CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
APRIL 14, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 1:16 p.m. at the City Hall Community Room, 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Mueller, Paulson, Vice Chairman Clark, and Chairman Lyon
Absent: Commissioners Long and Vannorsdall were excused.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rojas, Deputy Director Snow, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, and Assistant City Attorney Bob Pittman
1. Long Point Resort: Destination Development Corporation (applicant) 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Chairman Lyon welcomed everyone to the meeting and stated that it would begin by continuing to hear public testimony from the audience beginning with those who did not get to testify at the April 14, 2001 meeting.
John Carmichael 736 Via Del Monte, PVE stated that he was an attorney representing SOC II. He stated that the membership of SOC II welcomes the development of the Long Point site. He understood the constraints expressed by Mr. Mohler and felt there might be some flexibility on the part of the City in accommodating the developer without use of the public land. He felt the Chairman’s list of alternatives presented at the last meeting were interesting and constructive, however a number of those alternatives had not be studied in the Draft EIR. He disagreed with the statement that the SOC II proposal could not be considered at this time as there is no formal proposal before the City. He felt that any use of public land for private development would be problematic. He noted that a statement had been made that the 1989 Master Plan had allowed for golf on the upper Point Vicente property. However, he felt the Master Plan was fairly specific in considering a “municipal” golf course at Point Vicente Park and that the residents should be given priorities in starting times and fees. He felt this conception was very different from what was being proposed today.
Commissioner Paulson asked if this proposal were for a municipal golf course if the proposal would then be an acceptable alternative.
Mr. Carmichael answered that the City has the right to consider a public use of the land. However, he did not know how the Endangered Species Act and other Federal Acts would come into play given the gnatcatcher issues.
Chairman Lyon clarified that the alternatives he introduced at the last meeting were not intended to be a definitive list of the only possible alternatives. He wanted to introduce to the Commissioners that viable alternatives exist and may be considered through a process of rational elimination to reach to reach a reasonable conclusion.
Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri distributed a handout to the Commissioners. He stated that he was against any golf on public parkland. He noted that he had circulated a SOC II petition at Villa Capri and received 47 of 49 signatures to retain all City public land for general public use or open space. He stated that the reasons he was against a practice facility next to Villa Capri were the same reasons he was against golf holes next to Villa Capri, which were: 1) loss of passive parkland, 2) loss of safety for residents and golfers, and 3) loss of privacy and tranquility. He was concerned about added water and slope stability issues at Villa Capri. He was concerned about the loss of home values because of nets, views, and water damage. He asked about the golf architect who was supposedly involved in the design. He had not yet heard him mentioned. He stated that he called three engineers about the problem of slope stability and they all concurred that it is a concern. Mr. Driskell asked about the golf insurance underwriter who was supposed to be a key person in the project. He stated that he had called Kip Shultes, the City’s golf safety commentator asked to give his comments on the plan. He stated that he had not spoken to anyone from the project since January. He stated that he would rather see a Senior Citizens Center on the Long Point property with parks and beach access, and suggested that the City might consider purchasing the Long Point property.
Chairman Lyon asked Mr. Driskell if he was aware of the zoning of the surrounding land when he bought his home at Villa Capri.
Mr. Driskell answered that he was aware of the zoning. He stated that the use of the land was passive open park. He did not think he would have to guard a park.
Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Driskoll how many units were in Villa Capri.
Mr. Driskell stated that there are 49. He stated that he went to all of the homes, even those he knew were in favor of the project, except for the one that is for sale and the one where the owner is out of the country, in order to be fair.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if the HOA had taken a position on the project.
Mr. Driskell answered that three of the board members had signed his petition, however the board had not formally taken a position.
Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Driskell about the water damage issue. He asked if he knew where the water was coming from.
Mr. Driskell thought the water was coming from the Los Verdes golf course and that the residents of Villa Capri recently completed a foundation repair due to poor drainage.
Edward Hummel 6903 Hartcrest Drive discussed many of the other environmentally sensitive projects in Southern California and how the developers usually had much more money and manpower than the environmental groups. He discussed pesticides in relation to use at golf courses. He stated there were significant amounts of pesticides used at golf courses and was not just a ground water issue but an issue of safety for the users of the golf course.
Al Edridge 30443 Rue de la Pierre stated that he opposed any exchange or giveaway of public open space for private developers for their financial gain. He felt that the holes along Palos Verdes Drive South presented a danger for balls to be hit onto the public street, which he considered a danger and that this would ultimately be resolved with nets. He suggested the developer consider buying parts of Subregion 1 and use part of the area near Point Vicente Interpretive Center to build the holes needed for the golf course. He suggested Long Point work with Ocean Trails.
Mike Mohler 11777 San Vicente Blvd. began by addressing Mr. Carmichael’s comments about preferred tee time for residents. He stated that the developer was still open minded about this issue. He stated that the developer was not proposing, nor would they ever propose high nets at the golf course. He stated the golf course was designed in a manner that nets would not be necessary. Mr. Mohler discussed the course of the tour that was scheduled and stated that the holes were flagged on the site and stakes will remain so people can look at the locations and come to their own conclusions.
Vice Chairman Clark asked why he thought no nets would be required.
Mr. Mohler answered that nets were not needed because of the way the course was designed. He stated that he could have a golf pro walk the site to verify that. He also noted that there could be hedges planted that would help confine the shot. He noted that holes 3 and 4 were changed and re-designed for safety purposes and to minimize impacts to surrounding properties. He stated that the holes he was showing on the walking tour were similar to the ones he presented to the Planning Commission at the last meeting.
Chairman Lyon asked if this was a conceptual plan and was subject to change for safety reasons.
Mr. Mohler stated that was correct, this was not a final design.
Vice Chairman Clark asked who the golf architect was for the project.
Mr. Mohler answered that a golf architect had not yet been hired. They have hired Gage Davis, who does land planning, which consists of the routing of the golf course. He stated that golf architects are hired after the land planner has done their job.
Jim Knight 5 Cinnamon Lane discussed golf safety and noted the golf and walking path near hole 5 at City Hall. He stated that both the General Plan and the Deed Restrictions have specific guidelines that say this park shall be open to the general public. He noted that it had been stated that golf will be open to the general public to play but he felt that should be looked at very carefully. He noted an economic financial analysis dated July 2000 which stated that only 11 to 12 percent of the general population may play golf, but only 10 to 20 percent of that figure play high-end golf. He stated that the proposed golf course would be in the high-end category. Therefore, he felt that most of the park would be taken away from 98 to 99 percent of the community for the exclusive use of 1 to 2 percent of the general population that play high-end golf. Mr. Knight further noted that the study did not include children under the age of 12. He felt this was a major land use change that needed to be looked at closely. He thought maybe a referendum was necessary. He felt that there should be a complete financial analysis from the developer as to why he cannot make the development work without the use of public lands. He noted that if the developer does need the land the City should question if this is a public subsidy of a private development. Mr. Knight requested that the Planning Commission set up workshops in order that the public can view their needs and have a fair chance to explore the other possible recreational uses that can be used.
Chairman Lyon stated that the Planning Commission has spent quite a bit of time hearing ideas from SOC II and the Girls Softball League. He did not think this was the proper forum at this time, as the Planning Commission was to address the applications before them.
Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, Palos Verdes Estates, asked if the master plan was adopted or if it was a recommendation.
Deputy Director Snow answered that it was a formally adopted master plan but was a guideline for the Recreation and Park Committee and the City Council.
Joseph Picarelli 30311 Via Borica, asked about hearings. He asked what steps were taken to notify the whole community that something of this importance was being heard.
Director Rojas explained the public notification process.
Mr. Picarelli stated that he had hoped that with any issue of this importance regarding the use of public land that there be a mailing to all residents indicating where and when the hearings are located and encouraging the public to come and participate.
Mr. Driskell stated he was confused as to the direction of the Mayor with regards to the role of the Recreation and Parks Committee in this project.
Chairman Lyon stated that the Planning Commission has a primary function of deciding land use issues. He explained that the Recreation and Parks Committee reports to the City Council and the City Council, not the Planning Commission, allocates work to them relative to a project.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that the project before the Commission has to do with a General Plan Amendment, Conditional Use Permits, the Draft EIR, and other planning applications. He stated that during the hearing process many other interesting issues have come up, such as the proposal from the Girls Softball League. He explained however that that topic is not before the Planning Commission and the Planning Commission is not the proper body to deal with those topics. Those types of topics should be brought before the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Commissioner Paulson added that the softball proposal was not part of the development proposal and the Planning Commission could not deal with it as such. Regarding the SOC II proposal, he felt it would be discussed by the Planning Commission as an alternative to the project.
Mr. Mohler led the Commissioners and audience on a site tour of the upper Point Vicente Park area, showing them where the holes were marked and the proposed cart paths were. He paid particular attention to hole 3 and its proximity to Villa Capri.
Commissioner Paulson asked what the separation was between the fairway on holes 3 and 4. He was concerned that the two were very close and could cause a safety issue.
Mr. Mohler responded that the fairways were parallel and close together. He explained that there would be an earth berm separating the two fairways, but the designer was limited to not raising grades because of the view concerns with the adjoining residents.
Vice Chairman Clark asked if the public trails had been staked.
Mr. Mohler answered that they had not yet been staked.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that one of the issues raised by many residents was that there were not enough useable trails proposed to present a viable, dual use project.
Vice Chairman Clark asked what the distance was from the back of the green on hole 4 to the 1-acre public park.
Mr. Mohler stated it was approximately 50 yards. He added that the developer would consider constructing parking stalls along the cul-de-sac if the City found the need for additional public parking for park access.
Chairman Lyon noted that it appeared the drainage from this site would go toward the ocean rather than towards Villa Capri.
Mr. Mohler answered that that was generally correct. He felt a french drain system would be constructed along the property line of Villa Capri in order to intercept any water that may saturate Villa Capri.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if there were approved standards for golf course design that addressed the separation between areas the public was expected to use such as sidewalks, trails and the golf course.
Mr. Mohler answered that there were no approved standards that addressed this issue.
Mr. Mohler led the group to the area of the 5th tee. He pointed out the proposed fairway and green area. He noted the area of coastal sage scrub.
Mr. Mohler then led the group to an area that was inside a proposed revegetation area that would be improved with additional coastal sage scrub, as seen downslope from the site. From this area Mr. Mohler pointed out the stake that represented the tee of hole 4 and the proposed pro tee for hole 2. He also pointed out the location of the proposed trail.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if there were any existing trails in this area.
Director/Secretary Rojas pointed out an area that led to a walking path around the point.
Jim Knight pointed out that with the park enhancement plan, handicap access to the lookout point would be developed, while the golf course plan could not provide that.
Mr. Driskell agreed and added that the SOC II plan also called for 4 to 6 park benches with handicap access from the existing parking.
Mr. Mohler led the group to an area where they could observe the second shot of hole 5, hole 6, and look down at hole 7. He explained how the greens would be configured for the holes.
Mr. Mohler then led the group past the helicopter pad to the edge where they could look down at another proposed hole. He pointed out the flags that indicated the center of the green. He also pointed out that the slope in front of them was one of the areas where the developer would restore coastal sage scrub vegetation. He noted that the slope was currently in a distressed state.
The site visit ended at 3:44 p.m. at which time the public hearing reconvened in the Community Room.
Commissioner Paulson asked if there was bicycle access to any of the pathways.
Mr. Mohler responded that the bicycles would have access to all trails except the golf cart paths, but that bike use was up to the City.
Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive stated that at the recent Finance Committee meeting the City Manager discussed the City budget and that the City was in a very good financial condition. He stated that the City could withstand almost any unforeseen circumstances. Mr. Redfield stated that the City should now not have to make decisions based on dire financial straights that do not exist.
Commissioner Cartwright asked for more details about the report, and what the Financial Advisory Committee was charged with doing.
Mr. Redfield answered that at the Finance Advisory Committee meeting they discussed the storm drainage improvement issue and had a discussion on the City’s five-year financial model. This was when all of the information on how conservative the budget was and what good financial shape the city was in was provided to the Financial Advisory Committee.
Rowland Driskell stated that the presentation by the applicant was very good but he would stand firm that he wants the city hall site to stay a public park. He felt that it was the responsiveness to the citizens’ desires that count in a situation such as this.
Chairman Lyon stated that this public hearing would be continued to April 24, 2001, however it would not be the first item on the agenda. He stated that those who had not yet spoken on the subject would be the first to speak followed by anyone else who had comments that the Planning Commission has not yet heard.
Commissioner Cartwright thanked Mr. Mohler for the site visit and stated that he had found it very educational. He stated that it had raised some real concerns regarding the safety of many of the holes. He felt that the Commission needed to take a very hard look at this and recommended the City get their consultant together with Destination Resorts consultant to present a more detailed design to the Planning Commission.
Vice Chairman Clark agreed stating that he had specific concerns regarding the layout of the course and safety issues.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the City consultant was working on addressing the changes made to the design and would be incorporated in the Final EIR. He stated that golf safety issues would still be brought to the Commission for discussion at a later meeting.
An unidentified individual from the audience asked when the public will be allowed to comment on the Final EIR.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained the process beginning with the Draft EIR, the public hearings where the public will have input on the project, but that there isn’t an opportunity to make comments for revisions to the Final EIR.
Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 4:10 p.m.