MAY 1, 2007 CITY COUNCIL MINUTES MAY 1, 2007 CITY COUNCIL MINUTES































MAY 1, 2007 CITY COUNCIL MINUTES

MINUTES
RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
MAY 1, 2007

The meeting was called to order at 7:02 P.M. by Mayor Long at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
 
City Council roll call was answered as follows:

PRESENT:   Stern, Wolowicz and Mayor Long
ABSENT:      Clark and Gardiner (excused)

Also present were City Manager Carolyn Lehr, City Attorney Carol Lynch, Deputy City Manager Carolynn Petru, Director of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement Joel Rojas, Director of Public Works Jim Bell, Director of Finance/Information Technology Dennis McLean, Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost, Associate Planner Kit Fox, Assistant to the City Manager Gina Park, Associate Planner Kristen Sohn, Senior Engineer Ron Dragoo, and City Clerk Carla Morreale.

FLAG SALUTE:

The Flag Salute was led by Joel Rojas, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement.

MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Mayor Long reported that beginning June 4, 2007, there would be a city-wide residential trash collection re-route with about 50% of customers seeing a change to their trash collection dates to improve efficiency, reduce traffic and decrease noise.  He outlined changes, clarified that the frequency of pick up would not change and noted that there would be no change in service days for Universal Waste customers.

Mayor Long reported that former Councilman John McTaggert was recuperating from surgery and extended best wishes to Mr. McTaggert and his family, noting that cards could be sent care of City Hall to be forwarded to him. 

RECYCLE DRAWING:

Mayor Long announced Jill Smith and Brad Culbertson as recyclers of the month from the April 17, 2007 Council meeting.  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. 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to amend the agenda to consider Items 4, 5 and 20 immediately after the Consent Calendar.  Hearing no objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

PUBLIC COMMENTS: 

Rick Hogan, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported that his permit application expired while trying to develop a property in the City and when he attempted to continue with the project he was told that the entire project plans had been thrown away.  He indicated that the City had a six-month time period for the expiration of permits, whereas the time period for surrounding areas was much longer and asked that an item be placed on a future agenda to address the issue.

Mayor Long asked staff for a report to the Council regarding this matter and encouraged Mr. Hogan to check back to see if they chose to agendize the matter.  He suggested that Mr. Hogan submit information to the Council that he believed was important for them to see with a suggestion of what exactly should be agendized.

City Manager Lehr reported that neither she nor Planning Director Rojas were familiar with the case and she suggested that Mr. Hogan make an appointment with them so they could more fully understand the situation. 

CITY MANAGER REPORT:

City Attorney Lynch reported receiving the court decision on the Monks vs. the City of Rancho Palos Verdes trial and stated that while the City prevailed she expected there would be an appeal to the decision.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern congratulated the City Attorney and outside counsel for their diligent work regarding the trial and he read excerpts from the Court’s opinion. 

Associate Planner Fox announced several meetings to be held regarding the Peninsula Village Overlay Zone in the City of Rolling Hills Estates’ City Council Chambers on May 8, 2007.  He reported that from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. the Council would hear a presentation by the consultant who handled the outreach workshop and then results of the traffic study from the consultant who performed the study; from 6:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. there would be a joint City Council/Planning Commission workshop on the proposed Laing Urban169-unit mixed-used project on the landslide area above the Brick Walk; and then the regular City Council meeting would convene at 7:30 P.M.

Deputy City Manager Petru reported that each of the meetings announced would be broadcast live on Channel 35. 

APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:

Councilman Wolowicz asked that Items 3 and 12 be removed from the Consent Calendar for separate consideration.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to approve the Consent Calendar with Items 3, 4, 5, and 12 removed.  The motion passed unanimously.

Motion to Waive Full Reading

Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at the meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council members after the reading of the title.

Approval of the Minutes (301)

Approved the Minutes of January 22, 2007 and April 17, 2007 Adjourned Regular Meetings.

Border Issues Status Report (310)

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar for separate consideration.

Cool Cities Initiative – U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar for separate consideration.

Claim Against the City by Rollin Sturgeon (303)

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar for separate consideration.

Claim Against the City by Cherng Ji Lee (303)

Rejected the claim and directed staff to notify the claimant.

Award of Construction Contract for Roofing Replacement Project at City Hall (Sign Shop and Maintenance Shed Buildings) and Ladera Linda Park Buildings to Lavey Roofing Services, Inc.

1) Awarded a contract for the replacement of roofs at City Hall (Sign shop and Maintenance Shed buildings) and Ladera Linda Park Buildings to Lavey Roofing Services, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $198,000 and authorized staff to spend an additional $7,000 for potential change orders which may result from unforeseen conditions for a total authorization of $205,000; 2) Authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the contract with Lavey Roofing Services, Inc.; 3) Authorized the expenditure of up to $2,000 for inspection services with Charles Abbott Associates, Inc. under their on-call services contract;
4) Authorized the expenditure of up to $2,000 for containment services with Controlled Environmental Solutions (CES); and 5) ADOPTED RESOLUTION 2007-40, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006-2007, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $66,000 TO THE CITY’S BUILDING REPLACEMENT FUND.

Citywide Landscaping and Lighting Maintenance District (901)

1) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-41, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, INITIATING PROCEEDINGS FOR THE LEVY AND COLLECTION OF ASSESSMENTS WITHIN THE CITYWIDE LANDSCAPING AND LIGHTING MAINTENANCE DISTRICT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007-2008 AND ORDERING THE ENGINEER TO PREPARE A REPORT IN CONNECTION THEREWITH; 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-42, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, APPROVING THE ENGINEER’S REPORT IN CONNECTION WITH THE LEVY AND COLLECTION OF ASSESSMENTS WITHIN THE CITYWIDE LANDSCAPING AND LIGHTING MAINTENANCE DISTRICT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007-2008; and 3) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-43, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, DECLARING THE CITY COUNCIL’S INTENTION TO LEVY AND COLLECT ASSESSMENTS WITHIN THE CITYWIDE LANDSCAPING AND LIGHTING MAINTENANCE DISTRICT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007-2008 AND SETTING A TIME AND PLACE FOR HEARING OBJECTIONS THERETO.

Amendments to the Competitive Service Employee and Management Employee Personnel Rules (1202)

1) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-44, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING THE COMPETITIVE SERVICE EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL RULES; and, 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-45, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING THE MANAGEMENT EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL RULES.

Assignment Agreement Between the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and the City of West Hollywood for the Exchange of Proposition A Local Return Funds

1) Approved the execution of the assignment agreement for the exchange of $1.1 million of the City’s Proposition A Transit Funds for $847,000 of unrestricted General Funds from the City of West Hollywood; and 2) ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-46, AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006-07, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY’S GENERAL FUND AND PROPOSITION A FUND.

Oppose AB 1459

Authorized the Mayor to sign a letter opposing AB 1459 (Levine) which would prohibit the sale of overnight visitor-serving commercial facilities for part-time private occupancy or their conversion to a full-time or part-time private residential facility.

Protocol for Habitat Restoration Projects in the City’s Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve

This item was removed from the Consent Calendar for separate consideration.

Equestrian Committee Chair

Appointed Gordon Leon as the Chair of the Equestrian Committee.

January 2007 Treasurer’s Report (602)
 
Received and filed the January 2007 Treasurer’s Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.

March 2007 Treasurer’s Report (602)
 
Received and filed the March 2007 Treasurer’s Report for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
 
Register of Demands

ADOPTED RESOLUTION NO. 2007-47, 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.

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Items removed from the Consent Calendar:

Cool Cities Initiative – U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

Edward Hummel, Rancho Palos Verdes, encouraged the Council to support the agreement and presented a plaque to the Mayor and Council in support of the initiative. 

Jan Kidwell, National Sierra Club, Los Angeles, indicated that global warming and the energy crisis had been voted the most important campaign to focus on by the Sierra Club.  She pointed out several important environmental issues and suggested solutions including the increasing the use of renewable energy, attaining power from clean energy sources, conserving energy, and using more energy efficient devices.

Alfred Sattler, Rancho Palos Verdes, thanked the Council for considering the issue and acknowledged the many measures the City had already taken for energy efficiency noting there was more to be done and this was an important step to take.

Larry Jasmin, Rancho Palos Verdes, reported having a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in wind energy.  He indicated that it was a bad idea to set arbitrary limits and expressed concern with the campaign being anti-growth.  He supported nuclear energy and clean coal which filters out the emissions and urged the City to avoid trying to be an energy company. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to: 1) Authorize the Mayor to sign the “Cool Cities” pledge which is the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to set the goal of reducing City-wide carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012; and, 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-48, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, ENDORSING THE U.S. MAYORS CLIMATE PROTECTION AGREEMENT.

Claim Against the City by Rollin Sturgeon (303)
 
Rollin Sturgeon, Rancho Palos Verdes, questioned whether state and Federal laws could be weakened by City ordinances as neighborhood compatibility was an initiative ordinance and whether the City was within the law to define neighborhoods as the nearest 20 homes to ascertain compatibility.

City Attorney Lynch explained that the View Ordinance included a neighborhood compatibility component that could be amended by the City Council if it furthered the purposes of the original ordinance as adopted by the voters and confirmed that the City could define neighborhoods to within the nearest 20 homes to ascertain compatibility.

Mr. Sturgeon expressed concern that free speech was effectively denied due to the high costs associated with appeals and he noted that surrounding cities charged significantly less.  He questioned whether the City had the right to deny him access to a letter indicating that the City had denied his appeal.

Mayor Long explained that the City could deny him access to a letter that is a privileged communication from the insurance adjusters who evaluated the claim and added that Council understood the basis of his claim and would act upon the matter. He added that the City’s fees were based on recovering the full costs of the appeal and other cities could charge less as they had more funding available from other sources.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to reject the appeal.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Mayor Long noted that since there was not a quorum present for the Equestrian Issue that item would not be considered and would be continued to a future meeting.

Item 20 moved up from Regular Business:

Via Rivera Traffic Calming

Senior Engineer Dragoo provided a brief summary staff report and noted that a subcommittee was working on an update to the neighborhood traffic calming program which could be ready for review at the May Traffic Safety Commission meeting.  He indicated that staff would bring the update to the Council in July or August.  He added that the traffic calming program was last updated in 2002, during the modifications to the Mira Vista neighborhood.

Responding to Councilman Wolowicz, Senior Engineer Dragoo indicated that when a petition was circulated in the Via Rivera area, the neighborhood indicated their preferences of traffic calming measures and noted that edge lines and traffic islands were ranked further down on the preferred list of choices.  He clarified that speeding was occurring in both directions on Via Rivera and that speed humps were proposed to be installed beyond the intersection of the school on the downhill side of the road, approximately every 350 feet.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern questioned what led staff to believe that a different program would provide the answers to the speeding problems in the neighborhood.

Senior Engineer Dragoo clarified that the Traffic Safety Commission subcommittee had suggested that improved traffic calming measures are being developed as a solution to the ongoing speeding problems and that the subcommittee work is still in progress.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern commented that the issue had been worked on for years and noted that he found it disturbing to hear that there was a new improved solution to traffic calming problems that no one had seen or knew about.  He asked the speakers to indicate whether they had driven through the Mira Vista neighborhood and experienced the speed humps there, and if they had, to indicate what they thought of them as he believed traffic calming measures in that area were exceedingly successful.

Mayor Long observed that the neighbors in Mira Vista had many complaints before the humps were installed, no complaints after the installation, and noted that emails were received from people after the installation acknowledging that they had been wrong regarding their original concerns on the matter.  He added that after the City received complaints about the speed humps on Basswood, the design of the humps was modified and there were no subsequent complaints.  

The following speakers spoke against speed humps: Frank Glasier, Henry Ott, Brent Shannon, Camille Jasmin, Sharon Goodrich, Brent Goodrich, Ann Shaw, Holly Kadota, Beverly Dunn, and George Shweiri.  They cited issues including slowed emergency response, increased pollution, decreased gas mileage, the costs to the City for installation, traffic being diverted to other neighborhoods, wear and tear on automobiles, discomfort caused to elderly passengers, increased noise levels, potential hazards to bicyclists, and motorists, potential conflicts with school and transit buses, and it was suggested that the small group of people who wanted the humps should pay for them.  They cited Fire Department regulations and it was asserted that the additional stop signs installed had slowed traffic sufficiently.  They suggested that the humps would worsen the issue of broken automobile mirrors and that commute times would be increased.  The speakers indicated that an opposing petition of affected residents was submitted in 2002, the issue had already been voted down two times, and several speakers requested that the matter be deferred until the new standards were in place and a full Council was present to vote on the matter.  The speakers indicated that if the speed humps were approved for installation, they requested that there be less of them.

The following speakers spoke in support of speed humps: Russ Urban, David Ball, MaryLou Sweeney, Jim Sweeney, Eugene Saez, Dan Quintiliani, Steven LaPine, and Bill Schurmer.  They noted that no one living on Via Rivera was opposed to speed humps, the humps would help decrease speeding and accidents caused by speeding, home values would not be negatively affected, and safety would be increased.  The speakers indicated that newer speed humps were designed to lessen the impact on emergency vehicles, the humps should be designed for both directions, and people in the area supported humps as they had different concerns than those who did not live on Via Rivera.
 
Jonathan Werner, Rancho Palos Verdes, presented copies of a letter from the principal at Pt. Vicente Elementary School imploring the Council to authorize the installation of speed humps on Lower Via Rivera and submitted a neighborhood petition in support of the speed humps.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern pointed out that the speed humps were designed to allow automobiles to be driven at the permissible speed limit. 

Cathy Shweiri, Rancho Palos Verdes, stated that the definition of a block was critical and unclear, and she understood that the Traffic Safety Commission was currently in the process of defining the parameters of the immediately affected area.  She distributed handouts and summarized a table of data which she felt indicated that the percentage of people speeding in the Mira Vista neighborhood increased after humps were installed and cautious drivers were diverted to other streets.

Mayor Long observed that the data could be interpreted in several ways and noted that in actuality the number of speeders had decreased.  He clarified that the 15 mile per hour (mph) sign placed by the school and was not intended to refer to the speed hump.

Barry Hildebrand, Rancho Palos Verdes, could find no statistics for damages to property or vehicles attributed to speed humps and reported on a study done by emergency room doctors before and after the installation of speed humps in a community up north which indicated that speed humps were associated with a 53% - 60% reduction in injury or death as a result of accidents in the neighborhood.  He stated that speed humps would slow down traffic and if they did not work effectively they could always be removed at a negligible cost.

Responding to Councilman Wolowicz, Senior Engineer Dragoo explained the differences between speed humps and speed bumps noting that the staff recommendation was crafted to include both options.  He stated that staff recommended speed humps instead of speed tables although there was no clear preference.

The Council and staff discussed the effect of speed humps on emergency vehicle response times and Fire Department policies which concluded that there speed humps had no negative affect on response times.

Responding to Mayor Long, Senior Engineer Dragoo indicated that speed humps were effective at 25 mph every 350 feet and clarified that the number would be the same whether speed tables or speed humps were used.

Responding to Councilman Wolowicz, Senior Engineer Dragoo explained that speed surveys in the neighborhood indicated that the speed problem was not as severe by the school because there were stop signs at every corner.

Responding to Council inquiries, Senior Engineer Dragoo reported initial complaints with the humps installed at Mira Vista, but a decrease in complaints as the residents grew accustomed to them.  He reported that speeding in that area appeared to have decreased and suggested that traffic fluctuations in the surrounding areas could have been associated with street repairs that were occurring on Western Avenue.  He indicated that the Basswood speed humps were removed and replaced with a modified design of speed hump in 2005, which alleviated complaints and issues in that neighborhood. 

Mayor Long reported that a three-month program of additional traffic enforcement on Via Rivera cost $30,000 for one street and when that program ended the speeding resumed within a week.

Councilman Wolowicz inquired if all possible traffic calming methods were being considered, commented that he believed the speed humps were too close together, and noted that he thought there should be one speed hump by the school.

Senior Engineer Dragoo reported that staff was following procedural requirements and the neighborhood traffic calming program allowed for one alternative to be presented.  He clarified that the proposal was to place three humps in a similar fashion as to that on General Street which he believed did not produce a roller coaster effect but rather forced drivers to pay attention and slow down.  He added that the consulting Traffic Engineer believed the installation of the speed humps as proposed would probably cause a certain amount of traffic diversion, but he believed the majority of traffic would continue down the hill.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern reported that he had voted to support the speed humps in 2002 and still supported them.  He indicated that he appreciated all of the comments and noted traffic engineers have learned how to properly use speed humps to keep people at the appropriate speed limit with minimal bump and cited statistics indicating that after the four-way stop signs were installed in the Via Rivera area, 85% of people were still traveling over the speed limit.  He stated that to take no action was unacceptable and enforcement had not proven to be a viable solution.  He expressed disappointment that there had been a report indicating there would be a miracle solution, without a presentation of the solution, and noted he preferred to try a solution that could be removed if it was not successful.

Councilman Wolowicz reported being convinced by the neighborhood in 2002 not to put the speed humps in and expressed disappointment in Traffic Safety Commission reports citing speed humps without the consideration of other alternatives.  He expressed disappointment that a Traffic Safety Commission representative was not present and inquired if there were other possible alternatives available.

Senior Engineer Dragoo reported that the Traffic Safety Commission indicated they were hopeful that they would be able to bring an update to the Council in July or August. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stern noted that the subcommittee could suggest modifications in the program to the Traffic Safety Commission and the Council could adopt those changes if they chose to, which would result in a new set of hearings to affect those modifications. 

Senior Engineer Dragoo added that it would be 2009 before that entire process was complete.

Mayor Long reported that he had spoken to Councilman Clark who indicated that even though he had voted against speed humps in the Via Rivera area in the past, he was inclined to favor speed humps now.  He noted a consensus that there was a relatively serious speeding problem on the street and that the only viable solution was the staff recommendation.  Mayor Long noted that enforcement was too costly, radar not allowed by state law, and tracking speed by GPS in vehicles was not yet possible.  He indicated that people would probably be less concerned once the speed humps were in place, but if the neighborhood brought viable concerns to Council, Council could consider their removal.  He pointed out misplaced concerns including decreased emergency vehicle response time and speed humps posing an issue to bicyclists.  He asserted that speed humps were cost effective and noted that while the Traffic Safety Commission might have a different recommendation in the future, this was the present recommendation and no other good alternatives had been proposed.  He indicated no strong preference between speed humps or speed tables and did not think it necessary to question the Traffic Engineering Consultant and his recommendations.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to adopt the recommendation for two speed tables and if a third needs to be added later the Traffic Safety Commission could advise Council on that matter.  He stated that he wanted to see the installation of the speed tables with the integration of other alternatives available such as re-striping of the street.  He noted that he would like to hear from the Traffic Safety Commission within 60 days regarding their updated report.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern pointed out that the Traffic Safety Commission update report would be concerning recommendations to be made to the handbook and methodology, not for this particular situation, and it would be 2009 before the new information could be acted upon.  He noted that the neighborhood had been dealing with the speeding situation for five years and he wanted to offer a solution now.  He reiterated that if the traffic calming solution was not successful, it could be removed.

Responding to Mayor Pro Tem Stern, Public Works Director Bell explained that the recommendation of three speed tables was based upon the Traffic Engineer’s recommendation.  He noted that the installation of two speed humps would compromise the design and could increase speeds.

City Attorney Lynch explained that if the City was to have immunity an approved design had to be used.

Mayor Long suggested instructing staff to go forward with the design of three speed tables but to consider and report back to Council if two speed tables would be a viable alternative. 

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to 1) Approve the installation of the three (3) speed tables on Via Rivera between Rue Valois and Rue De La Pierre, but direct staff to consider if two speed tables are viable and if it is determined to be a viable alternative, to bring the matter back to Council before implementation; 2) Direct staff and the Traffic Engineer to examine the integration of other options, such as striping, in addition to the speed tables and bring back any viable recommendations to Council; 3) Direct the Traffic Safety Commission to report to Council within 60 days regarding the proposed modifications to the City’s Traffic Calming Program; and, 4) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-49, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING RESOLUTION 2006-41, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006-2007, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT OF $19,500 TO THE CITY’S GENERAL FUND FOR THE INSTALLATION OF TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES ALONG VIA RIVERA.  A roll call vote reflected unanimous approval.

RECESS AND RECONVENE

Mayor Long called a brief recess from 9:58 P.M. to 10:12 P.M.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2006-00082): An Amendment to Title 17 (Zoning) to Preserve Opportunities for Future Horsekeeping in the City’s Equestrian Overlay (Q) Districts [Continued from April 3, 2007]

This item was not considered due to lack of a quorum, since Mayor Pro Tem Stern would be required to recuse himself from this matter.

Revision "FF" to the Trump National Golf Course Project – Extension to the Opening of the Golf Course and Driving Range [Continued from April 17, 2007]

City Clerk Morreale reported that this public hearing was continued from April 17, 2007.

Deputy Planning Director Pfost presented a brief staff report and announced that the Golf Course was ready to be opened permanently.  He noted that staff was recommending a 6-month extension to the temporary opening of the driving range since there were a few outstanding geologic issues to be resolved.

Regarding a suggestion at an earlier meeting that the Council should determine whether the Trump National Golf Course would be allowed to open, Mayor Pro Tem Stern expressed concern with the Council taking on the task of determining whether the conditions were met, as he felt that was a function of staff.  He pointed out that the reason the Council was involved in that decision in the past, was because Trump National requested permission to open for special events before final approval of the project.

Councilman Wolowicz observed that the situation was unique and there were so many issues intertwined with the development that he was concerned some issue might be overlooked.

City Attorney Lynch stated that there was nothing wrong with Trump National reporting back to the City Council, but noted that unless there was a condition requiring the item to come before Council for approval or the project was amended, the Council did not have jurisdiction for final approval.

Responding to comments made by Councilman Wolowicz, Deputy Planning Director Pfost clarified that initially the City had the developer review the issues related to Landslide A as they were concerned about its affect on the residential component on that portion of the project.  He noted that once the developer combined the components of the project, the project moved forward more quickly; and while the matter was complex, the developer had made considerable progress and a consensus had been reached on the geologic model for Landslide A.  He explained that the stability analysis was currently being discussed and there was a dispute regarding what could be built in which location.  He anticipated that the stability analysis process would be completed within 4 to 6 months.

Councilman Wolowicz expressed concern with combining the Clubhouse issues with Landslide A issues, which then ties in potential residential units and he inquired if the project would realistically be completed in six months.

City Attorney Lynch indicated that the City was obligated by the peer panel review process and could not terminate the process prematurely.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern stated that he did not believe there would be final answers in six months, but believed that Trump National was pursuing the matter in good faith.  He observed that Trump National was entitled to dispute the decisions, but they had entered into an agreement to complete the project.

Vincent Stellio, Trump National Golf Course, indicated that based on the history and complexity of the project, it was difficult to say if it would be complete in six months. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to 1) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-50, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, APPROVING ADDENDUM NO. 27 TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT NO. 36; AND 2) ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-51, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, AMENDING GRADING PERMIT NO. 1541 TO ALLOW AN ADDITIONAL 6-MONTH EXTENSION TO THE OPERATION OF THE DRIVING RANGE.  A voice vote reflected unanimous approval.

Appeal of Planning Case No. ZON2006-00240 (Height Variation and Site Plan Review) at 4249 Dauntless Drive

City Clerk Morreale reported that notice of the public hearing was duly published, written protests were included with the late correspondence, and there were three requests to speak on the item.

Planning Associate Kim provided a summary staff report and PowerPoint presentation.

Planning Director Rojas indicated that the applicant did not want to agree to the condition that no future windows be added to their home, and without such a condition, windows could be added with the issuance of a building permit.

Mayor Long clarified that the project was approved without windows on the side, but there was no condition that there could not be windows.

Planning Associate Kim explained that originally the project had been proposed without windows on the side, so privacy issues had not been a consideration during the review of the project by the Planning Commission.

Mayor Long opened the public hearing at 10:38 P.M.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to suspend the Rules of Procedure, allowing the appellant to be heard first. 

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stern asked staff to correct the Rules of Procedure which indicate that the applicant be heard first.

David Kuntzman, appellant, asserted that windows on the side of the proposed project would infringe on his privacy and stated that Section 9 of the approval was in error, as it indicated that windows would be allowed even though the plans approved at the Planning Commission public hearing clearly demonstrated a solid façade on the west elevation, with no windows or skylights.  He noted that while the applicant indicated they did not intend to put in windows, that did not bind them and they were unwilling to make that commitment.  He requested that the language in Section 9 be clarified to be consistent with the Planning Commission’s approval; Condition No. 6 be clarified to state the elevations reviewed and approved by the Commission; and, Condition No. 4 be modified to require that staff send him timely notice of any proposed project modifications that were considered by staff.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern inquired as to the height of the appellant’s window relative to the area of concern, noting that even if the applicant’s entire side wall was a window one would have to look up and still would not see into his room in any meaningful way.

Mr. Kuntzman expressed concern with the light from the window shining into his side window and noted that the applicant’s family would be able to look into his side patio area and into his work area.  He added that he did not want to look down into their room either.  

Mayor Pro Tem Stern expressed concern with delaying the process if Mr. Kuntzman had to be noticed about every minor modification to the project.

Mr. Kuntzman asserted that he had no interest in obstructing the progress of the project, but staff advised him that he could ask for notice of modification and if that was standard procedure, he asked that it be incorporated into the language of the condition.  He reiterated his request that the project as approved by the Planning Commission be in memorialized in writing since the applicant indicated that they were not interested in installing a window on the side of the house. 

Responding to Mayor Long, Planning Associate Kim reported that the appellant believed the proposed addition would have an impact on his property. 

Mayor Long suggested that one way to get around the privacy issue would be to propose the project without windows, attain approval without a condition, and install the windows later.

Planning Director Rojas stated that there was a specific finding requiring the City to assess privacy impacts caused by portions of the structure over 16 feet.  He added that even if there were windows and staff was asked to do an analysis, he did not believe there would be a privacy impact, as the front of the house did not typically have an expectation of privacy.

Mayor Long pointed out that light pollution was not considered a privacy issue.

Councilman Wolowicz indicated that the issue was heard by the Planning Commission because of the one ridgeline height of 17 feet and if that had not been the scenario, the applicant could have proposed windows on the north side of the house without the matter being subject to a hearing.

Planning Director Rojas noted that the project could have been subject to neighborhood compatibility, but would not have been subject to the privacy finding which is an aspect related to the height variation process.

Jere Sestich, applicant’s architect, expressed concern that the aspect of the project being appealed is an item not even being proposed.  He suggested reconsidering the appeal process because he believed this was a waste of time and a stalling tactic on the part of the appellant.   

Mayor Long expressed concern that the applicant could obtain approval of the height variation and later pull a permit for a window that would not require review, but noted that privacy was the current issue, and even if a window were installed on the north side of the house he believed there would be no invasion of privacy.  He inquired why the applicant had not agreed to the condition.

Mr. Sestich pointed out that the window would not be a privacy issue as it would be at knee height and indicated that the applicant did not agree to the condition as they believed it unnecessary to put restrictions on their property.

Stan Finka, applicant, Rancho Palos Verdes, indicated that they were following the City’s development guidelines and following staff’s recommendations.  He noted that if the City required that the neighborhood be notified they would do so, but it would slow down the progress of their project. 

Mr. Kuntzman noted that Mr. Finka was asking for a special privilege which was why there was an opportunity to place conditions on the project.  He indicated that he did not know there was going to be a skylight as part of the project, but noted that prohibiting windows and skylights would not slow the project down.  He stated he did not want to see the project slowed down and expressed concern that the skylight would shine up into his window.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern pointed out that Mr. Finka had the right to install exterior lighting that could be intrusive.

Mr. Kuntzman pointed out that Mr. Finka would be required to shield the light.

Mr. Sestich expressed willingness to propose shielded lights on the side of the house if that would satisfy the appellant. 

Mayor Long closed the public hearing at 11:12 P.M.

Responding to Mayor Pro Tem Stern, Planning Director Rojas explained that the Code specified maximum wattage of outdoor lighting and required the lights to be downcast and shielded.  He added that skylights at a height of 16 feet or below could receive an over-the-counter approval and permit.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern stated that even if he assumed there would be a window he did not believe it would be an infringement on the appellant’s privacy and noted that exterior lighting was a fact of living in a community.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Long, to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2007-52, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, DENYING THE APPEAL AND UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION’S DECISION TO APPROVE THE HEIGHT VARIATION AND SITE PLAN REVIEW (CASE NO. ZON2006-00240).  The motion passed by unanimous voice vote.

PAUSE TO CONSIDER THE REMAINDER OF THE AGENDA:

Mayor Pro Tem Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to suspend the Rules of Procedure regarding the conduct of business after 11:00 P.M.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:

Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2007-00076): A Request to Initiate a Development Code Amendment to: 1) Waive Duplicate Penalty Fees for After-the-Fact Planning Applications in Certain Specified Circumstances; 2) Expedite Planning Review and Exempt the Reconstruction of Single-Family Residences that are Damaged or Destroyed by Fire from the City’s Neighborhood Compatibility Requirements; 3) Revise the Noise and Vibration Standards from the City’s Attached Unit Development Standards; and 4) Add a Requirement for the Construction of Temporary Framework Silhouettes for Multi-Family Residential, Commercial, Institutional and Cemetery Projects Requiring Approval of a Conditional Use Permit

Associate Planner Fox presented a brief staff report.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern questioned the implications of exempting reconstruction of single-family residences damaged or destroyed by fire from the City’s neighborhood compatibility requirements.

Planning Director Rojas explained that rebuilding a home was always subject to neighborhood compatibility, but one suggestion would be if a homeowner was to rebuild the same house they would not have to go through the process.  He pointed out that issues arise if there was unpermitted square footage in the original home or if the ridgeline was proposed to be raised which by itself would not trigger review but could cause view impacts.  He explained that staff desired to have a process to help those people who suffered losses, but they have learned that neighbors have issues with a rebuild process and need to have the ability to express their concerns.  He indicated that the Planning Commission would debate the issue. 

Councilman Wolowicz pointed out a motivating factor behind the request for Code Amendments was the situation with the Johnson family who had insurance issues after the fire damaged to their home, which made them realize the necessity of moving their project along.

Planning Director Rojas explained that there was nothing presently in the Code to deal with this type of issue, but his policy was to move matters of this nature forward as expeditiously as possible if the residents were rebuilding the same house.

Responding to Council inquiries, Associate Planner Fox explained that there were different measurements for impact and for sound between attached dwelling units and the proposed Code amendments would benefit developers.  He reported that developers have indicated that the noise and vibration standards for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes were more stringent than other South Bay cities and that the other cities have lower requirements for floor and ceiling assemblies relating to vibration requirements.

City Attorney Lynch clarified that the City’s requirements were disproportionately driving up the costs of the project without a benefit shown and requiring unusual construction techniques resulting in elevating the price beyond what was necessary to meet Code.

Planning Director Rojas clarified that part of the issue was that the standard presently on the books had not been applied in 20 years and research showed that the city’s requirements were out of line compared to other South Bay cities.

Mayor Pro Tem Stern expressed concern that the issue was raised by developers complaining because they were being asked to provide a better quality product.

Associate Planner Fox agreed that better interior living quality would be provided by the stricter requirements, but he questioned whether residents would be able to discern the difference as a result of the more stringent construction techniques.

City Attorney Lynch indicated that staff wanted the Planning Commission to explore the issue.

Mayor Long indicated that he believed staff had provided enough justification to examine the issue.

Councilman Wolowicz noted that he did not want anything read into the request to indicate that the Council wanted standards and quality of construction reduced.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to authorize staff to initiate miscellaneous Code amendments, and provide direction as deemed appropriate.  

A roll call vote reflected unanimous approval.

Policy Regarding the Location of Affordable Housing Units in the City

Mayor Long moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to continue this item to a future agenda when all Council Members were present. 

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Consider Appointment of Alternate(s) to the Governing Board of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG)
 
Mayor Pro Tem Stern explained that the SBCCOG allowed each Councilmember to be designated as an alternate which would enable each person the right to vote.

Mayor Long moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, to 1) Authorize staff to notify SBCCOG of any Council Members who are willing to serve as alternates; and, 2) Direct the City Manager to determine the order in which the alternates would be called to substitute for the primary delegate, with Mayor Long designated as the last alternate.

Additional Items Removed from the Consent Calendar:

Border Issues Status Report (310)

Councilman Wolowicz reported on the importance of the upcoming meetings on May 8, 2007, announced earlier by staff to be held in the City of Rolling Hills Estates.  He encouraged members of the community to attend and indicated that the project under consideration would be a 169-unit project with significant geologic issues.

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to receive and file the staff report.

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

Protocol for Habitat Restoration Projects in the City’s Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve

Councilman Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Stern, to approve the protocol for habitat restoration projects in the City’s Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve, as amended, with Step No. 1 to require that the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy provide notice of a proposed project/grant to the City Council through the Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement. 

Without objection, Mayor Long so ordered.

CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:

Councilman Wolowicz reported on his attendance at the following meetings and events:  April 6, 2007, a subcommittee meeting regarding the Crestridge Project with the developer, land owner, and staff; April14, 2007, the Rolling Hills Estates 50th Anniversary celebration at the Peninsula Main Library; May 18, 2007, a meeting with a representative of the Island View Homeowners Association, City Attorney Lynch, and Lieutenant Jason Lum regarding political demonstrations at a resident’s home; April 18, 2007, a Contract Cities Association meeting recognizing the outgoing president; April 19, 2007, a meeting with the Mayor and City staff regarding a potential private donation by a husband and wife who are interested in gifting a building as part of the new Civic Center; April 21, 2007,  the quarterly meeting with community leaders and the funeral for Los Angeles County Field Representative Tom Martin; April 26, 2007, State of the City Address given by City of Torrance Mayor Scotto; and, April 29, 2007, the Michael Douglas Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Trump National Golf Course.  He added that on April 28, 2007, he read an article in the paper about his neighbor Christine Johnson, a senior at Peninsula High School, who was singled out for her academic accomplishments.

Mayor Long reported that he attended the Community Leader’s Breakfast, the 50th Anniversary of Rolling Hills Estates, and the inauguration of Marymount’s new president Michael Brophy.

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

None.

ADJOURNMENT:

At 11:50 P.M. the Council adjourned to Tuesday, May 15, 2007, at 6:30 P.M. to interview candidates for the Emergency Preparedness Committee in the Fireside Room at Hesse Park.

 

                                                                                                            /s/ Thomas D. Long
                                                                                                                        Mayor

Attest:

 

/s/ Carla Morreale
     City Clerk

W:\City Council Minutes\2007\20070501 CC MINS.doc