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FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: MARCH 21, 2006
SUBJECT: REPORT ON LAND MOVEMENT WITHIN THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN BLUE (A PORTION OF THE SEAVIEW TRACT)
1) Review the City Geologist’s report on recent movement in the Klondike Canyon landslide area; 2) Consider whether to adopt an Urgency Ordinance on April 4, 2006 that would repeal Municipal Code section 15.20.040.K, thereby removing the more lenient development restrictions afforded to the area outlined in blue, making the area subject to the more stringent development restrictions contained in Municipal Code section 15.20.040.H, which apply to the entire moratorium area outlined in red; and 3) Adopt Urgency Ordinance No. ____, thereby extending the temporary moratorium that was originally established by the City Council on November 15, 2005 an additional thirty (30) days to April 20, 2006.
In September 1978, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 108U, which established the Landslide Moratorium Area in and around the Portuguese Bend landslide (described as the area outlined in red in the ordinance). In February 1981, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 139U, which added the area known as Klondike Canyon to the Landslide Moratorium Area (described as the area outlined in blue in the current ordinance). The Blue Area is located on the eastern end of the moratorium area encompassing 36 residential lots in the Seaview tract and a portion of 2 Yacht Harbor Drive (see attached maps).
In September 1989, the City Council adopted a more flexible treatment of development proposals in the Blue Area. This action was based on the fact that this area had been subdivided previously and was almost completely developed (only one or two lots were not developed at the time) and included a sewer system, along with a lack of indicators of recent movement in the Blue Area. These factors distinguished this Area from other portions of the Landslide Moratorium Area.
As a result of these actions, the City’s current Landslide Moratorium Ordinance (see attached Municipal Code chapter 15.20) recognizes two separate areas within the overall landslide moratorium area that are subject to differing development criteria . Unlike properties located in the Red Area, owners of properties in the Blue Area are entitled, subject to certain conditions, to seek approval of a landside moratorium exception permit for “[t]he construction of residential buildings, accessory structures, pools/spas, and grading….” (Municipal Code Section 15.20.040 K.) The code also requires applicants to submit geological studies reasonably required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the city geotechnical staff that the proposed project would not aggravate the existing situation. (Id.)
In May 2005, following the heavy rains during the winter of 2004-2005, City Staff first witnessed indications that the Blue Area may be experiencing new landslide movement. The movement was brought to the attention of the City’s geologist, who documented the movement and recommended that the City continue to monitor the area. In October 2005, Staff received a report from the City Geologist in response to a geology report prepared by an applicant seeking to build additions to an existing residence at 4380 Dauntless in the Blue Area. The City geologist alerted Staff that observed cracks in the area are indicative of land movement and that Staff should be aware of this before issuing the development permits to the applicant.
Based on this alert from the City geologist, Staff placed an item on the City Council’s November 15, 2005 agenda to consider whether the more lenient development standards that have been allowed in the Blue Area since 1989 should be repealed so that the Blue Area will be subject to the same development restrictions as the remainder of the Landslide Moratorium Area, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989. Based on public testimony, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 427U establishing a temporary 60-day moratorium on the processing and issuance of building, grading or other permits, in the Blue Area, unless otherwise exempted from the moratorium. The 60-day moratorium was to allow the City’s Geologist time to acquire additional land movement data, analyze the data and report his findings to the City Council.
The City geologist submitted his report to the City on March 14, 2006. The report is now being submitted to the City Council for review and discussion.
As discussed in the City geologist’s report dated March 14, 2006 (attached), the City geologist evaluated the recent movement of the Klondike Canyon landslide by reviewing past documents, photo documentation, and survey documentation. As a result of this evaluation, the City geologist has concluded that the Klondike Canyon landslide
experienced accelerated movement in 2005 due to an increase in the local groundwater within and below the slide mass as a result of last winter’s heavy rains and due to an increased drag from the accelerated movement of the adjacent Portuguese Bend landslide. However, the accelerated movement of the Klondike Canyon Landslide has declined back to a slow creep, as has been the case since the late 1980’s.
Based on these recent events and past observations and monitoring, the City geologist notes that “the Klondike Canyon landslide should be considered an active landslide with the potential for continued slow movement and occasional increased acceleration.” He also notes that although it doesn’t appear that the slide is capable of catastrophic failure at this time, continued movement of the Portuguese Bend landslide could cause episodic acceleration in the creep rate of the Klondike Canyon slide. He goes on to conclude that “the continued slow movement of the landslide will result in distress and damage to structures and improvements that straddle or are adjacent the landslide boundaries.”
Given this conclusion, Staff is recommending that the City Council consider whether to adopt an Urgency Ordinance at its next meeting (April 4, 2006) that would repeal Municipal Code section 15.20.040.K, thereby removing the more lenient development restrictions afforded to the area outlined in blue, making the area subject to the more stringent development restrictions contained in Municipal Code section 15.20.040.H, which apply to the entire moratorium area outlined in red. In order to allow for the adoption of said urgency ordinance at its April 4th meeting, or perhaps even the subsequent April 18th meeting, Staff is also recommending that the City Council adopt the attached Urgency Ordinance to extend the temporary moratorium on the acceptance of applications and the issuance of permits for the Blue Area an additional 28 days to April 18, 2006.
Pursuant to City Council direction given on November 15, 2005, the City geologist has evaluated the recent movement related to the Klondike Canyon Landslide and is now reporting his findings to the City Council. Staff is recommending that the City Council review the City geologist’s report and provide direction to Staff on whether to amend the development restrictions that currently apply to the Blue Area covered by the City’s current Landslide Moratorium Ordinance.
As a reminder, there are no more developable vacant lots in the Blue Area and so the temporary moratorium on the processing of applications in the Blue Area that is currently in effect only affects applications for additions to existing residences or tear down/rebuild projects. There are three property owners with submitted project applications that are affected by the temporary moratorium. Two were in the planning review process and one was in the Building and Safety plan check review process when the City Council
established the temporary moratorium on November 15, 2005. The property owner at 4394 Dauntless Drive (Matura) was seeking approval of a second story addition by the Planning Commission and the property owner at 4380 Dauntless Drive (Arregoces) was seeking a Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit for first and second story additions. Both of these applications were denied without prejudice after the temporary moratorium was enacted since the moratorium did not stop the clock on the State’s Permit Streamlining Act processing deadlines. The property owner at ---------------- has received planning approval but has not yet been issued a building permit for the demolition of the existing house and the construction of a new 5,000+ sq. ft. residence since his plans are still in the plan check process. When the temporary moratorium was enacted, the plan check process was frozen on this project.
There is no fiscal impact to the City as a result of Staff’s recommendation.
Joel Rojas, AICP
Report from City geologist dated March 14, 2006
ORDINANCE NO. ____ U
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES EXTENDING URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 472U ESTABLISHING A MORATORIUM ON THE ISSUANCE OF CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS AND SUSPENDING CERTAIN PREVIOUSLY ISSUED BUILDING PERMITS AND APPROVALS, IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF
WHEREAS, in September 1978, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 108U, which established the Landslide Moratorium Area in a portion of the City, as depicted on a map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and
WHEREAS, in February 1981, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 139U, which added the area known as Klondike Canyon to the Landslide Moratorium Area, which is described as the area outlined in red on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and
WHEREAS, in September 1989, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 247, which added a new provision to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance that provided the possibility for more intense development than previously was permitted in the Klondike Canyon Area, as outlined in blue on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (“Blue Area”); and
WHEREAS, in May 2005, following the unusual winter rains during the winter of 2004-2005, the first indications that the Blue Area may be experiencing landslide movement appeared; and
WHEREAS, in October 2005, the City received a report from the City Geologist, who was reviewing a proposed development in the Blue Area, that discussed the issue of landslide movement in the Blue Area; and
WHEREAS, based on the new evidence of landslide movement in the Blue Area, the City Council has asked the City Geologist to determine whether the more flexible development standards that had been allowed in the Blue Area since 1989 should be repealed so that the Blue Area will be subject to the same development criteria that are applicable to the other areas that are subject to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989; and,
WHEREAS, on November 15, 2005, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 472U, which established a 60-day moratorium on the processing and issuance of building, grading or other permits, and landslide moratorium exception permits and the processing or approval of Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Reports, Conditional Use Permits, height variation applications, tentative maps or parcel maps in the Blue Area and temporarily suspended Section 15.20.040 K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code pending the completion of new geological data to determine whether construction in the Blue Area is safe in light of the newly observed instability or if the proposed development could adversely impact the stability of said Area; and,
WHEREAS, because the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) Data still was being collected, and the City Geologist still was in the process of completing the review of that data to assess the potential impacts of construction in the Blue Area upon the overall stability of said Area and upon the public health, safety and welfare and, accordingly, needed additional time to complete that review before determining if the moratorium imposed by Ordinance 472 U should be lifted, the moratorium was extended by the City Council to March 21, 2006; and
WHEREAS, because the City Geologist’s report has been completed and presented to the City Council, but the City Council and the public need additional time to review the report before determining whether to amend the Chapter 15.20 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code;
NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. The City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby extends Urgency Ordinance 472U for an additional thirty days, until April 20, 2006. Except as otherwise modified by this Ordinance, all provisions of Urgency Ordinance No. 472U shall remain in full force and effect through and including April 21, 2006.
SECTION 2. It has recently come to the attention of the City Council that the land identified in the Blue Area, which was previously thought to be stable, may in fact be experiencing current landslide movement. In order to protect the public health, safety and welfare, the City Geologist was to review recently collected GPS Data to determine the stability of the land in question and to whether development of new structures on undeveloped lots or parcels, substantial additions to existing homes, or the construction of certain accessory structures on properties in the Blue Area should be allowed. The City Geologist’s report has been completed and has been submitted to the City Council. However, additional time is needed for the City Council and the public to review the City Geologist’s report before determining whether Chapter 15.20 of the Municipal Code should be amended to remove the more deferential development standards that were imposed on the area that is subject to the Klondike Canyon Landslide. Thus, the City Council needs additional time to review the report and determine whether additional controls on development are necessary to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare from the harmful effects associated with slope failure. The City Council finds that continued development in the Blue Area during this additional time could expose residents to undue health hazards and safety risks and pose a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, or general welfare and approval of additional entitlements for development inconsistent with the provisions of Urgency Ordinance No. 472U would frustrate the City’s ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare by minimizing the adverse effects of slope failure. This ordinance is therefore necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare and shall take effect immediately upon adoption as an urgency ordinance. This ordinance is effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 20, 2006, unless further extended by the City Council.
PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 21st day of March 2006, by the following vote:
I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing is true and correct copy of Ordinance No. _____ approved and adopted by the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes at a meeting thereof held on the 21st day of March, 2006.