RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL/PLANNING COMMISSION
ADJOURNED REGULAR MEETING/JOINT WORK SESSION
JANUARY 31, 2006
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 P.M. by Mayor Wolowicz at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, and was immediately recessed to closed session. At 7:22 P.M., the meeting was reconvened for regular session.
City Council roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Gardiner, Long, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Planning Commission roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Gerstner, Knight, Mueller, *Perestam (*arrived at 7:31 P.M.), Chair Tetreault
ABSENT: *Karp (*abstained but was present as an audience member)
Also present were City Manager Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru; City Attorney Lynch; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas; and Senior Planner Mihranian.
The Flag Salute was led by Planning Commission Chair Tetreault.
Lenee Bilski, Rancho Palos Verdes, invited everyone to attend a fundraiser musical concert that Friday evening at the Rolling Hills Covenant Church on Palos Verdes Drive North, noting that the proceeds would benefit school music programs.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
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.
Interim Improvements to Barkentine/Seacove and Other Miscellaneous Drainage Improvements (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed by four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council's previous action on October 18, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to construct interim improvements to Barkentine/Sea Cove and other miscellaneous drainage improvements.
Repair of Four Storm Drains (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed by four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council's previous action on November 15, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair storm drains on Palos Verdes Drive South, Silver Arrow, Crest Road, and Pontevedra.
Pontevedra Emergency Storm Drain Repairs (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed by a four/fifths (4/5) vote the Council's previous action on December 6, 2005, to authorize staff to conduct an informal bid process to repair the Pontevedra storm drain line.
Approval of the Minutes (301)
Approved the Minutes of January 9, 2006 and January 10, 2006.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long to approve the Consent Calendar. The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Gardiner, Long, Stern and Mayor Wolowicz
Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project - Public Pre-Screening Workshop (1203)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that several items of late correspondence had been distributed to Council and the Planning Commission on this item, including a stapled packet of materials from staff, a demographics booklet, and Burden of Proof Statements; and noted that she had 59 requests to speak on this item.
With the goal of moving the workshop along in an efficient manner, Mayor Wolowicz asked that the speakers be mindful of not becoming redundant with their comments and presentations; explained that this meeting would be similar to the scoping meetings the Planning Commission had conducted on this topic; that the Planning Commission would continue to hear the matter at future meetings; and indicated that the purpose of this evening’s meeting was to gather input from all concerned parties, noting that no action would be taken that evening by either the City Council or the Planning Commission.
Councilman Stern stated that on the previous Sunday he toured the Marymount property with Jack and Lois Karp; that when he was president of the RPV Council of Homeowner’s Associations, and not a City Councilman, he was invited by the Karps and other residents in the area of the college to meet with them as they were organizing to address this project proposal; that he had socialized with the Karps as well as many of the residents who are interested in this project; that he had attended various events at Marymount College over the years, on one occasion at the invitation of Dr. McFadden; that he had attended a number of events at the college during his years on City Council; that the previous year, he gave a lecture to one of Professor Robbins’ classes on local government; that he was scheduled to give a similar lecture in Professor Robbins’ class in March 2006; and stated that he had no bias toward either side on this matter.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he toured the Marymount College property with Lois Karp; that he welcomed the opportunity to tour the property with a Marymount representative; and indicated that when he was Mayor, he and City Manager Evans met with Dr. McFadden and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Marymount College to discuss various issues concerning the college.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that he toured portions of the Marymount College property the previous Saturday with Lois Karp; noted that he welcomed the opportunity to tour the property with Dr. McFadden as well; explained that the site visit consisted primarily of Ms. Karp pointing out to him where various new structures were proposed to be built; and advised that while serving on the Planning Commission, he had participated in what were hearings related to an earlier version of the plan, noting that his comments during those hearings were a matter of record. He stated that it was important for everyone to keep in mind this evening’s meeting was a prescreening workshop for purposes of gathering input and noted that nothing in the preceding should be constructed to constitute, permit or result in any binding determination or entail any decisions about the project.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that he had participated in two tours of the Marymount College property, first with Lois Karp and, secondly, with Dr. McFadden, noting his appreciation of their time and comments.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he attended two meetings where Marymount College was the topic: the first being an annual homeowner’s meeting on January 28th, where Dr. McFadden provided an overview of the proposed project and fielded questions from the audience; and second, the City’s Traffic Safety Commission meeting that was held on January 30, 2006. He indicated that he has no formal connections with either group.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight stated that he had not had an opportunity to tour the Marymount College property, but indicated that he looked forward to participating in a tour in the near future.
Commission Chairman Tetreault stated that he had not toured the Marymount College site, but that he also welcomed the opportunity to participate in a tour in the near future.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that she now had 62 requests to speak from the audience regarding the Marymount project.
City Attorney Lynch explained that no binding decisions about the project would be made that evening; that all the input provided by the public, City Council, or the Planning Commission was simply to provide comments and general reactions to the proposed project; and that Council and the Planning Commission would only render a final decision following the close of a duly noticed public hearing – pointing out that Council may not even hear this item unless the Planning Commission’s decision was appealed. She added that Marymount College was free to accept or reject any of the suggestions or comments made by anyone that evening and reiterated that this was a completely nonbinding and informational workshop for both sides.
Commission Chair Tetreault announced that Commissioner Perestam had arrived and joined the meeting.
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report describing the proposed project with the assistance of a PowerPoint presentation and a recommendation for Council to conduct a pre-screening workshop on the proposed Marymount College Facilities Expansion project and to provide staff and the applicant with input on the issues to be analyzed as part of the formal application review process.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight questioned how much of the proposal was new building footprint on the property.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that there was a total of 121,092 square feet of new structures being proposed.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight asked that the Commission be provided at some point with a copy of the original Conditional Use Permit (CUP) No. 9 for review.
Senior Planner Mihranian indicated that staff would provide all of the background documentation to the Planning Commission in the future.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight noted that the Institutional zoning district and the General Plan was silent with regards to on-site residential facilities and asked if this issue would be addressed through the Conditional Use Permit. He also asked if the current CUP had to be in compliance with the underlying zoning in order for the City to move forward on the project.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that compliance with the Institutional zone would be addressed through the CUP; that the project would have to be found in compliance prior to moving forward on the project; and noted that this analysis would be done at some point in the future.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight stated that he had reviewed some of the development criteria for the Institutional zone, such as deliveries, mechanical equipment, noise levels, and asked whether the analysis on these impacts was limited to the properties abutting the college property or if it extended to other properties in the nearby neighborhood.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that the analysis would apply to contiguous properties, which were those properties abutting the college campus boundaries.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight stated that he would like clarification on the difference between day, weekend, and part-time student enrollment; and questioned if a biological resources study would be performed during the review process. He also asked who prepared the Marymount College Campus Modernization Plan that was included in the staff report.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that biological issues would be addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report and indicated that a biological study was currently underway. He advised that the excerpts from the Marymount College Campus Modernization Plan included in the staff report materials came from the project binder prepared and submitted to the City by the college.
Mayor Wolowicz opened the public hearing.
Dr. Tom McFadden, President of Marymount College, expressed his belief Marymount’s improvement plans for the college would find a middle ground; and stated their priority was to upgrade and enhance the college’s existing facilities while creating a safe and secure residential environment on the campus, noting that safe housing was the number one concern of the students’ parents. He explained that Marymount was not a traditional two-year community college; that it was different because its mission was to prepare its students to transfer to selective four-year institutions; that its identity was rooted in the Catholic heritage; that it was a small college embedded in a closely knit community; and that its students were nurtured in a highly supportive manner. He indicated that the college attracted students from 20 countries and many states throughout the U.S., noting that many of their students had gone on to attend some of the nation’s finest universities after attending Marymount College. He explained that the proposed improvement plan was for those students who came to the college for a secure homelike setting that enriched their college experience. Dr. McFadden stated that students requested housing that was within walking distance from the library, the chapel, their classrooms, etc., and did not prefer off-campus housing that forced them to travel between their residences and the main campus.
Dr. McFadden stated that Marymount College had maintained a respectable presence in the community since 1960, longer than many of its neighbors, had been at its current site since 1975; and stated that he was confident the community did not want to drive the college out or make it impossible for the college to provide the facilities that other colleges typically provide for its students. He noted the need to improve the campus in order for Marymount College to compete for students in a very competitive arena; and expressed his belief the City’s decision on the improvement plan would have a substantial influence on their ability to function as a strong educational institution in the future.
With regard to the split campus alternative proposed by the Concerned Citizens Coalition Marymount Expansion (CCCME), Dr. McFadden stated that this alternative should be studied in the EIR but expressed his belief that from an environmental and practical standpoint, this option would not work; and that there were many reasons it was undesirable, with traffic being the main concern. He stated that one of the major reasons this alternative would not work was because the college was not able to develop all of the 11 acres in San Pedro it acquired from the government through the Base Reallocation and Closure Act; and indicated that he submitted to the City a 1988 report prepared for the U.S. Department of the Navy that called into question the geological stability of approximately 2 acres that would be required for the split campus alternative. He stated that some had suggested that Marymount did not fight hard enough for the Navy property during the Base Reallocation and Closure Act process, which he stated was incorrect; and explained that from the beginning, Marymount sought to obtain approximately 30 acres within the 59-acre site, but was granted only 11.3 acres at the end of the process.
With respect to geological concerns, Dr. McFadden encouraged everyone to review the reports prepared by Associated Soils Engineering, all of which he said had been reviewed and accepted by the City’s geologist. He explained that this mandatory geological investigation had demonstrated that the site could be safely developed even when very conservative engineering standards were applied; that by removing less stable areas of manmade uncompacted fill and replacing them with properly engineered compacted fill, their geotechnical consultant believed this would improve the overall stability of the campus; that providing engineered drains would reduce the amount of water on the slopes, further improving the existing geologic conditions; and he added that these issues would be examined and confirmed in the EIR.
Dr. McFadden stated that the primary landscaping plan on file with the City showed that over 200 new trees and hundreds of new shrubs would be planted on the property as part of the campus improvement plans; and noted that the extensive plantings would serve to aesthetically improve the campus, screen views of the buildings and help to provide erosion control. He indicated that numerous policies and provisions of the City’s General Plan and Municipal Code supported the college’s improvement plans, including the residential halls; and explained that Marymount College had previously received approval from the City to build housing for 200 students in the late 1970’s.
Dr. McFadden stated that the college was not proposing to build a large athletic facility; that this building would be a recreational facility to provide a place for the students to exercise, play sports and intramural games, a weight room, space for yoga and dance classes, and a single basketball court; and explained that it would serve the campus community and be a resource for the entire community. He indicated that they have no intention of requesting a change to the existing limit on the number of students at the college; and stated that he was confident they could find a way to provide some amount of on-campus housing available to students while they improved the campus facilities.
Scott Boydston, project architect, stated that his firm had been working on this project since its inception approximately 10 years earlier. With the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, he highlighted the various existing buildings on the campus, such as the preschool, bookstore, health center, photo lab, student union, chapel, faculty office building, classroom building, auditorium and administration building. He explained that the campus was organized with a mix of parking lots interspersed throughout the campus; noted that the narrow entrance on Palos Verdes Drive East was at an awkward angle, making it difficult to maneuver out into the intersection. He indicated that the parking lots on the south and north sides of the property had dead ends with awkward turnarounds and that there was a conflict with one-way and two-way traffic, all of which made it difficult to maneuver through this site; and stated that at the present time, pedestrians had to walk through the parking lots to get around campus, as opposed to walking on safe pathways.
Mr. Boydston stated that the existing athletic facilities were located on the east side of the property, including tennis courts, basketball courts and an irregularly-shaped field that did not support regulation play, which were located within close proximity to the residents on San Ramon Drive and Vista Del Mar. He pointed out the existing open space areas on the property, including the area to the south that sloped down to Palos Verdes Drive East, as well as a flatter open area on the west side of the campus and a natural drainage course separating the two areas. Mr. Boydston stated that the plan called for demolition of the existing buildings that were no longer working for the campus and noted that these buildings tended to be on the periphery of the site and housed functions that would be incorporated into the new plan, including the pre-school, bookstore, health center, photo lab and existing library. He stated that all of the parking lots needed to be reconfigured and repositioned on the campus in order to maximize the number of parking spaces available and to improve circulation and added that existing manmade extreme slopes would be removed with demolition of the lower parking areas. He stated that the athletic fields and the tennis/hard courts would be relocated to the west side of the campus and the extreme slopes that were created when those fields were built would also be removed.
Mr. Boydston stated that the student union, chapel, faculty office building, classroom building, administration building and auditorium would be retained; explained that a space had been reserved for the preschool if this organization decided to locate there; explained that the overarching concept was to provide all college uses on one site, make the layout more compact and remove building from the periphery of the campus that were interfering with view corridors. He explained that the majority of the new construction would be additions to the existing buildings, would follow the same massing concept seen on the existing campus and would step with the hillside to create one-story façades on the north elevation and two-story façades on the south elevation, so that the buildings would have very low profiles. With the aid of slides, he highlighted the new athletic building, stating that the ridgeline was comparable, within a foot or two, to the existing student union; that the new library building would be no taller than the existing auditorium; that the addition to the faculty office building would match the existing roofline; and that the new residence halls would be lower in roof elevation than the classroom building to the north. Mr. Boydston stated that the lounge in the residence halls would be the highest feature on these buildings, with a wall height of approximately 38 feet high on the south side and that the other walls on these buildings would be approximately 29 feet tall – pointing out that these buildings were not as massive and foreboding as some people had indicated.
Mr. Boydstron highlighted the new layout for the parking facilities, stating that the new circulation system would have no dead ends, would incorporate 90-degree parking stalls and include two-way travel lanes. He stated that the entrance to the college would be reworked so that it was perpendicular to the intersection to improve traffic flow; indicated that an information booth would be added for additional security element at the front of the campus; noted that all parking had been removed from the south side of the site; and that the playing fields would be relocated onto the west portion of the site and depressed down into the existing terrain. He explained that this was an appropriate location for the fields because it provided the greatest buffer from the surrounding residences. Mr. Boydston added that one of the main concepts in the new design was to make the pedestrian linkages internal to the site and remove them from the fringes in order to limit noise and minimize the disturbances to the surrounding neighbors; that the reorganization of the pathways would make the campus safer and reduce conflicts between pedestrians and vehicular traffic; and noted that this type of circulation system had worked well at other campuses. He noted that the design was sympathetic to the undeveloped south slope and that it would be impinged on as little as possible and retained as open space. Mr. Boydston stated that the entire campus would be thoroughly re-landscaped; noted that some of the existing trees would be removed along the edge of the southern parking where the dormitories would be built, but stated that they would like to reintroduce the same type of trees lower down the slope to screen the buildings as seen from below; and stated that they would do everything possible to keep the existing eucalyptus grove on the western knoll.
Mr. Boydston explained that the Draft EIR would include photo/computer graphic simulations of what the project might look like and displayed before-and-after representations of what he characterized as minimal effects on the view shed. Displaying a conceptual view of the library courtyard, he indicated that the library tower had been described as being 44 feet tall, but explained that it would not be visible off campus and was 32 feet tall measured to the roof peak. Referring to a rendering of one of the residence halls, Mr. Boydston explained that the buildings would be terraced to step with the natural terrain, would have tile roofs, Palos Verdes stone fascia and wooden rafters; and would be in scale and compatible with the surrounding Mediterranean architecture and residential nature of the area. He displayed two other renderings showing the central walkway through the middle of the campus and a view looking west towards the new athletic facility where the existing southern parking lot was located.
Councilman Stern noted that Mr. Boydston had indicated earlier that the auditorium and the library were essentially the same height, but indicated that the staff report indicated that the ridgeline of the auditorium would have an elevation of 942 feet, while the library would have an elevation of 956 feet.
Mr. Boydston responded that the building height could differ because the City measured height from the lowest side to the highest point.
Councilman Stern stated that the height he had referred to was a measurement above sea level.
Mr. Boydston responded that he did not have the staff report in front of him, but noted that the highest element on the library was the rotunda entry, which would be 32 feet above the plaza level.
Councilman Stern asked how much higher the library rotunda was compared with the rest of the building.
Mr. Boydston responded that because of the grade differences, one portion of the library had 17-foot high walls; another had 23-foot high walls and still another on the lower side had 29-foot high walls; and added that on the upper plaza, the library rotunda would be comparable in height to the auditorium.
With regard to building wall height, Commission Vice-Chair Knight asked Mr. Boydston if he was including the ridge height of the roof.
Mr. Boydston stated that wall height was measured to the eave, noting that the staff report identified it to the ridgeline.
Commission Vice-Chair Knight asked whether the parking lot adjacent to the residential properties on San Ramon Drive would be lower or higher than the adjacent properties.
Mr. Boydston noted that their intention was to hold the existing grade line at those property lines.
Mayor Wolowicz asked how much the existing extreme slopes referred to earlier were going to be reduced and questioned if it was Marymount’s intent to eliminate the need for on-street parking.
Mr. Boydston stated that the plans was to remove the existing parking lot and return the slope to its natural grade, thereby removing a manmade 35-percent slope that was created when the parking lot was originally constructed. He indicated that the ultimate goal was to have all the parking onsite; that a traffic study would be performed as part of the EIR process to determine the campus’ parking need and then provide that number of spaces in onsite parking.
Don Davis, Burke, Williams & Sorenson, project attorney, explained that his law firm had a vested interest in Marymount College because one partner in his firm served on the college’s Board of Trustees and another colleague was a graduate of the college. He explained that he would be focusing his comments on the issue of General Plan and Zoning Code compliance. He indicated that an addendum had been distributed to the City Council and Planning Commission that evening that included an excerpt from the college’s lengthy application package dealing with the issue of General Plan and Zoning consistency. He stated that Marymount had been in Palos Verdes since 1958; that when the City’s General Plan was adopted in 1975, the City was aware that the college was moving to its new location on Palos Verdes Drive East; that there were a number of specific policies in the General Plan that encouraged the development of institutional facilities, encouraged programs for education and recreation, and encouraged the building of facilities the public could use; and noted that it was not surprising in a city of this size that the college was used by so any members of the community. He explained that with all these policies in place in 1975, the college received a CUP for this specific location; that three years later, the college came before the City and was approved for 200 dormitories; and that the idea of providing residential units at Marymount College was a known interest, contemplated and understood many years ago and was at one time approved by the City. He explained that for financial reasons, the college was not able to build the approved residential units; and that Marymount College was now proposing nothing new or inconsistent with the earlier approval. He mentioned that numerous mitigation measures would be discussed when the environmental documents became available; and stated that the City’s Zoning Code also contemplated dormitory use in the Institutional zoning district.
Christine Leible, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted her support for the Marymount College improvement plan not only as a resident of the City but also as an employee of the college; stated that her dual relationship gave her a broad and well-informed perspective regarding the proposed project; and stated that Marymount had successfully fulfilled its unique mission for countless generations of college students. Ms. Leible explained that Marymount’s current facilities were inadequate and needed to be improved in order to continue to fulfill its mission for future generations and to continue to serve the community. She noted that Marymount had made changes to the project in response to the neighbors’ concerns. She explained that instead of three residence halls, the college was now proposing two; with regard to the issue of street parking, Marymount had responded by including additional onsite parking spaces; that traffic would be mitigated by on-campus residents taking far fewer trips down the hill; that Marymount’s plan would preserve sensitive view corridors; and that the new landscaping would be appropriate, tasteful, consistent with the neighborhood and sensitive to the land’s ecology. She added that Marymount’s plan was good for the local economy and would benefit the entire community; and she urged support of Marymount’s proposal.
Mike DeNarde, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was an immediate neighbor of the college; that his wife attended Marymount High School; that he attended a Catholic university for four years; and that he was supportive of this type education. He expressed his opposition to the Marymount expansion. With the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, he indicated that he was concerned about the close proximity of the project to the adjacent residents, that the expansion would reduce property values, result in high crime, increase noise and traffic, cause late night disturbances in the neighborhood, result in construction issues, and result in negative geological impacts. He stated that there would be approximately 200 feet between the closest residents and the proposed dormitories; explained that the backyards of residents on San Ramon Drive would border a large parking lot, some with a separation of only 3 feet; and questioned what Marymount’s record was for disturbance at its existing offsite student residential facilities in terms of crime, drugs and alcohol abuse, believing that these might become a problem in their neighborhoods if dormitories were brought on site. He expressed his belief that most of the people speaking in favor of Marymount’s proposal were not residents of the immediate area, specifically Vista Del Mar and San Ramon Drive; stated that no one living on Vista Del Mar supported the proposal and that very few living in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods supported the proposal. He stated that the project would generate additional traffic; that the number of trips to and from the campus would increase; and that the surrounding property owners would experience traffic late into the evenings. He stated that a dormitory housing 250 students was high density housing in a single-family neighborhood, stated that he expected property values to decrease by one-third if the project was built; and he requested that the impact to property value be included as part of the EIR.
Lois Karp, Rancho Palos Verdes, Chair of Concerned Citizens Coalition Marymount Expansion (CCCME), stated that CCCME submitted an alternative plan to be studied as part of the EIR process, believing this alternative was a good compromise for everyone; and explained that CCCME was a coalition of homeowners who resided in the area immediately surrounding Marymount College. She stated the college was located in an Institutional Zone and was controlled by a CUP; stated that many area residents were there long before the college located to this site; stated that the Institutional Zone was grandfathered in after Rancho Palos Verdes became a city; indicated that at the time of incorporation the site was occupied by a parochial school housing 60 to 80 girls, not Marymount College; stated that the Institutional Zone applied to any property with a school located on it; and indicated that no public hearings were held when the City established the Institutional Zone on this property. She stated that there was no mention of housing being allowed in Institutional Zones in the City’s General Plan; noted that Policy 6 in the Urban Environment Element of the General Plan stated: "Review the location and site design of future institutional uses very carefully to ensure they are compatible with adjacent sites"; explained that over time, it was Marymount College that had grown, not the neighborhood or the infrastructure supporting it; and noted that the residents had co-existed with the college for over 30 years through many incremental increases in the size of the college and its student population.
Ms. Karp indicated that there was a buffer zone running along the west and south sides of the college property; that this buffer zone was part of the reason the adjacent residents had been able to co-exist with the college; and that it was very important to keep this buffer zone between the residential area and the college. She stated the latest expansion proposal increased the footprint of the college to more than twice its current size; noted that the cumulative impact of the college on the surrounding neighborhood must be studied; expressed her belief the proposed buildings would over-power the surrounding neighborhoods; and mentioned that most of the homes along Palos Verdes Drive East would be able to see the project. Ms. Karp stated that the buildings only appeared to be one level from the interior of the campus; explained that the surrounding residents all view the property from the exterior where the walls were proposed to be 44 feet high; and stated that computerized simulated view studies had proven to be unreliable in the past, citing the Trump National project as blocking views when the simulations showed no view blockage. She requested that the proposed buildings be silhouetted and flagged in addition to the computer drawings so that the residents could clearly understand where the buildings would be placed, how tall they would be, and how their homes would be affected; and she also requested that the applicant be required to provide a 3-dimensional model of the project that included the surrounding homes for the same purpose.
Ms. Karp stated that over the years, the college’s enrollment had increased along with the number of cars that were parked on their neighborhood streets; that if the size of the campus would be doubling, she questioned why it was only adding 120 new parking spaces, yet adding 250 residents to live there full time; she expressed her belief that Marymount should have 595 existing parking spaces, but noted it only currently had 343 spaces. She added that the new expansion plan had 463 spaces, which was not even close to the required 595 spaces. Ms. Karp stated that nowhere on the plans did it indicate how many student seats would be in the proposed college, noting this information was needed in order to calculate the number of parking spaces the college needed; she highlighted Municipal Code Section 17.26.040 which stated: "Where an Institutional Zone abuts a residential district, additional parking requirements may be imposed by the Director of Planning if warranted by a proposed project or use"; and she urged the City’s support in increasing the parking requirements. She added that the college had housed students off site for many years; asked that the City clarify what the student enrollment cap was at any given time; and stated that the CUP was silent with regard to the weekend college enrollment and stated this needed to be addressed and urged the City to enforce the college’s enrollment cap.
Ms. Karp highlighted what she believed would be adverse impacts created by the project, such as increased noise, pollution, traffic, inexperienced drivers on the area’s dangerous roads, and geological concerns associated with moving 8,000 cubic yards of dirt; she stated that the scenic hill with the existing trees should be maintained, but noted the plans which were submitted to her group indicated this area would be leveled down to the roadway and the trees removed; and asked that it be clarified whether this was in fact the proposal. She stated that she was very concerned with moving the dirt, highlighting the landslide stabilization project in San Ramon Canyon and landslides in other areas. She expressed her belief that Marymount College knew that two of the eleven acres it acquired as part of the Navy property were not useable; and explained that Marymount had referred to this 11-acre parcel as intended for "educational uses" as part of the college’s application for public benefit transfer of surplus Federal real property, a copy of which had been provided to Council that evening. She stated that there were currently 86 townhouses on that land which could house 500 students; in addition, Marymount owned an apartment building in San Pedro which housed 108 students; and noted that in order to obtain this Navy property, Marymount represented to the United States Department of Education (DOE) that it needed this housing because there was not enough space to construct housing on the main campus; and that in the application, Marymount stated, "For the first time in recent history, Marymount can begin to offer its students the type of community living that provides them accommodations and atmosphere that are conducive to their academic and personal growth." She added that Marymount had committed to the DOE to make significant improvements to that Navy site; that Marymount indicated that it would add computer labs, quiet study areas, a nurse’s room, an exercise room, laundry facilities, a cafeteria, and a lounge, all totaling $3 million. Highlighting Marymount’s desire to provide its students with safer living arrangements, Ms. Karp pointed out that the Navy property was fully fenced; with a guard house, a gate, and 24 hour guard service, and questioning what could be safer than that.
Ms. Karp stated that CCCME was proposing that the EIR consider an academic campus located on PVDE in Rancho Palos Verdes and a living campus located on PVDN in San Pedro, noting that this was not a new concept because it was the college’s current arrangement and that it had touted the success of this arrangement. She stated that CCCME was asking that some of the items planned for the PVDE campus be built instead at the PVDN campus, such as building the pool and the athletic facilities next to the student housing where they would easily accessible, and then improve the site on PVDE with all the academic facilities, such as a new library, arts studio, and student union. She stated that this alternative plan offered a way for Marymount College to have all the amenities it envisioned for the students, while allowing the neighbors to avoid the environmental impacts and the inappropriate intrusion of a large institution in their quiet residential neighborhood. She expressed her belief that the dormitories were in conflict with the General Plan, were not compatible with the surrounding single-family neighborhoods; that the height variances being requested along with the dormitories being built on an extreme slope did not follow the Development Code; and reminded Council that Rancho Palos Verdes was incorporated as a low density city because the County of Los Angeles was attempting to build apartments along the coastline. She stated that dormitories were denser than apartments; that they did not belong in this neighborhood or anywhere else in the City; and urged the City to carefully study the alternative plan, believing it to be a win-win solution.
Jack Karp, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that there were 3,842 dwelling units and 10,022 people residing within a one-mile radius of the Marymount campus and; noted that this single property owner wanted to impact this many people and dwelling units for its own benefit to raise funds, believing that the driving force behind the proposed expansion was economics; and stated that the Marymount campus on PVDN already met the college’s requirements for student housing. He stated that nowhere in the City Code did it state that dormitories were permitted; and questioned how the campus was allowed to have a student store when the Code prohibited such a retail commercial use. He stated that the proposed plans did not meet current Fire Department access standards, such as providing 28-foot driveways between buildings, 90 foot radius turnarounds, and apparatus access to the gymnasium; and stated that because of these deficiencies, the on site parking would be further reduced to ultimately comply with Fire Department’s standards. Mr. Karp stated that he did not see any mention of upgrading the buildings to meet current Fire Department Codes or to meet ADA requirements; and expressed his belief that the dimensions indicated on the drawings were inconsistent throughout the plans. He also stated that a risk analysis should be performed to study the worst-case scenario for geology on the property.
Dorian Dunlavey, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that her property was located on Vista Del Mar, a street that had been omitted from Marymount’s maps, drawings and discussions until that evening; stated that residents along this street would suffer the greatest impact from the Marymount expansion project; and noted that her property had the longest common boundary with the Marymount College property, 320 feet. She stated that Marymount had been successful as a two-campus college, yet had dismissed this alternative as not being possible or desirable; stated that Marymount was the recipient of Federal surplus property on PVDN as result of the college’s application for that property which clearly identified it as its living campus; and she urged the City to require Marymount to build its dormitories on its PVDN property. She expressed concern with Marymount’s plan to eliminate its preschool program, believing that this program was an asset to the community and should continue.
Jim Gordon, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted that he had provided City Council and the Planning Commission with objective data for that evening’s discussion; stated there was no precedent for dormitories in a residential area; noted that Marymount was incorrectly referencing examples of successful dormitories at other colleges, stating that these examples were much larger schools with more property and had been in existence for many years. He expressed his belief that the configuration of the land and its location was not conducive to what the college wanted to see on this property; and he expressed his belief Marymount had made a lot of questionable representations to the public through their web site, noting that the college had consistently represented itself as a residential campus and that they guaranteed on-campus residences for freshmen, which was not true. He stated that Marymount was a remedial junior college with a low graduation rate of 32 percent.
Tom Redfield, Ranch Palos Verdes, stated that he lived about 4 homes away from the campus; commented on the value of the green belt/buffer zone currently in place, noting that it should be maintained; indicated a desire to work with Marymount to upgrade its current facilities; and stated that he supported the addition of the dormitories and athletic facilities, but only on the Navy property. He stated that the green belt was also a view corridor; expressed his belief that the project as proposed was inconsistent with the City’s General Plan, highlighting the General Plan policy to preserve existing significant view corridors from future disruption or degradations.
Mitch Hahn, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted his opposition to the expansion proposal; stated that a 3-dimentional model was necessary to make it clear what was being proposed and how it would realistically impact the houses in the adjacent neighborhoods; stated that the existing dormitories at Marymount’s offsite campus had numerous violations, believing an onsite dormitory would create negative impacts for the nearby neighbors, such as increased crime. He stated that Marymount’s performance statistics reflect a low 32.5-percent graduation rate.
Laura McSherry, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she had lived on San Ramon Drive for 33 years; noted that there was a need to provide adequate lighting for pedestrian travel and parking lot activity, but stated that this illumination would negatively impact the neighborhood and was not consistent with a rural area. She addressed her concerns with noise that would negatively impact the families in the area, as well as her concerns regarding landslide activity surrounding San Ramon Drive and with the stability of the slopes.
Gregory Lash, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that a 3-dimensional model would be helpful; indicated that he lived approximately 100 feet from the entrance to the college; and noted that it was difficult to visualize how the proposed grading would appear when completed. He requested that Marymount be required to erect flags and silhouettes to indicate the proposed buildings.
Andy Losier, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was an employee of Marymount College as well as a resident of the City; stated that Marymount had been a wonderful neighbor; expressed his belief that a small college increased the quality of life in the community; indicated his support for the proposed plan and his excitement with the new resources that would be available to all residents on the Peninsula, believing it would have a positive impact on the community.
Father Ed Dillon, San Pedro, Chaplain at Marymount College, urged everyone to work together in reaching a compromise; indicated that he lived with the students residing at the former Navy base, along with 8 other faculty and staff members; stated that the college was a great asset to the community; and indicated his hope to create a seamless academic atmosphere where students could easily walk between their classrooms, residences and other campus facilities.
Justice Edward A. Hinz, Jr., Rancho Palos Verdes, retired Justice of the California Court of Appeals, stated that from his experience, there was nothing so important to reduce the crime rate as education; indicated that a study conducted in 1970 concluded that when children were involved with academic programs, crime rates dramatically dropped, which benefited every citizen; expressed his belief that this process has gone on for too many years; and stated that it was beneficial to have onsite housing and that it would behoove the community to promote this program and to make sure there housing was provided on the campus.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Wolowicz recessed the meeting at 9:30 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 9:42 P.M.
Nichole Julian, librarian at Marymount College, stated that the college needed a new library, even with the wealth of information available on the Internet; explained that books continued to be published and were a valuable tool for student research; indicated that they needed a larger library to house more books; explained that the new library would be able to store more books, provide an improved center for teaching and learning; that librarians teach students to locate, evaluate and use library information; that much of the space provided was instructional, and that it was a hands-on computer classroom as well as a reference area where students could consult with librarians on a one-to-one basis. She stated that the library also required a much-needed reconfiguration of study space, noting that study groups were becoming increasingly popular; and that increased space was necessary for quiet study. She noted that the new library would continue to benefit to the entire Peninsula community and would function as the heart of the college.
Angie Papadakis, Rancho Palos Verdes, described her involvement with the County Board of Education; stated that she was a strong supporter of Marymount college; pointed out that every building needed improvement after a certain number of years; explained that that the college was a cultural center for the entire community; that the building improvements would provide a win-win situation for the entire community; and she urged the City to allow the college to move ahead with its plans.
Nicole Boettcher, San Pedro, stated that she had just completed her first semester at Marymount College, believed it to be a remarkable school that offered a unique variety of opportunities for its students beyond what was offered at other area junior colleges; stated it was important for Marymount to improve its facilities, noting that it attracted motivated students from all over the world; and stated they deserved on-campus housing and outstanding recreational and academic facilities just as other colleges provided for its students.
Andrew Huddleston, San Pedro/Moreno Valley, noted his support for Marymount’s plans; stated that he was currently in his fourth semester at the college; and noted that this college had been a positive influence in his life and had provided him with a drive to succeed.
Dr. Sue Soldoff, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she lived near Marymount College and was a member of the Marymount Board of Trustees; and commented on her unbiased efforts to keep the neighbors apprised of the plans for this site. She noted that many of the opponents of the project often claimed to speak for everyone in the neighborhood, but indicated that there were many residents in the neighborhood who were interested in seeing the results of the EIR before making a decision on whether to support the project. She indicated that while she was in favor of the project, she also had some concerns with the project, but expressed her belief Marymount would work hard to come up with solutions to mitigate the problems. She added that Marymount welcomed community attendance at its various events.
George Zugsmith, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed his belief there could not be any compromise with respect to the project plans; he believed that these plans were flawed; and stated that there was no amount of compromise that could preserve the existing quality of life in the community. He questioned what type of protection would be put in place for landslides in this area; stated that the City needed to balance the interest of the community with the college’s goals; and expressed his belief that the dormitories should be located on the Navy property. He stated that the project created too much of a risk that could possibly bankrupt the City.
Kenneth Goldman, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he lived in the El Prado Estates area, less than half a mile from the entrance to Marymount College; expressed his belief that the dormitories planned in this expansion were out of character with the community; and noted that the El Prado Estates board of directors was opposed to the expansion. He urged the City to deny the applicant’s proposal, believing that the impacts to the neighbors would be excessive.
Sandy Farrell, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that those who attended Marymount were highly competent students; and she urged support of Marymount’s plans.
Jerry Ferrel, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Marymount’s students had been good neighbors to his family; indicated that the students had helped out in the community and were good citizens; expressed his belief that there were no significant view issues and that the dormitories on site would reduce traffic in the area. He urged support of Marymount’s proposal.
Marylyn Ginsburg, RPV, stated that Marymount College is a tremendous asset to this community; that the students were a great asset to the community; and she urged the City to approve Marymount’s plans.
Marc Harris, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Marymount had been a great neighbor; but expressed his belief the proposed expansion was in conflict with the City’s General Plan; that it would adversely affect the residents along San Ramon Drive; indicated that the proposed parking lot abutting the San Ramon properties had a 5-foot setback from the 11 adjacent homes and that it would be 5 feet to the nearest exhaust pipe from his backyard; stated that the interior, side and rear yard setbacks should be 20 feet; noted that where Institutional districts abutted residential districts, additional setbacks for structures, parking, and activity areas may be imposed by the Director and/or Planning Commission; and stated that while Marymount was moving parking off the street, it should not be at the expense of those San Ramon residents whose backyards abut the parking lot. He stated that the project conflicted with the General Plan in terms of protecting view corridors; stated that the structures, parking lot, masonry wall would significantly impact the neighbors; noted that various ocean views would be completely blocked; and that there would be noise impacts, especially for those residents who had only a 5-foot setback from the proposed parking lot, which would be full of vehicles and students at all hours. He stated that the plan had numerous conflicts with the Municipal Code; and that the proposed plan would significantly impact the neighbors’ quality of life on San Ramon Drive and would significantly affect their property values.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that he wanted to give the Council and Planning Commission members the opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the project.
Director Rojas noted for Councilman Stern that the EIR would include a discussion of Fire Department standards and an analysis of how well the project plans conform to these standards.
Councilman Stern asked for input regarding lighting issues/impacts.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that the City had received a lighting plan from the applicant; noted his recollection that Marymount was not proposing to light the athletic facilities, including the tennis courts, because outdoor lighting would require a CUP; and he indicated that there was security lighting located throughout the campus, as well as in the parking lots and the adjacent buildings. He stated that he was not aware of any significant changes in the lighting proposal.
Councilman Gardiner asked that the required number of parking spaces be confirmed; questioned when in the process the various requirements would be spelled out, such as Fire Department access throughout the site, when the turn-arounds would be built, whether those turnarounds must to provide access to the Fire Department, and whether these requirements would ultimately reduce the amount of parking onsite. He stated that some of the neighbors enjoyed beautiful views and stated that it was not clear how this project would affect those views; stated that he would like to know when in the process these issues would be clarified, questioning if it was before or after the project was considered by the Planning Commission, particularly the Fire Department requirements and the ripple effect those requirements might have on the design of the project.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that these issues would be addressed in the CUP process before the Planning Commission; that the Planning Commission would be provided with the permit applications, the required findings and staff’s analysis of whether the project complied with the findings. He explained that the Fire Department would receive information regarding the project through the EIR process; stated that the Fire Department was already aware of the project application and the fact that an EIR was being prepared; and explained that once the EIR was released for public comment, the Fire Department would receive copies of the document and would have an opportunity to provide comments on the EIR regarding fire safety issues.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if the Planning Commission would be given the opportunity to review the plans that incorporated the Fire Department’s concerns and requirements.
Senior Planner Mihranian responded that the plans presented that evening could change depending on the Fire Department’s requirements.
Mayor pro tem Long questioned if the project was approved with dormitories, would it trigger an affordable housing requirement and if so, how many affordable units would be required; and he asked if this issue had been discussed with the applicant.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that dormitories would trigger the affordable housing requirement; that it was based on a square footage calculation; that he did not yet have the exact calculation; and stated that the applicant had been advised of this requirement, but not the exact calculation.
Mayor pro tem Long stated that Marymount College’s proposed project was a question of appropriate land use; expressed his opinion that it did not matters what the public thought of the quality of education provided by the college; stated that many comments made that evening had little to do with the land use issues associated with the project; and urged the audience focus its comments on the appropriate issue at hand.
Councilman Gardiner echoed Mayor pro tem Long’s reminder to the public to focus the comments on land use; stated that the plan should take into account the residents’ needs as well as those needs of the college; and stated that he felt that a compelling case could be made to place the dormitories on the Navy property.
Councilman Stern also urged the speakers to focus on the land use issues associated with the project and not make it a personal issue.
Vice-Chair Knight echoed Council’s urging for the comments to focus on land use issues; asked for clarification as to whether the preschool was proposed to be eliminated; and requested that the EIR consider the impacts of automobile headlights on the adjacent residents.
Commissioner Perestam requested input on how building heights and view considerations would be evaluated.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the Planning Commission would review the building heights and consider the view impacts of the project through the CUP.
Chair Tetreault stated that he would like additional information on the enrollment limitations of the CUP and Marymount’s actual number of students in the various programs, questioning whether this limitation was being complied with. He challenged those on both sides of this issue to produce supporting data on the various assertions made that evening; and asked whether Marymount was required to meet South Coast Air Quality Management District requirements to reduce the emission impacts of people traveling to and from this site. He questioned why the applicant had not erected silhouettes to represent the proposed buildings.
Senior Planner Mihranian indicated that silhouettes were not required for nonresidential projects, but stated that the City could request the college to provide them.
Chair Tetreault stated that he would like a copy of the minutes from the previous public hearings conducted regarding the approved residential housing at the college in the 1970’s.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the Planning Commission would consider the traffic issues associated with the project or if the Traffic Safety Commission would undertake that effort.
Director Rojas explained that the Planning Commission made the decision concerning the CUP; as part of that decision the Planning Commission would need to determine whether the project would result in adverse traffic impacts, if these impacts warranted changes to the project or some other change to the college’s plan in order to reduce these impacts; and indicated that the Traffic Safety Commission would review the traffic study and make a recommendation to the Planning Commission.
Councilman Stern noted his support for erecting silhouettes.
Councilman Gardiner noted his support for erecting silhouettes; and requested additional input on the standards used for developing the various technical data associated with the project.
Director Rojas explained that the City’s experts used established standards in their particular field to prepare the required studies/analyses; indicated that these technical studies were paid for by the applicant; and that the information in the EIR was provided to the various controlling agencies whose responsibility it was to provide feedback on the adequacy of the analysis and the findings.
Councilman Gardiner noted his concern that the City receive good data and that the process not be an unnecessarily financial burden to Marymount College.
Mayor Wolowicz noted his support for providing silhouettes and requested clarification on whether the geotechnical problems encountered in 2003 had been resolved.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the plans submitted under Revision "E" addressed the geotechnical concerns raised in Revision "D."
Mayor Wolowicz asked that the information be clarified regarding the proposed 10,000 cubic yards of dirt to be exported from the site.
Joel Gober, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed his belief that Marymount was only asking for the proposed expansion for economic purposes; stated that the proposal would not benefit the City or its residents; and urged the City to deny Marymount’s proposal.
Glenous Absmeier, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that the college’s representatives had indicated that there were no plans to request an increase in student capacity under the CUP; and she stated her support for Marymount’s proposal.
Ray Day, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that both sides on this issue should provide supporting data to back up their assertions; noted his support for erecting silhouettes; and urged Marymount to work with the neighbors on a compromise to further improve a good asset for the community.
Karen Thordarson, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated her support for the project.
Ron Stankey, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Marymount College had made a positive contribution to the community and demonstrated that it was a good neighbor.
Kari Sayers, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she was a teacher at Marymount College; noted that in order to be a first-rate college, Marymount must have first-rate facilities; and highlighted her support for the proposed project.
Chris Hahn, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated her opposition to the proposed student dormitories; stated that a drainage ditch was being proposed to cross over her property; expressed concern about the project grading, believing that the resulting landslides would impact her neighborhood; stated that silhouettes should be erected to help the neighbors to gain a better understanding of how the project would impact the community; questioned whether a preschool was still part of the plans; noted her confusion about when the design proposal became final; and questioned how many parking spaces would be provided in total.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that when the EIR was released to the public, the final design proposal would be included as part of the document, noting that there were some modifications already being considered.
Ms. Hahn urged the City to stick to the timeline for review, stating that 10 years since the college had first proposed the expansion had been excessive.
John McCarthy, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was in favor of the project and that Mary Kagen was also in favor of the project.
Darly Creighton, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he lived in Ladera Linda; indicated that he had talked with a number of people in this area; and that he found no major opposition to this proposal from those residents in his neighborhood.
Maria Grau, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she lived on the hill above Marymount College; indicated that her son attended the school; and noted her support for the proposal, believing that the college had served the community well.
Cliff VanWagner, Rancho Palos Verdes, pointed out that this private school offered smaller class sizes and a valuable education for its students; stated that he attended a college campus with offsite housing that had worked well; and noted his support for this site to remain as the academic campus and for the residential component to be located at the college’s property in San Pedro.
Daniel Finnegan, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was a retired high school principal; indicated that he had worked for both private and public schools; noted his support for Marymount’s proposal; stated that educationally, it was a good plan; pointed out that the strongest opposition was against the dormitories; and noted that when he went to college, he did not like to go from site to site for his college activities.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Wolowicz recessed the meeting at 11:13 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 11:19 P.M.
Ray Mathys, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that towns that had accredited colleges typically enjoyed an upscale ambiance associated with a college environment; noted his support for Marymount’s proposal to house its students onsite; and expressed his belief that traffic would decrease and that crime will not increase. He urged the City to expedite approval of Marymount’s proposed plans.
James Flanigan, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was a trustee of Marymount College; commented on the economic impacts and benefits to the community as a result of having this college in town, noting that the students spent their money in the community; and pointed out that because this institution charged a tuition, it was reasonable for students’ families to expect updated facilities for their children.
Eric Randall, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that, as a local real estate broker, it was his opinion that property values would not decrease because of the proposed project.
Dick Cantine, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Marymount deserved to stay competitive with other educational institutions and that it needed onsite dormitories, noting that it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete with other institutions; and stated that if at all possible, the student dormitories should be built on this campus.
Lynn Elliott, Rancho Palos Verdes, Registrar and Director of Institutional Research at Marymount College, stated that Marymount was interested in the long-term viability of its college and noted her support for this proposal.
In response to some of the comments made by the public, Dr. McFadden stated that every year Marymount College was required to submit its enrollment statistics to the City; that those records were readily available at City Hall and that they distinguished between full-time and part-time students. He explained that at one time Marymount had two additional campuses; that in some reports provided to the government that can be found on the Internet, Marymount included statistics for students at the Orange County campus and the Los Angeles Air Force Base campus; and noted that depending on which reports were being referenced, there could be discrepancies in the total enrollment figures. He added that sometimes those reports requested information on head counts and at other times the information requested was full-time and/or part-time student enrollments.
With regard to the Navy housing, Dr. McFadden acknowledged that the college had in fact applied for student housing on the Navy property; that they believed and continued to believe the Navy housing was an excellent facility for their students, but not an excellent facility for all of the students who would like to live in Marymount College campus housing; expressed his belief that no matter how excellent the housing was on the Navy property, it was not as good as students being able to live on campus with easy access to the library, computer labs, athletic facilities, etc.; and that the Navy housing was not able to accommodate all of the freshmen students. With regard to the preschool, Dr. McFadden explained that a location had been designated on the plans for this use, including a playground, but added that this facility would be part of the second phase of construction; he stated that this project would depend on adequate funds being raised to cover these construction costs; and noted this funding was currently unavailable.
Mr. Davis reiterated that the City had approved a plan in 1978 to house 200 students on the campus; stated that the City had deemed the current application as complete on two occasions which included onsite residential facilities; and noted that the City’s zoning regulations identified "dormitories" as being a permitted use in an Institutional Zone. He expressed his belief that the alternate plan proposed by CCCME was contrary to the General Plan; stated that the General Plan encouraged centralization of institutional uses, rather than scattering these uses throughout the community; noted that the Navy property was not within the City’s jurisdiction and that the residents were essentially telling Marymount to go somewhere else. He asked for additional information on the City’s affordable housing requirements; and explained that the college had proposed affordable housing in the application, but was told by staff that affordable housing would not be an issue.
Councilman Stern asked staff if it was within the City’s discretion to permit a residential component on this site.
Director Rojas stated that staff believed the Municipal Code gave the City the discretion to review dormitory housing as part of the college campus; and advised that staff would confirm with the City Attorney the various points raised by some of the audience members concerning the City’s discretion to approve a residential component to the project.
Mayor pro tem Long requested clarification on whether the language regarding centralization in the City’s General Plan specified a percentage of students living on the campus.
Councilman Stern stated that he did not agree with Mr. Davis’ comment regarding centralization, noting that he did not believe that focusing on what facilities were being provided in San Pedro constituted a decentralization of City’s Institutional Zone.
City Attorney Lynch explained that in the City’s Municipal Code, it was clear that a dormitories could be allowed in an Institutional Zone; stated that educational facilities included other ancillary uses which were operated as part of the educational institution; that the City could allow other types of congregate housing in the Institutional Zone, such as bed and breakfast facilities, rest homes, etc.; and expressed her opinion that student housing was well within the scope of what was allowed by the City’s Code.
Mayor pro tem Long expressed his concurrence with Councilman Stern’s comments regarding centralization of Institutional uses; but stated that he was mindful of the fact that when the college was approved for 200 student, the total enrollment was also around 200 students at the time, which suggested to him that one way the college could be consistent with the General Plan, in the way it was being interpreted by Mr. Davis, would be for the school, assuming it was otherwise compatible with the site, to reduce its enrollment to 200 and have all of its students housed on campus; and noted that Marymount may want to give this idea some consideration as a way to enhance its prospects of being compatible with the General Plan. He added that this was not the correct way to interpret the General Plan in his opinion
Councilman Gardiner stated that the issue of building dormitories on the campus was a matter of the carrying capacity of the site; observed that this was a constrained parcel of land located within a residential area; pointed out that Marymount’s current offsite housing was successful; remarked that he had seen no evidence to suggest that the college’s enrollment was down; and noted that he understood the need to upgrade the campus. He stated that at this point, he would not support dormitories on the college campus; and expressed his willingness to support Marymount in any way the City could to help it prosper in its current configuration. He suggested that Marymount and the City might be able to partner together on the issues concerning affordable housing; and noted that there might be an opportunity to support a college film and video class by using the City’s Channel 33 facilities, allowing for some hands-on course work in this area. He stated that providing housing off campus would free up space on the main campus for other uses; pointed out that it was clear the neighbors did not want the dormitories on campus; and stated that Marymount’s argument was not compelling because the current system was working fine.
Mayor pro tem Long expressed his belief that some people were supporting Marymount’s ambitious proposal out of the enthusiasm for supporting the institution; and stated that in his initial review of this proposal, it appeared that the proposed expansion was too much for the carrying capacity of the subject property, and questioning where the City should draw the line before this property was too over-developed for this low density area.
Vice-Chair Knight stated that he would like to see more data on the housing being provided off site and questioned how the college would continue to operate during construction activities.
Commissioner Perestam expressed a desire to clarify Marymount’s wants versus its needs.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he felt every concern had been identified; asked for clarification on how the housing and athletic facilities would fit on the site; and asked that the affordable housing issues be clarified.
Commissioner Gerstner pointed out that most of the audience’s arguments did not relate to the carrying capacity of the property, but dealt with other issues such as crime, noise and traffic; and stated that he would like to see further clarification regarding the carrying capacity of the property versus the objections to on site dormitories.
Chair Tetreault noted his hope that this project would provide adequate on site parking to eliminate the existing burden on the surrounding neighborhoods; highlighted his concern that the college was only proposing a net increase of 120 parking spaces while proposing to house 250 students on campus; questioned how Marymount planned on mitigating lighting impacts on the neighbors – suggesting that some parking lots be closed during the evening hours; and asked that further clarification be offered concerning any view impacts and how those impacts might be mitigated.
Councilman Stern noticed that the single largest issue addressed by the residents was the dormitories; expressed his concern with the proposed location of the athletic facilities, stating that it may be preferable to the current facilities; but that he did not have a clear understanding of the finished elevation of the athletic facilities; and stated that all of the impacts to the neighbors should be clearly defined.
Councilman Gardiner asked for clarification on exact heights of all the facilities being proposed.
Mayor Wolowicz expressed his concern about the overall size and density of the project; stated that he agreed that the campus improvements were appropriate; and asked that the details concerning height, size, grading, storm drain issues and volume be clearly defined. He asked that information be provided concerning the safety of building on the 35-percent sloping grade; and asked that a study be done to determine what, if any, down slope noise would be created by the project. He stated that all on-street parking for the college should be eliminated; and noted his concerns regarding the traffic patterns and traffic/pedestrian safety in the area.
Councilman Gardiner thanked Marymount’s representatives and the residents for participating in the meeting.
Mayor Wolowicz echoed Councilman Gardiner’s sentiments.
Dr. McFadden stated that for the last several years, Marymount had not come close to its cap of 750 students, noting that this was a financial issue for the college; and stated that it was imperative for the college to become financially viable.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch advised that Council voted 4-0 to authorize that an offer be made to purchase the Tarragon property, noting that Councilman Stern was not at the closed session meeting and did not participate in the discussion. [Councilman Clark attended the closed session, but did not attend the open session.]
At 12:26 A.M. the meeting was adjourned to Saturday, February 4, 2006, at 9:30 A.M. at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West, for a Tactical Planning Workshop.
/s/ Carolynn Petru