RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 17, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Gardiner at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, and was immediately recessed to interview the Planning Commission applicants. At 7:00 P.M., the meeting was reconvened for regular session.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Stern, Long, Clark, Wolowicz, and Mayor Gardiner
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Director of Finance Dennis McLean; Senior Administrative Analyst Lauren Ramezani; Senior Planner Ara Mihranian; Senior Planner Kit Fox; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Minutes Reporter Dianne McGivern.
Councilman Long led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Gardiner commented that he recently visited Vancouver and had the opportunity to attend a City Council meeting where he found the issues of time constraints and agendas to be as problematic as they are in other cities.
Mayor Gardiner announced that all the time and hard work put in by the Open Space Task Force is very much appreciated, adding the item is not quite ready to be placed on the agenda at this time. He noted the City Manager and staff will be looking at options to present so Council can consider whether to reestablish the Parks & Recreation Committee that the Task Force replaced or to continue the Task Force. When that decision is made Council will also appoint a new chair for the Task Force.
City Manager Evans indicated the Task Force has done an incredible amount of work which staff is now organizing and will present to the Council in March.
California Water Company - Master Plan. (605)
Representing California Water Company was Terry Tamble, District Manager; and Jim Simunovich, Manager of Operations. They made a PowerPoint presentation of the Water System Master Plan for the Palos Verdes District.
Mr. Tamble indicated the Palos Verdes Peninsula, with over 100 different pressure zones and more than 400 pressure regulating valves, is one of the most complicated systems their company services and noted their master supply plan will illustrate the need for increased supply on the Peninsula as well as show how increased reliability of the system can be achieved by the installation of recommended pipeline replacements.
Mr. Simunovich, stated this Master Plan was developed with the goals of adjusting the distribution system to meet a variety of demands by evaluating the existing distribution system, developing water supply requirements through a build-out of the system, determining whether any system deficiencies relative to reliability and performance exist for current and future conditions, and proposing system improvements.
He explained that a scale computer model was created to carefully examine supply reliability, storage sufficiency, fire flow capacity, system pressure, and pipeline velocity -- a measurement of the ultimate pressure under high demand conditions. He noted the key findings of this study were as follows: an alternate supply route to storage at higher elevations is needed to improve reliability; large transmission pipelines to the western coastal area should be replaced; and, 11 million gallons of additional storage are required to meet operational, emergency, and fire flow criteria.
Mr. Simunovich, indicated 87 percent of the current water supply is delivered via a single route to one storage facility at the top of the ridge, which consists of 109 different pressure zones. He noted each pressure zone is slightly different due mainly to the varying elevations within the community as water travels from the hilltop down to the coast, noting pressure reducing valves are employed to reduce pressure because the weight of the water increases as it moves downhill. He explained the alternate supply route recommended by the plan would serve the dual purposes of increasing reliability while saving energy by reducing pumping costs. He stated another proposed recommendation to increase reliability is replacement of some of the pipelines which transmit water to the western coastal areas, adding that one of these lines follows an easement going through backyards and traversing canyons and various drains, making it extremely difficult to access for repair and maintenance. He indicated the last item of 11 million gallons of additional storage is being recommended to maintain normal customer demand as well as meet fire criteria and provide a reserve in the event the Metropolitan Water supply is out of service.
Mr. Tamble concluded the presentation by advising the highest priority of the Water System Master Plan is the replacement of the pipeline on PV Drive North, noting they presented this same material to the Rolling Hills Estates City Council the previous week. He suggested holding regular meetings with the City Manager or an appointed staff representative to involve RPV in the status of the master supply plan as well as to provide updates on progress and to make certain all City requirements are met once the installation of any facilities commences.
Mayor pro tem Clark inquired whether the proposed increased reliability and supply will be provided equally to various areas of the Peninsula or if there will be differential levels of improvement.
Mr. Simunovich, Manager of Operations, replied the improvement would be distributed equally since the main component being created to increase reliability is the alternate path to the two main reservoirs at the top of the hill, which currently service 87 percent of the Peninsula.
Councilman Long, noting that another of the top priorities is building the pipeline first along PV Drive North up Crenshaw to Silver Spur and recognizing that area is in the midst of a County undergrounding project, queried if they are coordinating their efforts with other infrastructure improvement projects occurring in the same area, adding he would like some assurance that one project will not be completed and the roadway repaved just in time for another project to then tear up that same piece of roadway.
Mr. Tamble responded that he believed the project Councilman Long is referring to is an L.A. County project which has a two-year moratorium, meaning the California Water Service Company is required to wait two years before they can begin their project. He indicated they have had discussions with L.A. County and they have said they are flexible on that time frame; so they are currently working with the County and the City of Rolling Hills Estates to see when they will have access to Crenshaw Boulevard. He said it would take some time before they are able to reach Crenshaw coming on PV Drive North from the reservoir.
Councilman Long, saying since these two projects are unrelated and the only coordination is an awareness of the moratorium, asked if they are cognizant of any other projects being performed which will have a possible interface with this work such as any of the cities along the proposed routes of the pipeline paving or reconstructing streets and, if so, if efforts are being made to coordinate.
Mr. Tamble responded that since the first portion of the project is in RHE, they have been meeting with them and have identified another project on PV Drive North where Southern California Edison is planning to do some undergrounding; so they are coordinating with them. He assured they will work with the City of RPV to attempt to coordinate all their projects and avoid situations such tearing up streets that have been recently repaved or resurfaced, noting the large pipeline replacement work is in Rolling Hills Estates and most of the improvements occurring in RPV have to do with the reservoirs.
Councilman Wolowicz thanked the gentlemen for their presentation and questioned what the funding mechanism is for the project and over what period of time that will take place.
Mr. Simunovich, replied generally a project of this magnitude requires approval by the Public Utilities Commission after which financing is secured and paid for through rate increases. He explained the cost will be approximately $54 million, depending on how much of the project is installed, with about $7 per million being passed on to customer’s rates per year.
Councilman Wolowicz remarked that therefore the total at $7 per million would be approximately $350 per household per year
Mr. Simunovich confirmed that amount but said it would depend on the timing of the proposed adjustment occurring all at one time.
Councilman Wolowicz remarked project coordination would be greatly appreciated by the community and could also provide cost-saving opportunities if it turns out roads in need of repair can be torn up for the project and repaired concurrently. He inquired how much time the project will take from approval through completion of construction.
Mr. Simunovich, answered it depends on what is actually approved by the P.U.C. and how financing processes move forward in terms of State budget impacts and their effect on the funding process.
Mr. Tamble added the pipeline installation in Rolling Hills Estates is estimated to take 18 months depending on whether any restrictions are placed on the construction such as specific hours of operation. He stated the reservoir installations in RPV require much smaller lengths of pipeline, but they have not yet determined a specific timeline.
Mayor Gardiner suggested putting together a presentation of the matter as a topic for one of the City Talk programs.
Vincent Rayor was selected as recycler of the month. Mayor Gardiner congratulated the winner and reminded residents they are eligible to win $250 by participating in the City’s recycling program.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Mayor pro tem Clark moved approval of the Agenda with Item No. 12, Appointment of the Chairs of the Planning Commission; Traffic Committee; and, Finance Advisory Committee, being moved before Public Comments.
The amended Agenda was approved without objection.
Appointment of Chairs: Planning Commission, Traffic Committee, and Finance Advisory Committee. (106)
Mayor Gardiner announced that only one candidate had interviewed for the position of chair with each of the advisory boards: Planning Commission – Craig Mueller; Traffic Committee – Ava Jordan-Shepherd; Finance Advisory Committee – Becky Clark. He thanked each of these candidates for volunteering for this position and congratulated them upon their appointment as chair.
Councilman Wolowicz thanked each new chairperson for stepping forward to fill their positions and congratulated them all on behalf of the community.
Mayor pro tem Clark commented all three newly appointed chairs are experienced members of their respective bodies and Council looks forward to working with them during their tenure.
There was no response to the Mayor’s call for public comments.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Wolowicz noted the following meetings/events he attended:
Mayor pro tem Clark noted the following meetings/events he attended:
Councilman Long noted the following meetings/events he attended:
City Manager Evans, in response to Councilman Long’s comments regarding girls’ softball and related recreational land use issues, indicated staff has accumulated and tabulated all the requested information, including where all the fields are located; who is using them; when they are being used; and how many children are involved. He said that information would be provided to Council in March.
Mayor Gardiner noted the following meetings/events he attended:
OLD BUSINESS/CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
Miscellaneous Items for Action:
Continued Items for Action:
(Continued Items Listed for Information Only)
Appointment of City representative to the Los Angeles West Vector Control District.
(From December 16th to March 2, 2004)
Agenda Format: proposed revisions. (From December 16th to March 16, 2004.)
Resolution Denying Appeal of Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No.
ZON2003-00039), for property located at 30637 Calle De Suenos. (From February 3,
2004 to March 2, 2004.)
Approval Of Consent Calendar:
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, to remove Item No. 3, the Commercial Refuse And Collection Agreement With Universal Waste Systems, Inc., Item No. 4, Assignment Of Ivy Rubbish Disposal Residential Solid Waste And Recycling Collection Agreement, Item No. 6, the Policy for Travel and Meetings, Item No. 7, the Proposed Upgrade of Accounting Software, from the Consent Calendar. Motion seconded by Councilman Wolowicz. Motion carried without objection.
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.
Minutes of January 6, 2004. (301)
Approved the minutes as amended.
Commercial Refuse and Collection Agreement: Universal Waste Systems, Inc. (1301)
Councilman Long queried why there is a difference in the indemnity and insurance provisions in Item Nos. 3 and 4, saying the amounts are different and, given a choice, he would prefer those in No. 4.
City Attorney Lynch noted that change could certainly be made.
Councilman Long continued by noting since both contracts are essentially analogous, it seems the indemnity risks would be higher in commercial than residential and queried why the requirements are lower.
City Attorney Lynch explained the amounts are lower because some of the haulers are very small in terms of their function being no more than bringing in commercial bins and dropping them off to a business much like dropping a bin in front of a residence, which does not engender the necessity for a large indemnity provision.
Councilman Stern indicated the language being added to the provision requiring haulers to maintain a log of complaints and provide that information quarterly should perhaps be changed to a 24-hour notification to the City, saying this would provide the opportunity to more adequately address any complaints received. He requested an explanation of staffs’ position of only quarterly reports.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani responded, with the possible exception of rates, no complaints have been received regarding the commercial haulers in the past several years.
Councilman Stern noted if no complaints are received, it is not an issue; however, if complaints were received, it would be beneficial to have a 24- or 48-hour notification requirement so there is a mechanism in place to quickly address any problems that might arise.
Director Allison commented the change would be easy to make by requiring logs on a quarterly basis and immediate notification of any complaints.
Councilman Stern indicated he would like to see that change implemented.
Councilman Wolowicz noted there are no provisions in the commercial contract renewals addressing violation issues.
City Attorney Lynch clarified there must have been an oversight and stated that provision will be added.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to (1) Authorize the Mayor and the City Clerk to execute a Non-exclusive Franchise Agreement as amended for Commercial Refuse Collection and Disposal Services with Universal Waste Systems, Inc. (Universal) to be effective through December 31, 2004. (2) Amend the agreement to require insurance to satisfy Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s ratings instead of Best’s. (3) Require report on complaints within 24 hours. (4) Insert previously requested clause re penalties for non-compliance with terms of contract. (5) Add certification re "no bribery." (6) Universal to notify customers re changes.
The motion passed without objection.
Assignment Of Ivy Rubbish Disposal Residential Solid Waste And Recycling Collection Agreement. (1301)
Councilman Long queried why the City has two residential waste haulers rather than only one and why, in terms of exclusive residential waste hauling, RPV does not negotiate with the other cities on the Peninsula in the same way these cities negotiate together for things such as police services.
Councilman Stern said the reason the City has two haulers is essentially a matter of tradition.
City Manager Evans indicated the reason RPV does not negotiate with the other Peninsula cities in this instance is that each city has their own particular idiosyncrasies: PVE has all backyard pickup; RHE has horse issues and specialty lots. He stated trying to join with the other cities to acquire one contractor to cover the entire Peninsula could potentially create insurmountable problems. He further explained when the City renewed these contracts several years ago, since Ivy Rubbish had been providing service to the City for a number of years and their customers were very pleased with them, Council decided to leave them in place.
Councilman Long mentioned because his street is located in two cities there is not one contract that covers his street; so some houses have their refuse picked up by a second hauler, resulting in five trucks a week servicing that area.
City Manager Evans commented this particular situation seems like a problem that can be worked out, saying staff will look into the matter.
Mayor pro tem Clark queried when residents will be informed that Universal Waste Systems is going to replace Ivy Rubbish as their trash hauler, saying, notwithstanding the fact they have agreed to assume many of the same conditions, the staff report indicates very clearly many changes are coming, adding residents should be advised before Council concurs with an assignment of change.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani answered that customers had been given notice by Ivy Rubbish the previous week.
Mayor pro tem Clark further queried if that notification detailed the depth of the changes to occur.
Ms. Ramezani explained the notification advised the subject of the contract assignment was to be brought before Council on this date and that they did not foresee many changes but would notify customers prior to the changes being made. She indicated the plan is for service to remain the same up until June, while Ivy Rubbish trains new drivers and familiarizes the Universal staff with the routes and needs of the various areas and, about a month prior to the installation of green waste service and the occurrence of any date changes, customers will receive new green waste disposal bins and be notified of any new collection dates.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked he is uncomfortable assigning a successive trash hauler when he suspects the residents will be impacted by changes, such as a 35 percent surcharge, of which they may not be aware. He also expressed concern that residents have not been given ample opportunity to address their thoughts to Council.
Councilman Stern commented that, in light of some of the unfortunate occurrences in other cities and because of the very substantial dollars at stake, he would like to include a certification in all of the trash hauling contracts that no bribes have occurred in relation to the awarding of any such contract, saying he is not making any accusations but believes it would be a proper inclusion.
Councilman Wolowicz inquired to what extent RPV does background checks regarding issues such as the one mentioned by Councilman Stern.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani replied the City’s consultant contacts different cities that have had business dealings with any prospective hauler, including Universal Waste, to determine their customer service record and collection practices; and, a credit check is run to ascertain if they make timely payment on their bills and to verify they are a viable company. She indicated the Finance Department has checked the income statements and balance sheets of Universal Waste and has concluded the company financially satisfies the City’s criteria.
Councilman Stern remarked the exclusive contract for Ivy Rubbish was awarded shortly after he took office in 1999 and the comments received from residents on their behalf were exemplary, which is why he stated earlier the matter of two waste haulers in the City is a matter of tradition – the residents kept a public service they desired.
Bonnie Ivy, on behalf of Ivy Rubbish thanked Council for considering their request for assignment of their contract to Universal Waste Systems. She expressed gratitude to staff and especially Analyst Ramezani for all their assistance over the years and the residents of RPV, more than one generation in some cases, for their support. She introduced Mark Blackburn of Universal Waste.
Mark Blackburn, President of Universal Waste Systems, thanked Council for the opportunity to provide service to the City’s residents, and offered assurance they will do whatever the City requests as far as notification, et cetera, to ensure a smooth transition. He commented on the issue of bribery that has besmirched the rubbish collection industry, saying it is an embarrassment to the trade and indicated his company has never been involved in anything of the sort. He pointed out his son in the audience, saying he prides himself on teaching his children the right priorities in life. He said Universal recently submitted an RFP to the City of Bell Gardens, whose consultant did a very thorough background check and concluded their record was without question, adding he would be glad to provide that information. He closed by saying he is looking forward to the opportunity of working for the City of RPV.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to (1) Approve as amended the assignment of Ivy Rubbish Disposal's exclusive residential solid waste and recycling collection agreement to Universal Waste Systems, Inc., subject to City's receipt of the Transfer Fee described below; and, (2) Approve the Amended and Restatement Solid Waste and Recycling Collection Agreement with Universal Waste Systems, Inc. in the form attached as Exhibit A, including proposed new services and collections, and single-family and multi-family rates for FY 03-04
Mayor pro tem Clark proffered an amendment that residents be notified specifically what the impending changes in service and charges will be.
Councilman Stern refused to accept the amendment, saying, while he agrees it is a good idea; it is unclear exactly what they can be notified of at this point in time. He asked staff how this would normally be handled.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani explained what Universal is proposing to do and what staff believes is a good idea is to service the route for a few months then make decisions as to how many days a week collection is needed, saying green waste is going to be added and the preference is to have that collection day similar to Waste Management’s with the first collection of the week being trash and the second being recycling. She stated those kinds of determinations can be better assessed after they have had some time to evaluate the routes, adding the only action staff is proposing at this time is assignment of the contract and the actual service details will be worked out at a later date.
Councilman Long clarified that Council is only being asked to approve assignment of the contract with no changes and, if the assignee desires to make any changes that do not conform with the existing contract, those changes need to be approved. He added this action is in no way implying support of any such changes only the idea that the assignment of the contract is appropriate.
Councilman Stern agreed wholeheartedly with Councilman Long, saying he also agrees with Mayor pro tem Clark’s concern in terms of notice, saying once Universal Waste determines how best to provide service, they should work with staff to make sure notice is provided to the residents quickly and completely. He noted his disagreement with Mayor pro tem Clark’s amendment is simply that he does not believe there is anything definitive people can be notified of at this point which is why he does not see it as part of the motion.
Councilman Long reiterated the reason the City historically has had two separate waste haulers has grown out of a tradition of extraordinary service and cautioned the assignee they will be held to a very high expectation and standard by the City and its residents.
The motion passed without objection.
Resolution No. 2004-10: Parking Restrictions Along Avenida Tranquila. (1204 x 1502)
ADOPTED RESOLUTION 2004-10, ESTABLISHING HANDICAPPED ONLY PARKING SPACES AT 30166 AND 30174 AVENIDA TRANQUILA IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 22511.7 OF THE CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE; and (2) Authorized the Director of Public Works to install the necessary parking designations.
Council Policy No. 16: Travel and Meetings. (306)
Councilman Wolowicz queried how staff is reimbursed for travel by automobile.
City Manager Evans answered all City positions are reimbursed using the IRS mileage format.
Councilman Stern indicated he would like to add to Paragraph 10, relating to air transportation, the language, "air travel shall be on the lowest cost scheduled carrier that reasonably meets the schedule to the traveler."
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to Adopt the revised City Council Policy No. 16: Travel and Meetings with the amendment that traveler to use lowest cost scheduled carrier that meets the need of the traveler.
The motion passed without objection.
Proposed Upgrade of Accounting Software. (602)
Councilman Long noted his understanding the City was recently informed the computer program currently in use will not be supported after a specific date necessitating the proposed upgrade without allowing a sufficient period of time to investigate alternative systems and inquired if anything can be done to prevent this kind of inadequate notification in the future.
Director McLean explained there were two platforms supported by SunGard HTE, one of which will become unsupported as of September 30, leaving the other which is referred to as the Financials platform. He noted with Council’s approval the issue would become moot because the system will move totally to the Financials platform, which will include the general ledger, purchasing, accounts payable, and payroll.
Councilman Long queried about future upgrades and support for the new software program and reiterated his concern about the provider of this new platform not providing adequate notice in the event they develop a new product, cease to exist, or for some other reason decide to abandon support for the system.
Councilman Long asked if there is any way to guarantee some type of protection which would require the company to honor their commitment to provide support in the event of either of those occurrences.
Councilman Stern stated Councilman Long raised a very valid point, adding he also believes there should be a provision that warrants the product’s longevity and guarantees support for whatever is determined to be its reasonable life.
Mayor Gardiner indicated he is unaware of any software manufacturer that warranties a certain product lifetime and inquired if Director McLean is aware of any vendor that provides such guarantees or warranties.
Director McLean responded to the best of his knowledge he is aware of none.
Councilman Stern stated he would like staff to investigate whether the vendor can provide any warranty as to longevity.
Councilman Long noted, if a warranty as to the product’s longevity cannot be provided, a notice provision should be sought.
Mayor Gardiner stated he sees no merit in delaying purchase of the software since it is a necessity whether or not the vendor provides a warranty or a notice provision.
Mayor pro tem Clark clarified that the current software is supported through September 30, 2004 and inquired if there is an immediate time constraint requiring a decision tonight or in the next few weeks.
Director McLean replied it is staff’s preference to make the transition as of July 1st since that is the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to continue the matter to the March 2nd meeting; and for Staff to inquire about including notice of warranty and notification of non-support of software.
The motion carried without objection.
Contract Renewal For Geotechnical Consulting Services. (1203)
Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the proposed agreement with Zeiser Kling Consultants, Inc. to provide geology and geotechnical engineering consulting services on an as-needed basis to the City for the next two years.
Community Leaders’ Breakfast Schedule. (305)
Selected two dates, Saturday, March 27th and Saturday, October 16th,for the 2004 Community Leaders' Breakfast meetings.
Resol. No. 2004-11: Register of Demands.
ADOPTED RESOL. NO. 2004-11, 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.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar as amended carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Clark, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner
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ORDINANCE NO. 400U; ORDINANCE NO. 401; RESOL. NO. 2004-12: ZON2003-00417 (16-FOOT HEIGHT CODE AMENDMENT). (1203 x 1801)
Mayor Gardiner declared the public hearing open on this matter of amending Titles 16 and 16 of the Municipal Code.
The City Clerk reported that notice of the hearing had been duly published and that no written protests had been received by the City.
Councilman Stern requested staff’s reaction to the change he proposed which would include no grading as provided in the section and add the language "provided that no height variation is required," to the definition of building height which says any individual desiring to build a new structure or addition to an existing structure shall be permitted to build up to 16 feet in height, provided there is no grading. He commented this does not change the substance of these Code sections but creates a clear caveat to the 16-feet limitation. He also suggested collapsing the two sentences in Section iv. Under Height Variation Findings to read as follows: "The area of a proposed new structure or addition to an existing structure when considering both the new area that is above 16 feet and the new area that is below 16 feet as defined in Section 17.02.040(B) does not significantly impair a view from the viewing area of another lot." He said this way one sentence will make reference to both areas and inquired if staff sees a problem with what he is attempting to achieve.
Director Rojas indicated that this is different from what staff and the Commission proposed and is a substantial change. He explained the way it is currently written the City is able to consider the portion over 16 feet to ascertain whether it blocks a view as well as the section directly connected to that portion to determine the entire structure does not block a view.
Councilman Stern opined when someone is asking to go over the by-right 16-feet limit, the whole project should be looked at, not just the area directly below that portion, to see if it can be manipulated into something better. He said he believes this is a fair trade off when such a request is made.
Councilman Long offered some perspective saying the old view, which he never subscribed to because he believes it is contrary to the language of the ordinance, indicated that, if you go above 16 feet, in evaluating the height variation permit, only the portion of the structure above 16 feet is looked at; the rationale being since an individual can build to 16 feet the area below is not a protected view. He noted the ordinance contains no definition of protected view, but states that when you go above 16 feet, view will be considered; and then view is defined in various ways that make no reference to height. He indicated this issue proved to be extremely difficult for the Planning Commission and remains so.
A drawing of a hypothetical scenario of a 16 foot addition was displayed for viewing which depicted an existing residence less than 16 feet in height with an addition proposed on one side of the residence at less than 16 feet and an addition proposed on the other side of the residence that would contain portions below and above 16 feet. (See attached Exhibit "A".)
Continuing, Councilman Long illustrated a particular case where a view of Catalina was being obstructed, but it was deemed there was no significant impairment because the portion being considered was only that above the 16 feet and consideration of the area directly below was disregarded, noting there were a number of cases similar to this. He went on to explain, when the precise issue of how to recommend dealing with this came before the Planning Commission, four to three decided to include consideration of the portion attached to and directly below the part being raised above the by right limit but not to consider any other part of the structure. He elucidated there was a fairly good rationale for this because an individual could come in and obtain two separate permits: one for a project that does not include a height variation, then later a second which does include a height variation but which would not trigger consideration of the area below the 16 feet because that portion of the structure is pre-existing.
Councilman Long stated that argument persuaded the majority of the Planning Commission, but a minority remained of the opinion that the concept of a height variation permit is in essence a trade off because an individual is allowed to build to 16 feet and obstruct views, while a project even slightly over the 16-feet limit is considered in its entirety. He explained the trade off becomes, if one chooses to build over 16 feet, they must accommodate their neighbor’s view to some degree or change their mind and not seek a height variation permit; so some members perceived the ordinance should work to allow that compromise of balance between view preservation and the right of a property owner to build.
Director Rojas commended Councilman Long for his excellent job summarizing the two positions.
Councilman Wolowicz requested assurance that the proposed language in the ordinance will be rigorously reviewed to prevent issues regarding interpretation from arising in the future.
City Attorney Lynch indicated strenuous attempts are made to ascertain that the language is consistent and precludes discrepancies, adding, if the majority of Council agree with Councilman Stern’s approach, those changes could be made to the documents.
Councilman Wolowicz requested clarification that if the ordinance is passed in some fashion at this meeting then would the next step will be to solidify the verbiage and bring it back to Council.
City Attorney Lynch explained, if the majority of Council agrees with the language Councilman Stern is proposing, those changes would be made to the two ordinances, adding there is an urgency ordinance in Council’s packets, which would become effective immediately if at least four members vote to approve it. She indicated a non-urgency version of the ordinance is also being introduced which would come back for a second reading and would not become officially effective until 30 days after that second reading.
Councilman Wolowicz queried what the urgency nature of the proposal relates to.
City Attorney Lynch explained the reason for the urgency is staff has been grappling with these issues and trying to implement the direction given by Council and the Planning Commission for several months; so they would like to codify the matter as soon as possible so all documents are consistent and the public understands the direction in the ordinance.
Councilman Long remarked his understanding was the grading issue was also finally being addressed.
City Attorney Lynch agreed.
Planning Commission Chair Craig Mueller, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated he noticed some discussion of the issue is quite different than what the Planning Commission grappled with and went far beyond how he envisioned the voters elected to proceed in Proposition M. He noted one difference being Council’s direction in the resolution to use the word "may" in considering the portion below 16 feet while the Commission recommended the City Attorney change that to "shall." He indicated the problem inherently deals with views and the preservation of views, adding he was pleased Council supported that resolution last July when the Commission was in turmoil over whether to consider the property below 16 feet. He suggested by including consideration of the portion below 16 feet, some individuals would attempt to circumvent that rule by simply applying for separate permits, saying consideration of that portion which is outside the footprint of the height variation seems to be proceeding down a path that he and many other landowners in RPV are not going to support. He requested Council continue discussing this item, reach a policy resolution, and amend the Code so as to proceed with Council’s ultimate direction on the ordinance.
Councilman Long queried if Mr. Mueller is indicating the portion below 16 feet could be built separately so should not be considered as part of the analysis of a height variation.
Mr. Mueller responded Proposition M references a height variation permit over 16 feet and it references minimizing view impairment, but it does not specify exactly which part of the structure a view impairment should be considered from. He said if you follow Proposition M, the issue of view impairment only comes into play when there is a height variation, adding he does not quite see how that includes the portion below 16 feet, although he was willing to go along with staff’s recommendation because he felt it was a good compromise; however, going any further he opined is basically interfering with the owner’s property rights.
Councilman Wolowicz requested clarification of the preference of the concept "shall" as opposed to "may."
Mr. Mueller indicated, although he personally would not recommend it, the word "shall" gives clear direction to the Planning Commission that they need to consider the portion below 16 feet, saying otherwise the language creates a discretionary situation which seems unworkable.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked that, if Council were to adopt this policy, one
could argue that literally thousands of properties which have already had this determination made with respect to height variation and the addition of a second story enjoy a greater advantage than new properties or future properties involving tear downs and rebuilds, since only those new properties will have the impact below 16 feet considered.
City Attorney Lynch said that is correct.
Craig Mueller declared his personal opinion is only the portion above 16 feet should be considered, saying, as Mayor pro tem Clark has indicated, an inequity would be created in the Code, implementing restrictions that pertain only to individuals building new structures or performing tear downs to rebuild second-story additions.
Councilman Stern clarified the analysis Council agreed to in July of 2003 included consideration of the portion below 16 feet and the only unanswered question is whether this applies to the area directly beneath the 16-feet height variation of other things within that envelope.
Councilman Stern indicated Council can go backwards and make any changes it deems necessary, but it has been decided, albeit by a previous Council, to consider the portion below 16 feet, which he believes is appropriate. He stated it is a negotiation process where the Planning Commission has the discretion to minimize view obstruction as part of their charter of protecting the rights of applicants and negotiating matters by applying common sense, adding whenever a code is changed, you change the rulings but he does not believe that to be the case in this instance since it is inaccurate to characterize that the portion below 16 feet has not been an area of previous consideration.
Tom Redfield, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated he thought Council had agreed, for anything above 16 feet, the entire structure from the ground to the top would be considered. He stated he strongly supports that as a reasonably fair agreement in the protection of views, which are so extraordinarily important in this city.
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing closed.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to (1) ADOPT AS AMENDED URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 400U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING TITLE 17 OF THE CITY’S MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING THE 16-FOOT HEIGHT LIMITATION FOR RESIDENTIALLY ZONED PROPERTIES, CLARIFYING THE FINDINGS REQUIRED FOR HEIGHT VARIATION AND GRADING PERMIT APPLICATIONS, AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF; (2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-12, AMENDING THE HEIGHT VARIATION GUIDELINES AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD COMPATIBILITY HANDBOOK TO MAKE THE LANGUAGE CONSISTENT WITH THE PROPOSED CODE AMENDMENTS; and (3) INTRODUCE AS AMENDED ORDINANCE NO. 401, A CITY INITIATED PROPOSAL TO AMEND TITLE 17 OF THE CITY’S MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING THE 16-FOOT HEIGHT LIMITATION FOR RESIDENTIALLY ZONED PROPERTIES AND CLARIFYING THE FINDINGS REQUIRED FOR HEIGHT VARIATION AND GRADING PERMIT APPLICATIONS. (4) Adopt staff’s recommendation re grading. (5) Review consequences of this ordinance after one year or sooner if necessary.
Councilman Stern explained he believed this is an appropriate way to handle the matter, saying, if someone wants to build to 16 feet, they have that right; but when requesting to go above that 16-feet by-right limit, it is fair and reasonable, particularly given their value in this community, to evaluate the impact of view, noting an individual applying for a height variation permit has the option of staying below the 16 feet if they disagree with the Planning Commission’s direction. He indicated in relation to the issue of "shall" and "may" that no statute should ever give the discretion to a governing body to decide when they will and when they will not apply it, saying "shall" is the only appropriate way to apply the analysis.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked, while he does not disagree with many of the points made, he believes supporting this proposal may have unintended consequences, such as the multiple permit applications previously mentioned, saying the potential for these occurrences should be considered. He suggested adopting the motion with a test period of one year to review how it is being implemented and how it is working.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Clark, Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner
Recess and Reconvene: Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 9:55 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 10:00 P.M.
Regular New Business:
Resol. No. 2004-13: FY03-04 Mid-Year Financial Report. (602)
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner to (1) Receive and file the financial report; and (2) ADOPT RESOL. NO. 2004–13, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2002-42, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY03-04, TO INCREASE EXPENDITURE APPROPRIATIONS IN THE GENERAL FUND, STREET MAINTENANCE FUND, AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS FUND.
The motion passed without objection.
Potential Purchase of a Vacant Lot on Cherryhill Lane in the Portuguese Bend Landslide Area. (1101)
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern to Approve making an offer to purchase the vacant lot on Cherryhill Lane in an amount not to exceed $2,700.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Clark, Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner
Proposed Amendments To The City’s Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinance. (1203)
Councilman Stern asked if a condition could be added to the language stating that in the opinion of the Director it would not have a negative impact on the neighborhood, adding although a particular modification is being exempted because it is not visible from the street right-of-way it may be visible to a neighbor thereby creating a negative impact.
Director Rojas explained staff had considered this possibility but realized that almost any addition is visible to someone, which is why they did not include that language.
Councilman Stern declared he is not quite certain if he agrees with that point but moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to direct staff to proceed immediately with the amendment.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested including an amendment to review the matter in a year of less if staff deems it necessary since the Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinance will be susceptible to further change over time.
Councilman Stern noted no disagreement with that proposal.
Director Rojas indicated the staff recommendation is being made at this time to initiate comment, saying the matter still needs to go back to the Planning Commission before Council makes any further determination.
The motion passed without objection.
Report for the Proposed South Coast County Golf Course. (310)
Mayor Gardiner asked if staff was in receipt of the Technical Outreach Services for Community’s Report and the information from the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
City Manager Evans replied they had been received.
Mayor Gardiner proposed modifying the draft comment letter to include copies of the Department of Toxic Substance Control letter and the final report from the Oregon State University Technical Outreach Services for Community’s and recommended changing the term "apparent deficiencies" to "serious deficiencies" and including the words "and satisfactorily resolved" after "should be fully addressed" in Paragraph d). He also recommended adding the sentence "Unless satisfactorily addressed in their entirety, the Draft EIR of this project should be rejected due to unacceptable risks posed to nearby school children by the extremely toxic substances contained in the landfill upon which the proposed golf course is to be built. We are not prepared to place our children at risk." In the final paragraph he suggested inserting "Kit Fox, Senior Planner on our City Staff" for the "me" after "feel free to contact," and changing the signature block to Peter C. Gardiner, Mayor.
Mayor Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Long, for Staff to revise letter and prepare it in two forms: one for the Mayor only to sign, the other for the entire Council to sign; to copy the letter to the County Board of Supervisors; and, to provide the additional reports to City Council for their review.
Mayor Gardiner indicated the intent of his motion was to indicate that the additional information received raised very serious questions about the project.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested it would be apropos for staff to revise the draft letter to include the Mayor’s edits and to provide the entire Council with the report and letters they currently do not have, adding that since the comment deadline is March 4th, it can then be placed as a matter of importance to be addressed at the March 2nd meeting.
Councilman Long mentioned his concern about the resources behind the indemnities and guarantees being provided by the developer, saying even if there were satisfactory answers to all the questions and the risk was deemed minimal and the project should proceed, the normal practice would not be for the taxpayers to assume the risk of indemnity from a development entity with unproved resources. Speaking not just as a member of the City Council but a County of Los Angeles taxpayer, he questioned what was being done to protect the resources and tax dollars of the citizenry from unnecessary financial exposure in the event the health risks are deemed acceptable, saying these financial risks needed to be considered as well.
City Manager Evans stated that very similar language had been included in the previous letter of January 15th.
Mayor Gardiner requested that the Council consider assisting Rolling Hills Estates with a portion of the funding for their consultant since they received much more satisfactory and substantially more detailed reports compared to the summary provided by RPV’s consultant. He suggested the balance of what the City spent on its consultant might be an appropriate amount to offer.
Councilman Wolowicz expressed concern that many issues had been raised, saying that sorting fact from supposition has become increasingly difficult and he would like to make sure the matter is being looked at objectively. He added it is not his intention to characterize the concerns as misguided, but the amount of rhetoric the community has been subjected to in terms of saying anything to stop the project has been excessive and he would like to know from the City’s advisors if there is indeed a sense of urgency relating to contamination or to the project as it now stands. He indicated he also would like to ascertain who would assume financial responsibility.
Councilman Long remarked the current landowner is the Sanitation District and his understanding is they will transfer ownership to the County as part of the development, with the developer being granted certain rights. He added, since the Sanitation District and the County will be the ones who will benefit, they should also be the ones to bear the risk.
Mayor Gardiner indicated he had requested a copy of a videotape of a public hearing he attended and spoke at on this matter and inquired on the status of obtaining the tape, saying both sides were well represented and he would like to run it on Channel 3 to provide the citizens of RPV an opportunity to hear the many contradictory facts and opinions voiced.
Mr. Fox responded that the tape had been tracked down and staff was in the process of coordinating with the videographer to purchase a copy.
City Manager Evans stated he has authorized an expenditure to purchase the tape, which will be sent to Ted Vegvari of PV on the Net, who will duplicate it in the correct format to be broadcast. He noted that although the person in possession of the tape has been contacted and has agreed to forward a copy, the City has yet to receive it.
City Council Assignments: Representation to the L. A. County Sanitation Districts and SBCCOG Transportation Oversight Committee (TOC). (106)
Mayor Gardiner inquired if anyone was willing to volunteer to serve as the City’s representative to the L.A. County Sanitation District.
Councilman Long responded his understanding is that the position is traditionally represented by the Mayor or Mayor pro tem.
Mayor Gardiner indicated he has declined acting as the representative.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated his problems with serving are twofold: first, the position is traditionally held by the Mayor and, presuming this Council in the future sees the current Mayor pro tem as Mayor, he will have the opportunity to perform as the City’s representative; and, secondly, it is very problematic for him to serve in this capacity since the meetings are held in the midst of his professional workday and he cannot commit to those time frames.
Mayor Gardiner inquired whether the City Manager could serve as the representative.
City Attorney Lynch answered he cannot.
Mayor Gardiner further inquired what the penalty would be if the City does not send a representative.
City Manager Evans replied in that event the City would have no vote.
Councilman Long agreed with Mayor pro tem Clark that organizations choosing to schedule meetings in the middle of the day make it very difficult for members with professional careers to attend.
Mayor pro tem Clark queried if there is a polite way the Sanitation District could be requested to reconsider the time of their meeting to perhaps a lunchtime meeting.
City Manager Evans said inquiries could be made; however, there are many people involved and the meetings have been held at the same time for quite a while.
Councilman Wolowicz offered to attend in a note-taking capacity recognizing he cannot serve as a formal representative.
Mayor Gardiner suggested that Staff inquire of Sanitation District whether they can change meeting time so a member of Council can attend; otherwise, there will be no City representative.
With regard to the South Bay Cities Council of Governments Transportation Oversight Committee, Councilman Long stated he had inquired about the time of the meetings and assuming that it would accommodate his schedule, he would volunteer to be the City’s representative to the Oversight Committee. Since Mayor Pro Tem Clark is already the City’s representative to the SBCOG, he volunteered to be the alternate for the Transportation Oversight Committee.
Ordinance Nos. 402U and 403: Ordinance for Claims and Taxes. (303 x 1501)
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to ADOPT ORDINANCE NO. 402U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF TITLE 3 OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE TO CLARIFY THE PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE SUBMISSION OF CLAIMS AND THE PAYMENT OF CERTAIN TAXES AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF; and, (2) INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 403, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF TITLE 3 OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE TO CLARIFY THE PROCEDURES RELATING TO THE SUBMISSION OF CLAIMS AND THE PAYMENT OF CERTAIN TAXES.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Clark, Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
Councilman Long mentioned the issue of appointment of a City representative to the Los Angeles West Vector Control District and inquired whether Mr. McTaggart’s term is expiring in March, adding he would like to make certain there is enough time for Council to address the matter and appoint a representative.
City Manager Evans responded the term expires in June.
Mayor pro tem Clark asked when Council might expect a report from the West Vector Control District and requested one be placed on the next agenda.
City Manager Evans remarked as a matter of courtesy to Mr. McTaggart he would place the item near the front of the agenda.
Councilman Stern said he would be interested in serving on the Vector Board but said the issue can be taken up another time.
Councilman Wolowicz asked if it would be possible for Council members to be provided with preliminary outlines or agendas to review ahead of time.
City Manager Evans responded it was once his routine to provide this type of information, but Council members indicated they were not interested in receiving them so he ceased the practice.
Councilman Wolowicz commented he would like to receive materials ahead of time so he can get a running start and be fully prepared, saying when there is a busy calendar, it is sometimes difficult to read over and absorb all the information over just a few days.
City Manager Evans indicated when the material on an item is ready for presentation; the item is placed on the agenda. He noted he usually receives the material the Thursday morning prior to the meeting, reads it over, and distributes it to Council by Thursday evening.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch stated Council received an update with respect to existing litigation in the Abrams matter and no action was taken. With respect to negotiations with Cox Communications, she indicated Council gave further direction to the City negotiators. She noted that Councilman Long recused himself from the matter.
Councilman Long explained he is recusing himself from all negotiations relating to Cox Communications because they are a client of his law firm and, although he is not personally involved in any work on their behalf, he is more comfortable exercising this discretion.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on March 2nd in the Fireside Room to interview candidates for the Equestrian Committee and candidates for the positions of chairs of the various advisory boards. Motion made by Mayor Gardiner.
/s/ Peter C. Gardiner
/s/ Jo Purcell