The meeting was called to order at 9:35 A.M. by Mayor Wolowicz in the Theater Arts Building at Miraleste Intermediate School, 29323 Palos Verdes Drive East.
A) Presentation of History of the Landslide Moratorium
City Manager Evans introduced a panel of experts with knowledge of the City’s landslide complex and landslides in general: City Geologist Jim Lancaster, Zeiser Kling; Matt Rodgers, geotechnical engineer with Zeiser Kling; Scott Kerwin, Engineer and Geologist; and Doug Moran, engineer, geologist and geotechnical engineer.
City Manager Evans presented a brief history of the Portuguese Bend Ancient Landslide Complex and a description of administrative actions.
City Attorney Lynch presented a summary of the material of record regarding the Landslide Moratorium and she explained red and blue area designations. She pointed out that the City had basically been sued for every action it had taken in relation to the landslide area including forming the abatement district, forming the Redevelopment Agency, and issues concerning Zone 2. She felt the City had a good track record as far as winning the lawsuits and she acknowledged that individuals had the right to exercise their judicial remedies in court.
B) Establishment, Purpose and Powers of Redevelopment Agency
City Manager Evans briefly summarized the material of record regarding the Horan Agreement.
City Attorney Lynch explained that the County Assessment District issued bonds and purchased them which provided $10 million in funding to abate the Abalone Cove landslide.
City Manager Evans explained that the breakdown of how the $10 million was spent was part of the materials attached to the staff report and he noted that the entire amount was not available for projects.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, City Attorney Lynch explained that the Klondike Canyon Landslide Hazard Abatement District covered a larger area than the blue zone.
Responding to Mayor Wolowicz, City Manager Evans explained that $1 million had been left over from the bonds and grew to $1.3 million from bearing interest over the years. He reported that each year the Improvement Authority budgets funds from that source of revenue for projects to maintain the de-watering wells and drainage facilities in the area.
City Attorney Lynch pointed out that $1 million from the Horan Settlement had to be retained and the interest can only be used to maintain landslide abatement improvements that were installed in the Abalone Cove area. She noted that the maintenance of sewers is excluded but a separate maintenance fee has been established for users of the system in that area.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that the City would be examining what funds exist today that can provide additional improvements.
Mayor Pro Tem Long pointed out that part of the reason for the workshop was the accelerated land movement following the winter rains in 2004-2005. He questioned what had been achieved and what was learned as to what should and should not be done in the future.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, City Manager Evans explained that the red zone was almost contiguous with the boundaries of the Redevelopment Project Area.
City Attorney Lynch clarified that while Council did not take official action on the zones identified by Dr. Ehlig, the zones were used as a convenient way to refer to different areas within the landslide moratorium area and had been used in that way over the years.
C) Establishment, Purpose and Powers of Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (ACLAD and Klondike Canyon GHAD)
Dr. Robert Douglas, geologist, professor at University of Southern California and Chairman of the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District (ACLAD), presented slides illustrating the boundaries and history of the district. He explained the need for dewatering and presented a map of dewatering wells maintained by ACLAD, noting that they sought to improve the wells. He presented charts illustrating rainfall and well production, noting the connection between the two and pointed out that after a successive number of wet years the landslide begins to creep and indicated that it is presently creeping. Dr. Douglas explained that rainfall increased with elevation resulting in increased runoff, and over time erosion is intensified thereby increasing groundwater which drives the landslide movement. He added that ideally, rather than pumping the groundwater out it would be better if it were possible to stop it from getting into the system in the first place. Dr. Douglas summarized that the wells pump about 200,000 gallons per day, water table elevations have dropped since 1980; that the landslide creeps when rain exceeds 21-22 inches per year, and that older wells need to be rehabilitated with new ones necessary, preferably in upslope areas, but that ACLAD does not have the financial ability to do that.
Council discussion focused on the optimum number of wells, addressing current land movement issues, planning for the future, rainfall averages, climactic patterns, and dewatering well rehabilitation.
John McCarthy, Chairman of the Klondike Canyon Landslide Hazard Abatement District (KCLHAD), provided a brief summary of events in the area, noting that they also have a de-watering well which has production that varies with the level of rainfall. He indicated that they had horizontal drains and a large pipe which discharges run-off water to the ocean. He noted that one of Dr. Ehlig’s recommendations was to install a sewer system in the area and explained that the homeowners contributed money to establish a private sewer system. He added that they had not taken part in the Horan Agreement and therefore did not benefit from those funds.
Councilman Stern questioned whether they had a plan of action in light of recent movement. Mr. McCarthy indicated that they were in the analysis stage at this point but they believe they need to focus on the area around Yacht Harbor Drive. He further explained that during very wet years the Portuguese Bend slide causes movement on Klondike Hill and one of their largest expenses is keeping the Portuguese Bend landslide off of the Klondike landslide. He added that they believed the acceleration of the Portuguese Bend slide would increase problems for Klondike Canyon slide.
Councilman Gardiner questioned whether the City had a means of receiving data and comparing information about the districts.
City Manager Evans indicated they had not asked for the information on a regular basis although staff was in frequent contact with the involved individuals.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. McCarthy indicated that they did not have wells upslope because there was no movement in that area until recently and it was cost prohibitive, especially since they have no funding source outside of the individual homeowners within the district.
City Manager Evans pointed out that the City is the major property owner in KCLHAD and it is a public agency, the assessments are 1 ½ times what an individual homeowner pays. He displayed a map of wells in the Portuguese Bend area and discussed location, output, and future plans for the area, which include reactivating some of the wells to pump more water out of the area.
Councilman Gardiner received clarification that there are two abatement districts within landslide moratorium area, but that the most active portion, the Portuguese Bend landslide, is not within either of these districts. He questioned whether the reason the wells did not produce much was because they were not deep enough.
Dr. Douglas explained that the deeper wells were deformed by the level of movement in the area which prevented them from removing the water that caused the movement, therefore Dr. Ehlig drilled shallow wells which lasted longer but did not remove as much water. He suggested that moving the well upslope would be a more effective course of action.
Responding to Councilman Clark, City Manager Evans explained that that City contracts with Daphne Clarke for maintenance of the wells because she lives in the area, is good at it and is willing to keep track of what is going on for a nominal price.
City Manager Evans indicated that a written study did not exist but that Dr. Ehlig took all of this into consideration when he made recommendations for the area.
Mayor Wolowicz questioned whether a coordinated effort would be appropriate and City Manager Evans suggested waiting until after hearing the GPS data.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned what material influence the dewatering had on the land movement.
D) Explanation of City geologic review process for proposed developments
Director Rojas summarized the material of record regarding the City’s Landslide Moratorium Ordinance and Landslide Moratorium Exception Process.
Responding to Councilman Clark, Director Rojas explained that the exclusion application on the Point View project was in the process of being revised but that a new application had not been submitted.
Councilman Clark received clarification that the application was on hold based on the owner’s request to revise and resubmit the project in an area outside the ancient landslide boundary.
City Attorney Lynch indicated that the geologists were trying to establish the western edge of the landslide and the ultimate design of the development will depend on what that study yields.
Mayor Wolowicz called a brief recess from 11:09 A.M. to 11:18 A.M.
E) Review of Perry Ehlig memorandum describing various "zones" within the moratorium area
Responding to Councilman Stern, City Manager Evans indicated that Dr. Ehlig wrote a memo in May 1993 suggesting guidelines for permitting development in the moratorium area to the Public Works Director at the time, who in turn took it to the City Council. The memo contained a description of his findings about the landslide complex with eight different zones defined, each slightly different. He reported that Dr. Ehlig felt that there could be mitigation measures implemented that would allow building in some of the zones, but he felt that building was not a good idea for others. He added that while the zones had become part of the City vernacular, the City Council never formally adopted the zones, nor did they ever formally adopt Dr. Ehlig’s recommendations.
F) Presentation on dewatering well locations and production data
This discussion was covered earlier in the meeting.
G) Presentation of GPS data and observations of movement throughout the landslide area
City Attorney Lynch acknowledged that many people had been individually affected by the imposition of the additional moratorium and she requested that the Council be cognizant of comments that they make because some of the litigants who are suing the City were present and anything said could and would be used against the City in the pending lawsuit.
Walter Brown, Charles Abbott Associates, who has been performing the GPS measurements for the City, explained the mechanics of how points are measured, the accuracy of those measurements and the frequency with which measurements are taken.
Responding to Councilman Clark, Mr. Brown explained that to further analyze areas that appear to be moving, the City was adding six GPS points as a result of indications that additional information is needed.
Jim Lancaster, Zeiser Kling Consultants, indicated that the GPS monitoring in the Portuguese Bend area, which includes all three landslides previously discussed, has been continuous since November 1994 to March 1995 when most of the points were established by Dr. Ehlig and that readings have been taken since that time two to four times per year. He explained that the complex itself includes the Portuguese Bend, Abalone Cove, Flying Triangle and Klondike Canyon Landslides, in addition to some of the other minor landslides within the area. He indicated that over the years some of the points have been destroyed due to movement and additional points have been added. He stated that the evaluation today would be focused on data from the past three years as their intent was not to evaluate a cause and effect relationship of the movement over time, but rather to evaluate the areas of movement and their relationship to recent displacement as it relates to current site conditions. He presented a map of different monitoring points in Portuguese Bend representing magnitude and direction, noting that three sites near the coast seaward of Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS) have movement in excess of ten feet per year. He presented another group of points in the area landward of PVDS with movement in the range of two to four feet per year. He explained that since the various areas are moving at different rates, they tend to break apart and create fractures, which allows more water to infiltrate into the slide plane.
Mr. Lancaster reported that Portuguese Bend is moving ten times more in any one year than Abalone Cove or Klondike Canyon. He indicated that Abalone Cove has reactivated, and the surrounding area is now experiencing movement. He explained that Klondike Canyon is moving mostly in the same direction and the magnitude of movement is in the range of ½ inch per year vs. Abalone Cove which moves approximately 3 inches per year. Mr. Lancaster indicated that there is a margin of error up to an inch, so that some of the movements are within the margin of error but he noted that if you looked at progressive movement over time, real movement is shown.
Responding to Councilman Clark, Mr. Lancaster explained that most active movement is in the Portuguese Bend slide area close to the boundary of the coast at an average of 10 feet per year but greater movement upslope can be anticipated in the future as support from the coastal area is eroded.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. Lancaster explained that movement occurred consistently in the same direction and sufficient data is available to illustrate the vectors. He added that ripple impacts and patterns can be shown but it is difficult given the number of points. He noted that the patterns appear to be fairly consistent overall which can be correlated to weather patterns.
Matt Rogers, Zeiser Kling Consultants, explained that expert systems could identify a statistical trend in terms of correlating rainfall and he noted there were also other ways of getting data.
H) Response to City Council questions by the City Panel of Geologists; discussion of factor of safety and rate of movement; and recommendations for future studies and monitoring within the landslide
Doug Moran, consulting geologist, explained the concept of the factor of safety, noting that it varies and there is an identifiable correlation between the water levels, the introduction of water and the rate of land movement that can be seen. He indicated that more detailed analysis shows that when the water level rises, speed of movement increases, therefore changes in water levels are taken into consideration when calculating the level of stability. He indicated that the factor of safety engineering geologists aim for is at least 1.5 to achieve a level that is comfortably safe. He clarified that this particular factor of safety is used because nature does not provide factors of safety of much more than 1.5.
Mr. Moran spoke of the delicate balance between resisting and driving forces, noting that the natural slopes are at an equilibrium condition with gravity and erosion working on them and then earthquakes disturb the balance further, often triggering movement that puts the slope closer to failing although that has not happened yet. He noted that if movement has been stopped, the factor of safety may be 1 or the balance is just about even between forces to cause it to slide and the resistance the materials can offer to the force. He indicated that evidence of land movement is proof of a lack of a sufficient factor of safety.
Mr. Moran reported that evidence going back to prehistoric times indicates that Portuguese Bend was a natural landslide area before any human beings tampered with it. He noted that there are many instances of movement that can be documented in the past that were influenced by rising water levels, earthquakes and continual erosion at the toe of the landslide by wave action.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. Moran acknowledged that the factor of safety is a variable rather than a constant and resistance can be changed by a rising ground water level.
Mr. Lancaster indicated that the Council could help direct the goals of the City’s geotechnical consultants, some of which are to pinpoint new areas of movement; look at areas of increased and decreased movement; study the history of movement; identify new areas for dewatering; and investigate a potential early warning system for catastrophic failure. He suggested continued the GPS monitoring with real time monitoring in a few areas to see how quickly the land is actually moving, adding additional GPS monitoring points in various areas, and additional ground water monitoring wells in order to have a better picture of what the groundwater is doing out there.
Mayor Wolowicz requested that the geologists come back within the next month with recommendations. He also asked the geologists to help the Council filter the reliability of public comment that is made on this subject.
Ken Dyda, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he appreciated the level of cooperation between the residents and the City. He suggested reconsidering a proposal from the 1980s to intercept the water before it reaches the landslide boundaries by putting a perimeter drain system around the entire area to catch the run off water coming from up slope and arm the perimeter with a number of wells to catch the deep subsurface water. He suggested that the Council consider the ramifications of the GPS measurements, their validity and what the level of risk is that the residents are being exposed to.
Sharon Nolan, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that Councilman Gardiner was the only Councilmember who came to the annual walkabout at Portuguese Bend; that the annual walkabout was important to educate people so that they could make balanced decisions; that the Horan money was for the ACLAD area only, not the Redevelopment Agency area; the statement by City Attorney Lynch that there was additional movement going on in 1984 was completely contrary to what Dr. Ehlig told her which was that the 1984-1985 installation of the dewatering wells abated the landslide to the creep measurement they talk about now; no drainage improvements have come out of the Horan money; and only 60 dewatering wells and the sewer system were financed with that money.
Ms. Nolan asked that the City not lose sight of the Island View development located above the moratorium area, because she felt that a lot of water could be removed at the top by the residents living in Island View. She asserted that the dewatering wells were all that had slowed down and abated the landslide by 1984-1985 and because a lot of water came from up above, she felt that the City should not focus only on the landslide area itself.
Tim Burrell, Seaview Residents Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, felt it important to clarify an incorrect statement that the original moratorium included all of Seaview when in reality there are two tracts in the neighborhood and only one tract is included. He stated that a good definition of the boundary is needed so that those outside of the moratorium can be confident that it has been studied and they are not included. He pointed out that the blue zone was different from other areas because it is one big block that moves as a unit. He reported that the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula moves about 6 millimeters towards the San Gabriel Mountains each year which is the same amount of movement that the blue zone has experienced and pointed out that there is no moratorium on the entire peninsula.
Mr. Burrell wanted the City to be consistent and apply the same concept to the red zone, as he saw no need to differentiate. He noted that building is allowed on vacant lots but there are no vacant lots left in Seaview and remodeling can be treated differently than new construction. Mr. Burrell reported that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had developed a series of standards to retrofit houses and foundations for earthquakes which are followed by 50 building officials in the area including the City’s Building Official Roy Bronold, but those standards are completely different than what is used for retrofitting. He indicated that it is permissible to make the distinction and many building officials follow it. He asserted that needs have changed; residents should be allowed to remodel; a better response is needed from the Public Works Department, from the utility companies and from the City; cracks need to be filled; and he felt that a City representative should serve on the Klondike Canyon Geologic Hazard Abatement Board of Directors.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Mayor Wolowicz called for a recess from 12:33 P.M. to 1:05 P.M.
Dr. Douglas indicated that Dr. Neil Siegel, a GPS expert, had to leave the meeting and agreed to provide the information that Dr. Siegal was to present to the City in writing so that it could be attached as part of the record.
-------------, Rancho Palos Verdes, pointed out that Dr. Ehlig was on the right path in establishing different zones within the moratorium, as there is a huge difference in the rates of movement between the various areas.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. Tucker reported that the Palos Verdes fault was moving at a rate of 1/8 to ¼ inch per year and the Klondike landslide was moving at about the same rate in about the same direction. He added that there is a difference of 5/8ths of an inch over 10 years which is about the size of the new cracks in the street on Dauntless Drive and the area at the contact point of the Portuguese Bend slide is moving at ½ inch per year.
Mr. Tucker, responding to Councilman Stern, explained that GPS data indicates how much a given point moves in which direction.
Scott Kerwin, AMEC Earth & Environmental, suggested that the GPS measurements were based on a local frame of reference as the whole peninsula is moving and the measurements Mr. Tucker was seeing were in error. He noted that the United States Geological Survey can see movement of the plates but they have to do sophisticated measurements that still all end up being relative.
Council discussion focused on methods of measuring movement and the relative differences.
Mr. Tucker stated that he had data he felt to be more accurate than the GPS data as he had been surveying on the ground for 18 months as a second method which has come to similar conclusions that the area is moving ¼ inch per year. He did not agree that the Klondike movement had anything to do with Portuguese Bend and he did not feel that the rain affected it either. He wanted to see the City go back to original building code criteria because he felt the area to be as safe, as it had been for the last 11 years.
Mr. Lancaster stated that GPS readings one or two times per year did not usually show an increase because the movement averages out, but Mr. Tucker’s readings on the ground were after the original cracking seen on Dauntless Drive.
Councilman Gardiner recalled that the Council was given a mental model of the Klondike Canyon slide and Mr. Tucker stated that the model was incorrect.
Councilman Clark questioned whether staff intended to bring current information forward about the Seaview area and recommendations about whether to continue the extension of the temporary moratorium in this neighborhood.
City Attorney Lynch responded that Item No. 2 on the workshop agenda would extend the moratorium to January 23, 2007 to allow for additional input by experts.
Councilman Gardiner sought agreement on data collection methods and agreement on data interpretation.
Tom Berg, Rancho Palos Verdes, a registered civil engineer for public works projects, expressed support for Mr. Tucker’s comments and suggested that before Council poured a lot more money into the geological review of the landslide area, the City should hard line some of the drainage channels that water is being poured into. He also suggested forestation to stabilize the area noting that Council was possibly looking at a lot of study that might not be too pertinent.
Deborah Berg, Rancho Palos Verdes, questioned the urgency mentioned in the proposal and supported Mr. McCarthy’s and Mr. Tucker’s comments. She said that she felt the Klondike landslide had been mitigated and the residents in the area were justified in not considering that area a risk. She stated that she believed the landslide seemed to be tied to ground water and took issue with recommending wells upslope, as she saw no increase in production in the lower wells. She stated that she wanted to be excluded from the moratorium as she had seen no cracks or movement; that she saw no conclusive evidence that building had ever affected the landslide situation; and she pointed out that there was building all around the immediate area, including the Trump National Golf Course.
Kay Bara, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed concern that the roads damaged by landslide movement were not being fixed; the drains under the road were not being maintained; and even with 36 inches of rain this year, the dewatering wells were turned off. She questioned whether the Peppertree well would be turned on again and she wanted to know what the City was going to do and how it was going to pay for it.
City Manager Evans indicated that the City was looking at all the wells and might restore the Peppertree well.
Tim Kelly, Rancho Palos Verdes, felt the slides should not be divided and that everyone should work together as a group so resources are not divided. He believed that the landslides were connected; he reported movement; and he noted that some say the landslide had been reactivated. He noted that the migration of water is not well understood; that there are many cracks in the underlying substructure; the data to measure creep is not available; movement propagates from the toe up; the Abalone Cove landslide has reactivated; and GPS points are moving. He expressed deep concern that the geologists were not agreeing with one another.
RECESS AND RECONVENE:
Mayor Wolowicz called for a recess from 2:01 P.M. to 2:03 P.M.
Mauricio Arregoces, Rancho Palos Verdes, raised issues with margins of error and measuring techniques, noting that there was no question there was land movement but asserted that the area is not necessarily affected by the rain. He felt the question was when the movement occurred which would cause the urgency ordinance to pass and he expressed concern with differing opinions. He asked to be shown conclusive evidence that there was auxiliary movement in the time period used to pass the resolution noting that the moratorium had caused major problems for the property owners with active projects in the area. He did not believe there was substantial basis for the moratorium and he questioned how long the process would take to be resolved, noting that there is a call for more data but that this need was first indicated nine months earlier.
Bob Maxwell, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the dewatering wells were fine to an extent, but that there is water pouring out of the pipes from higher up the slope which goes underground and forms a pond. He added that the dewatering wells break and the water coming from Del Cerro Park above the landslide area is a more important issue to pay attention to than the dewatering wells. He asked that City to look at the run off from Del Cerro Park and the water that is forming in pools above Sweet Bay Road, because rather than spending a lot of effort pumping water out the ground after it has already entered, the residents in the moratorium area want the water source from above to be shut off.
Bill Griffin, Rancho Palos Verdes, from the Abalone Cove area, wanted to hear a discussion on the factor of safety as it relates to the surface and depths from 5-15 feet and the factor of safety at a depth of 40-200 feet and how they relate to each other and how important they are. He expressed concern with the issue of movement of the property and how it relates to the property lines, noting that the Cullum Act was created to address this issue. He noted that people’s homes in Abalone Cove area have moved 10 feet and he questioned what land they owned and whether the land needed to be resurveyed.
Lowell Wedemeyer, West Portuguese Bend Community Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he lives to the west of the landslide and Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. He expressed concern about the scientific validity of the standards the City used to analyze land stability issues; he questioned whether the City used a single published scientific definition of the factor of safety; whether differing definitions were being used by the various applicants to the City when filing geology and geo-engineering reports; when calculating a factor of safety, does the City use a published standard for the horizontal distance over which a soil drilling sample is considered to be a scientifically valid representation of the soil, in feet or by some other factor, both horizontally and vertically; questioned if there a published standard for how many drilling samples are required over 1,000 square feet an acre or any other standard by which applications for development permission can be measured; asked if there are published standards used to preserve soil drilling samples for peer review either by the City’s panel or by representatives of the community so that the basic scientific validity can be evaluated; asked whether, because of variation within single lots, should the factor of safety be expressed not as a single number but as a scientific range; and inquired if the calculations of factor of safety show a scientific range of error or confidence.
Mr. Moran noted that Mr. Wedemeyer had touched on some of the weaknesses of determining the factor of safety. He reported that everyone used basically the same definition of the factor of safety which in this instance is the comparison of calculated the driving force to the calculated amount of resistance. He indicated that the resistance is supposed to be at least equal to and hopefully much higher to get a positive factor of safety. He noted that when developing property, 1.5 is typically used as a confidence factor and referenced as a minimum because other items are not all that well defined such as how many samples are needed to determine the resistance, what kind of resistance, and how far the results of any one test or group of tests can be extrapolated.
Mr. Moran explained that there is not an established standard for preserving boring samples for peer review but they try to make an identification of the most critical materials, such as the materials most likely to be troublesome, the weakest ones, and by means of multiple tests, they work to develop some sense of what is a reasonable value to use and that requires judgment as well as test results. He explained that there have been literally 100s of tests done on the Portuguese Bend material and one can pick the lowest number derived, but noted that if another sample is taken a few feet away or if the test is performed slightly differently, a lower number may result. He indicated that tests have been run with the most sophisticated methods for testing soil materials in this day and age and that they still yield wildly different results. He said that only a few of the test results are consistent with reality and indicate that the land is moving.
Mr. Moran indicated that calculations were simplified because they would be too complicated to run if everything was taken into consideration and there is a lot of uncertainly and variation that can creep in depending on the variables. He reported that efforts to remove the water, control surface run off or prevent the introduction of water by putting in sewers instead of seepage pits have been helpful and demonstrably reduced the rate of movement thereby minimizing maintenance costs. He added that circumstances would continue to vary with disturbing influences like El Nino weather conditions, earthquakes or the continual wave erosion which caused the slide to move repeatedly in a prehistoric past.
Councilman Gardiner suggested that if there is not a generally accepted standard, one should be established.
Thomas Mattis, Rancho Palos Verdes, Abalone Cove landslide area, clarified an earlier discussion on how land masses move relative to one another, noting that the GPS system is based on satellites flying around the earth that take measurements relative to the earth’s axis.
Mr. Kerwin, responding to Mayor Pro Tem Long, explained that measurements are taken relative to the earth’s axis but are subject to a certain amount of error. He explained that in order to eliminate the error between the satellites and the earth there are reference points on the ground that are also measured to compare to points that are being measured and that those are taken to eliminate the error of tectonic drift.
Mr. Kerwin agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Long’s statement that the measurements were not simply recorded as longitude and latitude and that measurements are taken in the landslide area and compared to measurements taken outside the landslide area as well as on the peninsula, essentially washing out whatever movement the peninsula as a whole is experiencing and getting a comparative movement within the peninsula landform.
Marianne Hunter, Rancho Palos Verdes, provided a written statement indicating that scientific studies have indicated an increase in El Nino weather and other conditions over the coming decades, resulting in the potential for heavier rainfall in the years ahead. She reported that her house at in Portuguese Bend had been stable for awhile but they now see some significant cracking and dropping throughout the home and property which is concurrent with increased rain, construction on three properties in the immediate area and traffic vibration.
Frank Kostrencich, Rancho Palos Verdes, Seaview tract, reported that the cracks on Dauntless Drive appeared in May or June of 2005 after a water main break in the area. He indicated that water getting into the subsurface is a concern and he questioned when the cracks would be repaired. He also questioned whether property owners in the area would be allowed to rebuild their homes if there were a brush fire or an earthquake.
Director Rojas explained that if a home is damaged in an earthquake or fire it is permitted to be rebuilt provided it is in the same location and is the same square footage.
Councilman Gardiner asked that the Council receive the GPS data and hear from the expert on that data. He also requested answers to Mr. Wedemeyer’s questions and to find out what the implications were of Mr. Tucker’s data.
Council discussion indicated that the members felt the workshop was informative and Mayor Wolowicz reported receiving many emails about the topic. He looked for recommendations from the panel and insights on some of the items that should come back.
City Manager Evans expressed concern with the cost involved with the workshop and additional requests being made to the experts.
Mayor Pro Tem Long questioned the effectiveness of what had been done so far, what the expert’s recommendations were, what lessons had been learned and what kinds of things were recommended for the future. He was not sure about the effectiveness of dewatering in the area and questioned whether it should be continued, expanded, modified or whether some other improvement should be added like a breakwater or a sea wall.
Councilman Gardiner expressed concern about accuracy of the measurement of land movement in the area.
Mayor Wolowicz acknowledged that they would probably have more questions and he encouraged Councilmembers to forward those questions to the City Manager.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Wolowicz called for a recess from 2:45 P.M. to 2:55 P.M.
2. Proposed Moratorium on Certain Development within the Entire Landslide Moratorium Area Outlined in Red and Blue (1801 x 1203)
The Council discussed whether to continue this item to October 17, 2006 to allow time to get more information and Councilman Clark questioned whether the Council could repeal the extension once it had been accepted.
Assistant City Attorney Snow indicated that the Council could cut the extension of the moratorium short if it so chose.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. Rogers indicated that the City’s geotechnical consultants would not be able to address their differences with Mr. Tucker’s data by October 17, 2006.
Michael Gonzoles, attorney representing Charlotte Pesusich, provided a brief history of Ms. Pesusich’s experience with her home noting that she purchased her home in its current condition and found out that part of it had not been permitted. He explained that she was in the process of legalizing the purported illegal portions after she obtained a moratorium exemption permit, but the moratorium in its current form prohibits her from doing that because it prohibits the issuance of permits generally. He pointed out that if the house were damaged it would be allowed to be rebuilt to its current size and he asked the Council to consider rescinding that portion of the proposed moratorium extension.
Director Rojas indicated that there was unpermitted square footage that the property owner is attempting to legalize and if they are allowed to move forward they would be permitted to legalize some of the square footage and remove the rest based on the current rules.
Responding to Councilman Clark, Assistant City Attorney Snow indicated that to date exceptions had not been allowed but it was up to the purview of the Council as to whether it wanted to allow an exception for midstream applications perceived separate and apart from the proposed moratorium extension.
Councilman Clark indicated that he did not see the matter agendized so he did not think that the Council could be advised about the matter.
Mayor Wolowicz concurred.
Director Rojas clarified that staff made note of the projects as they would be affected by adopting the extension of the moratorium and he explained that if language was read into the draft resolution those projects could be addressed by changing the scope of the moratorium.
Councilman Clark pointed out that the staff report did not go into an analysis of the pros and cons with respect to granting an extension or exclusion and he thought those projects were included as an informational item.
Mayor Pro Tem Long noted that the extension is agendized and the Council can make changes to the way it is extended. He noted that the Council can amend the ordinance and address the concerns expressed which are a policy issue.
Councilman Stern pointed out that Council had no analysis available at the moment to explain the implications of going down that path.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that the Council was very concerned with how the Seaview area has been impacted but felt that Council needed to make sure it had the right information before moving forward.
Eva Albaja, Rancho Palos Verdes, felt that the blue zone needed a separate policy from the red zone; that the policy of not building in the red zone since 1978 had not completely stopped the land movement; that the moratorium in the blue zone is extreme and that a balanced plan of action is needed; that more dewatering wells should be installed; that homes in the blue zone should be limited to 5,000 square feet in size; and that the ban on building in the blue zone should be lifted because it is not in danger to public safety like the red zone. She questioned whether the rate of movement was natural and could not be stopped; whether preventing building impacted the movement at all and whether it was fair to freeze construction in the blue zone when there was no proof of urgency.
-------------, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the crack on Dauntless Drive and Exultant Drive had been there for a long time, and did not suddenly pop up. He indicated that the cracks had been paved over before and the residents were shocked that a water main broke and was allowed to drain in the area for three days. He indicated that the neighborhood was trying to work with the City and the Council and they needed help.
Mauricio Arregoces, Rancho Palos Verdes, appreciated the complexity of the issue noting that he did not think that anyone could provide a definitive answer or a single study that would tell them exactly what to do. He felt they would have the same questions in 10 years and he asked the Councilmembers to consider the implications of their actions and the consequences for the homeowners.
Lenee Bilski, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that the Seaview area was against extending the ordinance as they did not see the urgency for the public health, safety and welfare. She implored the City to send out crews to fix cracks on Dauntless Drive and she pointed out differences in current City maps and in those drawn in 1976, noting that streets in the blue zone had not moved since 1957.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru read a statement from Joe Bademe, 31 Narcissa Drive, Abalone Cove, indicating that he had decided to add 600 square feet to his home and had done everything required by the City according to the code but was stopped due to the moratorium imposed on minor additions. His home is currently gutted and uninhabitable and in order to move forward his current architectural plans would have to be revised at great expense. He asked the Council to allow him to complete his home as his financial condition is weakening and he can’t wait until January to face perhaps yet another extension.
Responding to Councilman Clark, Director Rojas provided a quick history of the project at 31 Narcissa Drive noting that the application for the addition had been submitted but was stopped in the process. He added that the property owner of 38 Cinnamon Lane is going forward with a revised project that seeks no additional square footage so it is no longer on hold, and that the projects at 86 Yacht Harbor Drive and 4342 Admiral Drive are in the building permit process and could also move forward.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, City Manager Evans indicated that he would investigate the status of repairs the cracks on Dauntless Drive.
Mayor Pro Tem Long indicated that he was not happy with the prospect of extending the moratorium and wanted to see the ability to draw different distinctions then the Council was current drawing. He noted that since the City was in the middle of a lawsuit, Council had to be careful about changing the status quo and stated that the lawsuit might decide some of these issues. He indicated that the public comments were not falling upon deaf ears but rather they were falling on powerless ears.
Councilman Stern agreed with the desire to move forward and get more answers. He urged that in the intervening three months, if the property owners have questions, they should be articulated to staff and he looked forward to additional information from the experts.
Councilman Gardiner stated that the temporary moratorium had been put into effect to allow the City time to sort things out and he hoped that by January 23, 2007, the City would have definitive enough information to get closure on this issue. He added that residents had been very patient but new information had come to light and hopefully the City will have the information it needs to make decisions.
Councilman Clark added that if staff felt there were compelling reasons to bring back the properties that have been identified in the staff report for consideration for potential exclusion, that it do so before January 23, 2007 with an analysis of the implications of potential exclusion.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, City Manager Evans explained that there were financial limits to what staff could pursue if something surfaced and the Council did not have a chance to act or give direction.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that Council viewed the situation with a sense of urgency because it wanted the matter resolved for the neighborhood and homes involved. He felt the City was close to moving forward and just needed to have a little more information available.
Moved by Mayor Pro Tem Long and seconded by Councilman Stern to ADOPT ORDINANCE NO. 448U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES EXTENDING URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 427U, URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 439U AND URGENCY ORDINANCE NO. 440U TO JANUARY 23, 2007, THEREBY CONTINUING MORATORIUM ON THE ISSUANCE OF CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS; SUSPENDING CERTAIN PREVIOUSLY ISSUED BUILDING PERMITS AND APPROVALS IN THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA OUTLINED IN RED AND BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF.
AYES: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern and Mayor Wolowicz.
/s/ Thomas D. Long Mayor
/s/ Carolynn Petru