JULY 5, 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 7:01 P.M., the meeting was reconvened for regular session.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Clark
Mayor Clark advised the audience that Mayor pro tem Wolowicz would not be present this evening because he was out of town on vacation.
Also present were City Manager Evans; City Attorney Lynch; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru; Director of Public Works Allison; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas; Director of Recreation and Parks Rosenfeld; Senior Engineer Dragoo; Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani; Senior Administrative Analyst Waters; and Recording Secretary Denise Bothe.
Members of the General Plan Update Steering Committee jointly led the flag salute.
Mayor Clark expressed his gratification in seeing a very talented pool of residents who stepped forward to contribute to the community; and he recognized the efforts and dedication of those members who served on the City’s General Plan Update Steering Committee for the previous three years.
Mayor Clark asked the following members of this Committee to come forward to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from City Council for their efforts on the City’s General Plan Update Steering Committee: Mark Anderson (not present); Richard Bara; Brian Campbell; Susan Cote; Ken Dyda; Jack Karp; Jean Longacre; Arthur McAllister; Gina McLeod; Craig Mueller; Vic Quirarte; Ava Jordan Sheppard; and Don Schultz.
On behalf of Council and the City, Mayor Clark thanked every member for their participation in this effort.
Councilman Long noted that both he and Mayor pro tem Wolowicz were on the General Plan Update Steering Committee for a period of time, stating that he had the opportunity to work with all these Committee members; he commented them on the tremendous amount of work that had been undertaken by these members; and he thanked those members for their volunteer efforts.
Mayor Clark presented the “Did You Know Facts” for this evening regarding the process to be followed for the RPV Storm Drain User Fee mailed ballot election. He advised the audience that on June 21, 2005, Council approved the Storm Drain User Fee ballot election to be mailed out; and noted that the ballots had been printed and would be mailed out to the property owners on approximately July 8, 2005 – mentioning that there were approximately 12,300 ballots being mailed to property owners in RPV. He stated that if one supported the initiative, they would mark the yellow ballot “yes” and if one opposed to the initiative, they will mark the yellow ballot “no.” In order to have a completed ballot, the property owner would check only one of the boxes; noted that the name of the property owner needed to be printed and then signed and dated; and that the property owner was then to insert the ballot and seal it in the enclosed blue envelope and either return it by mail or hand-delivered to City Hall. He advised the audience that the ballots must be received no later than 8:00 P.M., August 30, 2005. Mayor Clark mentioned that only one ballot per parcel would be accepted and that only the original or an official duplicate ballot would be counted.
City Attorney Lynch explained that if someone were to lose their ballot, the property owner would need to fill out a form and submit it to the City Clerk so that a duplicate ballot could be provided to them.
Mayor Clark urged all RPV property owners to vote on this important initiative; stated that if anyone had questions about the mailed ballot procedure, they may call the City Clerk’s Office; and if they have questions regarding the Storm Drain User Fee, they may call the Finance Department.
City Attorney Lynch stated that the City would count one ballot per parcel and noted that only one owner per parcel was required to sign and date the ballot.
Mayor Clark mentioned that this information would be placed on the City’s website, suggested that the information be placed on the Breaking News page to make it easier to identify the location of this information. Mayor Clark thanked Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru for putting this information together for the Mayor’s Did You Know Facts.
Mayor Clark highlighted the City’s annual 4th of July celebration held the previous day at City Hall, and stated that from all reports, there was a very good turnout of participants enjoying the festivities. He noted that Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe was in attendance and that he spoke to the community; stated that several former Mayors of RPV participated in the festivities: John McTaggart; Barbara Ferraro; Mel Hughes; Ken Dyda; and Steve Kuykendall. On behalf of Council, he thanked the entire staff of the Recreation and Parks Department for another outstanding event.
Director Rosenfeld thanked Council for its continued support of the event and expressed his belief that this year’s event was one of the City’s finest. He encouraged everyone to participate in next year’s event.
Senior Administrative Analyst Waters estimated that approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people participated in the 2005 event; and announced that a number of homeowner associations, local individuals and local organizations in the City contributed funds to this event, which offset the cost by approximately $5,000.
In response to Mayor Clark’s comment about the staff on hand at this event, Director Rosenfeld advised Council that this was a mandatory workday for the entire Recreation and Parks Department because all the City parks were open and very busy on this day and that the staffing was doubled to accommodate the increased need.
Mayor Clark announced the name of the recycler winner from the meeting of June 21, 2005 - Jorg Raue; stated that all winners received a check for $250, which represented a year of free refuse service; and he encouraged everyone to recycle.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve the Agenda, as submitted. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Lois Larue, Rancho Palos Verdes, commented on an unmarked piece of property near the Seaview area that was being used as a turn-around area for motorists; and advised that a gate at this location had been locked to keep pedestrians and horses from entering into the landslide area.
CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
Mayor Clark requested a status report on the SOS traffic safety program from the Lomita Sheriff’s Station.
Lieutenant Herrera advised Council that during the prior weekend, 21 citations were written on Saturday and 14 on Sunday; that out of those 35 citations, there were approximately 13 for motorcycles for both days; and noted that because the Sheriff Deputies were making their presence known, this program was having a positive effect.
Mayor Clark stated that since the increased speeding enforcement program on Palos Verdes Drive East started, the gathering of motorcycle clubs on the weekends had decreased in size. He stated that the newspaper articles related to these enforcement efforts had also helped to curb the gathering of car/motorcycle clubs in RPV. He noted that this program allowed for the deputies to be repositioned throughout the City when there was a lull in activity along Palos Verdes Drive East, but indicated that for the past three weekends, the deputies had maintained their positions at the switchback area.
Councilman Gardiner mentioned that the roadwork scheduled to take place on Palos Verdes Drive East from July 7th to the 29th should also help to slow the traffic.
City Manager Evans indicated that this was a summer-long program; that if the road were closed due to roadway repair activities, traffic enforcement would not be necessary at those times; and he noted that because there was no road construction work on the weekends, there would still be the same level of speed enforcement activities on the weekends. He advised Council that the City would move the enforcement to other areas when necessary and that the City would continue to make good use of the program throughout the summer.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk reminded the audience that a list of previously discussed and continued items was posted on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Long requested that Item No. 4 be removed from the Consent Calendar - Border Issues Status Report.
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 from the Special Meeting of February 26, 2005, and the Adjourned Regular Meeting of February 26, 2005.
Repair of the Tarapaca Storm Drain (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed by a four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council’s previous action on December 21, 2004, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Tarapaca Storm Drain.
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-73, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-54, CREATING CERTAIN SALARY RANGES FOR THE POSITIONS OF ASSISTANT ENGINEER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, AND LEAD WORKER.
RE-INTRODUCED ORDINANCE NO. 422, "AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ADOPTING BY REFERENCE PART 3 OF TITLE 24 OF THE CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS, COMPRISING THE 2004 CALIFORNIA ELECTRICAL CODE AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE."
Received and filed the May 2005 Treasurer’s Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2005-74, 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.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve the Consent Calendar as amended. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Clark
ITEM REMOVED FROM THE CONSENT CALENDAR
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended that Council review the current status of border issues, and provide direction to staff, as appropriate.
Councilman Long expressed his belief that the Border Issues Status Reports should include the issue of garbage truck activities.
City Manager Evans stated that since it was a Public Works item, this matter should be kept as a separate item.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to approve staff recommendation for the Border Issues Status Report. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended that Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-__, REVISING CONDITION NO. 19 OF CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 230 (PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2005-00231) PURSUANT TO AN APRIL 4, 2005, ORDER OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Addressing Councilman Long’s concern with the District Court’s finding on Condition No. 19, City Attorney Lynch stated that the judge understood the breadth of Condition No. 19; and expressed her belief the clerk who wrote the judge’s opinion did not write it broadly enough. She stated that the judge was uncomfortable with requiring anyone to occupy the residence; that the judge stated she that found it completely reasonable to require the house be maintained in a habitable condition, both interior and exterior, so as not to create blight in the neighborhood and for the residence to be able to be used as such at any time. City Attorney Lynch stated that the judge’s ruling was clear regardless of this ambiguity.
Councilman Stern suggested that the reference on Page 11 of the resolution include not only the District Court order of July 14, 2004, but also the order of April 4, 2005.
City Attorney Lynch advised that the report/recommendation was provided to Mr. Kay’s attorneys and that at this point, staff had not received any comments back.
Mayor Clark opened the public hearing.
Tom Maciejewski, attorney from the law firm representing Mr. James Kay, stated that no comments had been submitted related to Condition 19; advised that they agreed with staff’s proposed revisions; and that they agreed with the City Attorney’s analysis of the ambiguity in the Court’s order. He stated it was clear at oral argument that the judge was uncomfortable with any occupancy requirement.
Mayor Clark closed the public hearing.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to adopt Resolution No. 2005-75, revising Condition No. 19 of Conditional Use Permit No. 230 (Planning Case No. ZON2005-00231) pursuant to an April 4, 2005, order of the United States District Court and to also include the July 14, 2004 order in the resolution. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended that Council 1) Conduct a public hearing on the proposed levy and allocation of the annual sewer service charge for the Abalone Cove Sewer System for Fiscal Year 2005-2006; and, 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-__, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING A REPORT IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEWER SERVICE CHARGE ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 13.06 OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE, DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF SUCH CHARGE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005-2006, AND ORDERING THAT SUCH CHARGE BE COLLECTED ON THE TAX ROLL.
Mayor Clark opened the public hearing. There being no requests to speak, Mayor Clark closed the public hearing.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005-76, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING A REPORT IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEWER SERVICE CHARGE ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 13.06 OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE, DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF SUCH CHARGE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005-2006, AND ORDERING THAT SUCH CHARGE BE COLLECTED ON THE TAX ROLL. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Stern commented on the following events he attended:
Councilman Gardiner stated that the Channel 33 Subcommittee had met twice and that the Committee would soon be forwarding a series of recommendations to Council for consideration.
Councilman Long commented on the following events he attended:
Mayor Clark commented on the following events he attended:
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Emergency Preparedness Committee Progress Report (401)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that just prior to the meeting, Chair Hughes indicated that he would not able to attend this evening’s meeting.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to continue this matter to the July 19, 2005, City Council meeting. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Grant Application for Acquisition of Open Space (602)
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended Council 1) Approve the application for grant funds from the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation, Bond Act of 2000 for Per Capita Grant in an amount up to $408,000 and Roberti-Z'Berg-Harris Block Grant in an amount up to $130,878 for the acquisition of critical natural lands and wildlife habitat in the Portuguese Bend area and Agua Amarga Canyon for preservation as open space; 2) Approve the application for grant funds from the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation, Bond Act of 2002 for Per Capita Grant in an amount up to $220,000, and Roberti-Z'Berg-Harris Block grant in an amount up to $85,930 for the acquisition of critical natural lands and wildlife habitat in the Portuguese Bend area and Agua Amarga Canyon for preservation as open space; 3) Approve the application for grant funds from the County of Los Angeles, Regional Park and Open Space, for Proposition A (Measure A) Grant in the amount of $140,000 for the acquisition of critical natural lands and wildlife habitat in the Portuguese Bend area for preservation as open space; and, 4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005- __, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY05-06 FOR BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS TO THE CITY’S CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS FUND.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to waive staff report and to approve staff recommendation, thus adopting Resolution No. 2005-77. The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Clark
Councilman Stern noted for the audience that the City was moving forward with open space land acquisition activities and that the City was in the process of applying for some of the associated grants.
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended Council ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2005- __, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ACCEPTING THE CITY OF ROLLING HILLS’ PLEDGE OF ITS PER CAPITA FUNDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $220,000 TO THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES TO BE USED FOR PRESERVATION OF OPEN SPACE IN THE PORTUGUESE BEND AREA; and, 2) Approve the application for grant funds on behalf of the City of Rolling Hills, at a time determined by the City of Rolling Hills, from the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation, Bond Act of 2002 (Proposition 40) for Per Capita Grant in the amount of $220,000 toward the acquisition of critical natural lands and wildlife habitat in the Portuguese Bend area and Agua Amarga Canyon for preservation as open space.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to waive staff report and to approve staff recommendation, thus adopting Resolution No. 2005-78.
Mayor Clark advised his colleagues that he appeared before the Rolling Hills City Council at the meeting when it passed the resolution gifting $220,000 to the City Rancho Palos Verdes for open space acquisition.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Clark
It was the consensus of Council to send a letter thanking the City of Rolling Hills City Council for its generosity, signed by all Council Members.
Consideration of an Ordinance that will prevent people from using vehicles that are parked on public streets or parking lots as dwelling units and will allow the City Council to establish an administrative fee to reimburse the City for the costs it incurs in having vehicles removed, impounded or stored (1502)
The staff report of July 5, 2005, recommended Council INTRODUCE ORDINANCE NO. 423, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ESTABLISHING THE AUTHORITY TO ADOPT A FEE TO REIMBURSE THE CITY FOR THE COSTS INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE REMOVAL, IMPOUNDMENT AND STORAGE OF VEHICLES AND PROHIBITING THE PARKING OF VEHICLES THAT ARE USED AS DWELLINGS ON CITY STREETS AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve staff recommendation. This motion carried as follows:
AYES: Long, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Clark
Bicycle Turnout along Palos Verdes Drive South (112 x 1411)
City Manager Evans advised Council that as part of the Trump National Golf Club project, a bicycle turnout was required to be constructed along Palos Verdes Drive South, the design of which must be approved by Council; noted that a sketch of the proposed design for the turnout was on Page 6 of the staff report; and stated that the turnout would be located between Palos Verdes Drive East and the small service road that provide access to a vacant lot just up the coast from the intersection of PVDE and PVDS in the large open space that was created when the road was realigned. He mentioned that the original location was below the homes in this same area, but that the homeowners had requested that it be relocated slightly down the coast so that it would not be just below their homes. He stated that this turnout would provide an opportunity for bicyclists using PVDS and PVDE to pull off the roadway for a rest stop.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to approve the bicycle turnout on PVDS, as proposed, to be constructed by Trump Enterprises. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
City Council Meetings, Workshops and Events (307)
City Manager Evans highlighted the recommendation for Council to identify desired Adjourned City Council Meetings, Workshops and City Events for the next four months, set the dates and times for those meetings, workshops, and events; and to provide staff with instructions for special formats, issues and guests to be invited for each event. He noted that there were opportunities for additional workshop events that may be possible for the remainder of the year, noting those suggestions on Circle Page Nos. 2 and 3 of the staff report.
Mayor Clark encouraged participation in the League of Cities Annual Conference in Monterey, the Mayors and Council Members forum, July 27th through the 29th.
City Manager Evans stated that the City’s annual holiday reception was usually scheduled on the first Monday in December so that it wouldn’t conflict with receptions of other holiday events; advised that this event was tentatively scheduled to take place at the new Point Vicente Interpretive Center, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. There was Council consensus to schedule the annual holiday reception for December 5th.
Councilman Gardiner suggested scheduling a joint meeting with the Planning Commission Workshop immediately after the fall Community Leaders Breakfast; and suggested combining the Council/Sheriff Management Workshop with the Joint meeting with the Traffic Safety Commission.
Council was supportive of Councilman Gardiner’s suggestion, indicating that the joint meeting with the Planning Commission Workshop would take place after the breakfast on Saturday, October 22nd, starting at 11:00 P.M. and going no later than 2:00 P.M.
Councilman Gardiner advised his colleagues that he may be in Alaska on that date, but noted that he would contact staff when he knew for certain.
City Manager Evans advised Council that Mayor pro tem Wolowicz had indicated that he would not be available on August 6th for the Traffic and Sheriff Workshop.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that staff check with the Sheriff’s Department and the Traffic Safety Commission on their availability for a joint meeting date.
Mayor Clark suggested a naming contest for the new park at Trump National Golf Course and that the winning name be unveiled at the actual dedication ceremony; and he suggested that the names of the City’s founders be incorporated into the signage at the park. He suggested further that the City’s founders be invited to the dedication ceremony, where they could be recognized for their efforts.
Councilman Long stated that the dedication of the new park and cable television studio would require a budget adjustment of $13,500; commented that the adopted City budget projected that the City would spend $800,000 more than the City was expected to receive in revenue; and stated that he was reticent, as worthy as this cause was, to approve further expenditures – noting that one-time expenses seemed to become regular expenses. He stated he was not favorably disposed to anything that would required a budget adjustment, given the City’s uncertain future and especially pending the outcome of the storm drain user fee mail ballot election.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Clark, to appropriate the funding necessary for planning the two dedication events.
Councilman Gardiner stated that there were few occasions in a City’s history when there was an opportunity to do something elegant and with style; and he expressed his belief this was the grand occasion appropriate for the proposed expenditure. He added that the opening of the multimedia studio/television station would serve the community on a daily basis and in case of emergencies; and stated that the park dedication was also a grand occasion that should be recognized in the same fashion.
Councilman Long expressed his belief that these were not the kind of event(s) that warranted further busting of a budget that had already been exceeded.
Mayor Clark stated that the $13,500 was the budget and not the actual cost and indicated that the City would be looking for financial support and participation by the Chambers of Commerce, businesses and other entities wishing to help defray the cost of this event. He recommended amending the motion to direct staff to explore the possibility of public/private partnerships in funding this event.
Councilman Gardiner accepted the friendly amendment, noting that the City would receive those contributions with great appreciation. He suggested that those who donated to the event be recognized during the ceremony.
The amended motion passed as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Clark
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to form an ad hoc subcommittee of Council to work on this event with staff and that Mayor Clark and Councilman Gardiner serve on this subcommittee.
The motion carried as follows:
AYES: Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Clark
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 8:36 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 8:42 P.M.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that she had distributed late correspondence to Council that evening related to this item and that additional materials were also provided.
Director Rojas presented the staff report and the recommendation to receive and file the report on the status of construction issues for the project at 2 Yacht Harbor Drive. He noted that he participated in a site visit that day, stated that he saw that the stone cutting operation had been downscaled, that there were 3 saws rather than 7; and was advised by the applicant’s contractor that the large scale stone cutting operation had almost been completed and that it would likely take approximately 3 weeks to complete the stone cutting operation and remove the saws from the property.
Director Rojas stated that the building permits were valid for 30 months, concluding in August 2005; noted his understanding from the applicant’s contractor that the owner expected to be done sometime in October 2005; and indicated that most of the building construction was completed; and that they were starting to finish grading activities and were steadily moving toward the end of the construction phase. He advised Council that there was extensive landscaping proposed for the site, noting that there was an approved landscape plan; and stated that in approximately 2 to 3 weeks, the property owner would be taking delivery of a huge supply of landscaping plants that would likely be stored on the rock mesa area prior to being placed in the ground.
Director Rojas confirmed that same day that there was no trash being stored on the rock mesa; that the trash bins were filled with construction materials that were still needed to complete this project, such as forms, brackets and rebar; and advised Council that the property owner would be removing the truck from the site and that hey had agreed to restack some of the usable material and make it as low as possible. He reiterated that upon his site inspection that day, there was no trash or anything that constituted a violation of the conditions of approval for the project on the rock mesa. Director Rojas advised Council that staff received a certification report from the project engineer certifying that the site had been graded to plan; however, he stated that staff stopped short of accepting that certification because after it was submitted, some drainage work was performed on the certified portion of the rock mesa. He explained that there was a bench drain that was supposed to go along the edge of the rock mesa that was originally to be earthen, but the property owner decided to construct it out of concrete; and because this was technically a change to the plan, the Planning Department needed a detailed plan of that drain and that the finished grade in the area where the drain was installed would need to be re-certified, noting that the property owner had been advised of the need to recertify this rock mesa area. He noted that the City did not perform its own independent certifications; advised Council that the neighbors had asked for an independent certification; and indicated that it was up to Council to determine if an independent certification was necessary. If Council required an independent certification, he indicated that staff would need authorization to fund the expenditure, believing it would cost approximately $2,000 to $4,000 to re-certify the rock mesa area.
Director Rojas noted for Mayor Clark that since he had been with the City, he was not aware of the City ever conducing an independent grading certification. Director Rojas added that there was some concern from the neighbors with regard to trees that were brought onto the property the week prior, noting that these trees were clearly too tall to meet the conditions of approval; advised that the contractor had been advised of this condition; and stated that the contractor indicated the trees were taller than what they had expected. He added that no trees had been planted to date and stated that only those trees were trimmed down to the correct height could be planted, that the others would be required to be removed from this site. Director Rojas reiterated that at the current time, the construction activities were in compliance with all conditions of approval and that there were no violations that were witnessed on the site that day. He added that the Building Official had not been required to cite the contractor for any violations.
In response to Councilman Gardiner’s question regarding the activities on site, Director Rojas indicated that when issues had been brought to the staff’s attention by the neighbors, the building inspectors had notified the contractor and, the contractor had corrected those situations. He reiterated that the contractor believed the project would be completed in October 2005; and that if the City approved the request for a 6-month extension, the building permit would expire in February 2006.
Mayor Clark questioned what would happen if the work were not completed by February 2006.
City Attorney Lynch stated that she would need to research that scenario and get back to the Council on some possible remedies at that point.
Based on their initial project plan schedule, Mayor Clark questioned how far this project was off the target.
Director Rojas estimated that the project was behind schedule by approximately two to three months from the last schedule. Director Rojas reiterated for Councilman Long that there were no violations of any of the conditions to the permits and no current violations of any City ordinance, including any noise violations. He stated that a builder could do whatever was reasonably necessary to build a new home on the property as long as it did not violate a City ordinance and as long as it complied with the conditions of the permit.
Mayor Clark advised his colleagues that he requested this matter be placed on the Agenda because there had been a great deal of concern expressed by residents in the Seaview area over this project and that Council had received a tremendous amount of email traffic about this issue.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised that during that evening’s recess, she had distributed to Council a colored map that was provided to staff by Ms. Bilski.
Lenee Bilski, Seaview resident, stated that the Johnson project had had a negative impact on the neighbors due to activities planned for the site but apparently not disclosed during the application process. She highlighted the neighbor’s frustration over the project’s construction schedule being extended, noting that it was supposed to have been completed by summer 2004. She summarized the many issues of concern, such as grading violations, debris, stone cutting, structure elevations and revisions to the project; stated that the grading violations were both within and outside the Landslide Moratorium Area; noted that this project had significantly impaired views; and that the natural contours of the land had been greatly changed in the Moratorium Area due to the grading activities. She stated that there was an issue with the street grading; advised that there was now a terraced contour in the Moratorium Area; and stated that the views from the residential properties had been significantly obstructed because of the grading activities in the Moratorium Area. She questioned the measurements locating the Coastal Setback Line and questioned whether there had been excessive grading in this area.
Ms. Bilski stated that the residents would like the revised grading plan re-checked; that they would like to see the property re-surveyed, including the new storm drain, the road and the rock mesa area; and that the significant view obstruction be eliminated by bringing the grade back down to its original level, which was the main issue. She noted that the residents had previously asked for the stone cutting operations to be moved offsite.
Councilman Long summarized Ms. Bilski’s request for Council to require the stone cutting activity to be moved offsite, stating he was not sure on what basis Council would do that. He pointed out that staff had informed Council of the need for recertification on the rock mesa area and that staff had indicated that as of that day, there was no trash debris on the site.
Milton Rosen, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked that the area to be landscaped be restored to its original condition prior to construction, distributing photographs to Council depicting how the property appeared in 1994. He pointed out that nowhere in the two pictures was the elevation higher or even as high as PVDS; advised that it sloped down from PVDS all the way down to Yacht Harbor Drive, and stated that if it was a requirement to restore the land to its previous condition - noting that these photographs indicated what it was prior – meaning that the revised grading plan did not match the prior condition of the land. He stated that there were areas between the 200- and 220-foot elevation line that were now up to 225 feet in height; and asked that the grading plan be re-done or re-examined.
Ernest Moore, Rancho Palos Verdes, supported the previous residents’ comments.
Steve Hansen, provided a brief history of this project and the neighbors’ concerns; advised that the neighbors had worked with staff to resolve the issues of concern, noting that the stone cutting activity was a prior issue and continued to be a serious issue. He noted his confusion in allowing this type of operation in a residential area, stating his belief that this extensive stone cutting activity was a manufacturing activity. He stated that the stone cutting had been going on since 2000 and that time had run out on the permit for this activity. He noted that Mr. Johnson agreed to finish his stone cutting in April 2005; and expressed his belief the stone cutting would not be completed in three weeks, noting that there still was a huge amount of stone on site yet to be cut and a large portion of the home yet to have the stone veneer applied to it. He commented on what he believed to be inconsistent information provided by staff as far as the permitting of this operation, whether or not it was in the Landslide Moratorium Area; and stated that this project had caused the neighbors a huge amount of frustration. He stated that the stone cutting operation needed to cease and that an extension should not be granted. He stated that the missed deadlines were creating further frustration and stated that the activities taking place from 2000 to 2005 were beyond being reasonable. He noted that Mr. Johnson agreed to move the stone cutting operation inside the garage but advised that he neglected to follow through with enclosing the garage.
Councilman Gardiner noted his concern with staff’s findings versus the neighbors’ findings. He asked if the stone cutting operation was permitted and whether a condition had been imposed for this operation.
Director Rojas explained that staff considered considers this operation part of the residential construction process and was therefore permitted.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if there was a condition that the stone cutting not be allowed. Director Rojas indicated no.
Addressing Councilman Gardiner’s inquiry with regard to whether staff knew there would be stone cutting on site, Director Rojas indicated that staff knew there was going to be stone on the building; witnessed that pallets of stone were delivered to the site and therefore knew that there would be some stone cutting, but not to the extent that occurred.
Councilman Gardiner expressed his belief that had the Planning Commission known this type of stone cutting operation was to take place, the Commission would have placed a condition on those activities as far as its longevity; and he questioned what the City could do if it found that the owner had abused this privilege, suggesting that the operation be moved off site.
City Attorney Lynch noted that moving the operation off site would be an option, but stated that when this matter was last before Council in December 2004, Council directed that the stone cutting could continue provided it was placed inside the garage area.
Mayor Clark pointed out that Council believed at that time the operation would be completed in April 2005.
Councilman Gardiner expressed his belief that this activity had strained the patience of the neighbors and recommended that the rest of the stone cutting operation take place off site.
Addressing the height of the rock mesa grade, Director Rojas stated that staff had the approved plans which show the approved height of the rock mesa; and stated that a revision to the plan approved by staff brought the grade down further than what the Commission had approved. He stated that as a result there was a Planning Commission approved plan and a revised approved plan; and noted that this site conforms to those plans, although a final certification was still pending.
Director Rojas explained that the clock started when the building permit was issued; and advised that before the building permit was issued, there was someone on site doing something with the rocks, chipping or stacking them on pallets – pointing out this was the activity the neighbors were referencing that’s been going on before the permit was issued. He reiterated that staff was not sure what activity was taking place prior to the permit being issued, noting that he did not have that permit date in front of him this evening.
Debbie Hansen, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the massive stone cutting operation was not disclosed anywhere on the approved plans, application, or staff reports; noted her frustration with the time this activity had taken, believing it should not have been allowed in a residential area. She stated that the owner had missed five previous deadlines, thus creating more frustration for the neighbors. She distributed to Council photographs depicting debris on the site that was visible to the public; and expressed her belief that staff was giving conflicting and inconsistent answers to the neighbors’ concerns. She stated that the grade had not been reduced and that the City needed to re-examine this issue.
Mayor Stern asked if Ms. Hansen believed the stone cutting was a noise problem.
Ms. Hansen indicated that it was and that the stone cutting was louder than any other construction activity on site.
Tim Burrell, President of the Seaview Residents Homeowner’s Association, stated that the neighbors were very frustrated and urged the City to do whatever it could to minimize the noise and get the project completed. He suggested that the condition be specific, directing the stone cutting operation to be conducted in an enclosed area so the sound was minimized. He noted his support to lower the grade so that it minimized the view impact to the neighbors.
In response to Councilman Gardiner’s inquiry with respect to taking the stone cutting operation off-site, City Attorney Lynch stated that had staff known the magnitude of this operation at the time of project approval, staff would have required the stone cutting to be done off site or would have issued a special use permit to address this so it could have been further conditioned; explained that at this point, staff could tell the owner to take the stone cutting offsite, but noted her concern with the amount of time that this operation had already been occurring and to now say that the City found it to be an illegal operation would be problematic. She stated that Mr. Johnson would likely contest such a determination.
Councilman Gardiner highlighted the numerous extensions on the deadlines, going beyond what anyone thought would be necessary and clearly annoying the adjacent residents, testing their patience beyond all reasonableness; and stated that it would be reasonable to require the stone cutting operation to now be moved off site.
City Attorney Lynch advised that Mr. Johnson did represent to Council last December that the garage would be enclosed, but later explained that he couldn’t completely enclose it because of OSHA work standards; and that it was then up to Mr. Johnson at that point to have either moved the operation off site or to have the garage further insulated, vented or otherwise modified so that he could have enclosed the garage to attenuate the noise. She advised Council that the stone cutting noise needed to be reduced to a level that was compatible with other construction noise, that it shouldn’t be any louder than typical construction noise.
Councilman Long pointed out that the property owner was not present that evening and that the agenda item was not noticed for any affirmative action on any of the alleged violations.
City Attorney Lynch suggested that if Council wanted to give staff direction to further attenuate this condition, including a provision for the activity to be moved off site, staff would provide due notice to the property owner and that it could be brought back on a future agenda if Council wished to pursue further action.
Mayor Clark suggested that Council make a site visit to the property before any decision was made.
Councilman Long repeated staff’s assertion that the current grading was subject to further certification in the rock mesa area; that at the current time, there was no trash debris on site; and that none of the landscaping had been planted, pointing out that 3 out of 4 issues had already been resolved. He stated that the stone cutting operation was the remaining issue that needed further attention.
City Attorney Lynch advised Council that any unused material must be taken off site, but that construction materials still needed were allowed to remain on site.
Director Rojas reiterated for Mayor Clark that, according to the applicant, the stone cutting operation would be complete in approximately 2 to 3 weeks and that most of the saws would be removed from this site; and that once those saws were off site that would end the large-scale stone cutting operation. He stated that it was his understanding that the stones on the rock mesa area were going to be used as part of the landscaping project. He added that there was an approved landscaping plan and that the height of the trees would be required to conform to what had been previously approved.
City Attorney Lynch advised that Council could not add new conditions to the construction permit extensions.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Mayor Clark, to bring this matter back on the next City Council Agenda as an actionable item; to direct staff to explore and propose to Council noise mitigation for the stone cutting operation; and for Council and staff to make a site visit to the property prior to that meeting, with the property owner in attendance.
Councilman Long stated that he would be voting in favor of the motion, but pointed out that he was not supporting any of the affirmative relief that was being sought by the neighbors; noted that he would have to be persuaded that either the stone cutting operation violated a condition of the existing permit or violated a City Noise Ordinance; and urged staff in preparing their presentation in two weeks to Council that if, in deed, staff was going to recommend Council take affirmative action to minimize the noise from stone cutting, that staff outline for Council the legal basis for taking this action, so that was clearly defensible.
Councilman Stern asked if the stone veneer operation was something that the City required the property owner to disclose as part of the project application.
Director Rojas stated that yes, plans must show what the exterior of the building was going to look like; advised that the submitted plans did show the stone veneer, but indicated that the City does not require the details of how construction applicants intend to obtain that stone. He noted that the owner provided the required information as far as the plans were concerned, but stated that staff did not assume they were going to cut all of the stone on site.
Councilman Gardiner mentioned that it would be reasonable for staff to assume that the stones for the veneer would be purchased, rather than the property owner taking large stones and cutting them down to size on site.
City Attorney Lynch echoed Councilman Gardiner’s comment, noting that there was always some degree of trimming that took place on construction sites, whether the material was tile, stone, or wood.
Councilman Long stated that it was not fair to a property owner for the City to say that they were guilty of misrepresentation because they didn’t provide the City with information that was not required and that, therefore, because of that misrepresentation, the City was going to disrupt their construction project. He stated that Council needed to focus on any violations of the conditions or City ordinance, placing the City in a stronger position to defend its actions.
Mayor Clark stated that there was matter of degree, and in this case he felt the situation went beyond the test of reasonableness.
City Attorney Lynch recommended that if Council wanted to make a determination that this was an illegal manufacturing operation, thereby compelling the stone cutting operation to be relocated, that this matter be addressed in closed session at the next meeting, followed by a discussion in open session.
Councilman Long asked that during the closed session, staff provide all arguments, pro and con, based upon the facts and to highlight the litigation risks of taking affirmative action, and whether there was any possibility of finding a violation of an ordinance or conditions of approval or other legal authority on which to take affirmative action.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that the closed session discussion be included in the motion. Mayor Clark concurred with that amendment.
Roll call vote carried on the amended motion:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Clark
Mayor Clark thanked the members of the Seaview community for their attendance and input.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch advised the audience that during the closed session, Council addressed the issue of applying for grants to purchase open space, but that Council took no action during closed session. She noted that Council did take action in open session that evening to authorize staff to apply for grants up to $1 million for the purchase of open space.
At 10:10 P.M. the meeting was adjourned. There being no objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
/s/ Stefan Wolowicz
/s/ Carolynn Petru
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