TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL
FROM: CITY MANAGER
DATE: APRIL 18, 2006
SUBJECT: CIVIC CENTER MASTER PLAN AND ART CENTER MOU
1) Approve a conceptual site plan for Upper Point Vicente; 2) Authorize staff to work with the Palos Verdes Art Center to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to enable the Art Center to move ahead with design of a facility on the Civic Center property.
Utilizing the Open Space Planning and Recreation and Park Task Force Plan for Upper Point Vicente Park as a starting point, City staff have incorporated the Council’s recommendations for major components, that they would like to emphasize for the site, and have developed a modified conceptual plan for the Council’s consideration. The plan includes a building pad for a pool and gymnasium complex, a building pad for the Palos Verdes Art Center, a village green, a City Council Chamber building pad, an amphitheater site and centralized parking. The “modified” civic center conceptual plan is intended to allow flexibility for incorporation of all the uses proposed by the Task Force at a future time, to accommodate phasing of the development of the civic center site, to be consistent with the visioning plan to be conducted under the Annenberg grant and to allow the Art Center to proceed with the design and construction of their facility. The Task Force Plan for Upper Point Vicente and the Modified Plan are attached.
This item was continued from the City Council Tactical Planning Workshop on February 4, 2006.
In May 2002, the City Council established the Open Space, Planning and Recreation and Parks Task Force to study a wide range of recreation and open space issues facing the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. The Task Force conducted an extensive public outreach effort to better assess and identify the community’s goals, ideas, and opinions. This effort included a professional telephone survey, stakeholder meetings, and two facilitated public workshops. From its inception, a significant portion of the Task Force’s resources was focused on developing a plan for Upper Point Vicente Park. A number of groups, including the San Pedro YMCA, Zenith Aquatic Program (ZAP) and the Palos Verdes Art Center were interested participants in the Upper Point Vicente planning process. The Task Force Report was presented to the City Council on June 29, 2004.
Approximately nine months later, at their meeting of March 29, 2005, the City Council heard a number of options for developing Upper Point Vicente ranging from the Task Force’s recommended approach to plans that emphasized civic and cultural aspects, civic and recreation components, and civic and open space access. The City Council also heard a proposal that evening from Art Center representatives describing a concept under which the Art Center would construct a $15 million facility on City land, deed it to the City and lease it back through a long term lease arrangement. The City Council approved the plan in concept and encouraged the Art Center to continue its study of the site. The Council also agreed on other potential uses for the Civic Center site. The following is an excerpt from the minutes of the March 29, 2005 City Council meeting:
Mayor Clark noted that Council had reached a consensus on the major components to be considered for the Upper Point Vicente site, including a remodeled City Hall with new Council Chambers, a new facility for the Palos Verdes Art Center, an outdoor pool, a gymnasium, a village green, an amphitheater, a band shell and trail heads; and asked staff to look at the site map and determine how it might all fit together and report back to Council. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered. He asked that staff work with the representatives from the Palos Verdes Art Center to bring in an architect to help out in this initial planning phase, and noted that this was not intended to be a full scale development project at this time.
Upper Point Vicente Site Description
Upper Point Vicente was acquired from the federal government in 1979 after the Nike Missile Site had been declared surplus property. The entire site is 73.35 acres in size. The City owns in fee title 8.23 acres of relatively level land on the hilltop adjacent to Hawthorne Boulevard, which was acquired from the federal government for the development of a Civic Center.
The remaining 65.12 acres of City-owned property is largely undeveloped although an approximately 5.5-acre portion of this area has been leased for many years to a dry farming operation. The U.S. Coast Guard also owns a 3.93 acre parcel overlooking the Point Vicente Lighthouse, which is the site of several communications towers and an abandoned WWII-era artillery bunker.
Regarding the Upper Point Vicente site, the General Plan states: “It is the City’s intent to use the (Upper Point Vicente) site for a civic center and parkland. While the Nike Site is not the geographic center of the City, it has the potential for becoming a strong focal point for the community. A civic center . . . ringed with parkland, would be a good focus for the City.” In addition, the discussion of Institutional land uses on page 197 states: “Recreational activities are generally compatible with institutional uses and are often part of such uses.”
When the City acquired the parcel on Upper Point Vicente that is zoned Open Space Recreation from the federal government, the quitclaim deed included several deed restrictions. One of the restrictions required that the Program of Utilization (POU) previously submitted by the City to the Department of the Interior’s National Parks service in March 1976 and amended in April 1978, govern the future use of the site. There are no deed restrictions on the 8.23 acres owned in fee simple; however, any plan developed for this site would have to be compatible with existing POU restrictions and zoning requirements. The parkland is conditioned by deed to allow continuous public access for recreation use in perpetuity. The National Park Service and the State Department of Parks and Recreation must approve any changes to the proscribed Program of Utilization, including lease or concession agreements. Based on past contacts with the National Park Service, staff feels that it would be possible to amend the POU.
A number of concerns are pertinent to any significant development at Upper Point Vicente and would need to be further analyzed if the City Council decided to proceed with developing a plan for a civic center complex at this site. These concerns include access/sightline analysis, parking/circulation, grading/phasing, impact on existing maintenance yard, and impact on trails/habitat.
Palos Verdes Art Center
On May 6, 2003 the City Council considered a request from the Palos Verdes Art Center to investigate the feasibility of converting the former Nike missile silos at the Upper Point Vicente site to museum use. The Art Center believed that the underground silos that formerly housed Nike missiles could be converted into gallery spaces with minimal investment.
On October 6, 2003 the firm of Jones and Stokes was authorized to perform a preliminary investigation of the entire 78 acre Upper Point Vicente Site. The report was completed in May 2004 and identified no fatal flaws in the proposed use plan, but recommended additional studies.
At their meeting of March 29, 2005 the City Council heard a proposal from Art Center representatives describing a concept under which the Art Center would construct a $15 million facility on City land, deed it to the City and lease it back through a long term lease arrangement. The City Council approved the plan in concept and encouraged the Art Center to continue its study of the site.
On May 31, 2005 the City Council approved a request from the Palos Verdes Art Center to perform the additional studies recommended in the 2003 Jones and Stokes Report. The Art Center recommended that the environmental review firm, PSI, perform the additional studies necessary to further refine the potential use of Upper Point Vicente for the proposed Art Center. The PSI Study was completed and forwarded to the City Council on August 29, 2005 with some relatively minor recommendations for remediation including the removal of underground storage tanks.
On February 1, 2006 the Art Center submitted a proposed lease agreement to the City. A copy of the Agreement was provided to the City Council at their February 4, 2006 Tactical Planning Workshop. A copy of the proposed lease agreement is attached. Staff responded to the Art Center staff with concerns about the proposed lease and Mayor Wolowicz, City Attorney Lynch and City Manager Evans met with the Art Center leadership to go over those concerns on March 7, 2006.
On February 4, 2006, the matter of a Master Plan for Upper Point Vicente was continued to the April 18, 2006 City Council meeting.
On April 6, 2006 Staff received a Memorandum of Understanding and Letter of Intent from the Art Center. A copy of this material is attached. In the letter, the Art Center indicated that they needed a commitment from the City regarding the lease of the civic center site by mid-May 2006.
April 7, 2006, during a meeting with Councilman Gardiner and Maude Landon, Art Center President, a list of concerns and recommended changes to the Art Center MOU proposal, prepared by the City Manager, was provided to the Art Center leadership. The list of suggested changes to the MOU is attached. The Art Center leadership feels that the suggested MOU revisions are all negotiable with the exception with the term of the lease.
Other Potential Joint Uses on Site
A number of organizations besides the Palos Verdes Art Center have approached the City in recent years regarding use of Upper Point Vicente. Several potential joint uses are discussed below.
The Task Force, based on the YMCA representatives’ initial interest, incorporated a proposed gymnasium and public pool facility into the conceptual design for Upper Point Vicente. While YMCA representatives continue to express interest in the project, they still prefer a measure of assurance from the City Council that it conceptually supports this project before they take the next step of committing any YMCA funds for initial marketing and feasibility studies. City Council, at its March 29, 2005 meeting identified a gymnasium and outdoor pool as two of the major components to be considered for this site. Staff has identified the following issues of concern related to the proposed YMCA facility:
The proposed location of the gymnasium and pool facility is in an area of the site with a General Plan land use designation of “Recreational – Passive.” The City’s General Plan would need to be amended to accommodate the proposed active recreational uses on this portion of the site.
- The proposed location of the gymnasium and pool facility may not be compatible with the passive recreational deed restrictions on the property and at a minimum would require an amendment to the existing Program of Utilization.
- There may be concerns raised by the public about joint venture between City and an organization that is perceived as having a religious affiliation.
- There may be concerns raised by the public about residents having to pay a membership fee in order to use a recreational facility located on City property.
- The structure and terms of any lease agreement between the City and the YMCA would require further study.
Palos Verdes Unified School District
Staff has held preliminary discussions with Palos Verdes Unified School District officials including Superintendent Ira Tobin. A joint City/School District administrative facility at Upper Point Vicente was discussed and made conceptual sense to management staff from both agencies. The School District’s staff is about one-third the size of the City staff. Each agency could potentially have its own building at Upper Point Vicente while sharing a City Council/District Board meeting room, lobby, conference rooms, kitchen facilities, lounge, and other public areas.
Zenith Aquatic Program (ZAP)
The Zenith Aquatic Program Foundation (ZAP) has submitted a proposal to build and operate a pool and gymnasium on approximately the same location as the YMCA site. While ZAP’s main focus is on aquatics and building a state-of-the-art community pool in Rancho Palos Verdes, their proposal includes a gymnasium suitable for basketball, volleyball, and other activities in addition to weight room and aerobic facilities. The majority of the issues raised regarding YMCA also apply to ZAP’s proposal.
Current Joint Use on Site
In addition to housing the City Hall offices, the City currently shares the use of the Upper Point Vicente property with three lease tenants. The first is Palos Verdes on the Net, which occupies a portable building adjacent to the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department’s building and is used as a computer-learning center. Palos Verdes on the Net also leases the old Cable Television Studio previously occupied by Cox Communications and is using this building as a multimedia studio. The second lease is the 90-foot high monopole and its associated support equipment, which currently supports antenna equipment for two commercial telecommunications carriers and one utility company. These two tenants are located on the portion of the site that the City owns in fee title and is zoned Institutional. The third lease is to the last remaining Japanese-American farmer on the Peninsula, Mr. James Hatano, who dry farms an approximately 5.5-acre area on the south slope adjacent to the Salvation Army property. Mr. Hatano’s lease pre-dated the City’s acquisition of the property in that he has been farming on the property at least since 1973 when it was still an active military site. Mr. Hatano’s farm is located in an area of the property that is zoned Open Space Recreation (OR) and subject to the federal deed restrictions and Program of Utilization.
The Upper Point Vicente Site, with its majestic open space, panoramic views, and outstanding potential richly merits careful study and review. The City Council has emphasized the importance of the site to the community at large, both as a prime component of the NCCP as well as a civic center complex with both cultural and recreational components. Staff believes that there is an opportunity to enter into an agreement (or MOU) with the Art Center that will enable them to proceed prior to final site planning for Upper Point Vicente if the Council wishes to do so.
There is no immediate cost to the City for approving the “modified” Conceptual Plan for Upper Point Vicente or for entering into an agreement allowing the Art Center to proceed with planning and design of their facility. Ultimately, however, the City will need to consider preparation of a detailed master plan for the site that will address access, parking, drainage, utilities and architectural compatibility of the various uses. The cost of this plan would be a minimum of $100,000 and could be significantly more depending on the scope of work and the level of detail desired. Additional staff may also be required to manage this project depending on the scope.
Attachments: Task Force Plan for Upper Point Vicente
“Modified” Conceptual Plan for Upper Point Vicente
Palos Verdes Art Center Proposed Lease Agreement (2/1/06)
Art Center Memorandum of Understanding and Letter of Intent (3/28/06)
City Manager Suggested MOU Modifications (4/7/06)
SUGGESTED CHANGES TO ART CENTER MOU PROVISIONS
1. Lease Term and Commencement Date. Staff believes the initial term of lease should be 30 years rather than 99. The Art Center should be able to recoup its investment in this period. The Council may wish to renew the lease at the end of 30 years with the same, or revised terms.
2. Rent. In addition to rent, PVAC should annually pay to the City it’s proportional share, based on total leased area of the site, or use of a particular facility, of the maintenance of joint parking facilities and other improvements (such as traffic signals, signage, common access roads, drainage and sewage facilities, open space, etc) that benefit the PVAC facilities.
3. Other Uses of the Civic Center Property. PVAC will have to recognize the other uses on the surrounding property (owned by the City) including the Channel 33 Cable Television Studio, PV on the Net, PVAN and DCS facilities, the City Yard, the Civic Center complex and open space areas and insure that nothing in the construction and operation of the PVAC facility interferes with or diminishes the operation of the existing facilities. PVAC must also acknowledge that other uses may be approved for the property, as described in the Open Space Strategic Plan or revisions of that Plan, and the construction and operation of these uses must be accommodated.
4. Access by Public. PVAC should agree that public access to their exhibit areas must be granted, at no charge to Rancho Palos Verdes residents, during regular hours, consistent with the normal operation of the Art Center.
5. Future Construction; Design and Naming Rights. PVAC may propose design of and naming of any improvements they make to their lease area, but final approval of design and names is by the CITY.
6. Public Parking. As part of the mitigation and development of the PVAC facility PVAC must construct parking facilities or participate in the cost of constructing joint parking facilities, at the City’s discretion, in such proportion as their use may require.
7. Access Rights to the Property during Construction. The City will provide PVAC with full ingress and egress to the lease area via Hawthorne Boulevard by construction of a new access road by PVAC in such location as approved by the City. The access road for construction vehicles may be separate from the final main entry to the completed PVAC site. Subject to approval by the City, PVAC shall have free and clear access to the lease area during construction to hold any PVAC related events, including fundraising. PVAC and the City shall each have use of any access road beyond the boundaries of the lease area and shall work together in accommodating the respective needs of the other party. In addition, both parties shall work with the Traffic Safety Commission of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes to develop a plan to provide safe ingress and egress to the Property and appropriate identification by signage.
8. Right of Removal of Vegetation. Subject to approval by the City, and in accordance with applicable codes and ordinances, PVAC shall have the right to trim or remove all vegetation on the lease area that may obstruct views or be inconsistent with its site plan for development.
9. Utility Services. The City will grant to PVAC any necessary easements needed to stub sewer, underground cable, electrical and telephone conduits. It is understood that the location and alignment of these easements are subject to approval by the City, may not be exclusive and may also serve other facilities.
10. Signage Rights During and After Construction. Subject to approval by the City, PVAC may install identification signs, including illuminated signs, on the Property and at the entrance of Hawthorne Boulevard, at its own cost and expense, the size, colors, location, materials, mechanics and other characteristics of which shall approved by City.