer with great potential, they too, had moved their starting construction date back a year in a relatively short period of time. He reiterated Councilman Stern’s observation that the hospitality industry was going to be dependent on economic cycles and the amount of revenue the City received would fluctuate.

Councilman Wolowicz mentioned that there had been a lot of discussion about "needs" versus "wants" and the issue of priorities, saying that in his estimation the primary role of municipal government was to provide protective services, followed by infrastructure. He stated that it was significant to note that the current Council’s predecessors had done a very good job in establishing a 50% General fund reserve policy; that the City had finally reached that goal, but based on the revenue and expenditure estimates currently available, the General fund reserve would be slightly below the 50% level in five years. He noted that the issue of a sunset clause had troubled him greatly, saying that he had overcome his concerns by recognizing the urgency of the need to repair the City’s storm drain system and the fact that the user fee could only be used for this very specific purpose. He maintained that the importance of the City’s ability to borrow in an emergency was also a factor, saying that with no apparatus in place between the current time and when additional revenues may become available, the City could dip well below its General fund reserves policy level and would be prohibited by statute to spend on other items.

Councilman Gardiner thanked staff, the FAC, and everyone who worked so diligently on this item, noting that he appreciated the fact that it had involved a tremendous amount of work. He commented that he also appreciated that for the first time Council was being provided with an opportunity to listen to the City’s residents on this issue, saying that it was refreshing because they were ultimately the ones paying the bill. He noted that the residents had made it clear they could probably agree with the user fee if it was properly implemented and also, nearly unanimously, that they believed a sunset was necessary, saying that whether Council, staff, or the consultants believed that made sense, the residents certainly did.

Councilman Gardiner asked how much the Priority 1 projects totaled.

Senior Engineer Dragoo answered approximately $9 million.

Councilman Gardiner stated that it made sense to him to design the user fee in such a way that it provided $9 million to fund the Priority 1 projects with a sunset at that point to stop work, check the progress of the program, ensure that things were being done correctly and that the cost estimates were right. He explained that by doing the most urgent projects initially and then having the fee sunset upon their completion, the timing would be right for the City to determine if and how much revenue was going to be generated by the hotel. He declared that he took a dim view of the presumption that there would be emergencies in the future but no hotel revenue, saying he does not believe that was a reasonable assumption.

Councilman Gardiner asked if staff had any estimate of how long it would take to complete the Priority 1 projects.

Director McLean replied that based on the rate model used to develop the $86 ERU, the Priority 1 projects would be completed on or about the 23rd year of the program.

Councilman Gardiner questioned why it was projected to take 23 years to fund $9 million of Priority 1 projects at $1.3 million per year.

City Manager Evans responded that the projection included $20 million worth of projects - $4.6 million of storm drain lining, which was not included in the Priority 1 category, along with maintenance and other costs. He indicated that he believed the total amount was actually $34 million over 30 years in 2005 dollars which included all Priority 1 and 2 projects, the lining projects, maintenance, additional staff, and other related costs. He explained if only Priority 1 projects were done with no lining, no staff hired, and no maintenance performed, the cost was approximately $1.3 million in six years.

Accounting Manager Downs noted that the McCarrell Canyon project was actually a Priority 2 project, saying that the Priority 1 projects were halted in order to address McCarrell Canyon and would need to be resumed later on, which was why completion of the projects was extended out beyond 20 years.

Councilman Gardiner inquired if McCarrell Canyon was included in the $9 million figure.

Accounting Manager Downs answered that McCarrell Canyon was not included in that number.

Councilman Gardiner remarked that he sensed a 20-year sunset was not what the people paying the bill had in mind, saying that it appeared they would be willing to tolerate something more akin to seven years. He indicated that he could support a proposal providing a sunset of perhaps five to seven years, saying that would afford enough time to make reasonable progress on the Priority 1 projects then allow an opportunity to review things and determine how much revenue the Long Point hotel was generating. He remarked that his focus was always to consult with the residents, noting that he did not hear a single representative of the RPV Council of Homeowners Associations voice support for the user fee without a sunset and that Council would be well advised to craft something that would engender enough support for passage.

Councilman Long recalled in an earlier meeting Councilman Gardiner expressed concern that fees and decisions were being based on survey results and that Council should determine the correct solution regardless of public opinion, saying that, if it were true then, it was equally true now. He stated that he understood that many people favor a sunset and he could be persuaded that a 30-year sunset was reasonable. He indicated that he did not support a parcel tax for the same reasons so eloquently stated by his colleague. He proclaimed that RPV was actually a relatively poor city, saying that, while it was wealthy in terms of its citizens and volunteer services, the City received only $363 in revenue per person per year compared to the statewide average of $1,208 and, unlike the average city, RPV was located in one of the most expensive counties and had a low population density and a large amount of infrastructure.

Councilman Long noted that the City may indeed have some new revenue sources available in the future but indicated that he believed it was often safer to make conservative assumptions. He asserted that it might seem unreasonable to assume the City would have no new revenue and an abundance of emergencies but that was exactly what had happened in recent years. He noted that even if the Ocean Trails golf course added a quarter of a million dollars to the City revenues in a year, even if the Long Point hotel generated additional proceeds and even if the proposed user fee passed, the City would still receive less than half the revenue of the average California city. He advised his colleagues that the City’s recently approved budget would spend $750,000 more than was being taken in, saying that for obvious reasons this approach could not go on indefinitely.

Councilman Long declared that from the beginning he had disapproved of the idea of segregating the storm drain projects into priorities, favoring instead an approach that would solve all the City’s drainage problems. He noted that Priority 3 projects had been dropped from the program and now there were those advocating dropping Priority 2 projects as well. He indicated that he could accept eliminating the Priority 3 projects, which presented no danger to streets and structures regardless of how long they were neglected, but that Priority 1 and 2 projects presented a very different scenario. He reminded Council that McCarrell Canyon, which caused so many problems in the recent past, was classified originally as a Priority 2 project because it was believed to pose no immediate threat, saying that was a good faith judgment that turned out to be a mistake. He explained that Priority 1 and 2 projects were defined as those where property and streets were threatened, saying that the only thing that separated the two categories was a judgment call as to when there was going to be a failure, which was a concept he was uncomfortable with. He also maintained that storm drain lining should not be delayed.

Councilman Long advised his colleagues that the City would be relying on unpredictable hotel revenue if it decided to pay for a 30-year program with a five- or seven-year fee because that was the only other additional revenue source in the foreseeable future and no one knew exactly what those figures will be since the only certainty was a developer’s financial projection. He contended that this revenue source would be unreliable and would gyrate up and down wildly, saying that because of this volatility, he would prefer to use those funds for "wants" rather than "needs."

Councilman Long proclaimed that the proposed program in fact included a sunset by allowing Council to repeal or suspend the user fee year by year. He indicated that a shorter sunset would eliminate the City’s ability to borrow against it; that there would not be enough money, even for known problems; and, that the City would become dependent on revenues from a single hotel controlled by a single developer. He reminded the audience that RPV was forced to fight developers in court to establish its independence and right to exist. He noted some had suggested the City adopt a spending program that made it dependent for essential infrastructure repairs on a single developer, saying that he would rather the City not rely on such a funding source for providing essential services to its residents.

Councilman Long stated that he was pleased to hear the FAC Vice-Chair mention the possibility of the passage of ACA-13 but noted that there were also bills proposed from time to time which might make it more difficult for new user fees to be passed. He opined that imposing an automatic, short-duration sunset left open the possibility that a new State law would be passed requiring a two-thirds majority, making it even more difficult to set a new fee in the future. He stated that even a 30-year sunset carried some risks, most notably that it was exactly the amount of time predicted to raise just enough money for known projects and inherently contained the presumption that nothing else would go wrong in the meantime. He indicated that he hoped that first assumption was correct if that was the direction the City was headed, quoting former Mayor Dyda that "Let us remember, no formula is perfect; perfection is a pursuit that merely goes on forever while the problem continues to worsen."

Mayor Clark observed that his colleagues basically articulated very thoughtfully and constructively all the points he, too, would express, saying that for him there were three fundamentals components to this discussion: need, equity and fairness, and decision. He indicated that from his perspective the need was overwhelming, saying there was no question that the City should move forward with a comprehensive revitalization of its storm drain infrastructure. He reported that he had attended a number of homeowners association meetings on this topic and had heard virtually unanimous affirmation of that fact, noting that the citizens expected Council and the City to move forward proactively to solve the problem.

Mayor Clark agreed that there was probably no perfect solution, saying the most pressing question was how to implement the program equitably and fairly. He opined that the best alternative appeared to be the one his colleagues also supported – the user fee. He indicated that it was Council’s decision to approve the user fee but ultimately it was in the hands of the affected property owners to affirm or reject that decision by their action on the mail ballot. He advised that when he joined the Council, he made a commitment to partner with the community in decision making, saying that a mail ballot election on the storm drain user fee exemplified that commitment by allowing the affected property owners to make the final decision.

Mayor Clark voiced his support for a decision in favor of a storm drain user fee. He indicated that on the issue of a sunset he was persuaded that there was an absolute need to have a sunset from the community’s standpoint, saying that the remaining question was the best length of time for that sunset.

Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to adopt the proposed storm drain user fee with a 30-year sunset.

Councilman Long moved, seconded for discussion purposes by Councilman Gardiner, to amend the motion by deleting the sunset provision.

Councilman Stern agreed there were reasons not to have a sunset, saying his proposal to include one was in response to residents’ concerns regarding when the program would end. He indicated that a 30-year sunset would ensure the completion of Priority 1 and 2 projects, saying that he could not, in good conscience accept, a shorter period than he knew was necessary to get the job done. He indicated that it was difficult for Councils to spend General fund revenue on things that were hidden underground, saying that, if the public was convinced they would get what they needed if this Council placed a sunset that fell short of the projects that needed to be completed, they would likely be very disappointed when future Councils failed to recognize the continuing and unseen need for storm drain projects. He contended that, if the fee was in place for 30 years and TOT revenues from the hotel were realized, the residents could direct Council to use that revenue to pay down the user fee each and every year and the projects would still get done.

Councilman Long indicated that he would reluctantly go along with a 30-year sunset in the event his amendment failed, saying that he wanted it to be known that he opposed a sunset because 30 years from now when there were new problems with the storm drains, he would be on record as supporting the notion that the City needed and deserved something more than the absolute bare minimum solution to this problem.

Councilman Long’s amended motion failed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Long

NOES: Stern, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Clark

The discussion returned to Councilman Stern’s motion.

Councilman Gardiner, stating that he had listened very carefully to the President of CHOA, who indicated that not a single representative in their organization supported the user fee without a sunset and that he interpreted that to be an indication that a sunset closer to 10 rather than 30 years was desired. Therefore, he proposed to amend the motion to include a 10-year sunset with the understanding that Council could review and renew the process, if necessary, at the time the initial fee expired.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz seconded Councilman Gardiner’s amended motion for discussion purposes.

Councilman Stern maintained that some of the projects would inherently be eliminated if the time period were reduced. He reminded his colleagues that all residents who drain into the City’s system were being asked to bear the burden citywide, saying the reduced time period would not provide citywide benefit unless the projects were completed out of order without regard to the actual need. He remarked that people have angrily asked why these repairs were not budgeted and completed in the past, noting that a ten-year timeline basically would create the exact same problem in the future and he would firmly oppose any period less than what was necessary to complete the job.

Councilman Long agreed that Councilman Gardiner was probably right in suggesting that what residents meant by a sunset was a relatively short time period and the shorter the better because they did not want to pay any additional fees or taxes in the first place. He noted that people had asked him about the City’s reserve fund for infrastructure repair and that he had to tell them that the City had no such fund and that, even with this proposal, there still would not be one, but at least the known drainage problems would be addressed.

Mayor Clark noted that Councilman Gardiner accurately summarized as part of the rationale for his amendment to the motion that CHOA found no support for the proposed user fee without a sunset provision among its 22 homeowners associations, saying that he did not pick up a specific time horizon as much as a clear message that they could not support a storm drain user fee without a sunset. He remarked that Council members had clearly focused on a 30-year period, which coincided with the term of the identified projects and inquired if there was any room for a compromise of perhaps a 20-year sunset.

Councilman Gardiner commented that the preponderance of homeowners associations seemed to favor a maximum ten year sunset, noting that he did not hear anyone say they did not want to pay, but that they wanted a mechanism built into the program to check in and see if any midcourse corrections might be needed. He opined that a 30-year sunset provided no opportunity to check on things, saying that the sunset was not being advocated to cease work on the projects but rather to pause, examine things, and discuss them with the people paying the bill. He suggested that, since the City had until March 2006 to send the mail ballots out and still begin collecting the revenue on the 2007 property tax bill, it might be prudent to continue the matter and ask the residents exactly what they meant by a sunset rather than Council’s arguing semantics.

Councilman Long reiterated that performing a survey to decide how to make this decision was not the correct way to proceed, saying that Council needed to determine how best to proceed then educate the public on what was necessary. He opined that the only rational sunset was one that matched the length of the repair program. He contended that a compromise had already evolved, saying that he initially favored a fee that was three times higher with no sunset and Councilman Gardiner staked out a position favoring no new fees or taxes, and a reliance on transient occupancy taxes. He noted that a very sensible compromise had been formulated, declaring that he had come off his original position and he was finished compromising.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated that Councilman Gardiner previously stated he could agree with reducing the amount of time and raising the fee, noting he had to look no further than Version 8 of the program to find a 25-year projected time line with everything remaining virtually the same except a change from 30 to 25 years for a roughly $14.00 difference per ERU.

Councilman Gardiner characterized his position differently. He stated that public policy involved engaging the stakeholders, saying it was a wise and useful approach when dealing with the public and asking them for money to indicate a recommendation with some alternatives and then discuss things with them. He indicated that it made sense to pay attention when those stakeholders made it patently clear they disagreed with a specific aspect of a proposal, noting that he did not hear them object to the fee or fixing the storm drains but he did hear them say they would like a periodic check on what was being done so, in the event something in the process needed to be fixed, the City would have a chance to fix it.

Mayor Clark contended that he had not heard anyone say they were looking for an opportunity to check up on things, reiterating that he had heard a number of constituents say they wanted a sunset; that they did not want a tax in perpetuity. He reminded his colleagues that there was a mandatory review already built into the process and every year an opportunity to suspend, repeal, or reduce the fee, noting that was why he believed it made sense to implement a 30-year sunset – one which fits the list of projects. He remarked that a shorter duration for the user fee would create the situation where more projects would be located in certain parts of the City than in others, raising the question of whether the user fee could be assessed citywide when it benefited properties located basically in one area; and, that it would not allow the City to borrow effectively in the event of an emergency. He noted it was for these reasons that he had suggested a middle ground of a 20-year sunset, which would complete many of the projects, although not all of them.

Councilman Long stated that he did not believe there could be a middle ground with a short sunset, noting that three members of Council were from the east side of the City which was older, had more Priority 1 projects, and would be done first; two members were from the west side which had fewer high-priority projects and would be done last. He declared that, in all fairness to the community at large, the projects should be completed citywide and that would only happen if a 30-year program were implemented. He remarked that the only other way to fairly distribute the projects would be to take them out of logical order, doing some of the lower priority ones on the west side first. He indicated the Mayor Pro Tem came up with something he could live with when he suggested increasing the ERU and fully funding everything in 25 years, saying that the concept of cutting off the program in the middle when it was evident that the work on the front end would primarily benefit one side of the City versus the other was certainly not fair or equitable.

Councilman Gardiner’s amended motion to include a 10-year sunset provision failed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Gardiner

NOES: Wolowicz, Long, Stern, Clark

Mayor Clark turned the discussion back to Councilman Stern’s original motion to adopt the proposed storm drain user fee with a 30-year sunset provision.

Councilman Long urged Councilman Gardiner’s support of the motion, saying that they were both uncomfortable with a sunset, albeit for very different reasons, but their colleagues had crafted a compromise which although perhaps not the optimal solution was certainly justifiable in the long run and in the best interests of the City.

Councilman Gardiner voiced appreciation to Councilman Long for his request but deferred, saying that it was Council’s job to represent the public and he did not believe the 30-year sunset Council was considering was what the public wanted.

The motion to adopt the proposed user fee with a 30-year sunset moved by Councilman Stern and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Stern, Long, Wolowicz, Clark

NOES: Gardiner

City Attorney Lynch suggested reintroducing the ordinance introduced several meetings ago with the following changes: Correct an error on the publication dates and include a new section to the ordinance which will state: "New chapter to the Municipal Code 3.44070 Duration - unless repealed previously by the City Council pursuant to Section 3.44020G1 the storm drain user fee imposed by this Chapter shall expire on June 30, 2037 and shall not be levied by the City during any subsequent fiscal year."


The motion carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Stern, Clark

NOES: Gardiner


The motion carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Wolowicz, Stern, Long, Clark

NOES: Gardiner

Mayor Clark entertained Council’s closing comments on the matter.

Councilman Gardiner thanked his colleagues for a thoughtful and thorough discussion as well as the many courtesies extended to different points of view.

Councilman Stern thanked Councilman Gardiner for his valuable comments and input.

Councilman Long echoed Councilman Stern’s thanks, noting that Councilman Gardiner had a tremendous amount of influence on his final decision. He explained that he certainly never intended to suggest in his concluding comments that Councilman Gardiner do anything other than vote his best conscience and judgment.

Mayor Clark advised the audience that with this action those property owners who would be subject to the City’s proposed storm drain user fee would be given the opportunity to make the final decision on this matter.

Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 12:09 a.m. and reconvened the meeting at 12:17 a.m.

A discussion ensued regarding how best to proceed with the remaining agenda items, with Council ultimately deciding to continue the meeting in the remaining agenda order.

Appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of a Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00087), for property located at 28129 Ella Road [Appellant: Moss and Associates, on behalf of Jamie Anvaripour] [Applicant: Stan Anderson, for AEG Architects; Property Owner: Jamie Anvaripour] (Continued from April 5, 2005) (1804)

Mayor Clark opened the Public Hearing.

Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to continue the item to July 19, 2005. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.

Appeal of the Pirates of the Caribbean Film Permit Conditions [Applicant: Second Mate Productions] [Appellants: Native Plant Society and Sierra Club] Project Location: Lower Filiorum Property (202)

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that notice of the public hearing was duly published and all written correspondence received on this item was previously distributed to Council.

Assistant to the City Manager Gina Park presented a summary staff report.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz inquired whether any specialists would be involved in monitoring the film shoot and, if so, who was responsible for paying for their services.

Assistant Park responded that a biologist would be on site to monitor any brush clearance or weed abatement activities and would be paid for by the film company. She indicated that the film activity area was completely located within the current weed abatement boundaries of the exemption program and the access road was also included as part of the required annual weed abatement.

Councilman Gardiner indicated his understanding that the movie company intended to leave the area in a condition that was equal to or better than its current condition.

Assistant to the City Manager Park agreed that was their intent and the way the film permit was conditioned.

Councilman Gardiner stated that he wanted to make certain the concerns of the Sierra Club and the California Native Plant Society were satisfactorily addressed.

City Attorney Lynch advised Council that the project was subject to the requirements of CEQA, but noted that it could qualify as one of the exemptions if the City required the grade of the access roadway to be reduced to a maximum of 10 percent.

Mayor Clark declared the Public Hearing open.

Laura Sode-Matteson, Location Manager for Disney, advised Council that City staff had been extremely diligent and thorough in requiring that Disney address all concerns, saying that she believed they had now all been met. She expressed uncertainty regarding the 10 percent grade requirement for the access roadway, saying that she would have to consult with their engineer on that point. She indicated that denial of their permit would set their production schedule back significantly, noting that they had a great deal invested in this project and did not expect to be standing before Council at the eleventh hour, having begun the process far in advance. She stated that they had received many positive responses from the neighboring community and noted that the project would provide some revenue for the City.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz queried how wide an area was encompassed when speaking with the surrounding residents.

Ms. Sode-Matteson responded that the filming area was adjacent to the Portuguese Bend Homeowners Association; staff had provided them with a map indicating which residents required notification; and that all neighbor identified by the City had received notification. She also explained that the property was approximately 300 acres in size, but the proposed activity would be located in the center of that area and was not close to any residences.

Councilman Stern questioned the implications of reducing the grade of the access roadway to 10 percent grade and inquired whether staff believed that this would create problems for the film company.

Director Rojas explained that the requirement meant that the road would likely have to be rerouted in order to reduce the grade, making it less direct. He indicated that staff did not foresee this posing any problem as long as it remained within the same weed abatement area, noting the analysis had yet to be performed.

Barbara Sattler, representing the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), indicated that they were quite concerned about potential habitat impacts on the site, saying that they found a number of flaws with the original biological study on which the weed abatement permit was based. She stated that this represented another project for which they received no notification despite the fact that it was applied for in February, saying that lack of disclosure was particularly disturbing. She remarked that while they appreciated that staff had changed some of the conditions on the project, there were still problems with the project, such as the fact that this was the second project occurring on the same site, resulting in cumulative impacts; staff had wrongly assumed that there were no sensitive species on the site based on an inadequate biological report; the conditions the City biologist placed on the weed abatement project were designed to protect potentially sensitive species that may be on sit, which is why the property owner was required to mow the site and conduct a follow-up survey to ensure that if sensitive species were present that they would be adequately protected. She noted the biologist likely assumed there would be no further activity on the site when he wrote the conditions, saying that the current proposal for filming involved much more intensive activity taking place on the property, i.e., grading, large-scale brush clearance as required by the Fire Department, movement of heavy equipment, and a high level of noise and activity over nearly two months.

Ms. Sattler noted there was nothing in any of the documentation mentioning impacts on cactus wrens which were reported in the biological study as being on the site and suggested that the City needed to focus more broadly than just on gnatcatchers when these projects arise. She indicated that they were also very concerned with impacts to native plants and professed staff’s claim that the film permit was exempt from CEQA was in error. She cited excerpts from Class 4 Exemptions, specifically that the Filiorum site had been identified and mapped in the NCCP Sub Area Plan as a regionally important habitat linkage; that exemptions must be qualified by a consideration of the project’s location; that a project which was ordinarily insignificant in most locations may be significant if its proposed to take place in a particularly sensitive environment, indicating that she believed that to be the case in a regionally important habitat linkage; and, that exceptions were inapplicable when the cumulative impacts of successive projects of the same type over time was significant. She advised Council that repeated impacts of this sort were going to degrade the native vegetation, increase weeds, and drive away sensitive wildlife, making these CEQA exemptions inapplicable under this circumstance. She declared that there would be long-term biological impacts from these types of repeated uses of this site, saying that was in large part the basis for their appeal.

Bob Nelson, Rancho Palos Verdes, inquired what code, regulation, or error was made in granting the original permit, saying that when that question was answered, then the appeal could be considered. He reminded Council that staff had found the proposed project to be a minor temporary use of land, which had no adverse effects on the environment and urged Council’s denial of the appeal as the appropriate course of action.

Dana Ireland, Rancho Palos Verdes, advised Council that he resided at 1 Sea Cove Drive, which was adjacent to the proposed film site, saying that he was very concerned about the project for several reasons. He stated that, while the staff report indicated that all adjacent property owners were contacted and had indicated their support of the project, he had recently found out about the project quite by accident. He remarked that he and his wife supported filming activities but were concerned about the logistics of this particular project. He indicated that an abundance of equipment would be moved onto the site by heavy trucks on an unimproved road directly across from his residence and in the middle of his view, saying that he did not know what the road would look like, how long it would be there, and what the detriment to his property would be. He suggested that Narcissa Drive, a paved improved road which provided direct access to the site, should be used rather than creating a new unimproved road to accommodate semi-trucks traveling up a steep hill, saying that he was legitimately concerned that if one of these trucks malfunctioned it could come shooting across Palos Verdes Drive South, causing serious danger. He questioned the decision to create a new road when an adequate one already existed.

Kay Finer, representing the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce, voiced the Board’s support for this film production, saying that staff appeared to be supportive of the process, that the film company had gone through the permit process, completed their due diligence, followed all the guidelines and, most importantly, they intended to fully restore the site shortly after the filming was completed. She reminded Council that there were economic benefits to filming in RPV, including tax revenue and the collateral benefit provided to a number of services and businesses within the community.

Tim Kelly, Rancho Palos Verdes, a resident in one of the neighborhoods impacted by the proposed filming activity, stated that the film company representatives contacted him directly and made quite a positive impression. He noted that they had performed surveys for endangered species on the property and had agreed to pay for everything, saying that the project would be good for the neighborhood, good for the City, and good for the State. He urged Council to deny the appeal.

Linda Kai, Assistant Location Manager for "Pirates of the Caribbean," introduced herself as a native Californian, saying that she valued and appreciated what was left of native California. She indicated that City staff had gone to great lengths to protect the community and provide information to Council, saying that the film company had covered every gamut of the City’s requirements for the permit and would continue to treat the City and its residents in the most consummate and professional manner possible. She reported that their production company would have a monitor on site as well as employ Sheriffs and fire safety services. She responded to the letter from the Sierra Club by noting that the only thing mentioned therein which might be endangered was some cactus on the periphery of the property. She urged Council’s denial of the appeal, saying that this project could serve as a very good template for the future.

Michael Kelly, Deputy Director of the California Film Commission, professed that film production was a very clean, non-polluting industry that sustains thousands of jobs for California, generated money for small businesses throughout the state, and generated tax revenue. He advised that, as film projects begin to film outside the state with increasing frequency, California stood to lose a vital industry that had supported its economy for years. He stated that the industry looked forward to working with local communities to create a balance that would satisfy everyone.

Ms. Sattler maintained that claiming the site could be restored after the film’s completion might be true if the site were not a biologically significant area. She contended that heavy vehicles would cause soil compaction and she did not believe this type of area could truly be restored to its previous biological level or that the impacts would only be temporary. She noted that one of the representatives even described this project as a "template," saying that she feared this would become an ongoing use of the property, which would undoubtedly have lasting ecological impacts.

Mayor Clark requested staff’s response to Ms. Sattler’s comments.

Councilman Long also requested staff’s comments regarding Mr. Ireland’s concerns.

Director Rojas advised Council that Narcissa Drive was a private roadway and the film company had not been granted permission to use this roadway to access the property.

Councilman Gardiner queried whether film company representatives had actually attempted to gain access on Narcissa Drive.

Ms. Sode-Matteson reported that, while the Portuguese Bend Homeowners Association had no objections to their filming, they did indicate they would not allow use of Narcissa Drive because of the presence of children and horses and the fact it had always been maintained as a private roadway.

Councilman Gardiner inquired if there might be some other way to address Mr. Ireland’s concerns.

Ms. Sode-Matteson apologized to Mr. Ireland, saying that they were informed recently that his residence was not part of the adjacent homeowners association, which was why he did not receive advanced notification.

City Manager Evans remarked that it seemed impossible to imagine that a truck could get loose, run down the road and across the street into Mr. Ireland’s property. He suggested the Council might want to conduct a site visit to gain a better understanding of the situation.

Councilman Stern noted that the sections of the property designated for the staging area, vehicle parking, and trailers appeared to be located on the old Pony Club site, which was graded and leveled long ago. He inquired if staff was aware of any habitat in that area.

Director Rojas advised Council that the sensitive habitat areas were located to the south of the areas mentioned by Councilman Stern, saying that staff knew this was not an area where coastal sage scrub was located based on the weed abatement maps. He indicated that the disturbance related to the film activity, including the brush clearance, was all encompassed in the proposed weed abatement area directed by the Fire Department, noting that staff had nonetheless imposed a condition that the area be inspected by qualified biologists who would walk the site to determine that there were no sensitive species present.

Mayor Clark closed the Public Hearing.

Councilman Long stated that he was not persuaded the habitat impact was significant. He noted that Ms. Sattler’s concerns regarding this type of use having a significant impact might be well founded if repeated uses of this kind were permitted in the future. He observed that Council was faced with an application for this specific use only and it appeared to be temporary and would have minimal impacts. He mentioned that it seemed likely there might be temporary undesirable impacts to Mr. Ireland’s property.

Councilman Stern directed staff to focus on possible engineering solutions to minimize any risk in the event the grading condition required a redesign or relocation of the road.

City Attorney Lynch advised Council that staff did not want to unnecessarily exacerbate the grading by requiring additional switchbacks, which would cause further impacts and expand the project. She suggested including an additional condition requiring that all actions related to the film permit be confined to the areas of the subject property where weed abatement was previously approved by the Council.

Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to deny the appeal and uphold the conditional film permit, as amended.

The motion passed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Stern, Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Clark

NOES: None

Mayor Clark remarked that, while he was very sensitive to the concerns raised in the appeal by the Sierra Club and the California Native Plant Society, he could not support the appeal based on the preponderance of evidence presented.

Councilman Gardiner directed staff to review the points made by Mr. Knight in his correspondence to the Council regarding the City’s procedures for film permits.




Appointment of Emergency Preparedness Committee Members (106 x 401)

Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to appoint Charlotte Iseda, Tim McCully and Timothy Weiner to the Emergency Preparedness Committee. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.

Council members voiced congratulations to the appointees.

Reso. No. 2005-71: Extension of NCCP Lobbyist Contract (1203)

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that the contract extension, in and of itself, was not significant, saying that Council was faced with this exact item sometime ago at which point he requested a report on the matter. He remarked that he remained perplexed as to exactly what services Mr. Caves provided the City. He noted that he understood that the City had the very best lobbyist in the state for this particular project but, given the amount of time this process had taken, he would prefer not to see another $60,000 being requested again in 12 months. He indicated that he would support this item for three months, contingent on staff monitoring progress on a monthly basis to determine that the City was actually getting what it needed from the lobbyist.

Director Rojas explained that Mr. Caves had direct access to relevant decision makers, noting without his contacts the City would simply be another agency in a long line of others requesting money from the State. He indicated that the State was likely to proffer the City a commitment of nearly $12 million as a result of that access, saying that staff and the Land Conservancy believed it was imperative to maintain the lobbyist team until the money was in hand, which was expected to happen sometime that fall.

Councilman Long stated that, in his experience, a consultant typically charged an hourly rate and one could account for the time they had put in and what had been accomplished. He declared that he found it somewhat troubling that the City was paying for access rather than time and questioned whether it was necessary to continue paying for that access once an application had been submitted and the proper authorities were made aware of it. He cautioned that the entire decision-making process came into question if the City continued to pay a fee to a private individual month after month in order to gain access to state government. He stated that he understood the value of having someone with the necessary experience and contacts to provide that service initially but at some point in time raised the specter of paying for influence. He remarked that he shared some of the Mayor Pro Tem’s concerns, adding that he was prepared to go along with this request one more time without further explanation, but if it came up again he would certainly take a harder look at the request.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz directed staff to relay his concerns to Mr. Caves and to require his firm to provide the City with monthly progress reports.

Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to 1) Extend the consulting agreement with Conservation Strategy Group (Joseph Caves) through September 2005, with the consultant to provide the City with monthly progress reports; and 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-71, APPROVING A $15,000 BUDGET APPROPRIATION TO COVER THE COST OF THE EXTENDED CONSULTING AGREEMENT.

The motion passed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Stern, Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Clark

NOES: None

Award of Contract for Services to Prepare an Environmental Impact Report for the Crestridge Estates Senior Housing/Senior Center Project (701)

Ken Dyda, President of Peninsula Seniors, thanked the Council and staff for moving the EIR process along, saying that it had been a great help to them in planning the location of their Senior Center project.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to authorize the Mayor and the City Clerk to sign a professional services agreement in an amount not to exceed $142,730.50, with RBF Consulting, to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Crestridge Estates Senior Housing/Senior Center project on property located at the northwest corner of Crestridge Road and Crenshaw Boulevard. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.

Reso. NO. 2005-72: Mira Vista Speed Hump Project (1502 x 1204)

Mayor Clark questioned how the speed hump locations were ultimately determined.

Director Allison answered that the locations were based on considerations such as location of driveways, intersections, and flat sections of road, saying that the residents were provided with an opportunity to review and comment on their positioning and to sign a petition based on that information.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz inquired what prompted the decision not to use slotted speed humps.

Director Allison responded that the choice to use the traditional speed humps was made in response to the Fire Department’s concerns and the expressed preference of the residents. He indicated that staff would be conducting a before-and-after study and would compare how the traditional speed humps performed in comparison to the slotted speed humps.

Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 1) Approve the Plans and Specifications for the construction of the Mira Vista Speed Hump Project for the construction of twelve speed humps; 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-72, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005-06, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY’S TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PROGRAM; 3) Awarded a Construction Contract to Sully-Miller Construction Company in the amount of $45,380, for the Mira Vista Speed Hump Project; award a contract to Charles Abbott and Associates, Inc., for Construction Inspection services in an amount not to exceed $5,000, and authorize staff to spend up to $10,000 for possible extra work; thereby approving a $60,380 construction budget; and 4) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a construction contract withSully-Miller Construction Company and execute a contract for construction inspection services with Charles Abbott Associates.

The motion passed on the following roll call vote:

AYES: Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Stern, Clark

NOES: None

City Council Meetings, Workshops and Events (307)

Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner to, continue the item to July 5, 2005. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.

Status Report Regarding Construction Issues at 2 Yacht Harbor Drive (1203)

Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to Continue the matter to July 5, 2005. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.




City Attorney Lynch reported that Council 1) Unanimously approved participation in the Monrovia appeal with the fee not to exceed $10,000; and, 2) Gave unanimous direction to the negotiating parties to pursue purchase of the Upper Filiorum property.


Mayor Clark formally adjourned the meeting at 1:29 a.m.





City Clerk