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The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. by at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Stern, Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Also present were City Manager Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru; City Attorney Lynch; Director of Finance McLean; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas; Director of Public Works Allison; Deputy Planning Director Pfost; and Minutes Reporter Presutti.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Trump National Executive Vice President Vince Stellio.
Mayor Clark presided over a Blue Star recognition honoring Shelby V. Woolever of the U.S. Navy and her family.
Mayor Clark’s Did You Know presentation focused on emergency preparedness on the Peninsula. He reported that following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina the City hosted two public meetings on the subject attended by members from the Fire and Sheriff’s Departments, as well as experts from the private sector; that the City’s Emergency Preparedness Committee was developing a series of public service announcements to increase public awareness about preparing themselves for emergencies; that the Palos Verdes Community Emergency Response Team (PV CERT) would be conducting a mock disaster drill in October 2005; that County Animal Control, in concert with the Sheriff’s and Fire Departments and the local equestrian community had created the first equine evacuation and shelter plan for the area; and, that members of the Peninsula Amateur Radio Club recently participated in a 24-hour national emergency communications test at Peninsula High School. He advised the audience that there were 235 CERT and 38 Equine Response Team (ERT) members, 150 amateur radio operators trained in standard emergency communications, and that 80 percent of single-family residential areas in RPV participated in the Neighborhood Watch program.
Mayor Clark encouraged residents to make preparations for successfully surviving a major disaster by putting together emergency kits for their homes, places of business, and cars, including not only basics items such as water, food, flashlight, transistor radio, and a change of clothes, but personalized items to fit their individual family’s needs such as items for infants and pets, prescriptions, eyeglasses, et cetera. He recommended Ready.gov and Redcross.org as excellent online resources for information on emergency preparedness. He urged everyone to get involved by taking a first aid or CPR class; learning practical techniques for protecting their families and neighborhoods in the event of a disaster; and to donate and/or volunteer to relief organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army. He concluded by thanking staff for assembling this presentation on a timely topic and, on behalf of Council and the City’s residents, he thanked the Emergency Preparedness Committee for all they did for the benefit the community
Mayor Clark announced Bernard Stander and Donna Wilcox as Recyclers of the Month and urged everyone to participate in the City’s recycling program.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested incorporating Item No. 21, Update Regarding the Western Avenue Storm Damage Claims, with the City Manager Reports and that Council consider Item No’s. 15, General Plan Amendment, Zone Change and Environmental Assessment, and 16, Cost Proposal to Conduct 3rd Party Review for General Plan Amendment, Zone Change and Environmental Assessment, together rather than separated by Council Oral Reports.
Councilman Stern requested that Council consider Item No. 21 early in the meeting.
Councilman Gardiner requested that Item No. 22, Amendments to the Interim Production, Programming and Operational Policies for RPV-CTV Channel 33, be discussed following the Consent Calendar.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to approve the amended Agenda.
CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
Resignation of Public Works Director Allison
City Manager Evans announced that Director Allison had accepted a position as Director of Public Works for a city in the in the East Bay Area and would be resigning his position with the City in October 2005.
Mayor Clark congratulated Director Allison, noting that he has been a true leader and was on the front lines when the City’s had faced tremendous challenges during the heavy rains last winter. He voiced his gratitude for Director Allison’s years of dedicated service to the community.
Update Regarding the Western Avenue Storm Damage Claims
City Manager Evans provided a detailed overview of the staff report.
Councilman Stern commended the City Manager, staff, and the City Attorney for addressing the matter and moving it in the right direction. He voiced concern that the FHWA might deny reimbursement by claiming the problems were caused by deferred maintenance, saying that he sincerely hoped this did not happen. He explained that if all claims for reimbursement were unsuccessful and the City was obliged to repay Caltrans for the repairs at Summerland and Delasonde, the amount would be in addition to the $640,000 already spent and the total bill could be as much as $5 million.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to 1) Authorize the Mayor to sign letters to federal and state elected representatives seeking support for FHWA reimbursement for the Western Avenue sinkhole repair; and 2) Direct staff to make a public records request to the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles and Caltrans for documents related to the ownership of the drainage facilities on Western Avenue.
Mayor Clark thanked City Manager Evans and requested he keep Council apprised of the situation, noting that this was a very important topic to the City.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised the audience that items previously discussed and continued to a future meeting could be viewed on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested removal of Item No. 4, Accept Grant from the City of Rolling Hills for Acquisition of Open Space and Approve Applying for Grant Funds; and, Item No. 10, Notice of Completion for the Mira Vista Speed Hump Project, for comment.
Councilman Gardiner requested the removal of Item No. 11, Certification of Storm Drain User Fee Mailed Ballot Election, from the Consent Calendar.
Motion to Waive Full Reading
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council Members after the reading of the title.
Approval of Minutes
Adopted the Minutes of August 27, 2005 for the RPV Channel 33 Dedication and the Minutes of August 27, 2005 for the Founders Park Dedication.
Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain
Reviewed and reconfirmed by a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Council’s previous action on December 21, 2004 to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
Accept Grant from the City of Rolling Hills for Acquisition of Open Space and Approve Applying for Grant Funds
This item was removed and discussed immediately following approval of the Consent Calendar.
2005 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan
Directed Staff to forward the City’s Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan for the 2004-2005 Fiscal Year to the State Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Adoption of Ordinance No. 424 - Amending Provisions of Chapter 3.16 Governing the Collection of Transient Occupancy Tax and Amending the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 424, “AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 3.16 GOVERNING THE COLLECTION OF TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY TAX AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE.”
Adoption of Ordinance No. 425 - Amending Provisions of Chapter 8.28 Prohibiting Smoking at City Facilities, Except Within Designated Smoking Areas, and Amending the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 425, “AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 8.28 PROHIBITING SMOKING AT CITY FACILITIES, EXCEPT WITHIN DESIGNATED SMOKING AREAS, AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE.”
National Incident Management System
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-98, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ADOPTING THE NATIONAL INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AS THE CITY’S STANDARD FOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.
Notice of Completion for Palos Verdes Drive East (Via Del Plaza to 25TH Street) Slurry Seal Project
1) Accepted the work as complete; 2) Authorized the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder and, if no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, notice the surety company to exonerate the Payment and Performance bonds; and, 3) Authorized the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment to Roy Allan Slurry Seal Inc., 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the County Recorder contingent upon no claims being filed on the project and the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond.
Notice of Completion for the Mira Vista Speed Hump Project
Certification of Storm Drain User Fee Mailed Ballot Election
This item was removed and discussed immediately following approval of the Consent Calendar.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-99, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ALLOWING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEMANDS AND SPECIFYING FUNDS FROM WHICH THE SAME ARE TO BE PAID.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve the Consent Calendar with Item Nos. 4, 10, and 11 removed for discussion.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar, as amended, carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Clark
ITEMS REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR:
Accept Grant from the City of Rolling Hills for Acquisition of Open Space and Approve Applying for Grant Funds
Director Allison provided a brief staff report at Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz’s request.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that he was impressed with the amount of money the City of Rolling Hills was pledging towards the acquisition of open space in Portuguese Bend. He noted that Rolling Hills had the authority to designate these funds to RPV; that the money was not discretionary and could not be spent for any other purpose by RPV; and, if the funds were not used in this particular manner, they would revert back to the State of California for availability in other municipalities.
Director Allison concurred with the Mayor Pro Tem’s assessment.
Councilman Gardiner inquired if the City had formally thanked the City of Rolling Hills.
Mayor Clark advised that he personally attended the Rolling Hills City Council meeting to extend thanks on behalf of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Councilman Stern recommended that a formal written acknowledgment be sent.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-100, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ACCEPTING THE TRANSFER OF PER CAPITA FUNDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $220,000 UNDER THE CALIFORNIA CLEAN WATER, CLEAN AIR, SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS, AND COASTAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2002 FROM THE CITY OF ROLLING HILLS TO THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES; 2) Approve the application for grant funds from the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation Bond Act of 2002 (Proposition 40) for a Per Capita Grant in the amount of $220,000 toward the acquisition of critical natural lands and wildlife habitat in the Portuguese Bend area and Agua Amarga Canyon for preservation as open space; and, 3) Authorize the Mayor to send a thank you letter to the City of Rolling Hills Estates.
The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Gardiner, Stern, Wolowicz, Clark
Council members unanimously voiced their gratitude to Rolling Hills for their generous contribution to the preservation of open space in Portuguese Bend.
Notice of Completion for the Mira Vista Speed Hump Project
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz requested that Director Allison address concerns voiced by some residents in the Mira Vista neighborhood that the speed humps were not constructed at the proper height.
Director Allison explained that when Council originally authorized the project engineering plans were prepared for the speed humps specifying the height, length, width, and other related factors; that the asphalt was applied slightly higher than three inches to compensate for compression; and, that a machine was used to “squeegee” the material from one curbside to the other after which the asphalt was molded into form and rolled out in the final position of the speed hump. He indicated that immediately after construction began, staff began receiving questions about the humps meeting the specified three-inch height and twelve-inch width. He noted that streets on slopes present a variety of difficulties and explained that not only did the machine install the humps properly, but that an independent inspection was performed to verify that the measurements were correct. He reminded Council that the City had a very aggressive slurry and overlay program, saying that each time a neighborhood with speed humps underwent any street maintenance activity the speed humps would be re-measured. He indicated that there was now some level of acceptance of the new speed humps in the neighborhood; that the number of calls had decreased; and, that staff’s observation was that cars were traveling slower than they were prior to the speed hump installation. He advised Council that there would be a review conducted at the end of six months; saying that the matter would go back to the Traffic Safety Commission, and on to Council if necessary, to report on the issues raised when the speed humps were originally approved.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he was heartened by the fact that the total construction costs were approximately ten percent below the authorized budget.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 1) Accept the work as complete; 2) Authorize the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder and, if no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, notice the surety company to exonerate the Payment and Performance bonds; and, 3) Authorize the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment to Sully-Miller Construction Company 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the County Recorder contingent upon no claims being filed on the project and the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond.
The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Gardiner, Wolowicz, Long, Stern, Clark
Certification of Storm Drain User Fee Mailed Ballot Election
Councilman Gardiner inquired why Exhibit “A” was not the actual ballot measure that was mailed out to property owners.
City Attorney Lynch indicated Exhibit “A” was a statement of the measure that was voted on.
Councilman Gardiner stated that what was sent out looked nothing like Exhibit “A” although it was a portion of it.
City Attorney Lynch responded that it was not the complete ballot measure, but only the measure voted on.
Councilman Long suggested attaching all the ballot materials as Exhibit “A.”
City Attorney Lynch stated that she would recommend keeping them separate. She explained that there was a requirement to certify the actual measure voted on with the yes/no boxes, saying that everything else could be attached as a separate exhibit.
Councilman Long suggested attaching the ballot materials as Exhibit “C” and indicating so in the resolution.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-101, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES RECITING THE FACTS OF THE STORM DRAIN USER FEE MAILED BALLOT ELECTION, WHICH WAS CONCLUDED IN SAID CITY ON AUGUST 30, 2005, DECLARING THE RESULTS THEREOF AND SUCH OTHER MATTERS AS PROVIDED BY LAW, AS AMENDED TO INCLUDE AN EXHIBIT WITH ALL BALLOT MATERIALS.
The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Stern, Clark
# # # # # #
ITEM TAKEN OUT OF ORDER:
Amendments to the Interim Production, Programming and Operational Policies for RPV-CTV Channel 33
Councilman Gardiner reported that he added this item to the Agenda because he and City Manager Evans were out of town when the matter first came up. He explained that it originated with an inquiry about broadcasting Peninsula High School football games on Channel 33, which he believed was a reasonable request but went beyond the programming Council had limited the new channel to during the first six months of operation; that other issues subsequently arose regarding broadcasting Library events and candidate forums; and, that the Assistant City Manager and City Attorney had crafted a generic approach to deal with these specific questions.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that staff had prepared a draft program request form which would accompany the proposed changes to the Interim Policies and that the form was included in the Council’s late correspondence.
Councilman Gardiner asked if the proposed revisions delegated decision-making authority to Ms. Holt, Manager of Channel 33, to handle these specific kinds of questions and whether it also retained the City’s intent not to be forced into broadcasting programs it did not want to.
City Attorney Lynch explained that a category was added, Programming of Community Events, for those things not necessarily produced or commissioned by the City, saying that staff attempted to focus on a narrow group of events featuring RPV residents and their accomplishments, i.e., school events, performing arts, and recreation and sports.
Councilman Long questioned the definitions of “unique ceremonies” and “community special events,” saying that those terms were very broad and needed to be defined more precisely.
City Attorney Lynch clarified that a “community special event” could be a Library District affair or a Teacher of the Year ceremony, saying that those categories could be removed if Council so desired.
Councilman Long recommended including more exacting definitions, noting that anyone could make the argument that they were having a unique event.
Mayor Clark advised his colleagues that all four cities, in conjunction with the School and Library Boards, would soon be participating in an event where they would be reporting on the year’s events for each of their agencies, saying that type of event certainly warranted coverage on Channel 33 in his opinion.
Councilman Long agreed, noting that he would feel more comfortable defining it as Chamber of Commerce events or functions sponsored by one or more governmental entities on the Peninsula.
Councilman Stern concurred with Mayor Clark and Councilman Long.
Ted Vegvari, Palos Verdes on the Net, indicated that he was hopeful that the policies could include some language that would authorize a period of time each day for the studio interns to air some of their productions after being reviewed by Ms. Holt.
City Manager Evans indicated that this type of programming was already included in the current definition since the materials would be produced in the City’s multimedia studio under the direction of Mr. Vegvari and/or Ms. Holt.
City Attorney Lynch noted the problem with airing the high school football games was that they were produced by Booster Clubs and were not commissioned by the City. She suggested adding Chamber of Commerce events and those sponsored by one or more governmental entities to the list of eligible productions.
Councilman Stern stated that it would be prudent to construe things as narrowly as possible because the basic rule required programming to be commissioned by the City with only a few exceptions.
City Manager Evans cautioned that changing the policy would likely open Channel 33 for use by the Cities of Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, and Rolling Hills since they were all governmental agencies.
Councilman Gardiner noted that the programming content would still be at the discretion of the City’s Channel 33 Director who reported to Council, saying that not all requests would receive automatic approval.
City Manager Evans recommended that Council approve the high school football games and Library District events for the time being and take some more time to consider the other items more thoroughly.
Councilman Long suggested the inclusion of any school sporting event, rather than limiting it specifically to football.
Ms. Holt reminded Council that Channel 33 was an educational access channel, saying that matters related to official governmental activities should be broadcast on government access Channel 3 if the entity was part of the cable television franchise. She explained that Channel 33 was intended to provide additional cable access for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, as well as non-governmental and nonprofit agencies that had education as part of their mission, saying that it was important for the City to maintain control over the programming to reflect that mission and to ensure conformance with the policies and procedures Council previously adopted for the operation of the channel.
City Attorney Lynch concurred with City Manager Evans, saying that in light of the various concerns it would be most judicious to only authorize adding the Library District events and high school football, and to bring the matter back for further consideration.
Councilman Long again requested including all school special events or sporting events, rather than confining it just to football.
Ms. Holt advised that a representative from the League of Women Voters recently inquired whether Channel 33 would replay some of the Candidates’ Forums.
City Attorney Lynch replied that Candidates’ Forums were already included in the Policy previously adopted by Council, as long as an impartial, non-advocacy group like the League of Women Voters conducted them.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz said that he thought a list of programming should be made available for Council’s review to get some idea of the content, adding that Council would not always have a chance to see everything that was aired and might wind up in the position of hearing from the community about a particular program’s content and be unprepared to respond. He stated that he was interested in broadcasting some previously produced programming by the Sheriff’s and Fire Departments related to crime prevention, public safety and emergency preparedness and inquired whether it might be considered appropriate programming under the Community Information/Public Affairs category. He noted that, while he understood that Channel 33 was undergoing the initial programming buildup, some of the broadcasts had become quite repetitive and he was hopeful that something could be done to resolve that soon.
Councilman Stern advocated moving forward very cautiously, saying that he would rather not create a problem by trying to solve an issue that did not immediate attention. He stated that he would prefer to follow the City Attorney’s suggestion of approving a narrow authorization and directing staff and the Cable Committee to study the issue more thoroughly and bring the matter back to Council before making further decisions.
Councilman Gardiner agreed with Councilman Stern’s comments. He explained that the Cable Committee was currently working on acquiring programming software that would allow a program to be scheduled at a particular time, saying that the current software did not have that capability.
Mr. Vegvari indicated that a newer version software was recently acquired that would for allow specific timing of the programs.
Councilman Long maintained that the issue before Council was very narrow regarding what types of programming would be accepted that were not directly commissioned by the City, saying that it appeared his colleagues were prepared to allow school recreation or sports events, and Library District events.
City Manager Evans cautioned that even “recreation events” could be considered a rather loosely defined term.
Commissioner Long clarified that the definition should include only officially sanctioned school recreational events.
City Attorney Lynch reiterated her recommendation to authorize only high school football games and Library District sponsored events until the issue could be more carefully refined.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve airing the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library District’s “Biz Assist” and Palos Verdes High School football games on RPV-CTV Channel 33; and 2) Direct staff to further revise the Interim Production, Programming and Operational Polices for RPV-CTV Channel 33 to allow certain categories of programs not produced or commissioned to be shown on Channel 33 and to bring the Interim Policies back for review by the Cable Television Subcommittee and City Council.
Councilman Long maintained that by taking this very narrow approach Council was inviting micromanagement, saying that he was hopeful that staff and his colleagues might consider something a bit broader. He stated that, while “ceremonies and community special events” was too vague; “football games” was too narrow. He asked why water polo or basketball or a host of other sporting activities should not also be included.
Councilman Stern remarked that Council was being prudent by dealing with the immediate situation and directing staff to return with a policy addressing the matter in a more generic fashion.
Councilman Long concurred, as long as staff was instructed that Council desired something broader.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Gardiner, Wolowicz, Stern, Long, Clark
Revision "X" to the Trump National Golf Club Project [Continued from September 6, 2005]
Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost presented a summary staff report, including increasing the maximum habitable area allowed for two-story lots; and, changing the way the maximum building height was measured to allow for walk-out basements and semi-subterranean garages in Tract No. 50667. He noted that staff was concerned about the aesthetic impacts associated with the two story facades created and large retaining walls needed to accommodate a semi-subterranean garage on Lot Nos. 24 and 25.
Councilman Stern noted that the home in question on Lot No. 24 would have the appearance of a two-story structure when viewed from the street.
Deputy Director Pfost agreed, but reminded Council that La Rotonda Drive was elevated so that when motorists drove around the corner from Palos Verdes Drive South onto La Rotonda Drive, they would be, in essence, looking down into the lot and would not actually see the full two-story elevation.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that the applicant was seeking approval to grade over 2:1 slopes on Lot Nos. 24 and 25 in Tract No. 50667 to accommodate the driveways to the semi-subterranean garage and on Lot No. 29 to accommodate a pool.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked how much the manufactured slope on Lot No. 24 differed from the natural slope that previously existed.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that he did not recall what the natural slope looked like because the property had been graded to its current configuration several years earlier.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz remarked that he was quite concerned that the retaining wall combined with the manufactured slope would create a danger to the future homeowner.
Deputy Director Pfost advised Council that from a structural standpoint a retaining wall could be built on an extreme slope, saying that he did not believe it would pose a danger to the residents.
Councilman Gardiner inquired if staff had any issues besides aesthetics on Lot No. 24, saying that he assumed the Trump organization could mitigate the visual impacts of changing the manufactured slope by adding landscape screening.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that staff found no other problems with the proposed revisions to Lot No. 24, except for the aesthetics of the two-story facades and the fact that the retaining walls were going to extend out further than initially planned.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that the developer was also requesting to change the treatment of the front and rear facades in Tract No. 50667 to allow for full two-story architectural elements. He explained that the developer’s final request was related to Lot D, an open space lot in Tract No. 50666 located adjacent to the Portuguese Bend Club. He explained that the developer was required to build a wall along the property line, but that the location of the proposed wall would create problems for the two existing homes closest to Palos Verdes Drive South. He indicated that because one was built very close to the property line, the wall would be under the eave line of the house and on the second lot, the property line was located midway down the slope, making the wall very difficult to construct. Mr. Pfost stated that the developer and the property owners were willing to do a Lot Line Adjustment to correct the problem and allow the fence to be constructed in a more appropriate location. The Lot Line Adjustment would change the acreage of Lot D from 1.4 acres to 1.0 acre, which would still comply with the original conditions of approval for this tract.
With regard to Lot D, Councilman Gardiner reported that he visited the property, walked the boundary in question, and spoke with the neighbors. He indicated that he felt the Trump organization was being very helpful by making the property available to accommodate adjacent homeowners and by installing a wall in a location that would shield their properties from headlights that would otherwise shine into their properties as vehicles turned the corner into the development.
Councilman Stern asked if the public trail would be impacted in any way.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that it would not.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked if the area being reduced from 1.4 to 1.0 acre was tied specifically to the additional land being given to the neighbors and the need for a higher wall to be built.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated that the location of the wall would move higher up the slope, but the actual height of the wall would remain the same. He reported that there was agreement among the parties that a Lot Line Adjustment was necessary but the exact configuration was still being determined. He noted that the homeowners located closer to the ocean had also requested lot line adjustments, adding that negotiations were taking place between the developer and those property owners.
Councilman Gardiner suggested taking each of the issues one by one, since some were relatively straightforward and others required more careful consideration.
Vincent Stellio, representing Trump National, explained that they were asking Council to grant them the flexibility to complete the lot line adjustment in order to accommodate building the perimeter wall in a more appropriate location. He stated that it was impossible to build along certain portions of the existing property line due to the topography and existing improvements. Mr. Stellio indicated that he was working with his engineers and City staff to determine the exact amount of land required to achieve the desired result, noting that it appeared to be approximately ten feet in most locations. He indicated that the Trump organization had made a concerted effort to work with the affected neighbors and explained that some extra land that was not required for the driving range had been dedicated to the City as open space, that there would be no net loss of City parkland.
Councilman Stern clarified that the Trump organization did not know exactly where the lot line adjustment would be made, but was requesting enough flexibility so that Lot D could be reduced, but in no case would it be less than 1.0 acre in size. He inquired if, after the final location of the adjusted property line had been determined, if 1.2 acres of land remained, that land would be dedicated to the City as open space.
Mr. Stellio stated that Councilman Stern’s example was correct, contingent upon the Coastal Commission’s final approval. He advised that in some areas along the boundary more land would be required due to the topography but, if 1.2 acres remained after the wall has been constructed, that amount of acreage would be dedicated to the City as open space.
Jim Beck, Maritime Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke in favor of the lot line adjustment, saying that all the parties had worked very well together and that he was hopeful the revision to this section of the boundary line would pave the way for the adjustments needed by several of the neighbors.
Chip Zelt, Sea Horse Lane, Rancho Palos Verdes, echoed Mr. Beck’s sentiments.
Jessica Leeds, Palos Verdes Drive South, Ranch Palos Verdes, voiced her support for the lot line adjustment, saying that she was heartened by the Trump organization’s concern for its adjacent neighbors. She advised Council that her situation was different from the other affected properties because the development’s entry road would run next to her home and the headlights from vehicles turning left into the development from Palos Verdes Drive South would shine directly into her home. She thanked Deputy Director Pfost and Mr. Stellio for being so helpful and urged Council to agree to the request to reduce the acreage of the open space lot so that the residents could have the property line adjusted to resolve the resident’s issues.
Councilman Gardiner asked if Ms. Leeds would be protected from the headlights if the wall was built at the top of the slope rather than down below.
Ms. Leeds remarked that it would be wonderful, but noted that the property line was currently at the bottom of the slope and if the wall was built on the property line, it would not be good for her at all.
Mr. Stellio explained that if the wall were built on the existing property line it would practically be in Ms. Leeds’ living room, and indicated that if the property line was not adjusted, he would probably not build the wall at all because it would be too difficult to get the machinery in to do the work without causing damage to her structure. He noted that her house was significantly lower than the grade of the roadway, that the entry road would be in almost in the same location as the one previously approved, and stated that in his opinion the headlights would not bother her, but noted that moving the wall to the top of the slope would provide her with additional privacy. He reported they had been discussing the matter for quite some time and were getting close to reaching a satisfactory agreement. Mr. Stellio indicated that he had informed all the neighbors that everything was contingent on getting approval from the Coastal Commission to reduce the size of the open space lot.
Ms. Leeds exhibited a map and some photographs illustrating her home and where the entry road would be located, explaining that from the road one could look directly into her house which was also where the lights would shine in. She noted that Mr. Stellio advised her in June that a wall could be built at the top of the slope to protect her house from the headlights coming in, saying that she was hopeful this or another solution would alleviate her situation.
Councilman Stern observed that the question appeared to be where the lot line adjustment would actually be and whether it would be high enough on the slope to protect Ms. Leeds’ property from the headlights. He inquired if Ms. Leeds was requesting that a wall be built higher up on the slope to deflect the lights.
Ms. Leeds responded that either building the wall at the top of the slope or providing enough land for her to plant trees or shrubs that could grow high enough to protect her from the oncoming lights would solve the problem. She indicated that the entry road would be a public street with a sidewalk, saying that she was concerned because her lot would be very exposed and that people sitting in their cars would be able to look into her home. She requested consideration be given to protecting her privacy and indicated that she was willing to contribute financially to remedy the situation.
Phil Pond, Maritime Road, Ranch Palos Verdes, explained that his property was at the south end of the property line in question and that on his property the line ran down the center of a gully with a history of being eroded and then refilled to restore the property. He indicated that the last time the gully was filled in, a patio slab was poured on top to prevent further erosion as recommended by the soils engineer, but that a portion of the patio ended up being located on the golf course property. He expressed his hope that the new property line could be angled so the patio would be located entirely on his property. He stated the property line was 120 feet long, noting that he did not need 1,200 square feet added to his lot but only enough to include the patio and some trees that had been planted to prevent further erosion.
David Gakenheimer, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that he had recently become President of the Portuguese Bend Homeowners Association and was present to help represent all the homeowners with property lines abutting the Trump development. He stated that they would like an opportunity to negotiate with the Trump organization regarding the placement of the boundary wall and the final location of the lot line, saying that it was impractical to build a wall on the current lot line especially for the Leeds’ and Olson’s homes and that there were other issues associated with different homes, such as the situation described by Mr. Pond, that merited serious consideration. He urged Council to allow the open space lot to be reduced to no less than 1.0 acre, which was the configuration that existed until June 2005, and allow the Trump organization a chance to negotiate with each homeowner individually to decide where the wall should be located. He thanked Deputy Director Pfost for his assistance and Council for their consideration.
Mayor Clark inquired about what would happen if Council authorized the lot line adjustment and the negotiations with the Trump organization did not work out favorably for the homeowners.
Deputy Director Pfost answered that Trump National was required to build the wall and, if they were unable to do so, they would need to amend that particular condition of their project and find some other alternative.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that Council craft a motion that would provide sufficient flexibility to allow the parties to negotiate, rather than mandating a particular solution, provided the open space lot was not reduced to less than 1.0 acre in size.
Councilman Stern agreed that flexibility was warranted, but added that the 1.4-acre lot should only be reduced to the extent necessary to accomplish the lot line adjustment. He stated that allowing Trump National the flexibility to reduce the open space lot down to a minimum of 1.0 acre provided more than enough latitude to relocate the property line to accommodate everyone concerned.
Councilman Long requested to split the question between the lot line adjustment and the single family development standards associated with Tract No. 50667.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to direct staff to negotiate with the adjacent property owners, the homeowners association and Trump National Golf Club regarding the lot line adjustments along the west side property line, to reduce Lot D to the least extent necessary to accomplish the goals of constructing the perimeter fence and avoiding existing private improvements, but in no case shall Lot D be less than 1.0 acre in size.
Councilman Gardiner asked Mayor Pro Tem Long whether the intent was that the City would facilitate the negotiation or whether the affected property owners would work it out among themselves.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that he assumed the parties would negotiate a solution and it would then come back to Council for a final decision.
Deputy Director Pfost clarified that the lot line adjustment would be a ministerial staff-level decision.
Mayor Pro Tem Long modified his motion to indicate that staff would facilitate the negotiations between the parties and process the resulting lot line adjustment in the normal manner.
Councilman Stern proposed an amendment to the motion to clarify that no portion of the 1.4 acres be lost to any other purpose than completing the lot line adjustment.
Mayor Pro Tem accepted Councilman Stern’s proposed amendment to the motion.
Without objection, Mayor Clark declared that the motion passed, as amended.
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:57 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:09 p.m.
Mr. Stellio thanked Council and staff for assisting with the application for the driving range and apologized to the neighbors who were inconvenienced during the construction process, especially with some work that took place on a Sunday. He announced that the driving range was completed the previous Thursday, two weeks ahead of schedule.
Mayor Clark noted that the five changes now under consideration affected various lots in Tract No. 50667, which Councilman Gardiner suggested during the break be addressed individually.
Dana Ireland, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Trump National had done a tremendous job completing the public amenities associated with the project, including the realignment of Palos Verdes Drive South, adding new benches and walkways throughout the project, the adjoining public park, the use of genuine rock walls, and the arched bridge adjacent to the main entrance to cite a few examples. He indicated that if the aesthetics of the proposed private homes were at issue, the Trump organization certainly deserved the benefit of the doubt based on what they had produced to date in terms of public improvements. He opined that the matter certainly deserved some attention in this discussion and merited a debt of gratitude from the community for the creation of such a tremendous asset by a private developer.
Mr. Stellio addressed Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz’s earlier comment about the safety of the manufactured slope and retaining wall by informing Council that the wall by the pool would be no different than the T-boxes that had been constructed at various locations on the golf course. He explained that the method of construction was very similar to the retaining wall Council previously approved on Lot No. 2. He indicated that the wall would be covered with stone veneer and that there were other ways to enhance the wall appearance with planter boxes and landscaping, noting they wanted everything associated with the project to blend in and not to create an eyesore.
Luis De Moraeo, architect for Trump National, provided a PowerPoint presentation and a virtual tour to illustrate some of the design features of the proposed project changes.
Councilman Stern requested that a copy of the virtual tour be made a part of the official record.
Councilman Stern asked Mr. De Moraeo if an individual walking down La Rotonda Drive would be able to look back over their shoulder and see any of the garage on Lot No. 24 and if it would appear to be a two-story home or if the line of sight would preclude seeing the bottom level of the structure.
Mr. De Moraeo explained that there was no sidewalk along the west side of La Rotonda Drive, therefore someone would have to step over landscaping next to the roadway in order to get close enough to the fence to look down into the lot and see that garage.
Mr. Stellio explained that the area Councilman Stern was asking about would be a planted area.
Mr. De Moraeo stated his goal in designing the homes was to protect the aesthetic integrity of the coastline and provide a product that was tasteful and visually pleasing.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz reiterated his concern about the safety of the retaining wall on Lot No. 29, reminding his colleagues that it was not just a manufactured slope but was a remanufactured slope that would bear the weight of the pool against it.
Mr. Stellio explained that the retaining wall on Lot No. 29 was really no different than the large water feature on Hole No. 1 on the golf course, saying that it was a massive structure that was built on engineered slopes and was very stable. He indicated that the retaining wall on Lot No. 29 would be designed to meet any geologic concerns, noting that soils studies would be conducted to determine the necessary specifications to build a structure that will stabilize the land beneath it. He indicated that although the City did not require the same criteria for a swimming pool as it did for the water features on the golf course, Trump National would apply the same standards not only because they preferred not to sell a $7 million home with issues tied to it but also because in California there was a requirement to guarantee home construction for 10 years.
Councilman Stern asked for staff confirmation that if Council were to approve the pool retaining wall on Lot No. 29, the City would require a full geologic and structure analysis before issuing a building permit for the wall.
Deputy Director Pfost confirmed that Councilman Stern’s statement was true.
Councilman Stern voiced concern regarding the height of the retaining walls and their visibility. He maintained that the issue needed to be carefully addressed to ensure there was no visual impact, particularly on Lots 24 and 25.
Mr. De Moraeo stated that the Council could require the retaining wall to be broken into a series of segments stepping down the slope to mitigate any concern about the wall appearing to be too massive.
Mr. Stellio indicated that Trump National was willing to use planter boxes that could accommodate very tall plants at the bottom of the wall, along with vine-type plants that would grow down from the top, to cover the retaining wall similar to the landscaping used for the driving range wall. He noted that the use of landscaping in combination with the stone veneer selected for the wall itself would essentially allow it to disappear into the background.
Councilman Long, noting staff’s comment that allowing construction of the swimming pool over the extreme slope in Lot No. 29 would be inconsistent with the City’s Municipal Code, inquired about the exact inconsistency.
Deputy Director Pfost responded that it was inconsistent the Municipal Code because the Code prohibited habitable structures and accessory structures like pools from being built on extreme slopes.
Councilman Long further inquired what authority would allow an exception to be granted to that Code requirement.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council that typically a variance could be granted due to unique topographic circumstances; however, because this project was a Residential Planned Development (RPD), the City was allowed greater flexibility in deviating from the normal residential standards.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz reiterated his concern about the safety of the retaining walls. He requested that staff confirm that the issue it was concerned about was the aesthetics created by building a massive wall on a downhill slope with a 3:1 grade rather than the geologic and structural safety of the retaining walls.
Deputy Director Pfost maintained that staff’s concern was with the aesthetics of the proposed retaining walls and not about the safety of their construction.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that he understood staff’s concern regarding the building heights on Lots 24, 25, and 29, noting that he was also concerned with the additional basement features being added one at a time and a pattern developing that the same request would soon be made for the other lots within this project.
Mr. Stellio reported that they had attempted to address this concern when they initially brought the basement issue before Council. He indicated that the setbacks and maximum habitable square footage requirements for the tract were based on one- and two-story dwellings, saying that no consideration was given in the original approvals to the possibility of providing subterranean living areas. He explained that the developer had decided to utilize the area under the building pad to provide additional living space without impacting the view. He noted this decision came at a fairly high cost because, while this type of development was common on the East Coast, it was quite expensive to build in California. He remarked that no adjustments to the approved building footprint were necessary in order to build underground. He recommended that they work with staff to devise a formula that everyone was comfortable with so the issue did not need to be brought back to Council every time they developed the next two or three homes in the project.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz indicated that he was comfortable that the developer was complying with the maximum square footage requirement for each residence, but indicated that he would prefer to consider all of the lots at one time if there was a pattern being established.
Mr. Stellio stated that he, too, would prefer to get approval for all of the lots at one time but indicated that it was not possible because the homes were designed in small groups to provide unique characteristics and features for each one rather than giving them the appearance of high-end tract homes. He remarked that they were doing everything within their power to make certain the homes were as beautiful as possible and reflected the same type of attention to detail that was evidenced in the golf course.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that was the two-story appearance of the homes that Council was addressing that evening and was essentially the issue the Planning Department would be dealing with in the future.
Mr. Stellio explained that the entire home would not have a two-story appearance, but only in the area where the subterranean garages were located, saying that was not a large area and, with proper landscaping and positioning, it would not be highly visible. He indicated that this particular application was somewhat easier because there were already four two-story homes approved on the lots surrounding the lots in question, which allowed this group of homes to blend in. He remarked that when the conditions were originally developed it was Council’s goal to protect the view sheds between the homes as well as from the road, the sidewalks, and other homes. He reported that there were no view issues for the existing homes in the area because they were positioned at a much higher elevation, saying that the developer’s primary objective was to maintain the integrity of the views from the roadway. He reported that they would continue to bring matters back for Council’s review and to initiate feedback from staff so any necessary adjustments could be made and everyone would be pleased with the completed project.
Councilman Gardiner remarked that he very much appreciated the virtual tour and PowerPoint presentation, noting that everything that Trump National had done to date was first class and there was nothing that he found to be troubling in these proposals.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz to approve the applicant’s request to 1) Increase the maximum habitable space for Lot Nos. 26-29, 2) Permit exterior basement patio areas on Lot Nos. 24-29; and, 3) Allow modifications to the treatment of the front and rear facades of the homes to allow two-story elements. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Clark, to approve partially subterranean garages on Lot Nos. 24 and 25 and permit the proposed construction and grading over slopes 3:1 or steeper on Lot Nos. 24, 25 and 29.
Councilman Stern indicated he would be inclined to support the motion with the proviso that staff draft conditions of approval focusing on mitigating the negative aesthetics of the retaining walls.
City Attorney Lynch suggested that staff bring back a resolution at the next Council meeting rather than attempting to craft the conditions of approval that evening.
Councilman Stern commented that the virtual tour convinced him that the appearance of two-story homes as one enters the tract on La Rotonda Drive would not be an issue, but that he was still concerned with the retaining walls proposed for Lot Nos. 24, 25, and 29 and wanted to be absolutely certain that the approval included well crafted conditions to address the aesthetic issues.
Mayor Clark stated Councilman Stern’s concerns were understood and the motion could be amended with Councilman Gardiner’s consent for staff to prepare the conditions of approval to address the concerns expressed and bring back the resolutions for adoption at the next meeting.
Councilman Gardiner indicated he would be happy to include Councilman Stern’s points in his motion, noting his understanding that Council was merely providing a framework from which to move forward, rather than approving the final building plans for the homes.
As the seconder of the motion, Mayor Clark also agreed to the modification.
Councilman Long inquired if the City had permitted the construction of a swimming pool over an extreme slope in the past.
Directory Rojas answered that it had only been done with a variance.
Councilman Long asked what the findings would be for a variance.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that unique topographic features or other physical constraints on the lot that prohibited it from being developed in accordance with the usual development standards could be grounds to grant a variance. She noted that the request would also have to be found consistent with the City’s General Plan.
Councilman Long asked if staff believed the situation of Lot No. 29 with the drainage easements was an appropriate situation in which to grant such a variance.
Director Rojas explained that the presence of the drainage easements on the lot was probably the greatest justification for approving a variance.
Councilman Long declared he did not believe it was appropriate to casually permit swimming pools to be constructed over extreme slopes and would have preferred the matter’s being brought forth as a variance. He echoed Councilman Stern's concerns, saying that his initial inclination was to agree with staff to deny the partially subterranean garages on Lot Nos. 24 and 25 and deny the proposed construction and grading over slopes 3:1 or steeper on Lot Nos. 24, 25 and 29, but that he would reluctantly support the motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz stated that he hoped Council was not sending a mixed message to staff regarding construction over an extreme slope only to discover later that it has placed itself in the position of being presented with a similar situation and being unable to deny the request and enforce the existing rules.
Mayor Clark explained that Residential Planned Developments afforded greater flexibility than other properties because they were approved and developed taking into consideration the totality of their features, so that a variance was not necessary to modify such a project. He noted that other amendments to an RPD might come forward in the future that Council may or may not approve.
Councilman Stern reiterated that he would like the developer’s PowerPoint presentation to be made part of the official public record on this item.
Mr. Stellio invited the public to attend the LPGA/Office Depot golf tournament that will be held at Trump National Golf Club from September 28 through October 2, 2006, that the event would be shown on television and would showcase the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Mayor Clark called the question and the motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Wolowicz, Gardiner, Long and Mayor Clark
In Lieu Affordable Housing Fund Program
Mayor Clark opened the Public Hearing and asked if there was a need for a summary staff report.
City Manager Evans indicated that a question had come up several times about how staff had made the transition from the various alternatives to the recommendation and suggested that staff address this specific point.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that a variety of alternatives for the in lieu fee were presented in a chart in the staff report, ranging from very high to more modest. He indicated that staff had chosen the “blended” in lieu fee $201,562 per affordable unit in large part because it was enough of a subsidy to provide one affordable rental unit while the existing fee was not sufficient for this purpose. He stated that staff had chosen an affordable rental unit over a for sale unit due to the high cost of land and scarcity of vacant land in the City and the fact that there was an adequate supply of existing rental units already available for this purpose. He indicated that if the City required the for sale unit in lieu fee, staff expected a greater number of requests from developers to be exempted from paying the fee due to financial infeasibility.
Councilman Stern commented that the numbers associated with the various alternatives were quite varied. He cited as a concrete example the Trump National project, which had been recently reduced to approximately 50 residential lots, saying that this number of units at $5 million each would equate to $250 million and would dictate five affordable units. He noted that applying the most expensive alternative would add $5 million of cost to the project, saying that he realized it was an extreme example but it was not outrageous to him to add $5 million in cost to a project that would sell for $250 million dollars. Recognizing that the City was nearly developed to capacity, he remarked that the only pending residential project he could think of was Point View, saying that 80 homes at approximately $2- to $3 million each would sell for approximately $150 to $200 million in total and would dictate the provision of eight affordable units. He remarked that $7 to $8 million did not seem to be a staggering amount with a total sale price of this magnitude and questioned how staff evaluated the figures.
Deputy Director Pfost explained that staff’s focus was on which alternative would actually provide the affordable units the City needed. He indicated that if a market rate development paid the million dollars required per affordable unit, the City would have to take that money and use it to buy market rate units and resell them as affordable units, otherwise the developer might raise a nexus issue if the funds were used to provide rental units, even though it could result in twice as many affordable units being provided. He explained that staff looked at the alternative of taking market rate money and buying market rate products, but then the question became whether that was available and practical in Rancho Palos Verdes, given the resale restrictions and the fact that the City would have to monitor the unit for a period of thirty years. He stated that it would be much easier if the City could hire a non-profit affordable housing agency to manage rental units. He indicated the most important thing to consider when looking at the residential versus non-residential fees was that a higher in lieu fee amount might make more sense on a residential project but, on a non-residential project like the Long Point resort hotel, using the same fee amount would require the developer to pay much more to provide affordable housing. He suggested that it made more sense to look at rental units for non-residential projects since they did not typically have areas available on site for housing.
Councilman Long understood that for non-residential projects the City was required to offer the option of an in lieu fee, whereas for residential projects the City was not required to provide this option, but could allow it at its discretion.
City Attorney Lynch clarified that Council had this option under the City’s current ordinance.
Councilman Long noted that in some cases it might be so impractical for a non-residential project to provide affordable housing on site that it would expose the City’s ordinance to challenge.
City Attorney Lynch concurred.
Councilman Long queried why the in lieu fee needed to be set in advance rather than looking at these very same factors with more current data the next time a project came before the City for approval.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council against setting the in lieu fee on a case-by-case basis, saying that it could create the appearance that the City was discriminating against a particular project. She recommended establishing a fixed fee, saying that if Council was concerned that the fee was too high, a more moderate amount could be established. She reminded Council that the developer still had an opportunity to demonstrate why it would be impractical under their specific circumstances to pay the in lieu fee and Council could adjust the fee accordingly at that time.
Councilman Long indicated rental rates were perhaps a bit more stable than home prices, but observed that Council was in essence taking a wild stab in the dark by setting the fee at the current time without knowing the economic conditions that would be in effect the next time a project came before it for approval.
City Attorney Lynch agreed that Councilman Long’s assessment might be true based on increasing construction costs, et cetera, and suggested that Council could include some type of inflator or CPI adjustment as part of the in lieu fee.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz asked if including such an inflation factor would be a practical means to move this item forward.
City Attorney Lynch advised that it would.
Councilman Gardiner reminded his colleagues that he had indicated that he was not in favor of in lieu fees the last time this issue came before Council and inquired why the City was prohibited from determining that the City was no longer interested in setting in lieu fees and would instead require the developer to provide the affordable units on site.
City Attorney Lynch cited the example of a small project, such as a four-lot subdivision, and explained that requiring the developer to make one of these units affordable could make the whole project, which could subject the City to a challenge on the grounds that it had not been reasonable in its application of the ordinance.
Councilman Gardiner suggested establishing a minimum threshold and specifying that any subdivisions with more lots would be ineligible to pay in-lieu fees.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the minimum threshold was currently set at five or more lots. She stated that she believed as a matter of constitutional integrity that it was imperative to include an escape mechanism in the ordinance to provide developers with an opportunity to explain their particular circumstances.
Councilman Gardiner maintained that he would favor a very narrow escape valve, declaring that he would like the City to get out of the in-lieu collection business and into the business of developers building the houses so that this topic was no longer an issue for the City.
Councilman Long expressed his sympathy with Councilman Gardiner’s position. He commented that he was also mindful that the City was compelled to have an in-lieu fee, saying that the question then became where to set it and what type of inflator to include because the City may not be faced with the project that would require payment of the fee for many years to come.
Councilman Stern commented that he philosophically agreed with Councilman Gardiner, saying that the purpose of this ordinance was to provide affordable housing units and that the developer of a given project was the best agent to accomplish this goal. He stated that he would like the ordinance to make it patently clear that the favored outcome was to provide affordable units, noting that he too would rather not collect in lieu fees and having the burden to providing the affordable housing shifted to the City. He indicated that he was also sensitive to the fact that a safety valve was necessary so that Council’s discretion could come into play in those circumstances where the developer could demonstrate that it was not feasible for them to provide the affordable units.
City Attorney Lynch reminded Council that it had the option to not allow the in-lieu fee for a particular project under the existing ordinance.
Councilman Stern remarked that this was merely an option and not a stated preference.
City Attorney Lynch observed that current Council’s stated preference was to require the developer to build affordable housing but noted that previous Councils allowed the developers of big projects to forego that obligation and to pay the City a rather low in lieu fee instead.
Councilman Gardiner suggested proceeding by not requiring affordable housing to be built for commercial and non-residential projects; making the default that a developer who built a residential project with more than a specified number of homes be required to provide affordable units; and, including an infeasibility finding for cases with extenuating circumstances.
Councilman Long stated that his position was similar in the sense that he wanted the City to collect the in lieu fee for non-residential projects, but that he would prefer the ordinance be structured for residential projects to indicate that the requirement was to build affordable units unless Council made the finding that such a requirement would make the project infeasible, in which case the in-lieu fee would be considered as an alternative.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz wholeheartedly agreed that the City should get out of the business of amassing in lieu fees. He commented that the City had collected over a million dollars to date, and observed while this appeared to be a substantial amount of money, it did not go very far in a community like Rancho Palos Verdes.
Dana Ireland, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that he would soon be bringing a five-unit residential subdivision to the City for approval. He suggested that it might not be appropriate for the City to set the threshold at five units and require his project to include a low-income unit in that particular neighborhood. He opined that the in-lieu fee was a viable alternative to requiring a small residence that would be totally out of character with the remainder of the development to be built there. He remarked that it seemed more appropriate to include an area for low-income housing as part of the larger developments, but that it might not be the best design or optimal utilization of land for smaller developments. He reminded Council that the Lowe’s hotel development was considered a rental facility but in actuality the casitas were being sold for $1.9 million and up, saying that the casitas should be considered as residential units and trigger the requirement for this developer to provide low-income housing. He contended that a five-unit subdivision was a small project and requested that Council reconsider the minimum threshold and increase the number of lots that triggered the construction of affordable units. He stated that some might argue that he was being self-serving but he urged Council to think about the quality of the project that would ultimately be developed as a result of this ordinance.
Councilman Gardiner asked staff how many more affordable housing units the City was required to provide.
Deputy Director Pfost indicated the required number was currently thirteen, with four of these units having already been satisfied by the Trump golf course project.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 1) Conceptually approve the blended in-lieu fee outlined in the staff report; 2) Direct staff to bring back proposed changes to the ordinance to clearly specify a preference for the construction of new affordable housing units over the payment of an in-lieu fee, including specific criteria to be used to determine when construction of such units was financially infeasible; 3) Direct staff to recommend an inflation factor index that would be the most appropriate for an affordable housing in-lieu fee; and, 4) Continue the public hearing to October 18, 2005.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz clarified for Mr. Ireland that the affordable unit did not have to be built on the project site but could be built in another location in the City, declaring that this was a significant point. He expressed some consternation that Council was addressing this topic again without the benefit of staff’s recommendations on the minimum number of units it should apply to, as well as staff’s responses to the other requests that he had made at the August 16, 2005 meeting. He supported the concept of a set dollar amount for the in lieu fee with an inflation factor included; specifying a minimum number of units under which the in-lieu fee would be acceptable; and, he reiterated his request from the August meeting for staff to draft a letter to the state legislature encouraging it to address the issue of affordable housing requirements, saying that while the law may have been well-intentioned, it had become increasingly impractical if not impossible to apply.
Mayor Clark indicated that, following the passage of Proposition 1-A, the League of California Cities’ top priority was to comprehensively address the issues surrounding the state’s housing crisis. He noted that it was an extremely complex matter, saying that there was not enough housing for the state’s population and many cities were unable to comply with the previously legislated housing requirements.
Councilman Stern supported the motion, saying that it was headed in the right direction and that he hoped this Council would make it abundantly clear to its successors that the matter should not be taken lightly. He opined that the current situation was created back in the ‘90’s when some very large developments in the City were permitted to pay the in-lieu fees rather than build the required affordable units which placed the burden to provide the affordable housing squarely on the back of the City.
City Attorney Lynch recommended that Council continue the Public Hearing to October 18, 2005 to allow staff time to identify the appropriate inflation factor and further define the criteria for the in lieu fee.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Wolowicz, Gardiner and Mayor Clark
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 10:39 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 10:51 p.m.
Case No. ZON2003-00520 (General Plan Amendment, Zone Change and Environmental Assessment) Applicant: City of Rancho Palos Verdes; Property Addresses: The upper portion of San Ramon Canyon, which encompasses the following properties: 30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30676, 30678, 30680, 30682 Palos Verdes Drive East; and 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2846 San Ramon Drive [Continued from August 16, 2005]
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to continue the public hearing to November 15, 2005. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
This item was waived.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Cost Proposal to Conduct Third Party Review for General Plan Amendment, Zone Change and Environmental Assessment (Case No. ZON2003-00520)
James Wolf, Rancho Palos Verdes, commented that this apparent conflict of interest situation was like asking a barber whether you needed a haircut and his answering no. Mr. Wolf said that he believed the geologists did the honorable thing in this situation and could not imagine that they would want to expose themselves to litigation. He suggested that the interested parties could share in the cost of an independent review, noting that he would be willing to participate in that effort.
In regard to the criticism of the relationship between the City Geologist and the geologist who performed the work on the San Ramon Canyon project, Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz commented that he wanted to make absolutely certain that the City Geologist was comfortable in being able to render a independent decision in this case, saying that he presumed the City Geologist would have stated otherwise during the last meeting, but that he was uncertain whether the City Geologist was actually provided that opportunity.
City Manager Evans indicated that Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz’s question could certainly be asked of the City Geologist, adding that it was his opinion that the City Geologist was a professional and would not have taken on this review if he did not feel confident in his ability to render a proper decision.
Councilman Gardiner noted that there was at least a perceived advantage to having an outside expert with no associations to the project come in and render an opinion. He inquired if that would increase the cost.
City Attorney Lynch stated that such an action would increase the cost significantly.
Councilman Long reminded his colleagues that the City Geologist was present when the matter was previously discussed, recalling that he was told then that a second opinion was needed and, if he did not feel he could provide one, he would have said so.
Councilman Stern echoed Councilman Long’s position. He recalled that the City Geologist heard the concerns, specifically the issue of a conflict of interests, which was paramount in everyone’s minds.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to 1) Review the cost proposal and authorize the City Geologist to conduct a third party review of the geotechnical information for the proposed zone change for the upper San Ramon Canyon area; and, 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-102, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005-2006 TO INCREASE THE BUDGET FOR PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL SERVICES TO CONDUCT A THIRD PARTY REVIEW OF THE GEOTECHNICAL INFORMATION FOR THE PROPOSED ZONE CHANGE FOR THE UPPER SAN RAMON CANYON AREA.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Clark
Neighborhood Beautification Grant Awards (Cycle 16)
Bob Nelson, Rancho Palos Verdes, on behalf of the Sea Bluff Homeowners Association, thanked the many individuals, including Pam Mitchell and Director Allison, for their assistance and support. He also thanked the Council for giving the homeowners associations and other groups the opportunity to beautify the City by granting these awards.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, to award thirty-seven (37) grant applications as specified in the staff report for the Neighborhood Beautification Program totaling $131,401.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Wolowicz, Long, Gardiner, Stern, Clark
Geographic Information System – Phase 2
Director McLean introduced Sonali Tambe, reporting that she led the internship program at PVNET and had worked on the development of the City’s GIS system from the very beginning, including the integration of the aerial photographs, parcel shape files, et cetera; the development of the street center line as a separate layer; and, creating maps for the City’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan that was submitted to the federal government last year.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to 1) Approve the GIS software licensing agreements (Quotation # 20195007) between the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and Environmental Systems Research Institute (“ESRI”); 2) Approve the First Amendment to Professional Services Agreement (“PSA”) between Palos Verdes on the Net (“PVNET”) and the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (the “City”); and, 3) Direct Staff to proceed with implementation of the proposed Phase 2 of the City’s geographical informational system.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern, Gardiner, Wolowicz, Clark
Palos Verdes Drive East Drainage Improvements
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to 1) Reject all bids received on July 7, 2005 for the installation of approximately 3,060 linear feet of storm drain line and the associated outfall curb inlets and asphalt paving; and, 2) Request staff to revise the project plans and specifications, present changes to City Council, and re-advertise the project at a later date.
Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District November 2005 Bond Measures R and S
Doug Mackey, Rancho Palos Verdes, introduced himself as the parent of a Ridgecrest student and a concerned citizen, saying that in 2000 Council endorsed the PVP School District’s Measure K, a $46 million bond to begin the process of improving the aging and dilapidated school facilities throughout the District. He explained that Measure K was the first half of a master plan to raise over $100 million; that the schools were built about the same time as the community; and, that the schools like the rest of the community’s infrastructure required continued investment. He stated that Measures R and S were the second half of that $100 million funding project to improve the infrastructure in and around the schools and to bring the playing fields and gymnasiums up to current safety standards. He noted that approximately 7,500 students in the District reside in Rancho Palos Verdes and urged Council to endorse Measures R and S so that the community could continue to enjoy the benefits of a world-class school district.
Councilman Gardiner opined that it was improper for Council to take a position without any information, saying that each Council member was at liberty to take a position as an individual but that he would not be in favor of taking a position without being briefed and knowing all the details.
Councilman Stern stated that he supported Measure K when it was on the ballot and regarded these two new measures as a continuation of that effort. He admitted that, while he had not received a full briefing, the funds provided through Measure K had apparently been administered very well so far and he agreed wholeheartedly that it was important to maintain and renovate the schools as an investment in the community and its youth. Councilman Stern moved to support the two measures.
Councilman Long seconded Councilman Stern’s motion, saying this was a sequel to Measure K and that he believed Council had sufficient details to support the two measures. He maintained that preserving the quality of education meant recognizing that the School District, which was at best average and in some years below average in terms of its funding, needed more resources. He remarked that, while he did not necessarily believe the old adage that you get what you pay for, this was certainly a case study of the precept that you do not get what you do not pay for.
Mr. Mackey explained that the measures provided the School District with a one-time opportunity to pass a $30 million bond and receive an additional $11 million from the State in matching funds. He commented that he believed the records indicated that the School District was very well managed, saying that it had made necessary cuts in recent years while maintaining a good quality of education.
Mayor Clark inquired how the bond money would be prioritized, saying that he presumed that the School Board had examined the matter in terms of its fair distribution around the Peninsula. He indicated that it was obvious that Palos Verdes High School in Palos Verdes Estates should receive funding because of its age, et cetera, but noted that many other schools in the community were built around the same time and did not appear on the list for renovation.
Mr. Mackey explained that a large portion of the money was intended to replace temporary classrooms with permanent ones; and, that the money was prioritized in terms of need, noting that if the majority of students in the School District attended Peninsula High, it was logical to conclude that was where the most wear and tear had occurred and that was where most of the money needed to be spent.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that there were currently far fewer students at Peninsula High School than there were five or six years earlier and inquired why money was being put into a bond for that campus when there were fewer students. He indicated that this was the type of information that he would have wanted before going on record as supporting the matter.
Mayor Clark, noting that Councilman Gardiner was a member of the PVP School Board in the 1990’s, stated that it seemed prudent to have a representative from the PV Unified School District make a comprehensive presentation regarding the two bond measures at a future meeting before Council took a formal position on the matter.
Councilman Long remarked that he would be supportive of hearing a presentation if it would assist some Council members in shaping their views on this topic. He noted, however, that by taking an action to support the measures, Council was only making a recommendation and not stating an opinion on behalf the City’s residents.
Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz thanked Mr. Mackey for his advocacy. He stated that he had personally supported all school measures that had come up in the last 30 years, but believed that his colleague had made a very valid point. He indicated that he would vote for the measures without knowing the details but, as an elected representative, he believed Council owed it to the community to examine the matter more carefully. With the City recently completing its own process to raise additional revenues, he stated that he was particularly sensitive to the fact there were a significant number of people in the community who viewed an $80 a year assessment as significant.
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 11:19 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 11:21 p.m.
Mayor Clark stated that his inclination was to support the idea of obtaining a comprehensive overview of the proposed bond measures from the School District, adding that it seemed to be a fair and reasonable request. He indicated that, although he did not have children of his own, he supported the last bond measure and very strongly supported the community’s schools.
Councilman Stern withdrew his earlier motion and offered a substitute motion, which was seconded by Councilman Long, to request a presentation from the PVP School District on Measures R and S at the meeting of October 4, 2005.
Councilman Long asked that staff bring the matter back in advance of the November election if for some reason the presentation could not be made so that the Council would at least have another opportunity to take a position on the proposed measures.
Mayor Clark expressed his hope that the City Manager could make arrangements with the School District Superintendent for the presentation, noting that two thirds of the students in the PVPUSD were from Rancho Palos Verdes.
Councilman Gardiner clarified that he was not speaking against the measures but simply saying that it was prudent for Council members to have all the information available so they could adequately answer any questions their constituents might ask them about the position they took on the matter.
Without exception, Mayor Clark declared the motion as passed.
Update Regarding the Western Avenue Storm Damage Claims
This item was addressed during City Manager Reports.
Amendments to the Interim Production, Programming and Operational Policies for RPV-CTV Channel 33
This item was discussed prior to Public Hearings.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch reported that no action was taken in Closed Session.
Mayor Clark adjourned the meeting at 11:25 p.m.