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FROM: THE CITY ATTORNEY AND THE DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING & CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: JANUARY 22, 2007
SUBJECT: EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM ON CERTAIN DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE ENTIRE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN RED AND BLUE PENDING REVIEW OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
ADOPT ORDINANCE NO. ______U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES EXTENDING URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 427U AND URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 439U TO APRIL 23, 2007, THEREBY CONTINUING A MORATORIUM ON THE ISSUANCE OF CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN RED AND BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF.
At the April City Council meetings, the City Council heard testimony about the recent movement of the Klondike Canyon Landslide. At the meeting that was held on April 18th, a majority of the Members of the City Council stated that they wished to have staff bring back an ordinance restricting development within the larger portion of the Landslide Moratorium Area (“the Red Area”) so that development within the Red and Blue Areas would be treated similarly. The City Council also stated that the Council would like to schedule a future workshop to discuss the regulation of development within the entire Moratorium Area, and the scientific distinctions that can be drawn between the various portions of the Moratorium Area, if any. The City Council conducted the workshop on October 7, 2006. At the end of the workshop, the City Council requested that the City’s experts prepare some additional work so as to be able to respond to some of the inquiries from the City Council. Extending the Moratorium again should enable that work to be completed.
On November 15, 2005, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 427U, which established a 60-day moratorium on the processing and issuance of building, grading or other permits, and landslide moratorium exception permits and the processing or approval of Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Reports, Conditional Use Permits, height variation applications, tentative maps or parcel maps in the Blue Area and temporarily suspended Section 15.20.040 K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code. These actions were taken to allow time for the completion of collection of new geological data to determine whether construction in the Blue Area is safe in light of the newly observed cracks in the street, or if the proposed development could adversely impact the stability of said Area, or if new structures in the Blue Area will be adversely impacted by the recent increase of movement of the Klondike Canyon Landslide.
Ordinance No. 427 U has been extended five times, primarily to provide additional time to collect more GPS data and for the City’s Geologist to be able to review and evaluate that data and prepare a report to the City Council in connection with the workshop that was conducted on October 7, 2006. At the workshop, the Moratorium was extended again. The fifth extension of the Moratorium will expire on January 23, 2007. If adopted, the attached ordinance would extend the Moratorium for three more months.
At the end of the workshop on October 7, 2006, the City Council requested some additional information regarding the Landslide Area. Staff suggests that the City Geologist, who is Jim Lancaster of Zeiser Kling Consultants Inc., be given the task of drafting a memorandum to the City Council about whether continuing the exception to the Moratoruim that allowed additions, which do not exceed six hundred square feet in area, to existing homes will have an adverse geologic impact upon any of the landslides that are within the Landslide Moratorium Area. This inquiry would assume that geologic review would be conducted for every site where an addition would be constructed. Another area of inquiry that is proposed by Staff is whether there is a geologic basis to continue the distinction between the Red and Blue Areas of the Landslide for purposes of regulating development within the Landslide Moratorium Area. As part of the second issue, Staff recommends that the City Geologist discuss whether there are potential adverse geologic impacts to the landslides arising from the construction of new homes on previously undeveloped properties.
Because of the diversity of opinion about these issues, Staff suggests that a peer review panel be engaged to review the City Geologist’s recommendations. However, because of the existing litigation, it is unlikely that any meaningful peer review could occur during the
next two months. Accordingly, Staff recommends that the Moratorium be continued for at least three more months so that Mr. Lancaster can prepare his report and so that the report can be reviewed by three additional geologists who perform work for the City.
Adoption of the attached urgency ordinance means that pursuant to Ordinance No. 427U, the City will continue to refrain from issuing permits for construction of additions or new structures within the Blue Area, pursuant to the special exception that was created for the Blue Area that is codified in Section 15.20.040 K of the Municipal Code. Pursuant to Ordinance No. 439U, the City also will continue to refrain from approving new additions to existing homes within the entire Moratorium Area, pursuant to Sections 15.20.040 H and L of the Municipal Code.
As previously directed by the City Council at the April 18, 2006 City Council meeting, the Moratorium imposed by Ordinance No. 427U and Ordinance 439U will not apply to applications processed under the other types of Moratorium Exceptions that are set forth in Paragraphs A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, J, M, N and O of Section 15.02.040 of the Municipal Code.
Projects that are subject to exemption categories H, K and L of Municipal Code Section 15.20.040, and have not received building permits and/or are not yet under construction, will be subject to the Moratorium. Because these projects have not received a building permit, they do not have a vested right to start and complete the construction. Staff is aware of three such projects. One of these projects is in the Blue Area, and two are in the Red Area. They are:
--------------- which is the construction of a new single-family residence. This project has received planning approval but is currently in plan check in the Building and Safety Division.
86 Yacht Harbor Drive (Peusich), which involves the approval of a portion of existing illegal additions to an existing home. This project has received planning approval but is in plan check in the Building and Safety Division. Furthermore, applications to attempt to legalize the remaining existing illegal additions cannot be submitted at this time.
31 Narcissa Drive (Bedame/De La Tore), which is a proposal to add a 596 square-foot addition accompanied by 28 cubic yards of grading. This application is currently in the planning review process and is not complete. The property owners also have approval to repair the foundation of the home. That work currently is being performed.
There also are two property owners that were in the planning process when the City Council established the initial temporary moratorium in November 2005. One is the property owner at 4394 Dauntless Drive (Matura), who was seeking approval of a second story addition by the Planning Commission. The other is the property owner at 4380 Dauntless Drive (Arregoces) who was seeking a Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit for first and second story additions. Both applications were denied without prejudice after the temporary moratorium was enacted on November 15, 2005. These projects also do not have a vested right to proceed with development.
Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the attached urgency ordinance, which extends the Moratorium for an additional three months.
Joel Rojas, AICP Carol Lynch
ORDINANCE NO. ___U
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES EXTENDING URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 427U, URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 439U AND URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 440U TO APRIL 23, 2007, THEREBY EXTENDING A MORATORIUM ON THE ISSUANCE OF CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN RED AND BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF
WHEREAS, in September 1978, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 108U, which established the Landslide Moratorium Area in a portion of the City, as depicted on a map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and
WHEREAS, in February 1981, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 139U, which added the area known as Klondike Canyon to the Landslide Moratorium Area, which is described as the area outlined in red on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and
WHEREAS, in September 1989, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 247, which added a new provision to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance that provided the possibility for more intense development than previously was permitted in the Klondike Canyon Area, as outlined in blue on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (“Blue Area”); and
WHEREAS, in May 2005, following the unusual winter rains during the winter of 2004-2005, the first indications that the Blue Area may be experiencing landslide movement appeared; and
WHEREAS, in October 2005, the City received a report from the City Geologist, who was reviewing a proposed development in the Blue Area, that discussed the issue of landslide movement in the Blue Area; and
WHEREAS, based on the new evidence of landslide movement in the Blue Area, the City Council has asked the City Geologist to determine whether the more flexible development standards that had been allowed in the Blue Area since 1989 should be repealed so that the Blue Area will be subject to the same development criteria that are applicable to the other areas that are subject to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989; and,
WHEREAS, on November 15, 2005, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 427U, which established a 60-day moratorium on the processing and issuance of building, grading or other permits, and landslide moratorium exception permits and the processing or approval of Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Reports, Conditional Use Permits, height variation applications, tentative maps or parcel maps in the Blue Area and temporarily suspended Section 15.20.040 K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code pending the completion of new geological data to determine whether construction in the Blue Area is safe in light of the newly observed instability or if the proposed development could adversely impact the stability of said Area; and,
WHEREAS, because the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) Data still was being collected, and the City Geologist still was in the process of completing the review of that data to assess the potential impacts of construction in the Blue Area upon the overall stability of said Area and upon the public health, safety and welfare and, accordingly, needed additional time to complete that review before determining if the moratorium imposed by Ordinance 427 U should be lifted, the moratorium was extended by the City Council to March 21, 2006; and
WHEREAS, because the City Geologist’s report has been completed and was presented to the City Council, but the City Council would like to conduct a study session to discuss the entire Moratorium Area and the geologic issues that are relevant to development of new structures and additions to existing structures within the Moratorium Area before determining whether to amend the Chapter 15.20 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code; and
WHEREAS, due to ongoing litigation regarding development in a portion of the Moratorium Area and the generation of additional information regarding the stability of certain portions of the Moratorium Area in connection with that litigation, which may be relevant to the analysis of the issues that the City Council would like to have addressed at the study session, it was not possible for City Staff and the City’s geologic consultants to complete their review of all of the information regarding the stability of portions of the Moratorium Area in time to prepare comprehensive reports for the City Council for the study session that had been scheduled to occur on June 3, 2006, which was held on October 7, 2006; and
WHEREAS, because additional time is required to obtain additional information and to implement the direction that is received from the City Council, it is necessary to further extend the Moratorium that was established by Ordinance 427U, Ordinance No. 439U, Ordinance No. 440U and Ordinance No. 448U;
NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. The City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes hereby extends Urgency Ordinance No. 427U, Urgency Ordinance No. 439 U, and Urgency Ordinance No. 440U for an additional ninety days, until April 23, 2007. Except as previously modified by Urgency Ordinance 439 U and Urgency Ordinance No. 440U, all provisions of Urgency Ordinance No. 427U shall remain in full force and effect through and including April 23, 2007, unless earlier rescinded or extended by another ordinance adopted by the City Council.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any other ordinance or code of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, no application for a building permit, grading permit, conditional use permit, height variation, tentative map or parcel map for the subdivision of land, or other any other permit to develop property, or for a Landslide Exception Permit shall be accepted for filing, processed or approved as to any land within the Landslide Moratorium Area, as outlined in Red or Blue on the Map that is on file in the City’s Planning Building and Code Enforcement Department, and no such permit shall be issued, for any project for which a landslide moratorium exception permit had been issued previously by the City pursuant to Paragraphs H, K and L of Section 15.20.040 of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.
SECTION 3. Other than the building permit and other permits that have been issued by the City to construct the home at 4369 Dauntless Drive and any other home where above-ground construction work has been performed in substantial reliance on a building permit that has been issued by the City, which shall not be affected by the provisions of this Ordinance, any building or grading permit, landslide moratorium exception permit, or other permit for new construction in the Landslide Moratorium Area, which has been previously granted by the City but which has not been acted upon in substantial reliance by the holder thereof, is suspended indefinitely. Construction in reliance on any such suspended permit shall be prohibited unless and until the City lifts the suspension.
SECTION 4. It has recently come to the attention of the City Council that the land identified in the Blue Area, which was previously thought to be stable, may in fact be experiencing current landslide movement. In order to protect the public health, safety and welfare, the City Geologist was to review recently collected GPS Data to determine the stability of the land in question and to determine whether development of new structures on undeveloped lots or parcels, substantial additions to existing homes, or the construction of certain accessory structures on properties in the Blue Area should be allowed. The City Council conducted a workshop on October 7, 2006. However, additional time is needed for additional studies to be completed to address the concerns that were expressed by the City Council regarding allowing additions to existing structures within the Landslide Moratorium Area and whether to treat all portions of the Moratorium Area similarly. The City Council finds that continued development in the Landslide Moratorium Area during this additional time could expose residents to undue health hazards and safety risks and could pose a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, or general welfare and approval of additional entitlements for development inconsistent with the provisions of Urgency Ordinances No. 427U, 439U and 44U and would frustrate the City’s ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare by minimizing the adverse effects of slope failure. This ordinance is therefore necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare and shall take effect immediately upon adoption as an urgency ordinance. This ordinance is effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2007, unless further extended by the City Council by the adoption of another ordinance.
PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 16th day of January 2007, by the following vote:
I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing is true and correct copy of Ordinance No. ___U approved and adopted by the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes at a meeting thereof held on the 16th day of January, 2007.