06/12/2001 Planning Commission Minutes 06/12/2001, 2001, June, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He reviewed the original application and subsequent approval by the Director. He explained that the Director was able to make all nine findings necessary to approve the Height Variation. He explained the neighbors’ appeal was based upon the addition not being compatible with the immediate neighborhood, view impairment issues, and privacy infringement. Mr. Schonborn stated that, in regards to neighborhood compatibility, eight of the residences in the immediate neighborhood were developed with two-story residential structures and the proposed project was not out of character with the immediate neighborhood. In terms of view impairment The 06/12/2001 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, PLANNING COMMISSION,, REGULAR MEETING JUNE 12, 2001

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

JUNE 12, 2001

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The meeting was called by order by Chairman Lyon at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

FLAG SALUTE

 

Associate Planner Schonborn led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

ROLL CALL

 

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, Assistant City Attorney Robert Pittman, and Recording Secretary Peterson.

 

Chairman Lyon noted that Mayor Lyon was present at the meeting and asked her to say a few words.

 

Mayor Lyon thanked the Planning Commission for the many hours they have put in and that the City Council very much appreciated their hard work.

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Chairman Lyon suggested changing the order of the Agenda to hear Item No. 5 before Agenda Item No. 4.  The Commission agreed.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

 

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed a Coastal Specific Consistency Analysis for Agenda Item No. 4 and one item of late correspondence also regarding Agenda Item No. 4.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that he had read the minutes and viewed the videotape of the Planning Commission meeting of May 17, 2001.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that he had received a letter and invitation from Todd Anderson to attend a softball game and possibly speak at the banquet following the game.  He stated he declined the invitation.  The other Commissioners stated they had all received the same invitation and had also declined.

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

1.                  Minutes of May 17, 2001

 

Chairman Lyon noted a typo on page 12 of the minutes.

 

The minutes were approved as amended, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Paulson abstaining since he was absent from the meeting.

 

2.                  Minutes of May 22, 2001

 

The minutes were approved as presented, (5-0-1) with Chairman Lyon abstaining since he was absent from the meeting.

 

3.                  Extension of Tentative Parcel Map No. 19062:  Robert Katherman (owner), 18 Rockinghorse Drive.

 

Without objection, the extension was granted as requested, (6-0).

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

5.      Appeal of the approval of Height Variation Permit No. 915 and Site Plan Review Permit No. 8948: 

 

Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report.  He reviewed the original application and subsequent approval by the Director. He explained that the Director was able to make all nine findings necessary to approve the Height Variation. He explained the neighbors’ appeal was based upon the addition not being compatible with the immediate neighborhood, view impairment issues, and privacy infringement. Mr. Schonborn stated that, in regards to neighborhood compatibility, eight of the residences in the immediate neighborhood were developed with two-story residential structures and the proposed project was not out of character with the immediate neighborhood.  In terms of view impairment, he stated that based upon a view analysis, staff had determined that the second story would not result in significant view impairment.  He stated that the residences on either side of the subject property were not oriented toward the property.  He noted that the neighbor on the south side had indicated that the second story would create view impairment of the city view north to the mountains from their master bedroom balcony on the second floor.  He explained that the second floor could not be considered a viewing area since it was part of the structure that would have required approval of a height variation permit if that section of the code had been in effect at the time that portion of the structure was constructed.  With regards to privacy infringement, the proposed second story addition has incorporated clear story type windows which will be a minimum of six feet high from the floor of the second story.  He stated this would eliminate direct observation upon the adjacent properties to the side and rear.  Therefore, staff has determined that the second story addition will be compatible with the immediate neighborhood, will not significantly impair views from the viewing areas of other parcels, and will not result in privacy infringement.  Therefore, staff recommended denial of the appellants’ appeal and uphold the Director’s decision.

 

Commissioner Long asked when the subject house was built.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn stated the house was built prior to the City annexing that portion of the City.

 

Commissioner Long asked what standard staff referred to when determining whether a Height Variation Permit was required, the County code or the Rancho Palos Verdes ordinance.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn stated that staff used the Rancho Palos Verdes Ordinance.

 

Commissioner Long asked if staff analysis would have been different if they had looked at the County Ordinance that actually applied at the time the house was built.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that he did not know.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked about lighting that is placed on the property.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the City does not regulate lights going on and off or on timers, but only the wattage allowed and the positioning of exterior lighting.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Mike Zuanich (appellant) 28637 Mt. Lassen Ln thanked the Commissioners for visiting his home to see his concerns.  He stated he found it difficult to accept the fact that he bought a home with a view that was being disallowed by the City.  He stated that the County of Los Angeles permitted him to build an addition with a view on the second floor.  He stated that the addition did not need a Height Variation when it was built and as Rancho Palos Verdes did not annex the area until 1983, the view from the upstairs balcony and master bedroom should be grandfathered into the annex and legally part of the existing property.  Concerning the neighborhood consultation process, Mr. Zuanich stated that the percentage of signatures alone does not establish that the applicant took reasonable steps established by the City Council to consult with owners of property located within 500 feet of the applicant property.  He stated he was never consulted and would have brought his issues first to the applicant’s attention for consideration had they provided him a description of the proposed project.  He stated that many, if not all of the collected signatures do not qualify towards the requested percentage totals as they were not shown any form of a plan.  Concerning neighborhood compatibility, Mr. Zuanich stated that the resulting structure size would be 60 percent larger than the average size homes in the immediate area.  He felt a home 60 percent larger than the average home was substantially larger, was a substantial deviation, and does not keep with existing structure size character of the neighborhood.  He asked the Planning Commission to take his comments into consideration and deny the project.

 

Commissioner Long asked Mr. Zuanich if he felt he lacked sufficient information about the proposed plans to articulate his opposition.

 

Mr. Zuanich responded that he could and did go to the City offices to view the plans, therefore he had adequate access to the plans.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Zuanich if he had an opportunity to meet with the applicant regarding the second story addition, and if he had the opportunity perhaps some of the issues could be resolved.

 

Mr. Zuanich answered that he did not meet with the applicant regarding the proposed second story and felt that communication was important in resolving these issues.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Zuanich if he signed the early neighborhood  consultation form.

 

Mr. Zuanich answered that he did not sign the form but his wife did.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff what the form actually said.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas read the early neighborhood consultation form to the Commission.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if the early neighborhood consultation form was circulated with plans.

 

Mr. Zuanich stated that he did not see the form but his wife had indicated that she did not see any plans with the form.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Zuanich if he felt the lot coverage and setbacks indicated on the proposed plan were consistent with those in the neighborhood where the majority of homes in the neighborhood were two-story.

 

Mr. Zuanich agreed and that the majority of houses in the neighborhood were two-story.  He added that his disagreement was with the size of the addition and where it sits on lot.  He stated the lot was a triangle shaped lot and the front comes out to nothing more than a driveway.  He felt if you put the largest house in the tract in that one area there would be concerns with parking.  He did not think this addition was appropriate for the lot.

 

Chairman Lyon asked Mr. Zuanich what prevented him from walking to the applicant’s house and asking to see the plans.

 

Mr. Zuanich stated the neighbor was unapproachable.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas noted that, in looking at the early neighborhood consultation form, Mrs. Zuanich did indeed sign the form and also checked the box indicating she had reviewed the plans.

 

Helen Matulich 28614 Mt. Whitney (appellant) stated she would loose her privacy from this addition every time they looked out of any of their windows.  She stated the applicant’s house would look directly into her backyard and all of her living area, as the living quarters faced the applicant’s back yard.  She felt the addition was downgrading many of the neighbors’ property values.  She stated she did not sign the early neighborhood consultation form.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated there were homes on either side of Mrs. Matulich that had second story windows or balconies that have an opportunity to look into her yard.  He asked if this proposed addition had a view that was different from the views on either side of her.

 

Mrs. Matulich stated that the other houses were situated so that she does not even see the second story additions.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mrs. Matulich what she would like to see happen at the applicant’s house.

 

Mr. Matulich answered she was not against the applicant improving his property, as he has already done quite a bit of improvement on the property.  She stated her main concern was the proposed second story.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mrs. Matulich if she would be able to communicate her concerns to the applicant.

 

Mr. Matulich answered that she did not feel she could communicate with her neighbor.

 

Bill Ruddock 28627 Mt. Lassen Ln (appellant) distributed pictures for the Planning Commission to view.  He stated his main concern was the issue of neighborhood compatibility and how it affected his home and property.  He noted that the home is already 154 percent of its original size.  He stated the lot and surrounding properties were laid out in a way to properly place a 1,400 square foot single-story home.  He said he was now being asked to accommodate a 3,700 square foot two-story home.  He stated one could not keep adding on to a home without it impacting the surrounding neighbors.  He stated that with this proposed structure looming over his yard he would have the immediate feeling that his family’s privacy was being affected. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Ruddock what he would propose for the applicant’s property.

 

Mr. Ruddock answered that he had attempted to speak to his neighbor but his conversation had not gone well.  He felt if the addition was moved over 8 to 10 feet he would not have an issue. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Ruddock if he felt there might be some benefit to a meeting of the applicant with his neighbors to communicate and discuss their concerns.

 

Mr. Ruddock responded that it would be very beneficial.

 

Raul Podesta 797 Miraflores Avenue stated he was the architect for the applicant.  He stated he was open to hear any suggestions on how to improve the plans without compromising the design of the house.  He explained this design was the result of meetings with staff and an attempt to address staff’s concerns and comply with City codes. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked if he could see any solution to the design of the addition that would mitigate the concerns of the neighbors.

 

Vice Chairman Clark added specifically the concerns of Mr. Ruddock and his suggestion to move the project over 8 to 10 feet.

 

Mr. Podesta stated he had tried to address the issues and he did not think further modifications could be made.  He stated that what would make one neighbor happy would make another neighbor unhappy.

 

Denyce Radov 28600 Mt. Lassen stated that the addition would improve the looks of the neighborhood and leant her support to the project.

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated it was unfortunate when intended improvements to one property by a homeowner results in issues with surrounding homeowners.  He stated that sometimes what the Planning Commission has found to be effective in this type of situation is to request that the applicant and neighbors meet and try to communicate effectively what the issues are.  He recommended that the Commission consider continuing the item and requesting the applicant to meet with the surrounding neighbors and his architect to discuss the issues.  He noted that this does not presume that all of the issues can be resolved or that the applicant is required to redesign the project. 

 

Commissioner Long agreed.  He did not feel the early neighborhood consultation process had occurred.  He felt there were substantial difficulties with the existing project and making the findings required for the height variation.

 

Commissioner Paulson endorsed Vice Chairman Clark’s comments.  He agreed there was a lot of dialogue needed on this project by the neighbors and the applicant.  He stated the applicant has certain rights that the Commission has to respect, assuming that the findings support those issues.  He felt there were a lot of emotional issues that needed to be resolved. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright agreed with the comments and added that it was clear to him that the findings the staff made were consistent with the decision the Director made. 

 

Commissioner Mueller commented that there was some question in his mind as to whether the early neighborhood consultation process took place.  He stated it was clear the neighbors had signed the form but it was not clear as to whether they had seen the plans.  He questioned the finding on neighborhood compatibility and the size of the structure.  He did not think that this structure being only 633 square feet larger than the largest structure in the neighborhood was an accurate way to evaluate neighborhood compatibility.  He stated that if one were to look at the median of the structures a different conclusion would be reached.  He asked what the cutoff was as to when an addition was too large for the neighborhood.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that staff tried to be consistent in doing the neighborhood compatibility analysis.  He explained that the proposed structure was compared to the 10 closest in size as well as the largest.  He noted that neighborhoods are in transition and every height variation is larger than the average.

 

Commissioner Long asked what would be too large in a neighborhood in transition.

 

Vice Chairman Clark responded this City attempts to preserve setbacks and maximum/minimum of the lot that can be developed.  He felt the City had been very successful in that.  The factor of neighborhood compatibility had been added to recognize the City was in transition.  He stated the Planning Commission tries to control and guide the architectural style and approach to remodels so they do not stand out as eyesores or incompatible structures in the neighborhood.

 

Commissioner Cartwright added that one also needs to take into account where the addition is on the property.  He noted that if an addition is built in a manner that looking at it from the front you don’t really see it, size wouldn’t make as much of a difference.  He stated that size is more than square footage, and that mass, shape, bulk, and positioning must also be taken into consideration.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he sympathized with the neighbors, however neighbors do not have the right to approve or disapprove the application.  He stated the City has in place very definitive rules that protect the rights of the landowner as well as the neighbors.  He stated this was a difficult situation.

 

Chairman Lyon re-opened the public hearing and called the applicant, Mr. Robinson to the podium.

 

Chairman Lyon asked Mr. Robinson whether he could see some productive conversations with his neighbors that may lead to something acceptable to him and his neighbors.

 

John Robinson (applicant) did not think there was any compromise.  He stated he originally wanted a smaller structure but the City made him make it bigger so it did not look like a pop-up.  He explained that the addition could not be moved one way or the other because of the layout of the columns on the inside of the house.  He stated he was trying not to move walls inside the existing house.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that there appeared to be quite a bit of acrimony in the neighborhood and felt that, as a minimum, Mr. Robinson could go a long way in terms of helping communication with the neighbors if he sat down with the neighbors, City staff, and his architect and reviewed the plans. 

 

Mr. Robinson did not agree.  He stated the neighbors had every opportunity to review the plans either when his wife circulated them throughout the neighborhood or at City Hall. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if there was any way to design the square footage the applicant originally wanted in a house that meets the compatibility issues, without expanding the size of the project.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that his project was very difficult because of the design of the original house.  He stated it was very difficult to design a second story addition without it appearing to be a pop-up.  Given the letters of concern from the neighbors, staff met with the applicant to attempt to come up with a way to make the addition not look like a pop-up.  In the meetings, it was determined the only way to achieve this was to give more body to the addition by going down towards the rear.  He stated this resulted in an additional 600 square feet added to the plan.  He stated that staff had explored the possibility of having additions elsewhere, but the applicant was not willing to do that. 

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Vice Chairman Clark moved to continue the item and request the applicant, along with interested neighbors, meet with staff to clearly communicate and discuss the project and return to the July 24, 2001 Planning Commission meeting with the results of these meetings.  Further, the applicant should consider some alterations to his proposed plan that would include additional single story space to the property and reduction of the second story addition, seconded by Commissioner Long.      

  

Commissioner Paulson felt there were privacy issues that needed to be addressed specifically regarding the Matulich residence.

 

The motion passed, (6-0).

 

RECESS AND RECONVENE

 

At 8:45 p.m. the Commission took a short recess to 9:00 p.m. at which time they reconvened.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS)

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road discussed a flyer left in her mailbox notifying the public of proposed filming at the Long Point property.  She stated this filming would include simulated gunshots.  She stated she was opposed to any simulated gunfire in Rancho Palos Verdes.

 

CONTINUED BUSINESS

 

4.                  Long Point Resort: Consisting of 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 Environmental Impact Report; Destination Development Corporation (applicant) 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

Chairman Lyon noted that Commissioner Mueller had been excused from the rest of the meeting.

 

Chairman Lyon began by explaining this was the sixth meeting held for the Long Point project.  He stated that the public had been heard from extensively and he would like to give priority at this meeting to the Commissioners.  He felt it was important for the Commissioners to discuss among themselves issues they were concerned with and have the opportunity to ask questions to the staff.  He felt it was important for the Commissioners to have a fair amount of time to discuss their concerns and ask questions they feel are necessary.  Therefore, he stated the item would begin with the staff report followed by a presentation by the applicant.  After the presentation the Commissioners would continue the discussion they began at the last meeting.  Following the discussion, Chairman Lyon stated he would open the public hearing to continue hearing public testimony.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  He stated that as a result of past meetings and requests from the Commission, the staff report includes a discussion of the required Conditional Use Permit and Coastal Permit findings for the resort hotel area, also referred to as the Long Point property.  He stated the staff report briefly discusses the necessary analysis for the proposed General Plan amendment from passive recreational to active recreational for the Upper Point Vicente property.  He explained that the staff report does not include any further discussion on required findings for the Conditional Use Permit application for the Upper Point Vicente property because, as directed by the Commission, the applicant revised the plans accordingly but was not submitted to the City in time to be included in the report.  He stated that the Coastal Permit analysis in the staff report discusses the proposed project’s consistency with the City’s Coastal Specific Plan as it pertains to Subregion 2.  It discusses the visual corridors, the visual quality, noise and lighting, protection of the natural environment, and traffic.  Furthermore, the staff report discusses the proposed project’s consistency with public access and recreational policy set forth in the Coastal Act.  In regards to the Conditional Use Permit application, Mr. Mihranian explained the preliminary analysis included in the staff report discusses the required setbacks discussed in the commercial recreational zoning district, the maximum lot coverage, surrounding landscaping, proposed parking, trails and parks, traffic and circulation in regards to on-site and off-site circulation, golf safety and design layout, view issues, fencing, and noise.

 

Mr. Mihranian concluded by noting that the Traffic Committee is currently reviewing the proposed project.  Upon a recommendation from the Traffic Committee, further information will be provided to the Planning Commission.  Regarding the Environmental Impact Report, he explained that the City’s consultant was currently preparing the response to comments and anticipated a re-circulation of the biological section.  The re-circulation will be for 30 days.   

 

Commissioner Paulson noted on page 6 of the staff report there was a statement that the proposed project was consistent with the City’s Coastal Specific Plan as it pertains to views, etc.  He thought there was an issue with views and the proposed plan that was not consistent with the Coastal Specific Plan.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian agreed that the statement was not correct, as there were concerns with visual corridors, as it pertains to the villas and other structures on the resort hotel area.

 

Commissioner Paulson noted on page 9 of the staff report the discussion of public parking.  He asked staff what the hours for public parking were.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the existing public parking hours were from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the coastal access.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if they knew the timetable for analyzing the view corridors and asked if the Commission could expect the developer to respond tonight to the concerns.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that staff has stated that view corridors are a concern.  He stated this issue was before the Commission to discuss and provide staff with direction.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked for clarification regarding commercial recreation if it is determined that agriculture is no longer considered key to the area.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian explained that the Coastal Specific Plan does indicate the property can be used for agricultural purposes.  He stated that staff has not fully analyzed what the potential was of the property being used as agriculture. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if the City was leasing some of the property now for agricultural purposes.

 

Deputy Director Snow stated that there were two different farms, one on the Long Point site which was subject to the Coastal Specific Plan and one on the Upper Point Vicente property that is outside the Coastal Specific Plan area. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark discussed parking and noted that the Commission had received, some time ago, a letter from someone representing the employee union that represents part of Destination Resorts as well as other resorts.  In the letter many subtle issues in regard to parking were brought out, such as employee parking and employee transportation to and from the property.  He stated he did not see these issues addressed in the staff report and requested some type of response from staff on this issue. 

 

Deputy Director Snow responded the issue was being treated as a comment on the Environmental Impact Report and responses were currently being prepared.  He stated the draft response to the letter was included in the staff report for the Traffic Committee to consider. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked about the Finance Committee’s input to the project and when their input would be presented to the Planning Commission for it’s consideration as part of the totality of the project.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that it was his understanding that the Finance Committee would be ready to make a recommendation to the City Council in August.  He felt a report could be available to the Planning Commission in late July.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Mike Mohler (Destination Resorts) 11777 San Vicente Blvd., L.A. distributed an article from the May 24, 2001 Peninsula News about birds thriving in the Ocean Trails habitat.  He stated it was his opinion that this article adds validity to the presentation given at the Planning Commission meeting on May 17.  In discussing the staff report Mr. Mohler noted on page 3 the discussion that staff is analyzing the land use as related to the Villas and will provide the Commission with further information at a later date.  He requested that date be July 10.  On page 4 of the staff report he noted a discussion of a view corridor which consisted of the two eastern most casitas and other structures.  Mr. Mohler noted that this view corridor contained only one of the eastern most casitas rather than two.  He discussed on page 7 of the staff report the discussion on trails.  He noted on page 8 in the discussion on setbacks the inclusion of an entry trellis located at the main entrance.  He discussed this trellis and stated the importance of the trellis was not to the hotel but to the pedestrian public.  He explained that this was a key trailhead between the connection of the Long Point segment and the Flower Field Trail.  He stated he would like to work with the City and file any necessary paperwork necessary for the trellis to be located within the setback.  He stated this was a beautiful location for public information. 

 

Mr. Mohler displayed a plan that he explained was an alternative suggested by one of the alternatives in the Draft EIR.  He stated that at the last meeting he was given direction by the Planning Commission to consider the consultants comments with respect to golf safety and golf arrangements with respect to holes 3, 4, 5, and 6.  Possibly reversing two holes for safety for St. Paul’s Church and revisit the idea of greater non-golf participation on the City property.  He explained that they have now reversed holes 3 and 4.  He felt this presented a much safer shot with respect to the safety zone from the driver tee shot on hole 3 and an ability to revegetate the scrub that exists on the site.  He also pointed out that this moves the tees at hole 4 sufficiently forward to avoid the radical shank shot that St. Paul’s Church was concerned with.  Discussing holes 5 and 6, Mr. Mohler explained that the fairways were shifted over to avoid crowding the public trails as well as the vehicular access to City Hall.  He stated hole 6 was shortened to a par 3, as suggested by the City consultant.  He discussed adding more access for the public in areas where the viewpoints were not as accessible to the public as they were to the golfers.  He stated these changes resulted in a safer golf infrastructure as well as another ½ to 2/3 of a mile of public pedestrian paths that could be utilized at hours approved by the City. 

 

Mr. Mohler concluded by reading the conclusion of the financial report  prepared by the City consultant which stated that the developers operating projections and internal rate of returns calculations were reasonable and supportable.  It further stated that it was their opinion that the proposed subject property as currently designed, included 9-hole golf facility and 32 villas, represents the most viable project for the subject site from the perspective of both market and financial feasibility.  It concluded by stating that the project will likely not attract equity and dense financing without the additional amenity of a regulation 9-hole golf course. 

 

Commissioner Long asked if the Developer was not interested in accepting anything less than all of what they were requesting, or was there still some room for discussion on the topic.

 

Mr. Mohler responded that Destination Resorts was listening to every comment the Planning Commission had made and was willing to work with them. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked what size the proposed scenic overlook parks would be.

 

Mr. Mohler responded they would be approximately the size of the room they were in.  They were designed to allow seating, enjoy a view, allow children to play on the ground and wander around. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if any of these scenic overlook park points as potentially expandable to a true park area.

 

Mr. Mohler pointed out that a park area was already proposed that could be over one acre.  Regarding the new areas, they could possibly be expanded to mini parks.

 

Vice Chairman Clark felt that was worthy of consideration.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if there were any recommendations that the City’s golf consultant made that were not embraced as a change by the applicant.

 

Mr. Mohler stated all recommendations had been addressed.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked what the distance was between hole 5 and the trail to the east of the hole.  He was particularly interested in the distance between the hole to the tennis courts that belong to the Peninsula Racquet Club.

 

Mr. Mohler felt the distance from the trail to the tennis courts was approximately 250 feet, and the distance between the hole and the trail was approximately 150 feet.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if there was any possibility that a golf ball from this hole could be a danger to these tennis courts.

 

Mr. Mohler said there was no possibility, unless someone was intentionally aiming for the tennis courts.

 

Commissioner Long stated that typically multi-use trails were not a good idea and asked about the joint-use and multi-use trails proposed with the project.

 

Mr. Mohler explained the multi-use trail was an off-road bike and pedestrian trail.  He noted the joint-use trail was an off-street bike trail that goes from Point Vicente to the Long Point site. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked about the cul-de-sac next to the church and asked if it was existing.

 

Mr. Mohler said it was existing, but explained the improvements to the cul-de-sac would be required to allow the parking area.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if 42 parking spaces was adequate for this area and use.  He noted that there was never adequate parking at Ocean Trails, partly in response the success of the trail systems available.

 

Mr. Mohler responded he did not have that answer.  He stated he had presented a good design for parking capacity on the cul-de-sac.  He added that he would have his park planner correlate the issues.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked for clarification on the city yard proposal.

 

Mr. Mohler explained the proposal includes a consolidation of the uses that exist on the Nike missile silo area today.  It is proposed to create storage units partially notched into the slope with organic or landscaped roofs so that the neighbors above would not see the storage facilities.  He stated the plan was also sized to accommodate a truck/trailer turnaround.  He felt the proposal could provide a very efficient city yard with more under roof capacity than there was today. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if this was the same area that was being requested for use as a baseball diamond.

 

Mr. Mohler answered there was not room in this area for a baseball diamond.   or a soccer field.

 

Chairman Lyon felt that the revised golf layout and trails plan was a substantial improvement over the former plan and would very much like to now get the reaction of the public to this new plan.  However, first he wanted the Planning Commission to fully express their views and concerns.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated there had been volumes of information presented to the Planning Commission and positions had been taken both pro and con, with logic behind both.  He was trying to look at the Long Point development on its own property and what is proposed there and does it make sense in terms of conditions that must be imposed.  He then would look at the separate issue of the Point Vicente Park area and what is being proposed there.  He was concerned about the need for golf netting in the future.  He felt that if the golf course was approved without netting and for some unknown reason sometime down the line golf balls start to go into the church area and Villa Capri, the realistic solution will be to add netting.  He felt that the proposed project should be analyzed for what will happen in the future and what is practical and what can and cannot be enforced.  In regards to the new upper parks, he felt the Commission had to be very careful not to impact any more habitat than necessary.  He felt it was very important for the Commission to have all of the information from the Traffic Committee before making any decisions.  Regarding the financial aspects, while it may be interesting, it is not a driving factor in his decision making.  He stated that his decision will be based on land use and development.  He was also very concerned about the habitat and the trade-offs that occur when the use is changed from passive recreation to active recreation. 

 

Chairman Lyon stated that his interest in the financing is only as an indication of the risk of the project failing in the future.  He stated that there was nobody better qualified to make financial decisions on this project than the developer. 

 

Commissioner Long addressed the procedural framework in which the Planning Commission will be making the decision.  He stated the process would be broken into two separate parts, one being the findings necessary to issue the permits.  He stated that staff was now beginning to discuss the required findings for these permits.  He felt it was very important to get this information as well as public input on these findings. He shared Commissioner Paulson's concerns on traffic issues.  He felt that the burden was on the developer to establish that all of the findings could be made to issue all of the permits.  If at the end of the process, he does not have enough information to determine whether all of the findings can be made, the developer bears the consequence of that.  The other concern he had was that a golf course is forever.  If the decision is made to approve the golf course, another large chunk of the City will be devoted to a single particular sport.  He felt this may be a good amenity for a private facility, but it may or may not be a good public land use.  He also felt that apart from the findings as to whether or not a permit should be issued, the Commission was faced with the possibility of being asked to make a recommendation as to whether or not public land should be used for the purpose being proposed.  In order to make this decision, he will be very interested in having a complete understanding of exactly what the City is getting in return for the City sacrifice of public land for the golf course. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright felt that in order to make a decision it was imperative to have the staff report and recommendations for the project.  He stated that the public, the developer, and the Commission depend on the staff and the staff has a job to provide professional judgement and recommendations.  He was particularly interested in view impairment issues, protection of the habitat and environment, and traffic impact from the project as well as future traffic impairment.  He felt the financial viability of the project was important and should be looked at. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark complimented his fellow commissioners on their thoughtful and articulate points.  He felt this was the most important development project the City has ever faced because it encompasses one of the crown jewel pieces of property in the City.  He stated that the City Council has made it clear they are looking to the Planning Commission to assess the viability of the proposed applications.  He felt that it was part of the Planning Commission’s scope of assessment to determine whether or not Upper Point Vicente should be included in the project.  He felt the crux of the decision was whether or not the joint public private land use makes sense.  He stated that several of his judgments relative to the project weigh on the areas that the Planning Commission has not yet discussed.  He stated that he wanted to see the amended EIR and see the answers to all of the questions raised by the public and Planning Commission.  He was confident that in the next month or two a reasonable decision will be made by the Planning Commission which will then be passed to the City Council.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he appreciated all of the very good comments made by the Commissioners and he had nothing to add to these comments.

 

Commissioner Paulson noted that there was quite a bit of information given to the Planning Commission to review before a meeting.  He asked if there was any way to receive this information in pieces as it gets done instead of holding it all until the Thursday before the meeting.  

 

Director/Secretary Rojas felt it would be very difficult to get information out incrementally.  He did think it was possible to define what information would be needed for the July 10 meeting to provide the Commission with material at an earlier date.  He stated that the July 24 meeting was full and it may be necessary to start scheduling special meetings to keep the project moving along.

 

Chairman Lyon stated he would start trying to identify periods of time when the Commissioners would be available for special meetings.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that it was a responsibility of the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the City Council on the use of public lands for this project.  He was not clear, however, on how this discussion was going to take place and at what point in the deliberations this discussion would take place.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that there were two options, one being to discuss the issue as part of the General Plan Amendment application, at which point staff will raise the issues related to that decision.  He noted there were no specific findings that had to be made to approve a General Plan Amendment.  The other option is to deal with the issue of the use of City land as a separate issue from the application findings.  He stated that the Commission had the ability to separate the issue from the application findings deliberation and that he felt the Commission had received enough public testimony to deal with the issue now, before discussion on the development application findings. 

 

Commissioner Long asked staff if there was information available as to how this City compares to other comparable Cities in the overall portion of land devoted to golf, if this project were approved.  He also asked for clarification on how the Planning Commission could segregate out the issue of the use of public land.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman responded that the application submitted was a straight forward land use analysis.  Separately, the Commission has been charged with recommending to the City Council the appropriate use for land in the City and implementing the General Plan.  Within that context, the Planning Commission can propose to the City Council what they believe the appropriate use for Upper Point Vicente would be.  He stated that this does not have to be done within the context of the application as it is a separate response.

 

Chairman Lyon did not feel the question on the comparison of land use for golf was a relevant issue and he did not think staff should spend time researching the issue as he did not feel the information would tell the Commission anything.

 

Commission Long disagreed and was very interested in seeing the information.  He felt it was important to know if the City would have an unusually large portion of land used for golf.

 

Commissioner Cartwright understood Commissioner Long’s concern, but stated that the Commission’s decision was not whether they should approve a golf course but rather should they approve a resort that includes, among other things, a golf course.

 

Chairman Lyon asked for a vote on whether to ask staff to research how this City compares to other comparable cities in the overall portion of land devoted to golf.    The roll call vote was 1-4 with Commissioner Long in favor and Commissioners Cartwright, Paulson, Vice Chairman Clark and Chairman Lyon dissenting.

 

Chairman Lyon felt it was time to start taking public testimony and was particularly interested in the public opinion on the newly submitted plan presented at this meeting. 

 

Gloria Anderson 6818 Los Verdes Drive asked about the children staying at the resort and if the developer had thought of a full time guard at the base of the bluff to protect the environment as well as the children.  She asked if there were amenities provided specifically for the children.  Finally, she asked if this new plan allows for expansion or changes to City Hall. 

 

Linda Lawler-Freitag 22 Via Capri stated she enthusiastically supports the Long Point project and considers it to be a win-win land use opportunity for all aspects of the community.  She felt it was unlikely there was any new information to be heard and saw no value in further repetitious comments from the public.  She felt the developer had been extremely responsive in compliance with the numerous requests for revisions requested by the Planning Commission.  She urged that the hearings be included, the data analyzed, and further discussion begin on the merits of the project.

 

Frank Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane asked if the project met the deed restriction of the Point Vicente property.  He felt the public use of the golf course would be very much controlled by a private party rather than the public.  He asked what documents demonstrate that this use meets the deed requirements and provide these documents.  He asked what financial benefits Rancho Palos Verdes would receive from Destination Resorts if the project were approved and that the estimates should include conservative, nominal, and optimistic assumptions.  He discussed the traffic impact and stated that the impact from this development alone may be nominal but the cumulative effect to traffic was not.

 

Todd Anderson realized this land use decision was a monumental decision for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  He discussed the Long Point property and the Upper Point Vicente land and how both properties have needed improvements for a very long time.  He presented a slide show suggesting some alternate uses for the Long Point property, including an amusement park, a residential development, apartment complexes, a condominium complex, a trailer home park, and a camping area.  He stated the resort will bring income into the City that a residential community will not, as well as increased habitat and increased public access.

 

Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive stated he was concerned with the fundamental issue as to whether this project was a proper use for public land.  He stated the Coastal Commission still had to approve the use.  He noted that Mr. York still owns a considerable amount of land separate from the land being considered in this application and felt it should be considered for a full 18-hole golf course. 

 

Chairman Lyon stated that the property was not contiguous to the hotel and wondered how such a development would differ from the existing Ocean Trails golf course.

 

Mr. Redfield stated that there were an amazing number of resorts that do not have golf available on site and it was not unusual to have to take a shuttle to the clubhouse.  He noted that this land was only a few minutes down the road.  He felt that the problem with Ocean Trails was that Long Point would not have any control over the golf use, which he felt was essential.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Redfield if he has discussed this proposal with Mr. York or Destination Resorts.

 

Mr. Redfield responded that he had not, but had discussions with residents in that area.  He stated that the opinion of most of the residents was it was far more desirable to have a golf course back there than high density upscale housing.

 

Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, PVE, objected to the use of public land for private use.  She felt the benefits of land conservation clearly outweighed the benefits of alternative courses of action.  She felt there were alternatives available to Destination Resorts that protects the public interests.  She was also concerned about the traffic and parking impacts the proposed project would create.  She felt the trip generation figures in the Draft EIR were substantially incorrect a new Draft EIR study should be made and recirculated.  She encouraged the Commission to consider the Monahan entitlement and approve the resort on it’s own property with no use of public land.

 

Barbara Gleghorn 28850 Crestridge Road agreed with Commissioner Paulson’s comments that it would be helpful to get the massive amounts of information as soon as it was available.  She also felt there had been an unbalanced amount of time available to the two sides presenting information on the project.  She discussed the pathways on the Upper Point Vicente land and stated the existing pathways can be very well and equally developed by environmental organizations that have come forward to say they are ready and eager to make these paths a reality.

 

Ann Shaw 30036 Via Borica did not think this 9-hole golf course could be considered a championship link course.  She objected to running a mixed-use path between the tee area and fairway of hole 2.  She did not think hole no. 5 had been reoriented to meet the consultant’s concerns.  She discussed the 9-hole golf course and golf packages that may be offered at the resort.  She felt the 9-hole public golf course would become a lot less public.  She stated Ocean Trails was an exceptional golf course just down the road from Long Point with no practice facility.  She felt Long Point could build a first class practice facility and golf school to augment the Ocean Trails golf course. 

 

Rowland Driskell  30 Via Capri stated residents at Villa Capri do not have air conditioning and will be forced to close their doors and windows during the construction of the golf course and while golfers are on the course.  He stated there was no mitigation for the loss of the tranquility that he now enjoys at his home.  He stated he was not against the resort and hoped it would be built, but only on the Long Point property. 

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated that she remembered that a golf course had been suggested many years ago on the Filliorum property but it was determined that too much grading would be involved.  She stated there was a letter written by Jim Knight in the Saturday Peninsula News that she highly recommended everyone read.  She objected to the villas and casitas proposed on the Long Point property. 

 

William Tolliffe 6347 Tarragon Road stated one of the reasons he bought his home was because of the interesting topography with the beautiful hills and canyons.  He felt the building of the golf course with its massive cut and fill, retaining walls, steps, and concrete cart paths will only detract from the attraction of the area.  He felt Upper Point Vicente was a valuable recreational and educational resource for everyone and should not be spoiled to accommodate a few golfers.  He did not think the Upper Point Vicente area should be available for lease or sale.

 

George Gleghorn 2850 Crestridge Road stated that earlier it was noted that public access hours were restricted to the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  He did not understand why the Commission didn’t react to this and asked them to reconsider these hours.  He suggested public access hours from dawn to sunset.

 

Commissioner Paulson assured Mr. Gleghorn that the statement regarding the hours did not go unnoticed by the Planning Commission. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked staff to explain the hours and the meaning of public access on the Long Point property.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian clarified the current public accessibility hours of 8:30 to 4:00 were imposed by an emergency ordinance.  The City’s Municipal Code does indicate public access hours of one hour before dawn and one hour after dusk.  He stated that the extended hours contained in the Municipal Code would be applied to the proposed public areas on the Long Point property.

 

David Tomblin 30105 Avenida Esplendida stated that this is an asset which nobody can get to.  He wanted to get an under performing asset that people can get on and use and will satisfy SOC II issues as well.  More importantly, he stated that the City has given the impression that they do not have the money to help the schools educate the children yet they are finding money to buying quite a bit of open space land.  He felt this must be considered and would be addressed in the November elections. 

 

Commissioner Long agreed with Mrs. Gleghorn’s concern regarding the unbalanced amount of time given to the two sides presenting information on the project.  Secondly, he hoped his fellow Commissioners would reconsider the approach taken earlier and allow individual Commissioners to ask for information in good faith, believing it relevant to that person’s decision.  He felt that such requests should be respected by the entire Commission and he had always respected similar individual requests in the past, unless for some reason the request was going to be overly burdensome on staff.  He was still hopeful that through some mechanism he would get the information he continues to be interested in.  He was hopeful that in the future the Commission would not have to go through votes every time a Commissioner requests information.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 12:00 a.m.