M I N U T E S
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR MEETING
COMMUNITY LEADERS’ BREAKFAST
APRIL 16, 2005
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 9:25 A.M. in the Multi-Purpose Room at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file.
Present: Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz and Councilmen Long and Stern
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas, Director of Finance/Information Technology Dennis McLean; Director of Recreation and Parks Ron Rosenfeld and Assistant to the City Manager Gina Park.
The salute to the flag was led by former Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Ken Dyda.
Mayor Clark introduced the following members of the audience:
Ann Shaw, former RPV Mayor
Steve Zuckerman, current Mayor pro tem of Rolling Hills Estates
Barbara Ferraro, former RPV Mayor
Dave Tomblin, PVP School Board Member
Assistant Fire Chief Thom Glonchak, Los Angeles County Fire Department
Captain Jay Zuanich, Lomita Sheriff’s Station
Jane Jones, President of PVP Library Board
Ted Paulson, PVP Library Board Member
Richard Lee, PVP Library Board Member
Jon Cartwright, President of the RPV Council of Homeowners Associations
Jerry Jaffe, Executive Director of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Barbara Dye, Executive Director of the PVP Land Conservancy
Self-introductions by the other attendees followed.
Mayor Clark mentioned the City’s recent victory at the U.S. Supreme Court (9-0) regarding the Abrams case, which found that local jurisdictions are allowed to reasonably regulate commercial telecommunications antennas in residential areas and cannot be held liable for monetary damages. He noted that this was a benchmark decision and that the City received nine amicus briefs in support of its position.
Mayor Clark mentioned that construction was progressing at the Trump National Golf Course and that Mr. Trump was considering changing the name of the facility to Trump National at Palos Verdes, or possibly at Palos Verdes Peninsula.
He indicated that Lowe Enterprises had acquired the title to the Long Point property and that on April 19, 2005, Council was scheduled to consider the developer’s aggressive project schedule aimed at opening the resort hotel by the end of 2007.
APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA:
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve the agenda. There being no objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
APPROVAL OF THE CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Wolowicz, to approve the Consent Calendar.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Stern, Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz, Mayor Clark
Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain (604 X 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Council’s action on December 21, 2004, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
Proposed Storm Water User Fee (602 x 604)
City Manager Evans presented a PowerPoint slide show describing the current condition of the City’s storm drain infrastructure, the City’ experience responding to the winter rainstorms that overwhelmed the existing system, the need for a storm drain renewal program and staff’s proposed user fee to fund the needed repairs. The user fee would be $86 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU), which could only be increased a maximum of 2% each year by the City Council. He indicated that the user fee would fund the repairs of the highest priority storm drain projects (Priority 1 and 2) spread out over the next 30 years. He described the City Council’s decision-making process up to the current time, the public hearing on April 19th to determine if the City will move forward with trying to implement the user fee and the mail ballot process.
Mayor Clark asked for questions from the audience.
Jim Knight, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked if the user fee was project specific or would the fee roll over at the end of 30 years. He also asked if the neighboring cities that drain into RPV would be asked to contribute.
City Manager Evans responded that only a few drainage systems from adjacent cities drain into Rancho Palos Verdes and he noted that the City couldn’t impose a fee on another city. He went on to state that the City will probably always need this revenue source, even after 30 years and that it was not project specific.
Mayor Clark noted that if the City receives new revenue streams in the future, the user fee might be reduced.
Steve Zuckerman, Mayor pro tem of Rolling Hills Estates, asked if the mail ballot would include pro and con argument about the user fee, similar to what was done for a regular ballot initiative.
Director of Finance/Information Technology McLean responded that, unlike a typical ballot initiative, no written arguments, either pro or con, are sent out with a mail ballot.
Mayor Clark noted that the City of Palos Verdes Estates used it Utility User Fee over a 20-year period to fix its storm drain system. He indicated that the City of San Clemente passed a ballot initiative in 2002 to create a dedicated revenue stream to fund storm drain repairs. He related that Mayor Joe Anderson said the initiative was a success due to public education and all segments of the city’s population pulling together to get behind this issue.
Dave Weston, Rocking Horse Road Homeowners Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that his neighborhood had privately-owned drains that the property owners maintained themselves. He asked if the City would help them to repair and maintain these drains.
City Manager Evans responded that the City was unable to use public funds to repair or maintain privately owned drains. However, he indicated that the City could determine if any of its public facilities were contributing runoff to these drains.
Mayor Clark added that this was a similar situation to private streets, in that the City cannot use public funds to maintain private roadways.
City Manager Evans suggested that City staff could meet with members of Mr. Weston’s homeowners association to discuss the specific issues in more detail.
Gus Mevers, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated his concern that the mail ballot was simply a yes or no vote. He asked if there would be any opportunity for landowners to contest how the fee for their particular property was calculated.
Director of Public Works Allison described the appeal process that would be available to property owners to dispute how the user fee for their particular property had been calculated.
Mayor Clark remarked that the user fee was not fixed, but was based on how much runoff a particular property contributed to the City’s storm drain system.
Jon Cartwright, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked if the user fee could be increased without a vote of the people and what would happen if the mail ballot failed.
City Manager Evans responded that the City Council could only raise the user fee by a maximum of 2% annually and that this action had to take place at a public hearing. He indicated that if the mail ballot failed, the City would have to wait until there was adequate revenue from the Long Point Resort Hotel project before beginning work on the identified storm drain projects.
Mayor Clark added that the alternative of waiting for the Long Point project to begin producing revenue put the whole community at risk from catastrophic failures of its storm drains similar or worse than what was experienced that winter. He felt that this had the potential to reduce property values as well as the quality of life for residents of the City.
Councilman Stern pointed out that it cost much more to repair a storm drain after if had failed, rather than the City being proactive and repairing the system ahead of time. He cited the San Ramon storm drain and landslide stabilization project and the recent sinkhole on Western Avenue at Westmont as examples of unpleasant surprises that ended up having high price tags associated with them.
Councilman Long citied the City of Palos Verdes Estates’ experience with the failure of a storm drain at Bluff Cove where that city was forced to purchase several damaged homes and which prompted it to embark on a program to repair and maintain its storm drain infrastructure to guard against similar situations from reoccurring in the future.
Richard Smith, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked if the user fee would be tax deductible.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz responded that the costs to repair any property damage caused by flooding would be tax deductible, however, although the proposed user fee would appear on the property tax bill, it was not a tax, but in fact a fee, and therefore would probably not be deductible. He recommended that individuals should consult with their tax advisors on this point.
Gina McLeod, Chair of the Finance Advisory Committee, also recommended that individuals consult with the tax consultant, but advised that a fee was generally not deductible.
Bill Gerstner, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked if the storm drain repair program was pay-as-you-go or would the collected fee be used as a line of credit to fund specific projects.
City Manager Evans responded that the City could do both. He indicated that the City staff preferred to use the pay-as-you-go method as much as possible, but the City may need to seek out loans in emergency situations. With a dedicated user fee in place, the City could use this revenue stream as collateral for a loan.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz advised that there was information on the City’s web site that included a matrix comparing the different types of funding mechanisms the City considered (as many as 15 or 16) before it narrowed the list to the most feasible alternatives.
Mayor Clark noted that the matrix was developed in 2003 when Mayor pro tem Wolowicz was the Chair of the Finance Advisory Committee.
Jim Jones, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked about the estimated process for the amount of the fee needed to fund the identified projects, citing the example of how much the City’s original cost estimates increased for the San Ramon project. He asked if a standard % deviation had been applied and also wanted to know how much of the funding would be applied to the Tarapaca Canyon project.
Director of Public Works Allison indicated that staff typically used a 25% contingency in its infrastructure projects. He felt that the proposed program would raise approximately $1.3 million per year, which would allow the City to complete all of the Priority 1 and Priority 2 projects over the next 30 years. He added that about every five years, the City staff would re-evaluate the project list to determine if the City was applying the best engineering practices available and make any adjustments accordingly. With regard to the Tarapaca Canyon project, he indicated that the total cost estimate was $4.5 million split three ways between RPV and the City and County of Los Angeles. Of the total amount, he felt that approximately $1.7 million would be the responsibility of RPV.
Lois Vannorsdall, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked how much revenue was expected from the Trump National Golf Course.
Mayor Clark responded that the amount of revenue received from the golf course, which included both sales tax and golf tax, would be significantly less than that expected from the Long Point Resort Hotel.
City Manager Evans remarked that the City expected to receive approximately $200,000 per year from Trump National Golf Course, which was most welcome, but not a significant revenue source to fund storm drain repair projects.
George Fink, Ladera Linda Homeowners Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, felt that the City Council should agree to set aside a certain portion of the revenue from the Long Point project to apply to reducing the user fee over time.
Mayor Clark thanked the audience for its attendance and participation in the discussion. He also asked the audience to consider the information presented at the meeting and to provide additional feedback to the Council about the proposed user fee.
Mayor Clark mentioned that the expansion to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center would be completed in fall 2005. He indicated that plans were moving forward to purchase the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve and called on Barbara Dye to make a presentation on the status of this effort.
Barbara Dye, Executive Director of the PVP Land Conservancy, introduced a video production the Conservancy recently completed regarding its private fund raising campaign to fund the open space acquisition effort. She presented the program to the audience and asked them to join the Conservancy in making the capital campaign a success. She concluded by stating that the Conservancy was hopeful that the two-thirds of the needed property could be purchased for the preserve by September 2005.
There were no requests to make public comments from the audience.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to adjourn the meeting.
Mayor Clark thanked the audience for attending and declared the meeting adjourned at 11:03 AM.
/s/ Larry Clark
/s/ Carolynn Petru