CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
APRIL 24, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:00 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Cartwright led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Long, Mueller, Paulson, Vice Chairman Clark and Chairman Lyon.
Absent: Commissioner Vannorsdall was absent (excused).
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Deputy Director Snow, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Schonborn, City Attorney Bob Pittman, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Lyon suggested amending the Agenda to hear the items in the following order: 1, 3, 4, 5, and 2. The Commission agreed.
Director/Secretary distributed a memo regarding Agenda item No. 5.
1. Minutes of April 10, 2001
Commissioner Long requested his comments regarding his attendance at a meeting on height variation issues be included under communications. He felt on page 2 of the minutes his comments regarding his recusal were not accurate and asked it be amended.
Chairman Lyon noted a minor correction on page 8 of the minutes and suggested a clarification.
Commissioner Long noted a comment on page 7 of the minutes and offered a clarification to his statement.
Commissioner Cartwright clarified a statement on page 15 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Clark asked that a statement on page 14 of the minutes be clarified, as well as a statement on page 7.
Without objection, the minutes were approved as amended, (6-0).
3 Variance No. 483 and Coastal Permit No. 171: Ron Maricich (applicant/owner) 4125 Maritime Road.
Commissioner Long stated he had not been able to perform a site visit for this project and therefore would recuse himself from this item.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He explained the application request and the reason for the Variance and Coastal Permit applications. He stated staff was able to make all necessary findings to grant approval for the Variance application and therefore recommended approval of the permits.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Ron Maricich 4125 Maritime Road stated that he had approval of the project from all of his neighbors as well as the architectural committee.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to approve Variance No. 483 and Coastal Permit No. 171 as presented by staff, thereby adopting P.C. Resolution No. 2001-06, seconded by Commissioner Mueller. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Long abstaining.
4. Variance Permit No. 482 and Grading Permit No. 2239: Kemal Ramezani (applicant) and Henry Abrishami (owner) 2967 Crest Road.
Commissioner Long stated he was recusing himself from this application as he had not been able to complete his site visit.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he lived within 2400 feet of the property, however it was not within eyesight of his property and did not feel he needed to recuse himself from this application.
Vice Chairman Clark stated he also lived within 2400 feet of the property and he too did not feel he needed to recuse himself from hearing the application.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He explained the project and the need for the Variance and Grading Permits. He stated that staff was able to make all necessary findings and recommends approval of the Variance and Grading permits.
Commissioner Paulson moved to Adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-07 thereby approving Variance No. 482 and Grading Permit No. 2239 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Long abstaining.
5. Conditional Use Permit No. 206 – Revision ‘A’ and Grading Permit No. 2270: Claudia Krikorian (Peninsula Montessori School/applicant) Golden Cove LLC (property owner), 31100 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Chairman Lyon began by stating that the Planning Commission did not need to be convinced of the value of having a Montessori School, as the Commission had already approved the concept at a location only a few hundred yards away. He stated that the Planning Commission was interested in hearing the impacts the location change would have on the community.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report, explaining the new proposed location of the school was at the Golden Cove Shopping Center inside the existing vacant market space. He explained the need for the Conditional Use Permit, the Grading Permit and the Special Construction Permit to allow extended construction hours. Mr. Mihranian reviewed the history of the Conditional Use Permit and the approval of the construction of new stores at Golden Cove as well as the renovation of the market/center from 1999. He explained that Ms. Krikorian realized construction of a school at 31270 Palos Verdes Drive West might not be completed in time for the 2001 fall semester and had begun looking for an alternative site for her new school. It was at this point that she contacted the tenants of the vacant market site. At that time she was informed that KV Napa Valley Farms had decided not to locate a market at the Golden Cove site for economic reasons. Ms. Krikorian subsequently entered into a lease agreement with the owners of the Golden Cove shopping center. He explained that the exterior improvements of the new project were consistent with the approvals obtained for the center’s renovation and no other exterior facade improvements outside the scope of approvals were being requested. He explained that the applicant was requesting removal of 31 parking spaces between the building and Hawthorne Boulevard to allow for a playground and designated drop-off/pick-up area. Mr. Mihranian explained that based on a revised shared parking analysis accounting for a school in place of a market, the site was to maintain a minimum of 265 parking spaces. He noted that with the removal of the 31 parking spaces for the playground and 32 parking spaces along Palos Verdes Drive West for the 3 new buildings originally approved in 1999, the site would maintain 290 parking spaces. Therefore, staff had no concern regarding on-site parking. He explained that the Traffic Committee had reviewed the project for potential impacts and he had distributed a memo summarizing the their recommendations. He stated that the Traffic Committee had concluded there were no significant impacts with the proposed use in regards to off-site circulation patterns. He noted that the Traffic Committee had recommended a six-month review and stated that after six months staff would re-assess the current operation and if any adverse impacts were identified they would present these to the Planning Commission. He explained that a revised noise study had been completed and accounted for the drop-off noise, the playground noise, and children’s interaction. The study concluded that the noise levels generated by the proposed use would be less than the City’s 65-dba threshold. He explained that the Grading application is to allow for the creation of a pre-school playground at the rear of the building. He stated that all necessary findings could be made for the application, as indicated in the staff report. Mr. Mihranian explained that the Special Construction Permit request was to allow construction until 10:00 p.m. as well as on legal holidays and Sundays. He noted that this was for interior work only and that all of the doors and windows would be required to be closed during these hours of construction to minimize impacts to surrounding properties. He discussed the approvals and entitlements for the property at 31270 Palos Verdes Drive West, which is the original site location for the proposed school. He explained that those entitlements do remain valid and the applicant has indicated some interest in developing the site in the future with another school that will cater to children with learning disabilities. Finally, he explained that for the previous renovations of the shopping center a Mitigated Negative Declaration and an Environmental Assessment had been prepared that required certain mitigation measures be imposed on the project so that potential impacts to the environment would be reduced to a level of insignificance. He stated that staff has reviewed the document in regards to the proposed project and believes the school will not result in any adverse impacts. Therefore, staff was recommending the Planning Commission approve the Conditional Use Permit, Grading Permit, and Special Construction Permit with the conditions as presented in the staff report and the revised conditions of approval.
Commissioner Long asked staff if the applicant had been sent the conditions of approval and if she agreed with these conditions.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the applicant had reviewed the conditions and agreed to them, with one exception. There was a condition requiring a raised sidewalk be constructed along the student drop-off area. The applicant felt the construction of this raised sidewalk would disrupt the natural drainage flow from the playground and requested instead that posts or bullards be constructed along the area to provide safety for the sidewalk area. Mr. Mihranian stated that staff concurred with the suggestion.
Commissioner Mueller noted that in the current traffic study there was no analysis of a cumulative affect to traffic if two schools were to be built, the one proposed at Golden Cove and the original location at 31270 Palos Verdes Drive West. He asked why this had not been studied and felt that the impact to the traffic would be much greater during peak hours with two schools in the area.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian responded that when the traffic consultant prepared the traffic study he was revising the traffic study prepared for the shopping center, and comparing the impact of a market versus a school at the location. He did note that there was a condition of approval indicating that if, in the future, the applicant proposes to develop the vacant lot with a school, the traffic impacts must be reevaluated.
Commissioner Mueller asked if the applicant could sell the vacant property to a developer with the existing entitlements and then build another school.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that could happen. However no building permits had been issued, only a Planning Department Clearance, and when the land owner requests building permits from the City staff may reassess the potential traffic impacts based on the environmental documents prepared for the original project.
Vice Chairman Clark was concerned with traffic during peak hours, specifically between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and again between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. He felt that there would be concentrated peak traffic caused by this land use and add to that, further continued use at Ocean Trails and the development at Ocean Front Estates.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that a traffic study had been performed for the renovation of the Golden Cove shopping center and a new school at 31270 Palos Verdes Drive West together. The traffic study also stated that traffic generated by a school was less intensive than that of a market. Therefore, staff felt that the addition of two schools would generate less traffic than the combined uses of a school and market.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that a market would generate traffic throughout the day where a school would generate very focused traffic in the morning and evening at the same time the streets were already being used by commuters.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed that was a valid point and that could be addressed in the cumulative impact analysis of the Long Point project.
Chairman Lyon asked what the hours of operation would be at the school in terms of when children would be dropped off and picked up.
Claudia Krikorian (applicant) answered that the hours were similar to those of the previously approved school, in that the hours were staggered. She stated that some children would be dropped off between 8:00 and 8:30 and other between 8:30 and 9:00. In the afternoon there would be pick up at 11:30, 12:30, 3:00, 3:15, and 3:30.
Chairman Lyon did not think these hours were in conflict with rush hour traffic, typically occurring between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., and 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that these hours were different than those provided in the staff report, and he agreed that the staggered hours would create much less of a problem. He still felt there was an issue of what happens when you add what’s there today with what can be expected there in the future. He felt the City should be very thoughtful in terms of what kind of traffic flow will be created in the morning and the afternoon.
Chairman Lyon asked if another owner built a new school at 31270 Palos Verdes Drive West, what could the Planning Commission do with this current application that would require a re-examination of traffic.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that a condition could be placed in this application that states if the other school becomes operational a new traffic study would be performed by the operator of this school. Depending on the results of the new traffic study action may be needed in regards to the operation of this school in terms of the drop-off and pick-up times.
Commissioner Paulson asked about the hours of construction associated with the Special Construction Permit. He asked how these working hours were determined.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that staff had determined that 10:00 p.m. was a reasonable hour before most residents go to bed. He noted that extended construction hours would be limited to the interior and that all windows and doors must remain closed.
Commissioner Paulson felt the hour was too late. He suggested adding a condition that if there were complaints from the neighbors the City would be able to act on these complaints.
Director/Secretary Rojas responded that that was already standard city practice.
Commissioner Cartwright felt that placing a cap on the number of students and teachers allowed at the school left little room for flexibility.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian responded that the condition was taken directly from the previously approved condition with the original school and the cap is based on environmental studies and the parking demand.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Claudia Krikorian 1821 Paseo del Sol, PVE, stated she was here to answer any questions the Commission may have. She responded to Commissioner Cartwright’s concern over the number of students and teachers by saying that currently she has 350 children at her school, so she has allowed for growth. She felt that 400 students was the maximum number she felt comfortable having in this environment based on the square footage. She added that these numbers were figured on one staff member for every ten children.
Bob Nelson 6612 Channelview Court reminded the Planning Commission that the intersection at Golden Cove at one time supported traffic for both a grocery store and Marineland. He felt that was the densest the City would ever see the traffic at that site. He felt this project represented an opportunity for a better school facility, represented a central location, and supported the education of the young people on the peninsula.
Joanne Lewis 62 Via Capri stated she was very much for the project and looked forward to the improvements at the Golden Cove Shopping Center. She asked the Commission to reevaluate the timing schedule, or lack thereof, of the specific conditions of approval that the owners of the shopping center were presented with. She specifically mentioned the wall between the open vacant lot and Villa Capri. She was hoping the Commission would ask the Golden Cove owners to be good neighbors and start coming through with the conditions they have agreed to.
Ty Hitt 1245 Watson Center Road, Carson stated he was here represented kV Mart. He explained the many reasons why it was not economically feasible for his company to locate a new market at the subject location, and therefore supported the Montessori school at the location.
Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri stated he was happy to see the revitalization of Golden Cove Center. He stated he would like to see a “No Right Turn On Red” sign at the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive West and Hawthorne Blvd, which would create a break in traffic giving cars a chance to enter Hawthorne Blvd. from the Golden Cove Center, Villa Capri, and City Hall. He suggested placing a traffic sensor in the driveway where Villa Capri meets Hawthorne Blvd. He explained that the traffic sensor would activate traffic signs that would alert cars of merging traffic. He asked Ms. Krikorian to encourage a student car pool program for the Montessori school. He also discussed the approved improvements that the Golden Cove Center has not yet made and wondered when it would get done. He asked if the City could ask the Sheriff’s Department to increase their presence at the Golden Cove Center
Ken Hall 4266 Admirable Drive stated he was in opposition to the project. He stated that Hawthorne Blvd. was the main corridor for high school traffic and felt that between peak hours the Montessori school would directly impact traffic. He noted that the left turn lane from Hawthorne Blvd. into Golden Cove was a blind curve and felt that traffic backed up at that turn site would cause a hazardous situation. He discussed the staggered drop off plan and stated that social services would enforce a section in Title 22 of the State Code which states that no child will be accepted without contact between staff and person dropping the child off. He felt this meant that some percentage of the children would not be able to go through the drive-through drop-off and would be required to park and cross through the traffic. He further felt that this type of school would create a significant impact on the public school system as it would prevent many school age children from attending public school. He felt the liquor store was too close to the school and questioned if staff had looked into that issue. He felt that a grocery store should go into the proposed site, as there was a need for one in this area.
Commissioner Mueller questioned the number of drop-offs and pick-ups in the traffic study and how they arrived at the number they did.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the traffic study prepared by the applicant addressed all possible modes of transportation to the site and concluded the number of trips indicated in the report were based on car pooling, multi-child families, and students walking to school
Ms. Krikorian added that the traffic consultant came to her current school and counted the number of drop-offs and pick-ups that occurred throughout the school day. She stated that there are several families who have more than one child at the school and that the school strongly encourages carpooling.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that he Mr. Driskell’s idea of a traffic sensor was a reasonable request and asked staff how to go about looking into that idea.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that would be an idea to be referred to the City’s Public Works Department.
Commissioner Paulson added that some type of signage should be added coming down Hawthorne Blvd. just before Golden Cove where there is a blind curve.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated he would refer both issues to the Public Works Department.
Commissioner Long moved to accept the staff recommendation with the specification that a traffic analysis be required in the event that a school were proposed to be developed on the previously approved adjacent site and to modify Condition No. 12 to read that a maximum enrollment cap of 400 students present on the site at any time shall comply with the permitted operation of the school and no more than a total of 40 teachers and staff members present at the site at any time shall be permitted. Commissioner Paulson seconded the motion. Approved, (5-1) with Commissioner Mueller dissenting.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:40 p.m. the Commission took a short recess to 8:55 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
2. Long Point Resort: Coastal Permit No. 166, General Plan Amendment No. 28, Conditional Use Permit No. 215, Conditional Use Permit No. 216, Parcel Map No. 26073, Grading Permit No. 2229, Grading Permit No. 2230 and the associated Draft EIR; Destination Development Corporation (applicant) 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Blvd.
Chairman Lyon began by apologizing to any speakers who were not heard at the April 10 meeting. He stated that any of those who did not speak that night would be given the opportunity to speak at this meeting. He explained that in the future the speakers would speak in the order the speaker slips were received.
Mike Mohler (representing Destination Development Corporation) 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles thanked the Commission for the courtesy at the last meeting as well as the site visit and this meeting for the extended time to present their project to the public. He stated that this meeting would be used to present the architecture and layout of the resort and hotel. He had one comment regarding page 2 of the staff report. He stated that the City of Rancho Palos Verdes accounts for grading quantities differently from most cities. He explained that this city counts the total amount of cut plus the total amount of fill to calculate the total cubic yards of grading. He felt this was counting the same dirt twice. He felt the project was only moving 560,000 cubic yards of dirt rather than over a million as stated in the staff report.
Rob Lowe 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles (representing Destination Development) reviewed the process taken to get to the point Destination Development was currently at with the Long Point project. He felt this project was responsible to community needs and the environment, which included biologists, geologists, architects, and the community. He stated the plans had been changed numerous times to meet the desires and needs of the community.
Bob Glazier 644 Seneca Street, Palo Alto, stated he was the architect associated with the design of the hotel resort. He reviewed several of the most recent resorts he has been associated with and stated that none of the sites were quite as amazing as the Long Point site. He stated that the best style for the resort would be the Spanish colonial style and compared that to the Santa Barbara Biltmore. He used a slide presentation and photo boards to show how the area would look upon a guest’s arrival. He showed the different areas of the hotel, including the courtyard, lobby, banquet and meeting facilities, hotel room, and casitas. He stated that all rooms, as well as meeting rooms would have ocean views.
John Platt 26 W. Micheltorena, Santa Barbara (Destination Resorts) stated that Long Point was an exciting opportunity but a very serious responsibility. He explained the role of Destination Hotels and Resorts and how they were different from most hotel companies. He stressed that Destination Resorts produces very high quality hotels and resorts. He also felt that the company relates very well to communities and their needs. He referred to the area as a hybrid resort, as it was not an urban hotel or in a deserted area. He stated that the company has been very successful in relating to hybrid resort projects because of their flexibility and understanding of the need to appeal to local habitats. He stressed that golf was needed as an amenity that appeals to the critical market segment needed to be financially successful.
Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Platt to explain some of the benefits to the community that this resort would produce.
Mr. Platt responded that there would be a tremendous amount of economic return to the City in terms of tax revenue. He added that there were many communities around the country wanting to have hotels such as this in their community and that those communities provide hotels to locate there. He stated that this community would enjoy all the benefits of having a high quality resort in the community as the public would be able to access the services provided.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that the hotel would be offering amenities such as golf, a spa facility, golf teaching facility, and he presumed trails and access to the ocean. He asked Mr. Platt how he would prioritize the value of these amenities within the amenity base.
Mr. Platt answered that it is a whole package. He stated that in today’s world development is critical at its highest quality because there is such a high percentage of high demographic users that want a high quality product. He acknowledged that the golf course would not be able to compete with Pebble Beach, but most of the markets they were pursuing want the ambiance they are proposing. He stated that it was very important and helpful to this proposed development to have Ocean Trails just down the road.
Vice Chairman Clark asked why it was necessary to have a golf course at the Long Point site when there will soon be an 18-hole championship golf course at Ocean Trails.
Mr. Platt answered that there will be $225 to $250 million dollars invested in this project and a substantial percentage of the market segment they are counting on will want to be able to golf at the site. He did not think the resort would be successful without on-site golf.
Vice Chairman Clark discussed the proposed spa and asked if a high-end spa such as the one being proposed would not go a long way towards attracting customers to the resort.
Mr. Platt responded that the spa will be a big help and there will be spa packages offered. However, he felt that without a golf course they would be giving away huge chunks of the market and was too much risk.
Deputy Director Snow presented the staff report. He discussed grading at the site and clarified that the City does calculate the total amount of cut plus the total amount of fill it’s grading quantities. Therefore, the total amount of grading is 1,159,400 cubic yards of grading. He discussed the grading associated with the project on the Long Point property and Upper Point Vicente property, as well as the retaining walls. He noted that the Nike silo area on the Upper Point Vicente property would be raised between 3 and 10 feet with fill. He stated that, although it is not presently noted on the grading plan, the applicant has agreed to maintain access to those subsurface Nike silos. Mr. Snow discussed the proposed tunnels connecting the Long Point site to the Upper Point Vicente site. He noted that approximately 5,000 cubic yards of grading would be necessary to complete the tunnels. He stated that construction of the tunnels could result in disruption of traffic along Palos Verdes Drive South and appropriate conditions would be proposed in order to ensure no significant impacts resulted from that construction. In respect to the architecture in the building, he reviewed the proposed height of the structures associated with the project . He stated that more detailed analysis of the architecture of the building would be provided to the Planning Commission at the upcoming meeting on May 17. He explained that the proposed project was a commercial project, however the Municipal Code does require mitigation for affordable housing impacts associated with commercial development. He stated the issue was considered in the Draft EIR for the project, and based on the 700 employees who are estimated for the project, the applicant could be responsible for mitigation fees of approximately $931,910. The number would be recalculated in there were fewer employees. He explained that in terms of affordable housing considerations, there are two residential units on the Long Point site, which is in the coastal zone. He explained that there is a requirement for replacement housing if housing in the coastal zone is removed. However, the City’s Municipal Code exempts from that replacement requirement projects that would involve two or fewer residential units. Therefore, there is no requirement for replacement of those housing units that currently exist on the Long Point site. He stated that staff has reviewed the correspondence from the National Park Service, and concluded that the issue of preferential golf times for residents was not specifically raised nor specifically addressed in that correspondence. He did feel there was a possibility that the subject could be explored and the Commission may want to consider recommending the City Council pursue the preference for residences. He stated that the Commission had asked staff to research if there were other golf facilities on federal lands. He stated there were five golf courses, four of, which were currently operating the other in the process of being authorized through a concession agreement. He noted that there was a letter from the Coast Guard attached to the staff report regarding the 3.9 acre parcel on the Upper Point Vicente property which is owned by the Coast Guard. The letter indicates that their 3.9 acre parcel should not be considered as part of the project. With respect to the golf safety issue, Mr. Snow reported that would be addressed in more detail on May 17. He stated the City’s EIR sub-consultant, the golf safety expert, will be at the meeting to make a brief presentation. Finally, he stated that staff has received approximately 300 comments on the Draft EIR and the consultant was in the process of preparing responses to those comments. He felt the Final EIR should be completed by the end of May and possibly distributed to the Commission in June.
Chairman Lyon explained that there were 19 speakers who had not been given the chance to speak at the April 10 meeting. He felt those speakers should be given the chance to speak before those who had already spoken on the project.
Director Rojas read the list of names of those who had not spoken.
Dave Tomblin 30105 Avenida Esplendida stated he was very much in support of the project and the use of City land for the project. He discussed the growing number of younger families moving to the city and was concerned that the movement of Rancho Palos Verdes was becoming perceived as stagnant. He felt that Rancho Palos Verdes, with the lack of useable public land for parks and recreation, would cause many younger families to decide not to move to the City. He urged the City not to loose a window of opportunity for more revenue for the City and to make sure that Rancho Palos Verdes is a good place for families.
Having read the 19 names, Director Rojas explained that the remainder of the speakers called would be called in the order the speaker slips were received that evening.
Angie Papadakis 28655 Roan Road stated that she was very much in favor of the project. She felt that change was going to happen and she would like to see that change happen at Long Point. She stressed that the land would be developed at no cost to the City and will bring in needed income for the City.
Lee McGee 34 Avenida Corona stated the neither he nor anyone he knows would go to a resort with only 9 holes of golf. He asked the Commission to ask which of the various resorts operated by the applicant and which of those developed by the architect are 9-hole golf course resorts. He felt the use of public land for private profit was unacceptable.
Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri distributed a handout and discussed the recent landslide in Palos Verdes Estates. He felt the proposed Long Point Resort was a prime candidate for a major slide for many reasons. One reason he noted was that nearly all of the 103.5 acre Long Point surface area would be disturbed under the proposed grading plan. He stated that golf courses require enormous amounts of water and water seeks its own lever, which in this case was the Pacific Ocean. He felt that this water added by the development and winter rainfall wound undermine the already questionable slope stability of Long Point. He felt that the prudent and safe approach to coastline development was to be far enough away from the shore so when there is a slide no one is hurt, physically or financially. He felt this proposed project was dangerous at best and asked the Planning Commission to act in the name of prudence and safety.
Linda Freitag 22 Via Capri encouraged residents to be more appreciative of the many new opportunities to enjoy the land and coastline that would be opened up for public use with the approval of this project. She looked forward to the use of the new hiking trails, biking trails, equestrian trails, picnic areas, new parks, and improved access to the ocean. She pointed out the estimated economic benefit to the City of over $4.5 million per year with the additional benefit of the use of the golf course, banquet facility, community meeting rooms, and restaurants. She stated that the City was not donating public land for private use, but rather the City will still own the land and it will be developed for public use. She stated she had a serious regard for the environment and its preservation and holds membership in many conservation agencies. She did not think that the SOC II alternative represented the will of the majority of the residents of the peninsula. She explained that the community does not always benefit from the status quo and sometimes change can be beneficial. She warned that sometimes environmentalist become environmental fanatics when they single-mindedly fail to balance competing values in their overall assessment of an issue. She felt the developer should have the support of the community and everyone would benefit.
John Kendall 6653 Crest Road discussed businesses and the tax base they create for cities. He felt the tax revenue created from the Long Point resort was preferable to a city utility tax.
Norma Knowles 30021 Avenida Esplendida felt this proposed development was preferable to the current use of the land. She disagreed with the statements made that the public would lose out with the development of golf holes on the city property and that the land would be used exclusively by golfers. She stated that the City was not relinquishing ownership of the land, but entering into a cooperative arrangement.
Bob Nelson 6612 Channelview Court stated that speaking as a member of the board of the Seaview Homeowners Association, the board was in favor of the proposed development of the Long Point site. Speaking as an individual, Mr. Nelson stated he completely supported the comments of Ms. Freitag. He asked the Planning Commission to move this project along in an expeditious manner.
Bruce Megowan 700 Yarmouth Road, Palos Verdes Estates, felt Rancho Palos Verdes was being presented with a tremendous opportunity with this proposed development. Contrary to other opinions, he did not believe that Long Point would have significant traffic impacts in Palos Verdes Estates. He discussed the SOC II alternative and felt that if volunteers were going to come out to help create a nature park they would have done so by now. He hoped that the City of Rancho Palos Verdes would not one day look back and talk about what a great opportunity that was lost.
Barbara Gleghorn 28850 Crestridge Road stated that SOC II had been asked at a previous meeting if they were planning a referendum. She stated that at this time SOC II has not closed any of its options. She addressed the question of whether SOC II supported a municipal golf course on Upper Point Vicente Park. She stated that SOC II most definitely did not support any golf use on the property. She said golf use would be detrimental to the habitat of the threatened species as well as the habitat and safety of the neighbors and passers by. It would also utilize too much of the land for only one form of active recreation. Ms. Gleghorn stated that Commissioner Long had asked SOC II to explain what they thought would be viable on the Long Point site. She answered that it was not SOC II’s role to suggest the uses of private property. She continued that it has been and is the goal of SOC II to suggest a better use of publicly owned Point Vicente Park. She reminded the Commission that nearly 3,000 peninsula residents consider themselves supporters of SOC II and are free to identify themselves as such. She discussed a letter from the Director of the National Park Service included in the staff report. She did not feel the under the current procedures the alternatives included in the Draft Environmental Impact Report were not being given adequate consideration. She asked the Commission how they would suggest SOC II proceed to get better consideration for their alternatives.
Commissioner Long asked Ms. Gleghorn if a resort that needs a golf course amenity is not a proper use of the Long Point site because it will require City land, what did she suggest would be proper uses for the land.
Ms. Gleghorn did not think that SOC II had responsibility for that and that she would hope the Commission would consider the project that was before them.
Chairman Lyon addressed Ms. Gleghorn’s question on how to get SOC II’s thoughts before the proper body. He stated that the Planning Commission takes their direction from the City Council and are only permitted only to act upon applications before the Planning Commission. He suggested working with the City staff, particularly Recreation and Parks, to develop a proposal that would result in an application to the City to do something with the land. At that time the proper body could act upon the proposal.
Commissioner Long suggested exploring other governmental agencies, higher than that of the city, who have input into the decision making process such as the National Park Service that will ultimately have to make decisions regarding this use of the Upper Point Vicente land. He suggested addressing the comments Ms. Gleghorn made earlier to these other agencies.
Chairman Lyon further stated that the alternatives introduced conceptually at a prior meeting were to illustrate a process where the Planning Commission could consider both extremes of approving and disapproving the project, as well as modification of the project that might accommodate the desires of most people. He stated that what was presented was not a set of alternatives that had been developed or discussed amongst the Commissioners, but merely a process that the Commission would eventually come to.
She asked if any of the alternatives originally in the Draft EIR had been excluded.
Chairman Lyon answered that none of the alternatives had been excluded.
Ken McNeill 32735 Seagate Drive stated that for many years excuses had been made as to why the most beautiful site in the world was sitting vacant. He felt this was the opportunity to devise something really great. He stated that golf was viable for any good resort, whether or not one plays golf. He encouraged the Planning Commission to approve the project as proposed by the developer.
Juan Forteza 4021 Via Larga Vista, Palos Verdes Estates, discussed the need for golf as an amenity to a resort.
Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, Palos Verdes Estates, did not think the City should make any decisions based on threats or fears of such things as power plants. She stated that Long Point was valuable acreage and other developers would understand how to create beautiful projects without asking for public assistance and donations of public parklands. She stated that the SOC II enhancement alternative would meet the needs of conservation and recreation.
Jim Knight 5 Cinnamon Lane discussed the other Federal land use properties that were used for golf were much larger in size, had other recreational activities, and did not include the environmental issues present at Upper Point Vicente. He discussed golf preferences for RPV residents indicating his opinion that this will not meet public use requirements for the land. He stated that the current Long Point site has all of the necessary approvals for a hotel development and wondered if the proposed hotel was feasible.
Holly Cain 52 Avenida Corona suggested making the Long Point resort a family oriented destination. She discussed the tide pools below Long Point, the swimming at Abalone Cove beach, nature trails, the Interpretive Center, and whale watching. She suggested running a boat to Catalina Island from the Long Point Resort, a shuttle bus to Disneyland or the Aquarium in Long Beach. She stated there was room at Long Point for the hotel, the casitas, the golf academy, and the spa without having to use public land.
Claudia Krikorian 1821 Paseo del Sol, Palos Verdes Estates, stated she has seen much change on the Peninsula since she’s lived here. She stated that if there weren’t change on the Peninsula there would be no incorporated City of Rancho Palos Verdes. She believes very much in saving the coastline and the City should be very cautious in approving development. However, she was very impressed with the presentations made and the thoughts and discussions occurring at the Planning Commission meetings. She stated that she loves the golf course and trails that have opened up at Ocean Trails and hoped that she would have the opportunity to walk the trails and enjoy the amenities at Long Point.
Commissioner Paulson asked the applicant if Destination Resorts had a 9-hole golf course at any of their current sites.
Mr. Platt answered that Destination Resorts did not have another property that had only 9-holes or a practice facility but did have properties that did not have golf. He added that Destination Resorts believed a 9-hole facility would create the kind of amenity needed to access the market segments needed to make the property a success.
Commissioner Cartwright felt there was a lot of misunderstandings among the speakers concerning the process the Planning Commission was using to evaluate this proposal as well as what the responsibilities of the Planning Commission are. He stated that the responsibility of the Planning Commissioners was from a land use perspective. He noted that while the financial aspects of the project were interesting, the Planning Commission was not the proper body to make that decision. He stated it was important to understand the goals, motives, and objectives of the developer and to follow the facts to determine if this was the right project at this time for this piece of property.
Vice Chairman Clark added that after tonight’s hearing the Commission has a broad understanding of what the project is and as the public hearings continue the Commission will want to focus on various aspects of the project.
Commissioner Long added that this was a series of permit applications for the Planning Commission to consider. There will be staff reports presented at future meetings for consideration that include findings that must be made for each of the applications. He felt it would be helpful to receive specific input on the specific recommendations regarding those findings that have to be made.
Chairman Lyon announced that this public hearing would be continued to a special meeting on Thursday, May 17, 2001
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that minutes of May 14, 2001 would be on the consent calendar at the next meeting.
There being no objection, Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 11:48 p.m.