The meeting was called to order at 9:37 A.M. by Mayor Wolowicz at the Pointe Vicente Interpretive Center, 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West.
PRESENT: Clark, Gardiner, Long, Stern and Mayor Wolowicz
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru; and Director of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Joel Rojas.
Mayor Wolowicz indicated that In March 2006 the Annenberg Foundation awarded a grant to the PVPLC to work with the City and create a Rancho Palos Verdes Vision Plan for the area. He stated that the Vision Plan takes up where the Open Space Parks and Recreation Task Force left off by incorporating elements of Task Force’s ideas for the development of parks and open space in the City.
Leonard Aube, Director of the Annenberg Foundation, provided background on himself and a brief summary of how the Los Angeles arm of the Annenberg Foundation came to be and how it works. He indicated that the Foundation was concerned with urban sustainability and quality of life issues and that they had been struck by the vision, the drive and the passion of Barbara Dye and the PVLC to preserve and enhance natural open space areas on the Peninsula. He reported that the Annenberg Foundation asked for a summary of land ownership and distribution in the City and wanted to know whether the City could envision the process from a holistic standpoint with a single minded driven focus.
Melanie Smith, Melendrez Landscape Architecture, Planning and Urban Design, reported examining the Rancho Palos Verdes General Plan and finding that the City had much foresight in recognizing the important network of areas. She added that the first goal of the General Plan was to conserve, protect and enhance natural resources for the benefit of the residents. She indicated that the City’s 1978 Local Coastal Specific Plan recognized that although there was a network of open spaces there was no prevailing pattern and no cohesion but that it could exist. She observed that the vision went way back and that they could build on it.
Ms. Smith indicated that they had developed a framework plan after looking at the City’s preserve lands, park lands associated with that, private open space areas and the circulation network that links these areas together. She noted that habitats and landslide areas have been identified over the years and a separate committee is looking at the City’s public trail network.
Ms. Smith reported that many and varied actions to date including the Public Use Master Plan (PUMP) effort which is an ongoing process on a separate but concurrent track with the visioning process that looks at the trail network and open space areas. She presented a map of the area with different portions highlighted noting that they are also looking at five key sites in the community and associated support areas. She added that vehicular access to the areas must be examined as a means of support and if the system is interconnected there may be gateways into it.
Ms. Smith cited examples of private development which had contributed to the quality of public access to the open space noting that they were starting with the work that many groups had already begun. She indicated that they had begun to articulate themes, a vision statement and goals that go along with it and she reported that further information is available on the City’s website. She noted that emerging core values include preserving the special nature of open space, preserving natural habitats, preserving views from the spaces and access to the spaces for a variety of users and uses as well as for community gathering and learning.
Ms. Smith provided an overview of key sites including:
- Del Cerro Park: Provides a significant view opportunity but is nestled into a neighborhood and must be sensitively considered. The area could use enhanced ADA access to allow greater appreciation of the overlook but is not a destination or gateway.
- Active Recreation Area in Portuguese Bend: There is City-owned land adjacent to the nature preserve that has been identified for recreation. The Equestrian Committee has looked at the site and created a plan examining how equestrian uses could be accommodated and whether the area would be appropriate for a gateway park and major point of entry into the nature preserve. The area could accommodate outdoor education activities.
- Upper Point Vicente: Much thought has been put into how the site surrounding the Civic Center might develop with the work of the Open Space Task Force, City Council direction in April 2006 and a set of uses to be considered at the site. The Palos Verdes Art Center is interested in coming to the site and there is the potential for a new gymnasium and a pool. An important component is retaining the open space and a plan to combine open space with sports facilities was examined. Parking must be accommodated without sacrificing the quality of experience.
- Lower Point Vicente: The Interpretive Center provides a jumping-off point to consider this property’s full potential. The outdoor history museum components formulated by the museum docents can be easily accommodated and configurations for that have been looked at along with what support facilities might be needed, including how to link Upper and Lower Point Vicente and how to enhance the roadway along Palos Verdes Drive South/West.
Mr. Aube reported that there was much “Imagineering” going on around ideas and concepts and a preliminary vision plan had been discussed and reviewed. He commented that the Annenberg Foundation is a source point for a high level of convening and discussion and provides hope and inspiration to see the community in other ways than previously imagined. He indicated that Wallace Annenberg had a deep interest in the conservation of open wildlife and habitat spaces to support living things, plants and animals. He added that she would like to see a small part of the area within the Vision Plan dedicated to a world-class facility to provide emergency services and treatment for injured animals with a strong ethos of community involvement and educational facilities.
Mr. Aube indicated that they were looking for more opportunities for young people to be involved in constructive volunteering and to have a relationship around community service and employment. He added that they wanted to introduce the notion of Lower Point Vicente as a venue for the Annenberg Foundation.
Melanie Smith explained that they were looking at ways to:
- enhance the roadway experience for pedestrians and drivers by keeping them separate and by adding markers designed to be evocative of the natural setting
Ms. Smith noted that having an integrated vision provided a unique positioning of the City in the region as well as creating a whole system identity for the coastal area, identified connections for users and unprecedented educational, civic, community, health and stewardship opportunities. She reported that next steps in the process included selecting preferred concepts for key sites; developing final vision plan components; soliciting feedback from the public; and supporting and incorporating the PUMP Committee’s recommendations. She added that they had given much thought to naming the network of spaces and asked for feedback and for people to vote on a list of proposed names.
Lynn Swank, Los Serenos de Point Vicente, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed her concerns with increased traffic on Palos Verdes Drive with the new development being proposed.
Dave Tomblin, Palos Verdes Peninsula School District, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that the student population was growing in the district and that he was excited about the joint opportunities for arts and education that could be provided through the Vision Plan. He indicated that the school district is always looking to improve on that and they were willing to provide any help that they could.
Mr. Aube clarified that the predisposition of the effort was not to add to the capacity or volume of what is here but to organize it around a framework that performs a little better for people. He stated that the proposal is not to add a lot of infrastructure that will cause quality of life issues to dominate the discussion but rather about unification and a smart, thoughtful approach.
Councilman Clark asked about the proposed state of the art animal care facility and teaching center.
Mr. Aube pointed out that animal shelters are usually in industrialized areas in an unappealing environment for the animals and their caretakers but there are some animal care and wellness facilities with sculptures, artwork, or poetry providing inspiration relating to human/companion animal relationships and the idea that humanity is defined by our interaction with each other, open space and animals. He explained that Wallace Annenberg is seeking to develop a creative, poetic place with stunning architecture that celebrates the space, is scaled appropriately to the area and makes the visitor feel a little richer as a result of having been there.
Mr. Aube further explained that along with animal care there would be adoption opportunities, referrals and connections to the professional veterinarian community. He indicated that there were no comparable animal care facilities in the vicinity and he reported that some of the best thinkers in the country had been invited to talk about the different possibilities available to create such a center. He emphasized that the key element in the project is how it complements and integrates with the area.
Ms. Smith reported that they had had much communication with the museum docents about their plan which had resulted in refined thinking about the space required. She indicated that there was plenty of space for everything on the property and all of the different spaces and environments that the docents are interested in are being integrated with any new facilities that might be planned.
Mayor Wolowicz observed that much emphasis had been placed on the General Plan which was an excellent document when originally drafted. He observed that it still holds up today, which he saw that as a tribute to both the City’s founders and the community as a whole. He reiterated that additional information was available on the City’s website and he encouraged people to fill out comment forms so they could be responsive to resident feedback.
City Manager Evans indicated that he had never worked in a community where people were so smart and so demanding and he observed that these characteristics of its residents had created a great city.
Jon Cartwright, Rancho Palos Verdes Council of Homeowners Associations, asked about the status of the Waste Management contract.
Councilman Stern reported that the RFP had gone out, the subcommittee had met with staff and the nature of the process had allowed them to negotiate with the trash hauler. He indicated that staff was following up to get additional information so they could provide a more complete presentation for the full Council to evaluate on the November 7, 2006 agenda.
Mayor Pro Tem Long reported that he lives in one of the pilot test areas where automated pick up was being tested, and stated that he did not want to go back to the old service. He reported that 86% of those surveyed favored the new method of pick-up in the pilot test area.
Councilman Clark observed that the City had received much input from the public on this topic and he felt that the contract for trash collection was one of the most important contracts the Council ever considers.
Councilman Gardiner indicated that the City would make information known to the public as soon as was possible.
/s/ Thomas D. Long
/s/ Carolynn Petru