M I N U T E S
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
APRIL 20, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 7:18 p.m. by Mayor Gardiner at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner
ABSENT: Long (excused)
LATE ARRIVAL: Clark @ 8:17 P.M.
Mayor Gardiner explained that Councilman Long was out of town on business, and that Mayor pro tem Clark was delayed on a flight returning to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. and, if things work out, he would join the meeting in progress.
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; Deputy Planning Director Gregory Pfost; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; Senior Planner Ara Mihranian; Senior Planner Kit Fox; Senior Administrative Analyst Lauren Ramezani; and, Minutes Reporter Debra Presutti.
The Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Gardiner began by reading an e-mail he recently received regarding modern day management philosophies which included 13 points he believed worth sharing. He stated it begins with the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Sioux and read it as follows: "When you discover that you're riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount; however, in government, education and in corporate America more advanced strategies are often employed such as 1) buying a bigger whip; 2) changing riders; 3) appointing a committee to study the horse; 4) arranging a visit to other countries to see how their cultures ride horses; 5) lowering standards so the dead horse can be reclassified; 6) reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired; 7) hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse; 8) harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed; 9) provide additional funding and or training to increase the dead horse's performance; 10) doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance; 11) declaring that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and, therefore, contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses; 12) rewrite the expected performance requirement for all horses; and, of course, the thing that's most common, promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.
The Mayor’s reading was followed by a resounding peel of laughter.
With a declaration of extreme pleasure Mayor Gardiner introduced the members of the Palos Verdes High School Road Warriors: Aaron Schwartz, Alexandria Schleicher, Alex Cohen, Andy Nelson, Ashton Larson, Ben Hwung, Blessing Waung, Brett Straub, Bob Grace, Brett Kadowaki, Chris DeBiccari, Chris Hoffman, Chris Kleinhen, Chris Seide, Dan Jacobowitz, Dan Marino, Danko Krajisnik (from Beverly Hills High), Dean Mraz, Elliot Wenska, Eric Gobrecht, Erica Jensen, Gina Chien, James Anderson, Jeff Laymon, Jessica Lee, Joe Bebel, Katrina DeSimone, Katie Bayne, Kevin Webb, Nathan Howard, Nelson Hua, Matt Thomas, Ryan Pass, Shaun Modisette, Sean Bothamley, Scott Pholf, Tej Patel, Trey Barton, Zack Anderson (from Beverly Hills High), Zack Ruggerri; and their science instructor, Graham Robertson. He requested they describe their remarkable achievement.
Graham Robertson, science instructor for the group, explained a decision was made nearly a year ago to see if the community and students would be interested in tackling the grand challenge of designing an autonomous car that could drive 300 miles through the desert in less than 10 hours. He indicated interest poured in and the project began. He said they submitted a technical paper before even having a car and, out of 106 teams, they were chosen as one of the 19 who qualified, noting their main competition came from Cal Tech Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. He thanked everyone involved for their support, saying the project taught the students how the corporate and business worlds operate and illustrated for everyone who participated what community togetherness can achieve.
Several of the students spoke, describing how enjoyable and informative the project was, what a memorable experience it has become, and noting one of the greatest learning experiences for them was the power of teamwork. As one student eloquently put it: "If a group of kids can put together a car, you can basically do anything."
Mayor Gardiner inquired how many people including other high schools applied.
Mr. Robertson replied 106 applied and 19 qualified, adding on the first day only PVHS and Cal Tech got out of the starting gate. He indicated no other high schools applied but felt assured that would change next year since this group of students has shown what can be achieved.
Mayor Gardiner read a letter from Councilman Long as follows: "I am delighted the City is recognizing the team and disappointed that I could not attend the Council meeting. The achievement of this group is extraordinary. Just reading off the list of contestants that includes many prominent colleges and private firms shows how remarkable it is that a high school and only one high school was involved. I fully expect that one or more of the participants in the DARPA Project can some day invent a car that will
literally drive me to work, increasing everyone else's safety in the process. The parents, teachers, and school administrators also deserve a lot of credit. The team is a talented group with a bright future." He presented this letter to Mr. Robertson and explained each student who participated will be receiving Certificates of Recognition and letters of commendation for their extraordinary accomplishment. He also congratulated all the parents for their support.
Mayor Gardiner announced Director Allison would draw two names since there was no recycle winner last month.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda. Motion carried without objection.
Erin LaMonte, incoming PTA Council Executive Vice President, introduced Mary Ross and provided a brief background on the local PTA Council.
Mary Ross, current PTA Council President, read the text of a resolution passed by the PTA Council in February 2004 regarding the Palos Verdes landfill. She indicated as parents they became concerned about the PV landfill proposal, did some research on the matter, uncovered some information, and subsequently passed a resolution within the PV School District to the County opposing any development of the PV landfill site and affirming the rights of the community and its citizens for rigorous and comprehensive testing of the landfill and adjacent properties until a guarantee is provided to ensure the parents and children of PV that no exposure to any health risks or grave environmental consequences will result from any development of the site.
Ms. LaMonte informed there is a very strong history of parents rallying around critical local issues such as the Modernization Bond in 2000 and the Parcel Tax in 2003 and noted they were happy to pass this resolution for the good of the children.
Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated there is great concern among residents of Lower Abalone Cove regarding Jim York’s plans for Point View. She mentioned her son discovered the Abalone Cove landslide in the mid 1970’s and extended his offer volunteering to assist the City in any decisions regarding the Point View matter.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Wolowicz requested to remove Item No. 4 from the Consent Calendar.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Consent Calendar as amended.
The motion to approve the amended Consent Calendar carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Wolowicz, Gardiner
ABSENT: Long and Clark
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.
Approved the Minutes of March 2nd Regular Meeting, March 27th Adjourned Regular Meeting, April 3rd Adjourned Regular Meeting and April 6th Adjourned Regular Meeting.
Claim Against The City By Jean-Paul Menard. (303)
Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.
Parkland dedication fees for Final Parcel Map No. 27090 (Applicant: Michael J. Tramontin. Location: Corner of Palos Verdes Drive East & Via Diamonte.) (1410)
Removed from consent calendar, see below.
Household Hazardous Waste/ Electronics Waste Round-Up Siting Liability Agreement with Los Angeles County. (1301)
Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the proposed Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Waste Collection Program Siting Liability Agreement with the County of Los Angeles and County Sanitation District No. 2 of Los Angeles County.
City Hall Elevator Construction. (1201 x 1204)
(1) Rejected all bids received on March 8, 2004 for the construction of an elevator at City Hall; and, (2) Requested staff to revise the project plans and re-advertise the project.
Ocean Trails – One-year extension of Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 50666. (1411)
Extended Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 50666 for the Ocean Trails project for one (1) year, until April 15, 2005.
Resol. No. 2004-25: Register of Demands.
ADOPTED RESOL. NO. 2004-25, 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.
# # # # # #
REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR:
Parkland dedication fees for Final Parcel Map No. 27090 (Applicant: Michael J. Tramontin. Location: Corner of Palos Verdes Drive East & Via Diamonte.) (1410)
Councilman Wolowicz questioned how the Quimby Park Fund that inures to the benefit of the City is being computed. He indicated, if the calculation is being based on the fair market value of the land, the property tax statement would be examined to determine the allocation, noting if someone purchases a parcel with a building on it and demolishes that building, that becomes the basis of the land for tax purposes. He queried why the calculation being utilized in this instance includes only the land portion, adding he is not challenging the method of calculation but asking staff to examine whether or not to include the value of the building.
City Attorney Lynch explained the reason it cannot be included is because State law has established the methods by which this determination can be made. She indicated when there is a large subdivision and land within that subdivision can be dedicated for park use and park purposes, that dedication is required; whereas in this case, there are small divisions for which there is no feasible way of requiring the land encompassed be conveyed for park purposes. As a result, an in-lieu fee is required and that fee will make the proportionate contribution towards park improvements. She noted the general concept is to provide land for park use and that is why only the land component of the calculation is considered per State law.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Parkland Dedication (Quimby) fees for Final Parcel Map No. 27090 pursuant to the City’s Parkland Dedication fee formula in the amount of $10,368. Motion carried without objection.
ORDINANCE NO. 405; RESOL. NO. 2004-26: ZON2003-00417 (16-FOOT HEIGHT CODE AMENDMENT). (Continued from April 6th meeting.) (1203 x 1801)
Mayor Gardiner directed continuing public input on the 16-foot height Code amendment be heard.
Jon Cartwright, Rancho Palos Verdes, stating he echoes the sentiments of all the ex-Planning Commissioners, thanked Council members for listening to his input on the issue at the April 6 meeting and thanked staff for their excellent report and the proposed draft language which he supports.
Councilman Stern expressed gratitude to Mr. Cartwright for an excellent presentation at that meeting, saying he found it extremely helpful.
Councilman Wolowicz thanked Mr. Cartwright for his efforts to assist him in understanding the issue and also for assembling a group of blue ribbon people to testify before Council.
Mayor Gardiner applauded Mr. Cartwright for the clarity of his presentation, saying it was pivotal in his thinking on the matter.
Frank Lyon, Rancho Palos Verdes, credited Council for making a very reasonable decision at the previous meeting and urged approval of the excellent staff report and ordinance prepared by Senior Planner Mihranian and City Attorney Lynch. He expressed strong support for the decision to revise the Code as currently stated in the staff report and acknowledged Jon Cartwright’s efforts in gathering a very capable group to address Council.
Craig Mueller, Rancho Palos Verdes, also applauded Council’s decision at the prior meeting, saying he understands the difficulty of reviewing the ordinance. He indicated he found the testimony presented extremely clear and concise and reiterated that Mr. Cartwright did an excellent job of illustrating the problem for Council and the public. He opined the language of the ordinance where it states "height variation application to build a new structure in addition to an existing structure either of which exceeds the 16-foot height limit up to the maximum," should actually be worded, "an existing structure that exceeds the 16-foot height limit up to the maximum height permitted in Section 2
or …," saying there should be another "or" in that sentence. Otherwise, he stated all the updates and directions appear to be in order with what was previously discussed.
Councilman Stern stated he believed the language was appropriate because the reference to "either" on the second line was to clarify it is either the new structure or the addition, which will create the trigger.
Mayor Gardiner queried what exactly was being referred to as exceeding the 16-foot limit: the addition, the structure, or both.
City Attorney Lynch responded it referred to either.
Councilman Stern indicated modifications were made to the material in the Agenda packet since its distribution. He stated, after reading it, he recommended the City Attorney further clarify the language making clear it is either of those conditions, that is, if either the new or the existing structure exceeds the 16-foot limit the view analysis will be triggered.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if the language under "Grading View Finding" on Circle Page 3 stating, "it should be noted that as drafted the view finding will apply when the existing grade is raised regardless of whether the resulting structure is within the height limit described in Section 17.020.40" suggests that something else might be changed in the future.
City Attorney Lynch explained no further changes were being recommended, but staff wanted to clarify if grading is performed and the grade of the pad beneath a structure is increased that would trigger a view analysis under the grading sections of the ordinance.
Senior Planner Mihranian clarified, even if the structure is within the 16-foot height limit, if grading is requested, it is a discretionary application; if it results in raising the existing grade to a higher elevation, then the view analysis is triggered.
City Attorney Lynch indicated, if Council is inclined to adopt the resolution, staff would make the same parallel changes to the View Guidelines and Neighborhood Capability Handbook so all three documents are consistent.
Councilman Wolowicz inquired if the City has any existing warning requirements in place such as a proposed notice to buyers.
City Attorney Lynch responded Councilman Long brought the matter up some time ago, but staff did not want to draft an ordinance until Council’s final action was taken, adding an ordinance requiring notice of the 16-foot height limit be given to prospective buyers will be drafted if the ordinance is approved this evening.
Councilman Wolowicz asked whether the Planning Commission had been directed to examine the Neighborhood Capability Handbook to determine if it is consistent with other relevant Codes and documents.
Director Rojas answered the Commission does look at the various documents and, if they find any inconsistencies, brings them to the attention of staff. He indicated the way the documents are currently drafted captures all the thought and consensus of the last meetings.
Mayor Gardiner noted at one time Council had a lengthy discussion about foliage and trimming down to the ridgeline or cutting down to the profile of the building and inquired if that has changed.
City Attorney Lynch responded those requirements have not changed.
Councilman Stern indicated, while he very much appreciates the letter Jim Knight prepared, he thought it might be valuable to give his comments on it, saying he agrees with staff’s position that when doing an analysis the real world as it exists at the moment should be considered rather than imputing buildings onto vacant lots and trying to ascertain what might happen in the future. He stated he does not believe it advances any meaningful value to discuss possibilities not currently in existence.
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing closed.
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to (1) INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 405, A CITY INITIATED PROPOSAL TO AMEND TITLE 17 OF THE CITY’S MUNICIPAL CODE AFFIRMING THE CITY’S HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE 16-FOOT HEIGHT REQUIREMENT AND CLARIFYING THE "VIEW" FINDING AS IT RELATES TO THE HEIGHT VARIATION AND GRADING APPLICATIONS; and, (2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-26, AMENDING THE HEIGHT VARIATION GUIDELINES AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD COMPATIBILITY HANDBOOK TO MAKE THE LANGUAGE CONSISTENT WITH THE PROPOSED CODE AMENDMENTS.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Ayes: Wolowicz, Stern & Mayor Gardiner
Absent: Long and Mayor Pro Tem Clark
RESOL. NOS. 2004-27, 2004-28, 2004-29, 2004-30, AND 2004-31: Ocean Trails - Revision "V." (Continued from March 2nd meeting.) (1411)
Councilman Stern queried if anything in the present conditions dictates when the parklands must be completed.
Director Pfost responded Ocean Trails Park must be completed before opening of the 18-hole golf course.
Councilman Stern further inquired if there is an obligation for acceptance of the roadway improvements prior to the opening of the golf course and if the trails are similarly timed to open.
Director Pfost answered in the affirmative, adding there is a variety of trails scheduled to be completed at different times but they, too, are listed in the conditions of approval.
Councilman Stern asked what the final trigger was and what would determine the required notice of completion.
Director Pfost stated the final trigger is prior to construction of the homes on Tract Map 50666, adding notice of completion will include signing off on the project and the golf course improvements by the City’s geologist as well as finalization of a variety of building permits issued for various things throughout the golf course.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if there are different height restrictions on the various lot types other than the height limitations Council just enacted. He asked if these restrictions would be inserted in the terms and conditions for buyers to alert them so in the future, they would not attempt to build over the 16-foot limit.
City Attorney Lynch replied the conditions of approval on the tract direct any specific lot development requirements be incorporated into the CC&R’s; so, yes, there was a requirement that notice of these restrictions be provided to buyers. She added it was a minor revision and should not be a burden for the developer.
Councilman Wolowicz inquired if assumption of liability is also a requirement for the developer and if that assumption of liability is passed on to any party who might take over the land in the future, asking how the City plans to guarantee financial security in perpetuity.
City Attorney Lynch responded most likely this entity is a sole asset corporation so the primary source of guarantee is the value of the land itself, noting it is certainly possible the developer may have landslide insurance as did the former developer and that would be one way to address the issue. She stated she is unsure how a bond would be devised that could assume the scope of repairs which might be required in the future, adding if a small amount of cracking occurs and one trail gives way, that could cost several hundred thousand dollars; if a huge slide occurred, that could be several million dollars in which case the developer might decide not to make the repairs but to restore or open a new trial further inland from any damaged area. She indicated the City’s role is to ensure the trails and park areas are available for use, and she is not comfortable requiring the developer to have a bond in place for hundreds of thousand of dollars to rebuild something they might relocate further inland.
Councilman Wolowicz clarified his question was not necessarily their liability but the City’s and whether someone might have action against the City.
(Mayor pro tem Clark joined the meeting at 8:17 p.m.)
City Attorney Lynch explained there is the possibility someone could file an action against the City, adding that is the subject of the indemnity agreement currently being negotiated. She indicated an agreement has been reached stating if there was an order, for example, by the Coastal Commission requiring trails to be relocated, replaced, or rebuilt the developer would assume all liability and responsibility for that except to the extent there is any direct negligence in the demise of the trail caused by the City. She stated she does not believe that will be a problem because the City is not maintaining the trail nor the property, therefore, assumes no responsibility in that regard. She indicated the current agreement being negotiated would be brought before Council for further review.
Vincent Stellio, Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, in response to some of Councilman Wolowicz’s concerns, explained they have already had an issue with one of the trails located in the park, saying the Coastal Commission requested it be left where it was but, when they were shown it was not in a safe condition, they allowed it to be moved and that revision has been made. He indicated they are required by the Coastal Commission to maintain the trails; so in the event of another failure they would assume responsibility and have no issues with that. He reiterated what the City Attorney stated that, if there was a failure and the trail could no longer be repaired, they would work the matter out with Coastal and staff to determine the best location to place another trail.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve staff’s recommendation to (1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-27, APPROVING ADDENDUM NO. 17 TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT NO. 36 FOR REVISION "V"; (2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-28, APPROVING REVISION "V", AMENDING CUP NO. 162 AND FOR a GRADING PERMIT (CASE NO. ZON2004-00078); (3) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-29, APPROVING REVISION "V", AMENDING CUP NO. 163; (4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-30, APPROVING REVISION "V", AMENDING VTTM NO. 50666; AND, (5) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-31, APPROVING REVISION "V", AMENDING VTTM NO. 50667.
The motion carried without objection.
Residential solid waste and recycling rate adjustments For Waste Management of Los Angeles for FY 04-05. (1301)
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing open.
Councilman Stern, noting staff was recommending roughly a $42,000 credit or approximately $3.42 per household, and indicating his understanding of the restricted nature of the funds, inquired if there is not something more appropriate the City could utilize them for given current budgetary times.
Senior Analyst Ramezani explained, when the City’s 2002 Annual Report was submitted, revenue met the City’s 50 percent mandate for the first time. She indicated for years AB939 fees were charged to residents as part of their refuse bill to implement programs, noting a large fund has been created which would not be depleted for many years to come as a result of meeting the mandate.
Director Allison reiterated these points and indicated staff thought it would be a nice way of showing appreciation to the residents, adding a little note on the billing saying here is $4.00 a month from the City to thank you for recycling creates an impression.
Mayor pro tem Clark inquired if it would be possible to channel the money into the City’s beautification program which could provide a far more significant impact to a number of communities within the city.
Ms. Ramezani answered the fund for beautification grants cannot be sourced from AB939 fees because they are more restricted.
Councilman Stern asked what else might be done with the money other than apply it as refunds.
City Manager Evans responded it can be used for programs that encourage and market recycling or the City could purchase new green bins for the residents, but it must have something to do with refuse collection.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated it appears the City is about to give out a credit before the funds have been collected.
Director Allison explained the checks would be written about a quarter before receiving the revenue that generates it.
Councilman Wolowicz stated, if there appears to be some hesitancy, it is most likely because Council just finished continuing a budget workshop and perhaps certain members are uneasy with some of the rather large numbers they have seen. He indicated he would like to say thank you to the City’s residents but would prefer to harbor the City’s resources until he can identify all the demands.
Councilman Stern agreed, saying he, too, would like to say thank you, but difficult financial decisions are waiting to be made.
Mayor Gardiner asked who would be writing the checks.
Ms. Ramezani replied Waste Management will bill the residents and the City will write checks to Waste Management on a quarterly basis.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested retaining the funds and looking for other ways to utilize them in the future.
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing closed.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to (1) Approve the maximum rate that Waste Management of Los Angeles can charge single-family customers in FY 04-05; (2) Approve the maximum rate that Waste Management of Los Angeles can charge multi-family customers in FY 04-05; and (3) Increase the amount of collector fee paid by Waste Management of Los Angeles to the City By $8,880 to reflect the rate increases.
The motion carried without objection.
Residential Solid Waste And Recycling Rate Adjustments For Universal Waste Systems, Inc. Dba Ivy Rubbish Disposal For FY 04-05. (1301)
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing open.
There was no response to the Mayor’s call for public testimony.
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to (1) Approve the maximum rate that Universal Waste Systems, Inc., dba Ivy Rubbish Disposal, can charge residential customers for FY 04-05; (2) Increase the amount of Collector Fee paid by Universal Waste Systems, Inc., dba, Ivy Rubbish Disposal, to the City by $370 to reflect the rate increase; and, (3) Approve increasing the Senior Citizen discount from the current 5% to 10%.
The motion carried without objection.
ORDINANCE NOS. 406U AND 407: Code Amendment (Planning Case No. ZON2004-00142): Landslide Moratorium Exception Clarification and Revisions. (1801)
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing open.
Mayor Stern inquired what staff believed were the particular equities, which lead them to conclude this, particular project containing two 600-foot improvements should be approved.
Senior Planner Fox answered staff believed the current language of the Code could be reasonably interpreted to mean the combined cumulative square footage under categories "L" and "H" would be added together or in a manner in which they would be calculated separately. He indicated the application submitted was based on the interpretation they were calculated separately. He reminded Council of an urgency ordinance in November 2002 where there was a similar condition with an application pending that exceeded the 600 square-foot limitation and that that application was allowed to proceed.
Councilman Stern indicated he recalled the matter but did not view it as similar, saying the applicant in the previous case proceeded under the Code then in existence which did not contain the same language. He stated he is not convinced the language is so ambiguous that this applicant should get approval for something no one else will get.
Director Rojas indicated the applicant in question had notified him that if Council excluded their application they would change their project so the matter might be a non-issue.
Councilman Wolowicz queried if the intent was to limit to a total of 600 square-feet cumulative.
Councilman Stern responded his understanding is yes, including the garage.
Mayor pro tem Clark concurred, noting this was a moratorium area and under the Code, in its many modifications by a succession of Councils, there has been some ability to accommodate certain minor changes to residential structures within that area. He opined it was legitimate for staff to bring this question before Council, saying it appeared to be incremental in terms of increasing it beyond what has been considered reasonable in the past, given the overarching aspect that it is in a moratorium area.
Councilman Wolowicz expressed concern that what initially appeared to be a simple concept contains myriad small details and indicated he would accept the concept with the assurance it will be closely examined and any inconsistencies are removed.
Senior Planner Fox mentioned staff is confident they have determined all the various types of projects that can be accumulated in one exception category, making it much more clear that the 600 square-foot limitation applies to all cumulative structures than the current language.
City Attorney Lynch added they have restructured the language, placing the garage in a separate category, which clarified that the 600 square-foot limitation applied to everything cumulative whether attached or detached structures or additions, plus the 600 square-foot garage.
Mayor Gardiner indicated Council received an e-mail outlining 12 concerns, one of which was equitable treatment of people with residences in varying zones, and asked if the City should be concerned about this.
City Attorney Lynch indicated, when Council was initially addressing the moratorium ordinance many years ago, a determination was made to regard the Seaview area differently because it was entirely developed with the exception of one or two lots, and Council did not feel it appropriate to penalize those remaining lots by rendering them not developable. She noted at that time the Seaview area was the only moratorium area that was sewered, a distinction that no longer applies, adding that Council can certainly revisit the issue and delete the separate Seaview exception.
Mayor Gardiner queried if there are differences from zone to zone, which preclude the same size house from adding a 600 square-foot addition.
City Attorney Lynch responded a 600 square foot addition could be made on any developed lot in any zone.
Senior Planner Fox added it applied only when an applicant wished to go in excess of 600 square feet.
Mayor Gardiner requested clarification that no one can exceed 600 square feet in any of the zones.
Senior Planner Fox replied nowhere except the Seaview area because of the unique exception that applies to that zone in the moratorium.
Mayor pro tem Clark queried how many lots were in that area.
Senior Planner Fox indicated there were 36 properties in Seaview within the moratorium, of which one is undeveloped.
Mayor Gardiner asked if all 35 property owners could build more than a 600 square foot addition.
Senior Planner Fox said yes, but they would all be subject to neighborhood compatibility and other standards.
Mayor Gardiner queried why it makes sense that the 600 square-foot limitation feet does not apply to Seaview and how the City is not tempting possible litigation by not treating these 35 owners the same as everyone else in the moratorium.
City Attorney Lynch stated she believed Council’s reasoning at the time was because that area had sewers when none of the other portions of the moratorium area did. She indicated Council has always had the ability to make reasonable distinctions between properties, adding this Council can certainly do away with that distinction if they find it inappropriate.
Mayor Gardiner expressed uneasiness with the concept.
Mayor pro tem Clark applauded Mayor Gardiner for his excellent line of questioning and stated he now had trouble retaining the special exemption for Seaview. He indicated, if the decision to consider a change was made, Council should alert that community in advance, noting that perhaps reasons would be brought forth to persuade Council’s thinking on the matter.
Director Rojas informed the Council that in a 1993 memo from Dr. Perry Ehlig the different zones, including the Seaview area, were described as having distinct geology.
Mayor Gardiner questioned if all the other zones were sufficiently alike and this particular one sufficiently different to justify an exemption.
Director Rojas answered that Dr. Ehlig described the primary cause of instability in this particular zone as a buildup of Artesian water pressure beneath the downhill portion of the landslide. He stated the factor of safety had not been calculated because of the slide’s unconventional nature, adding Dr. Ehlig considered the area to be moving because of the water pressure as opposed to the instability of the slide.
City Manager Evans indicated that Dr. Ehlig’s findings were based on his vast personal experience rather than on borings and calculations and stated something is being defended that was Council policy based on a geologist’s recommendations 15 years ago. He stated, if Council desired to change the policy, they could; but he envisioned it would most likely generate some lawsuits.
Councilman Stern defended the decision made a couple years ago limiting the building of existing homeowners in the moratorium area which basically defined that one cannot build on a vacant lot until the geology is approved and provided a step to reasonably accommodate people already living in the area without allowing them to build a new house under the guise of a remodel. He stated he agreed with staff that under the issue in the Moratorium Ordinance being addressed it was to be a cumulative 600 square feet total and the revision designed to provide that should be adopted. In relation to Seaview, he expressed concern about changing the situation.
Mauricio Arregoces, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated he is a resident of one of the 35 properties under discussion in Seaview, noting he purchased the property recently and is planning to add more than the 600 square feet specified in the moratorium ordinance based on a decision reached by reading many of the geology reports provided to him by various brokers involved in the transaction. He commented in the last six month at least two houses in the area have broken ground for construction and both are planning to exceed 600 square feet. He remarked his understanding of the different zones and particularly Seaview was the severity of the slide was less compared to other zones within the moratorium area which is one of the points he considered when deciding whether or not to purchase the property.
Mayor Gardiner declared the Public Hearing closed.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to (1) ADOPT ORDINANCE NO. 406U, AS AMENDED, ADOPTING REVISIONS TO CHAPTER 15.20 (MORATORIUM ON LAND USE PERMITS) OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF; and (2) INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 407 AS AMENDED TO ADOPT REVISIONS TO CHAPTER 15.20 (MORATORIUM ON LAND USE PERMITS) OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE; (3) Staff to advise any existing applicant of the interpretation of the existing ordinance and that only one addition of 600 square feet is allowable; and (4) within a reasonable length of time Staff to review the Seaview exemption and bring back results of such review and make a recommendation to Council with the notion of reaffirming current practices unless there is a compelling reason not to.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Clark, Wolowicz, Gardiner
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested remanding to staff and the Planning Commission a review of the Seaview exemption with information to be brought back to Council in a reasonable period of time for further consideration, saying his intention was not to change it but to clarify a number of questions that have been raised which he believed had not been satisfactorily answered.
Mayor Gardiner recommended reaffirming the City’s current practices in the interim unless reason is shown not to.
City Attorney Lynch indicated the Planning Commission does not typically consider changes to the Moratorium Ordinance.
Councilman Stern stated it does not make sense to give the matter to the Planning Commission since it relates to what Council has previously determined when addressing the landslide moratorium, adding it comes down to a policy request unless the City Attorney advises otherwise in terms of an inequity.
Mayor pro tem Clark agreed but requested staff revisit the topic and bring it back to Council for further consideration.
Mayor Gardiner indicated support for the motion with the understanding that Council receive a specific opinion from the City Attorney on letterhead.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Stern chaired the Open Space Recreation Task Force meeting April 7th and stated two meetings have been scheduled in May to bring reports before the Committee. On April 16th he attended, on behalf of the City, a dinner hosted by the City of Lakewood in celebration of their 50th anniversary. April 19th he attended a meeting of the combined Chambers of Commerce of the South Bay, the Peninsula, and San Pedro where Congresswoman Harmon was the guest speaker.
Mayor pro tem Clark attended the 5th annual Aerospace Outlook Conference for the South Bay at El Camino College on April 14th, saying the conference focused on encouraging the vitality of small businesses working at the vendor and second-, third-, and fourth-tier subcontractor level for major aerospace in the South Bay. He indicated it was a very worthwhile event which illustrated there is clearly a great deal of concern with respect to the L.A. Air Force Base’s possible change of location.
Councilman Wolowicz also attended the Aerospace Outlook Conference which he said underscored the importance of aerospace to the entire South Bay region. On April 17th he and Councilman Long attended the Lomita Sheriff’s Station’s Volunteer Recognition Luncheon which he described as a heartwarming and worthwhile event in recognition of the large number of people who volunteer many hours to the benefit of RPV and several other communities. He indicated it was highly appropriate that elected officials attended this function to express personal thanks and the gratitude of the entire community.
Mayor Gardiner commented to those residents who have fully memorized the logo on Channel 33 that progress is expected in the coming months and eventually the City will have an RPV Channel 33.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 9:00 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 9:08 P.M.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Residential Undergrounding Program. (901 x 1203)
Director Allison presented the staff memorandum of April 20, 2004.
Mayor pro tem Clark said there had been some coverage in the press recently regarding two successful undergrounding districts being formed in a sister city in the South Bay and queried if staff has gleaned any information by looking at programs in other local cities.
Director Allison indicated he spoke with his counterparts in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach when the City initially formed the program, saying, since the rules are very similar in Manhattan Beach, many of their guidelines have been incorporated into the City’s program.
Mayor pro tem Clark, noting perhaps it is the topography, stated their cost per property owner seemed substantially less than that being estimated in RPV.
Director Allison explained the lots in Manhattan Beach are generally smaller so the length of underground is divided among more property owners, hence the difference in the figures. He indicated the City has perhaps estimated high but it would be far worse to recommend bringing people into a program that turns out to be a great deal more expensive than anticipated. He stated after carefully scrutinizing the numbers he would not change the estimate or the guidelines.
Mayor Gardiner said he is in favor of undergrounding utilities but he complained the current documents are confusing and ambiguous, noting It would be better to have important statements such as the estimated acquisition cost for each parcel up front rather than buried in the text. He illustrated statements such as "the estimated acquisition cost of the approved financial assessment district for each parcel is $20- to $25,000" were not nearly as obvious to the average reader as saying, "I understand I may have to pay $20- to $25,000."
Councilman Stern stated the only reason he disagreed was because this was not the type of petition where one merely signs their name but it requires information be filled out in addition to a signature, adding he agreed the information should be prominent but did not believe it is difficult to find.
Councilman Wolowicz, referencing the engineering plans and costs, queried if entities that might have equipment hung on the poles are coordinating with Southern California Edison on the project.
Director Allison explained Edison takes the lead role, generally building a joint trench which allowed the phone and cable companies to utilize the conduits underground.
Mayor Gardiner said he understood the undergrounding of cable and electric but inquired how pole-mounted cell phone antennas could be placed underground.
Director Allison that replied not all of the poles would be eliminated, saying generally it is the wires that are more obtrusive than the poles. He illustrated the utility undergrounding program on Silver Spur where the poles accommodated utilities as well as street lights, explaining the wires went underground but the poles with street lights remained and are part of the normal "street furniture" people are accustomed to.
Mayor pro tem Clark indicated the resolution for undergrounding utilities sponsored by the City a couple years ago advocated pressure be placed on the California Utilities Commission and the utility providers to find economic and innovative methods of undergrounding that would not create such a financial burden on property owners and inquired if any progress has been made in that area either with the C.U.C. or the League of California Cities.
Director Allison stated he has not monitored whether any progress has been made but will take the matter as an action item and follow up on it.
Evelyn Dow, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated she is the original owner of her property which she has occupied for 42 years, and requested in all fairness that a petition for those against the project be authorized and circulated, opining it would be cost effective for the City because the matter would be dropped and no more time and money would be spent if enough signatures are procured. She said she is unsure how much longer she will be able to live in her home and believes it unfair that she or her heirs should be responsible to assume a financial burden to improve someone else’s view when there will be no benefit to them. She noted if the utility companies and the City are in favor of this, they should find other methods of financing rather than placing the burden on property owners.
Louise Shipman, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed concern on behalf of herself and many of her neighbors regarding the utility undergrounding project, saying there needs to be assurance that everyone who signs a petition under the current proposal is fully cognizant of the possible consequences. She indicated in addition to having the highest average cost per lot they have ever heard of there will be much argument on subjective guidelines since there seems to be no clear picture of the guidelines that would be used to establish cost for specific lots. She asked who would decide what the will criteria be, saying it is not surprising some residents on the view side initiated this project since they are looking at many more poles than most residents in Seaview are. She remarked there is also the very real possibility a homeowner who did not sign the petition and does not wish to have such an expensive lien on their property will find they are in the position of having the votes of surrounding residents imposed on their property along with the misfortune of still having poles to look at.
Ms. Shipman stated many people she has spoken to believe the program involves all of Seaview or none of it, saying that is not her understanding of what she has read. She requested clarification of the percentages required to permit or halt the project. She wholeheartedly agreed the guidelines are confusing and ambiguous and indicated due to the puzzling nature of the petition two thirds of the residents have signed it without being fully aware of the facts.
Mauricio Arregoces, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated he currently has no position either for or against the proposed undergrounding, adding, despite the fact his view will not be improved dramatically as a result, he can see the benefits. He indicated he, too, is having difficulty understanding the guidelines, saying he has heard conflicting stories regarding what constitutes a neighborhood, whether it is all or a portion of the Seaview area, whether the requirement is 66 percent or two thirds, or whether a petition reduces the number from two thirds to fifty percent. He commented he has not found one person who can answer the process of the petition, adding it has become clear to him there is not a clear course to follow in either achieving the goal or understanding the process.
Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated she has lived in Abalone Cove since 1963 at which time the residents decided the area needed to be under grounded so it was.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested a response to the concerns voiced by the residents.
Director Allison explained the project area would be determined by the residents in conjunction with SCE, saying most likely that it will be a subset of the Seaview community. To clarify the issue regarding removal of the poles, he indicated they would be removed unless they support a streetlight or cellular antenna in which case they can be modified to make them more aesthetically pleasing. As far as the issue of determining cost, he indicated not everyone will pay the same amount, saying the design engineers will determine what needs to be done, the total project cost, and how that will be distributed. He indicated an assessment district would be created and individual cost would be based on the benefit each property receives from the project. He explained there would be a general benefit to the entire neighborhood, but, if a resident had a view that is vastly improved, their cost would be higher than that of someone who did not have a view or has one that is not impacted. He stated the process seems rather subjective but is based on industry standards for the assessment process which will come before Council to be scrutinized before any further action is taken.
Director Allison further explained the rules governing how an assessment district proceeds may be responsible for much of the confusion, noting there are two thresholds, fifty percent and 67 percent, adding the City’s current guidelines require a 66- to 67 percent approval rating in the community before the City invests any money into the design of the undergrounding program or any money is advanced by the City for the assessment district process. He indicated a public hearing would be held at the end of the process before any determination is made regarding individual cost, at which time Council will decide if the assessment district will be formed. He explained there would be a 50 percent requirement by the public to form the district which means if 51 percent of the rated votes (those people required to pay more, will have more votes) are in favor of the district, Council may approve it.
In response to the suggestion of circulating a petition for those opposed to the project, Director Allison stated he viewed that as being problematic because a great deal would depend on how a community is finally defined, adding anyone who does not sign the current petition is already presumed to be a no vote.
Mayor pro tem Clark, in response to the comment that many people signed the petition without understanding it, said he had serious doubts anyone would read through a petition, sign it, and pay $100 without thoroughly understanding it since not too many people are inclined to sign petitions with a monetary fee without comprehending what they are signing.
Mayor Gardiner indicated his main concern rested with people who could not afford the cost, saying they are going to be put in the embarrassing position of appearing at a public meeting to voice the plea of not having adequate resources. He stated he would support a negative petition because the topic is so complex and controversial and suggested sending the petition to the Council of Homeowners Association to see if they can provide any recommendations on the wording.
Mayor Gardiner said he fundamentally objected to property owners paying to improve public utilities and opined, unless there was something built in requiring the project be sent out for competitive bidding, the provider is at liberty to choose their own contractors and drive up the base price in order to make a profit. He explained the utility company pays a relatively small amount, property owners pay a staggering amount, and the majority of benefits accrue to the utility company in terms of an upgraded facility and lower maintenance.
Councilman Stern agreed with Director Allison on the idea of a negative petition, saying he saw no value in circulating one. He indicated he supported allowing the residents to move forward if they so choose and are willing to bear the financial burden, saying he believed the program was reasonable and well thought out. He stated he shared the Mayor’s concerns about the benefit to the public utilities, saying, unfortunately, that is a battle Council has no authority over since the rules are dictated by State law. He noted he was in favor of doing anything possible to help minimize the cost to residents.
Councilman Wolowicz stated there were some facts in the follow-on memo not included in the guidelines and recommended incorporating those along with some of the comments made at the meeting into the booklet. He noted while he thought the booklet was very good, it is the duty of Council and staff to eliminate any confusion that might arise and inquired if the residents of Seaview have received anything from the City to explain things.
Director Allison indicated staff was fully engaged in assisting the community through the process, noting the petition Council previously approved is currently circulating and staff shared the draft guidelines with the residents at their annual homeowners association meeting.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated he had been approached by people on both sides of the issue, although mostly by those in favor, saying they would like to take action within their own segment of the neighborhood in order to move more quickly through the process without being encumbered by the entire neighborhood’s approval.
Director Allison remarked, after listening to the discussion, the following three topics would be very constructive to add to the guidelines: (1) Explain that the project area is defined by the neighborhood, not the City; (2) Clarify if there are streetlights or cellular lines on utility poles they will not be eliminated but could be changed in character to make them more aesthetically pleasing; and, (3) embellish the fact not everyone in the assessment district will pay the same amount.
City Attorney Lynch clarified the assessment engineer would make the final decision on the benefit area; so, while the City would attempt to honor residents’ requests regarding segmenting, the engineer must concur with any segmentation selected and would determine the ultimate benefit spread.
Mayor Gardiner indicated he was not prepared to support the matter until the Council of Homeowners Associations reviewed it and they determined that it was clear, comprehensive, and addressed any concerns they might have.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated Council is sensitive to the concerns voiced by residents about the possibility of undergrounding and the associated cost. He opined the issue is really one of economics and inquired how it could be made more palatable to those concerned about the financial burden, saying he believed everyone would agree to have undergrounding if it cost nothing because unsightly poles would be removed and studies have shown that real estate values are enhanced as a result. He concurred the plan is well though out but stated he, too, would be interested in having the Council of Homeowners review the documents and provide their input. He indicated it is important for the City’s communities to understand this is an exercise in self-governance for which the ground rules are being set up.
Scott Gobble, representing Southern California Edison, explained questions tend to arise when a neighborhood is looking at undergrounding certain portions rather than the entire community. He suggested it would be appropriate to include language in the documentation saying if a smaller portion of the community is interested in undergrounding 600 feet or more of the main line that SCE, the phone company, and other utilities are consulted to determine if engineering requirements are met and the work can physically be performed, saying it is important to get the utilities involved before the boundaries are actually established. He stated there is no charge for this consulting service which provides an opportunity to meet with City staff, determine the boundaries, and move forward from there.
Mayor Gardiner inquired if Mr. Gobble was aware of any problem with sending the undergrounding project out for competitive bidding.
Mr. Gobble answered it was perfectly acceptable under the Public Utilities Code and SCE encourages competition.
Mayor pro tem Clark inquired why there is such a vast difference in the median cost per house between RPV and Manhattan Beach.
Mr. Gobble responded he has worked on the Manhattan Beach project and explained the lots there are generally 40 feet wide, making the footage of the trench considerably less per house. He indicated the main line trench is much longer for quarter- and third-acre lots, saying that affects the cost as well as the rocky soils present in the area which are not found in Manhattan Beach. He stated the figures of $275 to $300 a lineal foot are fairly accurate, noting the good news is it costs less to underground today than it did a year-and-a-half ago because the Public Utilities Commission changed the tariff slightly in November 2002 giving SCE a greater dollar credit for underground projects enabling them to pass that savings on.
Councilman Wolowicz thanked Mr. Gobble for attending the meeting and inquired about exemptions for residents, asking if he is aware of any alternatives besides the State deferral program.
Mr. Gobble indicated in other communities that have taken on successful undergrounding projects, people generally know who their neighbors are, where the widows and widowers live, and who is perhaps a little more financially strapped, saying those neighbors in a better position to pay will offer financial incentives or assistance to those who are less able. He stated another option is the $24,000 per year income limit devised by the City’s treasurer, noting this is more difficult because it must be reassessed yearly and since the life of the bonds is either 10, 15, or 20 years many people are reluctant to enter into these types of arrangements.
Councilman Wolowicz recommended including a paragraph regarding competitive bidding and perhaps one relating to the type of neighborhood participation referred to by Mr. Gobble, saying residents may want to consider that as part of their deliberations.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested including an appendix to the guidelines with Council’s League-adopted resolution, outlining some of the steps taken by the League of California Cities with the P.U.C. to deal with some of the issues residents have voiced concern over.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to (1) Direct staff to find out the status of the League resolution sent to the Public Utilities Commissions regarding innovative ways to underground. (2) Adopt Draft Guidelines for undergrounding utilities in residential neighborhoods amended by comments made at the meeting: Define project area for undergrounding; clarify what poles will be removed, which will stay, and why; add discussion re assessment; and, get the utilities involved early on in the project. (3) Add competitive bidding and neighborhood participation. (4) Request the Council of Homeowners Association to review and, if they have any substantive value to add, bring to staff’s attention. Final language to be brought back to the City Council. (5) Add appendix to guidelines, i.e., resolution and other attempts.
In response to the Mayor’s request for clarification of the motion, Mayor pro tem Clark stated his motion is to approve the draft in concept as modified by a few of the comments made during the discussion with the final language to be brought back for review; and, also, for it to be sent to the Council of Homeowners Association for their review.
Councilman Stern opined the motion made a great deal of sense since it allowed people already moving forward to know the basic rules have been laid out and in all likelihood are not going to change and, if there are ways things can be embellished and/or elucidated in response to public comments and any that might come from the Council of Homeowners Association, could be included.
Mayor Gardiner opposed the motion, saying in his opinion Council is dealing with an unfinished document that raised serious questions which have yet to be addressed and clarified. He remarked he has witnessed many cases where groups have passed broad principles and, when it comes to implementing the details, things become entangled, and firmly indicated he has no intention of supporting such a document.
Mayor Gardiner opposed the motion. Motion carried 3-1-1 (Long absent).
Status of City Council Goals. (1101)
City Manager Evans presented the staff memorandum of April 20, 2004 and indicated the milestones set for the first three goals, Infrastructure Renewal and Maintenance, Action Plan for City Traffic and Parking, and Completion of the Open Space Park and Recreation Plan are proceeding essentially on schedule. He suggested modifying some of the milestones for the open space acquisition in Portuguese Bend by changing the date for the $17 million State Funds commitment from October 1, 2004 to December 1st and adjusting all the subsequent dates accordingly. He explained the Wildlife Conservation Board does not meet until November 18th, making it impossible to meet the October deadline. He stated the Land Conservancy has also requested to revise the language of the July 1st milestone to read, "By the transaction date the PVP Land Conservancy will have a local commitment of $6 million."
Councilman Wolowicz inquired if a monitoring process should be instituted.
City Manager Evans indicated the City Council Ad Hoc Committee following this purchase meets weekly by conference call, saying they are abreast of the situation and can keep Council informed if things appear to be going awry.
Councilman Stern and Mayor pro tem Clark assured they are involved in the weekly conversations and will provide Council with necessary updates on the project’s status.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to receive the report on the status of the City Council Goals for 2004-2005 with changes noted by the City Manager. Motion carried without objection.
City Foundation. (Carryover from April 6th meeting.) (1101)
Councilman Wolowicz explained his experience with foundations and fundraising has indicated people are inclined to give to a foundation especially if they are looking at specific tasks they wish to be accomplished or as long-term gifts or endowments, noting the City may find this beneficial. He indicated staff has concluded Council should decide on the specific purpose of the foundation before directing staff to proceed with the process and mentioned several specific areas where people might wish to contribute such as open space, Upper Point Vicente, youth centers and gymnasiums, or emergency preparedness equipment.
Councilman Stern remarked he was not particularly eager to put government in the business of becoming a charity. He indicated he was not in favor of the City’s setting up its own foundation since RPV has a vast network of support organizations such as the Land Conservancy and the Norris Foundation and he would prefer to let those interested groups do the fundraising and provide associated benefits to the community.
Mayor pro tem Clark applauded Councilman Wolowicz for bringing the matter forward but noted there does not appear to be any specificity of purpose for the foundation, noting staff has indicated individuals already have the ability to gift to the City for specific purposes. He indicated he is not convinced there is a compelling distinct need for the foundation, noting, otherwise, he would support it.
Councilman Stern concurred, saying he is not sure people are aware they can make tax-deductible donations to the City.
Mayor Gardiner said he does not feel strongly one way or the other but would be inclined to support the effort if it encouraged people who otherwise would not gift to the City, noting it provided an opportunity for volunteers to coalesce around something which absent such a vehicle would not exist.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated the point about the foundation’s not having a specific focus is well taken but noted his experience is people are inclined to give once a certain amount of forward motion is created.
Mayor Gardiner said there are a number of things the City might allocate funds for such as RPV’s Channel 33, Shakespeare by the Sea, the symphony, et cetera, saying he would not want to restrict how the funds could be used. He indicated there are a number of people in the community who could be of enormous benefit to the City and noted he cannot see any negative to providing a vehicle for this.
Mayor pro tem Clark remarked his mind has just been changed on the matter.
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to conceptually approve the concept and direct staff to explore further in detail a City non-profit Foundation to receive donations.
Councilman Stern opposed the motion which carried 3-1-1 (Long absent).
The Residential Development Standards Steering Committee. (1203)
Councilman Stern indicated Councilman Long had submitted a memo on the matter and suggested it be continued to allow him to be present for discussion.
Mayor pro tem Clark said he would agree to continue the item since Councilman Long was on of the co-Chairs. He disagreed with Councilman Long’s opinion that committees larger than seven are too unwieldy to function properly, indicating the Neighborhood Compatibility Subcommittee’s membership was in that range and functioned quite effectively with much value being gained by the synergy between electeds, Planning Commissioners, and very capable community volunteers.
Mayor Gardiner stated he, too, does not share Councilman Long’s opinion about the number of Committee members nor his concern about the appointment of two Council members since there is a precedent for that. In response to his opinion Committee members should be disinterested in the subject matter, he disagreed, saying they most definitely should be interested.
Councilman Stern clarified he believed Councilman Long’s reference was to members not having hidden agendas, which might skew things in a direction to obtain a private result. He explained his suggestion to continue the matter was not necessarily because he agreed with the substance of Councilman Long’s memo but as a courtesy to him since he apparently felt strongly enough about the item to send a memo.
Mayor Gardiner inquired if Councilman Long indicated he would like to postpone the matter or if he was simply requesting clarification.
City Manager Evans answered Councilman Long wanted to raise these points but said he trusted Council to take the matter up without his presence.
Councilman Stern agreed fundamentally with Mayor pro tem Clark’s position on the size of the committees but stated a couple mistakes have been made in the past by creating committees that were too large. He indicated he does not view the issue of the Committee’s independence as a problem, saying he believed there is value in the way it has been engineered to provide a connection between Council and the Commissioners.
Mayor Gardiner opined it is more often the makeup of the committee rather than the size that causes the difficulty, saying given who is conducting the meetings and the character of this Committee he does not anticipate any problems arising.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to Review and approve the scope of the Committee’s work. The motion carried without objection.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 10:36 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 10:39 p.m.
MAX Transit Policy Steering Committee Appointment. (106)
City Manager Evans indicated the need for this appointment has been created because the Committee has had difficulty getting a quorum and suggested Council appoint him or another staff person to attend the meetings if there is no Council member wishing to volunteer.
Mayor pro tem Clark inquired if there is actually still a need for this Committee which was originally created around 1991 to provide a forum for commuter related transportation issues in the El Segundo area.
City Manager Evans explained MTA is currently removing some of its LAX area routes and the agencies operating MAX are under some pressure to expand their routes to compensate for those lost MTA routes servicing the airport.
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to appoint the City Manager as representative to the MAX Transit Policy Steering Committee. The motion passed without objection.
Joint meeting with School Board. (1101)
City Manager Evans explained Council last met with the School District nearly two years ago and Mayor pro tem Clark has suggested inviting them to meet in a joint session to discuss topics such as the status of athletic fields in the Eastview area.
Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by pro tem Clark, to extend an invitation to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education to meet in a Joint Session; and request the City Manager and Superintendent of the District to propose an agenda for the meeting.
Councilman Stern indicated he would prefer that staff confer with the School Board Superintendent to explore whether there are items that warrant holding a joint meeting.
Mayor Gardiner supported Councilman Stern’s idea, opining there should be a specific well thought out and well researched set of outcomes desired before bringing elected officials together. He indicated he does believe in encouraging interdepartmental assemblies to explore if there is sufficient reason to hold a meeting.
Councilman Wolowicz remarked there are some very significant topics these two entities could address, one being the Eastview school situation. He stated each time he meets with groups or individuals there is a continuing level of frustration on this subject and, although the answer may not be within Council’s grasp, he believed it would be appropriate to meet with the School Board to discuss the matter.
Mayor pro tem Clark indicated a great deal of value came out of the July 2002 joint meeting, saying virtually every member of both elected bodies in attendance thought there was much constructive interaction on a number of fronts. He opined the meeting ultimately is needed and suggested the City Manager in conjunction with the Superintendent and two subcommittees from each body perform the preparatory groundwork. He stated he believed there are issues being grappled with which these two bodies should address together such as the challenge of providing youth recreational facilities. He also mentioned the possibility of the School District’s relocating its offices and perhaps aligning with the City as they look toward a vision for Upper Point Vicente and a new Civic Center that might conceptually include new School District offices.
Mayor Gardiner reiterated his opinion that a meeting should consist of action items that can be implemented upon the meeting’s conclusion.
Councilman Wolowicz, amending his previous motion, moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to express an intent to have a meeting; City Manager to meet with School Superintendent to develop an agenda of actionable items; and, Bring these items back to the City Council and to the School Board.
The amended motion passed without objection.
Agenda format and procedures issues. (Continued from April 6th.) (307)
City Manager Evans described this continued item as one which was described in the newspapers as "an hour-and-a-half of discussing how to make the meeting shorter," and candidly proposed discussing for the next hour how Council can adjourn by 11:00 p.m.
Councilman Stern indicated he would like the rule regarding staff reports to be staff reports are received unless Council directs otherwise.
Mayor Gardiner argued against the idea, saying there were 20 items on the agenda and, if staff had made a mere three-minute presentation of each, an hour would have been added to the meeting. He opined Council and staff attend the meetings having read the Agenda which is published on the Web for interested parties and said the default should be they are not read unless specifically requested.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to consider City Council agenda format at a Team Building workshop.
The motion passed without objection.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated he was disappointed by the newspaper coverage this item received, believing it to be a mischaracterization of what was actually done. He stated none of the Mayor’s ideas were discarded, noting one was slightly altered but still maintained the intent expressed by the Mayor.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned the continuing appearance of time estimates on the agenda.
City Manager Evans explained that in the future they would appear on the front page at the end of the third paragraph where it will say, "An estimated time for presentation, public input, and discussion of each agenda item is shown to the left of the item number. These estimated items are included to predict the overall length of each City Council meeting and are not intended to preclude public input, full discussion, and thoughtful deliberation of each item."
Councilman Wolowicz also observed, under the item regarding unfinished business, it is stated interested persons can track unfinished business items on the City’s website, saying he could not find that information on the website.
Mayor Gardiner requested correcting the URL, or website address, so individuals can type the entire address and be taken directly to the page and section where that specific information is presented.
REPORT ON CLOSED SESSION:
City Attorney Lynch reported that no action was taken on the matter of negotiations with the City’s cable franchise company; that with regard to the City Manager’s performance evaluation, that matter had been continued.
Mayor Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 11:10 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on May 4, 2004, for a budget work session to be held in Council Chambers at Hesse Park.
/s/ Peter C. Gardiner
/s/ Jo Purcell