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Staff Coordinator: Ara Michael Mihranian, AICP, Senior Planner
Conduct a pre-screening workshop on the proposed Marymount College Facilities Expansion project and provide Staff and the Applicant with any input on the issues to be analyzed as part of the formal application review process.
On June 12, 2003, Marymount College submitted Zoning Case No. ZON2003-00317 (CUP No. 9 - Revision “E,” a Grading Permit, and a Variance Permit) to the Planning Department to consider modernizing the existing College campus. The proposed project involves the renovation and expansion of existing buildings, the construction of new academic and student housing buildings, and the relocation and reconfiguration of recreational facilities, athletic fields, and parking facilities. The current project was submitted to replace an original application submitted to the City in 2000 (CUP No. 9 Revision ‘D’). The applicant withdrew the original application in order to revise the project design to address information ascertained from new geotechnical studies, as well as concerns raised by Staff during the preliminary review phase of the project in 2003.
On August 21, 2005, the planning application for the Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project (CUP No. 9 Revision ‘E’ et. al) was deemed complete for processing. Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the City (lead agency) has one year from the date the application was deemed complete to prepare and certify the project’s EIR (August 20, 2006). As such, the state mandated CEQA review for the proposed Marymount College Facilities Expansion is underway.
As part of the CEQA process, the Planning Commission held two scoping meetings with the Traffic Safety Commission to receive public comments on the environmental issues to be analyzed in the DEIR for the proposed project. The scoping meetings were held on December 13, 2005 and January 10, 2006. The comment period on the Initial Study (IS) and the Notice of Preparation (NOP) ended on January 13, 2006. The comments received were transmitted to the City’s EIR consultant (RBF) who is currently preparing the Draft EIR document.
Marymount College is located at 30800 Palos Verdes Drive East within the southeastern portion of the City, at the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive East and Crest Road. The College is situated on an approximately 24.57-acre site that overlooks the southern tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean. The subject site is designated as an Institutional (I) zoning district and generally consists of an improved/developed area located at the northern portion of the property and vacant areas located along the property’s south-facing slope and westerly area. The northern portion of the property consists of buildings, parking lots, paved areas, tennis/basketball courts, a soccer field, and ornamental landscaping. The south-facing slope and westerly area is unimproved and is seasonally cleared of vegetation. The subject site is bordered on the north and west by single-family residential neighborhoods. The areas situated south and east of the site contain single-family residential neighborhoods and natural lands.
Purpose of the Pre-Screening Workshop
The pre-screening workshop is intended to provide a forum for back-and-forth dialogue between the applicant and City decision makers so there’s a clear understanding of the proposed project, the City’s review process, and the project issues. The workshop provides an opportunity for City decision-makers to provide preliminary, nonbinding feedback to staff and the applicant as to what issues will be of critical concern before the project moves forward through the formal review process. Specifically, the purpose of the pre-screening workshop is to:
1. Maximize opportunities for meaningful public review of the proposed project, at the earliest feasible time, for the guidance of both the project applicant and the City decision makers;
The project applicant agreed to participate in the voluntary pre-screening workshop between the City Council and the Planning Commission as an opportunity to receive input on the project proposal. It should be noted that the purpose of the pre-screening workshop is not to formally consider the application or get into the detail of the merits of the project. Moreover, nothing in the procedure for the pre-screening meeting shall be construed to constitute, permit, or result in any binding determination about the project of the rights, interests, or entitlements of the project applicant, or any interested person or party.
Format of the Meeting
Staff envisions the pre-screening workshop to follow a similar format as a regular public hearing in that Staff will provide a brief presentation on the proposed project followed by public comments. It should be noted that the applicant intends to give a presentation that will involve a visual illustration of the proposed project. The applicant’s presentation will likely take 10-15 minutes. At that point, the Council may wish to hear comments from other members of the public, including a neighborhood organization, referred to as Concerned Citizens Coalition / Marymount Expansion (CCC/ME). At the conclusion of all the public comments, the City Council and the Planning Commission may then wish to provide comments and feedback to the applicant and staff.
For the benefit of facilitating the pre-screening workshop, the following discussion is divided into three sections. The first section encompasses a detailed explanation of the proposed project, the second section lists the issues related to the proposed project, and the third section lists the requested development applications. An estimated timeline on processing the project applications can be found under the “Additional Information” section of this Staff Report.
1. PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The existing College campus consists of 92,268 square feet of floor area. According to the applicant’s proposal, the project involves the demolition of approximately 18,022 square feet of existing floor area and the construction of 139,008 square feet of new floor area, including expanding 14,916 square feet of existing buildings. The proposed development would result in a total of 210,254 square feet of campus floor area, representing a net increase of approximately 117,986 square feet of floor area to the 92,268 square feet of existing floor area, as outlined in the table shown below:
Specifically, the project involves the following:
Additions to Existing Buildings
- Auditorium/Fine Arts Studio. A 1,869-square foot, one story art studio is proposed to be added to the south side of the existing auditorium building. This structure will be 17-feet in height, as measured from the lowest finished floor elevation (925-feet) to the roof ridgeline (942-feet).
- Faculty Office Building. The proposed addition to the existing 7,346-square foot faculty office building involves 7,455 square feet of new floor area for a total area of 14,801 square feet. The addition consists of a classroom, storage, and lounge area that would connect the faculty office building to the academic building on the first floor and create new faculty offices and conference room space on the second floor. The proposed addition would connect with the existing roof of the building and would be constructed at a height of 28 feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (912 feet) covered by structure to the top of the highest roof parapet elevation (940 feet).
- Student Union (Bookstore/Faculty Dining Addition). The proposed addition to the existing 18,158-square foot Student Union building involves 3,492 square feet of additional floor area for a total area of 21,650 square feet. The proposal consists of a 1,496-square foot bookstore addition on the first floor and a 1,996-square foot faculty dining area on the second floor. The proposed addition would be constructed at a height of 30 feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (913 feet) covered by structure to the top of the highest roof parapet elevation (943 feet).
- Administration/Admissions Building. A total of approximately 2,100 square feet of floor area would be added to the existing 9,450-square foot administration building, resulting in a total floor area of 11,550 square feet. The proposed addition includes a remodel of the existing façade, as well as the interior layout of the building. The primary entrance to the building would be on the north side, opening onto a plaza with a fountain. This plaza would provide a connection to the redesigned parking lot. The proposed improvements would be constructed at a maximum height of 25-feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (926 feet) to the top of the highest roof ridgeline elevation (951 feet).
Construction of New Buildings
- Library. A new 26,710-square foot library and lecture hall would replace the existing 4,072-square foot library that connects to the existing academic building. The proposal also includes a partial remodel of the facade of the existing academic building. The proposed improvements would be constructed at a height of 44 feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (912 feet) to the top of the highest roof ridgeline elevation (956 feet).
- Maintenance Building. A 1,975-square foot maintenance building is proposed north of the proposed athletic facility.
- Athletic Facility. An athletic facility is proposed at the western facade of the existing Student Union building. The facility would be two-stories, totaling 33,243 square feet. The building would include a gymnasium, locker rooms, weight room, aerobic room, classroom area, concessions area, and outdoor terrace. The proposed addition would be constructed at a height of 45 feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (896.75 feet) covered by structure to the top of the highest roof parapet elevation (941.75 feet). The athletic facility has been designed to be notched into the grade in order to provide a low profile relative to the surrounding grade and to be no taller than the existing Student Union building.
Because the modernization plan calls for only an upgrade of existing athletic facilities and not an expansion of the number of the facilities or fields, the College does not anticipate any significant increase in the number of athletic events, participants, or spectators.
- Residence Halls. The proposed residence halls consist of two interconnected, two-story buildings totaling 58,504 square feet and a 660-square foot Gallery on the lower level between the residence halls. The buildings would include a total of 128 rooms that would house 250 students plus two adult supervisors (total of 252 occupants). The buildings contain lounge space, laundry facilities, activity rooms, and prayer/meditation rooms. The proposed buildings would be constructed at a maximum height of 44 feet, as measured from the lowest adjacent finished grade elevation (886 feet) covered by structure to the top of the highest roof parapet elevation (930 feet). Emergency vehicle access to the residence halls would be provided along the pedestrian walkway that connects to the parking lot on the east side of the campus.
- Gallery. A 660-square foot gallery is proposed on the lower level between the residence halls; see above.
In addition to the proposed structures described above, the project involves the relocation of the existing athletic courts and fields from the eastern portion of the campus to the western portion of the campus, closer to Palos Verdes Drive East. Furthermore, the existing parking lot area would be relocated and reconfigured to accommodate 463 parking spaces, which increases the number of existing parking spaces by 120 spaces. In terms of grading, 84,000 cubic yards of earth movement is proposed to accommodate the proposed development on the project site. The proposed earth movement consists of 47,000 cubic yards of cut and 37,000 cubic yards of fill, with approximately 10,000 cubic yards of export to an off-site location, which will be identified when the DEIR is prepared. In regards to the operation of the College, attached to this Staff Report are excerpts from the applicant’s project binder that summarize the College’s proposed operations (see attached).
2. ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED/ANALYZED
Staff has identified a number of issues that will be evaluated as part of the formal review process for the proposed project. The list of issues derives from public comments received during the scoping hearings, information contained in the Initial Study, and Staff’s preliminary review of the project plans. The following is a list of crucial issues relating to the processing of the project applications:
- Traffic / Circulation
These issues, and any other issues, related to the proposed project that may come up during the review process will be addressed as part of the Planning Commission’s consideration of the project applications, which is discussed in the following section. Additionally, many of the issues related to the project will also be analyzed in the EIR that is currently being prepared.
The pre-screening workshop provides an opportunity for Council Members, Commissioners, or public speakers to raise any additional issues that they believe should be analyzed when the project is formally considered by the Commission, and potentially the City Council.
The proposed project requires the processing of three planning applications: a Conditional Use Permit, a Grading Permit and a Variance. The three planning applications will be considered by the Planning Commission at a future public hearing. Pursuant to the City’s Development Code, the Planning Commission has the final approval authority for the application package. Therefore, the application would only be heard by the City Council if the Planning Commission’s decision is appealed. The three planning applications requested are listed and summarized below:
- Conditional Use Permit No. 9 Revision ‘E’ – The applicant is requesting a revision to the existing Conditional Use Permit to allow the College facilities to be expanded and to modify the operation of the College.
- Grading Permit – In order to prepare the subject property for the proposed development, the applicant requests a grading permit to allow 84,000 cubic yards of earth movement.
- Variance – A Variance is requested by the applicant to allow the residence halls, tennis courts and portions of the parking lot to be constructed on an extreme slope (slopes that are 35% or greater) and to allow a reduction in the 150-foot parking lot setback requirement from the western residence hall.
Upon review of the submitted project applications, it was determined by Staff that the project would require the preparation of an EIR. The first step of the CEQA process is to complete an Initial Study. On November 17, 2005, the Initial Study (IS) and Notice of Preparation (NOP) informing the public that a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will be prepared for the proposed project was released to the public. The purpose of the NOP/IS is to provide public agencies and the general public an opportunity to comment on what should be evaluated in the forthcoming DEIR. Copies of the NOP/IS were mailed out to interested persons, and are available for viewing at City Hall, Hesse Park, the local libraries and the City’s website.
According to CEQA, the public comment period for the NOP/IS shall be at least 30-days during which time the City may elect to conduct a scoping meeting. However, as discussed at the Joint PC/CC meeting on October 22, 2005, in order to provide the public with ample opportunity to provide feedback on the College’s NOP/IS (particularly because the NOP/IS comment period falls within the holiday season), the public comment period for the College’s NOP was extended from 30-days to 57-days (November 17, 2005 through January 13, 2006). Additionally, two public scoping meetings to receive comments on the NOP/IS were held. The first scoping meeting was held on December 13, 2005 before the City holiday break, and the second scoping meeting was held after the City holiday break on January 10, 2006. The Traffic Safety Commission was invited to join the Planning Commission to hear public comments on both dates.
The City’s EIR consultant is now in the process of preparing the Draft EIR. As noted in the project timeline below, it is expected that the Draft EIR will be completed and made available to the public sometime in April 2006. At that time, the Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to receive comments on the Draft EIR. At this time, it is estimated that said hearing will occur on May 23, 2006.
Attached is a tentative project schedule for the completion of the project EIR. Furthermore, below are the anticipated dates for the various public hearings on the project application and EIR (The dates provided are tentative only, and unless the events have already occurred, are subject to change ):
- December 13, 2005 – PC Scoping Meeting No. 1
A public notice announcing the date and time of the pre-screening workshop was published on January 21, 2006 in the Peninsula News. Additionally, a public notice was sent to property owners within a 500-foot radius of the project site, interested parties, and list-serve subscribers. At this time, no public comments were submitted to the City. Any public comments received after the transmittal of this report will be provided to the Council at the meeting.
Proposed Project Plans
The project plans are enclosed for the Council’s information (the Planning Commission previously received the project plans as part of the agenda packet for the scoping meetings). Additionally, the architectural and grading plans are available for public viewing on the City’s website. A plan that overlays the existing site plan to the current proposal is also available on the City’s website. Those who do not have Internet access or the appropriate program software can view these plans at the Planning Department at City Hall.
Joel Rojas, AICP
ATTACHMENTS – the following documents can be viewed at City Hall
- Initial Study