RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
SEPTEMBER 5, 2006
At 7:08 P.M., Mayor Wolowicz called the meeting to order at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
City Council roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Clark, Gardiner, Long and Mayor Wolowicz
ABSENT: Stern (excused)
Mayor Wolowicz reported that Councilman Stern had previously indicated that he would be on vacation and would not be able to attend the meeting.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that Councilman Stern’s absence would be noted as excused.
Also present were City Manager Les Evans, City Attorney Carol Lynch, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru, Director of Finance/IT Dennis McLean, Director of Public Works Jim Bell, Director of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Joel Rojas, Associate Planner Kristen Sohn; Deputy Planning Director Gregory Pfost, and Senior Administrative Analyst Lauren Ramezani.
The Flag Salute was led by Ken Dyda.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Moved by Councilman Clark and seconded by Councilman Gardiner to approve the Agenda. Hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Mayor Wolowicz related that he had served on the Residential Development Standards Steering Committee and he found it to be a valuable experience. He recognized the hard work of Principal Planner Mihranian organizing the Committee and noted that many participants were former Chairs of the Planning Commission. He presented certificates to Jon Cartwright, Ken Dyda, Bill Gertsner, Lois Karp, Jim Slayden and Frank Lyon and he expressed gratitude that they had given their time to work on the Committee.
City Manager Evans recognized Mayor Wolowicz for his work as Chair of the Committee.
Mayor Wolowicz presented Mayor Pro Tem Long with a certificate and thanked him for Co-Chairing the Committee.
Ken Dyda presented a certificate to Principal Planner Mihranian for going above and beyond with his work on organizing the Committee.
Councilman Clark thanked the Committee members, noting that they were very experienced members of the community and he was honored that they spent their time and effort to improve the community. He noted that the Committee had come out of the previous Neighborhood Compatibility subcommittee, which Councilman Gardiner had chaired.
Mayor Pro Tem Long acknowledged the work of the Committee noting that it required sacrifice due to the intensity of the work. He pointed out that when proposing changes to the language in City ordinances it is important to be vigilant to prevent unintended consequences and committee members patiently considered each change and explored all the things that might go wrong. He reported that he and Mayor Wolowicz had made many research requests and Principal Planner Mihranian had complied with them all for the purpose of improving the City’s residential standards for development.
Mayor Wolowicz reminded everyone that there were several members of the Committee who could not be present but gave of their time: Craig Mueller, Christine Denton and Steve Perestam.
Mayor Wolowicz presented certificates to members of the Open Space Planning and Recreation and Parks Task Force noting that they had contributed significantly to the legacy of the community: Arlene Block, Jim Knight, Jean Longacre-Singh, Lynn Swank and Jo Woods. He added that Sunshine, Stuart Brown, Mike Juneau, Leo Lawson, Donald Stevenson, Juan Torres and Lois Vannorsdall all participated and gave of their time although they were not able to attend the presentation.
Mayor Wolowicz congratulated Finance Director McLean on his recent marriage.
Mayor Wolowicz welcomed the new Director of Public Works, Jim Bell.
Director Bell briefly told the Council about himself noting that he had served as the Public Works Director for North Las Vegas for 7 years and prior to that served that city’s Deputy Engineer and City Engineer. He pointed out that while North Las Vegas is the second city in the nation in terms of growth with a huge demand for infrastructure, the city is not wealthy so they have to be creative to meet the demands. He also reported working in Henderson, Nevada, which had a 29% growth rate per year for a brief period. Prior to that he was a design engineer for the City of Glendale and noted that he was pleased to return to California. He expressed excitement at working in the unique City of Rancho Palos Verdes and indicated that he was eager to get to know the people, find out what the community is all about and advance their goals.
Mayor Wolowicz responded that the City was delighted to have him.
Mayor Wolowicz reported receiving email from residents commenting about the City’s trash hauling contract and he asserted that all input is welcome. He wanted to make sure that residents were aware that all the City has done so far was retain a consultant to help draft an RFP that went out and that the City is currently awaiting responses from trash haulers. He estimated that the item would come before the Council in December at the earliest and he added that the current contracts expire in June 2007, thereby providing plenty of opportunities for the public to provide input.
With the aid of slides, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru presented the Mayor’s Did You Know Facts noting that each year the City received an annual report from the County Tax Assessor. She presented a chart illustrating how much money cities receive for every dollar paid in property taxes and pointed out that Rancho Palos Verdes was far down the list receiving 0.0637 percent of each dollar as compared to Los Angeles which receives 0.2641 percent. A chart illustrating Rancho Palos Verdes Property Tax Allocation showed that 24% of the money collected goes to Los Angeles, 22% goes to educational augmentation, the school district gets 20%, the fire protection district gets 18% and the City gets 6%. Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that the real estate boom had benefited the City with reassessments and values going up from $7 billion to $8 billion in 2005-2006, which was higher than that experienced in surrounding cities. She noted that the City received about $4.6 million or 45% of the General Fund revenue from property taxes if other property tax revenues are included.
Councilman Clark commented that few residents realized that only 6 cents per property tax dollar came back to the City and he requested that this information be posted on the City’s website.
Mayor Wolowicz announced recyclers of the month: Theresa Copley and John Barnes. He indicated that all winners received a check for $250 representing a year of free refuse service and he urged everyone to participate in the City’s recycling program.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported no requests to speak.
Mayor Wolowicz reminded everyone that this was the time to speak on items not on the agenda.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Councilman Gardiner echoed Mayor Wolowicz’s comments about the status of the City’s trash contract and reiterated that no decisions had yet been made. He observed that a lot of misinformation is being circulated and suggested posting information on the City website to clarify the situation.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that, in responding to the emails he had received on this topic, he referred them to the Request For Proposals (RFP) which is posted on the City’s website but suggested that a short paragraph preceding it be added to explain where the City is in the process.
Mayor Pro Tem Long commented that most of the emails he had received were from people not in the pilot test areas and who had various perceptions about what is going on that do not match what is actually happening. He suggested that it could he helpful to post information on the website about what is going on in the pilot test areas, how many people are in each area, what the automated program is in the test areas, problems involved and the results of the October 2005 survey. He reported receiving emails expressing concern with regard to misconceptions including the belief that no survey had been done and that people were not allowed to park on the street in the test areas. He reiterated that decisions had not been made but tests were going on of an alternate method for some functions of refuse pickup.
Councilman Gardiner asserted that the RFP was lengthy and difficult to read and he suggested instead that a simple explanation, such as an abstract or summary, be provided on the website. He added that the only difference he noticed between manual and automatic collection was getting a free set of trash cans with wheels and lids that did not fall off.
Councilman Clark expressed interest in seeing the results of the RFP and he reported that the emails he had received suggested that better containers could be used, but residents wanted to keep twice a week pickup with unlimited recycling and residential waste bins.
Councilman Clark reported distributing a memo to the other Council members on August 15th about a proposed win-win solution to the Trump National Flag Pole and Flag issue. He reported that apparently Mr. Trump got a copy of the memo through his organization and called him on August 22 to indicate support for the proposed solution.
Councilman Clark described a meeting he had with Dr. Michael Brophy, the new president of Marymount College, on August 25, 2006 as a productive and useful exchange. On August 31, Councilman Clark met with Mr. Bill Avery who is helping the City with selection of a new City Manager to replace Mr. Evans, who is retiring at the end of the year.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that he had also met with Mr. Avery.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that he had also met with Mr. Avery.
Mayor Wolowicz reported on attending the following meetings:
- On August 16th, met with Ron Barnes from the Palos Verdes Art Center regarding the lease with the City for a portion of the Upper Point Vicente property.
- Attended the monthly lunch with the other peninsula mayors on August 26, 2006.
- On August 24th, participated in a meeting with the South Bay Council of City Governments at the new Manhattan Beach Police and Fire Department Center.
- On August 25th attended the Crestridge Project subcommittee meeting for a senior residential project located at the corner of Crestridge Road and Crenshaw Boulevard, and noted that the City is interested in putting in low income housing along with a senior center at that location.
- On August 27th, attended a tribute to Bill Ailor recognizing his vision and leadership for many years at the helm of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
- On August 29th, participated in a joint Council workshop with the Emergency Preparedness Committee and noted that the meeting was being rerun on Channel 33 and Channel 35.
- Met with Bill Avery, the consultant in the search for the new City Manager, on August 30th.
- On August 31st, he hosted a lunch with the City Manager and the new Director of Public Works, and attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies for three new businesses sponsored by the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce at Golden Cove for Peak Performance Physical Therapy, the Calibra Tanning Salon and South Bay Guitar and Music Instruction.
- On September 4th, he conducted a site inspection of a house on Bayridge Road that would be discussed later in the meeting.
CITY MANAGER REPORT:
City Manager Evans reported that his information had already been covered.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reminded the audience that a list of items previously discussed and continued to a future Council meeting could be viewed on the City’s website at www.palosverdes.com/Rancho Palos Verdes.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported no requests to speak.
Councilman Gardiner asked to pull Item Nos. 12 (Palos Verdes on the Net Modular Building Utilities and Maintenance Program) and 15 (Register of Demands) for discussion.
Mayor Wolowicz asked to pull item 11 (2006 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan) for a brief comment.
Moved by Mayor Pro Tem Long and seconded by Councilman Gardiner to approve the Consent Calendar with items 11, 12 and 15 removed. A roll call vote carried as follows:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Mayor Wolowicz NOES: None ABSTAIN: None ABSENT: Stern
Motion to Waive Full Reading
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at the meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council Members after the reading of the title.
Approval of Minutes (301)
Approved the minutes of December 20, 2005, and June 20, 2006.
Border Issues Status Report (310)
Received and filed the current status of border issues.
Adoption of Ordinance No. 442 – Amending Section 7.02.040. (C)(2) of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code Relating to View Restoration (1806 x 1801)
ADOPTED ORDINANCE NO. 442, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING SECTION 17.02.040(C)(2) OF THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE, TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THE CITY MAY UTILIZE THE PROCESS SET FORTH IN TITLE 8, CHAPTER 24 OF THE CODE TO RECORD ASSESSMENTS OR LIENS AGAINST PROPERTIES IN ORDER TO COVER UNPAID COSTS TO TRIM OR REMOVE FOLIAGE TO RESTORE AND PRESERVE VIEWS, AS ORDERED BY THE COMMISSION AND/OR THE DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT.
Revised License Agreement with T-Mobile (1601 x 1201)
1) Approved a Revised License Agreement with T-Mobile for the installation and maintenance of a telecommunications facility at Robert E. Ryan Park; and, 2) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute said agreement.
Cable Franchise Fee Review (605 x 602)
1) Approved the attached professional services agreement with Communications Support Group, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $25,000 to conduct a review of franchise fee calculations and remittances from Cox Communications, Inc.; 2) Authorized the Mayor and the City Clerk to execute the professional services agreement with Communications Support Group, Inc.; and, 3) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2006-65, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY06-07, TO INCREASE BUDGETED APPROPRIATIONS IN THE GENERAL FUND.
Award Construction Contract for McCarrell Canyon Channel Improvements (1204 x 604)
1) Approved the Plans and Specifications for the construction of the McCarrell Canyon Channel Improvements; 2) Awarded a Construction Contract to S.P. Pazargad Engineering Construction, Inc., in the amount of $98,475, for the construction of the McCarrell Canyon Channel Improvements and authorize the expenditure of up to $15,000 for possible extra work; 3) Awarded a contract for professional services to Charles Abbott Associates in the not to exceed amount of $5,000 for Construction Inspection services; and, 4) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the contracts with S.P. Pazargad Engineering Construction, Inc., and Charles Abbott Associates.
Phase II Storm Drain Lining Project (1204 x 604)
1) Approved the Plans and Specifications for the construction of the Phase II Storm Drain Lining Project (Monero Drive Storm Drain Rehabilitation); 2) Awarded a Construction Contract to SANCON Technologies, Inc., in the amount of $179,920.60, for the construction of the Phase II Lining Project and authorized the expenditure of up to $27,000.00 for possible extra work; 3) Awarded a contract for professional services to Charles Abbott Associates in the not to exceed amount of $20,000, for Construction Inspection services; and, 4) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the contracts with SANCON Technologies, Inc., and Charles Abbott Associates.
Arterial Rehabilitation Program Additional Engineering Services (1404)
Approved an Addendum to an existing contract for Professional Engineering Services provided by Willdan, for a not-to-exceed fee of $8,500 for services related to the City’s Arterial Rehabilitation Program.
2006 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan (701)
This item was removed from the consent calendar and considered separately.
Palos Verdes on the Net Modular Building Utilities and Maintenance Program (602)
This item was removed from the consent calendar and considered separately.
June 2006 Treasurer’s Report (602)
Received and filed the June 2006 Treasurer’s Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
FY05-06 Continuing Appropriations (602)
1) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2006-66, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY06-07, TO CONTINUE CERTAIN EXPENDITURE APPROPRIATIONS FROM FY05-06; and, 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2006-67, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2005-53, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY05-06, TO REDUCE THE BUDGET FOR CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS THAT WILL BE RE-BUDGETED AND INCLUDED IN THE FY06-07 BUDGET.
Register of Demands
This item was removed from the consent calendar and considered separately.
ITEMS PULLED FROM THE CONSENT CALENDAR:
2006 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan (701)
Mayor Wolowicz pointed out that the report was an annual requirement and he questioned the status of the General Plan Update following the completion of the work submitted by the General Plan Update Steering Committee.
Director Rojas reported sending out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to several consulting firms with only one proposal received, which was over the budget, and reported that staff would be revisiting the issue.
Mayor Wolowicz observed that the project had taken a long time and he asked for more information.
Director Rojas outlined the procedures necessary for the update noting that the committee had made its recommendations to the City Council after two years of work and staff is in the process of updating the General Plan document but needs the help of a consultant. He added that the scope of work would be pared down so that staff could do more of the work but that could mean that the project would take additional time.
Mayor Wolowicz questioned whether this was the first overhaul of the General Plan.
Director Rojas explained that there had been several minor updates but this was the first major overhaul since the plan was formulated in 1975.
Mayor Wolowicz wanted to see the project move forward and thought that exceptionally good work had been completed to date.
Moved by Mayor Wolowicz, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long and unanimously passed to direct staff to forward the City’s Annual Report on the Implementation of the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan for the 2005-2006 fiscal year to the State Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Palos Verdes on the Net Modular Building Utilities and Maintenance Program (602)
Councilman Gardiner expressed surprise at the amount of money requested and noted that originally the budget for the project was quite small, but that the amount has increased to $41,000. He recalled that Council was informed about the increase in the size of the modular building, but stated that he did not recall any incremental budget adjustment being proposed at that time. He questioned the claim in the report that $100,000 worth of equipment had been donated to the cable TV studio by Palos Verdes on the Net and felt that the amount required refining and further scrutiny. He stated that no break down of what equipment was received and what its valuation was had been provided and noted that he wanted to confirm that none of it was acquired with City funds. He questioned at what point expenditures become a gift of public funds and at what point was the City providing support for services that the City has in turn received. He suggested continuing the item until additional information could be provided off-line on these points.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that he did not think those were issues that the Council could explore off-line, as the Council is required to make decisions with each member having the same public information. He reported that some information Councilman Gardiner was referring to had not been brought to his attention until that very day, but he had taken steps to gain additional information and he wanted to ask some questions to make sure his understanding was correct. He asked staff if the lease agreement with PV on the Net had been signed.
City Manager Evans reported that the Council approved a lease agreement on June 20, 2006 and that the agreement had been executed by Mayor Wolowicz and Ted Vegvari, President of Palos Verdes on the Net.
Mayor Pro Tem Long received clarification from City Manager Evans that the City was obligated under that agreement to provide the utilities for the modular building.
City Manager Evans indicated that the City had agreed to do that.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned whether the City would be violating the terms of the lease if Council did not approve this agenda item to fund the installation of said utilities.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Long pointed out that if Council continued this item, it would need to consider whether or not to put the City in breach of this lease obligation and indicated that he did not support breaching the lease. He requested that the Director of Finance outline the benefits the City gets from PV on the Net in terms of what the City pays for the services provided and what similar services would cost if they were acquired in the open market. He reported that on short notice the Director of Finance had provided him with a rough estimate that the support currently provided by Palos Verdes on the Net was equal to 2.5 full time City employees and the cost to the City would be $46 per hour of labor provided. He concluded that it could cost the City $200,000 or more if it were to provide the same services on its own. He indicated that he was wary of breaching the lease obligation and looking a gift horse in the mouth when there was someone in the community willing to make significant commitments of time and money to provide for the City’s information/technology needs. He suggested that if Council thought that the City could get the services and equipment less expensively elsewhere staff should be directed to explore that option, but indicated that until a viable alternative is found, he preferred to continue with the status quo.
Mayor Pro Tem Long acknowledged that the staff report indicated that $100,000 worth equipment had been donated by Palos Verdes on the Net to the Channel 33 Cable Studio, but confessed that he was not sure why that was relevant. He questioned whether in taking back the cable studio building from Palos Verdes on the Net, the City thought it was also getting the audio/video equipment and if that was the case, he did not see it stated in the lease.
City Manager Evans clarified that the equipment that was to be turned over to the City was listed in the lease agreement, but that no value had been assigned to it.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned whether the equipment listed was in fact turned over to the City.
City Manager Evans indicated that the equipment listed was turned over the City.
Mayor Pro Tem Long expressed his opposition to continuing the item and he stated that he preferred to see the staff recommendation adopted.
Councilman Gardiner suggested creating an Information/Technology Council subcommittee to examine what services the City is receiving from Palos Verdes on the Net and to determine the associated costs. He indicated that he was not willing to accept the range of numbers presented for the services rendered and was not clear on what the services rendered were. He stated that he was interested to see a cost comparison of the going rate for a full time employee with the cost of contracting out for IT services.
In response to a question from Councilman Gardiner, Director McLean indicated that the last time the City’s IT services were put out to open bid was in 1999.
Councilman Gardiner stated that while he did not advocate breaching a lease, he thought it would be appropriate to examine the current contract with Palos Verdes on the Net and to determine the value of the services being received. He asked what the cost estimates had been when this project was first proposed.
City Manager Evans indicated that the cost of custodial services and building maintenance was estimated to be about $5,000 per year and that he had thought the cost of the utilities could be absorbed in the City’s existing $400,000 - $500,000 per year budget for utilities for the City Hall site, but admitted that it turned out to be a bad guess.
Councilman Gardiner agreed that this was his understanding and that the amount the City was obligated to pay for the modular building was very small, but now it is $41,000. He questioned why the amount was so different and how the City could avoid the charge of gifting public funds through the terms of this lease.
Mayor Pro Tem Long explained that it was not a gift of public funds because the City is receiving services from Palos Verdes on the Net in return for the lease.
Councilman Gardiner questioned what services the City was receiving by providing funding for this particular modular building.
Mayor Pro Tem Long did not have a problem with a subcommittee looking at whether the City could obtain IT services at less than $46 per hour and with none of the overhead associated with providing a new building to house these services, but indicated that he felt the subcommittee should be informational rather than policymaking and should be required report back to the Council as a whole. He emphasized that Council should make the final decision as a whole, rather than off-line. He expressed concern that the Channel 33 Committee appointed by the Council had overstepped the bounds of its original mandate.
Councilman Gardiner noted he was aware that Mayor Pro Tem Long did not want subcommittees to make policy decision and what he meant by “off-line” was strictly information gathering. He noted it was very clear that the Council made policies and decisions with three or more votes, and he took exception to the implication that it was anything to the contrary. He expressed his full support for the formation of an Information/Technology subcommittee to look at all the cost of and services received from Palos Verdes on the Net in total and noted that the review should not be restricted to procurement of a particular building.
Mayor Pro Tem Long had no problem with that approach but indicated that he did like it when a Consent Calendar item became an item of debate when there might have been a better way to handle it. He added that he did not think he should find out that a Consent Calendar item was going to be controversial on the day of the Council meeting.
Councilman Gardiner pointed out that he had alerted the City Manager, the City Attorney and the Mayor about his concerns when the agenda was issued on the previous Thursday.
Mayor Wolowicz noted that it was disconcerting that the City might place itself in violation of a lease and he supported the formation of an IT subcommittee which would be separate and different from the Channel 33 subcommittee, although he felt there was a nexus between the two. He observed that the there was not a second Council member on the Channel 33 subcommittee and asked whether there was another Council member willing to serve on this subcommittee.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asserted that he did not see a nexus between the Channel 33, with its mandate to address programming issues, and the particular issues that Councilman Gardiner has outlined with regard to the services provided by Palos Verdes On the Net. He perceived the issues as being separate and suggested appointing a separate committee.
Mayor Wolowicz agreed and asked for volunteers to serve on the Information/ Technology Committee.
City Attorney Lynch pointed out that creating a new ad hoc committee was not an item on that evening’s agenda.
Mayor Wolowicz requested that this topic be added as a future agenda item.
Councilman Gardiner noted Mayor Pro Tem Long’s concerns that the Channel 33 committee was overstepping its bounds despite assurances that it would bring back a status report and plan of action for the full Council’s consideration. He indicated that this had not been done due to various scheduling conflicts, but that the committee was prepared to do so and he felt that it would be useful to add another Council member to the committee. He welcomed another appointment or even being replaced if there is a concern.
Mayor Wolowicz asked that the Channel 33 Committee and the Information/ Technology Committee be on the next agenda because he felt both issues would benefit from prompt action.
Councilman Gardiner asserted that he did not want to be a party to breaching any lease but he felt frustrated because the initial estimate that was small enough to be absorbed in the City’s existing budget, but has now turned into $41,000. He added that he might have considered different terms for the lease if he had known that when Council made the original decision.
Mayor Pro Tem Long moved to: 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2006-68, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY 06-07, TO INCREASE THE PUBLIC WORKS BUILDING MAINTENANCE BUDGET IN THE AMOUNT OF $41,950; 2) Directed staff to bring back a proposal on a future agenda to create an Information/ Technology subcommittee; and 3) Directed staff to include a discussion as part of this future agenda item as to how the City’s obligation under the lease turned out to be more than expected and how the City can address similar issues in the future.
Councilman Clark seconded the motion, which passed with the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
Mayor Wolowicz pointed out that staff attached a beginning and ending General fund reserve calculation to the staff report on this item, and noted that he had sought clarification from the Deputy Finance Director, who confirmed that the figures presented were correct.
Register of Demands
Councilman Gardiner commented that the Register of Demands is a series of bills, which Council has no discretion over, and questioned why Council did not consider expenditure items when they were still in the purchase order stage, which would allow Council to have a policy discussion before the funds are obligated to a particular purpose.
Mayor Wolowicz asserted that he had asked that same question in the past.
Councilman Clark added that he had also asked this question and read from a portion of the staff report materials that indicated Council is performing a required act under the Government Code in approving the Register of Demands.
Mayor Pro Tem Long reported asking the same question of staff and noted that he had assumed that the line items listed were all previously budgeted, then as the contracts were proposed by staff, the contracts were awarded, and after the work was performed, as the last step, Council approved the Register of Demands as a ministerial duty. He added that if it were not a legal requirement, Council would not need to see it, as the expenditures have already been approved through the adoption of the City budget. He clarified that the budget items were regulated at the front end of the process and noted that as contracts are awarded, Council is told which budget item the funds come from and what the remaining balance is going to be for the budget item.
Councilman Gardiner noted that there were some things that come to the Council in the way of contracts and those purchases are authorized but he suggested that a certain percentage of the City budget is not discernable in the line items. He indicated that Council only sees the specific purchase or obligation after the funds have already been committed, leaving Council no other choice in the matter but to approve the release of the funds.
City Manager Evans explained that Mayor Pro Tem Long was correct in his description of the process. He stated that City staff operates from the approved budget and the City’s purchasing ordinance. He explained that Council authorizes amounts of money for various budget programs; that staff only spends money for authorized purposes; that staff spends in accordance with the purchasing ordinance; and that the purchasing ordinance requires RFPs for certain items and requires three informal bids for others. He stressed that there are required processes in place that staff must adhere to and stated that the Register of Demands comes to Council as one last opportunity for Council to see how the City’s money is being spent and if there is something questionable, action can be taken before payment is authorized.
Councilman Gardiner pointed out that if there is a questionable item on the Register of Demands, the service has already been performed, and the City is obligated to pay for it with no other recourse available.
Mayor Pro Tem Long clarified that if there is something in excess of what the purchasing ordinance allows, Council will catch it, and if staff obligates the City to something, it may not be valid if the purchasing ordinance has been violated and staff did not get the proper approvals.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he was not insinuating that anything improper had been done but that he was merely asking about the process.
Director McLean stated that the Register of Demands is part of the City’s fiduciary responsibility pursuant to the Government Code.
Mayor Wolowicz received clarification for the record from Director McLean that the payments for the items listed had not already been released.
Moved by Councilman Gardiner and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2006-69, 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. The motion passed by the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
An Appeal of the Planning Commission's Decision Denying Case No. ZON2006-00328 (Revision BB to Conditional Use Permit No. 163/Variance), Which is a Request to Permit an "After-the-Fact" 70' Tall Flag Pole Located at the Back Tee of Hole #1 of the Trump National Golf Course (1411)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported distributing late correspondence on the item and indicated that public notice of the item had been dually published.
Director Pfost reported that staff recommended continuing the item to the City Council meeting scheduled for September 19, 2006 due to the fact that the Mayor wanted Councilmember Stern to be present at the meeting when this item is discussed.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned whether the applicant had any objection to the continuance.
Director Pfost indicated that he did not know.
Councilmember Clark noted that he had brought an alternative approach to solving the issue to the Council at a prior meeting and that he had requested that it be agendized. He added that he did not see it either agendized or a part of the staff report for this item and questioned why his memorandum was not included or presented as a separate item.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that on the original draft of the agenda both issues were included but it was removed because staff anticipated that the entire topic would be carried over to a future meeting.
Councilman Clark questioned whether it would be included if the item were continued.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that the two belonged on the same agenda and he had also seen it on the preliminary draft of the agenda with Councilman Clark’s item listed first, followed by the appeal.
Councilman Clark stated that if that was the case he supported the continuance.
Mayor Wolowicz clarified that no slight was ever intended.
At 8:34 p.m. Mayor Wolowicz declared the public hearing open.
Walt Foster, Rancho Palos Verdes, urged Council to sustain the appeal and grant the variance as he felt the flagpole was not an obstruction to the view of the Pacific Ocean.
At 8:35 p.m., hearing no additional requests to speak, Mayor Wolowicz declared the public hearing closed. He clarified that Council had not made any decisions and that it had not had conversation or debate between its members on this issue, but the continuance was requested so that all Council members would be able to consider the item, as it is an important issue of considerable concern in the community.
Moved by Councilmember Clark to continue the public hearing to September 19, 2006. Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion with the instruction that Councilman Clark’s item be included in the agenda immediately prior to this item.
Councilman Gardiner asked if Councilman Clark’s suggestion were approved whether the appeal would be moot.
Mayor Pro Tem Long believed that would be the case depending on conditions.
City Attorney Lynch noted that it could but it would be helpful to have something in writing to make that commitment from the Trump organization so the Council would know whether such an action would moot the appeal. She explained that then the City would know what the state of affairs would be prior to taking action on the appeal.
Councilman Gardiner asked for comments from the Trump representative present as to whether mooting the appeal was contingent upon having the Trump organization in agreement.
Mayor Wolowicz wanted to offer Trump representatives a chance to speak if they wanted to.
Mayor Pro Tem Long observed that the representatives could speak and it would be helpful to have communication with them since the subcommittee had been unsuccessful in meeting with them despite repeated requests. He noted that the proposal that Councilman Clark has made is not necessarily the full set of parameters that the applicant may need to respond to and there may be additional conditions. He went on to explain that Councilman Clark had outlined broad general parameters but there could be more specific conditions that may be attached because of public comment or other input. He noted that input could be received from them tonight but it might not be dispositive given the absence of public input.
Councilman Clark agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Long, noting that since his original proposal was broad, maintenance conditions, liability issues and other elements would be necessary and would require additional discussion.
Mayor Pro Tem Long expressed interest in receiving further public input.
Moved by Councilmember Clark to continue the public hearing to September 19, 2006.
Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion with the instruction that Councilman Clark’s item be included in the agenda immediately prior to this item. A roll call vote on the motion reflected the following:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
Appeal of Planning Commission Approval of Case No. ZON2005-00656 (1801 x 1203)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that notice of the meeting was duly published and that no written protests were received other than those included in the agenda packet.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Mayor Wolowicz called a brief recess from 8:41 P.M. to 8:53 P.M.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (continued):
With the aid of slides, Associate Planner Sohn presented a brief summary of the material of record noting that staff supported the decision of the Planning Commission and recommended that the Council reject the appeal.
Mayor Pro Tem Long and Mayor Wolowicz thanked Planner Sohn for a clear and concise staff report.
Mayor Wolowicz reported visiting the neighborhood and speaking with Mr. Sturgeon.
Assistant City Manager/ City Clerk Petru indicated that both the applicant and the appellant were allowed 10 minutes for their presentation with 3 additional minutes to make their rebuttal.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that Mr. Sturgeon asked everyone to speak distinctly and clearly so everyone would be able to understand.
At 9:03 p.m. Mayor Wolowicz declared the public hearing open.
Rollin Sturgeon, Rancho Palos Verdes, thanked the City Council for their hard work and time. He noted that Policy 1 in Proposition M, supported maintaining existing styles of houses and he asserted that replacing existing modest houses with larger houses runs contrary to that policy. He added that Policy 17 sought to maintain open space, which was the primary reason for the founding of the City.
Mr. Sturgeon asserted that allowing the required 20 feet between houses to be reduced to 10 feet, as staff has consistently done, runs contrary to Policy 17 noting that staff relied largely on a compatibility handbook which is flawed because it refers to the immediate neighborhood when it should refer to the neighborhood. Paragraph C1a of Proposition M restricts immediate neighborhood exclusively to structures where views are involved so immediate could have a couple of meanings in the context of neighborhood. He suggested several meanings noting that immediate relative to a neighborhood could not mean 20 houses. Proposition M provides concrete numbers and if immediate neighborhood were to be restricted to a specific number of houses that would have been specified. He asserted that limiting the comparison to the 20 nearest homes made the proposition nearly useless.
Mr. Sturgeon reported that Planning Commissioners had acknowledged his points but were unable to go against the compatibility handbook issued by the City and he observed that it was easier to go along with what had been done before, even if it is incorrect, than to make a change. He added that the former City Attorney had indicated that neighborhood should have a broader definition.
Mr. Sturgeon went over specifics of the plan noting that the area that they were referring to as a family room was in reality a separate apartment and he pointed out that the tree in the architect’s rendering was placed there to make the project look smaller when in reality it would not be planted there as it would obstruct the view from those windows. He observed that the drawings did not reflect the patio, which would make the project oversized on lot coverage, and he added that the new façade was extended out and reduced the setback greatly. The second 2/3 of the façade is brought forth further and he noted that the building staff had finally admitted that the addition is being built to the front after previous assertions that the addition was only built to the sides and back.
Mr. Sturgeon indicated that the garage was raised two feet with clerestory windows but there is no other house in the neighborhood with clerestory windows and he added that the ridge length had been increased. He felt a planned community should not be degraded with big houses that covered the lot completely.
Mayor Wolowicz clarified that Mr. Sturgeon had asserted that a house must be compatible in either a one or two story neighborhood but it could not be compatible with both and all subsequent increases in a home should be based on the original square footage.
Mr. Sturgeon pointed out that if addition after addition is allowed them compatibility becomes meaningless.
Councilman Gardiner noted that the baseline issue had been addressed when discussing neighborhood compatibility but he could not recall how that had been resolved.
Councilman Clark explained that a previous Council was concerned with expansion and had put a limit of 50% of the original footprint.
Director Rojas clarified that 50% was the old figure.
Councilman Clark pointed out that the unintended consequence of that was that those who started out with old homes were going to forever have small homes. He reported serving on the Planning Commission when that was being considered and they returned the item to the Council asserting that it was inequitable and unfair and the Council took it out of the code.
Director Rojas reported that any addition over the limit of 25% of the original residence would trigger neighborhood compatibility and would establish a cumulative total and if an additional expansion were proposed, neighborhood compatibility would be triggered again.
Mayor Pro Tem Long noted that there was a history of prior square footage limitations, which had nothing to do with lot size, and the prior Planning Commission determined that was not fair. He questioned whether a calculation had been done as to how big a house the Bayridge lot would be allowed to build, setting aside neighborhood compatibility if it were allowed to build out to the setbacks all around.
Director Rojas indicated that analysis had not been done.
Mayor Pro Tem Long reported that Principal Planner Mihranian had those types of analyses for samples and might be able to share that. He explained that neighborhood compatibility prevents building all the way out to that limit for now but in the long run, all neighborhood compatibility rules do is slow the pace of development, not prevent it. He added that not long ago he had distributed a Los Angeles Times article to the Planning Commission about what steps the City of Los Angeles is taking to address mansionization.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that many other cities have absolute square footage limitations and until Rancho Palos Verdes considers those steps the City may be looking at complicated appeals like this one on the inherently subjective decision about whether or not something is compatible. He felt this appeal was the tip of a looming iceberg coming at them.
Mayor Wolowicz related that the Residential Development Standards Committee had a great deal of discussion and ended up relying on the setback requirements which have become the driving factor behind many of the houses like this one. He felt there was a certain value in looking at the neighborhood but he disagreed with Mr. Sturgeon’s assessment that one and two-story homes not be mixed within the same neighborhood noting that he lives in a tract with one and two-story homes.
Councilman Gardiner felt it was a thorny issue and noted that there were waves of housing additions with the first additions raising the bar and then the rest of the neighborhood seeking to catch up and pass them, and over time there are giant houses. He questioned whether eaves that overhang the setback were an intrusion.
Director Rojas explained that eaves were allowed to overhang into the setback 6 inches per foot of setback.
Councilman Gardiner received clarification that this house was within the requirements.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asserted that the lot coverage tool was important but he agreed with the conception that neighborhood compatibility addresses aesthetics. In terms of density, compatibility addresses the timing and pace of density but doesn’t answer the question of what is the vision of the ultimate density of the community. He felt that the current structure would fit within any formula of lot coverage that he would propose because he would want to allow for some scope of expansion but that is ultimately a matter of personal taste. He asserted that he would not want 5,000 square foot houses in his neighborhood of similar lots but the 3,000 square foot houses there seem to do just fine.
Councilman Clark felt this was déjà vu as they had spent much time on neighborhood compatibility because they are one of the few cities that thoughtfully addressed how to look at renovations and renewal of housing stock in a community. He pointed out that the fact that they have a neighborhood compatibilities ordinance in the code is more than most cities have. He commented that many of the tracts were built in the late 50s, 60s and 70s and things have changes dramatically so you have to correlate what the economics involved in the community are. There are several triggers in the code now that were not there before and the City has thoughtfully moved toward a solution.
Councilman Gardiner asserted that the City recognized that people have rights to expand but the City has controlled the pace and the degree that change can happen. The City has succeeded in preventing a 3,600 square foot house for now and they have slowed the rate of change to something that is maybe more compatible with the population itself but as the population ages, the housing stock will turn over.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that ultimately if economic force is the driver, typically, for the same amount of money, people understand they can get a larger house elsewhere. Part of the value of the community is the degree of open space and the fragile infrastructure which requires lower density and that could be lost if the value of real estate becomes the driving factor. He noted that based on the economic value of the lot he is on now, if there were no development rules like in Houston, then the answer would be that he should tear down his house and build a 10 story condominium.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that the City recognized that 1960s homes were going to be replaced by something larger and that can happen without fundamentally changing the character of the community. He noted that there were many tools to deal with the issues and more would be provided by the Residential Standards Committee. He wanted to see the City consider one more tool like the City of Los Angeles has which is a square footage limitation geared to lot size.
Domingo Ottolia, Rancho Palos Verdes, owner and architect of the home in question, indicated that they wanted to expand their home to accommodate their family. He felt they had been sensitive to the neighbors in designing the home so as to not block their views or intrude on their privacy and he indicated that the current design took input from the neighbors and the Planning Commission into consideration. He added that the tree Mr. Sturgeon indicated would not be planted is actually growing there right now. With regard to the low pitch of the roof, Mr. Ottolia explained that the pitch had to be low in order to meet height requirements and he did not want to compromise the neighbors’ view from the north. He added that the square footage included the garage, which is about 423 square feet.
Mayor Wolowicz questioned whether Mr. Sturgeon’s assertion that the family room was actually going to be used as an apartment was true.
Mr. Ottolia asserted that was not going to happen as it is against the code and as an architect it would be a violation of his license to do that. He indicated that they were planning on using it for a family room and if they had more children it might be used as a master bedroom.
Mayor Wolowicz asked about the expansion of the patio and trellis.
Mr. Ottolia indicated that had not crossed their minds.
Mr. Sturgeon noted that the Council had only discussed relative size of the house not that fact that it was not compatible looking at the face of it. Also the Council was concerned about land values and he noted that they agreed that when the City was formed that it was degrading when people built for maximum land value. He asserted that the intent of the City was that the community not become overgrown with crowded together, overpopulated houses and he did not feel it made sense to let that happen when the compatibility initiative is in place to prevent it.
Mr. Ottolia did not feel the need to rebut.
At 9:40 p.m. Mayor Wolowicz closed the public hearing.
Councilman Clark asserted that neighborhood compatibility in the community meant judging those who want to add to their homes by the 20 closest homes in the area. He noted that over many years the issue had arisen as to whether or not two-story homes in a one-story area were compatible. He felt it was not compatible and had to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Councilman Clark moved to adopt the staff recommendation. Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion, with a request to make a comment.
Mayor Pro Tem Long commented that he was probably the person most sympathetic to limiting mansionization but he deferred to the Planning Commission on the subjective issue of whether the aesthetics of the structure were compatible. He wanted to see more tools available to limit growth and he was concerned with size, but he felt 2,900 square feet was reasonable.
Mayor Pro Tem Long wished Mr. Ottolia the best on his project and he pointed out that no one else was present to complain about the project. He appreciated that Mr. Ottolia had taken into account the comments of his neighbors noting that if every applicant took the same approach, the decisions would be relatively easy. Mayor Pro Tem Long was mindful of Mr. Sturgeon’s concerns and he hoped to hear from him again.
Councilman Gardiner appreciated Mr. Sturgeon’s articulate comments and thanked him for coming. He was sympathetic to Mr. Sturgeon’s position but he pointed out that the Council could only work to slow growth, not stop it completely. Councilman Gardiner expressed discomfort with the home being 1,000 square feet larger than the neighborhood average size, but he acknowledged that it could have been even larger if the provisions had not been in place.
Mayor Wolowicz commented that they began receiving letters from Mr. Sturgeon well before the issue was slated to appear before the Council, which got his attention because he was working on the Residential Standards Committee. He observed that Mr. Sturgeon is a student of Proposition M and of the founding of the City.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that he had a different opinion on the integration of one and two story homes in a neighborhood and he pointed out that the application could have been even larger. He predicted that there would be many more cases as people make efforts to expand their homes to the extent allowable by the current code.
Councilman Gardiner felt this was an issue facing the entire country and he noted that he was sensitive to the openness of the City but the question is how to balance preservation and expansion.
Councilman Clark noted that 20 years ago the population of the City was approximately 41,000 and it is now 42,000. Part of the reason that the population has remained constant is that the City was founded on the precept of open space and the current Council and previous Councils have worked to preserve open space with protection of the coastline as the main precept.
Councilman Clark moved to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2006-70, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL AND UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DECISION TO APPROVE THE SITE PLAN REVIEW APPLICATION CASE NO. ZON2005-00656.
Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion and a roll call vote reflected the following:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Petition to Repeal the Storm Drain User Fee (602 x 604)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru indicated that she had two requests to speak to this item.
Barry Hildebrand, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke representing the Committee to Repeal the Rancho Palos Verdes Storm Drain User Fee. He asserted that it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers of the City for Council to accept the subject initiative rather than to place it on the ballot in November 2007. He stated that his group had lobbied to make infrastructure and public safety the City’s number one financial priority and they wanted to make that a reality rather than an excuse for special taxation. He asserted that the mailed ballot election and related activities cost the taxpayers $300,00 and that if those funds had been spent on the needed McCarrell Canyon storm drain repairs the City would not be facing the expensive lawsuits associated with the February 2005 mudflows. He felt that it would be irresponsible of the City to spend another $100,000 trying to defeat the initiative and that it was unlawful for the City to spend any money on political activities.
Mr. Hildebrand reported that the City had correctly allocated $6 million for storm drain work in fiscal year 2006-2007 but noted that less than $2 million was spent in 2005-2006 which he felt confirmed the original estimate about how much actual work could be taken on per year. He indicated that the original plan was to spend $2 million per year for 20 years to accomplish the needed work, but he felt that changing the plan to 30 years with a lower equivalent residential unit (ERU) fee was a political move, which extended the risk period. He stated that when the voters realized that some religious, business and educational facilities would be paying up to $1,000 per year, they were surprised and dismayed. He noted that despite the bleak picture painted by the City’s financial model, there has been a $2-3 million per year positive variance in the City’s revenues vs. expenditures although the transfer of money to Council restricted funds totaling of $5 million in various discretionary pots is hidden from public view and even the Finance Advisory Committee did not seem to know about or acknowledge the existence of these funds.
Mr. Hildebrand described the City’s overall financial health as good and he felt that staff should be complimented for controlling its budget. He reported that the grassroots effort for the initiative had gathered 900 signatures on two different occasions and almost 3,000 properties voted “no” in the mailed ballot election conducted in 2005, indicating that 6,000 votes is the average turn out for City elections. He indicated that his group would be filing a complaint regarding the initiative summary prepared by the City Attorney as she stated that the purpose of the fee was to raise $25 million over 30 years to provide a dedicated funding source to pay for the City’s water quality and flood protection program.
Don Reeves, Rancho Palos Verdes, endorsed Mr. Hildebrand’s comments and added that the amount being raised for the tax is understated. He stated that the amount should be $40 million rather than $25 million and he asserted that the City either did not understand the program or it was a purposeful attempt to understate the true cost of the tax. He added that the statement by the City Attorney failed to identify the yearly adjustment that would result in over $50 million in taxes actually collected and the overly conservative financial model used to continually underestimate future reserves did not include major near term sources of revenue like the Terranea resort hotel. He stated that even with the noted transfers to the Council restricted funds and expenditures on items like the Palos Verdes Interpretive Center and the Portuguese Bend Preserve, the actual General fund reserves would continue to be maintained. He added that millions of dollars had been spent on special interest projects and another $1 million is targeted to satisfy the wishes of the Palos Verdes Art Center even though there still is no Civic Center Master Plan in place.
Mr. Reeves indicated that they had filed an inquiry for a violation of Ordinance 418 and they are awaiting a response from the Los Angeles County Auditor. He encouraged the City to accept the recommendation to repeal the storm drain user fee immediately, so that the City could focus on building infrastructure in a financially sensible manner.
Mayor Wolowicz, speaking on behalf of the Council, noted that there should be no interpretation of agreement with the assertions or claims made by the speakers and he noted that Council was moving forward on the issue at hand.
Mayor Pro Tem Long noted that the staff report offered Council alternatives to simply adopt the proposed initiative or to certify the petition and schedule it for the next municipal election. He favored putting the initiative on the ballot because the people who will pay for the storm drain user fee had already voted on it and it had prevailed in the forum. He pointed out that the second vote would allow people who will not pay the fee to also vote on the issue.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that he did not have time to address each and every point raised by the speakers, but noted that because of the community’s geography, the City has a lot of infrastructure to maintain per capita, but few people and much lower tax revenues with which to pay for it. He noted that Mr. Hildebrand had sent him an article questioning why cities were needed and he felt the underlying agenda of the group opposing the storm drain user fee was a desire not to have a City. He reported that the article suggested providing needed local services through a banding together of homeowner associations, but he commented that if local government is ultimately is set aside, he was convinced that property owners would be unable to provide the needed services on their own.
Mayor Pro Tem Long challenged both speakers to identify line items in the City’s budget to cut, noting that many proposed items mentioned, like the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, were funded with grant money from the state and federal government and that similar grant funds are not available for storm drain repairs. He added that while there are grant programs available to purchase open space and build museums, none are available for well-to-do communities that eschew taxing themselves to repair its failing infrastructure. He added that with only 6 cents of every dollar paid in property tax coming back to the City, there is not much revenue available for fund these important projects.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asserted that the question for the 2007 election is: what is the future of the City and how is the City going to take care of its future? He acknowledged that the storm drain user fee was not a perfect solution and he shared the speaker’s view that the fee is set too low and funds repairs over too long a period over time, thereby increasing the risk of intervening failures, but noted that the pursuit of a perfect solution should not cause the City to discard a good one. He pointed out that the opponents had proposed nothing in its place and that is not a sufficient answer to protect the City’s future.
Councilman Clark complimented Mayor Pro Tem Long for being so articulate and on point with his comments. He noted that under the rules of Proposition 218 those who did not participate in the original vote to impose or oppose the storm drain users fee can be involved in the new effort to repeal that fee through a general election and he felt that this was a major flaw in Proposition 218. He declared his intent to address that issue with the legislature in Sacramento, so that gamesmanship is not played in the future.
Councilman Gardiner pointed out that it is frustrating for the public to only be allowed to speak for 3-6 minutes and then to have the Council members talk for as long as they wanted in reply. He disagreed with Councilman Clark, as he did not have a problem with residents following the existing rules and applying them. He also pointed out that the election was won by only 44 votes, which he did not feel was a mandate.
Councilman Gardiner asserted that residents did not take exception with the fact that the repairs needed to be made, they just did not like the package the City put together. He suggested offering additional options to the public and he advocated placing a second initiative on the ballot providing an alternative to simply repealing the fee, such as limiting collection of the fee to a five year period and then providing a status report and placing the fee back on the ballot, so that if more money is needed to complete the repairs, the public can decide whether to continue to fund the repairs over the next five year period.
Mayor Pro Tem Long pointed out that he had previously invited alternative proposals and had supported a higher fee to do the repairs in a quicker time frame, but had received no support for those ideas. He asked that Councilman Gardiner put a proposal in writing and have it placed on a future agenda for discussion, as he was interested to see a project where the City would fund all required repairs and did not rely upon uncollected revenues from yet-to-be-built resorts. He noted that he was not in favor of making the City dependent on revenue from a single development to fund necessary infrastructure repairs.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that he was not in favor of a parcel tax because it would mean that large commercial parcels would pay the exact same dollar amount as a small residential parcel and the burden to repair the City’s infrastructure would be shifted to residents and away from businesses. He pointed out that the Chamber of Commerce supported the user fee and he reiterated his interest in seeing another solution and whether it would fund the identified work with a reliable source of revenue.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he was happy to take up the challenge as he felt the public would understand a parcel tax for five years to raise the money as he perceived that the public did not like the 30 year sunset period. He also felt that repairs should be spread around geographically, noting concerns that the repairs would all be done in one area of the City and he asserted that there was no way to fund all the needed repairs in 5-10 years.
Mayor Pro Tem Long pointed out that the PVP School District had proposed a five year parcel tax to modernize its facilities, but clearly told the public it would take longer than that and expressed doubt that the School District proposed renewal of the parcel fee would be approved by the voters. He supported a realistic solution and asserted that if Council knows there is 20 years worth of work needed, it should be clear on that point and if Council wants the work completed more quickly, then more money will be required up front.
Councilman Clark acknowledged that while the proponents of the initiative were within their legal rights to petition signatures from non-property owners who were ineligible to participate in the mailed ballot election held in 2005, he still felt that it did not make it right. He indicated that he found a fundamental flaw in Proposition 218, which he felt should be challenged in court because he did not think it would be upheld. He asserted that the majority of the property owners who would be subject to the fee voted to move forward with the initiative on the table last summer and now there are some that want it overturned and they don’t want to hear what the majority says if it disagrees with what they want. He also expressed interest in hearing an alternative proposal and noted that he had supported a shorter term for the storm drain user fee, but was unsuccessful.
Councilman Gardiner opined that winning by 44 votes was not a loud mandate from the affected property owners and asserted that the City had taken an opportunity to build broad support for infrastructure repairs, but had turned the issue into a horse race instead. He felt that the residents were bothered by the 30-year term and that it would be more straightforward to say that the City has $45 million worth of work to be done in a series of phases.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that he did not think people would remember that more money was needed when it was time to continue the fee and he also did not think that the decisive issue for people who voted “no” on the original issue was the 30 year term, as many who voted “no” indicated that they probably would not be here in 20 or 30 years. He observed that the opponents do not want to pay for the repairs at all and he asserted that whether the issue was won by 44 votes or 44,000 votes, it was still a majority.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned why people were concerned that the user fee was locked in for 30 years when there is a soft sunset requiring the City to hold a public hearing each year so that the fee can be reset or reduced if the City received additional revenues. He observed that those who campaigned against the user fee said the same things the speakers did today, namely that the storm drain repairs can be financed by budget cuts across the board, which would require shuttering the Palos Verdes Interpretive Center, ending further acquisition of open space, etc. He reiterated that he felt their agenda was to question why having a city was necessary at all.
Councilman Gardiner commented that he had heard different feedback than Mayor Pro Tem Long had and he agreed to bring back an alternate proposal. He asserted that the goal was to repair the City’s storm drain system and that there was not enough funds available to get the job done with the current system, but he stated that Council now had an opportunity to take a second look at the issue.
Mayor Pro Tem Long suggested getting input from the entire community rather than just from homeowner’s associations because he pointed out that not resident is a member of an homeowners’ association and he felt that the RPV Council of Homeowner’s Associations had not correctly assessed public opinion during the mailed ballot election in 2005.
Mayor Wolowicz reminded everyone that the purpose of the action was to receive and file the City Clerk’s certification of the submitted petition and the Council was limited as to what actions it could take at this time. He commented that he had studied the issue for many years through his involvement with the Finance Advisory Committee and noted that the FAC had looked at many alternatives before recommending the user fee. He reminded his colleagues that whether or not there is an alternative proposal, some people will strongly proposing a parcel tax.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that he was troubled by the political philosophy of severely cutting the City’s budget and even possibly eliminating City government. He addressed the notion that the City was frittering away funds in open space acquisition and expanding the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, noting that the greater sources of those funds came from sources that would not be available to fund infrastructure repairs. He stated that he was troubled by distortions he has heard from the speakers, noting that with regard to McCarrell Canyon, this project was identified as a Priority 2 project on the list established by the Public Works Department behind five other identified projects, and that it was a fluke of nature that McCarrell Canyon was hardest hit during the rainstorms in February 2005. He noted that the speakers made representations as fact, when in fact they are not.
Mayor Wolowicz commented that Proposition 218 was flawed but it allowed for the process the opponents were currently exercising and although he was not a fan of the particular process being used in this case, he conceded that as long as the law provides for it, the process needed to be recognized. He stated that he did not foresee the City having another $2-3 million surplus in funding in the near future and he asserted that he was not pleased to see the dissipation of the General Fund Reserve this year, as the trend is going in the wrong direction.
Moved by Mayor Pro Tem Long to receive and file the City Clerk’s Certification that the Petition to Repeal the Storm Drain User Fee has Qualified for Ballot on the November 2007 General Election; and, direct placement of the ordinance on the ballot at the City’s next regular municipal election, which in this case would be held on November 6, 2007. Councilman Clark seconded the motion, which passed by the following vote:
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, and Mayor Wolowicz
Mayor Pro Tem Long commented that the actual cost for the user fee is $110 per ERU, so when he previously donated $86 toward the fee he was $24 short. He gave a $24 donation to the City staff, so that he could not be accused of not paying his fair share towards paying to repair the City’s infrastructure because his property does not drain into the City’s storm drain system.
Mayor Wolowicz directed staff to issue a receipt to Mayor Pro Tem Long.
Councilman Clark questioned whether the provision had been challenged in court that allows voters that did not participate in the Proposition 218 mailed ballot election to vote to repeal the user fee during a general municipal election as a result of an initiative petition.
City Attorney Lynch reported that the court decision in Bighorn Desert View Water Agency vs. Kelley tangentially discussed the issue Councilman Clark has raised and in that in this case the court upheld those provisions. She explained that it was not a direct upholding but the court noted that different individuals from those who had originally voted on the measure had in fact challenged it, indicating that non-property owners could challenge something even if they had no role in the original measure.
Councilman Clark questioned whether the court had already adjudicated this point.
City Attorney Lynch stated that it had not been directly determined, but that there is language in the Bighorn decision that supports the notion that different voters can challenge a user fee.
Councilman Gardiner stated that it was unlikely the Supreme Court would rescind part of Proposition 218 since is now written into the state constitution, unless it conflicted with another part of state constitution.
City Attorney Lynch agreed.
Councilman Clark suggested that the state legislature could pass an amendment to the state constitution to address this issue.
City Attorney Lynch agreed that was possible, but noted that since Proposition 218 was initially approved by the voters, such an action would probably be subject to legal challenge.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Mayor Wolowicz called a brief recess from 10:34 P.M. to 10:42 P.M.
Review Results of Second Westside Pilot Area Survey (1301)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported that late correspondence had been distributed to Council on the item.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani provided a summary of the material of record.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asserted that no one liked Saturday trash pick up, no one wanted to do once per week and unless Rolling Hills Estates agreed to change, the City would have to do Wednesday and Friday pick up which is too soon. He reported that Rolling Hills Estates was not interested in changing but he suggested that the Council might be able to persuade them to move their small number of residents to Tuesdays, which would be sensible for them to do. He reported being unable to even survey Rolling Hills Estates residents to see if they would mind the change but the subcommittee did agree to meet with the Council to explore alternatives in groups of one or two. He did not see an alternative until the new contract is done but he questioned whether it would be possible to pass an ordinance to forbid trash collection on Wednesdays since the City has the entirety of Elkridge and Browndeer and of course the easements and sidewalks.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the difficulty with that proposal is that there would have to be some justification to restrict truck traffic and he just wanted to prohibit only trash collection not prohibit them from using the streets.
Mayor Pro Tem Long suggested limiting usage of the street on Wednesdays to trucks of a certain tonnage due to the destruction of city streets.
City Attorney Lynch did not think that would hold up.
Councilman Clark felt that if Mayor Pro Tem Long was not successful with Rolling Hills Estates he did not think that any of them would be successful.
Mayor Pro Tem Long asserted that the talents of each of the Council members could be very effective in persuading Rolling Hills Estates to change its stance.
Councilman Gardiner complimented Mayor Pro Tem Long’s efforts, he felt it prudent to wait for the new contract and he questioned the display of the data.
Senior Administrative Analyst Ramezani explained that staff had summarized the data and she directed Councilmember Gardiner to the complete set of data.
Mayor Wolowicz thanked staff for their diligence and he echoed Councilman Clark’s comments that the City had sent forth their best orator in presenting their position and he was surprised that the other City’s Council was immovable. He indicated that he would be happy to meet with them and he was perplexed by the lack of response to the request.
Mayor Pro Tem Long clarified that his ideas were considered very carefully before Rolling Hills Estates did not agree to accept and he added that they were open to reevaluating the issue once the new contract was in place. He interpreted a strong negative reaction to Saturday and he felt that Rancho Palos Verdes residents would also not like that. He thought they might be persuaded to hear from another Councilmember so they would realize that it was not just a pet project of a Councilmember who lives on Browndeer and he pointed out that they were trying to find a way so that if they do end up with common waste haulers, a template is established for the future dealings of other border streets but Rolling Hills Estates did not find that persuasive at this time.
Mayor Wolowicz asserted that the results of the request did not invalidate the logic of the proposal and he did not think it should delay adopting the staff recommendation.
Moved by Councilman Gardiner to 1) Receive and file the results of the second Westside pilot area survey proposing trash and recycling day changes, and direct staff to take needed action; and 2) Authorize the Mayor to contact the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ Council subcommittee to further discuss the matter with a request that Mayor Wolowicz contact Rolling Hills Estates’ Councilmen Zerunyan and Addleman to arrange a meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion and hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Eastview School District Boundary (105 x 1101)
Councilman Gardiner moved to waive the staff report, noting that Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s proposal passed and is now law, which will rearrange the players significantly. He added that on February 4, 2006, Mayor Wolowicz wrote a letter to the President of the PVPUSD school board and the staff report notes that there is no report of a written response to that letter.
Mayor Wolowicz reported that on August 2, 2006, a copy of the letter was sent by the City Manager to Walker Williams, the new Superintendent of the PVP School District.
City Manager Evans indicated that he had not received a response but that Superintendent Williams had previously indicated that he was not sure he would be able to respond right away.
Mayor Pro Tem Long stated that the Council had adopted the goal of changing the school district boundary for the Eastview area based in part on the record of two decades of solid support for a similar concept by the local school district. He noted that in the proposal, the City made clear it was willing to negotiate with LAUSD to address all concerns of bonded indebtedness, ownership of the schools and the possibility of voluntary attendance of students in the area to LAUSD schools. He recalled sending an email inviting comments and input from PVPUSD but he never received response, although he saw a response in the press from PVPUSD Superintendent Toibin labeling the proposal as ludicrous. He reported that Dr. Toibin asserted that LAUSD would never agree to it but noted that LAUSD Superintendent Romer indicated in a letter dated July 26, 2006 that LAUSD was willing to negotiate and outline some of the terms. Mayor Pro Tem Long pointed out that one of the roadblocks was the non-responsiveness of the PVPUSD school board to the issue.
Councilman Clark continued to be disappointed in the PVPUSD school board members for their unwillingness to come to the table to address this issue, pointing out that 1/6th of the population of the largest city on the peninsula is not fully franchised with the school district. He found it unacceptable and he asserted that the City was going to stay the course.
Councilman Gardiner questioned which school district elected officials would actually represent the Rancho Palos Verdes residents living in Eastview since those residents can not vote for the PVPUSD school board and will no longer be voting for LAUSD school district board because, under Mayor Villaraigosa’s plan, the board would no longer control these schools.
Moved by Councilman Gardiner to receive and file. Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded and hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
Fall Community Leaders’ Breakfast and Annual Holiday Reception (305 x 307)
Mayor Wolowicz moved to select Saturday, October 21, 2006 as the date for the Fall Community Leaders’ Breakfast at Hesse Park and select Monday, December 4, 2006 as the date for the Annual Holiday Reception at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. Mayor Pro Tem Long seconded the motion and hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered, absent Councilman Stern.
Councilman Gardiner announced that he was willing to donate his unused travel allowance towards the funding of the City’s holiday reception.
City Manager Evans pointed out that the Council had not used much of their travel allowances so far this fiscal year.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS
Mayor Pro Tem Long noted that staff was going to bring back both Channel 33 and the Information/Technology Subcommittee for discussion on a future agenda and indicated that Councilman Gardiner had agreed to craft some draft language for an alternative ballot measure to the repeal of the City’s Storm Drain User Fee.
CLOSED SESSION REPORT
City Attorney Lynch announced that no action was taken on either item.
At 11:10 P.M. Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Long, to adjourn the meeting. Hearing no objection, Mayor Wolowicz so ordered.
/s/ Stefan Wolowicz
/s/ Carolynn Petru