RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR JOINT CITY COUNCIL/
TRAFFIC COMMITTEE MEETING
SEPTEMBER 10, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 9:44 A.M. by Mayor Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Traffic Safety Commission:
PRESENT: Klein, Lewis, Mevers, Parfenov, Willens, Chair Shepherd (Commissioner Wright joined the meeting in progress at 9:56 A.M.)
Also present were City Manager Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru; City Attorney Lynch; Director of Public Works Allison; Traffic Engineer (Wildan) Rydell; Public Works Senior Engineer Dragoo; Sheriff’s Department Captain Zuanich; Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Creason; and, Minutes Secretary Mooney.
Captain Zuanich of the Sheriff’s Department led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Clark requested a moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Mayor Clark welcomed the Traffic Safety Commission and the leadership of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station to the workshop.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru informed Council of the late correspondence that included proposed additions to the agendas, one for the open session and one for the closed session.
Councilman Long requested that the closed session item regarding litigation be considered last because, as he intended to recuse himself from that item because his firm represented some of the parties involved.
City Attorney Lynch stated that, to add the items referenced by Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru to the agenda regarding the open space purchase, a unanimous vote by the City Council would be required. She explained that the reason this item was added after posting of the agenda was due to a need to extend the purchase agreement between the City and the landowner. She stated that there was a need to take immediate action because the extension must occur before expiration of the agreement on September 15, 2005, which was when escrow was scheduled to close.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to add on an emergency basis the extension of the purchase agreement of the Portuguese Bend property to the closed session agenda.
The Motion to add an emergency item to the closed session agenda was unanimously approved with the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru informed Council that the non-urgent addendum to the regular business portion of the City Council agenda regarding Hon Purchase Agreement was posted in compliance with the 72 hours requirement.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz to approve the Agenda, as amended. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
1. Lomita Station Deployment of Resources
City Manager Evans explained that the purpose of this item, as well as the other items under Regular Business, was to stimulate discussion and did not require any action. He explained that the Sheriff’s Department would build on the presentation it made at the City Council Budget Workshop on May 31, 2005. He explained that, at that meeting, Captain Zuanich presented a report on the management of the City’s law enforcement contract with the Sheriff’s Department. City Manager Evans explained that the presentation described how Lomita Station used its forces, how it billed the City, how much flexibility it could provide and the types of actions the Sheriff’s Department could take on behalf of the City if the Council wanted to emphasize different aspects of public safety. Mr. Evans explained that Captain Zuanich and his staff had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to provide statistical information and help initiate the discussion of the Sheriff’s contract.
Captain Zuanich introduced Sgt. Paul Creason and traffic investigator Deputy Reece Souza, who were prepared to answer questions regarding traffic issues; Lieutenant John Herrera who could answer questions regarding deployment and budget; Sgt. Dave Rozas who supervised the Reserve Deputies and the CORE Deputies; and Deputy Cory Johnston, a CORE Deputy who could explain their duties.
Captain Zuanich explained that he had met with Councilman Gardiner prior to the meeting, who suggested that Council needed information from the Sheriff’s Department to decide if there was anything that needed to be improved and, if so, how best to do it. He explained that, with that in mind, they prepared the presentation for this meeting.
Captain Zuanich began the slide presentation by saying that it would focus on traffic issues and any related pertinent information. The first slide reported on the number of traffic collisions during FY 2004/2005 and the time of day they occurred, as follows:
Shift Collisions Percentage
11:00 pm – 7:00 am 35 14% of Total
7:00 am – 3:00 pm 100 39% of Total
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm 121 47% of Total
Total 256 100%
Referring to an accident map of the City for FY 2004/2005, Captain Zuanich explained that the color-coded locations indicated the type of accidents, and said that most of the accidents in Rancho Palos Verdes were not injury accidents, but more commonly complaint of pain or property damage only. He explained that the color-coding also referred to the Reporting Districts within the City, which the Sheriff’s Department used in regulating the activities of the various patrol cars. He explained that the cars were restricted to their district except during an emergency when another unit needed backup in another district or regional city. For the benefit of the Traffic Safety Commission, Captain Zuanich explained that the Sheriff’s Department accounted for each deputy’s time in terms of “contract minutes” or 480 minutes for an eight-hour shift; and that everything the deputy did during that shift was logged into a computer in the patrol car, which was then compiled for the Reporting District. He stated that one of the requirements of the regional contract was that the Sheriff’s Department must maintain their contract minutes in each city between 98% and 102% over a one-year period.
Captain Zuanich introduced the next slide, which illustrated accidents on main arterial roadways and other streets with a preponderance of accidents. He reported the number of accidents during FY 2004/2005 on the following streets:
Hawthorne Boulevard 50
Palos Verdes Drive East 30
Western Avenue 28
Palos Verdes Drive South 15
Crest Road 12
Palos Verdes Drive West 9
Captain Zuanich referred to the next slide, showing 2,821 citations issued during FY 2004/2005 broken down by shift as follow:
Shift Citations Percentage
11:00 pm – 7:00 am 282 10% of Total
7:00 am – 3:00 pm 1749 62% of Total
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm 790 28% of Total
Total 2821 100%
Captain Zuanich noted that 47% of collisions occurred during the P.M. shift (3:00 pm to 11:00 pm), while only 28% of citations written during the P.M. shift, compared to 62% written on the day shift (7:00 am to 3:00 pm). He explained that the Station’s two traffic deputies both worked the day shift. He explained that the reason for that was that there were 15 schools within the regional and the Deputies must devote all of their time to being around the schools during the school year. Captain Zuanich explained that the citations were also broken down by Reporting District.
Mayor Clark commented that it appeared to him that the two areas where the greatest number of citations were written, on Hawthorne Boulevard and Palos Verdes Drive East, also correspond to the areas with the highest number of collisions.
Captain Zuanich continued reviewing the data on citations, pointing out that the violation categories included excessive speed (over 1,000), signs and signals (563), unsafe turning (420), failure to yield (15), safety belt violations (401), driving under the influence (5), and other non-hazardous citations (340). He explained that 1,211 citations were written during the six-month period from July 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004, commenting that it increased during the last six months by over 400 citations.
Mayor Clark stated that he concluded from the information provided by the Sheriff that people were traveling at higher speeds, since half of the citations issued were for excessive speed.
Councilman Stern commented that the change was clearly an issue, but noted that there was an absence of prior data.
Mayor Clark agreed that there was no prior data, but that the Council could conclude that there was a speeding problem.
Captain Zuanich reported figures relating to the Summer Operation Switchback (SOS) program on Palos Verdes Drive East as follows: 174 hours worked; 335—284 citations issued for speeding; 51 for equipment violations; and the citation distribution was 285 citations issued to cars and 50 issued to motorcycles. He added that 153 citations were issued to Rancho Palos Verdes residents, and 182 drivers were from other cities.
Captain Zuanich reported that Sgt. Creason asked the California Department of Motor Vehicles how many vehicles were registered in Rancho Palos Verdes. He referred to a slide and explained that the top section of the chart was factual and that he prepared the bottom section as a “guesstimate”. Captain Zuanich reported the following data received from the Department of Motor Vehicles:
Zip Code 90274
(Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates)
Vehicles Average Percent
Year Registered Difference Increase Increase
2005 26,209 1802 450 9.3%
Zip Code 90275
(Rancho Palos Verdes)
2005 37,521 2214 552 9.4%
Captain Zuanich reported that two traffic deputies had been assigned to this region since 1987. He explained that Deputy Cory Johnston, who had worked at the Lomita Station for 18 years, provided this information; and that Ruben Lopez indicated that he was the second Deputy Sheriff appointed to the position 17.5 years ago. Captain Zuanich then referred to his “guesstimate” and explained the methodology he used to arrive at an increase of approximately 11,000 registered vehicles, or 18.47%, between 1987 and 2005 and stated that he believed that his figure was probably low.
Councilman Long explained that when he moved to the City in 1973 there was only one zip code, and that his driver’s license still had a 90274 zip code in spite of his efforts to correct it. He stated that it was possible that one of his vehicles was still registered as 90274. As a result, he indicated that it was possible that the data, even in the factual portion of the slide, understated the actual number of vehicles in 90275.
Captain Zuanich concluded his presentation, saying that that the Sheriff’s Department tried to comply with Councilman Gardiner’s request for this type of data so that the Council could determine what, if anything, needed to be remedied and how to accomplish it.
Mayor Clark stated that, from the data presented, there had been a nearly 10% increase in the number of vehicles in the City over the last four years. He asked Captain Zuanich if the Sheriff’s Department had any estimate of whether this trend would continue based on statistics regarding new drivers, composition of household units, and people who would leave the driving population because of age.
Captain Zuanich stated that the Fire Department would probably have that information.
Mayor Clark suggested that there were two dynamics involved; 1) the cost of gasoline, and 2) the increasing number of high school students with cars. He suggested that with the finite number of roads, an increasing number of vehicles, and a tendency to speed, there would be more speeding in the future, more opportunity for collisions, and more traffic congestion.
Councilman Long suggested that an increased number of vehicles did not necessarily mean an increase in passenger miles traveled, and that it depended in part on the community’s demographics. He stated that, of the 37,000 vehicles registered in Rancho Palos Verdes, a large number of these cars appeared to be parked around Peninsula High School. He asked if there was any information available regarding the number of passenger miles traveled in the City.
Captain Zuanich responded that data on passenger miles was not available, but commented that while waiting in traffic to turn left on Palos Verdes Drive North, he and Deputy Herrera counted eleven cars with only one occupant.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz referred to the estimated 18.5% increase in vehicles since 1987 reported by Captain Zuanich, and stated that during that period the City lost a major source of traffic with the closure of Marineland. He stated that the City would now gain that back with the increase in traffic created by the hotel at Long Point, as reported in the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked if there had been any discussion about the increase in traffic from the hotel since the EIR was prepared.
Sgt. Creason responded that the Sheriff’s Department was aware that traffic from the resort hotel would be an issue, but that they were doing their best just to address the current traffic issues.
Councilman Stern stated that he shared Mayor Clark’s view that the community’s demographics would drive the traffic issues more than any other factor. He stated that the number of housing units in the community had not changed dramatically in over a decade, yet the student population in the late 1970’s and early ‘80s of 15,000 to 16,000 had dropped by almost 9,000. He explained that the demographics were such that the City had a peak number of vehicles for years when there was a large number of high school students attending three high schools. He noted that there were many people on the roads even though they were not driving great distances. He stated that for many reasons, including the economy and the housing market, the student population moved on and was not replaced, resulting in a decrease in the number of cars in the City. He stated that the Council knew that the number of vehicles has increased over the last five years based on the statistics; they also knew that there was an influx of younger families, as the economy and housing market changed over the last few years. He suggested that the number of vehicles per family had increased, although some of the registered vehicles may belong to students who were away at college. He stated that he thought that demographics were probably a better way to correlate the number of vehicles. Councilman Stern stated that he relied more on accident and citation statistics to help determine the problems and identify possible solutions.
Captain Zuanich explained that the study did not include the number of vehicles in the other Peninsula cities, or the surrounding cities such as Torrance and San Pedro, who used the streets on the Peninsula as well.
Mayor Clark commented that, in addition to the City’s residents, other factors such as new construction, home remodeling, deliveries, and domestic services generated additional traffic. He asked for observations and questions from the Traffic Safety Commission.
Chair Shepherd asked if there was any information on the optimal ratio of officers to vehicles that the City could use to determine enforcement needs as the number of vehicles in the community increased.
Sgt. Creason responded that he was not aware of any such ratio, but indicated that he would research the issue and report the results to the Traffic Safety Commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated that he would be interested in knowing what the coverage ratios were in other comparable communities and then coupling that information with the trends observed on the Peninsula to determine the appropriate coverage ratio for the City.
Councilman Long stated that, if he understood correctly, the majority of problems with speeding and accidents occurred on six or seven arterial roads and not within residential areas, and asked if that would be a fair statement.
Captain Zuanich stated that it would be a fair statement, except that the Sheriff’s Department continually received requests from the public for directed patrols on residential streets.
Councilman Long clarified that he was referring to the areas in the City where accidents were actually happening.
Mayor Clark clarified that that there was a lot of speeding in residential neighborhoods and that was not reflected in the statistics because these drivers were not receiving tickets.
Councilman Long suggested that, given the fact that the majority of accidents occurred on six or seven arterial roads, he felt that monitoring these roadways provided the best assessment of the City’s increasing risk of speeding, which was in turn posing the greatest danger of property damage and personal injury. He stated that this data would be of great interest to him and asked if staff had it available.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that in terms of volume, staff had taken numerous measurements on residential streets, but probably not on arterial streets.
Councilman Long asked for clarification that, even though they suspected that the traffic was getting worse on the arterials, the City did not have data available to confirm this.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that staff did not have the data at the meeting, but that staff could look through the City’s records for traffic counts that were conducted from time to time.
Mayor Clark referred to Captain Zuanich’s statement that the Station received calls for focused patrols in residential areas, and asked if he could share whether the calls were distributed equally or if particular neighborhoods made continuous requests for these types of patrols.
Sgt. Creason stated that the calls came from all three cities on the Peninsula; that in the last couple of months the Station had received approximately ten calls for Rancho Palos Verdes in the following locations:
Entire Mira Vista neighborhood
Palos Verdes Drive East
Hawthorne north of Vallon
Palos Verdes Drive South (near Wayfarer’s Chapel/Seacove Drive)
Stop Signs and Speed
Mt. Ranier/Bloomwood area
Vista Grande School
Captain Zuanich asked Sgt. Creason what time of day the complaints were received.
Sgt. Creason responded that most complaints were received in the morning and afternoon, during school and work rush hours.
Mayor Clark asked Sgt. Creason if the locations were listed in priority order.
Sgt. Creason replied that they were listed in random order.
Mayor Clark asked if there was a higher frequency in any of the complaints.
Sgt. Creason responded that there had been quite a few in the last few years on Palos Verdes Drive South, Hawthorne and Vallon, and that the schools called constantly; that they were all daytime issues, both in the early morning and the afternoon hours.
Chair Shepherd stated that traffic safety issues at schools should be high on the Commission’s priority list. She informed Council of the discussion at the August 22, 2005 Commission meeting regarding assigning representatives from the Commission to work with the schools to educate the parents safe driving practices and children on pedestrian safety.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that as part of school registration every year there should be a seminar regarding parking on the streets surrounding the schools because it was a continuing issue.
Captain Zuanich explained that the Station’s CORE Deputies addressed many of these types of issues.
Commissioner Klein referred to Councilman Long’s comments regarding accidents on major roadways, and suggested that Council consider a parallel effort involving installing and maintaining traffic control devices along the City’s major arterials, in addition to increased traffic enforcement.
Mayor Clark commended the Traffic Safety Commission for becoming involved in safety education at the schools. He suggested that one of the things to consider was whether a traffic signal was needed at the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive East and Palos Verdes Drive South due to the pending completion of the hotel at Longpoint and the resulting traffic. Mayor Clark indicated that Trump National had installed the infrastructure necessary for a traffic signal at that location when it recently rebuilt this section of the roadway, and that he was hearing complaints about the need for a signal at this intersection.
Director Allison confirmed that the infrastructure was already in place to provide a signal at the Palos Verdes Drive East and Palos Verdes Drive South intersection, as well as at Forrestal and Palos Verdes Drive South. Director Allison explained that the conditions for approval for the Trump National Golf Course required a bond, so that if the City determined that a signal was required at that intersection during the first three years of operation of the golf course, the Trump organization would pay for the total cost of installation.
Mayor Clark commented that what he had heard from residents was that drivers on Palos Verdes Drive South did not want to be impeded by a routine signal program. He asked if the signal could be “on demand” to activate when there were cars waiting on Palos Verdes Drive East to make the left hand turn onto Palos Verdes Drive South.
Director Allison stated that this could be done and noted that a signal at this location would cause minimal delays for drivers on Palos Verdes Drive South.
City Manager Evans stated that all traffic signals had been designed that way for the last 20 years.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he saw the potential for four new traffic signals on Palos Verdes Drive South: La Rotonda Drive, Palos Verdes Drive East, Forrestal Drive at the entrance to the golf course, and Schooner Drive at the entrance to the Seaview/ Portuguese Bend Club area. He noted that there had been ongoing requests and questions from residents on this topic, and suggested a discussion on this issue.
Director Allison stated that a pending item for the Traffic Safety Commission was to review the Traffic Signal Priority List, and explained that the Commission intended to bring this item back to Council within a three-month period with a recommended list of signals that staff and the Commission believed to be justified. He explained that the order of priority would be based on the number of accident accidents, traffic volume, time delays, and other factors.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that, while he was not advocating it, consideration could be given to installing a signal at the entrance to the new hotel at Long Point.
Mayor Clark stated that the City Council would welcome a signal priority list as a basis for how to proceed. He stated that it would be a very proactive thing to do.
Councilman Long, referred to the intersection of Hawthorne and Vallon, and asked if someone could comment on the impact of the new traffic signal at this location, and stated that what happened at that intersection highlighted the need for a Traffic Signal Priority List.
Sgt. Creason explained that the complaints about the traffic on Hawthorne Boulevard in that area were regarding speeding going uphill from the signal, saying that drivers generally tended to speed going through that area.
Councilman Long asked if speeding down the hill and accidents at this intersection had been reduced since the signal was installed.
Sgt. Creason stated that he did not have that data, but indicated that he did not perceive it as still being a problem.
Deputy Souza reported that there was one collision reported at that intersection during FY 2004/2005.
Mayor Clark asked staff to refresh Council’s memory regarding what prompted the City to install the signal at Vallon Drive.
Director Allison explained that before the signal was installed there were two categories of complaints from residents in the immediate area: 1) motorists speeding both up and down Hawthorne Boulevard, and 2) residents who take access from Vallon Drive having difficultly getting out of their neighborhood. He explained that the signal had worked very well in terms of addressing the second concern, and indicated that staff had not seen a rash of accidents at that intersection resulting from cars having difficulty stopping while traveling downhill, which was initially a concern for staff.
Councilman Stern asked about the one collision that had occurred at that intersection.
Deputy Souza responded that it was property damage only.
Councilman Stern asked if it was a rear end collision.
Deputy Souza responded that he did not have that information.
Mayor Clark stated that the discussion raised an interesting set of questions; and requested that as the Traffic Signal Priority List was being developed, it identify the core criteria to be used to determine when a particular signal on the list should be actually constructed, and how the Council treated that over time in terms of consistency. Mayor Clark thanked Captain Zuanich for the presentation, and suggested that, while all the information regarding collisions, citations, and vehicles was interesting, it was only useful if Council concluded that there were some specific actions, in coordination with the Sheriff’s Station, that should be taken. Mayor Clark asked if the staff and the Sheriff’s personnel had any recommendations on where Council should go from this point in terms of traffic safety in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Captain Zuanich reported that he had been at the Lomita Station for four years and that during his first year he met with the City Managers of the three cities to ask for an increase of one traffic car on the P.M. shift because there was no dedicated traffic enforcement after 3:00 pm, or on weekends. He explained that, although the last increase in traffic enforcement was made 18 years earlier and considering the increase in traffic since that time, the City Manager’s rejected the proposal at that time due to budget constraints. Captain Zuanich reported that the following year, he was informed that the City of Rancho Palos Verdes might have some funds available for traffic calming. At that point, five members of the City staff and four members of the Sheriff’s Department met and developed the concept for “Team RPV” which would consist of three Deputy Sheriffs concentrating on traffic issues, in a similar manner to how the CORE Team handled juvenile crime and quality of life issues in the community. He explained that the purpose of Team RPV was to address traffic both on the arterial streets and within residential neighborhood; and that it was envisioned as a proactive, ongoing program. Although Team RPV turned out to be too expensive for the City to support, Captain Zuanich explained that, since then, the community had increasingly requested an increase in traffic enforcement. He indicated that he personally felt the City was woefully short on dedicated traffic enforcement during the P.M./weekend shift, and in fact there was no coverage on this shift in a City with 43,000 residents. He stated that, although the Sheriff can provide some additional traffic enforcement on an overtime basis, as was done for the SOS program on Palos Verdes Drive East that summer, it could not be sustained over an extended period. If Council was interested in providing increased traffic enforcement, Captain Zuanich indicated that it would have to decide if it would be part of the regional contract, or if Council wanted a deputy just dedicated just to the City. He noted that under the current regional contract, the City paid for the equivalent of 1.2 Traffic Deputies.
Councilman Long stated that when Team RPV was previously under discussion, the Sheriff was proposing a ballot measure to raise additional funds for law enforcement in the County, but noted that while the measure received a majority vote, it did not achieve the two-thirds vote required for passage. He noted that if the proposed sales tax increase had passed, the City would have received an additional two million dollars annually for law enforcement services. Councilman Long recalled that during previous discussions, Council had asked about possible reallocation of regular patrol units in order to increase traffic enforcement. He recalled that Captain Zuanich was not in favor of this concept and asked if he still maintained that position.
Captain Zuanich responded that he had not changed his position, indicating that the current number of regular patrol cars was adequate and felt very strongly that this level should not be reduced.
Councilman Long asked, with the exception of the gated City of Bradbury, if Rancho Palos Verdes was still the city in Los Angeles County that paid the least amount per capita for its contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement.
Captain Zuanich responded that this was still correct.
Mayor Clark reported that, according to statistics previously presented by Lieutenant Herrera, Rancho Palos Verdes was the safest city, by size, in Los Angeles County. He suggested that Council’s conclusion was that the City could perhaps re-order the prioritization of Sheriff staffing to focus on traffic safety.
Councilman Stern indicated that his conclusion was that the City was getting a great result for a very limited amount of money.
Councilman Long concurred with Councilman Stern’s conclusion.
City Manager Evans stated that any time he was proposing a program to the City Council he was concerned with the cost and what the benefits were going to be. He asked Captain Zuanich how increased traffic enforcement and the issuance of more citations affected accident rates.
Captain Zuanich stated that he had read a study conducted approximately three years earlier where a police department decided to work a control group in certain area consistently for six months to determine that if they wrote more tickets, would traffic collisions come down; however, the number of accidents went up instead. He reported that a second control group conducted the same study over again, with all the same circumstances, and got the same results. He stated that the study concluded that the reason the number of accidents went up was because the officers were present to take a report of the accident, whereas normally drivers simply exchanged information and did not report the accident. Captain Zuanich reported that in the City of Rolling Hills Estates, the Lomita Station had doubled the number of citations written during the last quarter compared to the same three-month period in 2004 - increasing the number of citations issued from approximately 140 to 280, and noted that the number of collisions increased by five. He reported that he had seen the numbers go in every direction—more tickets written, fewer accidents; more tickets written, more accidents; less tickets written, less accidents; and less tickets written, more accidents. His personal conclusion was that the number of citations issued had no effect on the number of collisions, but that greater Sheriff’s Department visibility did reduce speeding.
Regarding the number of traffic tickets that could be written per day, Captain Zuanich stated that the Sheriff’s Department was prohibited from having a quota, but that they could have goals and standards. By way of example, he indicated that Sgt Creason worked one day over the last summer on Palos Verdes Drive East with the intention of writing as many tickets as possible and was able to write a total of eight. He referred to a study that concluded that a deputy should be able to write one ticket every half an hour or sixteen during an eight-hour shift. He stated that, although he knew of examples where his Deputies were able to “cherry pick” by positioning themselves in key areas along major arterials and write over eight tickets per day, he personally believed that it would be impossible to maintain this level over the long term. He stated, however, that the average was approximately eight tickets per shift averaged over a one-year period.
Regarding the cost to add a new Traffic Deputy, Captain Zuanich explained that the “growth rate” cost of a new Deputy Sheriff was currently $140,000 for the first full fiscal year, and depending on when the pilot program began, the could potentially receive the growth rate for up to 21 or 22 months. He explained that the cost to maintain the position thereafter would be approximately $198,000 per year, subject to normal contract cost increases. He stated that, based on his estimate of eight tickets per shift and estimating that the City would receive approximately $35 in fine revenues per ticket, depending upon the violation; he estimated that the cost of the new Traffic Deputy would be offset by approximately $72,000 in citation fines the City would receive per year.
City Manager Evans explained that, over the years, the City had received approximately $35 per ticket. He explained that, at $200,000 per year, the cost for a Deputy would be approximately $96 an hour. If the Deputy wrote one ticket per hour, the net cost to the City would be approximately $60 per hour that the City would pay for an additional Deputy at 2,088 hours annually, or an annual net cost of approximately $125,000.
Captain Zuanich noted that a decision would also have to be made regarding whether a new Traffic Deputy would be part of the regional contract, which would lower the City’s cost, or would be solely dedicated to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Councilman Stern stated that if the new Deputy was part of the regional contract, the City could expect to see a 40% drop in the amount of revenue generated by tickets.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that Captain Zuanich’s presentation, including the referenced studies and his personal recommendations, were quite compelling to him. He suggested, however, that the discussion return to how the Council can reach a decision to add or modify the City’s existing law enforcement services; to further discuss what best practices should be implemented; and re-open the discussion of the regional contract approach, noting that he was not sure how to proceed with the other three cities in that direction. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz inquired if the City Manager, in concert with the Traffic Safety Commission and the Sheriff’s Department, should have a study done and then come back to the City Council with a recommendation on how to proceed. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz summarized by saying the Council would like to see something done to improve traffic enforcement, although what that solution was had not yet been determined. He noted that there was a lot of good information presented and that he would like to see the Council presented with a set of specific recommendations that it could then take action on. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he was not prepared to make a motion just yet, but was moving in that direction. He stated that he would like to know that the specific recommendation could be presented to Council in a timely manner, not in twelve months or even six months, but within in a shorter period of time.
Commissioner Parfenov referred back to the total number of collisions (256), saying that even though more than half of the accidents (144) were on major roads, the remaining 112 occurred on other streets. He observed that half of the accidents occurred on major roads and half occurred on other roadways in the City, and suggested that it may be wise to educate the public that all the accidents were not just occurring on the City’s arterial roadways.
Mayor Clark noted that the City of Los Angeles made a presentation at the previous the League of California Cities conference on a major education program it implemented that was aimed at reducing speeding and improving traffic safety. He stated that it included communications experts developing signage, messages on billboards and things of that nature to encourage the public to practice safer driving habits. Mayor Clark stated that he was dubious that this program had an effect on people’s driving habits, not having seen the data on the results of that program. He inquired if Commissioner Parfenov had heard anything about the results of this program, because he did not believe that signs alone had a meaningful effect, except for the signs that blink the driver’s speed and flash red when they exceed the speed limit, like those that were in place on 25th Street in San Pedro. Mayor Clark added that blue stripes on walkways also seemed to have some effect to slow traffic for pedestrians.
Councilman Long stated that he appreciates Commissioner Parfenov’s point that the City should look at all streets as part of any enforcement program and not just the arterials; that he also agreed with the Mayor’s comments that education alone may not be the best solution. Councilman Long explained that part of the problem he had was that, given that the City did not want to change anything that the Sheriff was doing under the current regional contract, he thought that adding an additional traffic unit was a very valuable suggestion. He added that the City’s annual operating budget was approximately $800,000 in the red. Councilman Long explained that one patrol car would increase that debt by an additional $70,000, based on the calculations presented, and stated that he was reluctant to consider that alternative unless additional revenues were identified to draw on or that cuts could be made in other areas.
Mayor Clark clarified that the City was in the red in terms of its annual operating budget, not in terms of its overall position considering General fund reserves.
Councilman Long stated that he was only considering the operating budget as set forth in the City’s Budget In Brief, and explained that he had difficulty with adding one-time items that become regular expenditures. He indicated that he had trouble with the notion of adding another six-figure program to the City’s budget for which the City could not identify a sufficient revenue source to pay the additional cost.
Mayor Clark stated that he was open-minded to the possibility of adding additional traffic enforcement; although he did not that believe the City would ever be able to afford all the enforcement that would be optimal. Mayor Clark stated that he would like the Traffic Safety Commission to work on a long-range solution to traffic safety using new technology in combination with an established baseline of enforcement by the Sheriff’s Department. Mayor Clark explained that the type of technology he was referring to, aside from signalized intersections, was the installation of radar cameras in other parts of the community where there were speeding concerns. He acknowledged that the state Vehicle Code did not currently allow this type of technology, but indicated that it was his hope that it could be used in the future to deter and abate speeding in the community. Mayor Clark referred to a white paper prepared by a member of the former Traffic Committee on what other cities in the state have done, such as the City of San Jose, with the use of vans equipped with radar. Mayor Clark stated that he would like the Traffic Safety Commission to review some of the work that had been done, discuss forming a subcommittee to further advance the research information, and return to Council with some recommendations. Mayor Clark stated that other states already used this technology; there had already been attempts at legislation in Sacramento to allow it, and he would like to see the Traffic Safety Commission take this issue on to see if they could help advance and understand its potential. He suggested that it might even go beyond research and updating the white paper, such as preparing a draft bill that could then be sponsored by the City’s state legislators.
Captain Zuanich stated that he did not come to the workshop that day with a particular agenda or goal of increasing the Lomita Station’s staffing; that the job of the Sheriff’s Department was to serve the community, and that they would do the best job possible with the resources available. Captain Zuanich stated that he had given his honest opinion in response to the questions asked by Council.
Mayor Clark stated that Council understood Captain Zuanich’s position and explained that this workshop was an exchange of information, ideas, and thoughts; and that the Sheriff’s Department was not being asked to present a specific proposal, but to dialogue and interact with Council.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked about a sign posted on Palos Verdes Drive that registered the speed of vehicles.
Director Allison explained that there was an automated sign on Palos Verdes Drive South that showed an approaching vehicle’s speed and that a light would flash if the car was traveling over the speed limit.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked how many were in use in the City and if they were moved around to different locations.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that the City owned two of the signs and that staff moved them around based on a schedule. He explained that they were radar feedback signs and were currently located on Palos Verdes Drive South at Seahill Drive to address speeding on this arterial and on Toscanini Drive to encourage neighborhood traffic calming. He explained that the City also had two radar trailers that were moved around the City on a daily basis based on a schedule but mentioned that the radar feedback signs were in place longer.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz concluded that the City had some technology that was being used in the City; and stated that he would like some recommendations from staff regarding whether to increase the number of radar feedback signs, and asked for input to Council on this issue within the next several months. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz announced that there would be a County Board of Supervisors meeting on September 13, 2005 to take action on a proposal prepared by the Controller/Auditor to increase the Sheriff’s contract fees, which would affect the City. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz reported that the contract cities had a meeting where he reported on this issue, and technically, they were recommending that something similar be adopted, but that their request for a complete increase be denied. He pointed out that the City would incur an increase in costs for contracts whether they liked it or not. He stated that he believed there was more technology needed to address traffic issues; he ascribed to the notion of providing a greater presence of Deputies on the streets, and that it must be continued. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he thought there was merit to adding a Traffic Deputy during the P.M. shift and that he was prepared to act on it, but wanted to see a concrete proposal; and noted that he was sensitive to the concerns of his colleagues regarding the budget. He stated that he would like to see a recommendation that would include:
1. Estimated Cost
2. Regional vs. Rancho Palos Verdes only
3. Expectations and Tradeoffs
Councilman Long explained to Captain Zuanich that he did not think the Captain was promoting his own agenda; that the Council needed to hear his opinions and best professional judgment, and that it was not for him to worry about whether the City had the funds to implement his suggestions. Councilman Long stated that he endorsed the Mayor’s concept of asking the Traffic Safety Commission to research new traffic technologies, partly because it may be more cost-effective and could act as a supplement to the Sheriff’s traffic enforcement by keeping drivers focused on their rate of speed.
Mayor Clark summarized the discussion, saying that there was some sentiment toward directing staff, after working with the Sheriff’s Department, to bring back some options regarding increased or enhanced enforcement in focused time frames such as the P.M. shift; that it should include the costs and a benefit analysis. Mayor Clark also addressed the Council’s suggestion that the Traffic Safety Commission take on as one of its projects a review of the benefits of technology. He suggested that the Commissioners read Bill Schurmer’s white paper on this topic and, if the Commission chose to do so, form a subcommittee to work on how to proceed in terms of advancing the discussion.
Mayor Clark asked if there were any additional comments from the members of the Traffic Safety Commission.
Commissioner Parfenov announced that he would be proposing a program that specifically made use of technology at the next Traffic Safety Commission meeting regarding sun glare, which he felt had an affect on drivers; and stated that his proposal may result in a decrease in traffic collisions.
Commissioner Wright stated that he wanted to echo what many of the participants had said. He explained that, based on his experience as a traffic supervisor in law enforcement, in his opinion law enforcement and Deputy presence were the two biggest factors in causing drivers to slow down, because it may take money out of their wallets.
Mayor Clark commented that the City received good value this summer in spending approximately $13,000 on the concentrated traffic enforcement on the Palos Verdes Drive East switchbacks and asked if there was a way to conduct the same program at the same expenditure level and deploy it elsewhere in the City during the year.
Captain Zuanich stated that it could be done, but to a lesser degree, because the summer program was collaboration between the City and the Sheriff’s Department; explaining that the City paid for one day’s enforcement, and the Sheriff’s Department used its Reserve Deputies to work the program on a volunteer basis. He explained that the summer program also worked in part because the CORE Deputies were available during the summer when school was not in session to supplement their regular Traffic Deputies.
Mayor Clark asked if Captain Zuanich could determine if it was feasible to provide a hybrid of the summer program during other times of the year.
Captain Zuanich responded that he could do that.
Mayor Clark called for the public speakers.
Bob Nelson, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he wanted to emphasize that when the Council set its goals, public safety and infrastructure were probably the top two goals. Mr. Nelson stated that he was surprised to find out that the City had no traffic coverage from the Sheriff’s Department on the P.M. shift or on the weekends. He stated that in his mind, that was not providing adequate public safety; that it was incumbent on the City Council to address the issue of providing more Traffic Deputies as expeditiously as possible. Mr. Nelson referred to earlier comments that presence and enforcement work to slow speeding, and stated that he hoped Council would find a way to provide the community with P.M. and weekend coverage.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that he was aware that Mr. Nelson was not speaking on behalf of the Finance Advisory Committee, although he a member of that body. He suggested that that when Mr. Nelson had an opportunity to discuss this at the Finance Advisory Committee level, he might report that the Traffic Safety Commission was going to need some assistance in justifying expenses associated with increased traffic enforcement.
Mr. Nelson stated that he would be delighted to carry that message to the Finance Committee Chair McLeod. He explained, however, that the Committee was challenged with reviewing the City’s Five Year Financial Model, but that the City’s annual operating budget was something they would be pleased to look at; he stated that he knew the Finance Advisory Committee could and would rise to the occasion, if requested by the Council.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
The City Council recessed at 11:25 am and reconvened at 11:37 pm.
Item 3 was taken out of order to accommodate the speakers.
3. Via Rivera Traffic Calming and Team RPV
City Manager Evans explained that Council had discussed the concept of Team RPV in the past, and that there were speakers present at the meeting that day to discuss the Via Rivera issue. He explained that several Council members had asked staff when the issue of traffic calming on Via Rivera might be revisited and stated that this was the opportunity to ask the Traffic Safety Commission and members of the public if it should be revisited, and if so, how to proceed.
Mayor Clark asked the Traffic Safety Commission and support staff if the Via Rivera issue was on their schedule the near term.
Director Allison stated that this topic was not on the Commission’s list of future agenda items.
Councilman Stern referred to the traffic enforcement pilot program the City conducted on Via Rivera, and asked if any conclusions were reached regarding the effectiveness of that project; whether there had been any lasting results after the program ended; and what was the City’s current perception of the traffic conditions in the neighborhood.
Director Allison provided Council with some background by stating that the Traffic Committee had previously recommended installing speed humps in the neighborhood, but Council decided to first try to implement a traffic enforcement program on a temporary basis. Director Allison reported that staff coordinated with the Sheriff’s Department to develop a program that was random in scheduling and strong on traffic enforcement. He explained that the City measured the cars traveling through the neighborhood, in terms of volume and speed, both with and without the presence of the Sheriff. He explained that the City also rented radar speed boards that were posted in then neighborhood and were quite costly. Director Allison indicated that the strongest conclusion staff was able to draw from the four-month pilot program was that the enhanced enforcement worked when the Sheriff was present in the neighborhood, and for a brief time measured in hours or days after the Sheriff left; and then speeds went back up to pre-enforcement conditions.
Mayor Clark stated that what Council concluded from the program was that the effect of increased focused enforcement was temporary and only existed when the Deputies were actually in the neighborhood.
Councilman Long reported that the cost for the increased enforcement program for just one street was approximately $10,000 a month, and asked if that figure was correct.
Director Allison responded that the figure seemed correct, as far as he could recall, but that he did not have the precise numbers available.
Councilman Long said that he believed that the total cost was around $30,000, taking into account all of the expenses Director Allison described. Councilman Long asked how effective the program was in terms of reducing speeds.
Director Allison stated that the speeds were reduced while the Sheriff Deputies and the feedback devices were deployed in then neighborhood, but when they left the speeds returned to pre-enforcement levels very shortly thereafter.
Mayor Clark called for the public speakers.
Jim Sweeney, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that the petition requesting speed humps on Via Rivera between Point Vicente Elementary School and Hawthorne Boulevard was submitted on October 25, 2001 and at that time no residents on Via Rivera opposed it. He explained that the Traffic Committee initially advised them that their neighborhood would be addressed after the City completed the installation of speed humps in the Basswood area, but indicated that in the meantime traffic calming in the Mira Vista neighborhood had taken precedence over their request. He stated that he was very hopeful that the City would now address the traffic concerns in his neighborhood. Mr. Sweeney explained that he has lived on Via Rivera since 1970; that there had been two very serious accidents at the corner of Via Rivera and Rue Valois and another near miss; and that he hoped that his other neighbors would come to speak to Council about this issue in the very near future. Mr. Sweeney stated that the area needed speed humps because of the elementary school. He reported that his daughter was hit by a car and killed while riding a bicycle and that there was a monument at the school for a child hit by a car while being dropped off at school. Mr. Sweeney stated that when he first moved to the area in 1970 there were school buses, but that now the parents were delivering their children to school and then speeding down Via Rivera to their next destination. Mr. Sweeney stated that installing speed humps would save the City money; that the area did not have as much traffic enforcement as it had in the past, and he requested that speed humps be put on the agenda.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz credited Mr. Sweeney’s presentation at a recent Council meeting for reminding Council about this issue and he expressed his appreciation for Mr. Sweeney's comments.
Beverly Dunn, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she lived on Via Rivera at the point where it became “L” shaped and joined Via Borica, which was also a very busy street. Ms. Dunn explained that she had children, one of whom is autistic, and that children’s safety was always on her mind, but when it came to speed humps, she was adamantly against it; and felt that it would distort and destroy the aesthetics of her neighborhood. She explained that Via Rivera was a primary point of ingress and egress to the neighborhood, and noted that she had no other suitable means of getting to Hawthorne Boulevard without taking a major detour. She stated that it was not fair to the rest of the neighborhood to install speed humps in the section that Mr. Sweeney was talking about, because the residents had to rely on this artery for going in and out of the neighborhood. Ms. Dunn stated that, if the City Council or the Traffic Safety Commission could provide some alternatives, she would welcome that; and suggested the City use technology instead, such as the flashing speed indicators in San Pedro. Ms. Dunn stated that two years earlier, many other residents opposed the notion of speed humps and suggested that all the other options and opinions should be taken into consideration. Ms. Dunn stated that the last time this issue was addressed, a petition was circulated on only a few blocks in their neighborhood and that 240 signatures were collected opposing speed humps. She stated that she thought the last time speed humps were rejected by the City that the issue was put to rest, but now, two years later, the issue was being brought up again. She asked why there was a need to constantly revisit this issue. Ms. Dunn indicated that speed humps in the Basswood neighborhood made sense due to its proximity to Peninsula High School, but felt that they would be inappropriate in her neighborhood because she had no alternate convenient way of getting out of her neighborhood.
Councilman Stern thanked Ms. Dunn for her comments and asked her if she had driven over the speed humps on Basswood and if she found that they created a problem.
Ms. Dunn stated that she had driven over the speed humps on Basswood Drive and Via Valmonte, which was in the City of Palos Verdes Estates. She indicated that, at one time, she could easily go over the speed humps on Basswood at 25 mph, but when she drove through the same area again sometime later she realized that she had to slow down to less than 10 mph in order to avoid damaging her car. She stated that a friend told her that the City had increased the size of the speed humps on Basswood and asked if the City was going to reimburse her, or if her neighbors were going to reimburse her, if her car was damaged by speed humps installed on Via Rivera.
Mayor Clark thanked Ms. Dunn for her comments.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz thanked Ms. Dunn for her comments and indicated that before he was on Council he attended the Council meeting the night this issue was considered and learned quite a lot from those who were opposed to speed humps. He asked Mrs. Dunn whether her neighbors were opposed to the items proposed immediately around the school or to the entire program.
Ms. Dunn stated that she believed the proposal included about eight speed humps, but that she was not sure about their exact placement. She indicated that she could not say whether her neighbors wanted any speed humps around the school, but stated that she did not want any speed humps in her neighborhood.
Mayor Clark asked if Mrs. Dunn wanted safe driving in her neighborhood.
Ms. Dunn responded that she did want safe driving, but though it was a much bigger issue that could not be resolved just with speed humps.
Ann Shaw, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she wanted to make the point that people who were opposed to speed bumps did not oppose them because they wanted to speed. She stated that she traveled down Via Rivera four to six times a day because it was the only way for her to get to Hawthorne Boulevard. She reminded Council that there were 400 homes in the neighborhood, not counting the lower portion of Via Rivera that had requested the speed humps, as well as the traffic from the Point Vicente Elementary School, that used Via Rivera as a primary point of access. She stated that the 2000 Census showed that approximately 20% of the residents in the City were over the age of 55, and that by 2010 there would be 30% over 55. She explained that speed humps slowed down emergency vehicles, and because of this aging population, the City should consider their safety as well. Ms. Shaw pointed out that speeding had nothing to do with the child who was killed, and that the child ran out between two parked cars into traffic and was hit by a car. Ms. Shaw explained that these were all the same issues raised in 2002. She stated that the City’s traffic calming program was flawed because only the residents living on the segment of Via Rivera from Rue De La Pierre to Hawthorne Boulevard were asked if they wanted speed bumps. She noted that it was a very small segment of the entire street, and did not reflect the views of the other residents that used the roadway. She explained that their neighborhood did not have an active homeowners’ association and that because of this, the residents circulated their own petition, and that within a short period of time they had gathered over 200 signatures from residents on Via Rivera, Via Borica, and Via Victoria opposing speed humps. Ms. Shaw indicated that none of the major points had changed since the issue was previously discussed. She stated that she had driven over the speed humps on Basswood and had to slow her car to 15 mph.
Mayor Clark referred to the staff report, which indicated that Councilman Stern and Councilman Long asked to revisit traffic calming on Via Rivera, and asked the Councilmen to express their sentiments on this issue.
Councilman Long stated that he felt the matter would be revisited once the Council had a report on the effectiveness of the pilot program, which was to determine whether enhanced traffic enforcement would solve the speeding problem on Via Rivera or not.
Councilman Stern agreed with Councilman Long, and stated that he had voted for the speed humps on Via Rivera, but the majority of Council elected to do the pilot project instead. Councilman Stern stated that Council had agreed that there was a problem to be resolved and that the City had tried an alternative that might achieve the goal. He indicated that in his opinion this issue was not dead, and suggested that while it may appear to some of the neighbors that the issue was being revisited, in his view, it had never been resolved. Councilman Stern believed that Council must review the information on what was learned from the pilot project, as well as receive an update on the current situation. Councilman Stern stated that he would like to see this issue agendized with a full staff report identifying all the options.
Mayor Clark asked Councilman Stern if he would advocate having staff and the Traffic Safety Commission revisit this issue before Council considered it again.
Councilman Stern agreed with Mayor Clark’s suggestion and added that he would like the staff and Traffic Safety Commission to re-look at all of the options. He expressed concern that the City had gone through a lot of effort previously, but the problem of speeding in the neighborhood had not been resolved.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he happened to attend the Council meeting before he was elected to Council when this issue was first considered and was surprised by the vociferous opposition expressed by the residents towards speed humps. He mentioned that he was sitting behind two members of the former Traffic Committee who where there to represent the Committee and overheard their conversation which was equally angry at Council for not adopting the Committee’s recommendation and their feelings that an injustice was done. He asked Chair Shepherd if there was any merit to the Commission revisiting this issue and if she thought that anything could be gained or learned from that exercise.
Chair Shepherd stated that she did not know if anything new would be learned; but indicated that the Commission included five new members that were not on the former Traffic Committee who might suggest something different and two former members of the Committee who remember the painstaking effort previously put into this issue. Chair Shepherd stated that the Commission would welcome the opportunity to review the issue with staff and try to resolve the problem.
Councilman Long stated that it was incumbent upon Council to decide whether to implement the pilot program as a permanent program, notwithstanding the expense; otherwise, Council should look at other viable solutions. Councilman Long noted as an aside his understanding that that whole south side of the City was considered a “rural area” for purposes of emergency response, and it was served by a Fire Station that did not have a paramedic unit. He explained that, even if the Fire Department arrived a minute earlier to an emergency medical call, due to the closure of many of the emergency rooms and trauma centers in the area, the person might still have trouble getting the emergency care they needed. Councilman Long stated that, while he was mindful that speed humps may slow the arrival of emergency responders, it may not really be that important given other problems in that area which the Council was trying to address.
Mayor Clark stated that the staff report and recommendation asked for direction on this topic, and asked for a motion from the Council.
Councilman Stern moved to direct staff to work with the Traffic Safety Commission to revisit the issue of speeding and traffic safety on Via Rivera and, in due time, present a report and recommendations to Council, seconded by Councilman Long.
The motion was approved on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
2. Regulation of Vehicle Parking on Public Streets
Director Allison reported that the City Council and Planning Commission had asked staff and the Traffic Safety Commission to examine the issue of oversized vehicle parking on public rights-of-way. He explained that this was the result of the adoption of new regulations regarding the parking of recreation vehicles on private property, because the enforcement of more stringent regulations on private property tended to shift the problem onto the public rights-of-way. Director Allison reported that the former Traffic Committee began discussing the issue of recreational and oversized vehicles parking on public roadways in March 2004, but did not reach a conclusion before the Committee disbanded. Director Allison stated that staff felt direction was needed from Council regarding how the Traffic Safety Commission should approach this issue.
Director Allison suggested that one possible recommendation could be no overnight parking of recreational vehicles on public rights-of-way, which was not a traffic safety issue, but was related to the issue. He suggested that another option might be to just look at traffic safety issues, including restricting recreational vehicle parking on roads that have certain physical characteristics, such as roads that are too narrow, too windy, or too steep. Director Allison presented the questions raised by Staff and the Commission as follows:
Should the study focus on RV and “oversized” vehicle parking only?
Should the study focus only on residential streets?
Should the study be limited to aesthetics and safety issues only?
Should a policy of regulating overnight parking of all vehicles be considered?
Mayor Clark stated that he thought staff and Traffic Safety Commission should examine all of the questions and return to the Council with specific observations and recommendations on each of those questions.
Councilman Stern stated that he felt staff and the Commission should look at both safety and aesthetics when considering the issue of on street parking of recreational vehicles. He indicated that the staff and Commission should identify all of the safety concerns, state the reasons for the concerns, and present the recommendations to address them. He felt that Council could then use this information in its own analysis and decision making process. Councilman Stern stated that, in a hierarchal sense, he thought safety was the most important issue to focus on. He stated that, for the same reason, if the Commission had aesthetic concerns and presented some solutions, Council could then evaluate the solutions to determine if they made sense. He stated, for example, that legislating no overnight parking of vehicles over a certain size would eliminate the aesthetics problem; but that he could not support anything that draconian. Councilman Stern stated that if staff and the Commission could articulate the perceived problems and the associated proposed solutions, Council could then decide how far it wanted to go based on the perceived problem. He stated that he did not want to limit the scope of the analysis and felt that the problem itself would define how broad a solution was required. In summary, Councilman Stern stated that he believed staff and the Commission should take on the broader task.
Chair Shepherd indicated that it was the Traffic Safety Commission intent to only discuss the issue of on street parking of recreational vehicles and other oversized vehicles with Council at this workshop. She explained that the Commission knew it would eventually need to address this issue of parking of all vehicles, but that probably would not be for the next few months because the Commission’s agenda was already full.
Councilman Long stated that Chair Shepherd’s explanation reinforced what he was about to say. He referred to the four questions posed in Director Allison’s oral report, and stated that his answers to those questions (noted below) would be “yes, no, no, no”.
Should the study focus on RV and “oversized” vehicle parking only?
Should the study focus only on residential streets?
Should the study be limited to aesthetics and safety issues only?
Should a policy of regulating overnight parking of all vehicles be considered?
Councilman Long explained that RV and oversized vehicle parking was the primary issue; adding that this topic was quite enough for the Traffic Safety Commission to handle, based on his knowledge of the issue and his involvement with the Planning Commission. Councilman Long expressed agreement with Councilman Stern’s comments that the Traffic Safety Commission should not limit the scope of its study and should look at all possible solutions, except the most draconian. Councilman Long stated, however, that he would exclude the issue of whether overnight parking of all vehicles should be regulated because he felt it was fundamentally different from the issue of RV parking and because he thought Council would deploy other solutions before it would even consider implementing such a policy. Councilman Long explained that, based on his experience with the Planning Commission on this issue, he thought it was a very complicated set of issues and he did not envy the Traffic Safety Commission the task.
Mayor Clark commented that Council originally assigned this issue to the Planning Commission as a first step.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that that he thought the issue of RV and oversized vehicle parking needed to be addressed because he had both observed it and had received complaints regarding it. He stated that he would say “yes” to all four questions posed by Director Allison, and commented on the last item referring to regulating all vehicles; saying that he was not sure how it got there, but commended staff for looking at all aspects of the issue.
City Manager Evans explained that he was the one who added the reference to overnight parking of all vehicles to the staff report.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he was interested in overnight parking of all types of vehicles because of a complaint he had received in his particular neighborhood from a former Mayor of Rancho Palos Verdes, and from other residents citing similar concerns. He encouraged the Traffic Safety Commission to look at the broader issue but suggested that the Commission may want to separate this issue and address it as part of some other session. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz added that staff had provided good information on the issue of RV and oversized vehicle parking, but now that the issue was broader, staff and the Commission might be able to study it further and develop recommendations with more substance.
Mayor Clark summarized that at least two Council members would like the Traffic Safety Commission to look at all four questions posed by staff in some priority order; that the Commission was already working on the first one regarding RV and oversized vehicle parking and noted that two Council members did not particularly care for all the items listed.
Councilman Long stated that if his colleagues wanted to look at all the questions, then he thought it was worthwhile for the Commission to look at them. He expressed his desire for his colleagues to have all of the information needed for their decision.
Councilman Stern stated that banning overnight parking on public streets was not something he could support and that it would not provide a viable solution to the problem. He indicated, however, that the Traffic Safety Commission should provide Council with as much insight as possible, and he would not foreclose any topic from the discussion if the Commission felt it was warranted, was able to articulate the problem and propose viable solutions.
Mayor Clark stated that he would not predispose any answer or any direction on any of the questions, but thought that they were all fruitful areas for the Traffic Safety Commission to study and report to Council on, both in terms of information and recommendations. Mayor Clark asked Chair Shepherd if it was clear that the Council wanted the Traffic Safety Commission to look at all of the questions posed, in due time.
Chair Shepherd responded affirmatively.
Councilman Long stated that the Commission must consider all of the ramifications of their proposed solutions; for example, the solution may solve the problem, but it might create many other problems.
Mayor Clark asked if the Commission had any questions regarding the task.
Chair Shepherd responded that she believed Council had answered the Commission’s questions regarding the scope of the task and whether to use a broad-brush approach or a narrow focus, and there were no additional comments from the Commissioners.
Councilman Stern stated that he found the Commission’s discussion of the draft RV parking ordinance to contain one of the worst, poorly drafted sentences he had ever seen. He commended the Commission for trying to sort out what staff was trying to tell them but it took 20 pages of discussion in the minutes to sort it out. He stated that he hoped he was not embarrassing anyone, but noted that it was not hard to say “No vehicle of six feet height or more shall be parked or left standing in a designated vision safety zone, unless all windows are both transparent and unobstructed.”
Mayor Clark summarized that he believed the Commission and staff had the sentiment of what Council was looking for on this issue.
4. Communications Between the Traffic Safety Commission and the City Council
Director Allison stated that, during the course of this workshop, Council had probably already answered this question, but he wanted to make sure that staff and the Commission understood in what form the Council would like a traffic safety issue to be presented. Director Allison explained, for example, that sometimes the Commission brought a project to Council with only a single solution identified and not a healthy list of alternatives that were completely analyzed, with costs defined, etc.
Mayor Clark stated that Council broadened the role of the Traffic Safety Commission as compared to the prior Traffic Committee; that it was not just a title change and this was reflected in the Commission’s charter; and, from the standpoint of operations, his expectation was that the Traffic Safety Commission was a proactive, not just a reactive, advisory body. Mayor Clark stated that, along with staff, the Commission should be looking at the issues it believed were important and useful within the scope of that charter; and at times the Commission should bring matters to the Council that it wanted to pursue. Mayor Clark indicated that the previous Traffic Committee had presented the Via Rivera issue to Council with a predetermined solution to install speed humps. Mayor Clark stated that it put the Council in a somewhat precarious position of having no alternatives to consider. He stated that the Council must ultimately make the final decision, and that the Traffic Safety Commission, just as the former Traffic Committee, was an advisory body. Mayor Clark stated his preference when a traffic issue was presented to Council that there be a primary recommendation along with some options or alternatives, and a description of the pros and cons of each. Mayor Clark suggested that presentation of the issue include a summation of the Commission’s thought process, the majority recommendation, and the strengths and weaknesses of the other options.
Councilman Stern stated that he generally agreed with Mayor Clark, but explained that if he were presented with a project with only one solution and was told that this was the only solution that made sense and everyone agreed with that, he would expect to see a report saying that, with except minutes providing the background discussion. He suggested that other situations might present several viable options, referring to traffic calming on Via Rivera as an example. Councilman Stern stated that each issue presented a different situation and possible solutions. He thought that what the Council wanted was a recommendation and the value of the staff’s and Commission’s judgment; that Council did not want them to simply lay out all the options; that the Council wanted something to work with, starting with wherever the Commission thought was the logical jumping-off point.
Councilman Long stated that he would largely agree with everything Councilman Stern said. He explained that he was opposed to the dissolution of the Traffic Committee because he had doubts about the Traffic Safety Commission’s charter. Councilman Long stated that what he wanted to see was the best independent judgment of each of the Commissioners, without regard to what they thought Council wanted to hear, with no concern about what might be popular, or about politics. He suggested that the Commission might agree at times that there was only one solution to a particular problem and at other times may find that there were multiple alternatives available. Councilman Long stated that he was looking for preferred solutions but that it would help the decision making process for Council to know how many options were examined, and why some were rejected.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that the idea of being proactive was one that he ascribed to when developing the Traffic Safety Commission’s charter. He explained that the Commission was in the position of being able to observe traffic issues with an experienced and schooled eye; that the Commissioners might think that what they see was not important because they had not been articulated by Council, but that this was clearly not the case. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz explained that Council wanted to know what the Commission saw going on in the community, and to work with staff to bring these issues forward to Council. He stated that Council did not want the Commissioner to feel restricted by what it heard from Council or what staff presented to it and that the best practices should always accompany any report. He stated that the issues of alternatives and options and the relevant discussion of them must be included in the Commission’s report. He stated that the report should include cost elements, although he would expect the Commission to make this an exhaustive element of its report, as it would help speed up the decision making process. Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz suggested that there would be times when public input would be counter to the conclusion reached by the Commission; however, the Commission should address the logic behind its position so that Council would have insight on the issues considered and noted that this information would be helpful to both the public and Council.
Mayor Clark asked if there were any comments or observations from the Traffic Safety Commission before ending the discussion on this item.
Chair Shepherd referred to the Commission’s efforts to be proactive, and reported that an item was recently added to the agenda to provide an opportunity for Commissioners to report on issues of concern in the City or make suggestions for improvements. She stated that this was one step the Traffic Safety Commission had taken to adopt a proactive approach to traffic issues in the City.
Commissioner Mevers expressed his appreciation for comments from Council regarding cost elements, but stated that most of the recommendations made by the Commission would place restrictions on the freedom of the populace and may result in legal issues. He asked when the Commission should consider these types of potential consequences.
City Attorney Lynch stated that typically when these issues came up, staff discussed them with her and then provided a verbal response back to the Commission. She explained that if a brief written response was required, she could do that; but if it became a large undertaking, she would discuss it with the City Manager and get Council approval before proceeding.
Mayor Clark stated that there were also times, although it was not the norm, when the City Attorney or Assistant City Attorney will attend a Traffic Safety Commission meeting, but it depended on the topic.
Councilman Stern stated that he would hope that staff would be sensitive to potential legal issues and would consult with the City Attorney, adding that there was no point in making recommendations to the Council that had huge legal implications for the City.
Mayor Clark commented that the City had a very talented Traffic Safety Commission; that when the Commissioners were appointed, the Council was very impressed with their backgrounds and qualifications, and that they brought a lot of knowledge and expertise to the table. He again encouraged the Commission to bring sensitive issues forward in its discussions.
Commissioner Willens stated that in the two years he had been on the Traffic Committee, and now the Traffic Safety Commission, alternatives were exhaustively considered, and that it may be more a matter of how they were presented to Council than the effort that went into developing and considering them. He assured Council that the discussions did indeed take place and referred to the Commission’s voluminous minutes as documentation of those discussions. Commissioner Willens stated, not for the Council, but for the benefit of those who may refer to this meeting in the future, that if there was ever any question about what the Commission had discussed regarding alternatives, they were welcome to review its minutes. He clarified that the Commission should not solely rely on its minutes to provide the rationale for its decisions, but in some cases, it may be the best way to see how the Commission reached particular decisions. He stated that, in other situations, staff might be able to condense it down to a couple of pages in the staff report. In summary, Commissioner Willens stated that documentation of the discussion was always available, and that he believed it was just a matter of how the Commission presented it to Council.
Mayor Clark reiterated that Council appreciated the decision-making process that the Commission went through in formulating its recommendations and alternatives.
Chair Shepherd stated that staff had always been attentive to legal issues, and had been able to identify when the Commission was coming close to crossing that line. She applauded the staff and the City Attorney for their involvement in the past.
In conclusion, Mayor Clark expressed appreciation on behalf of the City Council to the Traffic Safety Commission; and noted that they were all appointed officials of the City. He stated that one of the Council’s four top goals was traffic safety. Mayor Clark thanked all the participants for their contributions to the workshop.
Regarding the closed session item that was added to the agenda, Councilman Long explained for the record that he would recuse himself from that discussion because his law firm and himself were representing the City of Los Angeles, and several members of his firm represented the County of Los Angeles. He stated that he did not believe that his law firm represented Caltrans, the Federal Highways Administration, or FEMA. He explained that even though his firm’s work for the potentially adverse parties was totally unrelated to Western Avenue, he thought it was appropriate to recuse himself.
5. Amendment to the Hon Purchase Agreement.
Barbara Dye, Rancho Palos Verdes, speaking as one of the City negotiators and Executive Director of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, reported that the City had negotiated an extension to the purchase agreement. She indicated that the amendment would require the purchasers to demonstrate that all the funding would be in place by September 15, 2005. She stated that the Conservancy was taking all the risk and hoped that Council would agree to support the amendment. Ms. Dye explained that there was a need to take immediate action and obtain the Mayor’s signature before expiration of the current agreement on September 15, 2005, which was when escrow would close on the property.
Councilman Stern moved to authorize the appropriate City officials to sign the “Amendment to Amended and Restated Purchase Agreement and Escrow Instructions”, seconded by Councilman Long.
Councilman Long referred to Ms. Dye’s statement that the Land Conservancy was assuming the entirety of the risk, and asked how the nonrefundable deposit of $1,400,000 was being funded.
Ms. Dye responded that the Conservancy was funding it from their private donations.
The motion to approve the amendment to the purchase agreement regarding terms of payment was unanimously approved with the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Mayor Clark expressed thanks to the City’s partners in this very important initiative of preserving open space: the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, its Executive Director’s leadership, and the organization’s entire membership. Mayor Clark noted that September 15, 2005 fell in the next week, and asked if there would be announcements to the public of the Conservancy’s success.
Ms. Dye stated that they expected to make the announcement next Tuesday.
Mayor Clark stated that based on the direction of the Council, he and the City Clerk would sign the Amendment after the close of this meeting.
City Attorney Lynch announced that the Council would recess into Closed Session to decide whether to initiate litigation against the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Highways Administration, Caltrans, the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles regarding the failure of various storm drains located under Western Avenue and the cost to repair said drains.
At 12:50 P.M., the meeting recessed to closed session in the Fireside Room at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard and reconvened at 1:35 P.M.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT
City Attorney Lynch reported that Council took no action in closed session.
Mayor Clark declared the meeting adjourned at 1:37 P.M.