RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
MARCH 1, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Clark at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, and was immediately recessed to closed session. At 7:19 P.M., the meeting was reconvened for regular session.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Finance Director Dennis McLean; Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost; Associate Planner Dave Blumenthal; Senior Planner Kit Fox; and Recording Secretary Denise Bothe.
Mayor Clark advised the audience that Councilman Gardiner was not present because he was out of town on business.
The flag salute was led by Brian Jung, from Boy Scout Troop No. 211.
With the assistance of a PowerPoint slide presentation, Mayor Clark highlighted that evening’s Did You Know Facts regarding slope drains. He explained that slope drains are concrete drainage ditches, which are also referred to as swales, bench drains, or V-ditches, and are a very important part of the City’s drainage system. He explained that these ditches usually traverse steep slopes and direct storm drain runoff to the nearest storm drain outlet; and stated that the purpose of the ditches was to suppress the erosion of slopes, minimizing the potential of slope failure and property damage. He highlighted the importance of keeping these slope drains intact and clear of debris at all times and pointed out that it is the property owner’s responsibility on private property - not the City - to maintain the slope drains on their property; and he suggested placing this information on the City’s website and in the City’s quarterly newsletter to re-emphasis the importance of these slope drains.
Mayor Clark presented a second Did You Know Facts regarding the 21st Annual Whale of a Day event that would take place on Saturday, March 5th at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, and highlighted facts about the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale, which passes by the Palos Verdes Peninsula. He encouraged everyone to come out to the 21st Annual Whale of a Day Festival, 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., with free parking at RPV City Hall and shuttle service to Point Vicente Interpretive Center. He mentioned that L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, RPV City Council and many staff members would be attending the festivities. He thanked the Interpretive Center docents and City staff for providing the slides and information for that evening’s Did You Know Facts.
Mayor Clark announced that there are two recycler winners for the month of February 2005: A. Francisco and Lloyd Yuhan (*check spellings); stated that all winners will receive a check for $250, which represents a year of free refuse service; and he encouraged everyone to recycle.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that she distributed to Council earlier that evening an addendum to the Agenda, which was posted on Saturday following Council’s workshop, regarding Item No. 16: Proposed technical revisions to the Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) and to the NCCP Implementing Agreement.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz, to approve the Agenda, excluding Item No. 16. Councilman Stern noted his understanding that the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, which was working on Item 16, was not prepared to address the matter that evening. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that she has distributed to Council earlier that evening a letter from Mr. Downhill relating to the Storm Drain and Flood Protection Program.
Lois Larue, RPV, commented on an unmarked piece of property near the Seaview area that is being used as a turn-around area for motorists and advised when it rains, this activity tracks mud onto the roadway. She commented on the San Pedro Art Association’s sponsoring of the mural painting activities at the port; and urged RPV to lend its support of the artists working in the Port of Los Angeles area. She commented on her participation in strength training sessions each week at the senior center.
Jack Downhill, RPV, read the following statement relating to the proposed Storm Drain and Flood Protection Program: "At the recent meeting of this body when the User Fee process was approved for funding the subject program, were you aware that: 20 percent of the properties that would benefit are exempt from the fee; the fee includes a provision for an annual CPI increase; the fee does not end with project completion; provisions of Proposition 218 are violated as applied to properties within the RDA; the first year or two of the program will be paid for by the $2- or $3 million from reserves; Lowe is now fully invested in the Long Point property, which validates Dr. Gardiner’s recommendation; and the Public Works consultant has proposed revisions to the assessment formula. In view of these facts which were or should have been known by the Council when the decisions were made, I feel strongly that the Council actions were disingenuous at best and an insult to the intelligence of the RPV citizens. Hence, I would like to challenge Councilmen Stern, Mayor pro tem Wolowicz, Councilman Gardiner, the City Manager and the City Attorney to take action to re-visit this subject at the earliest possible date. I recommend Mayor Clark recuse himself from this action to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from his familial relationship with the Finance Committee Chair that recommended the User Fee. I suggest also that Councilman Long recuse himself because, through no fault of his own, his property is exempt from the User Fee and he has become, de facto, the representative of the 20 percent of property owners exempt from the fee."
Councilman Long explained why he would not be recusing himself from this matter; stated that it was true that his property drained to a storm drain not owned by the City and, accordingly, he would not be subject to the User Fee if it passed; advised that he had made his decision as to whether or not to support the User Fee without regard to what his own personal/financial interest was and would continue to be; pointed out that he had only discovered his property would not be subject to the User Fee when Council was well into the process; that his motivation was not the particular effect upon his property; and suggested that in Mr. Downhill’s case, the motive for his suggestion of a different means of financing was motivated by the size of his property and how it would be affected by the User Fee and stated that he should disclose this fact to the public. Councilman Long pointed out that he also voted for the School District’s parcel tax, even though he and his wife had no children; and stated his decision was based upon what was in the best interest of the community as a whole. Noting that with all due respect to Mr. Downhill, he declined to recuse himself – pointing out that he represented the entire community and that he was making his decision on that basis, not as one of the 20 percent of residents who would not pay the User Fee. He mentioned that he asked the City Attorney whether the User Fee could be extended to those properties which did not drain into the City’s storm drains, and that if there was a legal way to do it, he would support that effort.
Addressing Mayor Clark’s inquiry on whether he needed to recuse himself because his wife was Chair of the Finance Advisory Committee, City Attorney Lynch stated there was no requirement for Mayor Clark to recuse himself on this matter.
Mayor Clark explained that Council represented the entire community, its members were elected by the entire community; and stated that he was very comfortable with participating in this important matter; and pointed out that at the end of the process, the ultimate decision would be left in the hands of those residents who would be affected by the fee.
CITY MANAGER REPORTS
City Manager Evans advised that the sinkhole had been repaired at Western Avenue and Westmont; and that Caltrans was working on other repairs at Western and Summerland, believing Western and Summerland would be closed the next day for repairs. He commented on the recent rainstorms that resulted in approximately 3 inches of water falling in approximately 2.5 hours on Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS) on Saturday morning; and stated that this large amount of rainfall overtaxed the canyons that carry drainage off the slopes between the Portuguese Bend Landslide area and the City limits of Palos Verdes Estates. He noted that in some areas, the water overflowed onto the streets, carrying mud and debris into the neighborhoods, particularly impacting the Seacove neighborhood below St. Peter’s by the Sea Church. With the aid of slides, he advised that at least six homes suffered severe mud and water damage; and noted the storm peaked around 2:00 A.M. Saturday and that by 3:00 A.M., RPV crews were out and clearing the debris from the roads.
Referring to the photographs of the drainage facility at the bottom of McCarrell Canyon that depicted mud, rock and vegetation backed up against the debris barrier, Councilman Stern asked when debris had last been cleared from this facility prior to the storm.
City Manager Evans advised that the debris basin was cleared out on Friday when staff went home for the weekend; and stated that after every storm this year, Public Works crews had been out on the streets clearing all inlets and drainage paths, and that everything was clear of debris and the drains flowing freely at 5:00 P.M. Friday. He stated the rain started about 1:00 A.M. and lasted until approximately 3:00 A.M; and City Manager Evans expressed his belief the City was very well prepared for the storm, but pointed out there was just too much rain in a short period of time.
Referring to the photographs, Mayor pro tem Wolowicz asked about the different designs of the debris barriers.
City Manager Evans explained that the debris barriers are designed to catch the flowing debris, keeping debris from flowing into pipes and clogging them; and advised that the more modern catch basins at other locations were designed differently than this one and stated that the more modern catch basins did not have these same problems. He added that the older catch basins needed to be upgraded and modernized.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted that part of the costs in the overall Master Storm Drain Plan addressed the necessary upgrades.
City Manager Evans stated this particular project was considered high priority, and would include upstream debris basins, a larger inlet structure, a larger pipe under PVDS, another pipeline to carry the water from PVDS to the bluff top and a slant drain to carry the water from the top of the bluff to the ocean. City Manager Evans stated that the City experienced mudslides all over the community, mostly on private properties, some of which resulted in debris pouring onto the streets; advised that the City was aware of 25 slope failures as a result of the rain and that the estimated damage was close to $1 million. He added that none of the slope failures the City was aware had caused structural damage to homes, but that there had been patios and a tennis court that had been partially affected. He urged every resident to keep an eye on their backyards and neighbors’ backyards and to advise the City if they see anything that looks like a slope failure. He added that staff would visit these affected sites to advise the residents on how best to handle the problems.
Because Los Angeles County has been declared a disaster area as a result of the rains, Mayor Clark informed the public that Federal funds might become available.
City Manager Evans advised that the FEMA inspectors were working off lists the City had provided to it of property owners who had reported property damage related to the storm; that any property owner who had damage related to the storm was instructed to contact City offices to be placed on this list and then put in contact with the FEMA inspectors, who would be inspecting the damage and giving instructions on how to apply for Federal grants/loans for their particular case. He noted that this information was also on the City’s website.
On behalf of Council and the residents, Mayor Clark thanked and commended City Manager Evans, Director Allison and his entire staff and contractors who supported the Public Works Department for the tremendous efforts, time commitment, dedication and professionalism that has been exhibited over the past several weeks in responding to the winter rains.
Director Allison expressed his thanks and appreciation of his staff for their efforts.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted his appreciation of City staff for their efforts, noting that staff members were calling in to volunteer to help out over the weekend following the severe rainstorm on Saturday morning.
All Council Members echoed these sentiments.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that Old Business can be found on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that she had distributed late correspondence related to Item No. 2 on the Consent Calendar - Mayor Clark’s proposed changes to the December 7, 2004 and December 21, 2004 Minutes.
Motion to Waive Full Reading
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all Ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council Members after the reading of the title.
Approval of the Minutes (301)
Approved the Minutes of December 4, 2004, December 7, 2004, as amended, and December 21, 2004, as amended.
Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed with a 4/5ths vote the City Council's previous action on December 21, 2004, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
Municipal Area Express (MAX) Inter-Agency Agreement (1505)
1) Authorized the City of Rancho Palos Verdes to continue its participation in the commuter transportation transit service, known as Municipal Area Express (MAX), for the period of July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2008; and, 2) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the Agreement for MAX Commuter Bus Service on behalf of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Border Issues Status Report (310)
Reviewed the current status of border issues.
Geotechnical Board of Appeals (201 x 1203)
Approved the appointment of Stanley Helenschmidt of Helenschmidt Geotechnical, Inc., to the Geotechnical Board of Appeals.
Commercial Refuse and Collection Agreement with Art's Special Waste, Inc. (1301)
Authorized the Mayor and the City Clerk to execute a Non-Exclusive Franchise Agreement for Commercial Refuse Collection and Disposal Services with Art's Special Waste, Inc., to be effective through December 31, 2005.
Resol. No. 2005-18: City Owned Crestridge Property (701)
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-18, AFFIRMING THE CITY'S INTENT TO USE THE CRESTRIDGE PROPERTY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
January 2005 Treasurer's Report (602)
Received and filed the January 2005 Treasurer's Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Resol. No. 2005-19: Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-19, 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.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved to approve the Consent Calendar as presented.
By way of a friendly amendment to the motion, Councilman Long asked that Item No. 6, City Tree Review Permit Code Procedure Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00160), be pulled from the Consent Calendar.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz accepted the friendly amendment to his motion. Councilman Stern seconded the motion. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
# # # # # #
ITEM PULLED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR
Ord. No. 415: City Tree Review Permit Code Procedure Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00160) (1407 x 1801)
The staff report of March 1, 2005, recommended that Council ADOPT ORDINANCE NO. 415, TO ENACT AMENDMENTS TO TITLE 17 OF THE CITY'S MUNICIPAL CODE STREAMLINING THE CITY TREE REVIEW PERMIT PROCESS. This Ordinance was previously introduced at the February 15, 2005 City Council meeting.
Mayor Clark advised that Craig Mueller was the immediate past Chair of the Planning Commission and welcomed him to this evening’s meeting.
Craig Mueller, RPV, stated that he noticed there had been a substantial change in this item since the Planning Commission considered the item and that he was present at the meeting that evening not as a member of the Planning Commission, but as a concerned citizen. He explained that this item first came before the Planning Commission in June 2004; that the Commission debated this matter and ensured the public and the Commission had adequate opportunity to provide input on this issue; and that the related P.C. Resolution was unanimously passed (6-0) by the Planning Commission in favor of the first staff report, which was presented to Council at its last regular meeting.
Mr. Mueller noted his concern that the process followed at the last City Council meeting was unclear; he noted that Councilman Stern introduced an alternate motion to the item; and that the City Clerk then asked if any members of the public wanted to speak – questioning how a member of the public would know what Council was going to be discussing because there was no public other than the fact that it was an item on the Council agenda. Because he was out of town during that time, Mr. Mueller stated he could not participate; and that if staff had notified the public or the Planning Commission or its Chair, he would have been able to provide some input on the issue before the Ordinance was introduced. He also stated that the language within the Ordinance before Council that evening did not reflect the discussion at Council’s previous meeting; he expressed his belief that one critical item was left out; that he firmly believed the revised Ordinance was unworkable, and that the change would take away the rights of the property owner who’s property directly abuts a City tree.
Mr. Mueller stated that as he understood the Resolution, it included a third party, which could be a neighbor within the 10 closest properties or a homeowner’s association – pointing out that residents belonging to a homeowners association can live very far from the subject property and that much more clout was possible when more homes were involved. He stated that he found the Resolution to be unworkable because it required an agreement to be recorded against the title of the property that included the City, the property owner and a third party/homeowners association; that when the property owner sells that property, the next property owner had no rights at all, that they’re not a party to the original agreement and would have to abide by whatever agreement was in place – reiterating his belief this took away property rights.
Mr. Mueller stated that the intent following all the discussions was to limit the people who could adopt the tree to the 10 closest property owners; and that what was in the amended Resolution also included the homeowners association. He stated that he would solve this problem the same way they did on the Planning Commission, by recommending the deletion of all sections referring to the homeowners association unless they were a party to the agreement; and that he would also recommend deleting the 10 closest property owners because he believes the intent of the amendment was to streamline the process. He noted his preference to make the person abutting the right of way where the tree is located to be the only one to adopt a tree and be responsible for it, otherwise, the City would have that option; and he respectfully requested if Council did not agree with his position, that Council consider the other five Planning Commissioners who voted along with him on the Resolution, believing it was the only workable solution.
Mayor Clark mentioned that because of business commitments out of state, he was not present at the last Council meeting when this matter was discussed.
Councilman Stern noted his appreciation of Mr. Mueller’s comments; advised that he read the Planning Commission minutes related to this matter; and explained why he suggested that Council broaden this Resolution. He stated that it was his understanding that the Planning Commission’s action limited it so that the abutting property owner of the tree could agree to maintain the tree, but if that person did not want the responsibility, the tree would be removed; and that it was his suggestion that if others in the neighborhood were willing to maintain the tree instead and the abutting property owner was indifferent, the neighbors should have that ability. He agreed with Mr. Mueller’s comment that this would be a binding agreement, just like any other agreement, but highlighted the very next paragraph which stated "should the property owner who has entered into an agreement with the City to maintain a City tree or foliage within 30 days of receiving a notice of the City requesting maintenance fail to adhere to the maintenance provisions of the agreement, then the City shall terminate the agreement and shall remove the subject tree." He stated that the parties could opt out at just about any point, and that he did not view this as having any coercive aspects, and that it was consensual at every step, both in the initiation and in the follow-through.
Councilman Stern stated that he was troubled by the suggestion that anytime Council makes a decision that was different or amended the position taken by the Planning Commission’s recommendation, that the City should re-notice the matter; and pointed out that the whole purpose of agendizing something was to give the public not only the opportunity to address the item, but also the ability to offer any suggested changes or refinements.
Mr. Mueller expressed his belief that if there was a substantial change to the original Resolution, the matter should be continued to allow for further public and Planning Commission input. He reiterated that his interpretation of the Planning Commission’s decision was to limit the decision to the 10 closest homes and that there was no mention of the homeowners association (HOA).
Councilman Long stated that it was his initial desire to adopt what the Planning Commission had recommended; that he was initially concerned about expanding the scope of who had input into the fate of the street tree; and that the concern was the adjoining property owner to the tree shouldn’t have the tree essentially forced on them if they wanted it removed. He stated that initially, he did not want to voluntarily accept the proposal to expand the list of parties that could take over maintenance of the tree, but felt that his concerns had now been addressed.
Councilman Long expressed his belief that what Council ended up adopting was the concept that, if the adjoining property owner wanted to preserve the tree, he/she could agree to maintain it; if the adjoining property owner wanted the tree removed, the tree would be removed and that the adjoining property owner had final control over the matter. If the adjoining property owner, however, was indifferent to the tree remaining, but did not want to pay to maintain it, that Councilman Stern’s amendment would allow the HOA or a limited number of the immediate neighbors to enter into an agreement with the City to maintain the tree instead. Councilman Long liked what Councilman Stern had proposed because in the end, it provided some structure for situations when the adjoining homeowners took no position about the fate of the tree; stated that he did not view this as a major change from what the Planning Commission had recommended because the principle was that the adjoining land owner had the final say; and if the adjoining land owner says the tree stays and he/she pays for it, it stays, and if he/she says it goes, it goes.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz concurred with Councilman Long’s comments.
Mayor Clark asked the Council if it would be interested in remanding this item back to the Planning Commission for further review before Council took final action on this matter.
Councilman Stern stated that he saw no benefit in doing that; expressed his belief that the Planning Commission did a very good job in evaluating this item; and that while he disagreed with the ultimate conclusion, he echoed Councilman Long’s comment that the change he had proposed was minor. He stated it still was the abutting land owner who had the final say and that no one would be forced to accept anything; that this would give the neighbors an opportunity to know of the proposal and perhaps reach an acceptable solution for the neighborhood with the abutting landowner; that this was a better way to keep the neighborhood involved if it so chooses and that it does nothing to impede the land owner’s ability to make their own decision; and he expressed his belief that what Council achieved was a better result for the neighborhood, as well as all concerned parties.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz stated that he had received some emails and other correspondence over the prior several months from homeowners who felt trees were taken out of their neighborhoods against their wishes and they had no opportunity to provide their input into the decision; and that this amendment would expand the number of people who would have some say in these matters.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz, to adopt Ordinance No. 415.
Mayor Clark stated that because he was not present for the previous discussion, he would abstain from voting on this matter. He noted his appreciation for Mr. Mueller’s input that evening.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz asked if the Council should adopt the Ordinance that evening, or if it should be brought back to Council after City Attorney Lynch had an opportunity to review the Ordinance language to determine if anything was found to be out of context.
City Attorney Lynch stated she and Mr. Alvarez were confident from reviewing their notes that the language in the Ordinance was the language that Council had previously given staff direction on, that Council’s intent was ultimately to make it clear that the property owner abutting the right of way where the street tree was located had the final say.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz
Appeal of the Planning Commission's denial of a Height Variation (Case No. ZON2004-00087), for property located at 28129 Ella Road [Appellant: Moss and Associates, on behalf of Jamie Anvaripour] [Applicant: Stan Anderson, for AEG Architects; Property Owner: Jamie Anvaripour] (1804 x 1203)
The staff report of March 1, 2005, recommended that the Council continue this public hearing to April 5, 2005.
Mayor Clark opened the public hearing.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to continue this matter to April 5, 2005. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:07 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 8:24 P.M.
Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00530): Draft Geologic Disclosure Ordinance (Continued hearing from October 5, 2004) (1801 x 1203)
Senior Planner Fox presented staff report and the recommendation to 1) Conduct a public hearing; and, 2) INTRODUCE AN ORDINANCE TO ENACT THE GEOLOGIC DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE.
Councilman Stern expressed his approval of the changes proposed by the Planning Commission; and questioned what, if any, flexibility existed in the Ordinance in terms of modifying the language of the draft covenant that would allow for staff to make minor modifications on a case-by-case basis to deal with a particular property.
Addressing Councilman Stern’s inquiry, City Attorney Lynch stated there was flexibility in the ordinance to make modifications in the proposed covenant language.
Mayor Clark noted his concurrence with the Planning Commission’s proposed changes.
Mayor Clark opened the public hearing. There being no request for input, Mayor Clark closed the public hearing.
Senior Planner Fox advised that he received only one inquiry by telephone and that he had received no written comments related to this matter.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to introduce Ordinance No. 416, to enact the Geologic Disclosure Ordinance.
Mayor Clark complimented Councilman Stern for bringing this initiative forward to the Council, pointing out this was another good example of the extra efforts put forth by the various members of Council.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz and Councilman Long echoed the Mayor’s compliments.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Stern, Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS
Councilman Long indicated that he attended the last two Saturday Council meetings, a budget workshop and an emergency meeting to tour of some of the properties damaged in the February 19th storm.
Councilman Stern indicated that he had nothing new to report other than the two Saturday meetings mentioned by Councilman Long.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz highlighted the following events/meetings he attended:
February 16th attended, along with the president of the School District Board and president of the Library Board, the Palos Verdes Mayor’s lunchtime meeting, exchanging information that was important to the Peninsula communities. February 17th attended the Palos Verdes Transit Authority budget workshop, adding that the board was made up of representatives from RPV, Palos Verdes Estates, and Rolling Hills Estates. February 19th, along with Mayor Clark, City Manager Evans and Director of Public Works Allison, attended an all-day session, visiting neighborhoods to see the water damage caused by the storms; and then participating in an emergency Council meeting, which also included a tour of the damaged sites. He stated he saw first hand how inadequate storm drains can impact a community during and after a severe storm; and highlighted the outpouring of volunteers and the Fire Department who were helping those in need to clean up the debris and mud from their homes and property and to put out sandbags. February 21st met with representatives of AMR to address the City’s ambulance service, which was provided through the County. February 22nd attended, along with Councilman Long, the PVIC native plant garden dedication with Sunset Rotary. February 23rd attended the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce mixer at an area restaurant. February 24th attended the South Bay Council of Governments Annual Assembly at the Norris Pavilion in Rolling Hills Estates, which addressed energy conservation; and noted his interest in Council discussing ideas the City and its residents could implement to realize energy savings. February 25th attended, along with Mayor Clark and Ken Dyda, the subcommittee meeting regarding development of the Crestridge/Crenshaw property. February 26th attended a special Council meeting to discuss storm drain improvements.
Mayor Clark advised that he has been out of town for the past two weeks and thanked Mayor pro tem Wolowicz for leading the Council meetings in his absence. He thanked and commended Council and staff for their efforts and participation in dealing with the storm-related activities and for their participation in the Council meetings on February 19th and 26th.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS
Equestrian Committee (1808)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that late correspondence had been distributed to Council that evening in regard to this matter.
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report and the recommendation to provide staff with direction on the status of the Equestrian Committee.
Councilman Stern asked why the Equestrian Committee’s meetings in December and January were cancelled.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that several members of the Committee took ill in January 2005; and noted that due to the lack of business to address in December 2004, the Committee adjourned its November meeting to January. He added there had been a quorum at all other meetings and that there had been regular attendance by most Committee members.
Gordon Leon, RPV, Chairman of the Equestrian Committee, provided a presentation highlighting the Committee’s activities in 2004. With the aid of slides, he presented an overview of the Committee’s duties/responsibilities, its charter and some of the trails in the City that merited preservation. He advised there were and continued to be a number of issues associated with the trails; stating that of major interest to the Committee was the conceptual plan for the Equestrian Park; and commented on some proposed additions to the existing Charter.
Mr. Leon pointed out there was no specific Committee assigned to oversee trail issues; and advised that there were a number of discussions within the Committee associated with balancing equestrian and non-equestrian issues, site planning, trails and other equestrian uses within the City. He mentioned that the Committee was asked by Council to look into preservation of equestrian capabilities within the Equestrian Overlay District (Q District); noted that the Committee had sent a proposal to the Planning Commission to require a minimum horse-keeping area for each lot in the Q District, but that the Committee’s proposal was voted down by the Planning Commission. He advised that the Committee had continued to look for ways to both maintain the capability for horse-keeping within the Q District while not imposing an unreasonable burden on the homeowners, which continued to be an active discussion on the Equestrian Committee.
Mr. Leon pointed out the importance of preserving the trails within the City and the equestrian access network; advised that there were many areas within the City where horseback riders had to traverse the streets and in some cases - with the permission of private property owners - private property in order to be able to have access through the City and to connect many of the equestrian properties with the open space areas. Mr. Leon explained that on several occasions, the Committee had provided technical assistance to the Public Works Department for trail and roadway improvements, pointing out the Committee’s recommendation to improve the type of asphalt used in roadway construction to reduce slippery conditions for both pedestrians and their horses. He added that on several occasions, the Committee members had made site visits to address the issue of private encroachments into the trails and public right-of-ways; and commented on the Committee’s ongoing effort to provide technical advice on safety issues associated with the combined use of trails by bicycles, pedestrians and equestrian. He also noted the Committee’s assistance with the Emergency Preparedness Committee, providing input on the emergency evacuation of large and small domestic animals within RPV.
Mr. Leon stated that the most significant item in 2004 was the Committee’s role as advisory body to City Council in making recommendations for the Equestrian Park Conceptual Plan; advised that the Committee had recommended that it be used as a public oversight Committee for the Equestrian Park’s development, operation and management; he addressed the needed preservation of the equestrian capabilities within the Q District; noted there have been a number of development proposals in the Q District; and highlighted his concern with the potential of development within those areas that could change the nature of the Q District from one of semi-rural open space to one of semi-urbanization. He noted his desire that the Equestrian Committee continue to be permitted to provide the technical advice to maintain the capability of equestrian usage within the Q District and that Council maintain the Equestrian Committee as the City’s focus for all equestrian issues. Mr. Leon added that the Committee’s interest in including mR. within its Charter issues related to mixed-use trails within RPV; that the Committee continued as the technical advisory body on equestrian issues and preservation of the Q District; and that it be given oversight and management of any future Equestrian Park. He expressed his belief that the Equestrian Committee was committed to the City’s General Plan goal to maintain the unique character of the semi-rural lifestyle within RPV.
Councilman Stern asked that Mr. Leon communicate to the Equestrian Committee members the Council’s appreciation of their work on the Committee. Councilman Stern questioned if any particular committee had previously handled trail issues.
Deputy Planning Director Pfost recalled that the former Trails Committee had held this responsibility; and advised that the City’s Conceptual Trails Plan was scheduled to be updated in the near future.
Highlighting the multiuse of many trails, Councilman Stern asked Mr. Leon why he believed the Equestrian Committee should have jurisdiction over trails.
Mr. Leon expressed his belief that the Equestrian Committee would consider all users of the trails; explained that by their nature, most of the trails were in the open space area in the City; and stated if he were to guess on the number of miles of City-owned and informal trails, he believed that there were more miles of mixed use trails in the Q Districts than there were trails that limited to only equestrian use.
Councilman Stern pointed out that the equestrian, bikes, and pedestrian trail users did not always have the same interests in terms of who should use the trails.
Mr. Leon stated that the Committee was requesting to focus on all equestrian issues in the City, which would include large animal permits and any kind of issue where there were conflicts between equestrian and non-equestrian usage.
With regard to the Equestrian Committee Charter, Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted the Committee’s current advisory position on technical matters relating to Q District and questioned if the Committee had specific ideas in mind that had not been addressed under technical issues in its report.
Mr. Leon pointed out that most of those items were addressed as they came up; he highlighted, for instance, an issue coming to focus at that time regarding moving the boundary line between open space hazard zones and residential zoning districts, he indicated that the Equestrian Committee was taking a look at the implications these modifications would have on trails located at the bottom of canyons and whether that was going to impact in any way the equestrian usage of those particular trails which are in the Q District.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz asked what the Committee considered to be equestrian issues and whether the Committee was proposing to expand those items.
With regard to the proposed equestrian park, Mr. Leon explained that the Committee was given the task of bringing a proposal forward to the Recreation Parks Open Space Task Force; advised that the Committee prepared a proposal and presented it to the Task Force, but that the proposal did not go anywhere at that level and ultimately did not get to Council. He explained that this was the reason the Committee had come directly to Council; and stated that the Committee’s activities would work more efficiently
if it was not parceled out to only make recommendations to other Commissions and Committees.
In response to Mayor pro tem Wolowicz’s inquiry regard the continuation of monthly meetings, Mr. Leon expressed his belief that monthly meetings provide a degree of continuity that it would not have if the Committee were to meeting every other month; and asked that the monthly meeting format be maintained.
Responding to Mayor Clark’s inquiry regarding the length of the Committee meetings, Mr. Leon stated that the Committee tired to end the meetings by 9:00 P.M., noting that most of the meetings held in 2004 ran after 9:00 P.M.
Richard Bara, RPV, Vice-Chairman of the Equestrian Committee, concurred with Mr. Leon’s comment that there was no specific body to address trail issues; and expressed the Committee’s belief that, at least temporarily, trail issues should be assigned to the Equestrian Committee; and that as other bodies get reformed, perhaps then the Equestrian Committee could share the responsibility for trail issues. Mr. Bara advised that the Committee had taken the initiative to address trail issues; and that in several instances of encroachments into trails, repositioning of trails by private citizens, etc., the Equestrian Committee had gotten involved and managed to save a couple trails from becoming lost. He stated there had been some issues that had come up in the Public Works Department, wherein certain requests having to do with trails were approved, which the Equestrian Committee found out about after the fact; and he urged Council to put in place some type of mechanism or procedure that would involve the Equestrian Committee’s input prior to that staff making decisions that concerned trails; and that if a request was made in an equestrian zone related to trails, that it be routed through the Equestrian Committee for input.
Addressing Mayor Clark’s inquiry regarding the Committee’s preference to continue, Mr. Bara stated it was the full Committee’s desire to continue and for the Committee’s duties and responsibilities to be expanded.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz stated that he was grateful for the accomplishments of the Committee’s agenda and efforts.
Mr. Bara, in response to Mayor pro tem Wolowicz’ inquiry, concurred with Mr. Leon’s statement that there was enough work to keep the Equestrian Committee busy on a month-to-month basis over the next year.
On behalf of Council and the community, Mayor Clark thanked Mr. Leon and Mr. Bara for their leadership on the Equestrian Committee and thanked its members for their contributions.
Councilman Stern asked what the attitude was of the Planning Commission at its October 26th meeting on the issue dealing with preservation of horse keeping in the Q District.
Associate Planner Blumenthal advised that the Equestrian Committee presented a Code Amendment recommending to the Planning Commission to maintain approximately 400 to 800 square feet of undeveloped area on each lot for horses, but that the Planning Commission felt that would be too burdensome on property owners and would limit property owners from being able to construct additions; and that it could possibly force some property owners to install second-story additions instead of first-story additions, thus creating view impacts. Associate Planner Blumenthal advised that the Commission had recommended the Equestrian Committee’s proposal be forwarded to the City’s Development Standards Committee for consideration.
Councilman Stern expressed his belief there was justification for continuing the Equestrian Committee; with regard to the scope/duties within the Charter, he noted his preference for staff to study those issues addressed and to bring a report back to Council for consideration. He concurred with the speakers that there was no advisory body formally charged with overseeing trail issues, but added that he was not convinced that the Equestrian Committee was the proper body to be charged with that duty.
Councilman Long echoed the sentiments to continue with the existence of the Equestrian Committee and expressed his belief that public trails, in a broad sense, was a recreational issue.
Addressing Mayor Clark’s inquiry regarding the disbanding of the Trails Committee, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru recalled the this advisory body was disbanded soon after the Council adopted the original Conceptual Trails Plan in 1991; advised that the City went through a series of cutbacks and layoffs in 1991 and 1992; and that the Committee ended because of the lack of funding for a staff liaison. She added that the responsibility for trails at that point in time was transferred from the Recreation and Parks Department to the Planning Department.
Mayor Clark stated that all trail users have legitimate interest in the trails; and noted his preference in having more reflection by staff and Council on the proposed expanded duties of the Equestrian Committee and on trail issues in general.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to continue the existence of the Equestrian Committee for another year, to March 2006; that staff agendize for discussion in the near future the Charter of the Equestrian Committee, including both the scope of its responsibilities and the frequency of its meetings; and that staff bring back to Council at an appropriate time interviews/appointments for any expiring terms on the Equestrian Committee, including the Chair. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Council reiterated its appreciation of the efforts by the Equestrian Committee members.
Resol. No. 2005-20: Resolution to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Requesting Fair and Non-arbitrary Review of Sheriff's Costs to Tax Payers of Contract Cities (1102 x 1206)
The March 1, 2005 staff report indicated that Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz had requested the City Council to consider adopting a Resolution requesting the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors make a complete and thorough review of all aspects of costs and expense related to the Sheriff's delivery of services to contract cities.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz advised that the wording in the recommendation came from California Contract Cities regarding Contract Law Enforcement Service Costs; he stated that the County had come up with a plan to recompute how overhead costs are allocated to contract cities in order to increase revenues to the County, noting that Sheriff Baca was opposed to this plan. He added that Contract Cities was recommending that the City send a resolution to the County and that the Council also send letters to each of the County Supervisors indicating the City’s opposition to this plan. He explained that if the County were to charge contract cities more, some cities would modify their contracts to keep the dollar amount the same, but cut back on the level of law enforcement services in their communities.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Long, ADOPTING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-20; REQUESTING THAT THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MAKE A COMPLETE AND THOROUGH REVIEW OF ALL ASPECTS OF COSTS AND EXPENSES RELATED TO THE SHERIFF’S DELIVERY OF SERVICES TO CONTRACT CITIES. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Mayor Clark thanked Mayor pro tem Wolowicz for bringing this matter forward.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT
City Attorney Lynch advised that Council did not take any final action but did give direction to her office with respect to negotiations regarding potential settlement of the Chiles matter; and that Council authorized, 3/0 (Councilmen Gardiner and Long absent), to petition the California Court of Appeal hearing in the Monks case.
Mayor Clark asked that thoughts and prayers be sent to 53rd District Assemblyman Mike Gordon on a speedy recovery from a brain tumor.
At 9:35 P.M. Councilman Stern moved to adjourn the meeting to 9:00 A.M., Saturday, March 12, 2005, in the Community Room at City Hall for a Budget Policy Issues Workshop. There being not objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
/s/ Larry Clark
/s/ Carolynn Petru