M I N U T E S
The meeting was called to order at 7:07 p.m. on March 21, 2006, at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Stern, Gardiner, Clark, Long, Mayor Wolowicz
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Finance and Information Technology Dennis McLean; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Interim Director of Public Works Ray Holland; Director of Recreation and Parks Ron Rosenfeld, Administrative Analyst Karen Peterson, Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost; Senior Planner Ara Mihranian; and Geology Consultants Jim Lancaster and Matt Rogers.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Former Mayor Ken Dyda.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
City Manager Evans stated that the Trump Organization requested that Item No. 9 be moved to later in the agenda. He pointed out that it may be appropriate to move up Item No. 12, regarding the temporary offices for Peninsula Seniors, which was an item on under regular new business, so that would prevent a few people from staying very late.
Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Mayor Wolowicz suggested that Item No. 9 be switched with Item No. 12.
Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz declared that the agenda was approved as amended.
Mayor Wolowicz announced that there would be a presentation by City staff with regard to the Mayor’s Did You Know Facts. He noted that yesterday was the observance of the Persian New Year and wished all Persian friends and neighbors a happy new year.
Mayor Wolowicz reminded his colleagues that he had served on the Residential Standards Update Committee and he invited Senior Planner Mihranian to share a presentation on the City’s front yard setback landscaping requirement.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the purpose of the presentation was to raise public awareness as to some of the criteria within the Development Code pertaining to residential development. He indicated that within the front yard setback, which is the first 20 feet in from the front property line, 50% of that area is to be set aside for open space landscape area, which did not include driveway and parking areas, walkways, patios, ornamental ponds and fountains, but included landscaping such as vegetation, plant materials, or rock gardens. He advised residents could contact the Planning Department if they had questions or needed guidance regarding this matter.
Mayor Wolowicz announced Steven Tang and Jeff Henry as Recyclers of the Month and urged everyone to participate in the City’s recycling program.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru announced that she had one request to speak under Public Comments.
Lynn Doran, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she was present to deliver a protest prepared by David Gakenheimer, President of the Portuguese Bend Beach Club, to the City concerning the fireworks display that took place on March 5, 2006, off shore from the Portuguese Bend Club. She stated that club members were concerned that the health and safety of their property, persons and animals be protected in such events. She explained that they believed the launch platform may have been too close to their property and that the City did not follow its Municipal Code in allowing this event to occur. She suggested there should be an investigation into what transpired, changes to City procedure in order to ensure that this did not happen again, and requested that an item regarding this matter be placed on a future City Council agenda with input from Fire Department personnel.
Councilman Gardiner asked if it was the position of the residents that they were opposed to the fireworks or the location of the barge and the lack of notification.
Ms. Doran clarified that the objection was to the lack of notification, the lack of a certificate of insurance, the issue that the Municipal Code was not followed, and the fact that the launch position was not where it should have been. She stated that they were not necessarily opposed to the fireworks themselves, if the related issues were addressed.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Gardiner had nothing to report.
Mayor Pro Tem Long reported that since the last Council meeting he had attended the following meetings:
Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum where Los Angeles City Councilman Huizar and member of the School Board Commission reviewing school board governance of the Los Angeles Unified School District spoke about the goals in changing the governance in order to make it more responsive. Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that with regard to the portions of the district outside of the City of Los Angeles it was suggested that those portions might be “spun off” or the City of Los Angeles may impose a boundary change different than what the districts themselves might negotiate.
Councilman Stern reported that he attended the following meetings:
Los Angeles County West Vector District, which is the agency that attempts to eliminate mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects, where there was discussion of the West Nile Virus and the impending bird flu issue.
Councilman Clark reported that he attended the following meetings:
California Coastal Commission hearing in Monterey, where there was discussion of a proposed condo hotel in the City of Encinitas, similar to the Terranea Project. He reported that the Commission reduced the project from 100% sales of the hotel rooms to a percentage to keep it from being a residential development labeled as a hotel. He commented that in the future the Commission would hold workshops regarding the phenomenon of hotels that have partial-use ownership for sale in order to work through policies from a Coastal Commission perspective. He reported discussion on the Monterey Peninsula Pebble Beach Company proposal for certification of Measure A, which is partly a preservation measure but also a major development for a new golf course, expansion of the lodge, and expansion of the Spanish Bay Inn and other elements. He stated it was a complicated and controversial project involving the potential removal of 15,000 natural Monterey Pines from one of the three remaining Monterey Pine forests in the world and would be readdressed at the June meeting.
Mayor Wolowicz reported on his attendance at the following meetings/events:
A meeting with Bob Lowe to review the materials that the Council has received regarding the proposed changes to the Long Point Terranea Resort Hotel Project.
CITY MANAGER REPORT:
City Manager Evans had nothing to report.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru announced that a list of items continued from City Council meetings is posted on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/rpv.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that she had no requests to speak on the Consent Calendar items.
Councilman Gardiner asked that Item No. 6 be pulled from the Consent Calendar.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved approval of the Consent Calendar, as amended, seconded by Councilman Stern.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Stern, Long, Mayor Wolowicz
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.
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.
Motion to Waive Full Reading
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council Members after the reading of the title.
Approval of the Minutes (301)
Approved the minutes of September 20, 2005.
Fabrication and Installation of Whale Boat Enclosure by Taylor Studios Inc. at Point Vicente Interpretive Center (1201)
Approved the increased amount of Taylor Studios Inc. contract by $40,000 from $562,279 to $602,279 to construct a whaleboat enclosure at Point Vicente Interpretive Center. The total budget for Phase 1 exhibits remained unchanged.
Register of Demands
ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2006-16, 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.
ITEMS REMOVED FROM THE CONSENT CALENDAR
Adoption of Ordinance No. 437 - Code Amendment to Chapter 17.11 - "Affordable Housing" [This Ordinance was introduced at the March 7, 2006 meeting] (701 X 1203)
Councilman Gardiner stated he would be voting against approval of the Ordinance because it was the wrong approach to affordable housing. He explained that since the number of units was a relatively small number, the City was creating an Ordinance that was puzzling at best. He stated that as a practical matter, there were really only two developments left; one on lower Filiorum and the Crestridge site. He suggested that the City inform the developers the number of affordable housing units the City needs to meet the state quota, and that they incorporate that number into their developments.
Councilman Stern asked how that would be articulated as an Ordinance and law that would be enforceable under standards of fairness and equal protection.
Councilman Gardiner stated that the City Attorney could examine the issue, exempting developments under a certain size, and requiring developments over a certain size to include the building of affordable housing units as part of the project.
Mayor Pro Tem Long inquired how many units were proposed to be built in each of the remaining two developments referenced by Councilman Gardiner.
Director Rojas reported that the Crestridge Project proposal was for 84 units and the Point View Project would be about 90.
Councilman Stern stated that as a practical matter, the affordable housing unit number is one per ten units, which would give a total of 17 for the two proposed developments. He opined that the Ordinance would achieve essentially what was being suggested by Councilman Gardiner.
Councilman Gardiner explained that as he understood the Ordinance, if a developer wanted to build only a few houses, the procedure would be too complicated. He suggested that small developments be exempted from the process.
Mayor Pro Tem Long inquired how many developments there could be between 5 and 50 units in size that might help the City get to the affordable housing quotient more quickly.
Director Rojas stated that the only development in that range that he was aware of would be the one five-lot subdivision that came up at the last meeting. He stated that would not include possible projects requiring rezoning or tear down and rebuilds, but no projects of that nature have been proposed at this time.
Councilman Clark stated that due to the fact that property on the peninsula was so valuable, the possibility of rezoning and future teardowns and rebuilds by developers should not be excluded.
Councilman Stern stated he felt the solution being proposed by Councilman Gardiner was a one-shot deal to address the present situation and did not project for the future even though affordable housing is and will remain a topic of significant consequence in the state. He explained the proposal was not fair but that legislation should be a solution that can be used in the present and the future applying the same rules to all.
Councilman Gardiner acknowledged Councilman Stern’s point and explained that his objection to the Ordinance was that in small developments, a developer would have to present a financial argument against building affordable housing units as a component of his development and Council would have to determine what a fair return on investment would be for that project. He suggested the exclusion of developments under ten units in size would allow the Council to remove itself from intruding into private businesses.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that while what the Ordinance required was somewhat awkward, and he could at some time in the future be satisfied with excluding developments of ten units or smaller from the requirement to build affordable housing units, he was reluctant to move the number up to ten at present; therefore, he would vote for staff recommendation.
Councilman Gardiner stated he was aware of one proposed project between five and ten units and that it was his understanding from the developer, this requirement would force him to build only four units, which would not allow the Council to achieve anything in the way of affordable housing units.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated if he had a better sense for the mixed used developments in the future, he might be inclined to change the requirement to ten units, but he wished to avoid being one of the first cities to end up not achieving the affordable housing requirement.
Councilman Clark pointed out a scenario where Councilman Gardiner’s suggestion could be manipulated by a developer. He suggested that one of the two larger developments could be divided up into segments of a smaller number in order to benefit from the exemption of building affordable housing units.
Councilman Stern concurred and indicated that wherever the line was drawn the opportunity to manipulate would exist in order to attain an exemption from the affordable housing requirement.
Mayor Wolowicz applauded Councilman Gardiner for raising the issues related to the State mandate requirement for affordable housing units. He stated that he too was exasperated with the legislation that has brought about this discussion.
Councilman Stern moved to adopt staff recommendation, seconded by Councilman Clark.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Clark, Long, Mayor Wolowicz
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 437, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING A CODE AMENDMENT THAT REVISES MUNICIPAL CODE CHAPTER 17.11, "AFFORDABLE HOUSING."
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REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Temporary Location for Seniors Center (305 x 1201)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that she had one request to speak on this item.
Councilman Gardiner moved to proceed to discussion without staff report and presentations, seconded by Councilman Stern.
Councilman Stern noted that it appeared the trailers would be located towards the west end of the Abalone Cove parking lot and inquired how close the proposed temporary location of the Senior Center was to the homes in the Seacove area and if the residents in that area had received notification of the proposal.
Director Rosenfeld stated that it would be within 500 feet of that area and that notice had not been given to the residents in that area but notification would be part of the Special Use Permit process.
City Manager Evans clarified that the recommendation before Council was that if the Council approved the concept, the proceedings for the Special Use Permit could be started.
Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, on behalf of the Peninsula Seniors, stated that the Seniors’ lease in the location they presently meet was set to expire and they were in need of temporary quarters. He reported that the Seniors’ group was unique in that they are a non-profit organization, cost was a significant factor, the group had diligently searched for a new location on commercial properties and there was none available. He continued that the search included working with City staff in the consideration of the placement of temporary trailers on City properties including Hesse Park, Ladera Linda, Upper Pt. Vicente, Lower Pt. Vicente, and Abalone Cove. He noted that Hesse Park, Upper and Lower Pt. Vicente could not support the schedule of activities, parking, and the placement of two temporary trailers necessary for activities. He stated that Ladera Linda did not have access from a major arterial and the remote location would not be suitable, which left for consideration the remaining site of Abalone Cove Park. He reported that review with staff indicated that the site had all the necessary attributes to meet the needs of the Seniors’ group and would not have measurable impacts on the park and the surrounding neighborhood. He stated they submitted a letter requesting the use of Abalone Cove. He stated that the Recreation and Parks Department’s staff report presents the groups’ proposal to temporarily locate the Seniors’ office and activity center trailer on the west portion of the park. He explained that the Trump Organization indicated that they would have an office trailer available for the group to use in the near future and that they would also assist in the relocation of the trailer. He requested permission from the City Council to approve the plan concept of allowing the Peninsula Seniors to temporarily locate at Abalone Cove, a waiver of the permit fees, and staff’s assistance in filing the necessary Special Use and Coastal Permits and in formalizing the terms and conditions for the use of the site.
City Attorney Lynch suggested addressing the permit fee separately because it was not part of the staff recommendation although it was mentioned in the staff report.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved adoption of staff recommendation to authorize the Peninsula Seniors to file a Special Use Permit application to allow two rented trailers, including an office trailer and a portable classroom, to be temporarily located at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, with the direction to consider waiver of the permit fees in the future, seconded by Councilman Stern.
Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Long Point (Terranea) Resort Hotel Project: ZON2006-00036 (Revision ‘D’ to Conditional Use Permit No. 215, et. al) (1804)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that late correspondence was distributed on this item and there were seven requests to speak. She noted that notice of the public hearing was duly published.
Mayor Wolowicz declared the public hearing open.
Mayor Wolowicz requested to hear from the presentation from the developer.
Councilman Stern indicated that it might be valuable to initially receive a brief staff report.
Senior Planner Mihranian reported that the item was a request from the applicant regarding two actions. He stated the first request was that they be allowed to amend the adopted conditions of approval to allow for a nine-hole short game golf academy and the second request was to approve minor modifications to the site plan including the following: reconfiguration and reduction of the villa buildings (which has no effect on the actual number of villa units which remains at 32), reduction of the hotel building footprint, elimination of the parking structure and reconfiguration of surface parking area, and elimination of the tennis courts. Senior Planner Mihranian highlighted the changes on an overhead projection of the site plan. He stated that the applicant was requesting a change to the three-hole golf practice facility and driving range contained within 32 acres of the overall project site of 102 acres that was approved in 2002. He explained the applicant’s request is to eliminate the three-hole practice facility to be replaced with a nine-hole short game golf academy. He stated that staff’s evaluation of the request concentrated on two aspects related to golf safety and views. He reported that the staff hired the original golf design consultant, Kip Shulties, to review the changes and his analysis was included in the staff report. Mr. Shulties suggested four improvements that could be made to the golf amenity to enhance golf safety requirements, which staff recommended incorporating as conditions into the plan. He reported that the applicant has agreed to make the recommended changes. Senior Planner Mihranian noted that staff has analyzed the elevations and sections of the site provided by the applicant and the proposed grading of the site to accommodate the golf course. He reported that staff has determined that the requested changes will not significantly impact views from public or surrounding private properties, or from any of the view corridors and the requested changes to the golf amenities comply with the intent of the original conditions.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained the applicant requested minor modifications to the site plan including the following: reconfiguration of the villas so that six of the units would remain triplex units, three of the units would be converted to four-plex units, and the upper unit would remain a one-story duplex; modifications to reduce the overall size of the hotel footprint by relocating the hotel further back from the bluff, which would reduce construction costs and reduce the amount of grading; fine tuning of the footprint of the back storage area; double stacking the hotel rooms along the hallways so rooms will be on both sides, which would result in the loss of ocean views for some of the rooms; reduction in massing of the hotel by the elimination of one elevator; elimination of the parking structure to be replaced by surface parking without the reduction of parking spaces; and, the replacement of two previously approved tennis courts with surface parking. He presented visual simulations reflecting the requested changes. He stated that staff determined that the revisions to the Conditional Use Permit and the minor modifications to the Site Plan were in conformance with the original approvals of 2002, there were no intensifications of additional impacts addressed by the Environmental Impact Report, and the design did not deviate from the original approval.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that it was his understanding that with the proposed changes the total amount of impervious space and the square footage was less than previously approved, and the ridgelines were either at or below the same height than previously approved in 2005.
Senior Planner Mihranian confirmed that was correct.
Councilman Stern inquired if there would be any material changes from a practice academy to a nine-hole golf course as far as the number of cars, people or public access to trails or the coastline.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated it would not result in intensification of any of the amenities offered and that the nine-hole golf course would still be within the 32 acres.
Councilman Clark agreed that there would be more interest in a nine-hole executive golf course and this amendment would provide another golf experience on the Peninsula and in Rancho Palos Verdes, which could be complementary but not competing with Trump National. He commented that it would seem to him that the previously approved golf amenity would draw a certain demand quotient to the property, and he inquired if the applicant had considered if the change to a nine-hole golf course would significantly change the draw from the public and the community for the use of the golf facility. He stated that the visual depictions of the hotel appeared to indicate that there was a reduction in the overall appearance in mass and bulk, which would fit with the fact that the actual footprint was being reduced. He indicated that he understood from Mr. Lowe that one of the driving considerations behind the refinements was the escalating costs of building materials for the hotel in today’s global market. He inquired if staff saw in the revised configuration any issue in terms of increased mass or bulk appearance with respect to the villas.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that with the refinements, the applicants have gone back to the original design of a four-plex unit and have added articulation to the architecture, but that there was less massing than the plan approved in 2002. He added that by eliminating one building, the actual open space has been increased within the villa area.
Mayor Wolowicz stated his understanding was that the decreases within the hotel building footprint would not affect meeting or banquet rooms or the rooms or amenities offered to the guests, but the changes would be to the service areas and offices.
Senior Planner Mihranian concurred.
Robert Lowe, Long Point Developer, commended the staff for the job they have done in working closely with their team and working expeditiously to understand the issues. He introduced Michael Hardesty, who manages the project out of the corporate office; Tim Richardson, who is the new onsite project executive; Todd Majcher, David Elliott, and Paul Allen, all part of the onsite project team; and two consultants Todd Ekinroad, from Origins Golf, and David Elwood from Stantech Engineers. He stated that he concurred with Senior Planner Mihranian’s staff report that everything being proposed with the exception of the changes in the golf academy and the elimination of the parking structure, both of which they believed to be improvements, have no impact to the operational aspects of the hotel or additional impacts on the environment. He summarized the schedule if they received approval this evening, to be that they would have a hearing with the Coastal Commission in May, would hope to get their Coastal Development Permit in June and be under construction in summer with an opening at the end of 2008. Mr. Lowe stated that the changes to the golf facility included the addition of holes of golf while eliminating the driving range. He indicated that he did not consider the change to the use of the facility to be significant since they have over 1,000 parking spaces, and he believed the facility would be a more attractive amenity for the guests and the community.
Mayor Wolowicz inquired if Mr. Lowe anticipated any additional changes to the footprint of the buildings.
Mr. Lowe stated they have spent a good deal of time analyzing the plans and did not anticipate any major changes, but would continue to make minor improvements as to how the building will function as they go through the design process.
Mayor Wolowicz inquired if the changes would cause any further delays than those anticipated at this point.
Mr. Lowe stated that they did not foresee additional delays and have factored in future costs as best as they could from speaking with others in the industry.
Don Robarge, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he was present to address the Terranea Resort at Long Point from the perspective of the divers who enjoy the location. He noted that he was a volunteer research diver and the previous director of research diver training for the Catalina Island Conservancy and thanked the Lowe Corporation in advance for continued coastal access out to the point and down to the cove, particularly during construction. He stated that the divers would like to have continued coastal access and a short walk to the trailheads for the public and commented on the unique nature of the sea life in that area due to a very deep offshore marine canyon. He asked for active participation to help maintain if not enhance the offshore habitats and noted that recreational and research divers will more than likely deploy some offshore monitoring devices to help keep a finger on the pulse of the established marine life in the area. He stated that he and the diving community looked forward to establishing a good relationship with the Lowe Corporation.
Councilman Stern asked staff if there were specific conditions that address the ability to maintain access during construction.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that there were conditions addressing coastal access during construction and there have been many discussions with the developers regarding that issue. He noted that there might be a time period of 30 days or so where the trail would have to be closed for grading to enhance the access and the applicant was aware of the public noticing requirements for that time period and would provide an alternate route if possible.
Melvin Pasley stated he was both an avid diver and golfer. He stated that there would definitely be more traffic and parking associated with a nine-hole golf course. He expressed concern that there would be a greater use of water, fertilizer and pesticides, which would contribute to runoff that could pollute the waters.
Claudette Dorsey, Hermosa Beach, stated that she was an avid scuba diver, with a degree in marine biology, and that the marine environment off Long Point was unique in that there were many species of marine life at Long Point not seen anywhere else along the Palos Verdes or South Bay shoreline. She stated that she hoped the proposed reclamation process would accommodate what it promised so that the runoff of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers would not harm the environment like it has at Malaga Cove as a result off runoff from the golf course and houses nearby.
Angie Papadakis encouraged the Council to address the issues regarding the hotel and then move forward to have the project built because she believed there was a need for a hotel on the peninsula.
Councilman Clark pointed out that the City Council approved the hotel in August 2002, and the Lowe Corporation hopes to move forward on the project soon.
Sunshine, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated she has been working with an organization called Coast Walk for 13 years working on completing the California Coastal Trail. She expressed concern that the California Coastal trail was not consistent across the Long Point site in that some was to be paved and some was not and she would like to see a consistent experience maintained throughout.
Bob Nelson, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke on behalf of the Sea Bluff Homeowners’ Association. He stated that they have a concern that the preliminary map of the golf course they were given showed a hole with a green approximately 150 feet or so from the homes on a street called Channel View, which is a concern regarding errant golf balls. He commented that if the City and Terranea golf consultants declared the course safe to play, they presumably would have accounted for the danger of errant golf balls to the homes. He stated that the Sea Bluff Homeowners’ Association supported the staff recommendation.
Councilman Clark inquired of staff the distance between the green of Hole No. 7, identified by Mr. Nelson, and the residential properties.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated he did not have that information and deferred to the applicant and the designer of the project.
David Emenhiser, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he lived on Channel View and that the back of the green of Hole No. 7 was approximately 110 feet from the backyards of eight homes and 130 feet from some of the houses. He noted that he did not see any reference by the golf consultants to the safety issues concerning adjacent houses. He stated that he was in support of the golf course, but not in favor of Hole No. 7, noting that every other hole on the course was aimed away from hotels and casitas except for that hole, which was aimed at their houses. He stated that the homeowners on Channel View would like help from the Council in terms of their own personal safety and the protection of their property. He recommended several options including turning Hole No. 7 around, shortening it by 30 yards, getting an insurance policy to cover the houses, or having Terranea meet with the residents regarding this issue.
Elaine Matsuda, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she lived on Channel View Court and was in support of the golf course and resort, but was concerned with issues of safety, property damage, and the long-term resale value of their property as a result of insurance related issues.
Jerome Bleiweis, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated he lived on Channel View Court. He advised both the Council and the applicant of the legal implications that may ensue if the issues regarding Hole No. 7 were not addressed. He cited a case that addressed the liability of a golf course owner and the summary judgment decision.
Mr. Lowe stated that the Lowe Corporation operated golf courses all over the country and the last thing they would want would be to create a dangerous situation. He stated that there were 150 feet between the back of the green of Hole No. 7 and the property line, which was consistent with the industry standards, both of the golf course specialists have reviewed the plan and believed it to be consistent with standards and not an issue. He commented that there was a 15-foot elevation grade between the green and the back property line, which added further protection.
Councilman Stern stated that his understanding was that Hole No. 7 was an uphill hole, the path behind the hole was ten feet higher in grade, and he inquired if there was an increase in the grade from the path to the homes.
Mr. Lowe stated that the total grade differentiation from the green to the property line was 15 feet, while the pad of the homes was even higher.
Councilman Stern asked Mr. Lowe to help him understand what the implications were of the hole being uphill.
Mr. Lowe explained that the ball would have to be hit much harder to reach the location as opposed to it being a flat hole and that it also stops balls, because they hit the hill.
Councilman Gardiner stated that in his experience when there is an uphill hole, people often use a longer playing club to make sure the ball gets to the hole. He asked how long Hole No. 7 was from tee to green, what the standard of care would be, and if there was a way to reconfigure the hole so that the buffer would be increased.
Mr. Lowe stated that the distance of the green was 150 feet, which was 210 feet or 50 yards from the property line. Mr. Lowe reiterated that they did not believe there was a real issue with respect to Hole No. 7 and stated that reconfiguration of the holes would cause more realistic safety issues for the golfers themselves.
Mayor Wolowicz asked Mr. Lowe to address the issues regarding water runoff from the property.
Mr. Lowe replied that the proposed changes did not change the amount of turf on the project site.
Councilman Stern asked Mr. Lowe to address the parking issues that were raised by residents.
Mr. Lowe stated that there were six more holes with four people per hole, for a total of 24 people, some of which would be staying at the hotel. He stated that from a maximum of 24 possible cars, you would reduce that amount by those not using the driving range, and reduce it further for people on the golf course. He indicated that the EIR demonstrated the necessary parking to be 875 spaces and that the site would actually have 1,075 spaces, which should be more than enough.
Councilman Stern inquired if the Lowe Corporation had done an analysis of the number of parking spaces internally.
Mr. Lowe stated that the Corporation did not believe that either the par 3 or nine-hole golf course would have large amounts of usage, but hoped the facility would break even, since it was an amenity and not a destination golf program.
Councilman Stern asked if there was a concern that hotel patrons or golfers might use the public access parking area.
Senior Planner Mihranian explained that there was a condition of the project that required the posting of signs that indicate that during City park hours the parking facility was to be used for public access. He indicated that those patrons going to the Clubhouse would be more inclined to park by the golf course. He added that the number of parking spaces originally approved in 2002 was 875 and was based on an analysis of the project including a nine-hole golf course.
Mayor Pro Tem Long inquired if there was an existing condition for the applicant to maintain liability insurance for the operation of the hotel facility and/or the golf amenity.
City Attorney Lynch stated that was contained in Condition No. 31 on circle page 28.
Councilman Stern pointed out that amount indicated for $2 million.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asked if the applicant would have concerns regarding increasing the limits from $2 million, providing certificates demonstrating coverage to the City, and adjacent Homeowners’ Associations.
Mr. Lowe stated that he did not believe that would be a problem, but that he would have to confirm it with the insurance company.
Councilman Clark inquired if the situation demonstrated the need, would the Lowe Corporation consider a mitigation measure such as netting to add an additional buffer zone and address the safety concerns raised by the residents on Channel View.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that Condition No. 16 required a six-month review of every aspect regarding the operation of the hotel, and that additional language would need to be added to include review of the operation of the golf facility.
Councilman Stern stated that the provision should not sunset after six months and that language should be added that if a problem arises the City has the legal ability to address it.
Councilman Gardiner inquired if when the golf facility was analyzed there was a risk assessment done.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the analysis conducted was based on industry standards developed through the years regarding the adequate separation between the greens of the golf course and roads, residences, and paths. He stated that the City’s Golf Safety consultant raised a concern regarding the green for Hole No. 7 to the tee for Hole No. 8 and identified the path as an area of concern as well, but decided that these areas were satisfactory regarding golf safety. He explained that the consultant decided these were not safety concerns because of the uphill distance and the grade difference, plus the fact that there was a bunker present to contain errant golf balls.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he felt a risk analysis should be done versus an analysis based on industry standards. He commented that he felt liability insurance was fine if a ball hits a house, but not if it hits a child.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated he was not sure what additional studies would achieve and so he would not be in favor of them, but he suggested adding two conditions to address the issues raised in the discussion.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved to adopt staff recommendation with amendments to Condition Nos. 16 and 31. He stated the amendment to Condition No. 16 should read “no later than 6 months after the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy and/or after the commencement of the operations of the golf amenity and as frequently thereafter as the Director of Planning shall determine appropriate, and as early prior to six months as he shall determine appropriate, the review will be conducted.” He stated “Condition No. 31 should be changed to specify that the limits of insurance shall be no less than $5 million and that those limits shall apply separately to the Lowe operations at this site, and not be shared with the limits of insurance applicable to any other operations Lowe may have elsewhere.” He stated that he thought a periodic review coupled with more substantial insurance limits would address the issues. Seconded by Councilman Gardiner.
City Attorney Lynch cited necessary changes at the end of Condition No. 31 concerning the language “golf practice facility” and pointed out there was a notation of additional liability insurance of $3 million mentioned.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that he wanted to make sure that total limits of not less than $5 million be maintained and applied separately to the Long Point site and was not shared with other Lowe sites.
City Attorney Lynch stated that clarification would be made. She also suggested the addition to Condition No. 16 a reference be added to read “as part of the six month review, the Council shall consider parking additions, circulation patterns, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular, lighting, landscaping, noise, and the safety of the nine-hole short golf course. She also suggested a separate review condition to read “if any safety issue arises concerning the operation of the nine-hole short game golf academy, the safety issues shall be addressed immediately by the applicant to the satisfaction of the Director.
Mayor Pro Tem Long agreed to the two suggestions to his motion, if they were acceptable to the maker of the second.
Councilman Stern asked if the condition regarding the golf course operation would in essence give the Council the perpetual ability to readdress and place conditions for safety purposes.
City Attorney Lynch stated that it would as long as the Lowe Corporation agreed to it.
Mr. Lowe stated he was comfortable with the provisions that were discussed but stated there may be an issue with the insurance matter.
Councilman Gardiner stated that there were two safety concerns regarding the golf course and wanted to know what would trigger a safety concern that might necessitate review.
City Attorney Lynch stated that a safety concern could be brought forward by the public or it could be City initiated.
Councilman Clark stated that there needed to be concern about the safety of golfers too and he stated he felt the review of the safety, particularly regarding Hole No. 7, should begin in 90 days or less after the golf course was operational.
Mayor Pro Tem Long amended his motion so that the review of the safety of the golf course would begin no later than three months after commencement of golf activities, at the discretion of the Director of Planning.
Mayor Wolowicz stated he had concerns about the safety of the residents and requested that the consultants take another look at the design of the golf course before it was in place versus after it was completed.
Councilman Clark inquired when the Lowe Corporation would expect to present this item to the Coastal Commission.
Mr. Lowe stated that they expected to be in front of the Coastal Commission in May.
Director Rojas stated that the Coastal Commission has made a previous ruling and decision that coastal access be always maintained for the public at the Long Point location and that if the City wanted to be explicit about this matter, that the condition should be added now.
Councilman Stern amended the motion so that public access to the beach shall be maintained at all times except for limited closures subject to the approval of the Director.
City Attorney Lynch noted that this amendment would be made to Condition No. 22.
Mayor Pro Tem accepted the amendment to his motion.
Mayor Wolowicz closed the public hearing.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved the ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION NO. 2006-17, AS AMENDED, APPROVING REVISION ‘D’ TO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT NO. 215, ET. AL. AMENDING THE ADOPTED CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL TO ALLOW FOR A 9-HOLE SHORT GAME GOLF ACADEMY RATHER THAN A 3-HOLE GOLF PRACTICE FACILITY WITH A DRIVING RANGE; and, 2) Approved, via minute order, the applicant’s request to allow minor modifications to the layout of the project’s site plan through a determination that the minor changes are in substantial compliance with the site plan originally approved by the City Council in 2002.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Stern, Long, Clark, Gardiner, Stern, Mayor Wolowicz
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Wolowicz recessed the meeting at 9:41 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:52 p.m.
9:30 PAUSE TO CONSIDER REMAINDER OF THE AGENDA
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Report on Land Movement Within the Landslide Moratorium Area Outlined in Blue (A Portion of the Seaview Tract) (1801 x 1203)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that late correspondence was distributed on this item and she had eight requests to speak.
Mayor Wolowicz requested a staff report.
Director Rojas stated that this issue was initially brought to the City Council in November 2005, after staff noted cracking in the Dauntless street area, Council suggested that staff conduct more studies, a temporary moratorium was enacted that froze the processing of permits in that area, the City geologist was assigned the task of compiling data from the GPS points in the surrounding area and other geology reports of the area in order enable them to give a report to the City Council regarding the movement in that area. Director Rojas stated that staff was seeking direction from Council on if the rules in the moratorium area should be amended. He stated that the moratorium ordinance that was enacted in 1978 has essentially two areas; the area outlined in red, which was the majority of the moratorium, and the small area outlined in blue, which captures the western edge of Seaview, affecting 36 lots. He explained that the area outlined in blue has a different set of rules than the area outlined in red. He noted that the basic difference was that new single family homes and swimming pools were allowed in the area outlined in blue, whereas that type of development was not allowed in the area outlined in red. He indicated that the area outlined in red was limited to additions not to exceed 600 square feet in total area to existing homes, a limitation on the garage area that can be built of 600 square feet, and there were no pools permitted in the area outlined in red. He turned the presentation over to Jim Lancaster, the City’s geologist, who has been out to the location numerous times in 2005 and 2006, in order to share his findings in terms of the movement in the Klondike Canyon area.
Mayor Wolowicz requested that a map illustrating the geographic areas under discussion be projected on the screen so that everyone was clear about the area being discussed.
Councilman Gardiner stated he would like to know how the different sets of rules were arrived at for the “red” and “blue” areas to set a context for the issues being addressed.
Director Rojas presented a table that illustrated the differences between the development allowed in the red versus the blue areas. He indicated that new single-family residences were permitted in the area outlined in blue, but not in the red area; the red area allows for additions to the home, patio enclosures, attached or detached accessory structures and conversion of garage to living area not to exceed 600 square feet, but no additional windows or plumbing fixtures could be added unless the area was served by sewers. He stated that in the blue area the same improvements were allowed but with no size limitations or restrictions on plumbing fixtures. He stated that new garages were permitted in the red area but limited in size to 600 square feet, while in the blue area they were permitted without size limitations; swimming pools were not allowed in the red area, but were allowed in the blue area; and, only minor grading under 50 cubic yards was allowed in the red area, while there was no restriction to the amount of grading in the blue area.
Councilman Gardiner asked what distinction was drawn in 1989 to allow the exclusion of the blue area from the more restrictive red area. He inquired if anything of a geological nature particularly distinguished the red from the blue area and if there had been changes in the red or blue areas between 1989 and the present.
Director Rojas stated that he and the City Attorney have attempted to understand the memos and reports of that time period. He stated that the best answer he could give was that Dr. Perry Ehlig, who was advising the City on the issues regarding the moratorium and the landslide, felt there were some different characteristics of the area that warranted a different treatment, including the fact that the area had sewers and it was almost completely built out. He deferred to the City geologists regarding the questions related to the geologic nature of the red and blue areas.
Mayor Wolowicz pointed out that much has been made about the differences in the two types of underlying plates or pads in the slide area.
City Attorney Lynch stated that if the matter were continued to the next meeting, staff would bring a compendium of information on what brought about the recommendations.
Councilman Clark asked if in the current red-zoned moratorium area there were parts that had sewer systems and if parts existed that were built out. He inquired if it was possible if staff was not able to find geotechnical distinguishing reasons for the distinction the Council made in 1989, that part of what the Council used as their primary basis has gone away as a differentiation.
City Attorney Lynch concurred with Councilman Clark and replied that the Redevelopment Agency installed sewers in 1999 and that sewers were not in portions of the red zone moratorium section in 1989.
Councilman Stern stated that he understood that in 1978 the City adopted the moratorium including only the red area and that from 1956 to 1981 there had been movement of approximately 2.5 feet in the Klondike Canyon. He inquired if staff knew why Klondike Canyon was not included in the original 1978 moratorium, and why it was included in 1981, and not just included by moving the boundary, but instead included as the blue area in 1989.
City Attorney Lynch stated that staff did not know exactly why and would have to go back and prepare a legislative history in order to present a report to Council addressing those issues.
Councilman Gardiner stated that there were not always minutes that were so dispersive and that the legislative record may not show all of the contributing factors. He stated that there has been a criterion that has developed over time, usually around the factor of safety in each area.
Councilman Stern commented that the staff reports from that time might be helpful.
City Attorney Lynch replied that staff had gathered and reviewed staff reports and many memoranda that Dr. Ehlig drafted during that time.
Councilman Gardiner stated that his hypothesis was that the underlying geology was characterized from time to time in a different way, which led to different policy decisions; and, if that were the case, it would explain the history, and the current decision would be based on new geologic input.
Mayor Wolowicz suggested moving to the geologist’s presentations.
Director Rojas explained that Zeiser Kling Consultants is the firm that provides the City with geotechnical review services for development applications. He introduced Jim Lancaster who serves as the City geologist, and Matt Rogers, who serves as the geotechnical engineer.
Jim Lancaster and Matt Rogers, Zeiser Kling Consultants, established the fact that they have not studied and are not familiar with the red area, but were speaking with respect to the blue area. Mr. Lancaster stated that their scope of work as put forward by the Council in November 2005 was to review the cracking and site conditions that had developed since May 2005, compare current manifestations of those cracks to those that had appeared in the past, and evaluate survey monitoring data from 1994 to the present. He reported that they attempted to get a handle on what was happening as a result of the data they have gathered.
Mr. Lancaster presented a map by Dibblee from 1999 showing the various landslides in the area, including the ancient inactive portion of Portuguese Bend/Abalone Cove Landslide, Portuguese Bend/Klondike Canyon Landslide, Beach Club Landslide, and the Flying Triangle Landslide. He stated that the predominant active landslide in the area was the Portuguese Bend Landslide and he presented a close-up aerial view of the area pointing out Dauntless, Exultant Drive, Palos Verdes Drive South and the Beach Club area. He pointed out the general boundaries of the Klondike Canyon Landslide area and the Portuguese Bend Landslide Boundary area, and directed attention to the areas where the main manifestations of cracking occurred probably as part of the Beach Club Landslide, which is a small landslide that is considered active on top of the Klondike Canyon, which is probably 20-30 feet deep at the most. Mr. Lancaster noted that based on an earlier boring that was drilled down for an inclinometer that became a pumping well, the Klondike Canyon Landslide has been determined to be 100 feet deep in some areas and about 50 feet deep in other areas, based on earlier trenches digs in the area. He pointed out an area where the Portuguese Bend Landslide overrides the Klondike Canyon Landslide. He reported that Zeiser Kling was first called out on June 1, 2005, to observe the distress and cracks that run from the southeast corner of Dauntless/Admirable. He illustrated areas of distress photographed on June 9, 2005, of an area on Palos Verdes Drive South below the tract, which included separations, cracks and an actual pronounced drop across the entire area. He presented additional photographs taken on June 15, 2005, of the same area on Dauntless/Admirable, which illustrated a significant change in that area in two weeks. He presented sequential photograph comparisons of the same area of Dauntless on June 1, 2005 and on June 15, 2005, where he pointed out a patch in the road as a result of a repair of either a water or sewer line break. He continued with comparisons from November 15, 2005, and February 22, 2006, which demonstrated a new crack on the right of the previously noted cracks. He stated that the cracks at the lower end, at 4361 Dauntless, were essentially the same on February 22, 2006 as they were in June 2005. He noted that when the same area was viewed on March 21, 2006, there was a slight increase in the amount of offset in some of the cracks and the pavement area in front of the driveway was cracked in March while it was not cracked in February.
Mr. Lancaster returned to the aerial photograph of the Portuguese Landslide where he indicated the locations of seven monitoring points that were set up in 1994, one of which was destroyed in June 2005 by the land movement. He stated that they looked at the results of the survey monitoring to get an idea of what was happening and analyzed the individual points to determine movement, which was very difficult to see based on the amount of error that is afforded into the GPS survey versus the actual movement. He stated they compared points within the landslide to see if the distance increased and at what magnitude and looked at the cumulative change over time from 1994 until present. He presented graphs of the individual monitoring points that indicated the landslide has moved over time and had increased in cumulative distance between points. He concluded that the landslide has moved; it has moved as a block, which is what they suspected; the Klondike Canyon landslide should be considered an active landslide since the monitoring points show the movement; there has been landslide movement recognized since the late 1970s; and there has been short term accelerations of movement that have occurred, including the period of June of 2005. He explained that acceleration seemed to occur when acted on by the Portuguese Bend Landslide and it did not appear that this landslide would be capable of catastrophic failure such as the landslide in Laguna Beach, and that the cracking that appeared in 2005 was consistent with areas that previously occurred in past movement episodes.
Mr. Lancaster noted that Perry Ehlig stated in his 1993 memorandum that he felt the Portuguese Bend Landslide had a factor of safety in excess of 1.5, based not on calculations but the fact that the total landslide is approximately 100 feet deep, which was based on the fact that the slide is essentially buttressed by the material in front of it in the ocean. Mr. Lancaster stated that the fact of the matter is that when something moves, it has a factor of safety of less than one. He explained it was a matter of resisting forces versus the pushing forces, one versus the other. He explained that when a factor of safety is calculated, a linear line is drawn across a map and a geologic cross section is drawn showing what is happening in that section revealing a two-dimensional view. He explained that the geotechnical engineers calculate a factor of safety based on the things pushing on it versus the things resisting. He stated that if you rotate the cross section one way or another, you may get a different factor of safety. He reported that in this case, they simply do not have enough information to provide what the factor of safety truly is, and neither did Mr. Ehlig, but Mr. Ehlig made an assumption based on the fact that the landslide was 100 feet deep. Mr. Lancaster reiterated that the landslide is moving, so it has a factor of safety at least in the direction of movement of less than one, however, they do not have enough information to quantify that number. He concluded that the accelerated movement in May and June of 2005 was precipitated by two major causes: an increase in local ground water and the increased drag from accelerated movement on the Portuguese Bend Landslide. He illustrated this point by referring to the aerial photos to show the detail.
Matt Rogers, Zeiser Kling Consultants, stated that their recommendations include the continuation of survey monitoring as done in the past. He noted that after reviewing the data they realized that the survey points used were not very robust and suffered from heat stress, movement due to the expansive soils under the pavement, and movement due to traffic. He recommended that some deeper points be established, such as a large chunk of concrete placed 10 to 15 feet into the ground. He stated that remedial grading should be continued in the area of the Beach Club where the Portuguese Bend Landslide is riding up over the toe of the Klondike Canyon Landslide. He recommended that groundwater monitoring wells be established throughout the landslide area to help understand where the water is going and how it moves through the Klondike Canyon area. He noted that there was a clinometer excavated by Perry Ehlig some years ago that indicated there was an artesian condition, which means there was potentially a lot of ground water pressure especially down at the toe of the landslide that most likely has a very pronounced effect on the movement within the Klondike Canyon Landslide. He stated that further investigation needed to be done including deep borings and trenching to determine how the slide moves and how many slide planes exist; and, he recommended that improvements should be made to the areas.
Mr. Lancaster stated that groundwater is a precipitating fact when it comes to landslides since it lubricates the ground surface and provides buoyant effects and pressurized zones that actually lift the surface of the ground. He stated that Mr. Ehlig recognized this fact and felt that may have been what triggered the initial movement on the slide in the late 1970’s, which was confirmed by the drilling of a hole, which produced artesian pressures. He indicated that it was very important in a landslide area to keep the water from going into the ground where possible and at all costs, which may include reducing or limiting irrigation, limiting the types of plants grown in an area, limiting pools in certain areas, and correcting and looking at surface drainage within the landslide areas and within the tract. He stated that groundwater knows no limits and flows through the entire area and down from the city areas above, and measures needed to be taken to reduce the infiltration of water into the ground surface. He stated that there should be several types of surveys considered in order to more effectively evaluate the land movement in the area. He stressed that from the period of January to October, some of the monitoring points in the lower part of the Portuguese Bend Landslide moved from four to nine feet, which is great deal of movement, and has had an affect on the Klondike Canyon Landslide. He stated that they do not know how much more movement there will be in the Portuguese Bend Landslide and if there will be accelerations along the landslide, but if the Portuguese Bend were to fail catastrophically, there would potentially be real problems in the Klondike Canyon area, Abalone Cove, and the areas above Portuguese Bend.
Councilman Stern thanked the geologists for the presentation and asked staff if the area in the Seaview tract within the Klondike Canyon Landslide Blue Zone is in an abatement district presently.
Staff replied that it is in the Klondike Canyon Abatement District.
Councilman Stern asked for an explanation of a “catastrophic” failure in geological jargon.
Mr. Lancaster stated that catastrophic failure would be a situation where there is movement of 10 to 20 feet in a landslide, where numerous homes are damaged, streets and utilities are offset, creating a life safety hazard, and people are prevented from accessing and enjoying their homes.
Councilman Stern asked if he was interpreting correctly that at the north end of Dauntless, the cracks appeared where the landslide meets the stable ground next to it.
Mr. Lancaster stated that was correct and the movement was due to a smaller landslide in the Klondike Canyon that had steeper slopes and movement in the past.
Councilman Stern asked for clarification on the history of the landslide, since some of the emails indicated movement of 50 feet over 37,000 years.
Mr. Lancaster explained that the entire ancient landslide was estimated as moving as a whole unit around 37,000 years ago. He stated that there have been changes in the land movement in that it has broken up and moved in separate portions. He indicated that more than likely, the Portuguese Bend section broke off and continued to move, while the Klondike Canyon stopped moving. He stated that the entire area stopped moving at some point in the past and was inactive until 1956 when it started moving again.
Councilman Stern stated that in the verbal presentation Mr. Lancaster indicated that the landslide seemed to accelerate in 1977, 1984, 1987, and 2005 and inquired if it would be accurate to say that it correlated to the rain levels for those periods.
Mr. Lancaster replied that they had not analyzed that data.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that in light of the fact that the geologists have primarily studied only the Klondike Canyon Landslide and he would like the Council to have a better understanding of the geologic differences between all of the different landslides, the geologic distinctions, the degree of risk to the property owners, and recommendations on potential ways to address development in each area, he stated he had no questions.
Councilman Clark asked for clarification that the building safety factor is below 1.5 in the area of Seaview in the Blue Zone.
Mr. Lancaster stated that because of the movement, based on the definition of the factor of safety, it has to be below one.
Councilman Clark inquired if the standard in the city for purposes of development required a 1.5 stability factor. He inquired what the building safety factor was in 1989, when the distinction was drawn creating the blue zone versus the red zone.
Mr. Lancaster stated that 1.5 was the normal requirement outside of the moratorium, but that it was not the standard inside the moratorium. He explained that he was not aware of what the building safety factor was in 1989.
Mr. Lancaster replied that Councilman Gardiner’s statement was correct and when there was accelerated movement there were cracks, and when there was little movement, there were no visible cracks.
Mr. Rogers reported that there was not survey data available in 1984 and 1987, when the prior evidence of cracking appeared, because the survey monitoring points were not installed until January 1995.
Mr. Lancaster stated that they did not have very good data, but that the data they had at present established a trend. He reiterated that the observations supported the periodic accelerations, but the data gathered so far did not support it, although looking at individual points, that claim could be made.
Councilman Gardiner concluded that the landslide was moving and has been to some degree for over ten years, that there was no data prior to 1989, and it is not known what data prior Councils may have used to make decisions. He asked how Council was to be consistent with new data and suggested that after the public had a chance to speak, the item should be continued to collect more data to begin to sort out the issues.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Wolowicz recessed the meeting at 11:01 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 11:11 p.m.
Mayor Wolowicz asked to return to the concept of three different landslides and the fact that the Portuguese Bend Landslide had some impact on the Klondike Canyon Landslide and the land under the Seaview area. He commented that in order to understand the inter-relationship of the landslides and the potential movement, there was a need to understand all three landslides and their relationship to each other.
Mr. Lancaster concurred that someone needed to analyze the landslides, the monitoring that goes on, and how they interconnect. He reported that there were several different property owners for that area including the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, but that someone needed to monitor the movement, even though it would be a large job, very daunting and expensive, and time consuming. He reported that to be able to understand the groundwater issues alone could take quite a bit of in-depth study over time.
Mayor Wolowicz inquired if a series of integrated inclinometers and dewatering wells as part of an early warning system or prevention program was advisable.
Mr. Rogers stated that inclinometers, dewatering wells, and drainage improvements could lead to an improvement in stability and a slow down of movement rates, but it was hard to determine the effectiveness of those things given the current information available, or if an early warning system could be developed to advise of a catastrophic movement.
Mayor Wolowicz opined that the Council must make decisions as to what was going to be done with this area, but that there needed to be some sort of measuring methodology incorporating better data. He commented that the residents needed some sort of early warning system, and if there were preventive measures to be taken, then it was incumbent on all to act on that. He asked if other than the observable damage of the stress cracks, other damage had been found in surrounding homes and whether a comprehensive home inspection program should be instituted as part of the study.
Mr. Lancaster stated that nothing like that had been done so far and that authorization would need to be obtained to gain access to private property in order to perform this type of analysis.
Mayor Wolowicz asked about the potential impact of water from rain, groundwater sources, irrigation systems, pools, to either trigger or exacerbate land movement, cracking or stressing in the area.
Mr. Lancaster stated that there was really no way to tell at this point.
Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, gave a history of the situation. He stated that the Portuguese Bend Landslide began in 1956 and the City inherited that landslide, so to speak, from the County. He reported that in late 1977, land movement was first noticed in Abalone Cove and later cracks were noticed in Klondike Canyon as well. He stated that once the Geologic Hazard Abatement District was formed in Abalone Cove, they started using dewatering wells to slow the landslide. He reported that it became evident that the use of the wells would be an acceptable way to begin treating the Klondike Canyon Landslide because there was evidence of water intrusion into the lower surfaces. Mr. Dyda confirmed that there was an artesian effect because he was present when they drilled the hole on the beach and the water shot out in a geyser 20 feet high. He reported that the water was analyzed and the age of the water was estimated at 400 years old because of the iron content. He reported that Council was told by the attorneys at the time, that if they attempted to engage in corrective measures and if the measures did not work and caused further damage, the City would then be liable. He explained that he and Senator Beverly drafted legislation that ended up as the Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD), specifically written so that if anything should happen, the ultimate responsibility and liability would be split with the state, since the GHAD is part of the state. He explained that Portuguese Bend did not have the opportunity to become a GHAD because it was inherited before the GHAD was created. He stated that they created a GHAD in Klondike Canyon as well, which allowed them to act more quickly in placing dewatering wells in that location. He noted that one significant source of water trickling down to the slide area comes from the Flying Triangle in an adjacent city, because that area is on septic tanks and leach fields. He stated that when the properties along Crestridge were developed, care was taken to make sure that the runoff water was properly directed to a drainage system. He reported that in his experience, water has been the disaster that has caused the disaster. He commented that the grading in the Portuguese Bend Landslide area was nothing new and has been going on for many years.
Irwin Gebrone, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he could give some history of the area also since he has been there since 1970. He reported that he brought a letter from one of the residents, a geotechnical engineer, and he read the letter, which outlined observations and recommendations to the Council.
Lenee Bilski, Rancho Palos Verdes, inquired what the City had in mind as far as the health, safety and welfare issues for the property that has moved only 2 inches in 12 years. She reported that there were issues she wished the City had addressed including open trenches along Palos Verdes Drive South when it was being redone along the Trump Golf Course area. She stated that thousands of cubic yards of dirt and rock had been moved in the landslide moratorium area in 2003 along Yacht Harbor Drive, and that the massive stonecutting project at the same site causing health issues for residents of Seaview. She suggested that staff could find out from California Water Service about the broken water pipes and related storm drain issues along the particular bend of Dauntless. She noted that the Klondike Canyon has been moving continuously, but very slowly for years and that the Klondike Canyon Abatement District has assessed the residents within the blue zone a fee of $400-$500 a year for the investigation, monitoring and dewatering measures. She stated that she had included the rainfall charts with her correspondence and there have been other years with significant amounts of rainfall over the last years. She asked why the entire neighborhood should be penalized when there did not seem to be data to support a great risk factor.
Mauricio Arregoces, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he is an engineer by trade and education. He stated he is a biased observer and that his risk factor is based on whether he can invest enough money on the update of his property to sustain a long-term horizon for the future of his family. He stated that he has not been concerned with anything he has reviewed in the multiple geological reports of the area. He reiterated that the blue area is moving and part of an active landslide, but stated that nothing has changed. He indicated that he was not certain that there was a drag force pushing upwards on the Klondike Canyon area because there had been only one spot, a broken sewer pipe, along the boundary of the blue zone that might support this point. He stated that no subsurface studies have been done and the geologic data that is known has shown that the Klondike Canyon Landslide is different from the Portuguese Bend Landslide. He stated that the blue zone is being placed into the red zone, when the land movement of the two areas are totally different. He stated his concern was that public policy was being set without supporting data.
Councilman Stern asked if the entire red zone has had the nine feet of movement.
Mr. Lancaster stated that it has not and that the red zone included the entire ancient landslide area.
----------------, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated his family resides in the blue zone and as the report indicated the neighborhood is affected by a different slide and in a different geologic manner than the red zone, although there is a relationship between the two slides. He stated that the Council’s predecessors decided to place their neighborhood in a blue zone of heightened scrutiny. He stated that the crack in the street surface of Dauntless was present when he purchased his home 25 years ago. He indicated that he hired an architect in 2000 and his project was approved last year by the Planning Commission after going through a tedious process, and that his family was in the final step when the moratorium was instituted. He reported that his family has expended over $50,000 in architectural, structural, geological and soil engineering fees, and hundreds of hours of phone calls and meetings. He reported that in 2004, his family liquidated a small, five-unit apartment building to finance this project, and the proceeds have been lying dormant ever since. He stated that their home is well within what the Zeiser Kling report considers the main block, which is away from the landslide boundaries. He stated that in the 50 years he has lived there, his home has held steady, but the code requires applicants to submit geological studies reasonably required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the City and the geotechnical staff, that the proposed project would not aggravate the existing situation. He emphasized that they have submitted geological studies and are in the generally referred to immune main block. He stated that there was no indication that the proposed project would have any negative impact on the area.
Tim Burrell, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the same geological conditions should result in the same regulations, that the Seaview area has the same slow background creep that they had before, and that the area is different from Portuguese Bend, but nothing says they have to be uniform with them. He stated that the regulations have to have some relationship to the science and that there would be damage done to the area if it is lumped in with the red zone. He stated that the geological situation has not changed, and that changes should not come up out of nowhere. He indicated that the largest amount of differential in the area was 2 inches over 11 years, which is an average of three-sixteenths of an inch per year. He stated that in the Portuguese Bend Landslide, the movement measured nine feet in that same period. He reported that when the word landslide was used people get excited, but noted the landslide has been controlled for 20 years, the homes showed no distress, and there were no health and safety concerns for the folks in the neighborhood. He stated that two issues needed to be addressed; that of keeping the Portuguese Bend Landslide off of the Klondike Canyon Landslide, and that water must be controlled and kept out of the area. He noted that every time there was a remodel in the area the homeowner had to install an extensive drainage system to keep water from going into the soil, so the more homes that were remodeled, the less water would infiltrate into the soil. He agreed that the road repairs should be made because water does seep into the ground where there are cracks in the curb and gutter. He confirmed that the area was moving, but stated that the difference between the red and blue zone is that the blue zone is built out. He indicated there should not be hard and fast lines that eliminate creativity and that the Council should retain the system that works. He emphasized the most important thing he wanted to get across was that there was no reason to lump the blue zone into the red zone, and that the blue zone works. He stated that he analyzed the tax records, and the first year that Seaview went into a red zone, the values went down by 11% and everywhere else on the peninsula they went up. He reiterated that to put Seaview in the red zone was a serious detriment to their image and hurt them all financially with no benefit. He concluded if improvements needed to be made, by all means the improvements should be made, but requested that the blue zone and its unique situation be recognized.
Councilman Stern stated that the geologists told them the accepted standard was a 1.5 factor of safety and so they would not allow building in Seaview at all, because it does not have the 1.5 factor of safety. He stated that Perry Ehlig assumed there was a 1.5 factor of safety that allowed building in the blue zone.
Mr. Burrell replied that the issue was that if people could remodel their houses and live better, then it should be left that science controls and the geologists decide. He concluded that if people were not allowed to make changes, it ought to be because it would cause harm, not when it would be a benefit.
Councilman Stern stated that there were differences between the red and blue zone areas, and that was why the red zone had limitations to additions of 600 square feet; and, that the line had to be drawn somewhere.
Mayor Pro Tem Long commented that the Council needed to understand what the rationales are for treating areas differently. He stated that the idea is not simply to allow homes to be built anywhere the homes won’t cause harm. He pointed out that, in a sense, the homes could be put in the areas that are moving nine feet, and the only harm would be to the residents themselves, but that type of rationale made no sense. He stated that he thought the City was going to find that there are very important legal considerations, which are going to influence what the City is able to do. He noted that there was not enough information at present, but there was information to show that the Klondike Landslide was very different from the Portuguese Bend Landslide, but the factor of safety for both is less than one by definition. He indicated that if they were going to depart from the current factor of safety, they would have to have enough understanding of the information to know why that should be changed and to what.
Councilman Clark moved to ADOPT URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 438U, THEREBY EXTENDING THE TEMPORARY MORATORIUM THAT WAS ORIGINALLY ESTABLISHED BY THE CITY COUNCIL ON NOVEMBER 15, 2005, AN ADDITIONAL THIRTY (30) DAYS TO APRIL 20, 2006; and continue the matter to April 4, 2006 with direction to staff to compile data and prepare an analysis on the differences between the red zone and the blue zone within the Landslide Moratorium Area and directed the City Attorney to provide an analysis of the legal considerations associated with modifying the development restrictions that apply to the area outlined in blue, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long.
Councilman Stern asked that the Council members be provided a copy of the Resolution of the analysis of Zone 2 from which he cited the guiding principles that dictated how Council handled a different area, but a landslide area in the City, which was based upon the geologic input, not political considerations.
Mayor Wolowicz inquired when the road repair was scheduled to take place. He asked if it would be appropriate to discuss monitoring issues both in terms of the need for dewatering as well as the implementation of inclinometers or other measuring devices.
City Manager Evans stated the repair was scheduled for this week, barring rain. He stated that the Klondike Canyon Geologic Hazard Abatement District did not generate a lot of money even though the assessments were several hundred dollars a year. He explained that they maintain horizontal wells that are far up into the canyon, maintain a pipeline down the canyon and a dewatering well on the beach, and they have recently performed grading where the Portuguese Bend landslide is flopping over on top of the Klondike Canyon Landslide. He stated that the installation of dewatering wells, permanent monitoring systems and other monitoring devices would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
City Attorney Lynch pointed out that the City is constrained by the same resolution keeping them from imposing fees or assessment and that any fee or assessment would have to be approved by a majority vote of those within that Geologic Hazard Abatement District.
Mayor Wolowicz stated that if the cost was to be assumed by the City to implement the process, it would be within the discretion of the Council.
City Attorney Lynch stated that if the Council was seeking a stability analysis, she inquired if there was enough data for that study.
Mr. Rogers stated that in order for a stability analysis to be performed, there would need to be some surface data in order to define the geometry of the landslide.
City Manager Evans suggested that what could be done in 30 days would be to bring back the information that had been requested, as far as the distinction between the blue and the red areas and the history of why Klondike Canyon was originally put in the red zone and then later taken out. He stated that a proposal from the geologists could be brought back regarding the costs associated with additional geological studies.
Mayor Wolowicz stated he wanted to establish some momentum for forward motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Long said he was in favor of getting information to make land use decisions, but he was not in favor of the City committing itself to undertaking the task of stabilizing private property with public funds. He stated he wanted information to make a land use decision, but until he reviewed the information, he did not want to prejudge that the City had the ability to undertake the repair of all of the landslides.
Councilman Stern agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Long that there were far too many areas in the City with questionable geology and the City could not afford to be in the business of fixing it all, for that would not be the proper use of public funds.
Councilman Gardiner agreed with Councilman Stern and Mayor Pro Tem Long, but he asked that the City Attorney be directed to draft, insofar as it does not compromise the forum they are in, some explanation as to some of the things that they are considering, and an explanation as to what forms the basis of the distinction between the red and blue areas.
Mayor Pro Tem Long endorsed Councilman Gardiner’s comments and stated that he asked the City Attorney if when the decision was made and because the decision would be based on legal advice, if the Council could waive the attorney/client privilege for the limited purpose of releasing information on a particular opinion relied upon to make the decision. He added that the Council was not lacking in sympathy to the damage people were experiencing, but the problem was just too big for the Council to solve.
Councilman Clark amended his motion to include the instruction to the City Attorney to provide some of the legal considerations in a more explicit manner for open discussion once they have been reviewed in closed session. Mayor Pro Tem Long accepted the amendment.
The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Long, Clark, Stern, Gardiner, Mayor Wolowicz
The Council thanked the speakers for their input.
Councilman Clark moved that Items 9, 13, 14, 15, and 16 be continued to the next meeting, seconded by Councilman Stern.
Without objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Facility Rental at Founders Park (1411 x 1201)
This item was continued to April 4, 2006, with direction to staff to analyze an alternative where the City would manage facility rentals at Founders Park, and compare data from other coastal cities regarding the use of their facilities.
Request to Rename Ocean Trails Drive (1411)
This item was continued to April 4, 2006.
City Manager Succession Plan (1101)
This item was continued to April 4, 2006.
Traffic Signal Priority List (1503 x 1204)
This item was continued to April 4, 2006.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch reported that no action was taken regarding any of the items.
Councilman Stern made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long.
Mayor Wolowicz declared the meeting adjourned at 12:37 a.m. to April 4, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room at Hesse Park to interview candidates for the vacancy on the Traffic Safety Commission.
/s/ Thomas D. Long
/s/ Carolynn Petru