RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
DECEMBER 6, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 P.M. by Mayor Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Finance/Information Technology Dennis McLean; Interim Director of Public Works Ray Holland; Senior Administrative Analyst Gary Gyves; and Senior Planner Kit Fox.
The Flag Salute was led by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda as submitted. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
CERTIFICATION OF ELECTION:
Certification of Election Results
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that the County Clerk has certified the result of the General Municipal Election which was held on November 8, 2005, declaring Peter Gardiner and Larry Clark as receiving the largest number of votes respectively; and she noted staff’s recommendation that Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-127, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES RECITING THE FACTS OF THE GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION HELD IN SAID CITY ON NOVEMBER 8, 2005, DECLARING THE RESULTS THEREOF AND SUCH OTHER MATTERS AS PROVIDED BY LAW.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve staff recommendation, thus adopting Resolution No. 2005-127. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Councilman Stern commended the City’s residents for the high voter turnout, pointing out that 15,582 ballots were cast, representing a 60-percent voter turnout.
Mayor Clark added that this is the highest election turnout since the City’s incorporation.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Swearing in of Newly Elected Council Members Clark and Gardiner
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru swore in newly elected Council Members Clark and Gardiner.
Councilman Stern presented a slide show of the events that took place during Mayor Clark’s tenure as Mayor of the City Council, such as the Western Avenue sink hole in January 2005, storm damage and slope failures in February 2005, Mayor Clark being elected to the Board of the League of California Cities, appointed as a Coastal Commissioner, re-elected to the RPV City Council, the City’s 9-0 victory with the Supreme Court in the Abrams case, passage of the Storm Drain User Fee, land acquisition at Portuguese Bend, launching of the City’s cable television Channel 33, opening/dedication of Founder’s Park, pilot traffic speed enforcement program on PVDE Switchbacks during the summer, completion of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center Expansion, and near completion of the Trump National Golf Course, etc. He commended and congratulated Mayor Clark on an eventful year.
Mayor Clark thanked Councilman Stern for his presentation.
Mayor Clark commented about the City’s Annual Holiday Party held the previous evening at the newly remodeled/expanded Point Vicente Interpretive Center. He stated that the facility’s entryway and patio were lined with luminarias and that there were wonderful holiday decorations inside the building. He observed that the event was well attended. He thanked and commended City staff and volunteers who worked on preparing the party, stating that each person was individually recognized for their tremendous time and effort in putting together this event. He added that this event has set a higher standard for future City functions.
A. Selection of Mayor
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru called for nominations of Mayor.
Mayor Clark nominated Steve Wolowicz as the next Mayor of Rancho Palos Verdes, stating that Mayor pro tem Wolowicz has always been willing to assist and collaboratively work with the current Mayor when he was not available. He stated that Mayor pro tem Wolowicz has been an outstanding Council Member and that he has earned the right to lead this City Council.
Councilman Long seconded that motion.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark,
B. Selection of Mayor Pro Tem
Mayor Wolowicz opened the process for nomination of Mayor pro tem.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru called for the nominations.
Councilman Stern nominated Councilman Long to serve as Mayor pro tem.
Councilman Gardener seconded that motion.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Remarks by Council Members
Councilman Gardiner thanked everyone who supported him during the election, including the members on the City Council; and stated that the election results are an endorsement of how well the current City Council has worked together in serving the City. He stated that he is once again looking forward to serving the City.
Councilman Clark thanked the community, his fellow Council members, and staff for their support, encouragement, cooperation and teamwork throughout 2005; stated that helping to lead this City of 42,000 residents has been a dream come true; and he stated that he will never forget this major highlight and honor in his life. He noted that he has taken very seriously this temporary stewardship of this community and his collaboration with the other Council Members. He concurred with Councilman Stern that during the past year, the City has witnessed some major challenges and successes, expressing his belief that 2005 will rank high in this City’s history of eventful and significant years. He thanked each Council Member for their team effort and individual capabilities, believing that each brings a diversity of talents and the spirit of cooperation in working for the betterment of the community.
Mayor pro tem Long thanked former Mayor Clark for his contributions as Mayor during 2005; he credited former Mayor Clark for running the meetings in an efficient manner; pointed out that former Mayor Clark is the City’s first elected official to serve on the California Coastal Commission in the last 25 years, since Bob Ryan’s service on that body; and he reiterated his appreciation for former Mayor Clark’s extra efforts in serving the community.
Mayor Wolowicz expressed his gratitude for those residents who supported him in his election to this body; thanked his fellow Council members for electing him as Mayor. He introduced his wife of 39 years, Mary Jo, thanking her for her support and for the support of his family and friends; and he thanked his business partners at Zdonek & Wolowicz for making it possible for him to take the time to serve on the City Council. He stated that he will continue in his efforts to respond in a timely manner to issues brought to him; that he will try to move the meetings along in an efficient manner; and pointed out that this year will once again be a busy one for Council. He added that he would like to continue with the Mayor’s Did You Know Facts reports; and he thanked all Council Members for their collective and collaborative efforts.
Mayor Wolowicz presented to outgoing Mayor Clark a new City flag, which will remain in Council Chambers; explained that former Mayor Clark had lobbied Council for a City flag; and explained that former Council member Tom Hollingsworth designed the City’s logo. He mentioned that the individual Council members and City Manager Evans funded the purchase of the flag.
Councilman Clark thanked the Council members and City Manager Evans for the beautiful flag, noting that he is touched by their thoughtfulness; he explained that it has become customary at the annual convention of the League of California Cities to start the convention with a parade of each City’s flags, pointing out that Rancho Palos Verdes was one of the few cities that did not have its own city flag; and he expressed his delight in seeing his wish for a City flag come to fruition.
Mayor Wolowicz presented caps to each member of Council and explained that the caps have been embroidered with the phrase “Team RPV,” which he borrowed from Sheriff’s Captain Zuanich. He pointed out that the dates each member served as Mayor have been inscribed on the caps, noting that his and Mayor pro tem Long’s do not yet reflect their tenure dates.
City Manager Evans distributed to Mayor Wolowicz and Mayor pro tem Long printed stationery with their new titles.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
The meeting was recessed for celebratory refreshments at 7:54 P.M. The meeting was reconvened at 8:23 P.M.
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Mayor Wolowicz announced the names of the two recycle winners from the November 15th City Council meeting – Ted Ross and Mi Yung Hsu. He stated that all winners will receive a check for $250, which represents a year’s free refuse service; and he encouraged everyone to recycle.
CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reminded the audience that a list of items previously discussed and continued to a future City Council meeting are posted on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru stated that staff is requesting to pull Item No. 12, Appointment of Board Members to the Miraleste Recreation and Parks District, from the Consent Calendar in order to make a revised recommendation.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve the amended Consent Calendar. Roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
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 June 7, 2005; June 21, 2005; and November 21, 2005.
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.
Interim Improvements to Barkentine/Seacove and other Miscellaneous Drainage Improvements
Reviewed and reconfirmed by four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council's previous actions on October 18, 2005, November 1 and 15, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to construct interim improvements to Barkentine/Seacove and other miscellaneous drainage improvements.
Repair of Four Storm Drains
Reviewed and reconfirmed by four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council's previous action on November 15, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair storm drains on Palos Verdes Drive South, Silver Arrow, Crest Road, and Pontevedra.
Appointment of Board Member to the Klondike Canyon Geologic Hazard Abatement District
Appointed Gail Lovrich to a full four-year term of office on the Klondike Canyon Geologic Hazard Abatement District board until September 2009.
Appointment of Board Members to the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District
Appointed Robert Douglas and Mary Sheridan to full four-year terms of office on the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District board until September 2009.
Appointment of Board Members to the Ridgecrest Ranchos Recreation & Parks District
Appointed Tom Carter, Victor Hansen and Joyce Huppert to full four-year terms of office on the Miraleste Recreation & Parks District board until December 2009.
Household Hazardous Waste/Electronics Waste Round-Up Siting and Liability Agreement with Los Angeles County
Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Waste Collection Program Siting and Liability Agreement with the County of Los Angeles and County Sanitation District No. 2 of Los Angeles County.
Ordinance No. 428, a Zone Change to the Upper Portion of San Ramon Canyon (30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30676, 30678, 30680, 30682 Palos Verdes Drive East; and 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2845 San Ramon Drive), from OH to RS-2
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 428, A ZONE CHANGE FOR THE UPPER SAN RAMON CANYON AREA (THE PORTION OF THE 15 PROPERTIES LOCATED BETWEEN THE HEAD OF THE SAN RAMON CANYON AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE EAST, ADDRESSED AS 30648, 30650, 30652, 30658, 30676, 30678, 30680, 30682 PALOS VERDES DRIVE EAST, AND 2803, 2809, 2817, 2823, 2829, 2837, 2845 SAN RAMON DRIVE, FROM OPEN SPACE HAZARD (OH) TO SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL (RS-2).
View Restoration Mediator Contract Renewal
Authorized the City Manager to enter into a contract with Mrs. Coleen Berg for professional view restoration mediation services for an additional year.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-128, 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.
ITEMS REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR:
Appointment of Board Members to the Miraleste Recreation and Parks District
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru stated that since the preparation and distribution of the Council agenda packet, it has come to staff’s attention that Dawn Henry, who was a previous member of the Miraleste Recreation & Parks District Board and whose term expired on December 2, 2005, is no longer a resident within the District’s boundaries; explained that under the provisions of the Public Resources Code, a resident outside of the District’s boundaries is not eligible to hold this position on this Board; and that staff’s revised recommendation is to appoint Peter Glusac to a full four-year term of office on the Miraleste Recreation & Parks District board until December 2009 and to direct staff to conduct a new recruitment to fill the vacancy created by Ms. Henry’s expired term.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Clark, to concur with staff’s amended recommendation. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Councilman Stern questioned the timeline for filling this vacancy.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that staff would start recruitment immediately, sending out notices to property owners within the boundaries of the District, noting that applicants must reside within the District’s boundaries.
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Mayor Wolowicz proposed to move Item Nos. 23, 24, and 26 to the end of the agenda.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru stated that she had mistakenly overlooked a request to speak on Consent Calendar Item No. 7, Interim Improvements to Barkentine/Seacove and other Miscellaneous Drainage Improvements.
Mayor pro tem Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to reopen the Consent Calendar for reconsideration of Item No. 7. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Interim Improvements to Barkentine/Seacove and other Miscellaneous Drainage Improvements
William Toliff, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked staff to provide more detail on the interim drainage improvements proposed at Barkentine Road and Seacove Drive.
Interim Director of Public Works Holland explained that the improvements on Barkentine Road and Seacove Drive involve the installation of 3 catch basins and necessary pipe to slow down the water and capture any debris that might result during a large storm.
Mr. Toliff asked if the project included that catch basin at the base of McCarrell Canyon that resulted in flooding during the storms in 1980 and 2005.
Interim Director Holland clarified for Mr. Toliff that the proposed project did not involve the catch basin to which he referred.
Mayor pro tem Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve Agenda Item No. 7 as presented. The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Consideration of Adoption of a Resolution of Necessity for the Acquisition in Eminent Domain of Real Property Interests in APN 7573-004-026, located at 6359 Tarragon Road, in Connection with the Emergency Construction, Repair and Maintenance of Drainage Improvements
The staff report recommended that Council 1) Open and conduct a hearing on the adoption of the proposed Resolution of Necessity, receive from staff the evidence stated and referred to in this Report, take testimony from any person wishing to be heard on this matter; 2) If the City Council finds, based upon the evidence contained in and referred to in this Report, and the testimony and comments received in this hearing, that the evidence supports the necessary findings with respect to the Resolution of Necessity, then the staff recommends that the City Council, in the exercise of its discretion, ADOPT THE PROPOSED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-___, A RESOLUTION OF NECESSITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, DECLARING CERTAIN REAL PROPERTY INTERESTS NECESSARY FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES AND AUTHORIZING THE ACQUISITION THEREOF, IN CONNECTION WITH AN EMERGENCY DRAINAGE PROJECT, and authorize City staff and the City Attorney's office to take all necessary steps to file and prosecute an eminent domain proceeding to acquire the fee simple interest in real property commonly known as 6359 Tarragon Road, identified as Assessor's Parcel Number 7573-004-026 (referred to hereafter as "Subject Property"). The Subject Property is more fully described in the legal description attached as Exhibit "A" and depicted on the diagram attached as Exhibit "B" to the Resolution of Necessity. Exhibits "A" and "B" are incorporated herein by this reference; and 3) Authorize the Mayor and City Manager to execute all necessary documents.
Interim Director of Public Works Holland described the proposed interim drainage improvements, noting that the project installation will consist of two gabion structures where rocks are contained in wire mesh to slow the flow of water down and two fences that act as racks to collect large debris that comes down from the canyon during a rainstorm. He explained that in order to install the interim improvements, the City must either acquire the subject property or obtain an easement on a portion of the lot. He noted that eventually the City would need to construct larger, permanent drainage improvements on the property to prevent the kind of flooding experienced that occurred in this area in February 2005.
William Toliff, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that when the storm drain system failed to adequately divert the floodwaters and debris in February 2005, it overflowed into the neighborhood below and flooded some of the homes. He expressed concern that the staff report does not indicate that the existing storm drain is inadequate, but that the drain may only have sufficient capacity for water, and not debris. He stated that McCarrell Canyon drains water from a large area around and above Crest Road and that with the development of various residential projects, over time the topography has changed, which negatively impacts water flow and reduces the amount of water-permeable surfaces. He stated that most of this water now drains down into McCarrell and Barkentine Canyons; and that this large volume of water scours the canyon and picks up debris until it hits a bottleneck at Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS). He added that Barkentine Canyon drains the eastern portion of the developments around Crest Road and that the existing drainage improvements at the base of this canyon have been adequate to stop the debris, but stated that more work is necessary to provide adequate protection at McCarrell Canyon. He noted that the Edison substation straddles McCarrell Canyon approximately 350 feet north of PVDS; suggested that the debris dams should be located in the canyon north of the Edison substation; and that a portion of the McCarrell Canyon, below the substation, should be lined or re-graded so that debris is stopped from traveling further down hill. He requested that aesthetics also be taken into consideration when planning the new drainage facility/system for this area.
Mayor Wolowicz clarified for Mr. Toliff that his comments are not focused on the topic at hand, noting that this agenda item pertains to the acquisition of property to begin the interim drainage improvements and that the design of the ultimate drainage facility was not currently before Council. He thanked Mr. Toliff for his comments.
Interim Director of Public Works Holland noted for Mr. Toliff that the design for the ultimate facility would possibly include the kind of improvements Mr. Toliff has suggested; indicated that the proposed improvements being contemplated this evening will not be aesthetically displeasing; and explained that these are temporary/interim improvements to protect the adjacent residences until the City can design, fund and construct the permanent improvements. He stated that staff would take Mr. Toliff’s suggestions into consideration in the design of the final/permanent improvements.
Dr. Robert Apel, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he lives adjacent to the lot in question; expressed his opposition to the City acquiring this lot by means of eminent domain; stated that this lot has been for sale for a couple of years; and that the City should seek an easement and not use eminent domain to acquire this lot. He stated that the residents should be advised what the ultimate plans are for the lot; stated that he watched through his bedroom window the damage that was caused by the recent storms and stated his opinion that the materials left on site following brush clearing and wood chipping activities created the blockages in the storm drain. He stated that storm drain improvements should also be constructed in the Seacove Drive area.
Interim Public Works Director Holland explained that the type of work being proposed for the interim improvements are as follows -- the creation of four structures limited in size; stated that two structures will be small dams to slow down the flow of water; that two debris fences will be erected, noting these fences will have holes in them for passage of water, but will trap most of the debris; that these structures will be spaced between PVDS and the Edison substation; and reiterated that these are intended to be interim improvements until the City can thoroughly review, analyze and design a system that would address the aesthetic concerns that have been raised, but also meet the hydraulic and other issues that must be addressed for this kind of project. He stated that the City will have to solicit proposals from engineering firms, bring a design contract to Council for award, complete the design process, estimate the project cost, and then enter into a construction contract when the funding for the project becomes available. He noted that the entire process is anticipated to take 3 to 5 years to complete.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if the Request for Proposals (RFP) process will include an analysis for the projected peak flow, the capacity of the current pipe and the current required capacity of the system.
Interim Public Works Director Holland stated that it must be a very thorough analysis; and that the City will look at the systems already in place and, with the experience the City has had with those systems, design a new system that will handle those flows in a way that avoids flooding, but is also a solution that the City can afford.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if the City is going out with an RFP with a specific solution in mind or if the RFP asks the consultants to define the problem and then propose a solution to it.
Interim Public Works Director Holland clarified that staff wants to go out with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) first in order to find firms that have the necessary expertise, experience and credentials, and are capable of taking on a project like this. He pointed out that there might be multiple solutions to the problem, with varying costs, and that all of the various options should be considered.
Councilman Gardener questioned who is in charge of defining the problem.
Interim Public Works Director Holland stated it would be staff’s responsibility to define those parameters. He added that Council could also have input, if it so desired.
Councilman Gardener stated that he would like to see the analysis before the RFP is prepared.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that this project is exceptionally large and noted that he does not believe it would serve any purpose to have Council provide input on an RFP for a project that is fundamentally an engineering question.
Councilman Gardener stated that this one project will consume one-third of all the money being raised by the City’s Storm Drain User Fee; and that he will not vote in favor of this expenditure unless he believes that the project has been properly and adequately defined.
City Manager Evans stated the design of the permanent drainage improvements must address two problems, one being water and the other being debris. He indicated that several alternative solutions could be developed to address these problems. He stated that Council can be involved every step of the process, but expressed his concern if that happens, this project may not get done in a timely fashion.
Councilman Gardener noted his understanding of the trade-offs associated with considering multiple options; but clarified that he is seeking assurance that the project will be adequately defined so that the final solution will be completely effective and that he understands the science behind this effort.
Mayor pro tem Long said that he shares Commissioner Gardiner’s concern with looking closely at this project; but cautioned that the City’s program for financing storm drain repairs makes no allowance to fund Priority 3 projects, no allowance for the sink holes that occurred on Western Avenue and no allowance for the need to acquire private property. He expressed doubt that there is any allowance for having the City develop multiple designs for every project, nor is there any allowance for additional delays and escalated costs that will be caused by multiple designs; and noted that while it may be optimal to spend a lot more time doing a lot more study and multiple designs, this capability has not built into the City’s funding mechanism and this fact should be kept in mind as Council moves forward.
Councilman Clark stated that he would be amenable to Councilman Gardiner reviewing the draft RFP off-line with staff and that if Councilman Gardiner has any concerns for Council, those concerns should be brought back to Council for discussion. He stated he is ready to move forward with staff’s recommendation at this time.
Councilman Gardiner clarified that he is only suggesting that the City accurately define the problem for which the vendors will be asked to design a solution.
Mayor Wolowicz requested that staff take Councilman Gardiner’s concern and comments into consideration and alert Council of any issues associated with the RFP process when appropriate.
City Manager Evans asked whether Councilman Gardiner is referring to the interim project or the ultimate improvements.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he would confer with staff off-line regarding what type of information he is seeking, thus allowing this evening’s discussion to get back to the issue at hand.
City Attorney Lynch explained that in order to accommodate both the possible interim improvements and the potential design of the ultimate improvements, staff has made a determination that acquisition of the subject property is necessary in order to install these improvements; and indicated that the City currently has a very small easement on a portion of the property at the base of the canyon near PVDS, but that the City needs a larger area to install the interim improvements described by Interim Public Works Director Holland. She stated that Council had previously directed staff to obtain an appraisal of the value of the property, which has occurred; and indicated that an offer was extended to the property owner based on that appraisal. She reported that the property owner declined that offer and came back with a counter-offer; that the Council Subcommittee that has been negotiating with the property owner and is hopeful that the City may be able to reach a satisfactory resolution based on the appraisals as opposed to using eminent domain to acquire the property. She added that in the meantime, so as not to lose time given the upcoming rainy season, staff is recommending that Council approve the Resolution of Necessity; indicated that staff believes all of the findings can be made. She stated that the City can also safely delay taking formal action by a couple of weeks to allow the Council Subcommittee time to communicate with the property owner and determine the final value of the property; and noted if that effort is successful, there will be no need for the City to proceed with an eminent domain action.
Councilman Gardener noted his preference for the second approach, believing the first approach is too severe at this time.
Councilman Stern questioned if staff sees any disadvantage if Council delays this issue and what the impact is if Council adopted the Resolution of Necessity that evening.
City Attorney Lynch responded that there was not much difference between the two options in terms of time delays, but cautioned that if the item is continued to the next meeting on December 20th, Council would need to be prepared to take definitive action at that meeting. She expressed concern that if an agreement has not been reached with the property by that time, the City might lose additional time over the intervening holidays.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to continue this item to the December 20th meeting and directed the Council Subcommittee to continue to pursue negotiations with the property owner.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that he is concerned with further delay because of the upcoming rainy season. While he acknowledged that there is a general philosophical reticence to using the power of eminent domain, he observed that it is used to advance the cause of common good when necessary and stated that in this case, the repairs are necessary. He opined that if the repairs had been made prior to the last rainy season, it might have prevented potentially millions of dollars worth of property damage and even endangerment to human life. He noted that if the City is unable to successfully complete the negotiations, this particular property is the only one the City can acquire for this repair; and that in the midst of an upcoming rainy season; he is not in favor of doing anything that would cause further delay. He stated that the process for eminent domain should have already taken place, pointing out that can still negotiate a solution in the meantime and that eminent domain is not a gun to anyone’s head because the property owner receives fair compensation for the property and their attorney fees are also paid for in the process. He expressed his belief that rather than showing respect for the private property owner’s right, the reticence to proceed with eminent domain is instead only causing unnecessary delay stemming from a misguided belief that there’s something wrong with the use of eminent domain. He stated that eminent domain is entirely proper in this instance; and reiterated there should be no further continuances in this matter.
Councilman Stern pointed out that staff has indicated that there is no negative consequence to delaying this matter to see if a conclusion to the negotiations can be achieved; that based on staff’s response, he is willing to support the motion on the floor, believing that this is a friendlier way to negotiate with the property owner; and stated that if the City is unsuccessful in negotiating, he is not opposed to imposing eminent domain on a private property owner for the public betterment. He expressed his belief that a successful solution will be reached in the negotiation process.
Councilman Gardener reported that the negotiations thus far have been cordial; that the Council Subcommittee has embarked on a systematic approach which has been mutually agreed to by the parties involved to determine the fair market value of the property; and asked City Attorney Lynch to provide input on the amount of the offer that the City has made to the property owner.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that the City has offered the property owner $635,000 for the property and that the property owner has provided the City with an appraisal valuing the lot at approximately $1.3 million.
Councilman Gardener noted that the City’s own appraisal of the property ranges widely; that it’s not unreasonable for someone to want to reach a sensible negotiation price; and highlighted staff’s clarification that there is no apparent disadvantage to delaying Council’s action on this item for two weeks.
City Attorney Lynch pointed out that Councilman Stern will not be able to attend the December 20th meeting; indicated that a 4/5ths vote is necessary to pass the Resolution of Necessity; and asked if the other Council members will be present for that meeting.
The remaining Council members indicated their intent to be present on December 20th.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Southern California Gas Company Franchise Renewal
The staff report recommended that Council INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 429U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES GRANTING A FRANCHISE TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAS COMPANY, A CORPORATION, THE RIGHT, PRIVILEGE AND FRANCHISE TO LAY AND USE PIPES AND APPURTENANCES FOR TRANSMITTING AND DISTRIBUTING GAS FOR ANY AND ALL PURPOSES UNDER, ALONG, ACROSS OR UPON THE PUBLIC STREETS, WAYS, AND ALLEYS, AS THE SAME NOW OR MAY HEREAFTER EXIST, WITHIN THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES.
And ORDINANCE NO. 430*, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES GRANTING TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAS COMPANY, A CORPORATION, ITS SUCCESSORS, AND ASSIGNS THE RIGHT, PRIVILEGE AND FRANCHISE TO LAY AND USE PIPES AND APPURTENANCES FOR TRANSMITTING AND DISTRIBUTING GAS FOR ANY AND ALL PURPOSES UNDER, ALONG, ACROSS, OR UPON THE PUBLIC STREETS, WAYS, ALLEYS AND PLACES, AS THE SAME NOW OR MAY HEREAFTER EXIST, WITHIN SAID MUNICIPALITY.”
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that late correspondence was distributed to Council on this item earlier that evening.
Councilman Gardener questioned if Item C on Page 2 of 2 of the late correspondence package revises a prior understanding.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the Gas Company has always requested a franchise agreement for an indeterminate period of time; indicated that staff recommends against that approach, with staff preferring a finite term in the agreement, such as the 25-year period as recommended in the staff report.
Mayor Wolowicz commented on his prior dealings with Ms. Low in both community and on-community activities in the greater South Bay area where the Southern California Gas Company has been an active participant in various events; and stated that Ms. Low has been a reliable representative of the Gas Company. He indicated that the Gas Company’s existing franchise agreement pre-dated the City’s incorporation; and noted that a 25-year franchise term is not uncommon in today’s environment.
Mayor Wolowicz opened the public hearing.
Marcella Low, Public Affairs Manager for the Southern California Gas Company, and resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she was present to discuss the proposed franchise agreement between the Southern California Gas Company and the City. She indicated that when the City incorporated in 1973, the City did not negotiate a franchise agreement with the Gas Company because the City inherited the under pre-existing gas franchise with Los Angeles County, which has now expired and has resulted in the Gas Company and the City negotiating a new franchise agreement. She indicated that the City currently receives approximately $100,000 annually in franchise fees via the County franchise agreement; noted that the City recently extended the term of this agreement so that would not expire until the end of 2005. She explained that the proposed franchise agreement would indemnify the City and provides that the Gas Company will guarantee its work. She explained further that the franchise agreement grant the Gas Company the right to install, maintain and repair utility facilities in the public streets and highways; and noted that it also include a number of terms and conditions which regulate the manner of this use. In return for granting the franchise agreement, Ms. Low stated that the City will continue to receive significant annual compensation from the Gas Company for the use of the City streets; pointed out that the Gas Company takes these obligations and rights under its franchise agreement very seriously and that the Gas Company works cooperatively with every community it serves. She thanked staff for cooperatively working with the Gas Company in the past two years in negotiating an agreement that is mutually agreeable to all parties. She noted that some of the benefits they included in this franchise agreement are some expanded language for insurance, guarantee of workmanship, and also a re-opener provision, which would provide for any material change should a new franchise law be enacted. She stated that the proposed term of the franchise agreement is for a 25-year; noting that the Gas Company has approximately 230 franchises in Southern California; and that of these, 88 percent have indeterminate terms, the remaining 12 percent start at a minimum term of 25 years. She stated that the natural gas industry is very stable; that no major changes have occurred in the industry since the 1937 Franchise Act went into effect; and that the Gas Company is committed to a long-term partnership with the City.
Councilman Stern mentioned that he spoke with Ms. Low last week regarding this item.
Councilman Long stated he too spoke previously with Ms. Low concerning this matter.
Councilman Gardener stated he also spoke with Ms. Low and noted his interest in seeking the Gas Company’s volunteer partnership in community affairs/events, stating that the longer the period of the franchise agreement, the greater the commitment the City should expect in terms of community partnership activity, such as sponsoring events for the betterment of the community.
Ms. Low stated that the Gas Company would welcome an opportunity to become more involved in this community.
Councilman Clark suggested that the Gas Company might consider underwriting some exhibits at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, as an example.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that the Gas Company does participate in community activities in other cities and that he would welcome that opportunity in Rancho Palos Verdes. He asked if any complaints have been received from residents concerning the Gas Company’s service; and questioned if any complaints have been made to the regulatory agencies regarding its service.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru responded that staff has no record of resident complaints regarding the Gas Company’s service and stated that Public Works staff also had no complaints regarding its dealings with the Gas Company.
City Attorney Lynch reported that staff repeatedly attempted to contact the California Public Utilities Commission regarding any complaints it might have received related to the Gas Company’s service in Rancho Palos Verdes, but that staff was not successful in obtaining a response to those inquiries.
Ms. Low indicated that she is not aware of any complaints in Rancho Palos Verdes that have been filed with the California Public Utilities Commission.
Mayor Wolowicz requested an explanation of the clause that was included in the draft franchise agreement that is similar to one included in the County of San Bernardino’s gas franchise agreement.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the Gas Company agreed to include a provision in the draft franchise agreement which provides that if the State regulatory system changes in a way that an additional franchise fee amount would be payable to the City, the Gas Company will pay the City the additional amount once it obtains approval from the PUC for a rate increase. She stated that the approach used by the County of San Bernardino is beneficial from the City’s perspective, although she noted that if the Gas Company sought an increase from the PUC to cover any increases in franchise fees, she does not know how much of an actual difference it would make in the long run.
Councilman Gardiner questioned how the City could determine what the word “partnership” means if Council was inclined to grant the Gas Company a longer franchise term, such as the Gas Company providing a continuing source of funding for emergency response activities.
City Attorney Lynch stated that staff did not discuss this particular issue with the Gas Company or include it in the draft franchise agreement. She indicated that if Council wants certain provisions added to the franchise, staff could engage in further negotiations with the Gas Company on this point, but expressed concern about including a requirement similar to what Councilman Gardiner is suggesting because this concept goes beyond the scope of a franchise agreement for providing gas service to the residents of the City.
In response to a request for clarification from Mayor Pro Tem Long, Councilman Gardiner indicated that he meant “partnership” in a layman’s term rather than in a legal sense.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Long, to adopt the franchise agreement as proposed by staff.
Councilman Gardiner noted his concern that there is no vehicle to provide for a community partnership agreement in a layman’s sense.
Councilman Clark expressed his belief that the Gas Company’s representative has indicated that the company is committed to immediately begin working with the City on providing community partnerships and that he is looking for proactive action from the Gas Company as a result of adopting this franchise agreement. Based on that, he noted his expectation that the Gas Company and staff will come back to the Council within 3 to 6 months with some concrete examples of proposed community partnerships.
Mayor Wolowicz closed the public hearing.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, that staff report to City Council within 3 months on progress made with the Gas Company management’s representation on specific proposed community partnership initiatives that have been worked between staff and the Gas Company. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Mayor pro tem Long reiterated the need to define the term “partnership” as not being a legal partnership in this instance.
Proposed 2006-2007 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program
The staff report recommended that City Council 1) Conduct a public hearing to receive citizen input on the proposed 2006-2007 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program; 2) Approve the proposed CDBG projects and budget; and, 3) Authorize the interim Director of Public Works to execute agreements for CDBG projects with the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission.
Mayor Wolowicz opened the public hearing. There being no public input, Mayor Wolowicz closed the public hearing.
Mayor pro tem Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to concur with staff recommendation. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00265) to Establish Regulations for the Use of Cargo Containers on Private Property
The staff report recommended that City Council continue the public hearing to the February 7, 2006 City Council meeting.
Mayor Wolowicz opened the public hearing.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that there were no requests to speak.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to continue this matter to February 7, 2006. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Trump National Golf Club - Revision "Y" - Request for Temporary Opening of the Golf Course and Driving Range (Continued hearing from November 1, 2005.)
The staff report recommended that City Council continue the public hearing to the December 20, 2005 City Council meeting.
Councilman Long moved, seconded Councilman Gardiner, to continue this item to the December 20, 2005, City Council meeting. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Councilman Stern noted he would not be in attendance at the December 20th meeting.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Long, to defer to a future meeting City Council Oral Reports.
Mayor Wolowicz noted strong opposition to deferring City Council Oral Reports, stating that no such reports have been given since the meeting of October 19, 2005.
Given the majority preference to defer this matter, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered this matter deferred to the next regular meeting.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Border Issues Status Report
The staff report recommended that Council review the current status of border issues and provide direction to staff, as appropriate.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to waive staff report. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Councilman Gardiner informed his colleagues that California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) had been chartered to conduct systematic scientific research on the land located below the Palos Verdes Landfill, including drilling, to determine whether there is any leakage of the landfill. He explained that the plan was later modified to include a smaller scope and that it was ultimately cancelled. He asked that a letter be sent to obtain information about why this research project was cancelled.
Mayor Wolowicz asked that staff work with Councilman Gardiner on writing a letter to CIWMB to obtain the requested information.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that Council had received a large number of emails from the public regarding the redevelopment of the former Navy site on Western Avenue.
Councilman Clark stated that a distribution list has been circulated among the residents of San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes living within proximity of the proposed Ponte Vista project; that this distribution list includes the Mayor of Los Angeles, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, himself, and the Rancho Palos Verdes planning staff; and that he has received approximately 200 emails in the last two weeks on this topic. He explained that Council previously authorized him as the former Mayor to meet with Councilwoman Hahn to discuss this matter because its mutual interest to both communities; and indicated that he is still working on scheduling a meeting with Councilwoman Hahn. He noted that the residents’ main concerns are the further exacerbation of traffic congestion on Western Avenue and the increase in density caused by changing the zoning on the property from single-family to multiple-family. He noted that there was an article the previous weekend in the Daily Breeze about this project, which included a good map depicting the various components proposed on the property; and stated that this issue will continue to be of particular interest to the community in the coming year.
Councilman Gardiner asked that Councilman Clark continue to work as Council liaison on this issue with Councilwoman Hahn and other interested parities and to report back to the entire Council as the issues evolve.
Mayor Wolowicz added that the proposed new high school on the property should be included in Councilman Clark’s talks with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Councilman Clark mentioned that he has developed over the past couple years, on other matters, a good working relationship and mutual respect with LAUSD School Board Member, Mike Lansing; and stated that if Council desires, he would be willing to work on both issues.
It was the consensus of Council that Councilman Clark will continue as Council liaison on the proposed Ponte Vista project and LAUSD high school on Western Avenue and to report back to Council when new information becomes available on these two topics.
Senior Planner Fox stated that some late correspondence related to the Ponte Vista project had been provided to Council earlier that evening; and noted that the four-page handout identifies the developer’s Advisory Board members. With regard to the high school site, he noted that staff has prepared a draft comment letter to the Superintendent and the Board of Education of the LAUSD, which was attached to the staff report on circle page 113, and asked Council for any input regarding this letter prior to it being sent. He added that staff would attend the LAUSD Board meeting the following week and present the City’s comments to the Board.
Addressing Mayor pro tem Long’s inquiry regarding the proposed mixed use project at 828 Deep Valley Drive in the City of Rolling Hills Estates, Senior Planner Fox stated that the proposed project on the former ARCO site has been sent back for further study; and stated he does not have a timeline when that item will be considered by the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission. He noted that the Peninsula Village Overlay Zone project is still moving forward; indicated that an EIR will be prepared and that staff anticipates that the EIR will be completed and circulated for public comment sometime next year. He noted that the EIR is expected to analyze changing the densities and other development standards for the entire Peninsula Center area.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that given the Los Angeles Unified School District Board’s continual habit of moving quickly through some things and ignoring some community concerns, he would like staff to keep Council current on any changes regarding the status of the proposed new high school on Western Avenue. He urged staff to make sure the City is represented at any meeting related to this matter and that the City continue to express its serious concern with these projects.
Councilman Gardiner questioned who has responsibility for looking at the cumulative traffic impacts of all these projects throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Senior Planner Fox stated that it is the responsibility of each community to study these cumulative impacts when processing a development project application. He explained that the City’s Planning Department maintains for its own use a list of these Peninsula-wide cumulative impacts when performing an environmental analysis; and stated that the City does include in its own assessment other Peninsula and nearby cities’ projects and factors those findings into the traffic counts. He noted that there is no master road plan model reflecting area-wide traffic flows.
Councilman Clark stated that one of the handouts on the Ponte Vista project indicates that a “Senior Advisory Leaders” group has endorsed this project; and stated that it appears the chair of that group is Torrance Councilwoman Hope Witkowksy, noting that he finds this interesting because the City of Torrance will not be impacted by this project. He asked Ken Dyda for input on the written materials that have been distributed to the public, noting that one of the local newspapers indicated that Mr. Dyda supported the Ponte Vista project.
Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the newspaper wrongly indicated that he supported the project. He explained that an advisory committee was created to provide feedback on the 570 senior homes included in the proposed project; noted that the advisory committee made a number of suggestions, including that the developer cooperate with existing agencies rather than building its own senior housing. He stated that the major concerns of the committee members in his view have been ignored. He indicated that the advisory committee was very concerned about the additional traffic that will be created on Western Avenue, not only for the area in general, but for the seniors in that area who have a lot more difficulty negotiated through traffic than younger people. He stated that the advisory group had repeatedly suggested that the City of Los Angeles and the applicant look at providing an alternate access to the site other than Western Avenue, such as designing the project to funnel traffic down towards Gaffey Street, as an example, to provide some traffic congestion relief for that area. He added that in all the reports he has received from the developer’s consultants, the traffic concerns expressed by the advisory committee have been absent. He mentioned that he has expressed his concerns to the chair of this committee, Torrance Councilwoman Witkowksy and stated that at the group’s next meeting, he will once again voice his strenuous objection to the type of propaganda that has been recently produced by the developer and its consultants.
Councilman Clark stated he too would be speaking with Torrance Councilwoman Witkowksy regarding the City’s concerns about the Ponte Vista project.
Mayor Wolowicz asked Senior Planner Fox to address a letter to the City of Los Angeles and the Ponte Vista developer indicating that the City’s doubt in the veracity of the representations being made, and noted that he will sign that letter.
Mr. Dyda agreed with the Mayor’s suggestion of sending a letter to the Ponte Vista developer and suggested including in the letter a strong statement that the largest issue associated with the project is traffic and challenging the developer to find a way to direct the traffic impacts away from Western Avenue.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to receive and file the Border Issues Report.
Councilman Long requested that any letters being drafted on behalf of Council be brought to this body under the Consent Calendar for approval prior to being sent.
There being no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Proposed Revisions to the Purchasing Ordinance
The staff report recommended that Council INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 431, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING CHAPTER 2.44 GOVERNING THE PURCHASE OF SERVICES, SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that the Director and the Deputy Director of Finance/Information Technology met with him approximately a week earlier to discuss the issue of internal control and other topics related to this issue; and stated that his comments during that meeting have been interwoven in the staff report. He noted that his largest concern was providing internal control and indicated that his concerns had been satisfied.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to concur with staff’s recommendation.
Councilman Clark suggested that for the proposed limits on informal bids, formal bids and service contracts the City use the benchmark prescribed by the City of Manhattan Beach, which is $20,000/$20,000/$20,000, whereas staff is recommending $25,000/$25,000 for the latter two categories. He stated that he prefers the lower threshold of $20,000/ $20,000, believing that the lower amount is reasonable.
Mayor pro tem Long concurred with Councilman Clark’s comment; and stated that insurance certificates less than $25,000 should be at the discretion of the City Manager or the Department Heads, noting his preference for the City Manager to make the decision. He stated that at a minimum, the City should make sure that statutory worker’s compensation is provided if labor is being provided as part of the contract.
City Manager Evans indicated that the City does not enter into any service contracts that do not include worker’s compensation insurance requirements.
Councilman Gardiner asked for clarification as to what constitutes an informal bid and whether the City should adopt Manhattan Beach’s minimum threshold of $20,000 for this type of purchase.
Director McLean stated that staff is recommending a threshold of $5,000 for informal bids and would use a combination of telephone calls, faxes and emails to obtain price quotes as part of this process.
Councilman Stern asked for staff’s reaction to the difference between $20,000 and $25,000 for formal bids and service contracts.
Director McLean stated that staff’s preference is $25,000 for both formal bids and service contracts; indicated that the City of Lake Forest, which is also a contract city of similar size to Rancho Palos Verdes uses $25,000; and noted that the incremental difference between $20,000 and $25,000 will enable some purchases to go through a little more rapidly.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Wolowicz clarified with the maker and seconder of the motion on the floor that it is for staff’s recommendation, thereby establishing thresholds of $5,000/$25,000 and $25,000 for informal bids, formal bids and service contracts.
The roll call vote on the motion carried as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Revised City Investment Strategy
Director McLean introduced Michelle Durgy, Senior Associate with Fieldman, Rolapp Financial Services, LLC, which is the firm that serves as the City’s investment advisor.
Director McLean presented the staff report and the recommendation to approve and direct staff to implement the revised City Investment Strategy developed by Fieldman, Rolapp Financial Services. He stated that on October 4, 2005, Council approved a MOU with this firm to develop the proposed investment strategy; that through discussions with the consultants it was decided that the best way for the consultant to assess the City’s future cash flow needs was to look at the 2005 5-Year Financial Model, but noted that Ms. Durgy also looked at the City’s cash flow activities over the last five years prior to making her recommendation in conjunction with staff. He stated that staff is not recommending making a change in the current investment policy, but that they are recommending a change in the strategy.
Director McLean explained that in the past, the City has invested all of its excess cash in the Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF); that staff is now recommending that the City leave its expected expenditures and transfers from the General Fund for the next year invested in LAIF and then invest about 60 percent of the remainder of the City’s cash into short-term securities and other 40 percent in long-term securities. He noted that the August Treasurer’s Report reflected that the City had a $32 million cash balance and that the recommendation is to take about 60 percent of the difference between the $32 million and $17 million (which is derived from approximately $14 million in General Fund expenditures plus about $3 million in General Fund transfers) or $15 million and invest it in short-term securities (60% of $15 million = $9 million), with about 50 percent of the $9 million in 3-month treasury bills and about 50 percent in 6-month treasury bills. He stated that staff believes a prudent strategy would be to put the remaining cash, approximately 40 percent of $15 million (or $6 million), in long-term securities. He noted staff’s belief it is not prudent at this time to select securities that go beyond 2 years due to increasing interest rates. Therefore, he indicated that staff is suggesting that approximately two-thirds of the$60 million long-term funds be placed in one-year over-the-counter treasuries; and the remainder, about one-third, be placed in two-year Ginnie Mae (GNMA) notes.
Director McLean stated that the numbers being discussed this evening are part of a framework; that staff and the consultants will continue to work together to lay out the specifics, as well as the timeline, if Council approves this strategy; and that staff asked Ms. Durgy to make a calculation of what additional interest earnings the City might derive with this strategy. He stated that her calculation indicates it’s somewhere around $60,000 a year, but cautioned that he expects the City might have as much as $10,000 a year in associated costs and that the net gain would probably be around $50,000.
Mayor pro tem Long congratulated staff in bringing this issue forward, believing that this is a good concept; and expressed his belief that placing all of the City’s excess cash in LAIF was not leveraging the City money to the greatest extent possible. He questioned whether staff and the consultants have thought about a compromise between long-term securities and shorter term step-up bonds; or, while understanding staff desire to keep a full year’s of expenses liquid, would they still not allocate some portion of the $13.1 million annual expense to short-term 3- or 6-month T-bills based on the timing of the transfers out and might either of those changes capture a bit more rate increase for the City; and might Council at some point look at different options that might present greater interest income but arguably less liquidity and perhaps more risk.
Ms. Durgy responded that there are two securities that deal with step-up provisions, stating that she did not want to add another risk feature into the City’s investment portfolio at this initial stage; and noted that it was something the City could possibly consider in the future. In addition, she explained that a similar type of security would be the treasury inflation protectant, also known as TIPS; and that in a rising interest rate environment, this type of investment would be appropriate. She noted that there are two reasons why she did not go further out in time on the yield curve. The first was that the City’s investment policy allows for up to a 3-year maturity and she believes that given the investment yield curve and investment horizon at this time, the City should keep them more on the shorter term and have those turning over in order to take advantage of the steepness of the yield curve on that shorter end. She noted that having the investment mature in 3 years is not going to take advantage of the expected changes the Federal government over the next year or two of rising interest rates. She noted that the other reason for not going out in 3 years is a desire to keep the City initial investment portfolio as simple possible and to get more aggressive later, noting that the proposed plan starts off safe with some liquid funds and increasing yields. She stated that by moving these funds out of LAIF, the City has actually increased the amount of safety in its portfolio and increased the amount of yield, and noted that the only thing being sacrificed is liquidity.
Mayor pro tem Long asked if it would still be a workable solution and not endanger liquidity too much if the City put 6 to 9 months worth of General fund expenditures in LAIF, did not increase any of the long-term securities, and put that additional balance in the 3- or 6-month T-bills.
Ms. Durgy stated that based on many discussions with staff, it appears that the City’s Capital Improvement Program is stepping up and that the City may need more proceeds to fund those projects; and that it seems like it has been a fairly turbulent year in terms of fluctuation in the negative and positive balances, so she took a very conservative approach in order to allow the City as much flexibility as possible. She added that if this strategy did not work, they have also talked with staff about implementing an annual rebalancing.
Mayor pro tem Long asked for an explanation of how Ginnie Mae works.
Ms. Durgy explained that in the City’s investment policies, the City could only invest in Federal agency securities that are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, noting that the only agency security backed by that are those issued by Ginnie Mae. She added that this is still backed by home mortgages, but should those go into default, the government is still willing to put up its own money for principal and interest.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if the City would be doing investment laddering.
Ms. Durgy indicated that it could.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that while serving on the Finance Advisory Board, he expressed his dissatisfaction with relying entirely on LAIF. He pointed out that all investment policies for governmental entities begin with safety first, liquidity and yield next; and stated that it is appropriate for Council to question staff on the specific details of the City’s investment strategies and that he encouraged openness in the disclosure of this type of information.
Mayor pro tem Long moved, seconded by Councilman Clark, to adopt the staff recommendation for the City’s revised investment strategy, sharing the Mayor’s view that Council not micromanage this activity, but to be able to have this information openly disclosed. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Funding a Lobbyist for Support of the Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks and Coastal Protection Bond of 2006 (SB 153)
The staff report recommended that City Council approve a budget adjustment for $18,000 for the services of a state lobbyist (Joseph Caves of Conservation Strategy Group) for one year in support of the proposed Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks and Coastal Protection Bond of 2006.
Councilman Gardiner highlighted his satisfaction with the work done by Mr. Caves, and expressed his support for the staff recommendation.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Clark, to concur with the staff recommendation.
The roll call vote on the motion carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Joint Host for California Contract Cities Association General Meeting
The staff report recommended that City Council 1) Approve hosting the June 2006 California Contract Cities Association general dinner meeting with the Cities of Lomita and Rolling Hills Estates; and 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-129, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY 05-06, TO INCREASE THE COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAM BUDGET IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,500.
Mayor pro tem Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to concur with the staff recommendation.
Addressing Councilman Clark’s inquiry regarding the planning for the proposed venue for this event, City Manager Evans stated that the City of Rolling Hills Estates has agreed to be the lead agency, but noted that Rolling Hills Estates is looking for funding assistance from the other two cities.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
UCTV Antenna Program Application
The staff report recommended that Council consider a request from Councilman Gardiner and Cable TV Manager Gabriella Holt to submit an application for a UCTV satellite dish for Channel 33.
City Manager Evans explained that the City has an opportunity to receive a satellite dish that will allow the City to broadcast University of California programs on RPV Channel 33; and noted that the application states that if the City application is accepted, the University of California will ship the antenna to the City and the City will own and operate the antenna.
Councilman Gardiner commented that if the City was successful in receiving the UCTV satellite antenna, it would be a gift to the City worth approximately $1,300; and that the City will have to find approximately $1,500, either through private donations or the City’s own money, to obtain the necessary the receiver and have it installed. He noted that having this satellite antenna would allow RPV Channel 33 to tap into a stream of 24-hour a day University of California educational programming and NASA programming.
Gabriella Holt, Cable TV Manager, explained that UCTV contacted her about getting its educational programs to as many local educational access channels as possible; indicated that this type of programming can only be obtained through the satellite antenna; and stated that approximately $1,600 will be needed for additional expenses, pointing out that a private donor has already agreed to pay this $1,600 expense should the City be awarded the satellite dish.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that, should the City’s application be accepted, it would be appropriate to recognize the public sector donor(s) of the satellite antenna.
Councilman Gardener advised that the new digital equipment for RPV Channel 33 has been received, is currently being installed and will soon be operational.
Ms. Holt mentioned that the donated value of the satellite antenna is $2,000. Following on Councilman Gardiner’s comments, she added that the conversion to the new digital cable system is expected to be to take place that Friday, which will allow programming to be scheduled on the channel and for a PowerPoint-based community bulletin board to be provided.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to authorize applying for the satellite dish antenna, with the understanding there is a private donor to cover the added cost of approximately $1,600 for installation. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
City Council Meeting Dates
City Manager Evans highlighted the Council’s busy meeting calendar, observed that January 2006 is expected to be a fairly heavy month for Council; and noted staff’s recommendation for Council to consider canceling the Tuesday, January 3, 2006 City Council meeting and setting a date for a Tactical Planning Workshop.
Discussion ensued among the Council members on scheduling conflicts for the month of January 2006.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to cancel City Council’s January 3, 2006 regular meeting and set the date for the Tactical Planning Session on Saturday, February 4, 2006 at 9:30 A.M. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Health Insurance Contributions
The staff report recommended that Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-130, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING THE CITY'S MAXIMUM MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION AMOUNTS FOR EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Long, to concur with staff recommendation, thus adopting Resolution No. 2005-130.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru clarified for Councilman Gardiner that the new maximum insurance contribution rates would become effective in January 2006.
Addressing Councilman Gardiner’s inquiry on the additional cost, City Manager Evans estimated the total additional amount would be approximately $10,000 for the remainder of the current fiscal year (a 6-month period).
Councilman Gardiner addressed his concern with this becoming effective in January, preferring that the employees have a year to prepare for paying the higher fees.
City Manager Evans stated that the employees recently agreed to giving up a more lucrative health plan option, which will save the City approximately $10,000, noting that he sees the proposed maximum contribution increase as splitting the difference.
Mayor pro tem Long pointed out that part of the problem is that the City does not get a year’s notice of an increase from the insurance carriers, and that if the City adopted the approach of trying to give a year’s advance notice, it would always be a year behind. He stated that the City has as generous a health insurance plan than any private sector plan, in that the City pays the full cost of the employee’s premium regardless of what plan the employee chooses and 50 percent of the cost of any dependents. He observed that if that 50 percent share of the dependent cost goes up, depending on which plan the employee selected, although the City does not know how much more it will be, what is know is that it will be based on whatever the City is being charged by the insurance carrier.
Councilman Gardiner noted his understanding of the process, but indicated his preference to not pass on the insurance company’s practice of providing such short notice of rate increases onto the City’s employees. He stated that if the increase represents a small amount of money and if it is within the Council’s discretion, he favors paying the increase for a year and providing the employees with adequate notice of the increase.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that he understands Councilman Gardiner’s concern, but noted that the City should not adopt his suggested practice.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that he was not satisfied with the current cost allocation for health insurance premiums, believing that employees should pay a larger share of the cost because he foresees insurance fees continuing to rise; but he stated that the estimated $10,000 cost is appropriate at this time and that he would accept the City paying for this increase.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he would like to see the City take a comprehensive look at insurance. He suggested that the City should insure its employees against the large claims and create a savings account where any leftover funds would be returned to the employees, noting that it has been successfully done in a city in New Jersey.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that Mayor pro tem Long, given his background and skills in this area, has agreed to work with staff and the City’s insurance broker on this matter.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that he is still interested in working on the issue to try to curb the City’s health insurance costs as suggested by Mayor Wolowicz. He expressed interest in looking into Health Savings Accounts or HAS’s as suggested by Councilman Gardiner and pointed out that Mayor Wolowicz may be able to help analyze the tax implications of this type of program. He noted that the City and its employees share the same interest in getting the best value for each premium dollar. For the issue at hand, he noted that the proposed increase was fairly small; and stated that he would prefer to continue with the City funding the full employees’ cost and paying half of the dependent costs for now. He observed that the City’s health insurance costs have tripled over the last ten years, and expressed concern over what the impact to the City’s budget would be if this trend continues over the next ten years. He observed that it was both in the City’s and the employees’ best interest for the City to get the best health insurance value for the money.
Mayor Wolowicz noted his support for Mayor pro tem Long to work with City staff; and he offered the City any help it needs regarding the tax implications of implementing a Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) program for City employees.
Councilman Clark stated that City’s health benefits are in the top half of one percentile with health insurance benefits of any public sector entity in the country. He indicated that he felt that the proposed action is prudent, but agreed with his colleagues that further examination of these benefits is both rational and reasonable as part of the Council’s stewardship of public funds.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Pontevedra Storm Drain Emergency Repairs
City Manager Evans presented the staff report and the recommendation for Council to 1) Find that an emergency exists, which will not permit the delay that will result from a competitive solicitation for bids, and that the actions recommended below are necessary to respond to the emergency; 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION 2005-131, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005-06, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY'S WATER QUALITY/FLOOD PROTECTION PROGRAM; AND, 3) Authorize the Director of Public Works to execute contracts with Peterson Chase for the emergency repairs and Psomas and Associates for inspection services.
In response to a question from Mayor Pro Tem Long regarding the amount of funding available for the proposed project, Director McLean directed the Council’s attention to the chart of General fund reserves on circle page 3 of the staff report, Item No. 26. He explained that when the FY 05-06 Budget was prepared, staff was expecting General fund reserves at the beginning of the fiscal year to be approximately $11 million and noted that there was a favorable variance experienced at the close of FY 04-05; and that the beginning General fund reserves for FY 05-06 is now in the neighborhood of $14 million.
Mayor Wolowicz noted that the ending General fund reserve for FY 04-05 was $10,376,000; and that following the close of FY 04-05 the revised estimate is $11,925,000, resulting in a positive variance of $1,550,000.
Mayor pro tem Long stated another way to look at this is the beginning reserve was $11,179,000 and the ending reserve was $11,923,000; and questioned whether staff charges the operating deficit against any positive variance realized at the end of the fiscal year, noting that he views it as an $800,000 positive for the entire year, instead of $1,550,000.
Councilman Gardiner stated it would be appropriate at some point to have staff prepare a budget that distinguishes between one time expenditures and on-going expenditures; and noted that if the on-going budget is balanced and the City receives one-time revenues and spends it on one-time projects, the expenditure should not be charged against the on-going operations and thus characterized as deficit spending. He stated that there are probably some items that ought to be included in the on-going budget that are not currently included, such as sinking funds; and if these funds were included as on-going expenses, the City would have a truer picture of its annual expenditures. He noted that he would be in favor of looking at those things, and reiterated his desire to distinguish between the on-going operating budget and one-time expenditures.
Mayor pro tem Long stated Councilman Gardiner’s suggestion might be a valuable exercise; noted that some of the City’s one-time emergency expenditures are the result of not performing routine maintenance of infrastructure as part of on-going expenses; stated that it looks like the City had a revenue surplus last year no matter how one looks at it; but rather than being $2.8 million, that it is something less than that, although still a substantial amount.
Mayor Wolowicz asked if this project would be included on the list of storm drain repair projects that the City is tracking.
City Manager Evans stated that the $120,000 Pontevedra storm drain project should be included on that list.
Mayor Wolowicz questioned if this project is part of the $2 million that had been previously set aside for storm drain projects.
City Manager Evans stated it was just been pointed out to him the draft resolution is incorrect, in that money should not be taken out of the Water Quality and Flood Protection Fund for this particular project; and that it should be funded from the Capital Improvement Fund (CIP) instead because this project is not one that was identified in the Storm Drain Master Plan, but is instead an unexpected emergency project, similar to the sink holes on Western Avenue.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if a project comes up that the City hadn’t anticipated, why it is not added to the storm drain project list and more money added to the Water Quality and Flood Protection Fund so that the City can keep track of the project costs that are flood related and those that are routine or non-flood related.
Finance Director McLean explained that staff has discussed the topic Councilman Gardiner is raising; indicated that staff expects to bring a report to Council in the future which will outline a strategy whereby, in general, staff believes it is in the City’s best interest to keep the Water Quality Flood Protection Program intact with respect to the list of projects and the Storm Drain User Fee rate model, in order to enable Council, staff and the residents to track the progress of projects funded through the Storm Drain User Fee. He stated that, with the exception of the storm drain lining projects, staff believes that if General Fund moneys are necessary to carry out an emergency storm drain project, that the necessary funds be transferred from the General Fund to the CIP fund and accounted for in the CIP fund; and noted that staff will use the City’s website, and the schedule Mayor Wolowicz referred to earlier, to track the progress of these projects.
Mayor Wolowicz expressed concern about storm drain projects appearing on two different schedules and asked if there was a way for all storm drain projects to be centralized on a particular schedule.
Finance Director McLean noted that staff agrees that all the storm drain projects can be reflected clearly in one presentation; but indicated that staff recommends that the projects be divided into two groups based on the funding source, so that there is a clear ability to track what is funded through the Water Quality and Flood Protection Fund and what is funded through the CIP.
Councilman Gardiner suggested this matter be placed on a workshop agenda where there is more time to go into further detail.
Councilman Stern questioned if the City couldn’t easily create a sub-category in the CIP fund.
Finance Director McLean clarified that staff is contemplating a sub-CIP fund for storm drain projects.
Mayor pro tem Long pointed out that Council prefers to use restricted funds first and then use General Funds next; stated that a lot of what has been talked about makes sense if the program the City has outlined in the Storm Drain Master Plan had been fully funded by the financing mechanism the voters recently adopted, but observed that it is not fully funded because it makes no allowance for Priority 3 projects, does not have adequate contingencies and noted that the City is already aware of a number of new projects that were not included in the model. He stated he is not persuaded at this time to put the funds in the CIP fund instead of putting them in the Water Quality and Flood Protection Fund unless staff can show that the program includes all of the repairs that will be done, the proper contingencies and Priority 3 projects, as well as fully funds the sinkholes on Western Avenue, noting this will be his highest priority.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that Council approve the proposed project that evening in order to move along with the agenda and that Council could take up the discussion regarding the reporting format in a future workshop setting.
Mayor Wolowicz suggested that this issue could be dealt with at the upcoming Tactical Workshop.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded Councilman Gardiner, to concur with staff recommendation, as amended, to identify the Capital Improvement Program as the proper fund and with an understanding that staff will report back to Council on revising the reporting format for storm drain projects.
The roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
Councilman Clark asked that staff propose a mechanism to clarify that the individual must live in Rancho Palos Verdes in order to be eligible to serve on a City advisory body,
Mayor pro tem Long asked that staff also report to Council if there is any member of any City Commission/Committee known to staff to not currently be a City resident and to report to Council its options.
Councilman Clark stated that staff has recently discovered that one of the Planning Commissioners does not reside in Rancho Palos Verdes, that they live in Rolling Hills Estates; and he noted his opposition to a non-resident of Rancho Palos Verdes making land use decisions affecting the City.
City Attorney Lynch expressed her belief that this Planning Commissioner resigned effective that same day.
Councilman Stern questioned if an advisory board member must be a resident of the City.
City Attorney Lynch indicated no.
Councilman Clark reiterated his opposition to non-residents making land use decisions for the City.
City Attorney Lynch suggested that the City place the duty upon the Commission/ Committee member to notify the City of their place of residence.
Councilman Clark clarified that this is not making any comment with respect to the particular Planning Commissioner’s performance, but that it is his personal philosophy that if someone serves on a City body, that person should be a resident.
City Attorney Lynch added that the Planning Commissioner is the one who brought the status of his residency to the City’s attention.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
With regard to the Conference with Real Property Negotiators for the acquisition of the parcel of real property owned by Carmiel Cohen and identified as Assessor's Parcel Number 7573-004-026 (6359 Tarragon Road), City Attorney Lynch advised that Council directed the Council Subcommittee to contact the property owner to further clarify the process by which the value of the property will be determined and to send a letter to Mr. Cohen to confirm this and to anticipate reaching an understanding with him about that matter. If no understanding is met, she indicated this matter would come back for further discussion at the next meeting.
With regard to Indian Ridge Crest Gardens, L.P. v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rancho Palos Verdes Redevelopment Agency, Peter Gardiner, Douglas Stern, Carol Lynch, et. al., (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC272155), City Attorney Lynch advised that no action was taken, but a formal report was given.
With regard to the potential litigation against the City regarding two claims that have been filed pursuant to the Tort Claims Act by William and Rachel Viramontes and Shilpa Bodiwala, City Attorney Lynch indicated that Council took no action.
Mayor Wolowicz added that the City Attorney would assist the Council Subcommittee on drafting a negotiation letter in the Tarragon matter.
At 11:21 P.M., Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Long, to adjourn the meeting. Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.