The meeting was called to order at 7:08 P.M. by Mayor Long at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard, notice having been given with affidavit thereto on file.
Also present were Paul Bussey, Interim City Manager; Carol Lynch, City Attorney; Carolynn Petru, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk; and Joel Rojas, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.
Mayor Long led the flag salute.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Mayor Long announced that there was a lack of a quorum of Council members eligible to vote on items 13 and 18.
Moved by Mayor Pro Tem Stern and seconded by Councilman Wolowicz to approve the Agenda as presented. Hearing no objection, Mayor Long so ordered.
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Moved by Stern and seconded by Councilman Clark to approve the Consent Calendar. The motion carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
City Hall Sewer Lateral Rehabilitation Project (604 x 1204)
Reviewed and reconfirmed by a four/fifths (4/5) vote, the Council’s previous action on October 17, 2006, to authorize staff to proceed with repairs to the sewer lateral system at the City Hall complex.
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REGULAR NEW BUSINESS
Extension of Moratorium on Certain Development Within the Entire Landslide Moratorium Area Outlined in Red and Blue Pending Review of Additional Information (1801 x 1203)
Councilman Wolowicz asked about the scope of the City geologists’ review of this issue.
City Attorney Lynch responded that the City geologists’ review was not specific to the homes caught in limbo due to the temporary moratorium, but to the landslide moratorium area in general.
Mayor Long called for the public speakers.
Joe Badame, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that he had never received a compelling explanation from the City as to why staff’s error regarding the addition to his house was caught in this temporary moratorium.
Mayor Pro Tem Stern asked if a letter was being prepared by staff to address Mr. Badame’s question.
City Attorney Lynch responded that a letter was being prepared, but noted that the original building permit for Mr. Badame’s house was issued by the County and specified a certain building square footage, but that the County Tax Assessors records 4 or 5 years later showed that the square footage of the house had increased. She stated that staff’s conclusion, therefore, was supported by evidence submitted by the applicant’s architect.
Mayor Pro Tem Stern urged staff to issue the letter to Mr. Badame is a timely manner.
Mayor Long suggested that the letter include a determination that his property is subject to the moratorium, but that Mr. Badame can appeal this determination.
Mayor Long asked staff is Mr. Badame’s addition was over 600 square feet in size.
City Attorney Lynch confirmed that it was.
Mayor Long noted that apart from the moratorium issue, staff recently became aware of the fact that more than 50% of the interior and exterior walls of the residence were being replaced, which triggered another level of review under the City’s Code. He observed that the property owner could appeal these issues or complete the remodel, which would now be subject to the Neighborhood Compatibility process.
Interim City Manager Bussey reported that Mr. Badame is currently going through the Neighborhood Compatibility process and that staff is expediting the processing of that application.
City Attorney Lynch added that someone, either the contractor or the architect, raised the issue during the remodel that they felt all of the construction was original to the house.
Mr. Badame asked for clarification of the City Attorney’s statement.
Mayor Long clarified that once staff makes a final determination, Mr. Badame can appeal that decision or he can decide to proceed another way. Mayor Long thanked the Mr. Badame for his patience during this frustrating process.
Councilman Clark asked if an appeal in this case would first be heard by the Planning Commission.
Director Rojas responded that any appeal dealing with the moratorium area would be heard by the City Council, but that any appeal dealing with Neighborhood Compatibility would be heard by the Planning Commission.
Charlotte Pesusich, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that she opposed the extension of the temporary moratorium and referenced her attorney’s recent letter to the City.
Mayor Long outlined for Ms. Pesusich the process of obtaining a staff determination and her appeal rights.
Councilman Wolowicz acknowledged the difficulty the temporary moratorium has caused some residents and stated that the hardship had not been lost on the City Council. He stated that sometimes the Council can do something to help the situation, sometimes not and sometimes it is an issue of timing.
--------------, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the City Council can amend the ordinance to reinstate the 600 square foot rule to the blue area of the moratorium, but said that he did not think such a change should be retroactive and therefore apply to his project. He pointed out that the Seaview neighborhood is unique and that there are many examples of large remodels, new pools and one new single family residence that have all had no adverse impact on the geology of the area. He stated that he was not sure if he should incur additional expense in preparing more geology reports and noted that he already has a report that states that his project will not cause any harm, short of a catastrophic event.
City Attorney Lynch stated that staff is trying to expedite the re-examination of the 600 square foot addition rule, but noted that more study was needed of the larger issue. She noted that Mr. -----------’s addition would double the size of his existing residence and that the review staff is engaged in would not address his specific issue.
Councilman Wolowicz asked about the delay in completing the analysis and whether it was because more geologic review was needed.
Director Rojas responded that the issue was not a lack of geologic data stated that the staff had adequate information available in that regard.
Councilman Wolowicz asked if the staff would be able to address Mr. -------------’s issue of whether the red and blue areas of the moratorium should be treated differently within 90 days.
Director Rojas indicated that he would have to check with the City geologist to see if that was enough time to complete the review.
Interim City Manager Bussey said that the City geologist’s current task was to examine the 600 square foot issue, but that staff would check to see if the consultant could also make a determination regarding the differences between the red and blue zones within the 90 day period.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that, given the amount of time that has already passed and the resident’s level of anxiety about this issue, he wanted the issue to be addressed within this time frame, if possible.
Mayor Long questioned if there was a basis to distinguish between the red and the blue zones, stating that he believed there was none currently known.
City Attorney Lynch responded that there was a distinction made in Dr. Perry Ehlig’s report in the early 1990s, but that recent changes have brought his prior conclusion into question.
Mayor Long asked what the specific issue was regarding the 600 square foot addition limitation.
City Attorney Lynch responded that the question is whether such additions to existing homes have any potential impact to the entire moratorium area. She noted that the weight of the additions was not considered to be significant, but that other factors associated with the construction, such as changes in grading, drainage and water infiltration, might be significant. She explained that the main source of water infiltration is ornamental landscaping around existing homes, therefore, additions may actually reduce the amount of water infiltration is less area of the lot is landscapes as a result. She stated that while new homes or significant additions may aggravate landslide conditions, the 600 square foot addition provision was previously allowed by the City because they were felt to have negligible impact on the overall stability of the landslide.
Martha de la Torre, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the original permits for her house have been lost and by the County’s records, her house is the same square footage now as when it was originally built. She stated that her realtor told her that the 600 square feet was grandfathered in as of 1978 when the moratorium was first enacted. Regarding the replacement of more than 50% of the walls, she stated that the building permit only referred to the interior walls of the structure and she only found out later that the Code applied to both interior and exterior wall of the residence. She stated that the need to replace more than 50% of the walls of her house was a matter of safety because many of the studs were rotten. She indicated that she was required to remove the redwood siding on the house because it was splintering and that this was counted towards the 50% replacement threshold. She also stated that they would not have paid for a new foundation to be placed under the existing house if they had in fact planned to knock down the structure and replace it.
Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to adopt the staff recommendation.
Councilman Wolowicz asked if staff was confident that it could resolve the issue regarding 600 square foot additions with 90 days.
Director Rojas responded that he felt the City geologist would have adequate time to consider the 600 square foot addition issue, but not the larger issue regarding the red and blue zones within the moratorium.
Councilman Wolowicz stated that staff needs to bring the issue back to Council as quickly as possible to minimize further delays for individual property owners.
Councilman Clark agreed with Councilman Wolowicz on this point.
Mayor Long expressed concern about the pending Monks litigation and the impact it may have on this issue.
Mayor Pro Tem Stern observed that the City needed a solid basis to justify making any changes to the landslide moratorium ordinance.
The motion passed on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Clark to adjourn the meeting. At 7:49 P.M., Mayor Long declared the meeting adjourned to Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 9:00 A.M. at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center for a workshop regarding RPV Channel 33.
/s/ Thomas D. Long
/s/ Carla Morreale