RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
JULY 5, 2006
The meeting was called to order at 7:08 P.M. by Mayor Wolowicz at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
City Council roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Clark, Gardiner, Long*, Stern, and Mayor Wolowicz
* Mayor Pro Tem Long arrived at 8:05 P.M.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that Mayor Pro Tem Long had been delayed at the airport but was on his way to the meeting.
Also present were City Manager Les Evans, City Attorney Carol Lynch, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru, Director of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Joel Rojas, Interim Director of Public Works Ray Holland, Associate Planner Kit Fox and Joan Cox with Harris and Associates.
The Flag Salute was led by Lieutenant Jason Lum, Lomita Sheriff’s Station.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Moved by Councilman Stern and seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve the Agenda. Hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that he had attended the Rancho Palos Verdes’ Fourth of July Celebration marking the 230th anniversary of the presentation of the original Declaration of Independence. He also noted that while on vacation the week prior he had watched the City Council meetings in other cities and that it reminded him what a privilege it is to participate in local government either as a resident or councilmember because the system works.
Councilmember Clark asked about the Mayor’s Did You Know Facts and Mayor Wolowicz indicated that City staff had been busy with the holiday but he would continue that feature in the future.
Mayor Wolowicz announced recyclers of the month, noting that all winners receive a check for $250 representing a year of free refuse service and he urged everyone to participate in the City’s recycling program. The winners announced were:
May 16th meeting: Ian MacDonald and Yvonne Goppert
June 6th meeting: Josie Martinez and J. Thomas Spiegel
June 20th meeting: Young Kwon, Patti Lee
July 5th June E. Haskell, and Marcia Spanier
Mayor Wolowicz clarified for the audience that this was the time to speak about items not on the agenda.
Judy Von Muller, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that she had spoken to Mayor Wolowicz on April 26, 2006 at the Belmont Senior Center about the issue of landlord abuse and had sent a request to his home and office requesting a copy of Rancho Palos Verdes’ Rent Increase Schedule, which she indicated she still had not received. She requested that Council pass a schedule of fines starting at $500 for the first complaint from a resident issued by the Los Angeles County Health and Environmental Services (LACHES) for negligent landlords. She explained that since LACHES responds to negligent landlord complaints by visiting the site, the City could then send out a letter levying a fine and that this would provide additional revenue for the City.
Mayor Wolowicz thanked Ms. Von Muller for coming to the Council meeting and apologized for not getting a response to her, as he had thought one had gone out previously. He clarified that there are state rules regarding how rent increases are handled and that the City does not have a specific code dealing with this issue but rather defers to the state requirements. He encouraged her to call him if there were other specific items she wanted to discuss. He explained that while the City does not have the authority to initiate site inspections, the City could intervene if residents feel they are not getting appropriate response from their landlords in certain circumstances.
Susan Browne, a single mother and Rancho Palos Verdes resident since 1999, expressed alarm at how quickly rents are increasing even for units that are not being properly maintained. She reported that she was afraid to speak up for fear that her rent would be increased and noted that when she complained about mold in her kitchen, the landlord took minimal action to address her concerns. Ms. Browne related that she had received complaints from her daughter’s school because she had missed a lot of school due to illness, which she suspects are related to the unhealthy conditions in her apartment.
Mayor Wolowicz asked that Ms. Browne leave her contact information so that staff could contact her and possibly inspect the property. He indicated that on previous occasions the City had been able to provide assistance in this regard. He added that landlords are limited as to how much they can increase rents while the property is occupied.
Lisabeth Fissinger, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported being the target of harassment from her landlord and noted that she had taken great pains not to be recognized on camera when speaking to Council that evening. She cited issues with the way her rent is collected and stated that her rent check had been cashed the day she was given a notice to vacate. She found out that when the building ownership had supposedly changed hands the apartment was under court order and related that during the year it took for her window to be changed she was subjected to insults, harassment and even suggestive language from her landlord and his contractors.
Ms. Fissinger questioned the use of unlicensed contractors in the City, noting that she had seen one of the men who had been working in her apartment on television as being under arrest for drug issues and on probation for extortion and she felt that there was a connection between the workers being hired and some of the activities going on in the City. She wanted licensed and bonded contractors and felt that many more men than were necessary were used to repair the window. She asserted that the good nature of the residents and the people who want to live in Rancho Palos Verdes because they care about the City was being abused by overcharging for rent and she asked for City support and recognition for what is going on as seniors are intimidated and will not get up and speak about it.
Mayor Wolowicz explained that the City did not have the authority to set rents which are determined instead by the market and clarified that the City could help with inattentiveness to repairs but that other landlord/tenant issues would need to involve private attorneys.
Ms. Fissinger stated that the courts did not allow people to represent themselves, so the only alternative is professional representation, which costs a lot of money, and she felt that some of the issues were serious. She asserted that there was a gap between what was handled by the City and the county and the state.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Clark reported attending the City’s 4th of July celebration and noted that he had asked Director of Recreation & Park Ron Rosenfeld to check into a resident’s complaint about the cost of the children’s rides being charged on a per ride basis.
Mayor Wolowicz reported attending the Peninsula Mayor’s lunch on June 21st and expressed concern about the planned expansion of a number of condominium units within the greater shopping area on Silver Spur Road, the Silver Spur frontage road and Deep Valley Drive. He also reported being on vacation the previous week to enjoy his 40th wedding anniversary.
Councilman Clark indicated that he received a letter from the President and Executive Director of Contract Cities regarding upcoming fees for the year and asked staff to look into the how the fees are determined, as it does not appear to be based on population size as he had previously thought.
City Manager Evans indicated that Mayor Pro Tem Long serves as the City representative to the California Contract Cities Association.
Councilman Clark expressed concern that the City is being overcharged.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that staff analyze the data to determine how the rates are set.
Mayor Wolowicz reported asking similar questions previously and felt the information was available without using staff time to analyze the data.
Councilman Clark questioned why Rancho Palos Verdes should pay the same rate as a city four times its size.
Mayor Wolowicz recalled that the explanations had to do with staggered services and suggested that staff look back at information previously provided to Council for an explanation.
CITY MANAGER REPORT:
City Manager Evans indicated that he had nothing to report.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru informed the audience that a list of items previously discussed and continued to a future Council meeting could be viewed on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Mayor Wolowicz asked that Item No. 3 (Border Issues Status Report) be removed for discussion.
Councilman Stern indicated that he would be abstaining from approval of the April 29, 2006 minutes as he was not present and he pointed out a typographical error in the draft minutes included in the late correspondence.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported distributing late correspondence for Item No. 2, approval of the April 29, 2006 minutes, which contained revisions requested by Mayor Pro Tem Long.
Councilman Clark complimented Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru on the extensive minutes, noting that the meeting was a lengthy budget workshop and required traceability.
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
Approved the minutes of April 29, 2006 as amended.
Border Issues Status Report
This item was removed and discussed following approval of the Consent Calendar.
Claim Against the City by Michael and Christine Cochran
Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Claim Against the City by Kumun Vakil
Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Claim Against the City by Lynn Doran
Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Notice of Completion of Roof Replacement Project at City Hall Channel 33, Cable Studio
1) Accepted the work done by Best Roofing and Waterproofing, Inc. on the replacement of the roof at City Hall Channel 33, Cable Studio, as complete; 2) Authorized the City Clerk to file the attached Notice of Completion with the Los Angeles County Recorder; and if no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation of the Notice and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, City Clerk shall notify Summit Surety Insurance Company of America to exonerate both the Payment and Performance Bonds; and, 3) Authorized the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment to Best Roofing and Waterproofing, Inc. 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the City Clerk at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s office, contingent on no claims being filed against the project.
May 2006 Treasury Report
Received and filed the May 2006 Treasurer’s Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2006-51, 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.
Councilmember Clark moved to approve the consent calendar with Item No. 3 removed. Councilman Gardiner seconded the motion and the motion carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Stern*, Mayor Wolowicz
*Councilman Stern abstained from approving the April 29, 2006 minutes, as he was not present at that meeting.
ITEMS REMOVED FROM THE CONSENT CALENDAR
Border Issues Status Report
Mayor Wolowicz expressed concern with the Peninsula Village Expansion project in the City of Rolling Hills Estates, also known as the Peninsula Village Overlay Zone. He received clarification from staff that the chart included in the staff report had been updated since the last time it was presented to Council in May 2006. He noted for the audience that chart he was referring to includes a list of the various projects, their addresses, the number of units and the status of how they are proceeding. He expressed concern as a resident and a Councilmember that the potential number of housing units being contemplated for this area is 900 and that 423units have already been approved or are close to receiving approval.
Mayor Wolowicz asserted that although the new housing would be located in Rolling Hills Estates and that city would have the responsibility for approving and overseeing the construction of these projects, Rancho Palos Verdes would bear the brunt of the impact in the form of increased traffic and congestion. He noted that a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would soon be available and he explained that Rolling Hills Estates is using a Program EIR in this case, which includes the entire project area.
Associate Planner Fox clarified that the Program EIR served as a framework for future environmental analysis and indicated that the three projects approved so far were all approved with Mitigated Negative Declarations. He added that the other future projects would fall within the general scope of the Program EIR and would rely upon that analysis to satisfy the CEQA requirements for their approval.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that the Program EIR was expected to be available for review and public comment later in the month.
Associate Planner Fox noted that that there was not a specific date but that the Program EIR was expected in mid to late July. He added that typically EIRs are released for a 45 day public comment period and staff expected to have draft comments brought back to the Council as part of a future Border Issues Status Report before being formally submitted to the City of Rolling Hills Estates.
Mayor Wolowicz expressed appreciation at hearing from the Mayor of Rolling Hills Estates, who invited him to speak before their Council. He indicated that he would like a staff report to help express Rancho Palos Verdes’ concerns as to the magnitude of the high population density proposed in the Peninsula Center area.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that Mayor Wolowicz go to the Rolling Hills Estates Council meeting with a prepared statement that was supported by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council. In answer to a question, he received clarification from staff that the current population of Rolling Hills Estates is approximately 8,000.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that Rolling Hills Estates could potentially add up to 2,000 new residents if the proposed plan was fully implemented, although the city is currently looking at under 1,000 new units.
Councilman Gardiner calculated that if there were two people per unit, the Peninsula Village Overlay Zone could add between 2,000 and 4,000 new residents to Rolling Hills Estates all living within the space of a few blocks. He indicated that he found it hard to believe that the EIR would determine that the Overlay Zone would not result in significant impacts. He questioned who owned the roads in the area.
City Manager Evans explained that the development would front on roads that are owned by the City of Rolling Hills Estates, but that Crenshaw Boulevard, Palos Verdes Drive North and Hawthorne Boulevard would be the most impacted by the increased traffic. He suggested waiting for the EIR to be issued, so that real traffic numbers would be available for the staff to analyze and formulate informed comments on the issues.
Councilman Clark asked for clarification as to why 2,000 units were being discussed when only 423 had been approved.
Mayor Wolowicz explained that the 423 units approved was not the complete list as there were more pending.
Associate Planner Fox indicated that a maximum of 900 units were envisioned for the Peninsula Village Overlay Zone, which included the area located east of the Avenue of the Peninsula shopping mall. He clarified that the 2,000 units is based on the current zoning for the entire Peninsula Center commercial area, including the Avenue of the Peninsula, the Peninsula Shopping Center and the adjacent office building, because all of these areas have a mixed-use overlay. He explained that the City of Rolling Hills Estates is proposing to focus mixed-use development in the easterly portion of the Peninsula Center district, which would result in a lower number of units even if every parcel were built out to its maximum density.
Councilman Clark expressed concern with the proposed density noting that relatively low density is one of the things that makes the Palos Verdes Peninsula unique and he felt that if the development were going to go forward there would be a number of implications and close communication would be required to voice Ranchos Palos Verdes’ concerns. He thanked the Mayor for drawing attention to the issue.
Councilman Stern felt it appropriate to pay attention to the process and noted that the City would be well served by reviewing the draft Program EIR. He cautioned against jumping to conclusions before getting more information and noted that staff was sensitive to Council’s interests and would serve it well though careful evaluation and support.
Councilman Clark questioned whether there had been any progress on one of the Council’s top priorities for the year to move the Eastview area from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) into the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD).
Mayor Wolowicz reported on his efforts in this regard, noting that he and Councilman Gardiner have been trying to contact LAUDS Superintendent Romer’s office, but noted that Mr. Romer is about to leave this position. He indicated that he was successful in contacting the School Board’s local area representative, Mike Lansing, who is about to be termed out of office. Mayor Wolowicz reported that Mr. Lansing indicated that he did not think LAUSD would focus much attention on the Eastview issue in light of the larger issue of Mayor Villaraigosa’s proposal to take control of the LAUSD. He reported that he had also called Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s office in an effort to meet with him or his staff to discuss the reordering of school district borders and whether or not Mayor Villaraigosa would be willing to include it in his plan or propose it to the California Legislature.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that she had sent Mayor Wolowicz the requested draft legislation language.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that he would look at the draft and related that Mayor Pro Tem Long had been at an event hosted by Mayor Villaraigosa and attended by members of various City Councils where this issue was discussed. He hoped for additional contact and he noted that he would work with Councilman Gardiner toward more progress on this issue.
Councilman Clark pointed out that another significant player in the process has used the press in the past to be critical of Council’s initiative and of Councilman Clark in particular, but would not agree to meet and discuss specific concerns. He found that difficult to accept given the fact that two of the three members on the PVPUSD board objecting to the City’s proposal were from Rancho Palos Verdes and were not listening to their constituents with respect to resolving this issue in an amicable and reasonable fashion.
Councilman Gardiner pointed out that the PVPUSD School Superintendent Ira Toibin is retiring, the local LAUSD School Board Member Mike Lansing is leaving, that Mr. Lansing’s key staff member Brock Coward has taken another job, Superintendent Romer is leaving and City Manager Evans is retiring. He asserted that at some point the City would have to start over again on this issue because all of the major players have left the field. He suggested that anyone with contacts to Mayor Villaraigosa should assist the City because he may end up being in charge of the LAUSD. Councilman Gardiner felt that at a minimum the citizens of the City’s Eastview area should be able to vote for the PVPUSD School Board because if Mayor Villaraigosa takes over the LAUSD, these same residents would not be able to vote for either the local school board or the Los Angeles School Board.
City Manager Evans reported that he and Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru had met several times with former PVPUSD School Superintendent Ira Toibin who indicated what hurdles would have to be cleared in order to bring Eastview completely into the PVPUSD and explained that he felt he had gained a better understanding of the bonding, financing and facilities issues. He did not think that any of the issues were insurmountable assuming the school board is willing to work with the City and felt that the first goal to accomplish would be to bring back the issues and options for Council’s review. He acknowledged that meeting with LAUSD staff had been harder as Mr. Lansing is not as focused on the City’s issue as he was when he met with Mayor Wolowicz and Councilman Gardiner, but noted that Mr. Lansing did assign one of his deputy staff members, Brock Coward, to work on it. City Manger Evans reported, however, that Mr. Coward had been unavailable for several months and then left the job. However, he indicated that Ira Toibin has helped him to contact John Walsh, an attorney with LAUSD, who is very cordial and advised him of the name of Mr. Coward’s replacement. He contacted the new deputy and she met with Mr. Lansing and they decided that the City should work with Mr. Walsh on this issue. City Manager Evans indicated that he would contact Mr. Walsh that week in an effort to try to better understand the issues from LAUSD’s perspective.
City Manager Evans assured Councilman Clark that before leaving the City he would make sure that City understands the hurdles ahead. He stated that he would see if Council and two school boards could agree that the best process was not new legislation but working instead through the existing state code. He explained that there was a process in place to make the contemplated change but it would take the cooperation of all involved and the residents in Eastview might have to assume some additional debt.
Councilman Clark asserted that Council was committed to this issue, as the City owed it to its constituents living in Eastview. He noted that Council would continue to appreciate updates on the issue and would continue to move in a proactive manner towards achieving this goal.
Councilman Gardiner thanked Councilman Clark for bringing the matter up as he continually hears from the residents of Eastview on this issue. He summarized that the message to the public was one of relentless gradualism on the City’s part.
Mayor Wolowicz moved to accept the staff recommendation to review the current status of border issues and Councilman Stern seconded the motion. Hearing no objection Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Abalone Cove Sewer Maintenance Fee [Continued from June 20, 2006]
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that the item was continued from the June 20th meeting and that she had distributed the Engineer’s Report as part of the late correspondence, noting that the report was included in the June 20th agenda packet but not in the July 5th agenda packet.
Mayor Wolowicz noted that a representative of Harris & Associates was present at the meeting if the Council required further information. There were no requests to speak and Mayor Wolowicz closed the public hearing.
Councilman Stern moved and Councilman Gardiner seconded that Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2006-52, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING THE REPORT IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEWER SERVICE CHARGE ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 13.06 OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE, DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF SUCH CHARGE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006-2007, AND ORDERING COLLECTION OF THE FEE ON THE TAX ROLL.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Mayor Pro Tem Long arrived at 8:05 P.M.
Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Contract
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru explained that this item was a follow up to discussions during the Budget Workshop regarding the contract for regional law enforcement services. She noted that the contract included the service level and deployment schedules for Fiscal Year 2006-2007 and was before the Council for authorization for the Mayor and City Manager to sign certain portions of the contract.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that staff had anticipated a 4.9% increase when the FY 06-07 Budget was being prepared, but noted that when the contract was received there was a late rate increase received from the County resulting in 5.1% increase for the Deputy Sheriff’s Service Unit and a 6.3% increase for the Growth Deputy and the Grand Deputies included in the contract. She indicated that even with the increased rates, there was still sufficient money in the adopted budget to cover the additional expense. She added that an amount has also been included in the City Budget for the third Regional Traffic Deputy, which would come back as a separate contract in August 2006. She indicated that contributions will be received from other two cities for the Grant Deputies program and that staff expects that the City will stay within budget on the Sheriff’s contract.
Mayor Wolowicz commented that Council had previously spent a good deal of time discussing the Sheriff’s contract.
Councilman Clark clarified that because Rancho Palos Verdes is a contract city and provides basic services for 42,000 residents within a 13 square mile area, the City is spending one quarter of its entire budget to keep it one of the safest cities in Southern California.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to 1) Authorize the Mayor to sign the FY 06-07 Services for the Peninsula Region (Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates); and, 2) Authorize the City Manager to sign the FY 06-07 Rancho Palos Verdes Deployment Survey with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
California Coastal Commission Funding
Councilman Clark indicated that the City Manager had put together this report at his request regarding the addition of 11 California Coastal Commission staff positions being requested as part of the FY 06-07 state budget. He observed that as a result of cuts by successive administrations, the Coastal Commission is woefully understaffed, but that both the Assembly and Senate approved the inclusion of the 11 Coastal Commission staff positions in the proposed budget. He explained that, unfortunately, the Governor line item vetoed three of the energy staff positions, leaving the remaining 8 specifically for staff analysis and reports. He indicated that what is important for Rancho Palos Verdes is that there will now be Coastal Commission staff to work on the many projects that come forth like Terranea resort hotel. He complimented the Governor for supporting 8 of the 11 positions and he asked his colleagues for a show of support in endorsing the proposed resolution.
Mayor Wolowicz questioned whether it would be appropriate to modify some of the wording to match what has taken place and cite their support.
City Manager Evans suggested redrafting the resolution in the form of a letter to be signed by the Mayor.
Councilman Clark asked that copies of the letter be sent to the Coastal Commission, members of the legislature, and the budget chairs of the state Assembly and Senate.
Moved by Councilman Clark and seconded by Councilman Stern to authorize the Mayor to sign a letter on behalf of the City Council supporting and thanking Governor Schwarzenegger for approving the FY 2006-2007 California Coastal Commission Budget to provide additional staffing. Hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
JPIA Claims Handling Authority
City Manager Evans stated that this item had been continued from the last meeting because Councilman Stern was not present and he noted that the JPIA had added a fourth alternative for claims handling. He explained that the City currently has Council reject claims at a public meeting and then sends a written notice of rejection to the claimant. He indicated that Council could elect to delegate this function to JPIA and that these issues would no longer appear on the City Council agendas. He felt that the current procedure where the claim is rejected at a public meeting was best because it allowed Council members to be aware of what claims were being filed against the City. He further explained that the responsibility for claims handling could also assigned to a staff member or no action could be taken at all with the matter left to resolve itself as provided by law.
Mayor Pro Tem Long agreed with the City Manager’s view, and especially in light of matters discussed in closed session that evening, he indicated that he would not be in favor of creating any misunderstanding by the public in delegating this responsibility to the JPIA.
Councilman Gardiner concurred with keeping the current method.
Councilman Clark also agreed to keep the current practice in place.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved and seconded by Councilman Gardiner to continue with the City’s current method of handling claims. Hearing no objections, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
City Attorney Lynch announced that the City Council was recessing into closed session to discuss the case of Monks vs. City of Rancho Palos Verdes in LA Superior Court Case No. YS010425.
Council recessed to closed session from 8:19 P.M. to 10:53 P.M.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch indicated that Council took no action in closed session.
At 10:53 P.M. Councilmember Stern moved, Councilmember Clark seconded, and hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz ordered the meeting adjourned to Saturday, July 8, 2006, at 9:30 A.M. in the Community Room at City Hall 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard to interview consulting firms to conduct a recruitment for City Manager.