RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR MEETING
AUGUST 31, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Gardiner at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file, and was immediately recessed to closed session. At 7:00 P.M., the meeting reconvened.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Clark, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Gardiner
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Finance Dennis McLean; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and Recording Secretary Denise Bothe.
City Attorney Lynch led the flag salute.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda as submitted. Without objection, Mayor Gardiner so ordered.
Lois Larue, 3136 Barkentine Road, stated that she provided to members of Council and staff a copy of a poem she had written about the Portuguese Bend Landslide.
Resol. No. 2004-72: The City’s Natural Communities Conservation Planning (NCCP) Subarea Plan. (1203)
City Clerk Purcell advised that all correspondence related to this matter had been included in the Council’s packet and that any late correspondence had been distributed; she stated that there was an addendum had been issued to this agenda which added a closed session item.
City Manager Evans provided an executive overview of this matter and highlighted the recommendation to (1) ADOPT RESOL. NO. 2004-72, CERTIFYING THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (EIR) FOR THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES NCCP SUBAREA PLAN; (2) Approve the NCCP Subarea Plan, which included the following related actions: a. Determination of whether to include any portion of Grandview Park in the Reserve; and b. Approve the refined Reserve Boundary Line for Upper Pt. Vicente Park; and, (3) Conceptually approve the Draft NCCP Implementing Agreement, which included the draft sub-agreement between the City and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) for management of the proposed NCCP habitat reserve. He pointed out that the only properties included in the NCCP reserve are those properties, which have been voluntarily included, and those which will be acquired by the City and the Land Conservancy. City Manager Evans advised that the City is depending on the state to come up with the prime funding source of $17 million; that the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) is committed to coming up with $6 million; that the City has budgeted $1 million and noted that it is anticipated that $3 million will be received from the County and the Federal government to purchase the property.
Director Rojas explained that the reserve that will be created is approximately 1,500 acres in size, about 17 percent of the City; he highlighted the simplified map of the reserve area; and he also pointed out that participation in the NCCP is completely voluntary, that properties are not in the reserve unless the owners want to contribute their private properties to the reserve. He added that what is being proposed in the reserve is solely public lands as well as two private properties that have been targeted for acquisition, one owned by York Long Point & Associates and the other owned by Hon Properties—properties totaling approximately 680 acres. He also stated that the following funding is expected for the proposed acquisition: $2 million from Federal funds, $17 million from the State through Proposition 50 funds, $1 million from the County, $1 million from the City, and $6 million raised through private funding. He stated that concurrently with the NCCP, staff is working on all these fronts to try to secure these monies; that at this point, these monies have not been secured; however, the City’s focus has been on the Proposition 50 monies.
Director Rojas advised that some of the issues raised by the public are fire control, concerns that somehow the NCCP prohibits or inhibits residents from doing fire control; explained that the NCCP plan itself states that fire management is the number one priority, and that clearly, the protection of life and property is a top priority; and noted that staff has met with the Fire Department to discuss these aspects of the plan in order to make sure it is clear by everyone that the plan in no way supersedes any type of fire ordinance. He stated that the way the plan is written, it allows fire control, fire brush clearance to occur in the reserve; that it allows the brush clearance which occurs every year to continue to happen every year; and that the Fire Department is still able to cite residents when appropriate.
Director Rojas noted that another issue of concern is the uncertainty of where the reserve boundary line will be located and advised that the boundary line will coincide with property lines. With the aid of a map, he highlighted Upper Point Vicente as one area of concern and highlighted those areas that have been excluded from the reserve. He noted the original subarea plan reflected that 55 of the 65 acres would be in the reserve, but staff has recalculated those numbers based on the City’s parcel map information, as well as some GIS mapping, and now calculates the area to be excluded from the NCCP is approximately 21 acres in the Upper Point Vicente City property, which is consistent with the latest conceptual plan prepared by the City’s consultant with regard to the development of Upper Point Vicente and presented to the City Council by the Open Space Task Force. .
Director Rojas noted that it was originally envisioned that all City parks be excluded from the reserve; but explained that the Open Space Task Force, after deliberation, now believed it made sense to include 9 acres of the 17-acre Grandview Park into the reserve; that the area being proposed for the reserve is the sloped land that cannot be developed, the land that is adjacent to some open space in Palos Verdes Estates; however, since this Council has not yet concurred with that recommendation, he noted staff’s intent to get direction from Council with regard to including Grandview Park. With regard to the finances, the cost of implementing the plan in terms of managing the property, he stated that finance staff has done extensive work and added that the City’s Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) has reviewed that documentation.
Director McLean advised that the Finance Department has attempted to do a review of the costs associated with the NCCP in this proposed open space purchase; stated that staff has worked closely with Director Rojas and Barbara Dye; and noted that the FAC had conducted three meetings to review the finances/costs. He highlighted the table on the power point screen which reflected the City’s funding commitment and the Conservancy’s funding commitment annually to manage and restore the habitat reserve; specifically, he noted that the City has committed to pay the Conservancy $100,000 annually to manage the reserve; that the City’s cap of in-kind costs (fire management, fire control, weed abatement, sanitation control, etc.) is approximately $91,000 annually; and that $15,000 is associated with the Ocean Front Estates project, specifically an estimate of what is associated with that part of the reserve if this were to happen. He stated that this $15,000 would be funded dollar for dollar with a restricted fund that is often called the Ocean Fronts Estates Habitat Maintenance Fund; advised that the Conservancy has made its cash commitment of $50,000 annually to manage the reserve, as well as a total of $75,000 of in-kind and volunteer time, all totaling $331,000 annually. He noted that the $100,000 annual commitment from the City is the most substantial out-of-pocket costs to the City if this is to be carried forward. Director McLean explained that staff has calculated, based upon an estimate of in-kind costs of approximately $91,000, that the City’s incremental increase of in-kind costs would be approximately $31,000 annually; that in addition, there are several parcels that reside in two separate assessment districts -- one being the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District -- and, therefore, the City, if it were to purchase the property, would step into that assessment district and become responsible for paying the assessment fee of approximately $23,000 annually. He noted that in addition, one or two of those parcels resides in the Klondike Canyon Assessment District for landslide abatement, with a total assessment fee of approximately $2,300 annually, all totaling approximately $156,000 annually of what staff anticipates as being the City’s estimated cost to maintain the reserve. He mentioned that the $100,000 is the amount that already appears in the City’s budget for 04-05 as well as the 5-year model for the four years thereafter.
For purposes of this expenditure projection, Councilman Long questioned at what point staff is assuming acquisition of the land to take place.
Director McLean noted his understanding that the earliest this property would be acquired would be sometime after the first of the year, 2005; and mentioned that there is absolutely no way the City could incur $156,000 in costs in the year 04-05 simply because the land isn’t being purchased at the beginning of the year.
With regard to Page 3, Table 4, summary of annual tax increment reduction, Councilman Wolowicz questioned if staff included in the projections the deletion of this annual tax increment revenue reduction.
In response to Councilman Wolowicz’ inquiry, Director McLean stated that, no, all tax increment that the City’s RDA receives is escrowed and set aside for payment of the 1997 RDA bonds; that the tax increment the City receives annually exceeds the debt payment by approximately $200,000 annually; that the tax increment reduction that would be experienced of approximately $30,000 annually, when subtracted from that cushion, still leaves a substantial amount of tax increment available within the 1997 RDA bonds. Director McLean explained that a portion of the $59,000 is already being incurred; that a substantial portion of that difference of $59,000 is associated with an estimate of public safety costs that is based on a factor of $33 an acre times the number of acres; and that this amount was specifically/intentionally excluded as additional in-kind costs because staff does not know if there will be a necessity for additional public safety services.
Director McLean stated that the calculation of potential savings projected on Table 5 was based upon a very conservative rate; and explained that it is fair to say in the municipal finance circles that the costs associated with creating, developing and maintaining residential development versus property tax revenues derived is a night-and-day difference, whereby the revenues are far less than the cost associated with building and maintaining developments. Based on the review the FAC performed, he noted that the FAC believes there may be savings to the City which result from the implementation of the NCCP that would mitigate the additional cost, specifically the annual operating costs; and pointed out that, in addition, the FAC saw nothing problematic with the NCCP as well as the open space purchase.
Councilman Stern questioned if the Open Space Task Force viewed Grandview Park as an essential piece of the plan or if there were any comments made that not including it would create any problems.
From the initial discussions with the resource agencies regarding Grandview Park, Director Rojas explained that this did not raise a concern from them when staff initially excluded it because they recognized that it is isolated. He advised that Grandview Park could be included in the plan at a later point if that were the decision of Council.
Mayor pro tem Clark commended City staff and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy for an excellent report and for all the work that is gone into this process, noting that this represents a significant milestone in a march toward preserving in perpetuity the quality of life on this peninsula. With respect to Upper Point Vicente and the acreage to be excluded, the 21 of the 71 acres now to be excluded, he questioned if this is consistent with the representation made on Page 6, Paragraph 3.
In response, Director Rojas confirmed that that language in the Subarea Plan would be amended to incorporate the new information being provided this evening.
Councilman Wolowicz noted that City staff as well as Barbara Dye and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy have been very helpful in answering his questions. With regard to Page 1-4, next to the last paragraph, wherein it is mandated this City will coordinate with adjacent jurisdictions to maximize shared conservation benefits, he pointed out that this is not a mandate, that it is something set forward by this City to extend an offer and helping hand to those adjacent jurisdictions which have yet to adopt an NCCP or have yet to step forward with funding.
Director Rojas noted for Councilman Wolowicz that the subarea plan does not mandate any setbacks from the reserve boundary lines, that it does not say the use of a building has to be X amount of distance from the reserve boundary line; explained that the plan does defer to the CEQA process to determine what buffers are to be imposed on new development. and noted that the plan does set best management practices in terms of minimizing construction impacts; and that it does pose some restrictions for construction of the building to minimize impacts, but that it does not say the building itself has to be set a certain distance away from the reserve boundary line. .
Councilman Wolowicz asked for clarification on whether a softball field could brush up against a boundary.
In response, Director Rojas explained that it can’t be found to be inconsistent with the plan because even going up to the boundary is allowed; and added that through the CEQA process, there are those in the environmental community who can attempt to get a larger buffer between ornamental plantings and natural habitat and so the City may still get those arguments made by the public, but that the plan itself does not say that new development has to be a certain distance from the boundary. He stated that it is the CEQA process that will raise those issues to Council on a project-by-project basis. He explained that if a field is placed up to the boundary line consistent with this plan and even identifying it as a significant impact, CEQA allows one to still approve that project and adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations if the City continues to believe the field is that important to the community.
Councilman Wolowicz noted that it is much easier to put land into the reserve than to take it out of the reserve and stated for this reason, the City should be careful in establishing the boundaries at this time.
Barbara Dye pointed out that taking land out of the reserve is possible, though difficult.
With regard to Section 5 of the NCCP, Councilman Wolowicz highlighted the definitive statement that the L.A. County Fire Department has control over all issues regarding fire prevention, mitigation, protection; and noted that most specifically, there are no restrictions being put on members of the community who are adjacent to the reserve that would either require them to have more strict standards or that they would be subject to less protection due to having the NCCP as a neighbor.
Director Rojas pointed out that if someone is adjacent to the reserve, the Endangered Species Act still applied in terms of what they can do on that property to make sure they don’t negatively impact the habitat; and that in terms of fire, the fire rules that exist today will continue to exist through the NCCP.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his understanding that the fire mitigation issues contained within the NCCP are no less stringent in the reserve than they are today.
Director Rojas stated that property owners are allowed to continue with an existing fire management program in the reserve provided it is not expanded.
Ms. Dye added that if the Fire Department were to require doubling the effort, they could do it, such as additional brush clearing.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his understanding that those people who are adjacent to the reserve, once it is established as a reserve, they are not going to be exposed to any greater fire danger.
Director Rojas confirmed that the fire protection would remain as it currently exists.
Councilman Long highlighted the trouble some homeowners have had in purchasing their homeowners insurance because of being labeled as living in a high fire hazard area; questioned that should it be required by the Fire Department, or whoever makes the decision, that the City take certain steps in order to remove portions of the City or all of the City from its current designation as a very high fire hazard zone, will the City be able to do that consistent with the NCCP, and if so, how.
Director Rojas advised that staff is working with the Fire Department; that the City is taking the position that whatever the classification exists within the City, the Fire Department has certain mandated requirements; that whatever those are going to be, staff will confer with the Fire Department and map it out so that it is clear what the rules are, what is allowed, and what is to be cleared annually. He advised that the Fire Department has not indicated a problem making a change from the zones, but noted staff’s need to confer on this matter with the Fire Department.
With regard to the NCCP, Section 4, Councilman Wolowicz stated that he did not find any language, before acquiring this land, that a complete inspection of the land will be made in order to determine that there are no hidden costs, such as finding unanticipated problems; and questioned if staff is contemplating such a study.
Ms. Dye advised that the purchase agreements allow for a period of due diligence; pointed out that the City is pretty familiar with these properties and that no surprises are expected, but added that there will be some additional investigation done in Phase I of the environmental process and a defined process of due diligence that will look at the history of these properties as part of the purchase agreement, concluding that the City will have an opportunity to review all those issues before committing to a purchase agreement. She pointed out that there is still time to revise this plan.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that in Section No. 5-1, 5.2, and 5.3 there is a need for a clear statement that the entire confirmation of the City code should be worded to be in compliance with the NCCP, to conform to the General Plan so that there is an inference.
Director Rojas explained that the idea behind the code changes are simply to make reference to this plan if it is adopted and give staff the ability to review a project that may be in the reserve or adjacent to the reserve to make sure it is consistent; advised that it has no impact on everybody else outside the City that’s not adjacent to the reserve; that by being in the City, they come under the ordinance, but the ordinance will be worded in such a manner that those not adjacent to the reserve would be excluded from an added review process, everyone, even without the NCCP; and reiterated that everyone in the City is subject to the Endangered Species Act with or without this plan.
Councilman Wolowicz asked for an estimate of the number of residents abutting the reserve.
Director Rojas estimated that approximately 300 residential properties abut the reserve; and stated that those residents would still be allowed to build as long as they are out of the reserve.
Councilman Long questioned if there has been any public input received to include part of Grandview Park in this plan; and questioned if prior to the task force making its recommendation, any exploration had been made of alternate uses for Grandview Park and what uses would be most optimal in comparison with all other parks.
Director Rojas stated that he is not aware of any public input nor is he aware of the task force exploring any other possible uses; and stated that Council could explore alternatives for Grandview Park more extensively at a later point in time and add it to the reserve at that time if that were Council’s preference.
Councilman Stern stated that he is sensitive to the issue of fire protection; noted his understanding that at no time would subarea plans take precedence over the concerns of public health, safety, and welfare as determined by the L.A. County Fire Department in consultation with the wild life agencies; advised that the City will consult with the L.A. County Fire Department to ensure that proposed fuel modification zoned widths adjacent to the reserve are adequate to meet the Fire Department requirements; and stated that this information provided adequately addresses his concerns for fire issues.
Vic Quirarte, President Los Serenos de Point Vicente, representing the docents, stated that they viewed a power point presentation of the status of the NCCP on August 5, 2004 and that he is pleased to announce that his group unanimously voted to support the NCCP plan. He stated that this is a win-win situation for RPV in that it preserves open space and allows some development outside in contiguous areas. He stated that preservation of open space was the prime reason this City incorporated 30 years ago; and that as it was then, it is now the vast majority opinion of the residents that this community maintain its semi-rural look. On behalf of Los Serenos de Point Vicente, he encouraged Council to approve the proposed plan.
D.E. Clarke, RPV, stated that she submitted a letter to address her concerns that the map incorrectly showed her property is in the reserve area; and advised that she was assured by staff her property is not within the reserve area, but she urged staff to make those corrections before it becomes an attachment to the final documentation.
Mayor Gardiner assured the public that there would be no private property included in the reserve unless there is permission of the property owner.
Director Rojas pointed out that the correct map is on the City’s website.
John Todd, Assistant Chief of the Forestry Division, L.A. County Fire Department, stated that he spoke with staff a couple weeks ago and looked over the plan; advised that the Fire Department is comfortable with the direction the City is going; stated that the Fire Department will have a chance to review the proposed reserves, the current dimensions or perimeters around those as buffer zones and that if the Fire Department believes those are not large enough now, although they’ve been getting cleared with those perimeters for several years, then the Fire Department will have a chance to extend those at that time. He stated that the Fire Department currently requests 100 feet clearance; that there may be some areas where the Fire Department will be requesting 200 feet where you have topographic features that channel fire; and that Fire Department staff will confer with the station captains and local personnel at the appropriate time to set those distances and make those refinements a part of the map.
With regard to the very high fire hazard severity zone designation, Assistant Fire Chief Todd stated that Director Rojas showed him that same map that has caused some concern; and advised that the map in question is an older map and that the State of California at that time included most of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in that very high fire hazard severity zone. He stated that he has confirmed that RPV is incorrectly listed in this zone; that the City has an opportunity to include portions of the City in the zone if it is appropriate; and explained that the County has approved a map for the unincorporated areas, but that it was up to individual cities to decide if they want a very high fire hazard severity zone designation within their city. He reiterated that the Fire Department is comfortable with the City’s direction; and that the Fire Department is comfortable that these zones and clearance perimeters will be refined.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested that the Fire Department provide the City with written verification that the City truly is not in a very high fire hazard severity zone.
Assistant Fire Chief Todd stated he’d make that document available to staff; and noted that regardless of whether RPV is in or out of that high fire hazard severity zone, the NCCP allows the Fire Department the flexibility it needs to make sure the City is taking the necessary precautions that will protect people from fire hazards.
Sepp Donahower, RPV, expressed his belief that the operating costs for the reserve have been underestimated; and stated that this land will get high use – pointing out that he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people using this space in the recent years. He noted his concern that the budget does not account for security or management in the reserve; and urged the City to look at what the cost will be to employ a full-time ranger and additional help during peak seasons. He highlighted the current problems on the trails among the mountain bikers, the hikers, and the equestrian community; and expressed his belief that the numbers have been low-balled to make it a sellable venture. He stated that there is an additional 25 acres in this reserve that’s being bought with reserve funds that is being excluded from the reserve, that it hasn’t been disclosed; he requested that this information should be disclosed, noting where it is located within the reserve, what the purpose of the exclusion of that property is, who is going to use it, and what the intended use of the property is – noting his understanding it’s adjacent to Portuguese Bend, close to the highway in a somewhat commercial area. He suggested that this parcel be used as a managing depot for this reserve.
Director Rojas noted that Mr. Donahower is referring to the area along Palos Verdes Drive South, a dirt turnout with a gate; explained that the idea is to exclude this area from the reserve, about a 25-acre area; stated that it is up to Council what it chooses to put there; noted that it’s been envisioned as possibly a parking lot for people who want to park and do some hiking and/or that it can possibly facilitate an equestrian center.
Sandy Friedfeld, RPV, noted concern with the cost of this project over the next 50 years, believing that today’s dollar will be worth less 50 years from now; expressed his belief that the total cost of the NCCP over the next 50 years will exceed $30- to $50 million; stated that the cost just to obtain these funds is going to exceed $700,000; and noted his concern that a lot of costs have not been reflected. He noted his concern that this will create 1,500 acres for the enjoyment of a few and no acreage for playing fields for the children on the peninsula. He added that because the project will consume a large portion of RPV dollars, it should be spent on infrastructure upgrades and activity fields for the children. He stated that the original General Plan will be scrapped and a new model which embraces the NCCP is in the development stage; and noted that the NCCP and the new General Plan should be brought before the RPV voters to ensure it is the will of the people.
Erin LaMonte, RPV, stated that the issue of recreational facilities for the children is important and noted the need for balanced decisions in this regard; noted her understanding that the original promise to this community was not to include any City parkland that could be used for future development, specifically for parklands; and that the idea to include 9 of the 17 acres at Grandview Park, even if it is sloped area, is taking away from that commitment which Council made to the residents. She stated that Council needs to support the idea of future development for the children and she urged Council to send a message that it supports the development of parks for active recreation by keeping all 17 acres of Grandview as City parkland. With regard to Upper Point Vicente, she stated she is concerned with the boundary lines and how it might affect the development of the Civic Center and any other possible recreation areas; and because these decisions being made this evening will be binding for 50 years, she urged Council to negotiate the broadest boundaries possible, establish the minimum acceptable boundaries for Upper Point Vicente, and keep the boundaries as far away from flat land that’s available to develop so that the children have room to play.
David Bence, RPV, noted his support for staff recommendation.
Jeanne Smolley, RPV, stated that she is pleased to hear the map will be corrected; and questioned who the individual(s) is that drew the reserve to include the property through the middle of her community.
Councilman Long reiterated for those residents that title to property isn’t determined by maps that are attached to these plans, that the title to property is the deed on file in the County Recorder’s Office.
Mayor Gardiner asked that staff arrange for a corrected map to be sent to those that have sent the City correspondence concerning the accuracy of the maps, and to include the wording that will be voted on at the bottom of the map.
City Attorney Lynch stated that a disclaimer is printed on the bottom of the maps that the final reserve boundaries will not include any properties other than those that are voluntarily conveyed.
Wendy Klashman, RPV, representing the Palos Verdes Girls Softball League, co-president, expressed her support for the widest possible boundaries for the Upper Point Vicente parcel for active recreation use; stated that her group has tried to secure for the last five years a location for four regulation sized fields and noted her desire to see these four fields at Upper Point Vicente. She encouraged Council not to include Grandview Park in the reserve, believing that it would be another step backwards in creating areas for children to play.
Mayor pro tem Clark pointed out for Ms. Klashman that Council has not ruled out Eastview Park at this point; explained that the Sanitation District is looking at some infrastructure improvements which may be required to go underneath that park, which have yet to be ascertained, but reiterated that it is not off the Council’s radar. He stated that this is a site that will conceptually hold up to three sports fields; and announced that an upcoming meeting in September will address the issue of looking at where the City stands to move forward on girls’ softball fields. He reiterated the commitment of Council to move in a parallel track both as it moves on this initiative at the same time Council moves on increasing sports facilities in RPV; and stated that the public can count on this Council’s commitment to this effort.
Councilman Long asked Ms. Klashman if she would agree, setting aside the boundaries for Upper Point Vicente and other than Grandview Park, that there has been no place identified in any of the lands proposed to be part of the reserve that would be suitable for softball fields.
Ms. Klashman agreed.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 9:00 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 9:05 P.M.
Miraleste Intermediate School students Sara Zask and Megan Lisenbee noted their enjoyment with using the trails and encouraged the Council to support the NCCP.
Christina Smith, RPV, noted her support for the NCCP; and highlighted her joy in riding her horse on the trails in the open space area of Portuguese Bend.
Pony Club members Hailey Stern, Torie Dye, and Kathryn Graboe noted their support for this plan.
Bob Nelson, RPV, complimented URS for the job they did with answering all the questions in the DEIR; stated that their format for answering these questions was very excellent; and he commended Director Rojas and Barbara Dye, battered but victorious and emerged from two sessions with the public in which they eloquently answered any and all questions. He stated that this plan is good for the City, good for the public, and good for the developers. He stated that while he approves of this plan, he is not able to find the mandatory findings, which must be approved by California Fish and Game under their Code 2800-2835. He noted the plan includes the estimated timeframe and process by which the reserves or other conservation measures are to be implemented, including obligations of land owners and plan signatories and consequences of the failure to acquire lands in a timely manner. He noted that the plan contains provisions which ensure adequate funding to carry out the conservation actions for the next 50 years as identified in this plan; and jumping forward to 2054, he stated that the City will own the land that will be much more valuable than it is today – noting his belief that the City will be able to sell 10 acres of that land and probably recoup the total 50-year cost. He urged Council to adopt all three documents this evening and he thanked all involved for this effort.
Barry Hildebrand, RPV, noted his opposition to entering into this 50-year commitment; stated that $700,000 of tax payer money has already been expended to get it to this point; and expressed his belief that most people when asked about the NCCP would not have any understanding of its merits. He expressed his belief that most citizens do not participate in government proceedings and do not realize how their tax dollars are used. He appealed to Council this evening to do three things: 1, demand a realistic life cycle cost, even if one has to err on the high side because of uncertainties in the future; 2, demand that the major component of this long-term plan provide the City with positive proof of their ability to provide their portion of the maintenance costs and the man power; and 3, this plan should be submitted to a citywide referendum.
Gloria Andersen, RPV, thanked the present and former City Council for their work on the NCCP, thank staff of the Land Conservancy, which is a major asset to this community, for its continued support; and thanked City staff, especially Director Rojas for his efforts – pointing out that he remained a gentleman at all times and is the epitome of grace under pressure.
Bill Ailor, Palos Verdes Estates, President of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, congratulated RPV for its leadership of the NCCP process over the last several years and for the excellent document that has been created; he thanked the City for the opportunity to work in partnership on this effort; and stated that he is most pleased with the relationship that has been developed. He stated that the completion of this document is a critical milestone to the preservation of over 700 acres of open space and creating the Portuguese Bend nature preserve, which has been his group’s highest priority since the organization was founded in 1988; and stated that the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy will work with the City to manage this property into the future and stated that he looks forward to assuming that role and responsibility. He urged Council to approve the NCCP.
Ralph Ortolano, RPV, noted his preference that wording be included to leave open the opportunity for future City Councils to decide to make a management change if it is determined the current managers are not doing the job as expected to be done; and noted that he had sent Council an email regarding the potential composition with the governing board, noting strong support for the democratic process that truly represents the people of the City and not a process wherein the people who run the board are able to choose their representatives.
Bruce Biesman-Simons, San Pedro, board member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, noted his support for the NCCP; stated that the City is creating a legacy for generations to come; and he applauded the work of the City and Director Rojas for these efforts.
Betty Strauss, RPV, thanked everyone for all the work that has gone into this process, including that of the former Council; and urged the Council to approve the NCCP.
Henry Jurgens, RPV, board member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, stated that the volunteers feel enriched in helping people appreciate and enjoy the nature preserve; and he urged approval of the NCCP.
Shirley Borks, RPV, noted her enthusiastic support for the NCCP; and stated that she is proud of the City and City Council for its vision and work in preserving open space.
Don Crocker, Rolling Hills, noted his enjoyment in hiking these trails and urged support of the NCCP.
Leah Marinkovich, RPV, noted the importance of preservation of open space for youth and others, whether it be the Sierra Club, school environmental activities, equestrian clubs, etc., and stated that it creates a priceless educational opportunity for all youth.
Anke Raue, RPV, noted her support to save the open space in perpetuity.
Warren Sweetnam, RPV, board member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, stated that the Conservancy would keep this property well maintained.
Jack Smith, RPV, board member of the Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, stated that he enjoys the trails; and noted that the City needs to take advantage of this narrow window of opportunity to save this open space. He urged the Council to support the NCCP.
Maude Landon, RPV, thanked the Council and the Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy for its vision and thousands of hours of work spent on this project; stated that this is an outstanding opportunity for the City to preserve the largest block of unpreserved open space on California’s coastline; and pointed out that the survey which was commissioned by the City’s task force made it clear that a majority of RPV residents are interested in preservation of open space, over 75 percent. She pointed out that the new granny flat law could double the residential densities in cities, noting that it is imminent with increased population and more pressure to build in all areas. She added that if this City does not take advantage of Proposition 50 monies, some other community would benefit from those monies. He pointed out that the reserve area is not appropriate land for ball field sites.
Andrea Vona, San Pedro, staff member of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, noted her excitement in moving forward with the NCCP.
Debbie Baker, RPV, thanked Council and staff for its vision, time, and work to bring this issue to this point; and noted that it is a rare opportunity for the preservation of open space.
Tony Baker, RPV, thanked everyone involved for the amount of work that has gone into this process; stated that his property will abut the future nature preserve and noted that he welcomes it; advised that he owns the property next to his home and that he is planting coastal sage scrub in hopes to attract various and rare species some day; and he noted his strong support for the approval of the NCCP. He stated that growing up in Portuguese Bend area provided a wonderful opportunity for him to hike the trails.
Hersh Kelley, representing the Sierra Club and resident of San Pedro, stated that the Sierra Club has approximately 4,800 members who live on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and South Bay area; noted the membership’s strong support for the NCCP, for its permanent protection of this open space; and he thanked the current and former Councils, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, and staff for all their efforts in making this a reality. He advised that he previously submitted comments on the draft EIR and he thanked the consultants for providing responses to those questions/comments. Mr. Kelley noted his concern for wild life diversity identification; stated that while the first step in protection is the acquisition of the properties, the Sierra Club believes it is necessary for the next step to completely identify the full range of native species within this domain. He noted his concern with the amount of infrastructure listed in Section 3.2; stated that this is an urban area which they are agreeing the preserve and infrastructure have to go somewhere; however, the Sierra Club would prefer that wherever possible, to place this infrastructure outside the reserve. He noted the Sierra Club’s strong opposition to using the reserve as a convenient site for infrastructure in support of development nearby. He stated that indirect impacts are a concern, believing the total impact to the reserve may have been underestimated; and he pointed out that indirect impacts are not included in the study. Mr. Kelley stated that impacts on narrow land ridges, such as with the Filiorum property, having to do with the 300-foot boundary one way or the other, that any narrow, critical linkage like that needs to be evaluated in the future EIR.
Mr. Kelley noted another concern that the 1.5 acres of mitigation for previous brush clearance in that Filiorum area should be required independently of other things that may be projected for future development or negotiation in that area; and that modification to the previously publicly discussed plan to incorporate the word "bicycling" into the list of passive recreational activities which "are anticipated within the reserve and are generally compatible with conservation growth" should be deleted until the public has had a chance to respond to that change. He pointed out that the Sierra Club does not object to bicycling, that it simply believes there should be consideration as to where it occurs. He advised the Sierra Club requests that in Section 6.2.5, the City restore the original wording, which stated that "passive recreational activities, e.g., horse riding, hiking and bird watching, are anticipated within the reserve and are generally compatible with conservation goals." He thanked everyone involved for making this a reality, for preserving the peninsula’s natural resources.
Jim Knight, RPV, stated that he was chairman of the Open Space Task Force and the one who brought forth a proposal to include some of Grandview Park into the reserve; and he provided a slide presentation of the park and why it was included in their recommendation. He highlighted the value of this habitat in those areas; noted that the canyon crosses over neutral lands with a gap between the canyon and important habitat areas; and he noted the biological usefulness of this valuable corridor habitat – pointing out that the areas on either side of the flat part are steep and cannot be used for recreation or anything else because of their open space hazard designation. He noted that there is too much grade to make it feasible for ball fields, that the area is too steep, but pointed out that this biological connection provides a connection to Palos Verdes Estates; and noted his belief that at some point, that city may like to procure a conservation easement or somehow protect some of these very rare habitat areas. He noted his desire for an unfragmented habitat corridor.
Barbara Walsh, RPV, noted her support for the NCCP.
Ann Shaw, RPV, congratulated staff, current Council, and former Councils for all the hard work that has gone into this effort; and briefly commented on the long-time goals to protect the peninsula’s open space and to control this City’s destiny. She urged all involved to comprehensively study which trails should include bicycling, noting that some are too narrow and steep for safe biking and are more biologically sensitive trails.
Stasys Petravicius, RPV, noted support for the approval of the NCCP; and supported putting more land into the reserve once it is operational; and stated that the Interpretive Center west of Portuguese Bend area would complete the entire project if there was a connection to Abalone Park, which has a parking lot.
Marianne Hunter, RPV, noted her neighbor’s approval of this plan, the Kelly’s who were not able to attend the meeting; she congratulated the Council for getting this through; noted that consideration of donations be sought should federal/state funds not be available; and she noted that the California Conservation Corps is an agency that might be able to be called upon to maintain the public land should the need arise.
Ms. Dye stated that there already exists a special fund for the acquisition effort and noted that donations will be gladly accepted.
Rowland Driskell, RPV, noted support for the NCCP; and stated that Grandview Park should be set aside for future options.
Barbara Sattler, RPV, president of the South Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, stated that she has provided biological data and comments on the NCCP since the early days of Phase I; noted her delight in moving this process forward; and she thanked the Land Conservancy, the City, current and former City Councils for their efforts and Director Rojas and Barbara Dye for their extraordinary work in this process. Ms. Sattler stated that she is very grateful for the California Department of Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the guidance provided for wildlife habitat and for their role in helping to secure funding for this plan. She stated that this is a very good plan to preserve open space that is rapidly disappearing all over California.
Ms. Sattler stated that she submitted a letter outlining a few outstanding concerns with the plan; and with regard to Section 6.2.5, she requested that phrasing be removed from the plan and restored to the wording that it had when it went out to the public in the draft and that the bicycle use be reviewed in the pump plan along with other recreational activities that might occur in the reserve. She stated that there are also some corrections that need to be made to Table 1.1 of the plan, that it still incorrectly lists some species; that Section 6.2.1 should address issues and activities that’s in the reserve prior to the pump plan, noting that there are some differences of opinions with the consultant; and stated she is concerned with the statement that the neutral lands are conserved as far as habitat/species. While she understands those lands are not buildable, she stated that it does not conclude the possibility there could be significant impacts to the vegetation on those lands and that she believes the vulnerability of those species and lands need to be taken into account when an evaluation is made about protection and impacts to species. She noted her concern with the linkage through lower Filiorum and noted her hope that an indirect impasse on that property will be thoroughly evaluated if a project ever comes up on that site. She noted her concern with the long list of infrastructure that is listed as allowable within the reserve and stated that those impacts should be minimized as much as possible; and she advised that part of her concern is that there are locally sensitive species throughout this reserve that have not yet been mapped. Ms. Sattler stated that it is critical to keep biodiversity as a key part of this natural community, this conservation plan; and noted that this plan is not only about protecting endangered and listed species, but it’s also about protecting all of the peninsula’s natural species that are closely linked to each other in the ecosystem on the reserve. With regard to the map that came out tonight with the boundary lines for Upper Point Vicente, she stated that she would like the opportunity to review where those exact lines are proposed.
Liz Kennedy, RPV, stated that she has hiked these trails for more than 12 years; advised that she leads various nature hikes on the trails; and she enthusiastically noted her support for the NCCP. She highlighted the educational benefits to youth. With regard to Section 6.2.5, passive recreational uses of this land, as a long-time hiker, she has witnessed some of the environmental degradation that has occurred with bicycling activities – noting there is a tremendous amount of damage done since the demise of the Oceangate development; and asked that Council strike this bicycling language from the NCCP.
Jeff Morton, San Pedro, L.A. County Board member for the Endangered Habitat League, noted that it has been a privilege to work on the NCCP; stated that obtaining the funding is critical in preserving this open space; advised that there are still problems which need to be resolved, but that those issues can be addressed at a later point; and he urged support of the plan. He advised that the lines were drawn along the edge of Portuguese Bend by the working group when Alternative A was determined, which is the biologically preferred alternative; and noted that this has always been at the edge of Hahn’s property and that it has never included any of the individual properties within the Portuguese Bend community.
Vicki Pinkham, RPV, applauded City Council, City staff, and the Land Conservancy for the endless hours spent throughout this process; stated that living here is a privilege; and that it is important to protect this precious open space for years to come.
Daniel Pinkham, RPV, urged Council to pass the NCCP plan, noting that it has taken a great deal of vision and courage.
Helen Coffey, RPV, co-president of the League of Women Voters in Palos Verdes Peninsula and San Pedro, noted the group’s support of this vision since the incorporation of the City; noted support for the concept of preserving public lands for public use, the preservation of shoreline views, and public access; and urged the Council’s approval of the NCCP.
Barbara and George Gleghorn, RPV, noted their support for this plan and expressed appreciation for all those involved in this process.
Sharon Nolan, RPV, stated that various campaign literature for many Council people spoke to open space; and she noted her support for this plan. She pointed out that for potential liability purposes, Mr. York found it necessary to fence in part of his land across from the Pony Club; noted there will be a problem with people using these lands if this NCCP is not approved; and stated that the City will need to set some criteria for this property and the public’s use.
Alfred Sattler, RPV, thanked everyone involved for this process.
Sunshine, RPV, stated that language should be added to bind the City from reducing the amount of public access to these lands; that language should be included to specifically allow the continued agricultural use and for the capability in the future of relocating that use should it be appropriate; and she stated that the land which is not in the coastal zone should be taken out of the plan now, considered for placement back into the plan in the future, and should be considered for more active recreational use.
Charlene O’Neil, representing the Palos Verdes Horsemen’s Association, noted support of the NCCP and urged Council to protect and develop open space; she addressed the need to support trail usage for everyone; and noted her fear of losing the ancient trails, asking that Council be sensitive to this issue. She asked that Council maintain the existing trail names, noting that these trails are familiar to emergency services.
Mayor pro tem Clark thanked the speakers for providing input on this very important topic.
Mayor Gardiner noted his appreciation of those who came to speak; stated that the comments were very thoughtful, informative and represented diverse views; and thanked everyone for adhering to the speaker time limit.
Councilman Stern thanked all the speakers and everyone who sent in emails and written comments; he thanked City staff, and especially Director Rojas and Barbara Dye in pulling together the critical set of documents; explained that it has been a personal dream of his to realize this effort and pointed out that a large number of people have had this same vision and that a number of people have put forth extraordinary efforts to see this process through. He pointed out the surveys indicate tremendous support for preservation of open space; noted that the issues and questions which have been raised, such as fire control, have been more than adequately addressed; advised that the financial information has been reviewed by not only staff, but also by the FAC, a group of talented individuals who have tremendous depth of understanding in the finance world. He stated that in his opinion, the predicted figures are quite manageable and acceptable; and noted that he is very pleased with staff’s and the consultant’s responses to the comments and concerns that have been raised.
With regard to the issue of athletic fields, as Mayor pro tem Clark pointed out earlier, Councilman Stern advised that the Council is moving forward with those issues as well, but noted that they are not mutually exclusive goals. He pointed out that the Grandview property is not suitable for active recreation fields, it is not flat; advised that Council has deliberately carved out those portions of the City properties that can be used for athletic fields. He expressed his belief that staff has adequately addressed the issue of maps and the boundaries and that if the public has more questions concerning them, that they should contact staff for further clarification. He stated that he is pleased to be here on this momentous occasion and he enthusiastically applauded the efforts of a tremendous number of people that have brought the City to this point. He noted his intention to vote in favor of this plan. With regard to Grandview, he stated that he was not adverse to ultimately putting it into the NCCP, but since no Council has taken a hard look at the use of that property and since the City can always add it in later, he stated that he is a little hesitant to include it into the plan because he would like to make sure the Council fully appreciates what options are on this property before it gets included in the plan. Since there was no downside in holding that issue now, he suggested that the Grandview Park property not be included in the NCCP at this point.
Councilman Wolowicz pointed out that he had identified a number of typos/inconsistencies in referencing numbers, items that should be addressed, numbers and tables that need to be fixed; and that for this to be the kind of document it should be, he questioned the possibility of bringing this plan with its revisions back to Council at its next meeting.
Director Rojas stated that if Council approved the subarea plan with the changes read into the record, minor modifications, staff’s plan would be to submit it to the resource agencies; he pointed out that it is conceivable the resource agencies would have some comments and that these documents would probably have to come back before Council at a later time.
City Attorney Lynch stated that if the changes are minor and are read into the record, the plan could be conceptually approved and the corrected language in a red line format in the document could be presented at a future meeting.
Mayor Gardiner pointed out that rarely do elected officials have the opportunity to vote on something that is so uplifting to a community which has consequences ripple through time; and noted his support to conceptually approve the plan.
Councilman Long noted that preserving open space was an issue in his campaign for Council in the last election; expressed his belief that all concerns raised have been completely addressed and thoroughly explored; and noted his delight in participating in this unique opportunity. He pointed out that this City needed to take advantage of the Proposition 50 money that the voters of the state of California set aside for open space acquisitions and use for other things; advised that this money is dripping away for other approved uses; and stated that this City needed to preserve this incredibly unique piece of land, probably the largest remaining piece of open land anywhere near the coast in Los Angeles County. He reiterated that this might be a fleeting opportunity, that the City should grab hold of this opportunity while it can.
Councilman Long stated that he shared Councilman Stern’s concerns with including Grandview Park at this time; that before including any additional lands, he noted that Council should thoroughly explore all options for that site before making a decision to include it into the plan.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that this isn’t just an initiative of this current Council, but that this is the fourth Council that has dealt with the NCCP; and noted that is it not only a pleasure to be involved in this process, but that it is also an honor to be involved in this process. He commended staff and the Land Conservancy in advancing this towards the goal of preserving open space.
Councilman Wolowicz echoed Mayor pro tem Clark’s sentiments; stated that this effort will create a legacy for the City; and noted his preference to exclude Grandview Park from the proposal this evening for purposes of future consideration.
Councilman Wolowicz moved to exclude 10 additional acres from the reserve for maintaining the maximum flexibility around City Hall. He stated that the City can easily put those acres back in at a later point if it becomes necessary, but stated that he did not want to find out later that there would be something else to unexpectedly come up.
Councilman Long asked that Councilman Wolowicz consider splitting his motion.
Councilman Wolowicz noted his interest in keeping the motion as is. He noted his concern with active recreational use and noted his intent not to divide this community with a distinct at-odds issue, active recreation people versus passive recreation people. He expressed his belief that 10 acres, when compared with the proposed 1,500, is immaterial.
Councilman Long seconded the motion for purposes of discussing the motion.
Mayor pro tem Clark reiterated the Council’s commitment not only to the preservation of open space, but the parallel track in pursuing the creation of new active recreational facilities for the City’s youth and for other members of the public. He drew attention to the discovery by staff that the area on Upper Point Vicente that is outside of the reserve is actually 21 acres, which is substantially larger than what had been presumed initially. He pointed out that also clarified was the actual buffer zones and boundary lines, which really did not need to be dealt with and aren’t really a part of the NCCP, but a part of any projects that come forward to the City. He stated that this Council had committed the City down a pathway of providing a new Civic Center, with multi- functional uses; and in that context, Council did not have either the requirement or should not have the concern about establishing buffer zones as part of the NCCP, subarea plan. He stated that as each project starts to formulate, that would be dealt with in terms of the CEQA process, in terms of defining a buffer zone and defining boundaries; and he respectfully requested that Councilman Wolowicz bifurcate his motion to deal specifically with the exclusion of Grandview Park.
Mayor Gardiner questioned whether Council needs to certify the final EIR before Council considers the boundaries.
City Attorney Lynch stated that Council should first vote on the EIR.
Mayor Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Long, that the motion be amended to include Part A, which was certifying the final EIR and Part B, which is all the rest of the recommendation. There being no objection to this motion, Mayor Gardiner so ordered.
Councilman Long stated that he disagrees with Mayor pro tem Clark’s comment that this Council had committed the City to a new Civic Center; and noted his belief that Council simply heard a proposal. He pointed out that the flat areas, with the exception of the federally owned parcel, are outside the reserve; explained that what struck him is that based on what he knows of what is reasonable, potential uses of the area, is that the City will have sufficient area and that, ultimately, the concern of buffers will be dealt with and will be something Council will have to deal with regardless of whether or not there is an NCCP; that buffers for habitat will be dealt with in the context of specific proposals. While he recognized the importance of this area for active recreation, he stated that he did not think Council could or should deal with it by taking away acreage that could endanger the negotiations, which struck him as potentially very fragile. He stated that certifying the final EIR is straightforward. He added that Grandview Park seemed to be a very small piece of the puzzle for the NCCP and that he was not yet persuaded how important it was for habitat linkage, unless and until there was some indication from Palos Verdes Estates of their interest in subregional planning; and stated that Grandview Park could be very important to other alternative uses which needed to be explored.
Councilman Wolowicz commented on the last site tour where staff held up the maps as to what was planned at Upper Point Vicente; that when Council started talking about adding baseball fields, Council was reminded that the gym had to be eliminated or that the pool would be eliminated; and he noted his opposition to losing these active recreational uses. He pointed out again that land could be placed in the reserve much more easily than it can be taken out of the reserve.
Councilman Stern explained that Council has to be very sensitive to the impact on this whole program; and he expressed his belief that the 21 acres is more than adequate to meet the reasonably anticipated uses of the property. Councilman Stern pointed out that there are very real physical limitations of the property, that it is not all-flat land. He stated that from what he had seen, it appeared that Council had carved out all of the useable, relatively flat land; stated that he did not see any value in carving out another 10 acres, believed that it would not bring any value to anything of what Council was trying to achieve, that it would significantly harm what Council is trying to achieve.
Councilman Long expressed his belief that the real inhibitor is not going to be whether Council puts another 10 acres out of the reserve, but that the real inhibitor is the flat space. He expressed his belief that there may be more appropriate areas to locate the gym and the pool, noting that these facilities did not need to be close to the ocean; and stated that there are other things that could more appropriately be located on this site, habitat being a part of them. He stated that the "wish list" tries to fit too much onto one site; and he noted his concern that by fiddling with this land at this time for the reasons described, it might tilt the balance on a fragile process of getting grant funds and only for a very marginal gain, if any, in additional active recreational facilities.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that he got these 10 acres from the last draft, wherein 55 acres had already been proposed; he pointed out that he fully supported the NCCP subarea plan, but noted he was concerned about addressing all the tasks and commitments that Council has. He stated that it is important to have flexibility so that at the end when Council is finished with active space, then it could put back in the NCCP that part that it did not use. He stated that it was never meant to exclude it, that it was just to give the City that cushion of flexibility while Council was going through the process.
Councilman Long moved to have each of the three issues voted upon separately. No objection was noted.
Motion to adopt Resolution No. 2004-72, certifying the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Rancho Palos Verdes NCCP Subarea Plan carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Gardiner
Motion to exclude Grandview Park in the NCCP carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Gardiner
Councilman Wolowicz’ motion to set aside additional 10 acres from Upper Point Vicente Park, Item B, failed as follows:
NOES: Clark, Long, Stern, Mayor Gardiner
The following changes were made to the documents:
1-7 on Table 1.1, fifth row, reflect that "CMP List 1B";
3-5, reflect "62 acres of the 73-acre property";
3-6, Subarea Plan to exclude all of Grandview Park from reserve and to change the total acreages accordingly;
3-8, Section 3.1.3, No. 1, add at the end of the paragraph, "The acreage to be purchased is an estimate and subject to change";
3-23, title to reflect, "Land Uses allowed within the Reserve";
4-7, Subarea Plan, top paragraph, last full line, strike "$20,000" and replace it with "$25,000" per acre;
4-9, Subarea Plan, Table 4-1, math problems in Columns A, B and C, needs to be corrected;
5-2, Fire Code, fourth line, replace "adjacent to the reserve are adequate" with "within the reserve are adequate";
6.1, Revise language of 6.2.1 to match the language suggested by the California Native Plant Society.
6-2, end of the top sentence of the page, replace language "final approved PUMP" with "City Council."
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Chairman Gardiner recessed the meeting at 11:12 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 11:17 P.M.
6-2, No. 4, add the word "only" before "in areas."
6-2, No. 5, second line, add the word "extending" after "no-fueling zones."
6-7, No. 3, delete the word "five";
Mayor Gardiner highlighted a comment that the draft had been changed after the opportunity for the public to comment and questioned going back to the original wording about trail use that the public had an opportunity to comment.
Director Rojas stated that staff was not proposing that change; explained that the word "bicycling" is included in the currently approved Conceptual Trails Plan, which makes allowance for a multiple use trail; and stated that excluding "bicycling" would be inconsistent with the current plan. He noted that this would be addressed at a later point.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to approve the NCCP Subarea Plan without including Grandview Park and with the changes as listed above, approving Item No. 2 on Part 1 as amended:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Gardiner
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to conceptually approve the draft NCCP Implementing Agreement, which includes the draft subagreement with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy for management of the NCCP. (This motion was ultimately superseded.)
Councilman Wolowicz stated that this document has the most changes he is seeking.
Mayor Gardiner reminded Councilman Wolowicz to consider that this is a draft and that it would be back many times for refinement before finalization.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that there were two items that were critical to him.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Chairman Gardiner recessed the meeting at 11:26 P.M. for a celebratory refreshment period,. The meeting was reconvened the meeting at 11:33 P.M.
Councilman Wolowicz referred to Page 11, Section 9.2b, changed circumstances defined; he questioned who would ultimately make the resolution that distinguished between unforeseen and changed circumstances; with regard to Page 11, Item 4, he expressed his belief that this could potentially cost the City a lot of money.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the resource agencies would make that determination.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that Section 9.2a of the prior page reflected issues that could not have reasonably been anticipated by the plan developers, and that once you get down to changed circumstances in B-1, the City could be financially responsible.
City Attorney Lynch stated that that was true.
Councilman Wolowicz referenced Page 20, Section 11.3, wherein there was no limit or cap as to the required funding by the City and he stated that a cap should be placed in the document at this time.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the responsibility lies with the federal government as to who ultimately will make the resolution as to distinguishing between unforeseen and changed circumstances; advised that these rules can be found in the Federal Digest; and noted that they cannot be altered.
Councilman Wolowicz questioned if there was any point of recourse for the City in arbitration should the City disagree with any rule.
In response, City Attorney Lynch stated that no, not in the interpretation of the Code of Federal Regulations; and with regard to the capping issue for funding, she indicated that that would be something the City could include and see whether the Federal government would strike that language.
Councilman Wolowicz proposed wording to include "not to exceed" on the City’s obligation for funding.
Director Rojas suggested adding, "These commitments have been determined to be adequate to complete their requirements of the plan for habitat restoration and reserve management. No additional funding from the City or the PVPLC is or will be required by the implementation of the plan."
Councilman Wolowicz pointed out that there was no provision for extension or renewal after the 50-year term.
With regard to the Implementing Agreement, Councilman Wolowicz noted that the agreement does not include the exhibits, the fee contract between the City and the Conservancy; and noted his intent to vote on this matter separately. He stated that the ultimate authority should rest with the City and stated that the authorizing body is not defined, be it members of the Committee being selected by the Council or for the Council to have the authority to select a majority and the chair of each committee; and he indicated that this needs to be inserted in the document. In the agreement between the City and the Land Conservancy, he questioned who would have the final say.
Councilman Stern observed that the concept of this program overview is that Council would add a management contract with the Land Conservancy, not create a new commission or a new political body; and stated that Council will adopt a plan of utilization and will enter into a contract with an organization that is very largely made of many of the City’s residents that have through its history demonstrated a proficiency and expertise in this very area. He expressed his belief that it would be a mistake to either try to bring it back into more of a City function or to view it as just another commission or committee of the City, stating that this will cause the City to lose the expertise that this contract is designed to give the City.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that he does not want to micromanage or get in the way of the Land Conservancy; noted that there is a permanent steering committee for the property with at least nine members; and advised that the City will ultimately only have three votes on this committee and questioned whether Council has given away some of its responsibility.
Mayor Gardiner stated that he does not see anything wrong with having the Council appoint either the majority or all the members of the Board as long as there is some accountability back to the City.
Councilman Long stated that he shares the view that ultimately Council needs something that functions in a board of directors mode and pointed out that as proposed, this may not function independently that way. He noted his interest in seeing the exhibits before approval of this matter.
Ms. Dye explained that one of the major tasks the Land Conservancy is charged with is to manage this reserve, one of the functions of that being to have a steering committee that will provide community oversight and input. She pointed out that this procedure is followed for all the Conservancy’s projects; stated that it is important the committee be charged with habitat restoration and all the issues that it is going to deal with and that it not be a political committee of people who are appointed for other reasons. She suggested, along with staff, that the exact composition of the PUMP perhaps be stricken from this document and that it be brought back with the recommendations of the Forrestal Steering Committee, that Council will be able to look at that information and recommendations for management of this property. She stated that these recommendations could be presented at Council’s last meeting in November.
Mayor Gardiner questioned what mechanism was in place that links the Land Conservancy back to the City to make sure things are properly operating.
Ms. Dye stated that the Forrestal Committee has been working for three years to modify its plan, working closely with City staff; and noted that these recommendations are soon to come before Council for review and approval. In addition, she advised that every year there will be not only the annual reports that the Land Conservancy has to submit to the City which get reviewed and commented upon, but also an annual public meeting whereat people have an opportunity to comment on the uses and activities that have gone on the past year. She added that there also are regular monitoring reports that need to be submitted and that the Conservancy will come before Council on a yearly basis in a public hearing forum to obtain direction.
Councilman Stern supported Ms. Dye’s suggestion to remove the PUMP issues at this time; and stated that he would await the Conservancy’s return with some options and other proposals that would be more acceptable to what had been articulated.
Councilman Long concurred with the notion of how the agreement ties it back to the City; and stated that he is not able to discern from the document whether the steering committee is a supervisory body, an advisory body or both, who it answers to, who answers to it, and how it is independent from those that it is either advising or supervising.
Ms. Dye stated that that issue had been worked out with the Forrestal Steering Committee. She stated that a steering committee is needed to involve the public in what the Land Conservancy is doing, to provide ongoing feedback.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that the steering committee needed to be appointed by the elected members of Council or at least a 5-4 portion of it; and noted that this document should be amended to reflect that change and make it clear that Council is responsible for all constituents in the City, that Council has the leadership role.
Mayor Gardiner suggested leaving the steering committee but somehow have a reporting mechanism back to the City Manager who would provide a report to Council; and noted his support as long as there is some accountability mechanism back to the City Manager and the Council.
Councilman Stern stated that Council should adopt the PUMP, define the policies, and have a contract with the Land Conservancy to run the reserve; noted his concurrence with Ms. Dye to have this committee for its purposes of bringing the community in for input; stated that there was a need for a mechanism to allow the Land Conservancy to exercise whatever level of control Council felt was appropriate; and he stated that it is a mistake to unnecessarily impose a Council-appointed committee if that is not the model the Land Conservancy wants for its management function.
Councilman Long stated that the City must take the leadership role in supervising this land; noted that he is not particularly concerned with who would appoint the committee, but that it is more a question of who, in the judgment of the Land Conservancy and staff, would best be able to give it advice; and reiterated that somehow there has to be a tie back to the City in having the ultimate responsibility.
Mayor pro tem Clark stated that Council must be engaged in part of the selection process of the steering committee.
Director Rojas stated that Council could conceptually approve the Implementing Agreement and exclude the unresolved issues noted in Exhibit E and that staff would bring this back to Council for further consideration.
Mayor Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to exclude portions of Exhibit E from the agreement.
Councilman Wolowicz asked that staff work up something to protect the City’s interests in this as it related to control and relationships.
City Attorney Lynch stated that she would prepare some draft language for the Council to consider; and noted that it may be necessary for the City Council subcommittee to meet and work some of these issues out before bringing this matter back to Council for consideration.
Without objection, Mayor Gardiner so ordered that procedure, deleting Section 3-8 and 3-9 from the draft agreement contained in Exhibit E of the Draft Implementing Agreement.
Councilman Stern moved to approve the Conceptual Draft Implementing Agreement but to delete Sections 3-8 and 3-9 of the draft agreement contained in Exhibit E which are to be revised as noted above and for those revised sections to be presented to Council for consideration at a future meeting. Without objection, Mayor Gardiner so ordered.
NCCP: Proposed Purchase of Open Space. (1203)
Based on its review of the matter, the Finance Advisory Committee and the staff recommended that there might be savings to the City resulting from implementation of the NCCP that would mitigate additional costs. The FAC recommended that the City Council move forward expeditiously with the completion of the NCCP and the related land acquisition.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern to receive and file the report from the Finance Advisory Committee. Motion carried without objection.
NCCP Contract Amendment. (1203)
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve an amendment to the contract with the City’s NCCP consultant (URS Corporation) in an amount of $19,249 for completion of the third and final phase of the City’s NCCP. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Gardiner
Ocean Trails: Agreement with V.H. Property Corporation. (1411)
City Attorney Lynch highlighted the two typographical errors in staff report and noted that these changes had been approved with the attorney for the developer:
Paragraph D, Circle Page 5, third line from the bottom, the word "or be" before small C should be "and be";
Circle Page 6, Paragraph 1A, eleventh line down, add "or active misconduct."
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to authorize the Mayor and the City Clerk to sign an agreement with V. H. Property Corporation pertaining to the acceptance of open space lots, with the noted amendments above.
Councilman Long stated that he is supporting this motion notwithstanding that he has no confidence whatsoever in the ability of the indemnitor to actually answer for the indemnitee, particularly given recent developments; and that he is not convinced at all this indemnity has any value beyond the piece of paper it’s printed on; however, as described to Council, the alternatives are even less worthwhile. He stated that he is greatly reluctant to support proposals/motions of this nature in the future and finds this whole situation to be unappealing.
Without objection, Mayor Gardiner so ordered.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch stated that with regard to Item 1, Council unanimously approved the proposed agreement with Cox, with Councilman Long abstaining from consideration; with regard to Item No. 2, Council unanimously agreed to accept the counteroffer and provided direction to staff; with regard to Item No. 3, Council unanimously agreed to file no appeal at this time; and with regard to Item Nos. 4 and 5, no action was taken.
At 12:15 A.M. meeting was adjourned on motion of Councilman Stern.
/s/ Peter C. Gardiner
/s/ Jo Purcell