07/10/2001 Planning Commission Minutes 07/10/2001, 2001, July, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Senior Planner Fox presented the staff report. He stated the request was to modify the ridgeline orientation for the house on lot 33. He described the proposed ridgeline and that the condition of approval for the tract requires the ridgeline be oriented perpendicular to Palos Verdes Drive West. He stated that to construct a residence on the property as proposed would also require a lot line adjustment and grading application would need to be approved by staff. He noted that at this time the developer was requesting the Planning Commission only review the revision to the roofline. He explained the reason for the developer’s request was to allow the home to be reoriented to allow for a view from the main living area over the adjacent open space lot. The 07/10/2001 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, PLANNING COMMISSION,, REGULAR MEETING, JULY 10,, 2001

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

JULY 10, 2001

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:08 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

FLAG SALUTE

 

Commissioner Long led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

ROLL CALL

 

Present:          Commissioners Cartwright, Long, Mueller, Paulson, Vannorsdall, and Chairman Lyon.

 

Absent:           Vice Chairman Clark was absent (excused).

 

Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Deputy Director Snow, Senior Planner Fox, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, Assistant Planner Yu, Assistant City Attorney Pittman, City Consultant Glen Lajoy, and Recording Secretary Peterson.

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Without objection, the agenda was approved as presented.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

 

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed color photographs for Agenda Item No. 3 and 3 items of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 4.  He also reported that the City Council had appointed Dr. Peter Gardiner as an interim City Council member to fill the spot of recently resigned Council member Lee Byrd.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall reported that he had viewed the video tapes and reviewed the minutes of the two meetings he had missed and felt he was able to participate in all future discussions regarding the topics discussed at those meetings.

 

Commissioner Mueller stated he had also reviewed the videotape of the meeting he had missed and felt he too could participate in any future discussions regarding the items discussed at that meeting.

 

Commissioner Long stated had had received e-mail from Mr. Driskell regarding the Long Point project and had forwarded the e-mail to Director/Secretary Rojas.

 

Chairman Lyon reported that he had received a letter strongly opposing further development at the CPH property.  He stated he would distribute the letter to the other Planning Commissioners. 

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

1.                  Minutes of June 26, 2001

 

Commissioner Long noted a typo and word change on page 2 of the minutes.

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted a clarification on page 17 of the minutes.  He also noted a typo on page 18 of the minutes.

 

There being no objection, the minutes were approved as amended, (4-0-2) with Commissioner Vannorsdall and Chairman Lyon abstaining since they were not at that meeting.

 

2.                  Site Plan Review 9111:  Mr. and Mrs. Bilan (applicant) 63 Paseo de Castana.     

 

Chairman Lyon waived the staff report and without objection the Site Plan Review application was approved as presented, 6-0, via minute order.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

3.                  Conditional Use Permit No. 158 – Revision ‘D’ and Coastal Permit No. 94– Revision ‘B’:  Tim Hamilton, Makallon RPVF Associates LLC (applicant), 74 Via del Cielo.

 

Commissioner Long stated that Capitol Pacific Holdings is or was a client of his law firm and would therefore recuse himself from hearing the application to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.

 

Senior Planner Fox presented the staff report.  He stated the request was to modify the ridgeline orientation for the house on lot 33.  He described the proposed ridgeline and that the condition of approval for the tract requires the ridgeline be oriented perpendicular to Palos Verdes Drive West.  He stated that to construct a residence on the property as proposed would also require a lot line adjustment and grading application would need to be approved by staff.  He noted that at this time the developer was requesting the Planning Commission only review the revision to the roofline.  He explained the reason for the developer’s request was to allow the home to be reoriented to allow for a view from the main living area over the adjacent open space lot.  Mr. Fox explained that staff felt that given the project went through an intensive public review period and process to come up with the development standards established for the project, and that the views over these particular lots were identified through an environmental analysis as being significant, that any modification that alters these views would be inconsistent with the original approval.  He stated that staff had suggested to the developer that the layout of the floor plan could be modified or a completely new residence designed that takes better advantage of the view without violating the condition of approval.  He stated that the developer wished to proceed with the proposed revisions.  Mr. Fox stated that many of the required findings for the approval of the proposed revisions to the Conditional Use Permit and Coastal Permit could not be made.  Therefore, staff recommended denial of the request.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he understood staff’s desire to adhere to previously approved conditions, however in looking at the photographs he did not think the proposed change created any significant view impact one way or the other.

 

Commissioner Mueller asked if the adjacent property immediately to the north of the property was intended to be open space.

 

Senior Planner Fox answered that the lot immediately to the north of the site was an open space lot.

 

Commissioner Mueller asked if changing the orientation of the house would move the house slightly to the north.

 

Senior Planner Fox answered that changing the orientation of the proposed house would present a broader profile to the street.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff to clarify the need for a lot line adjustment required with this proposal.

 

Senior Planner Fox stated it would be needed to maintain both the setbacks and the lot coverage for the property.

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that the General Plan prohibited encroachment into the view corridor, whether or not the encroachment is significant.  He felt the Planning Commission’s decisions should be consistent with the General Plan. 

 

Senior Planner Fox responded that the General Plan was very specific in prohibiting enroachment into the view corridor and did not give any flexibility or discretion. 

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Tim Hamilton 30796 La Mer, Laguna Niguel (applicant) explained that the design of the proposed house is one that has already been built on two other lots.  He stated that the request was to rotate the house on lot 33 with consideration for the neighbors above.  He noted that after the rotation, the front of the house would be visible to Palos Verdes Drive West.  He felt this was a much softer, more attractive view of the house from the street.  He felt that this was beneficial to the buyer of the house, as the rotation would allow the main viewing areas to look over the open space and the ocean.  He also noted this change would benefit the overall look of the tract in that there would not be three houses in a row looking identically at the back of the house.  Mr. Hamilton stated that the lot line adjustment was needed to make sure the developer complies with the City’s setbacks on all sides.  He did not think this proposal had any detrimental affect on any of the residents above the lot and he did not think it was impacting the view corridor.   

 

Chairman Lyon stated that a letter had been received from 8 neighbors requesting the Planning Commission deny the application.  He asked Mr. Hamilton if these 8 people had seen the photographs of the proposal.

 

Mr. Hamilton did not think they had seen the photographs.  He felt that once these neighbors viewed the photographs they would realize it would be to the community’s advantage to rotate the house.

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that a lot line adjustment was necessary and asked Mr. Hamilton why he had not applied for this application at the same time as this application.

 

Mr. Hamilton stated that lot line adjustments have been fairly minor applications during the life of the project and noted that they have received 12 lot line adjustments to date.  He explained that he had not applied for a lot line adjustment and was waiting for approval of this request before applying. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Hamilton why he could not redesign the proposed residence to take better advantage of the views.

 

Mr. Hamilton answered that he had tried to redesign the house, however the ended up with a house with an odd roof design that did not work.  He felt it was much more logical to rotate the house and bring in a nice courtyard and circular driveway in front of the house. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Hamilton if more of the house would be facing Palos Verdes Drive West with this rotation.

 

Mr. Hamilton answered that more house, in width, would be facing Palos Verde Drive West.  However, in turning the house, the more attractive side of the house would be facing the street. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked why rotating the houses on the other two lots was not considered.

 

Mr. Hamilton answered that rotating the house on the other two lots would be difficult in that he could not meet the City’s setback requirements as well as aesthetically it made more sense to rotate the one he was proposing.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked how many feet would have to be moved for the lot line adjustment.

 

Mr. Hamilton stated that approximately 15 to 20 feet would be adjusted, but would be spread out over two lots.  He explained that 15 feet would mean adjusting 7 ½ feet from one lot and 7 ½ feet from the other lot.

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall stated he was very reluctant to change the rules and regulations established by the Planning Commission when this development was approved. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright did not think the findings could be made for the Conditional Use Permit, nor was the project consistent with the General Plan or the Coastal Specific Plan.  He was very reluctant to change the established conditions for the tract unless there was a situation which made these changes absolutely necessary.  He felt there was potential to redesign the house to accomplish the same goal. 

 

Commissioner Paulson agreed with the statements of Commissioners Vannorsdall and Cartwright.  He too felt there were alternatives that could be explored.

 

Commissioner Mueller agreed and added that in rotating the house there was a view corridor between the houses that would be partially blocked.   He could see advantages to the developer in rotating the house, however he felt the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.

 

Chairman Lyon did not think a view corridor was between houses, but over the roof of the houses.  He did not think rotating the house would affect the view corridor over the roof.  He was concerned with the objections of the neighbors in the letter and felt these neighbors would be satisfied if they saw the photographs of the proposed changes.  He felt the house looked better from Palos Verdes Drive West in the rotated position.     

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if the view corridor was between the houses or over the roof.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered there were two view corridors.  There was a view corridor looking over the houses from the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive West and Hawthorne Boulevard, as identified in the Coastal Specific Plan.  In addition, the tract conditions also established view corridors between the homes, which was the reason for the requirement of perpendicular ridgelines. 

 

Chairman Lyon did not see any difference in the view of the ocean after the house was rotated.  Further, he could not see where there was a view of the ocean in looking between the proposed homes.

 

Commissioner Mueller felt that in rotating the home, views were starting to be blocked across the open space. 

 

Chairman Lyon moved to continue the item to a date certain to allow the applicant a chance to present the photographs to the neighbors objecting to the change as well to incorporate a lot line adjustment request to the application.  The motion failed for lack of a second.

 

Commissioner Mueller moved to deny Conditional Use Permit No. 158 – Revision ‘D’ and Coastal Permit No. 94 – Revision ‘B’ without prejudice, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright.  Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Long abstaining.

 

4.                  Code Amendment 49:  Citywide

 

Senior Planner Fox presented the staff report and stated the item was brought before the Planning Commission at the direction of the City Council.  He explained that while neither the Equestrian Committee nor the Planning Commission have any role in the review of the non-conformity statements, any proposed revisions to the Development Code requires Planning Commission review and recommendations.  He explained the proposed code amendment and the reasons for the code amendment.  He discussed the letter distributed to the Planning Commission that had been written by an attorney representing Mr. Maxwell.  He explained that it had never been the intent of the City to grandfather any activity, use, or other function relating to the keeping of animals that was not allowed under the previous Development Code provisions.  It was only to allow those activities that were legal under the previous Development Code provisions that were then rendered non-conforming by the changed Code in 1997.  

 

Chairman Lyon asked staff what the City Attorney’s opinion was on the subject of grandfathering and if it was legal.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman responded that City Attorney Lynch was on vacation and had not seen the letter and that he had not been involved in the project. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that when he worked with the City Attorney on the Ordinance, it was the City Attorney’s opinion that the non-conformity provisions of the Code were legal.  Further, when the City Council asked staff to draft this amendment he felt it was her opinion that this was something that could be done from a legal perspective.

 

Commissioner Long added that he had watched the televised City Council meeting concerning this issue and it was his understanding that the purpose of this Ordinance was not to change the substance of the non-conformity rules, but rather to make it easier to deal with specific situations where it was difficult to prove what the number of horses was on the property in 1997. 

 

Chairman Lyon felt this amendment gave the City Council power to do something when there was a problem and had no objection to the code amendment.

 

Commissioner Cartwright clarified that all the Planning Commission was being asked to do was to recommend a change in the criteria for determining if the number of animals on a property is lawful or not. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that was correct and that the Planning Commission would not hear these types of cases, only the City Council.

 

Robert Maxwell 7 Pomegranate Road stated that if one looks at this amendment as something to facilitate City government, it was well done.  If however, one looks at what is printed, it gives a very general power to the City Council to approve and grandfather these type of cases.  He did not think the residents of Portuguese Bend had been well served by horse owners and discussed the pictures he had distributed of different corrals in the area.  He felt this type of grandfathering would encourage those who continually violate the CC&R’s and established codes.  He hoped the Planning Commission and City Council would understand that this vague language for grandfathering would further encourage encroachment of the resident’s rights.

 

Toni Deeble 3 E. Pomegranate Road stated that those requesting grandfather of their horse numbers literally trucked horses onto their property the day before the February 1, 1997 date.  She felt there had been a tremendous amount of dishonesty throughout the years with the horse owners over a variety of subjects.  She stated she valued the equestrian community and the right to keep horses, however she did not value the commercialization in a residential neighborhood.  She did not think those that she felt had continually lied over the years about the horses on their property should now be rewarded by being grandfathered.  She felt the system and code had been abused over the years and asked the Planning Commission to help stop the abuse.

 

Joe Deeble 3 E. Pomegranate Road stated that it was his understanding this code amendment would give the City Council the latitude to change the findings on February 1, 1997.  He stated that on one hand he agreed with this concept, however by allowing some to renegotiate the numbers at this point could lead to dishonesty.  He hoped that this would allow someone the latitude to not accept the numbers as they stand as he did not think they represented a good land use. 

 

Commissioner Long noted that the way the amendment was written it was only the owner who could trigger the challenge as to the number of horses that should be grandfathered in.  He felt that the amendment should be modified to allow the owner or any resident to challenge the number of horses. 

 

Richard Bara 1 Peppertree Drive stated he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a member of the Equestrian Committee.  He felt that the language in the amendment was adequate and served its purpose.  He commented on the statement that horses had been trucked in to beef up their numbers had to be false since the February 1, 1997 date was chosen retroactively. 

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Commissioner Long moved to approve the staff recommendation with the amendments to allow residents as well as property owners to challenge the number of horses on a property on February 1, 1997 and under section F to delete the words “property owners” statements and replace it with “challengers” statements and forward the recommendation to the City Council, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.  Approved, (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.

 

CONTINUED BUSINESS

 

5.                  Long Point Resort:  Destination Development Corporation (applicant) 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

Chairman Lyon suggested hearing the staff report, followed by a short presentation by the City consultants regarding the EIR, questions from the Planning Commissioners, a short discussion amongst the Planning Commission, and ending with the public hearing.

 

The other Planning Commissioners felt it would be more useful to hear from the public speakers before having a discussion amongst the Commissioners.  It was decided to hear the public speakers before discussion between the Commissioners.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  He explained that the information before the Commission this evening was discussed in two staff reports dated June 26 and July 10, 2001.  The staff reports contain an analysis on the Conditional Use Permit application for the Upper Point Vicente property and an analysis for the grading findings for both the Upper Point Vicente area as well as the resort hotel area.  He briefly discussed the cut and fill indexes for both properties.  He also discussed the amendments to the tentative parcel map to allow the division of land into 4 proposed parcels.  Mr. Mihranian stated that after the meeting staff would provide the Commission with 3 of the 4 volumes of the Final Environmental Impact Report.  He concluded by stating that the Traffic Committee had reviewed the proposed project as it relates to traffic and had accepted and adopted the staff recommendations and he will be forwarding the Committee’s recommendation to the Planning Commission at the July 24 meeting.

 

Glen Lajoy of RBF Consultants explained the Planning Commission would be receiving volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the Final Environmental Impact Report.  He discussed what material and information was included in the three volumes.  He stated that volume 4 was currently being prepared and included the biological resources assessment.  He estimated this volume would be presented to the Planning Commission at the end of August. 

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the documents would be made available to the public at Hesse Park, both libraries, and City Hall as of July 11.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Mike Mohler 11777 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, (applicant) thanked staff for getting some of the information out early for review.  He stated he would be available for any questions.

 

Bob Nelson 6612 Channelview Court stated the Planning Commission should know how he feels about the project and if they didn’t they could read the July 5 editorial page of the PV News.

 

Paul Christensen 6317 Tarragon Road stated he was speaking as the president of the Upper Abalone Cove Homes Association.  He stated he was in complete support of the previously approved hotel and resort complex on the Long Point property, but the current proposal was completely unacceptable.  He was very much against using City owned land.  He suggested a combined hotel/resort complex consisting of a golf facility and a marina.  He felt this approach would free more of the Long Point property for golf on the property.  He felt there may be more boating enthusiasts than golfers who would be willing to commit more dollars annually than golfers.  He felt a combined facility with multiple attractions would offer better year round opportunities than a single attraction facility. 

 

William Tolliffe 6347 Tarragon Road felt that at holes 2, 3, and 5 the errant tee shots would present a hazard to pedestrians on the nearby trails and paths.  He also felt there was a potential for drives from hole 2 to endanger people at the scenic overlook as well as Palos Verdes Drive South.  He felt holes 3 and 4 were too close to each other, as an errant drive from hole 3 could easily reach the number 4 tee. 

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated she was appalled the Planning Commission had come this far and had not yet told the applicant they could not use City land.  She felt the Planning Commission had one very important job to do, which was to deny use of the City owned land for the project.  

 

Joseph Picarelli 30311 Via Borica stated the staff report was incorrect on page 3 regarding the grading permit, which stated that the proposed grading would not adversely impact the views from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  He noted on page 10 the discussion of the use of berms along the property line of the adjacent property.  He distributed a photo simulation of the proposed berms which completely covers up to the roofline of the south patio.  He objected to the enhanced number of parking spaces made available in the proposed parking lot by the church.  He noted on page 7 that Mr. Schulties had stated that one could never eliminate errant golf balls from a golf course, however the staff report proposes a condition that no nets be put up.  He asked where that would leave St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Villa Capri.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if Mr. Picarelli were making his presentation as an individual or as a representative of the church. 

 

Mr. Picarelli stated he was a representative of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Picarelli if he would object to the 42 parking spaces if the land were being used for soccer or baseball.

 

Mr. Picarelli answered that it was a question of the use of the land and how it affects the adjacent property, not who was using the land. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Picarelli if he wanted to see the property remain vacant.

 

Mr. Picarelli responded that he supported the SOC II proposal.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked why parking in this area was objectionable.

 

Mr. Picarelli responded that currently the area is used for limited parking on Sunday morning.  He stated that the proposed parking will lead to cars being there everyday and earlier than is acceptable.  He stated it was the activity and the commercialization of the street to become a parking lot that was objectionable.

 

Frank Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane stated he was opposed to the use of public land for the golf course.  He felt the use of the land was too limited and the hazards to the public were not acceptable.  He encouraged Long Point to develop their property and felt it would add to the City.  He stated the Ritz Carlton hotels have developed several facilities on only 7 acres of land. 

 

Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri stated he called several golf course operators to ask about the demand for 9-hole golf.  He stated that of the golf course facilities he called, only 2 to 5 percent or less of the patrons request tee times for 9-hole play.  He stated there was so little demand for 9-hole golf that most courses do not discount their 18-hole golf rates for 9-hole play. 

 

Ann Shaw 30036 Via Borica stated that if there is a golf course on city land it will take away a majority of the land at the Point Vicente site.  She stated the remaining areas were very steep and unusable.  She stated the golf course would cover the Nike site.  She stated a golf course would cause excessive watering for the coastal shrub as well as adding toxic chemicals to the native plants and wildlife. 

 

Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, PVE, did not believe the General Plan should be amended to accommodate the developer’s wishes.  She stated the Planning Commission had the authority to recommend to the City Council that City owned property be preserved in its entirety.  She felt the Upper Point Vicente land should be used by the community for various informal games, team sports, and other outdoor recreational purposes.

 

Holly Cain 52 Avenida Corona distributed a sheet of paper comparing the existing entitlements at Long Point to the proposed project.  She pointed out the differences in the hotel size, the number of casitas, the resort villas, the retail spaces, and the size of the golf course.  She noted that the existing entitlements allow for 56 acres of golf while the proposed project allows for 36 acres of golf.  She felt that the existing entitlements allow a more desirable land use for the community and urged the Planning Commission to recommend to the City Council that the public property at Upper Point Vicente Park be excluded from the proposed project.  

 

Barbara Gleghorn 28850 Crestridge Road felt that many of the statements in the staff report were confusing.  She stated that over 2,300 Rancho Palos Verdes residents endorsed the proposal that public land be retained for general public use.  She felt this proposal had been largely ignored in the staff report, although it was included in the Draft EIR.  She pointed out many inconsistencies in the staff report.  She suggested the Planning Commission consider the alternative project proposal to be a real opportunity to enhance the site’s full potential for public use with increased accessibility. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked Mrs. Gleghorn what SOC II thought should happen to the property that was currently being farmed.

 

Mrs. Gleghorn felt the entire park should be given to the Recreation and Parks Committee for public input.

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if the developer had agreed to make whatever changes are necessary on Lower Point Vicente concerning the villas to ensure views are restored. 

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian responded that in regards to the resort hotel area and it’s consistency with the Coastal Specific Plan, staff is recommending a condition be imposed on the project that would limit the height of the structures within vertical zone one and vertical zone two to be consistent with the requirements of the Coastal Specific Plan.

 

Commissioner Mueller felt this was a very complicated land use issue.  He felt that he, as a Commissioner, needed to understand what the current use of all of the City owned property was.  He needed to understand what the needs in the community are and what the perceived needs would be in the future.  He was not comfortable discussing land use issues without knowing this information.  He discussed view corridors and was not convinced the developer has addressed the view corridors.  He pointed out that it was not only the height of some of the proposed structures, but also the substantial amount of fill beneath the structures.  He felt this was a very large development and there was cumulative impacts that would have an affect on any future development.  He was concerned about the use of City land and how much access the public would be allowed. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that the pressing issue before the Planning Commission was the use of public land for the golf course.  He felt the Planning Commission needed to give some time and thought to the subject in order to make a decision.  He felt the Planning Commission needed to have some structure and suggested focusing on the use of City land first, and then discussing the other aspects of the project in some type of orderly fashion.  He was concerned that there was no process or agreed to set of procedures to follow for the Planning Commission to reach its decision.

 

Commissioner Long agreed with the idea that the Commission first make the decision as to whether or not to recommend the use of City land for the project.  He felt the Planning Commission was at a stage in the process where they had all of the information they were likely to get to make a decision on whether or not to allow the use of public land. He did not feel the Commission was going to get any more information, despite his earlier requests.  He was not impressed by the idea that a private developer can use the public land more profitably than a non-profit government agency.  He felt that by definition, that entire discussion was meaningless.  He was also not impressed by the developer’s offer to pay taxes that it would be obligated to pay.  He did not feel that public land should be an amenity for a private developer.  He felt that in order to make a decision as to whether 65 acres of City land should be devoted for decades to a use that only 2 percent of the population may use, he would have to have an understanding of what the current uses of public land are, what they will be in the future, what the future needs will be, and how this land will best fulfill the City’s future needs.  He stated that one could look through thousands of pages of documents and will see no answers to any of those questions, and he did not feel the Planning Commission will ever get those answers.  He did not think that the developer met its burden to demonstrate that this public land should be given up for what is essentially a private use.  He felt that no more time should be spent on the project and no further consideration given to the applications and that the Commission recommend to the City Council that public land not be used for this project. 

 

Chairman Lyon began by addressing the concerns regarding the process of reaching a decision.  He saw three possible scenarios:  1) conditionally approving the use of City property as requested; 2) approve part of the requested City land for development; and 3) deny the use of City property and suggest, from his perspective, the applicant expand the golf academy concept on the Long Point property to include not just the driving range and putting green but also several practice holes.  Lastly, he would suggest the applicant reach an agreement with Ocean Trails for a challenging 18-hole golf experience.  He stated that he supported the concept of the hotel but questioned the probable success of a 9-hole golf course.  He also did not think Ocean Trails would succeed unless they aligned themselves with something like the proposed resort.  He further felt that the applicant was the best judge of the economic viability of all of the alternatives and did not feel the Commission needed a lot of input from the Finance Advisory Committee.  He felt the Committee would only receive the information the developer feels is most advantageous to his purpose.  He discussed the alternative of approving part of the land for development and leaving part of it for public use. 

 

Chairman Lyon felt it was very important to understand what the City would do with the land and asked staff to address what the realistic benefits to the City are if holes 3 and 4 are eliminated and retained for City use.  He also asked if hole 5 were eliminated what the City would do with that land.  Similarly, if the area occupied by hole 2 were eliminated what the City would do with that area.  He felt the answer to those questions would be helpful for the Commission to understand before deciding whether or not to retain some or all of City owned property.  He asked if it were possible or viable to build an 18-hole golf course on separate land owned by Mr. York in the moratorium area. 

 

If the use of Upper Point Vicente property for golf were approved Chairman Lyon suggested the following conditions of approval be included:  1) the City shall receive fair compensation for the use of Upper Point Vicente land; 2) all golf facilities, trails, and parks shall be designed to protect golfers and the public in accordance with common safety standards and practices in the industry; 3) the City be held harmless in case of injury or damage to property caused by golfers; and 4) Rancho Palos Verdes residents be given tee time priority over non-residents not staying at the hotel and a significant discount for use of the golf course. 

 

Commissioner Paulson appreciated the work Chairman Lyon had done to get the Commission focused on alternatives, however he felt the Commission must first address the feasibility of using the City property for the proposed golf course. 

 

Chairman Lyon agreed this issue was the first issue the Planning Commission should tackle. 

 

Commissioner Long was pleased to see that alternatives were being considered and that if his preferred approach was not adopted he had a number of conditions that he would suggest.

Chairman Lyon stated that he had always thought the issue of the use of City land should be addressed first but had encountered considerable opposition to that approach.  He felt the decision should be made on that subject tonight.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall stated he would like to see holes 5 and 6 eliminated from the proposal.  He noted that the July 4 celebration recently celebrated at City Hall was located where holes 5 and 6 were proposed.  He did not think the proposal left enough room for the City Hall operations.  He could not believe the City would go  many more years before they would want a new City Hall.  He felt the rest of Point Vicente Park could be used for a golf area.  He felt additional space for golf could be gained by reducing or eliminating the villas and/or casitas. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if there was any legal reason that would preclude the use of the public land for the purposes in which it is intended.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman answered that as far as the determination or recommendation of the Planning Commission, it would be subject to the Federal Government changing the program of utilization.  He stated that the City would not be able to lease the land to the developer, but there were other arrangements, such as concession agreements, which the National Park Service has indicated could be an acceptable means for the City to recapture some sort of income.

 

Chairman Lyon asked staff if they were able to answer any of his questions at this time regarding the golf holes.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas prefaced his comments by stating that it is up to the City Council to ultimately determine the appropriate alternate uses to the property.   He stated that if holes 3 and 4 were eliminated the only two things that came to mind for alternative uses for the land were habitat restoration or recreational use.  He stated he would have to defer to the parks master plan which identifies uses on Upper Point Vicente.  He stated there was also the Program of Utilization referred to by the National Park Service which designates that area as picnic area.  As far as eliminating the other holes, the same answers apply:  either additional habitat or other uses called out for in the parks master plan or the Program of Utilization. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked if there was the potential for meaningful City use of the property by holes 6 and 7.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that potential use would be determined by the Parks Master Plan and the Program of Utilization, although there would likely be access and habitat impact concerns with any alternate use in that area of the property. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright questioned if the developer was taking the stand of all or nothing for this project.  Further, he did not feel he had all the information and facts he needed to make any type of decision.

 

Commissioner Long moved to recommend to the City Council that it deny the use of public land at Upper Point Vicente, it withdraw the City’s permission for the Grading Application for the Upper Point Vicente property, and hearings on the project are discontinued until a new application is brought before the Planning Commission.  The motion failed due to a lack of a second.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to ask the Developer to revise the plan eliminating the use of the flat area adjacent to where City Hall is now located.

 

Commissioner Paulson felt that the area most permanately impacted if golf were to be allowed at Upper Point Vicente would be Villa Capri and St. Paul’s Church and he was concerned about the impact to them.  He had concerns about holes 3 and 4 and felt some of the villas could be eliminated to move the holes onto the Long Point property.  He also felt the 18 holes at Ocean Trails should not be forgotten as a viable alternative to the golf course.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall amended his motion to add that the developer explore the safety issues on holes 3 and 4.

 

Commissioner Long asked if the motion could be amended to state that the portion of land defined in the motion be excluded from the project.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall amended his motion to exclude the flat area around City Hall from the project (hole 5) and the area proposed for holes 3 and 4, seconded by Commissioner Long.

 

Chairman Lyon pointed out to the Commission that he had asked staff to answer some questions for the Commission and his thought was that staff work with the applicant to identify the best areas of City owned land to exclude from the project.  He felt it was important that the Commission understand which City owned areas would be most beneficial to the City, which the developer could then eliminate from the project. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright felt it was important to understand the strategies in the City for the use of public property.  He felt that once the Commission understood that it may be easier to decide if City land should be used as part of the resort complex or as part of something else. 

 

Commissioner Mueller agreed that this information was needed to make this initial decision.  He felt the Commission needed to hear from staff what the current uses are of City owned property and what anticipated needs are.

 

Commissioner Long spoke in favor of the motion noting that half a loaf is better than none.

 

After a roll call vote the motion failed, (3-3) with Commissioners Cartwright, Paulson, and Chairman Lyon dissenting.

 

Chairman Lyon moved to ask staff to work with the applicant to identify those areas on the Upper Point Vicente property that could be excluded that would have the most value to the City.

 

Commissioner Long asked if the motion could be amended to allow the City to work not only with the applicant but also with a member of SOC II. 

 

Chairman Lyon amended his motion to include a representative of SOC II in the discussion, however he would not expect that to slow down the process, seconded by Commissioner Long.

 

Commissioner Paulson felt that proceeding on any of these motions to discuss uses of the Upper Point Vicente Park area implied that the Planning Commission was potentially willing to accept some type of golf use on that property.

 

In light of Commissioner Paulson’s comment, Commissioner Long withdrew his second to the motion.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that the purpose of his motion was to have more facts on probable uses of whatever land may be excluded from the application.  He did not think there was any implications that City land would be excluded or approved in the motion. 

 

Conceptually, Commissioner Long liked the idea of getting the information he felt the Commission needed, however he did not feel he could second the motion with the implications the motion may carry.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the Planning Commission has already received the Program of Utilization for the Upper Point Vicente area in the April 10 staff report.  He explained that there is also a City Parks Master Plan, which shows a number of proposed recreational uses for Upper Point Vicente.  He noted that the Planning Commission has received in their April 10 staff report excerpts from the Master Parks Plan which identify these potential recreational uses.  He also stated that the Commission was previously provided by the Deed Restrictions for the Upper Point Vicente property.  He stated that that is all that exists in terms of plans for Upper Point Vicente and everything else is purely speculation as to what the site could be used for. 

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that some of the concern of the Planning Commission is a fear of letting something go that cannot be recovered.  He stated that he had concerns regarding the habitat issue, however having walked the property several times he was very aware that the whole area does not consist of protected habit.  He believed that most of the area existing habitat was disturbed and would need to be improved.  He felt that there could be active uses on the property along with passive uses.  He felt that designating all the land to habitat could be just as much a potential problem as designating the land entirely to golf. 

 

Chairman Lyon’s motion died for lack of a second.

 

Commissioner Paulson felt the Planning Commission should take the two weeks between now and the next meeting to read the Program of Utilization, Master Park Plan, and the deed restrictions.  He felt this may answer many of the questions the Commissioners have.  He stated that all the answers on how the parcels can be used will be found in those documents. 

 

Commissioner Long renewed his motion to deny the use of public land, ask the City to withdraw permission for the grading permit application to proceed, and to discontinue further hearings on the project until there is a new application, seconded by Commissioner Mueller. 

 

Commissioner Paulson stated he was not ready to support the motion until he could read the information discussed earlier and see if that information satisfies his needs.  He stated if the information does not satisfy his needs he would then be able to support the motion. 

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall stated that since he does support the use of some of the public land he also could not support the motion.

 

Commissioner Cartwright also could not support the motion at this time.  He felt the Commission should make certain they were all in agreement that they wanted to evaluate the use of the public property.  He felt the Commissioners should be polled as to what additional information they needed from staff. 

 

The motion failed, (2-4) with Commissioners Cartwright, Paulson, Vannorsdall, and Chairman Lyon dissenting.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked that the Planning Commission come to an agreement that at the next meeting the Commissioners will have reviewed the Program of Utilization, the Master Parks Plan, and the deed restrictions.  He stated that if, after reading these documents, questions were still outstanding regarding use issues the Commissioners should be prepared to state specifically what information was still needed to answer the basic question of the feasibility of using City property for the proposed golf course. 

 

Commissioner Long strongly agreed with the suggestion and added that if at all possible try to be at the point of making a decision on this issue.  He felt it was very important that all seven Commissioners be present at the next meeting.

 

Commissioner Cartwright added that regardless of the decision that is made at the next meeting, the Planning Commission should be prepared to articulate what other steps needed to be taken to come to a final decision. 

 

Chairman Lyon agreed with Commissioner Paulson’s suggestion.  He added that he did not like the idea of the Planning Commission not allowing any use of the public land and felt the Commission should first explore alternatives that may be acceptable to the developer and beneficial to the City. 

 

Commissioner Paulson urged the Chairman and the staff to work for a meeting time to discuss this matter that all Commissioners can attend and have advance notice of. 

 

Chairman Lyon noted that the Planning Commission could deny the project at the next meeting but they could not approve it because of the circulation of the Final EIR has not commenced. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the last section of the Final EIR would be delivered to the Planning Commission some time near August 1.  He recommended that if the Commission considered approving the project, that it not be until this information has been received and reviewed. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if staff could summarize the three documents at the next meeting.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated staff could do a verbal summary at the next meeting.

 

Chairman Lyon felt the suggestions were good ones and should be implemented.  He requested the applicant consider the viability of eliminating the 9-hole golf course, consider an expanded golf academy, and working with Ocean Trails to use their facilities for golf. 

 

Commissioner Long suggested to the Chairman that the Commission would not get a clear answer to his question unless the Commission rejected the application in its current form.  He felt that as long as the developer has the prospect of getting everything it wants, it will not negotiate for anything less.

 

Commissioner Mueller requested staff provide a current summary of all of the parks and recreation in the City, since the Parks Master Plan was written in 1989.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 11:47.

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