MAY 1, 2007 RANCHO PALOS VERDESIMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY MINUTES MAY 1, 2007 RANCHO PALOS VERDESIMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY MINUTES

MAY 1, 2007 RANCHO PALOS VERDESIMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY MINUTES

MINUTES
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
FEBRUARY 20, 2007

The meeting was called to order at 7:16 P.M. by Mayor Long at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.   
City Council roll call was answered as follows:

PRESENT:    Clark, Gardiner, Stern,* Wolowicz and Mayor Long
ABSENT:      None

            *Mayor Pro Tem Stern arrived at 9:34 P.M.

Also present were Interim City Manager Paul Bussey, City Attorney Carol Lynch, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Carolynn Petru, Director of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Joel Rojas, Director of Public Works Jim Bell, Director of Finance/Information Technology Dennis McLean, Deputy Director of Finance/Information Technology Kathryn Downs, Assistant to the City Manager Gina Park, Recreation Supervisor Holly Starr, Associate Planner Kristen Sohn, Assistant Planner So Kim, and Public Works Consultant Alan Braatvedt.

FLAG SALUTE:

The Flag Salute was led by Interim City Manager Paul Bussey.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:

Moved by Councilman Wolowicz and seconded by Councilman Clark to approve the Agenda.   Hearing no objection, Mayor Long so ordered (absent Mayor Pro Tem Stern).

CEREMONIAL:

Whale of a Day Poster Contest Winners

Mayor Long displayed the top ten winning designs noting that Wendy Chin won first place and her artwork will be printed on fliers distributed in the local area.  He noted that the top ten posters would be displayed on Saturday, March 3, 2007 at the Whale of a Day Celebration at the Pt. Vicente Interpretive Center from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Mayor Long reported that the City was looking for volunteers to serve on three City Advisory Boards and he explained the requirements to serve and the procedures for the application, interview and selection process.  He indicated that a total of seven seats were open on the Traffic Safety Commission, nine seats on the Equestrian Committee and five seats on the newly established Oversight Committee for the Water Quality and Flood Control Protection Program.  He announced that the remodel of the Hesse Park restrooms would take place from February 21, 2007 to March 18, 2007 with portable alternative restrooms available during that time frame.  He alerted residents to a mailer being circulated by the State Department of Agriculture regarding the Diaprepes Root Weevil.

RECYCLE DRAWING:

Mayor Long announced recyclers of the month Alfred Budris and Herbert Verman.  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. 

PUBLIC COMMENTS: 

Jean Desmond, Seagate Homeowners' Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed opposition to a developer using a 35 year old condominium to satisfy a requirement for affordable housing.   

Mayor Long explained that the affordable housing requirement was established by State law which constrains the City.  He stated that the manner in which a person meets that requirement is not necessarily something the City has much control over.
 
Robert Maxwell, Portuguese Bend Community Association, Rancho Palos Verdes, highlighted material he provided to Council members regarding the landslide noting that the dewatering wells did not benefit the Portuguese Bend landslide area.  He asserted that the primary issue related to the landslide is water coming from Rolling Hills and he encouraged the City to work with Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates to divert water run off.

Demetrius Hatzeson, Seagate Condominiums, Rancho Palos Verdes, spoke regarding the low-income unit recently created in his condominium complex and stated it would have a negative effect on the entire City. 

Ken Dyda, Peninsula Seniors, Rancho Palos Verdes, thanked the City for their help in locating the new Peninsula Seniors facility on City Hall property and he reported that a DVD of the grand opening was available to Council members.
Jackie Palmer, Seagate Condominiums, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted that using a Seagate condominium as an affordable housing unit was a business transaction that would greatly benefit one party, but would be detrimental to the rest of the Seagate residents.
Mayor Long stated that the Affordable Housing Unit at Seagate Condominiums was not on the agenda and the Council could not discuss it or take any action, and the City could not revoke the existing entitlement.
Councilman Wolowicz expressed opposition to the legislation that created the rule that resulted in this situation.
Director Rojas explained that the State had an affordable housing mandate requiring the City to identify affordable housing opportunities which the City has complied with through the Housing Element.  He indicated that the City has adopted an affordable housing ordinance requiring residential developments over five lots or non-residential developments like the Terranea resort hotel project to provide a certain percentage of their project to be designated as affordable housing.  He noted that a developer in the process of building a 13-lot tract subdivision was given the opportunity to provide an affordable unit somewhere else in the City.  He explained that the developer purchased a unit in the Seagate Condominiums and a buyer who meets the affordable housing requirements must be approved by the City.  He noted that the person who lives there will not be entitled to any appreciation on the unit and will not be able to sell the unit for a profit.  He explained that if and when the owner chooses to move, the unit has to be sold to another person who meets the affordable housing requirements.
Responding to Council inquiries, Director Rojas agreed to research the logic the Council used to allow offsite affordable housing and he added that the City in no way directed the developer to buy in this particular complex.
Responding to Councilman Gardiner, City Attorney Lynch indicated that there was very little the City could do as the developer sought permission under the agreement.  She agreed to research the ability to rescind the approval and noted that there had been an earlier discussion of adding a secondary unit on a lot with a single family dwelling on it, but that possibility did not work out.
Councilman Gardiner wanted to know what the Council’s understanding was when the decision was made and requested that the item be placed on a future agenda.
Councilman Clark suggested providing that same information to Seagate Homeowner Association.
Mayor Long indicated that his recollection was that the developer was exploring alternatives and the Council had approved an offsite location for the affordable unit with the understanding that what was being considered by the developer was a single family dwelling.

CITY MANAGER REPORT:

None.

NEW BUSINESS:

Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reported no requests to speak.

APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:

Councilman Wolowicz requested that Item 8 be removed from the Consent Calendar for discussion.
Councilman Gardiner asked that Item 11 be removed from the Consent Calendar for additional discussion.
Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Consent Calendar, as amended, with Items 8 and 11 removed.  The motion carried on the following roll call vote:

AYES:            Clark, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:           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.

Request for Waiver of the Penalty Fees Related to an After-the-Fact Landslide Moratorium Exception Permit and Site Plan Review to Rebuild a Residence At 31 Narcissa Drive (Joe Badame & Martha De La Torre)

Granted the requested penalty fee waiver in the amount of $1,958.00.

Release of Bond Posted for Golden Cove Center

Authorized the City Clerk and Director of Public Works to release Bond No. 245085 in the amount of $68,500, posted by Golden Cove Group, LLC for the construction of the Golden Cove Center.

PVIC Audio System Upgrade to Enable Amplified City Council Meetings

1) Approved the purchase of an external audio mixer to connect to the existing audio system to enable amplified City Council and other public meetings in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center; 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-13, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY06-07, FOR A $15,000 BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY’S GENERAL FUND AND EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT FUND; and, 3) Provided direction to Staff about making an inquiry to Cox Cable regarding the feasibility and cost of installing equipment necessary to broadcast live from PVIC via the Channel 33 studio.

Household Hazardous Waste/Electronic Waste Collection Siting Liability Agreement with Los Angeles County

Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste Collection Siting Liability Agreement with the County of Los Angeles and County Sanitation District No. 2 of Los Angeles County.

Revision to Planning Case No. ZON2004-00087 Height Variation at 28129 Ella Road

ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-14, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES APPROVING A REVISION TO HEIGHT VARIATION (CASE NO. ZON2004-00087).

Notice of Completion for the Forrestal Nature Preserve Swale Improvement Project

1) Accepted the work as complete; 2) Authorized the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder. If no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation, and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, notice the surety company to exonerate the Payment and Performance bonds; and 3) Authorized the Director of Public Works to release the 5% retention payment, to Garcia Juarez Construction, Inc. (GCI) 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the County Recorder. This release is contingent upon no claims being filed on the project, and the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond.

Notice of Completion of the Residential Street Overlay and Slurry Seal Project Area 2

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar and considered separately.

Continuation of Funding for the City/Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy State Lobbyist

Approved a budget adjustment for $18,000 to fund the services of Mr. Joseph Caves of Conservation Strategy Group for the 2007 calendar year as an advocate of the City for securing state monies for the City’s continuing open space acquisitions.

Rubberized Asphalt Concrete Grant FY 06-07

1) Authorized the submittal of a grant application to the California Integrated Waste Management Board for a Rubberized Asphalt Concrete Use grant program - FY06-07; and 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-15, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AUTHORIZING THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS TO EXECUTE ALL NECESSARY APPLICATIONS, CONTRACTS, AGREEMENTS, AMENDMENTS, AND PAYMENT REQUESTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING GRANT FUNDS, AND IMPLEMENTING AND CARRYING OUT THE PROGRAMS.

General Plan Update - Agreements for Consulting Services

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar and considered separately.
 
Register of Demands

ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-16, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES ALLOWING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DEMANDS AND SPECIFYING FUNDS FROM WHICH THE SAME ARE TO BE PAID.

#          #          #          #          #          #

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

Appeal to Planning Case No. ZON2006-00370 (Site Plan Review): Request to Overturn the Planning Commission’s Decision to Allow the Construction of a 4,280 Square Foot New Residence in Replacement of the Existing, Fire-Damaged, 3,946 Square Foot Residence

With the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, Assistant Planner Kim presented a brief staff report regarding the replacement of a fire-damaged home with a new residence.  She explained that two neighbors have appealed the project based on two separate issues.  She explained that one of the appellants was appealing the project on the grounds that the high-pitched roof was not compatible with the neighborhood and the second appellant was appealing the foliage condition set by the Planning Commission.  She indicated that staff believed the view analysis demonstrated that there was still a significant view impairment from 4 La Vista Verde. 

Councilman Clark received clarification that one tree that had significantly impaired the view from 4 La Vista Verde had been removed and the other thinned out, but staff had concluded that there was still a significant view impairment from that property and a second large tree would need to be removed to restore the view.

Director Rojas clarified that there was an appeal based on the aspects of the roof line and a separate appeal based on view impairment by trees on the subject property. 

City Attorney Lynch explained that when an application is submitted staff is required to analyze whether there is foliage on the property that significantly impairs the view of neighbors.

Mayor Long opened the public hearing.

Jason Hung, appellant, Rancho Palos Verdes, recounted his experience with the Johnsons and with City staff, noting that the proposed roofline of the Johnson’s new residence is at a height of 16 feet so he would not gain much view if the large tree were removed.  He expressed concern with being able to successfully enforce annual lacing of the tree and he noted that if property owners of homes in the area were all allowed to remodel their homes to a height of 16 feet, he would no longer have a view.  

Paul Matthews, appellant, Rancho Palos Verdes, presented photographs illustrating the terrain of the homes in the area, the low lying roofs in the neighborhood per the plan of the original developer of the homes in the area.  He expressed concern about the impact on his harbor view by the new proposed Johnson project and echoed Dr. Hung’s concern that if remodeling to 16 feet was allowed it would essentially block the western view of the harbor and he added that compatibility was based on location.

Director Rojas clarified that the Code allowed homes to be built to 16 feet by right, subject to neighborhood compatibility, and the Commission concluded that the ridgeline was compatible with other homes in the neighborhood.

Jerry Rodin, Rodin Associates Architects, reported that the Johnson’s house had burned down and they have been waiting two years to have it rebuilt.  He explained that the residence was being replaced on the existing pad and the Code demanded that the replacement building meet the current Code and minimum Building Standards.  He stated that he had designed the home as low as it possibly could be, and the foundation alone is costing more than the price of the original home.  He stated that the view ordinance was creating a problem, but that the height of the home should have never been a problem since the home can be built to 16 feet by right.  He pointed out that the neighborhood had transformed over time and that the building was compatible to home in the neighborhood. 

Krista Johnson, the applicant, Rancho Palos Verdes, recounted a history of her dealings with the City and her neighbors since her home burned down, noting many delays and frustrations.  She indicated they were planning to add 100 square feet to the living area and one additional garage space.  She presented pictures and asked the Council to allow her to keep her 50 year old tree which she agreed to keep trimmed per the Planning Commission decision.

Jeff Johnson, the applicant, Rancho Palos Verdes, clarified that they re-landscaped the house several years ago and eliminated trees that were blocking their neighbors’ views, but did not remodel their home.

Barry Hildebrand, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the solution was two-fold.  He indicated that the house should be approved and the 50-year old tree should not have to be sacrificed since the applicants had already had to remove one tree to create a view.  He proposed a thorough review of procedures for additions or home remodels with an expedited path for someone who loses their home to fire or disaster.

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to deny the appeal regarding the roofline height and uphold the Planning Commission’s decision to allow the applicants to construct a 4,280 square foot new residence in replacement of the existing, fire damaged, 3,946 square foot residence and deny the appeal regarding view impairment caused by existing foliage.
 
Councilman Gardiner supported the motion and requested an amendment that the Johnson’s letters of January 2 and February 6, 2007 be incorporated in the minutes so they can ask the City Manager to review the process and see if there is an expedited way to handle issues like this in the future. 

Councilman Wolowicz did not accept the amendment.

Mayor Long stated that the reasons for the delays should be looked into separately.  He explained that the View Ordinance dictates that the home can be rebuilt to a height of 16 feet without a height variation permit, no matter what other rooflines are like in the neighborhood, even though views would be blocked.  He indicated that he believed the view appeal was without merit and he felt that the impairment of view was not significant.  He added that recently there were three projects to rebuild burned homes and the others had proceeded more quickly than this one.

Mayor Long closed the public hearing at 8:46 P.M.

Moved by Councilman Clark, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-17, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DECISION TO ALLOW THE CONSTRUCTION OF A 4,280 SQUARE FOOT NEW RESIDENCE IN REPLACEMENT OF THE EXISTING, FIRE DAMAGED, 3,946 SQUARE FOOT RESIDENCE AND DENYING THE APPEAL REGARDING VIEW IMPAIRMENT CAUSED BY EXISTING FOLIAGE.

AYES:            Clark, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:           None
ABSENT:      Stern

Councilman Wolowicz stated that Mrs. Johnson’s presentation was compelling and he wanted to make sure staff continued to fast track the project.  He indicated that City staff had a valid issue regarding square footage discrepancy and clarified that they did not stonewall the project, but suggested that the process should be reexamined for best practices.

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner to direct staff to prepare a revision to the Development Code to address expediting reconstruction of homes destroyed by fire for review by the Planning Commission and final approval by the City Council prior to the end of 2007.  A roll call vote reflected the following:

AYES:             Clark, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:             None
ABSENT:       Stern

City Attorney Lynch pointed out that the resolution in the packet did not affirm the Planning Commission’s decision and she suggested the Council’s need to: 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-17, AS AMENDED, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DENYING THE APPEAL OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DECISION TO ALLOW THE CONSTRUCTION OF A 4,280 SQUARE FOOT NEW RESIDENCE IN REPLACEMENT OF THE EXISTING, FIRE DAMAGED, 3,946 SQUARE FOOT RESIDENCE AND DENYING THE APPEAL REGARDING VIEW IMPAIRMENT CAUSED BY EXISTING FOLIAGE; and to amend sections of the resolution conditions in conformance with the Council’s intent to deny the Hun’s appeal and allow the Johnson’s remaining ficus carob tree to remain and be trimmed periodically.

Commissioner Gardiner moved, seconded by Commissioner Wolowicz, to adopt Resolution No. 2007-17, as amended, with the conditions modified as read into the record by the City Attorney.  The motion passed by the following roll call vote.

AYES:            Clark, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:           None
ABSENT:      Stern

RECESS/RECONVENE

Mayor Long called a brief recess between 8:54 P.M. to 9:08 P.M.

Mayor Long reported a request to allow an additional public speaker.  Hearing no objection he reopened Public Comments.

Scott Gobble, Southern California Edison (SCE), announced an Air Conditioner Cycling Program that promotes the cycling on and off of air conditioners in the event of a shortage of electricity during the summer.  He indicated that applications were available at the SCE website, City Hall or the Chamber of Commerce and each person who signed up was eligible for a rebate of up to a $200.

Appeal of Grading Permit and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2005-00593), Landowner: Jamie Blessum; Appellants: Rod and Rebecca White, Harry & Peggy Fussganger, Ruperto & Lula Elpusan; Site Address: 29664 Grandpoint Lane

Deputy City Manager/City Clerk Petru announced that notice of the public hearing was duly published and that written protests were distributed with the staff report or in late correspondence prior to the meeting.

Associate Planner Sohn presented a staff report and slide presentation outlining the history of the case which began as a Code Enforcement case for illegal grading and building of retaining walls on his property and the proposed new home for the site.     

Councilman Wolowicz stated that he disagreed with the classification of the wall as a garden wall and he felt the second wall needed to be graded back into the driveway.

Director Rojas explained that removing the upper wall would also require restoration of the slope and he indicated that the driveway would have to be moved.  He clarified that the Code requires the lot coverage calculation to take into account the gross lot area compared to structures and parking areas. 

Associate Planner Sohn stated that the buildable area on the pad is 8,693 square feet with proposed lot coverage of 7,003 square feet.

At 9:26 P.M. Mayor Long opened the public hearing.

Rod White, appellant, stated that he first spoke to the Mayor and Council about this project two years ago.  He reported that a developer had illegally brought in a bulldozer and construction crews to increase his lot size by illegally cutting into the heel of the slope in an effort to re-grade it into a non-extreme slope, which created a dangerous situation of slope instability.  Mr. White reported speaking to Building and Safety and Code Enforcement and there were no permits issued for the grading work, but the developer re-graded so he could cut out the entire slope in order to build his 5,366 square foot home which is closer to 75% lot coverage.  Mr. White presented a 500 page geological report which concluded that construction using conventional foundation systems for the residence would not be geotechnically feasible and that the use of deepened foundation systems supported on piles or caissons founded in volcanic bedrock should be utilized; and improvements other than the residential structure not supported by deepened foundations systems would be subject to movement and cracking.  He pointed out that garden walls were supposed to be less than three feet but the wall on the property was closer to 5 or 6 feet tall which makes it a retaining wall that requires caissons especially since the slope has been changed.  He related difficulties communicating with Building and Safety and getting a correct measurement of the wall from the City.  He commented on how fragile the lot was noting that there had been a landslide ten years ago in the area that may have been triggered by a gazebo that was being built at the time.  He asserted that the project being proposed was expensive and potentially dangerous. 

Peggy Fussganger, appellant, indicated that there was very little in terms of the permit for the house that she disagreed with and she was pleased to have a house there because the lot was an eyesore.  She expressed frustration with how long it took to get a response from the City and for the City to obtain and provide the correct information; how long it took to get both walls on the property measured and the differences in the wall measurements; the fact that trees not on the property were cut; and, with how long it took to get the grading of the lot and building of the walls stopped.  She reported that the Sheriff had to be called because there were no permits and she noted that they had to pay $1,200 to file an appeal two separate times because of concerns that the walls would compromise the slope and put their houses in danger.   She asserted that she was charged $1,200 when all that was needed was to measure a wall.  She noted that dirt was piled up against the wall to make it look like the wall was shorter than it is.

Jamie Blessum, applicant, made corrections to the timeline in the City memorandum and he summarized his diligent efforts to respond to requests from the City in a timely manner.  He presented handouts from the City indicating that walls retaining less than three feet of dirt did not need a permit and he reported that Building and Safety looked at the walls and determined that he was within his rights to build them.  He indicated that he received a notice to stop work on May 24, 2004, so he hired a geotechnical engineer who issued reports in a timely manner to address the walls.  He stated that he had worked with the Planning and Building Departments to meet requirements of the after the fact walls and a site plan review for the new house; he provided a professional survey approved by the City’s consultants; he provided soils reports and supplemental reports specifically detailing the after-the-fact walls which had been approved; and, he had a certified survey indicating the previous grade proving that he did not grade the area.  Mr. Blessum asked that the appeal be denied and his application approved.

Gary Alexander, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that Mr. Blessum had built one of the walls in question on his property and he wanted it removed.  He related that there had been a previous landslide in his pool which caused him to be concerned that the Blessum house be built properly with caissons to prevent further landslide problems.  He pointed out that he had followed the City’s rules and regulations when building his addition.  He added that Mr. Blessum trimmed his trees without permission and now they his trees are dead resulting in a loss of privacy to the pool area.

Julie Mendez, expressed concern with the size of the house, the landslide and for the safety of her family.  She noted that Mr. Blessum had indicated that he would only use caissons if needed, but she felt they were necessary to prevent another landslide into her home.

Peter Haddad, project architect for the site, indicated that the neighbors were concerned because he believed they did not understand the engineering details involved with this project.  He stated that caissons will be used because they are required per the geotechnical report and he stated that building the house would add stability to the landfill as the caissons would be going into bedrock.  He noted that the wall on the west was basically in place to serve as erosion control, but there would be a single retaining wall built in with caissons to provide excavation for the house itself.  He stated that the mass of the house was calculated according to City ordinance and was calculated at 35% including open space, the garage, and the driveway.  He added that the inspection process would cover other concerns of the neighbors such as compaction and drainage. 

Mr. White, appellant, expressed skepticism that Mr. Blessum would follow the rules since he was a developer developing the project for sale and he expressed concern that the developer might not be held to the proper standards.  He observed that because of the appeal, significant changes had been made resulting in a reversal of some of the illegal walls and grading.  He asserted that the area was fragile, it should be difficult to build on, and one man should not have the power to determine thumbs up or down on a project, whether it is a one-story or two-story residence to be built.

Ms. Fussganger, appellant, pointed out they were forced to file expensive appeals in order to object to City Code violations and if the Code violations had been addressed when they were supposed to be, the appeal would not have been necessary and she requested a refund of the appeal fees.  She stated that she just wanted to get staff to measure the wall and staff was on the property today and did not measure it.  She expressed concern that Building and Planning personnel would carefully scrutinize the work by the builder now because she wanted to see the project built correctly. 

Mr. Blessum, applicant, reported purchasing the lot four years ago and indicated that he never imagined it would take so long to go through the City process.  He reported providing all information requested of him and noted that he was a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes.  He reported that the Planning Department had approved the plan and then the Planning Commission approved it 4-0.  He indicated that he had done everything he was supposed to do and wanted to begin the building of his project.

Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Mr. Blessum stated that he had a survey indicating that the wall was built on his own property.  He asserted that the wall was less than 3 feet in height and he suggested that a hole must have been dug to produce the higher measurement which is not the way the Code instructs walls to be measured.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern arrived at 9:34 P.M.

Planning Associate Sohn reported that staff measured the wall in 2005 and found it to be 2 feet 11 inches and less in some areas, but she acknowledged that she should have measured the wall at several different locations.

Director Rojas clarified the measuring process noting that typically retaining wall height is measured grade to grade; the height of the grade in front of the wall compared to the grade behind the wall.  He added that the Planning Department review is focused on aesthetics whereas Building and Safety focuses on structural safety.

Responding to Councilman Wolowicz, Director Rojas explained that the term garden wall is used when a wall retains less than 3 feet of fill.  Otherwise, it is referred to as a retaining wall.  He added that the wall retains some dirt but less than three feet and the Planning Department’s focus is more on how the wall blends with the slope as compared to how it was built. 

Councilman Wolowicz stated that his concern was the integrity of the wall which was pushed to the maximum in order to expand the size of the buildable lot for the house and changes made to the slope so that one neighbor’s front yard and home depend on the integrity of that wall.

Director Rojas indicated that when this issue first came to staff’s attention, they were concerned with integrity of the wall, but the geology report addressed both walls and they were certified to be stable.  He clarified that the situation was atypical because the studies were done after-the-fact because they did not want to approve walls that were structurally unsound, so they had to have proof that they were stable from a geologic standpoint. 

Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Associate Planner Sohn explained that the measurements were taken at different locations.

Director Rojas clarified that staff did not accompany the appellant when they were measuring the walls and he noted that the Planning Code allowed retaining walls up to 3½ feet in height. 

Associate Planner Sohn stated that staff had no knowledge that one of the walls was built on someone else’s property until today.

Mayor Long received clarification that the total lot coverage of the house was 34.8% and the ordinance requires including the roadside part of the lot.

Councilman Gardiner observed that residents had made articulate presentations and either they were incorrect or they did not understand the rules.  He questioned why staff could not clarify things for them and he was uncomfortable that there was not a way to help residents with a problem such as this. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stern indicated that he would abstain from voting on the item because he came in late, but he felt that staff should do a better job making sure that people who are complaining understand what the relevant inquiry criteria is under the Development Code.

Mayor Long pointed out that one of the issues was the way the lot was measured and he acknowledged failure of communication at various stages along the way resulting in problems.  He noted that the applicant did not follow the law in the first place which led to the beginning of problems for this project.

Councilman Wolowicz expressed concern about the placement of the walls; wanted assurances that the planned retaining walls circling the building were safe; and noted that he felt a better report would determine the mass and size of the building. 

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to send the item back to staff to get correct data as to the walls and boundaries, sort out the contradictory details and educate the residents as to what the facts are. 

Mayor Long stated that he did not believe there was a significant geological issue involved in this project and he proposed a more focused motion noting that the Council had not heard from the appellants about what they wanted done.

Councilman Gardiner suggested that people who come to appeal are not necessarily skilled and equipped to package their concerns, but are concerned that their houses are going to slide down the hill.  He noted that he wanted to see staff work with the appellants so that they are satisfied that if this project goes forward, they will understand that there homes are protected.

Mayor Long pointed out that Councilman Gardiner’s approach was subjective and it was not possible to ever satisfy everyone in regard to any project. 

Councilman Clark made a substitute motion, seconded by Mayor Long, to adopt staff recommendation denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Commission conditional approval and return the appeal fees to the appellants.  Councilman Clark stated that the key point was that the applicant built walls that were not permitted, which caused delays and created undue issues with his neighbors, but Building and Safety inspected the walls and has found them to be constructed in a safe manner, with geotechnical reports substantiating the safety of the walls.

Councilman Gardiner questioned whether the walls were judged safe at 2 feet 11 inch walls or at 54 inch walls. 

Director Rojas stated the geology report was reviewed and approved based on the existing as built walls on the site today. 

Mayor Long amended the substitute motion to adopt the staff recommendation subject to obtaining a supplemental report from the City Geologist specifically looking at the measurement issues and opining that the measurements did not affect the stability of the walls and subject to City staff examining any counter surveys presented by the appellant showing a wall not built on the applicant’s property.  He clarified that the approval would be conditioned upon resolving those two issues.

City Attorney Lynch recommended a continuance to bring the items back before taking action due to issues created if the survey is wrong or if the geologist returns with a different answer.

Mayor Long restated his amendment to continue the item focusing on the two issues just defined and with staff to return with a supplemental report with the understanding that if the issues are satisfactory the project would likely be supported with conditions.  Councilman Gardiner seconded the amendment. 

Councilman Clark accepted the amendment to the substitute motion.

Director Rojas indicated that there should be a time frame for an additional survey and noted that he would have the geologist go out to review the situation again. 

Interim City Manager Bussey clarified that a third surveyor might be needed to resolve the conflict, but staff did not want to spend City money to resolve the survey conflict and the burden would have to be on the applicant. 

Mayor Long suggested continuing the item subject to: 1) City staff obtaining an alternate survey within five days and determining if surveys are not in conflict or seeing how the conflict will be resolved, ensuring that none of the walls are outside of the applicant’s property; and 2) the supplemental report which would be addressed as expeditiously as possible.

Concerns were raised regarding measurement methods and Interim City Manager Bussey stated that staff could guarantee that they would be careful in any future measurements and they would select more than one point to perform measurements.

Councilman Wolowicz withdrew his original motion.

Responding to concerns raised by Councilman Clark, City Attorney Lynch explained that since the City was in the process of approving a project and the property lines and walls on the site are part of the project, the City is within its jurisdiction. 

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, amended and substituted, to continue the item subject to: 1) City staff obtaining an alternate survey within five days and determining if the surveys are not in conflict or determining how the conflict would be resolved, ensuring that none of the walls are outside of the applicant’s property; and 2) obtain a supplemental report from the City Geologist specifically looking at the measurement issues and opining that the measurements did not affect the stability of the walls which would be addressed as expeditiously as possible; and 3) returning the appeal fees to the appellants.  A roll call vote carried as follows:

AYES:            Clark, Gardiner, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:           None
ABSTAIN:     Stern

City Attorney Lynch indicated that the hearing would be re-noticed.

Mayor Long stated that the appellants should submit their survey.

PAUSE TO CONSIDER THE REMAINDER OF THE AGENDA:

Councilman Clark noted that if the meeting continued beyond midnight, he would be leaving the meeting at that time.

RECESS/RECONVENE
Mayor Long called a recess from 10:45 P.M. to 10: 53 P.M.

REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:

FY 06-07 Midyear Financial Report

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to continue this item until March 6, 2007.  Hearing no objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Water Quality and Flood Protection Program Update

Public Works Consultant Braatvedt provided a summary of report and presentation.

Director Bell noted that the storm drain system was vulnerable and as the infrastructure aged the pipes were continuing to corrode and collapse.  He noted that heavy rains had    caused more damage than anticipated and that staff had created a program to address the issues.

Responding to Councilman Wolowicz, Director Bell explained that staff was requesting $3 million to move the McCarrell Canyon project forward so the residents did not have to wait 16 years for the solution.

Councilman Wolowicz requested periodic status reports on the infrastructure repair work, so that the Council could understand work performed and projected projects, including an update of money spent for repairs. 

Director Bell clarified that staff was reviewing the critical projects to make sure that they were on the right track and could build important components.  He noted that rough approximations were becoming more defined during staff’s review.

Mayor Long indicated that staff was proposing to accelerate the amount they were going to spend and require additional expenditures in order to begin repairs on the McCarrell Canyon and Sunnyside Ridge projects.  He noted that over the next four fiscal years there would be another $3.3 million, beyond previous projections, that would be needed.

Director Bell stated that some of the funds for these projects were in the current program, but $3 million was a comfortable target for launching the current projects and cautioned that absolute costs for some of the critical components were not yet available. 

Mayor Long added that some expenditures in the program were being accelerated because of concerns that based on the current level of funding, even with the user fee, it would take a long time to get started on the large programs without a jump start. 

Director Bell indicated that there was a proposed phasing plan for the Sunnyside Ridge Project work and if McCarrell Canyon was delayed, too much ground would be lost, so staff was requesting additional funds to move that project forward.

The Council discussed options to fund ongoing infrastructure maintenance and Director McLean indicated that progress reports and additional information was available on the website.

RECESS/RECONVENE

Mayor Long called a brief recess from 11:27 P.M. to 11:31 P.M.

Bill Webster, Palos Verdes Bay Club, presented a photograph of the cliff in front of Seagate Drive showing an extreme amount of erosion from heavy rains.  He stated that his association would help stabilize their private road by sinking caissons into bedrock, but that they needed the City’s help to protect the cliff.  He was encouraged by discussions with staff, but expressed concern that time was not on their side.  He heartily endorsed the project noting that he would do whatever possible to support it. 

Mayor Long urged Mr. Webster and his association members to support the project by opposing the effort to repeal the user fee.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to adopt the staff recommendation with the understanding that they would get a financial schedule and periodic updates.

Mayor Long inquired if the additional funds requested were to be allocated from the General Fund.

Interim City Manager Bussey stated that when staff brings back a resolution Council could appropriate funds to have the project begin, or Council could direct that the money be placed in the upcoming budget.

Responding to Councilman Clark, Director McLean explained that the intent was to bring forward McCarrell Canyon with the design phase in the next item.  He added that the acceleration was intended for the next two years of the budget.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to 1) Accept a presentation and update on the Water Quality and Flood Protection Program; and, 2) Support the appropriation of adequate resources for the Water Quality and Flood Protection Program including moving up the funding component for the McCarrell Canyon Storm Drain Improvement Project to Fiscal Year 2007-2008 and direct staff to include additional plan costs in the FY 2007-2008 draft budget, including a time schedule.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

McCarrell Canyon Storm Drain System Design

Director Bell provided a summary of the staff report and presentation of the design of the McCarrell Canyon project.  He indicated that much of the funding presently existed for this project and indicated that it was very important to begin work as soon as possible. 

Councilman Wolowicz questioned whether an adjustment was necessary to move funds forward or whether any items had been deferred and could provide an offset for those funds.

Director McLean clarified that $179,000 was budgeted for McCarrell Canyon for FY2006-2007 but the complete project design would be closer to $485,000.

Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Director Bell explained that the minimum criteria design would be for a 50-year flood, but he believed the project should be designed to a higher standard or level such as a 100-year design. 

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to 1) Award a design contract to Harris and Associates for Phase I and Phase II of the design of the McCarrell Canyon Storm Drainage System from the inlet above Palos Verdes Drive South to the beach; 2) Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a professional services agreement contract with Harris and Associates in an amount not to exceed $450,000; 3) Authorize the additional expenditure of $248,000 for Phase II to complete the design of the McCarrell Canyon storm drainage system and produce bid documentation for the first construction phase of the work; and, 4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-18, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006-07 FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $248,000 TO THE CITY’S WATER QUALITY AND FLOOD PROTECTION PROGRAM.

A roll call vote reflected unanimous approval.

Clarification of the City’s Expense Reimbursement Policies for City Officials

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to continue this item until March 6, 2007.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

City Council Assignment to the South Bay Council of Governments

Mayor Pro Tem Stern inquired if it would be possible to designate all Council members as alternate members to this organization. 
There was Council discussion regarding the requirement for the filing of the Statement of Economic Interests, Form 700, for participation in this organization.

Mayor Long moved, seconded by Councilman Clark, to nominate Mayor Pro Tem Stern to serve as delegate to the South Bay Council of Governments.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Tactical Planning Workshop

Councilman Clark recommended that Council wait to hold its Tactical Planning Workshop until a new City Manager was in place.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to postpone the Tactical Planning Workshop until after the new City Manager was appointed and set Saturday, February 24, 2007, at 9:00 A.M. at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center to continue interviewing City Manager candidates.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Storm Drain User Fee Ballot Alternatives

Interim City Manager Bussey suggested continuing this item until after the Council subcommittee meeting in early March 2007.

Councilman Gardiner and Mayor Long, as the Storm Drain User Fee Subcommittee,  agreed to the continuance of the item until after they were able to meet. 

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Items removed from the Consent Calendar:

Notice of Completion for the Residential Street Overlay and Slurry Seal Project (Area 2)

Councilman Wolowicz reported that he had received complaints from residents who were concerned with cracking in the streets.

Director Bell reported fine cracking in the area where trash trucks were traveling, but noted that it did not appear to be significant and was within the normal range.  He noted that the slurry was in good condition, but indicated there was a portion of the project that staff would be watching.  He stated that overall he believed the job appeared to be acceptable and staff felt the contractor had met the terms of the contract.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Clark, to 1) Accept the work as complete; 2) Authorize the City Clerk to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder; and if no claims are filed within 35 days after recordation, and upon the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond, notice the surety company to exonerate the Payment and Performance bonds; 3) Authorize the Director of Public Works to release the 10% retention payment, to Sequel Contractors, Inc., 35 days after recordation of the Notice of Completion by the County Recorder contingent upon no claims being filed on the project, and the contractor posting an acceptable warranty bond; and 4) Direct staff to inspect the completed work in a year and to report on its status and performance to City Council.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

General Plan Update – Agreements for Consulting Services

Responding to Councilman Gardiner, Interim City Manager Bussey indicated that a certain amount of work was specified in the contract, but if the work went beyond that specification, there would be additional compensation.

Council members expressed concern with leaving things open ended, keeping track of the hours spent, staying within a dollar limit, and after-the-fact approvals to cover additional charges.

Mayor Long stated that there was always a cap and that additional work could not be authorized without permission and another budget allocation.

Interim City Manager Bussey explained that staff monitored all contracts to stay within the amount stipulated.  He clarified that if the amount or work necessary would require additional funds, the item would have to come before Council for approval, and he agreed to clarify the wording of the contract.

Councilman Gardiner moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to authorize the Mayor on behalf of the City to sign Agreements for Consulting Services with LSA Associates for $109,115; Zeiser Kling Consulting for $23,800; and Palos Verdes on the Net for $8,241 for assistance in completing the City's General Plan Update, with the added provision not to exceed the approved contract amount without prior City Council authorization.  The motion passed by the following roll call vote.

AYES:            Clark, Gardiner, Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
NOES:           None

CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:

Councilman Clark moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to defer City Council Oral reports to the next meeting.

Councilman Wolowicz presented a license plate frame to Mayor Long to commemorate his term as Mayor of the City.

Councilman Clark reported that the Air Force had decreed Mayor Long to be a Space Superiority Systems Wing Commander in a command ceremony at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

Mayor Long indicated that the Air Force Base was running a program to interface with the Mayors of all the surrounding communities and he was pleased to have the honorary title. 

COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

Councilman Clark requested that an amendment to the City Council Rules of Procedure be scheduled on an upcoming agenda to include an 11:00 P.M. cutoff for consideration of new business and a 12:00 A.M. meeting end time.

CLOSED SESSION REPORT:

City Attorney Lynch reported that no action was taken on all three closed session items and Mayor Long had recused himself from participation on the item involving CalTrans.

ADJOURNMENT:

At 12:17 A.M. the Council adjourned to Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. at Point Vicente Interpretive Center for a closed session.

 

/s/ Thomas D. Long
Mayor

Attest:

 

/s/ Carla Morreale
     City Clerk