07/24/2001 Planning Commission Minutes 07/24/2001, 2001, July, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He explained that the Traffic Committee had approved an amended staff recommendation of approval with appropriate conditions and mitigation measures. He stated that staff had provided the Planning Commission with the information the Planning Commission requested in regards to parks and recreation acreage within the City limits. Mr. Mihranian briefly summarized information provided in the April 10 staff report regarding the deed restriction and program of utilization for the Upper Point Vicente area. The 07/24/2001 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes




JULY 24, 2001





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




Director/Secretary Rojas led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.




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


Absent:           None


Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Schonborn, Assistant Planner Yu, Assistant City Attorney Pittman, Finance Committee Chairman Earl Butler, Traffic Committee Chairman Jim Jones, and Recording Secretary Peterson.




Director/Secretary Rojas stated he had received a late phone call from a resident confined to a wheelchair wishing to speak on Agenda Item No. 6 asking if it were possible to move the item to be heard immediately after the Long Point project, Agenda Item No. 2.  There being no objection, it was so ordered by the Chairman.




Director/Secretary Rojas reported that the City Council had adopted the first reading of the Equestrian Ordinance at their last meeting.


Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of correspondence regarding Agenda Item No. 2.  He also distributed several items of late correspondence regarding Agenda Item No. 2.


Chairman Lyon reported that he had a discussion with Mike Mohler.


Commissioner Long distributed to the Planning Commission copies of all of the e-mail he had received regarding Agenda Item No. 2.


Commissioner Cartwright stated that he had received a packet of information from SOC II.  He stated he had received no e-mails but had received several faxes.


Commissioner Paulson reported he had received 6 e-mails and 1 fax.


Vice Chairman Clark and Commissioner Mueller reported they had received e-mails consistent with Commissioner Long’s handout.




1.                  Minutes of July 10, 2001


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


Commissioner Long clarified his statements on pages 12, 15, 16, and 18 of the minutes.


Chairman Lyon instructed the recording secretary to verify from the record whether Commissioner Long’s amendments were correct and make the appropriate changes.


Commissioner Cartwright noted one clarification to his statement on page 12 of the minutes.


Chairman Lyon directed the minutes be reviewed at the meeting of August 14, 2001 for approval.




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


Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  He explained that the Traffic Committee had approved an amended staff recommendation of approval with appropriate conditions and mitigation measures.  He stated that staff had provided the Planning Commission with the information the Planning Commission requested in regards to parks and recreation acreage within the City limits.  Mr. Mihranian briefly summarized information provided in the April 10 staff report regarding the deed restriction and program of utilization for the Upper Point Vicente area.  He also discussed the updated 1989, City’s Master Parks Plan, which notes that a municipal golf course on the Upper Point Vicente area is considered a possible use provided it is given priority to residents. 


Commissioner Cartwright proposed displaying the matrix included in the staff report for the public to comment on. 


Chairman Lyon stated that the matrix would be displayed during the Commission’s discussion of the criteria following the public hearing.  He stated the public would be allowed to comment on the criteria during that time.


Vice Chairman Clark questioned how the Planning Commission could make a decision on this project before the public comment period for the final EIR was over.


Assistant City Attoney Pittman answered that the Planning Commission is serving in an advisory capacity for this particular item and that all information available, with the sole exception of the public comments, is available for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation, both with the respect to the use of City land and with respect to the environmental analysis done to date.  Any recommendation as to the adequacy of the EIR can be qualified based on the outcome of the comment period.  He noted that there were some time constraints because of the process deadlines set by CEQA. 


Vice Chairman Clark asked for clarification on what extent the Planning Commission was acting in an advisory capacity for this project.


Mr. Pittman answered that the Municipal Code states that in cases where there are joint or multiple applications they would be consolidated in front of the highest decision making body.  He noted that in this case, since the City Council has to make the decision with respect to the General Plan Amendment and the use of Upper Point Vicente, they would then become the decision making body for the entire project. 


Commissioner Long asked about any processing deadlines.


Mr. Pittman responded that the only time deadline that would come into play was the one with respect to certification of the EIR.  He explained there was a one-year time limit on processing EIR’s from the date the project is deemed complete, which in this case was July 18, 2000.  He noted that the City has received a time extension from the applicant which would give the City until October 17, 2001 to certify the EIR.  He stated the Permit Streamling Act was not applicable because there was a legislative act involved in this project.  


Commissioner Cartwright felt that since a key piece of the EIR was being recirculated for public comment, the Planning Commission could make a negative decision on the project, but could not make a positive decision until the process has been complete.


Director/Secretary Rojas clarified that the distinction was approval versus denial and that the Planning Commission does not need to certify the EIR to deny the project.


Assistant City Attorney Pittman noted an affirmative recommendation could be made to the City Council, however the City Council could not adopt the affirmative recommendation until the EIR is certified.


Earl Butler, Chairman of the Finance Advisory Committee, explained to the Planning Commission that his committee had not yet made any recommendations to the City Council and probably would not be doing so until after their August 22 meeting.  He explained that the City Council had requested the answer to three questions:  1) Is the basis for computing the revenue tax base from Destination Resorts reliable; 2) Is the projected revenue to the City achievable; and 3) Is the use of City land for the golf course necessary for project financial feasibility. 


Commissioner Vannorsdall asked if the process had been lengthy because the Committee had trouble getting necessary information from the developer.


Mr. Butler responded that there had been many variables, including the City Council asking for additional information midway through the process.  He stated the consultants for the Finance Advisory Committee have been asked to look at quite a bit of information and report back to the Committee.


Vice Chairman Clark referred to the question regarding the necessity of City land for financial feasibility and asked if the Finance Advisory Committee had any information that would help the Planning Commission.


Mr. Butler responded that the developer had told the Finance Committee that the project was not feasible without golf on the public land.  He noted that things had changed with the project since then and he could not speak for the developer. 


Commissioner Long asked if the Committee was going to consider golf not on site but nearby on another property.


Mr. Butler answered that this was not a question asked by the City Council to consider. 


Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to open the public hearing, seconded by Commissioner Long.  There being no objection, the public hearing was opened.


Mike Mohler 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles (applicant) stated he had read the staff reports.  With respect to the review of citywide parks and recreation amenities he noted that there was the potential of a 700-acre acquisition of open space in the landslide area not noted in the report.  With respect to the feasibility of use of the Upper Point Vicente property, he felt that the property was feasible for use as part of the proposed project.  He referenced City documents that have consistently postulated active uses, including golf, on the site.  He felt the proposed project was appropriate and optimizes the public use of the property.  He felt public access to the property was enhanced by virtue of the project design.  Lastly, he felt the public benefits generated by the project were more than could be generated if the project were not built.  He urged the Commission to direct staff to prepare conditions of approval for the proposed project for the August 14th meeting.  He stressed to the Commission how critical the proposed 9-hole golf course, practice facility, and golf school were to the success of the project.  He stated the golf course was a critical attractor of guests to the resort, both to group and leisure business.  He stated there was no replacement attracter that would allow the developer access to the market segments needed for a feasible project.  He stated the golf course was more than a recreation amenity, as it created resort ambiance and sense of arrival that no other amenity could.  He stated that a healthy Ocean Trails was important but did not solve the need for an on-site golf amenity for the proposed project.  He explained that the spa, while important, was perceived as a given in resorts such as Long Point and was not a pull for the major market segments.  He stated that the initial reports of the consultants for the Finance Advisory Committee indicates that the golf course is absolutely essential for the project.  Mr. Mohler acknowledged the July 20, 2001 letter from the Villa Capri HOA supporting the resort plan, including holes 3 and 4 next to their property.  He stated that all adjacent Homeowners Associations have now spoken their support for the plan. 


Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Mohler what type of guarantees there would be that the public would have access to the golf course.


Mr. Mohler responded that the City had the ability to guarantee public access to the golf course on City owned property by the inclusion of conditions placed on the approvals.  With respect to the Long Point property, he stated the developer would record any covenants in favor of the public that the City desired to guarantee public access to the golf course.  He stated that the plan submitted to the City indicates their projection that the golf course would be used half by the general public and half-used by the hotel guests. 


Commissioner Paulson asked if a person from the general public had equal rights to the golf course in regards to tee times and availability.


Mr. Mohler responded that the public would have equal rights and the developer would record whatever appropriate covenants to guarantee that.


Commissioner Cartwright asked if the golf course was a deal breaker for the developer.


Mr. Mohler stated that the exclusion of golf would be a deal breaker.


Alice Slater 4219 Dauntless Drive realized many decisions were political and hoped the Planning Commission would not make a political decision but rather decisions that were good for the people in the community.  She was not against the developer building on their own property but was against using City land for the golf course. 


Jim Knight 5 Cinnamon Lane urged the Planning Commission not to rush into making any decisions on the project.  He questioned how the developer was given permission to consider public lands in their development without a public hearing.  He felt the Commission should consider the concerns of the resource agencies.  He asked how a plan could be approved that was in direct conflict with the NCCP.  He asked how a golf course could be qualified as public use, as only 2 percent of the population plays golf.  He stated that when asking the developer why they could not shuttle golfers to Ocean Trails, one response was that tee times could not be guaranteed for the guests.  He wondered if that meant tee times would then be guaranteed for guests if golf were approved at the resort.  He stated he had spoken to Ken Zuckerman at Ocean Trails.  He had indicated that he would provide advance reservations that would satisfy the resorts golf package requirements.  He asked if there had been adequate analysis to determine if the proposed project was viable on the developers land alone.  He did not think the Planning Commission could make a decision before the full reading of the Environmental Impact Report. 


Barbara Satler 1904 Avenida Aprenda urged the Planning Commission not to rush into any decisions.


Bob Nelson 6612 Channelview Ct stated the Finance Advisory Committee has been in receipt of the City consultant’s report since June 13 and briefly discussed portions of the report.  He felt the Finance Advisory Committee has delayed their decision for too long and their delay was costing the City money in possible income.  He stated he had attended a Finance Advisory Committee meeting and felt the Committee had become hotel resort consultants.  He felt the Committee had challenged the applicants and the City consultants in numerous and sometimes minutia what-if’s.  He did not think the citizens of Rancho Palos Verdes did not need this attitude.  He stated that the City of Palos Verdes Estates owns golf club land and receives approximately 20 percent from that land.  He asked that Rancho Palos Verdes try to do the same.


Gloria Anderson 6818 Los Verdes Drive felt if would behoove the Planning Commission and City Council to tell the citizens of Rancho Palos Verdes what would happen if the project failed. 


Lee McGee 34 Avenida Corona felt the application lacked an essential element, ownership of the property in question.  He felt that use and control of the City owned property created a serious problem.  He had heard no assurances that in the event the City approves the request, that the applicant will not be asked to make a further contribution of public land in the future to expand the golf course.  He felt the applicant should be required to submit a plan for the resort on their own land, excluding all City owned land. 


Tom Coull 49 Santa Catalina Drive stated that by delaying this project to the extent it has taken so far has cost millions of dollars in tax revenue.  He felt that to make an investment in Rancho Palos Verdes was an unattractive proposition and felt there was something drastically wrong with the process.  He felt changes needed to be made in the process for any future projects.  He endorsed the project and felt it would beautify the coastline of Rancho Palos Verdes.


Marianne Hunter 1 Cinnamon Lane asked the Planning Commission not to rush a vote on the project.  She felt that land issues were very important and decisions could not be taken back once they were made.  She asked if the developer had bought the Long Point property on the belief they would get public land that they felt was absolutely necessary for the viability of their project.  She felt that if that were the case then how could one trust their judgement.  She stated that the Planning Commission and City Council would have to make a decision as to what type of City they wanted to live in, as this project would change the City.  She did not think the City had to give away Upper Point Vicente to clean it up.  She felt that if the City showed some movement towards taking control of the area and allowing the public to clean the area, then maybe some of the people supporting Long Point would change their minds. 


Joseph Picarelli 30311 Via Borica stated he was speaking on his own behalf and not on behalf of the church.  He felt that with all of the discussions on the financial analysis and the many possibilities was proof that the City was getting involved with a speculation.  He did not think it was responsible for the City to risk City assets with a private developer for the benefit of the private developer.  He felt the Planning Commission should note that the City’s consultant dealing with Destination Development and the Finance Advisory Committee was operating under a confidentiality agreement as to what it sees and what it can report back to the Financial Advisory Committee. 


Ann Shaw 30036 Via Borica stated she had a letter from a travel consultant stating that a 9-hole golf course was not draw and that there were many other successful resort hotels on the west course that do not have golf amenities attached to them. 


Scotty Wuerker 4036 Via Pima PVE (speaking for Barbara Gleghorn) stated that it was not often that the front page of the Sunday New York Times carries an article about what happens in Rancho Palos Verdes.   She referred to a headline “Here are the new courses, now where are the golfers?”  She recommended the Commissioners read the article.  She stated the belabored discussions about rearranging the golf holes on the park is only a diversion.  She stated the only reason the developer wanted to use the park for golf was to make room for the residences on the Long Point property.  She felt that leaving the park as part of the project it could be construed as implying more support for inclusion of the villas.  She stated that voting “no’ on the use of City land then the real negotiations would begin.  


Eric Paris 29234 Stadia Hill Lane suggested the Planning Commission approve the project in it’s original proposed hotel size with a 9-hole golf course completely on the Long Point site, but designed to accommodate a possible addition to the structure at a phased date.  He felt this would serve many benefits.  He felt it was far easier to fill a smaller hotel, it would ease approval and lowers the initial construction costs, it would show the project viability or lack thereof, and it would provide concrete facts rather than the developers optimism and the residents fears. He stated that after the project completion and period of operation the developer could then come back to the City for any adjustments to the project size and layout.  He realized this would be more expensive than originally planned, there was the possibility now that they are not going to get what they want.  If felt if this would have been done in the mid 1990’s they could have had an operating project years ago.  He felt the City should move carefully and deliberately.  He noted the developer has waited years before presenting the project which he felt meant that the developer had no economic urgency. 


Vic Quirarte 29369 Quailwood Drive stated he was speaking as a private individual.  He acknowledged that he was the vice president of the Council of RPV Homeowners Association, at which time there were 26 members.  He noted that not one of the members has shown support for the proposed project.  He noted that the staff report was in error in saying there were no trails at Upper Point Vicente and stated he had taken many people on hikes on the existing trail.  He did not think the City should give away public land when at the same time the City was trying to purchase additional public land. 


Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Quirarte if any of the 26 homeowners associations had taken a vote on their position on the proposed Long Point project.


Mr. Quirarte stated the various homeowners associations had not taken a vote on their position and it was something he had hoped the City would have asked for more input from the various homeowners associations.


Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road asked the Planning Commission to deny the use of City land.  She stated that if the villas were removed from Long Point there would be plenty of room on the property for the entire 9-hole golf course.


Frank Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane felt the subject being discussed was the best use of public land, not just the use of public land.  He felt that anyone who has ever walked the property realizes what irreplaceable property it is and it should not be given away for such a minimal use. 


Ruth Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane stated the Commission should simply state that golf is not the best use of the parkland for everyone.  She felt the City would ultimately be responsible for damages to property caused by errant golf balls and the Commission should also keep that in mind.


Stasys Petravicius 15 Seacove Drive felt the developer could build the hotel and golf course today without the use of the Upper Point Vicente land.  He stated the city would still receive tax revenue from that development.  He did not think there was any compelling reason to develop the Upper Point Vicente site for a few possible extra dollars.  He felt the parksite should be developed for the majority of residents desires and felt the City should do a survey as to what the people want.  He did not think there was any hurry to develop the site.  He supported the SOC II proposal and felt it was an attractive and viable use of the Upper Point Vicente land.  He stated that Rancho Palos Verdes was a residential bedroom community and not a resort destination.


Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri read excerpts from letters from the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife discussing their concerns on the use of the Upper Point Vicente land and the habitat on the land. 


Holly Cain 52 Avenida Corona discussed a survey she conducted on the number of acres the four peninsula cities had devoted to golf use.  She noted that Rancho Palos Verdes presently has twice as many acres devoted to golf as any of the other three cities.   She stated that the Upper Point Vicente land was part of the Federal Lands to Public Parks Program.  She discussed Del Cerro Park, Wilderness Park in Redondo Beach and Whites Point Park in San Pedro as good uses of public land.  She stated in the April 24 staff report to the Planning Commission there were 5 places listed that had golf associated with the Federal Lands to Public Parks Program.  She stated she called all places and noted that all five were completely public courses with no priorities given to tee times.  She asked the Planning Commission keep the Upper Point Vicente Park as public land.


Chairman Lyon noted that at this time Commissioner Mueller would have to leave the meeting to catch a flight out of town.  He asked if Commissioner Mueller would like to say anything to the Commission before leaving.


Commissioner Mueller felt there was a lot of public input regarding this very complex issue.  He noted that the land was provided to the City by the Federal Government and the rules of the land are clearly defined in the application.  He felt this land should be completely accessible to the public and it was hard for him to understand how the public could have access to this property if the proposed development were approved.  He acknowledged there were benefits to the City and public but it was hard for him to go along with any proposal that used public land at Upper Point Vicente to augment the development at Long Point.  He preferred to see the developer use his own property for the proposal.


Commissioner Mueller moved to continue the decision on inclusion of Upper Point Vicente Park in the proposed development project to the next meeting of the Planning Commission, seconded by Commissioner Long.


Vice Chairman Clark felt it was important to continue taking public testimony at this meeting but agreed that the Planning Commission will not attempt to make a decision on the use of public land until the next meeting.


Commissioner Mueller accepted Vice Chairman Clark’s statement as an amendment to his motion, seconded by Commissioner Long.


Commissioner Cartwright agreed but also felt that the Commission should address the criteria expected to be used to make the decision.  He felt the Commission should be able to make a very rational decision and that could not be done without an agreed upon set of criteria.


Chairman Lyon stated that these criteria would be discussed at this meeting.


The motion passed, (7-0)


Ray Mathys 5738 Whitecliff Drive stated that in 1993 the City Council determined that the use of public land for golf course purposes in conjunction with the Long Point development was in the best economic interest of the City.  Therefore use of the public land for a portion of the golf course required the successful development of the Long Point hotel project was agreed to by the City Council eight years ago.  In order to avoid the risk of compromise to the City’s integrity he requested the previously approved use of public land for golf course purposes in conjunction with the Long Point hotel project be reconfirmed and the project be approved as submitted.


Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada PVE stated the only program of utilization approved that was approved by the National Park Service was approved in 1976 and stated that 68 acres could be used for passive recreation.  She felt Rancho Palos Verdes was very fortunate to own Upper Point Vicente and would not be able to purchase it at today’s market price.   


Osair Omar 27 Via San Remo stated he objected to the Long Point resort because of the great potential of damage to his home.  He stated he had submitted to the Planning Commission a petition signed by 90 percent of the homeowners at Villa Capri to save the coastline and vote against the Long Point resort.  He stated the Board of Directors at Villa Capri had sent the Planning Commission a letter in July expressing support of the project, which contradicts the actual residents position.


Linda Lawler Freitag 22 Via Capri clarified that the petition discussed by the previous speaker was signed under false pretences.  She stated the petition stated there would be a driving range adjacent to the Villa Capri property and that was what the signers of the petition were concerned about.  She stated that subsequent to that the Board of Directors at Villa Capri felt that the majority of homeowners have given input that they would be happy to have the development adjacent to their property.  She discussed the concerns of previous speakers that the property would have minimal use by the public.  She stated that she lives adjacent to the property and there is less than minimal use of the property now. 


Jim Jones, Chairman of the Traffic Committee, stated that the Traffic Committee answered a very specific, narrowly defined question.  He stated the question was could the impacts on traffic of this project as presented be mitigated.  He felt that the decision that the members of the Traffic Committee made was the position that objective citizens would have made if they had studied the issue in as much depth at the Committee did. 


Commissioner Vannorsdall asked if the study included all of the known projects that affect the area.


Mr. Jones stated the Committee considered not only the Long Point project, but eleven other approved and known projects.  He stated they also considered the ambient growth of 5% up to the year 2010.


Commissioner Long asked if the Committee had considered the effects of traffic outside the City limits.


Mr. Jones stated all three of the intersections that needed mitigation were outside of the City limits.  He stated there were 22 intersections in the South Bay that were studied. 


Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Jones to summarize how the Committee came to their conclusions.


Mr. Jones explained that three aspects of traffic are studied:  volume, access, and internal circulation.  He discussed the peak hour study and how the proposed project would not have an impact on the peak hour traffic periods.  He discussed the proposed tunnel and stated that there were three existing tunnels already existing in the area.  He did not think the tunnel appeared to have a dramatic impact on traffic in any way. 


Vice Chairman Clark asked if the Traffic Committee had looked at the traffic impact on First Street in San Pedro.


Mr. Jones stated that there was some conceivable impact to First Street but it was considered insignificant.




At 9:30 p.m. the Commission took a short recess until 9:40 p.m. at which time they reconvened.




Chairman Lyon explained that the Commission should discuss the criteria that should be used in making a decision.  He stated that staff had prepared a chart that displays the various factors that staff considered important in making a decision.  He noted that the chart was currently being displayed on the overhead projector and copies were available for the public to review.  He explained that the Commissioners had been asked to look at the chart and make their own assessments as to whether these were the right issues and whether there should be other items added.  Chairman Lyon discussed the six criteria listed on the chart.  He stated that the level of importance of these factors was up to the individual Commissioners to evaluate.  


Vice Chairman Clark suggested adding safety issues, zoning changes, public support, deed restrictions, City Program of Utilization, and alternative uses to the chart. 


Commissioner Long agreed with the Vice Chairman Clark’s suggested additions.  He had no problem with the listing of potential issues on the matrix and agreed that the Commissioners should assign their own level of importance to these issues.  However, regarding the remainder of the chart, he felt there were value judgements made and he did not agree with many of these.  He was particularly concerned with the implicit assumptions in the “No Project” discussion.  He suggested deleting the right hand three quarters of the matrix and list only the potential issues.  He felt the Commissioners could then go through their own analysis for each issue and their level of importance.


Vice Chairman Clark agreed with the suggestion.


Commissioner Cartwright also agreed with Commissioner Long’s suggestion.  He felt this matrix should be used as a framework that will be very useful for the Commissioners.  He stated that in addition to what is on the matrix he would ask if the project were possible, if the project were approved as submitted would it be successful, and what does the City get in exchange for the use of the public land.  He also discussed the economic impacts to the City in terms of social costs, traffic impacts, and environmental concerns in comparison to the benefits of new trails, parks, covered lookouts, and the projected revenues to the City.


Chairman Lyon stated that there were now suggested criteria and each Commissioner should continue to think about what is important to them.  He stated that at the next meeting each Commissioner should come back being comfortable with the reason why he believes as he believes.   He did not think it was necessary to have a common list for the entire Commission of the different factors and felt it was important that each Commissioner have reasons for their beliefs.  He asked staff to revise the worksheet by eliminating the two right hand columns and leaving a space for comments.  He asked staff to list all of the additional factors suggested by the Commissioners.  Chairman Lyon hoped that all Commissioners would be able to attend the August 14 meeting where he hoped some decisions would be made.


Vice Chairman Clark suggested arranging the factors in alphabetical order so that no prioritization of importance is implied.


The Commission briefly discussed holding a special meeting before August 14 to discuss the Long Point project, but it was decided that the first available date all Commissioners would be available would most likely be August 14.  Therefore, the commission continued the public hearing to the meeting of August 14, 2001




6.                  Vesting Tentative Parcel Map No. 26047:  Mr. Robert Patterson (applicant) 27965 Palos Verdes Drive East


Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report.  She briefly explained the application and stated that staff had reviewed the proposed land division in accordance with the City’s Subdivision Ordinance and the State’s Subdivision Map Act and found that the proposed land division complies with the requirements in terms of lot size, lot dimensions, access to Palos Verdes Drive East, and access needed to develop the lot.  She stated that staff had received one letter of correspondence pertaining to the project from the adjacent neighbors.  They had expressed concerns in regards to view obstruction from any future structure proposed on the newly created lot.  Staff felt view obstruction could be mitigated.  With that, staff was recommending approval of the project with conditions.


Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.


Herbert Burack 27995 Palos Verdes Drive East stated that he bought his home for the open space and the quiet serene neighborhood.  He stated that by dividing the subject lot into two lots the new proposed house was compatible with the neighborhood.  He wanted to be sure that when the new house was proposed he would be assessed as to where the house will go, whether it meets with neighborhood compatibility, that it meets the 16 foot high limit, and where they will be allowed to fill in dirt on the property to allow the house to be built at a higher level.


Commissioner Paulson explained that the applicant could build a house higher than 16 feet with the proper approvals from the City. 


Mr. Burack understood that. 


Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the applicant is proposing a deed restriction that would run with the lot that would restrict the maximum height of the any future structure on the newly created lot to not exceed the elevation of the building pad of the existing residence.


Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.


Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-17 thereby approving with conditions, Tentative Parcel Man No. 26047 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.  Approved, (6-0).



3.            Appeal of the approval of Height Variation Permit No. 915 and Site Plan Review No. 8948:  Podesta Designs, representing John and Geoveva Robinson (applicant); Michael & Elizabeth Zuanich; Brian, Bill & Sandra Ruddock; Charles & Suzanne Henning; Albert & Pauline Brockmann; Tom & Helen Matulich; and Ronal & Donna Reynolds (appellants)


Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He reviewed the original appeal heard by the Planning Commission and the direction that the Commission gave to the staff and applicant.  He explained that the meeting between the applicant and appellants occurred.  He stated the concessions that were made were in regards to the overall height of the structure and trellis work that would be added along the sides of the proposed balconies. He stated there was no other design changes proposed.  There was also discussion regarding the outside lighting and it was agreed that this lighting would be removed.  He explained that staff believed these types of changes were consistent with past methods used to address neighborhood concerns in previous Height Variations.  Staff felt that the findings could still be made to approve the Height Variation and Site Plan Review, and therefore recommended that the Commission deny the appeal and uphold the Planning Director’s approval of the applications.


Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if they were satisfied that the early neighborhood consultation process was followed correctly.


Associate Planner Schonborn stated that staff felt the early neighborhood consultation process had been performed correctly.


Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.


Bill Ruddock 28627 Mt Lassen Lane felt the meeting with the applicant did create some dialogue, however he felt that the bigger issues of privacy, mass, and square footage were not resolved and no concessions made.  He noted that moving the second story closer to the front of the house would help with privacy and view issues.  He stated he was a little disappointed with the outcome and had hoped for a few more concessions. 


Raul Podesta 797 Miraflores Ave San Pedro stated he was the architect for the project.  He stated he had tried to address the concerns of the adjacent neighbors.  He stated he had tried to explain to the neighbors that because of the layout of the existing house it was not feasible to add the second story closer to the front of the house. 


Genoveva Robinson 28633 Mt Lassen Lane briefly addressed the issue of the early neighborhood consultation process.  She explained that she had shown plans to all of the neighbors and had taken as much time as needed to explain the plans to anyone who had questions. 


Marty Haupt 28620 Mt. Lassen Lane stated he was in support of the proposed project and felt it would enhance the neighborhood.  He felt it was reasonable to want a second story house, especially when most of the houses around it were also two story.


Helen Matulich  28614 Mt. Whitley Way stated she lives directly behind the applicant.  She stated that every time she looks out of her window she will look at the building.  She felt the applicant could look directly into her yard.  She felt all of her privacy would be lost as well as a portion of her view.  She stated this second story addition would be affecting seven different families in the neighborhood. 


Mrs. Ruddock 28627 Mt Lassen Lane stated that she had never seen the plans during the early neighborhood consultation process.


Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.


Chairman Lyon stated that the property owner has certain rights under the Development Code of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  He felt that everything the applicant had proposed was within his rights and supported by the City Code.  He felt it was unfortunate when things in the neighborhood change after many years, but noted that the last to build has the same rights as the first to build.  He felt the Code was balanced in protecting the rights of the property owner as well as the neighbors.


Commissioner Paulson moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-18 thereby denying the appeal and upholding the Director’s conditional approval of Height Variation No. 916 and Site Plan Review No. 8948 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.


Commissioner Long urged the Commission to vote against the motion.  He did not think all of the findings could be made to deny the appeal.  He did not think finding no. 6 could not be treated as being identical to finding no. 4 in that it had not been proven to his satisfaction that the current design was designed to minimize view impacts on the property behind the applicants.  He noted finding no. 8 regarding neighborhood compatibility which he did not feel could be made.  He stated the proposed structure would be approximately 70 percent larger than average structure and 15 percent larger than the next largest structure in the neighborhood.  He stated this was only the second home in the immediate neighborhood with more than 3,000 square feet.  He stated that based on the way the neighborhood compatibility standards seem to be applied, one could expect the next application to come in to be 15 percent larger than this one and the Commission would be told this was compatible with the neighborhood.  He also felt that finding no. 9 could not be made regarding the unreasonable infringement of the privacy of occupants abutting residences.  He stated that based on his site visits, the proposed project appears to infringe. 


Commissioner Cartwright stated this was a situation where the applicant was asking to do something that others in the neighborhood had already done.  He felt it was usually a problem for the last one in the neighborhood to try to do something like this without somehow impacting someone to some degree.  He felt the applicant had the right to build the second story and felt the findings could be made.


The motion was approved, (5-1) with Commissioner Long dissenting.




Commissioner Long noted that Planning Commission rules state no new item would be heard after 11:00 p.m.  He asked the Chairman to request the Commission suspend the rules in this situation.


Chairman Lyon stated that in light of the shortness of the remaining items the rules should be suspended and the Commission agreed.


4.      Grading Permit No. 2243 and Site Plan Review Permit NO. 8987:  Larry Peha (applicant) 4105 Palos Verdes Drive East


Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report.  He briefly explained the proposed project and the need for the Grading Permit.  He stated that staff was able to make all of the necessary findings for approval of the application and therefore recommended approval.


There were no public speakers for the project.


Commissioner Long moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-19 conditionally approving Grading Permit No. 2243 and Site Plan Review No. 8987 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.  Approved, (6-0).


5.      Height Variation Permit No. 918 and Site Plan Review Permit No. 9165:  Mr. and Mrs. Michael Christensen (applicants), 28924 Morro Bay Drive


Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  He noted two areas of concern identified during the public noticing period.  First, he explained that the neighbor at 29146 Oceanridge Drive had concerns with potential view impacts from the existing foliage on the applicants property.  He noted that the applicant has trimmed the foliage and in order to assure the foliage does not grow into the viewing area, staff has added a condition that the applicant maintain the foliage at its present height.  Secondly, the neighbors to the north at 28918 Morro Bay Drive expressed concern with loss of privacy with the proposed addition.  He stated that staff has recommend the windows in the master bathroom be clerestory and translucent, and that the window in the rear bedroom be clerestory and raised at least 5 feet above the finished second floor.


Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.


Michael Christensen 28924 Morro Bay stated that the biggest area of concern was from the neighbor to the north was that their privacy would be infringed upon if there were windows added to the north side of the building façade facing his yard.  He explained that he took panoramic photos from the top of his house of the views from 20 feet up and from 30 feet up.  He stated he could not see into the neighbor’s backyard from either height because of the existing foliage.  He requested the proposed conditions on windows in question not be translucent nor clerestory.  Mr. Christensen distributed the photos he took of the privacy concern to the Planning Commission. 


Commissioner Cartwright asked about the existing code violation on Mr. Christensen’s property.


Mr. Christensen stated that the code violation consisted of toys in the front yard and he would be in compliance with the code as of the morning.


After viewing the photographs Chairman Lyon felt the foliage represented a reasonable visual barrier.  He asked staff that with such a barrier, if they would still recommend the clerestory and translucent windows. 


Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that foliage could always be removed at any time, and believes the condition protects the neighbor.


Commissioner Long asked who owned the foliage.


Mr. Christensen stated he owned the 40-foot avocado tree and all of the other foliage was on his neighbor’s property.  He stated that the avocado tree constituted a large portion of the screening in the back of the house as it was approximately 40 feet high and 25 feet wide.


Chairman Lyon asked if he would look into the neighbor’s backyard if the avocado tree were removed.


Mr. Christensen said he would not look into the backyard because there were fruit trees all along the property line.


Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-20 thereby approving Height Variation No. 918 and Site Plan Review No. 9165 with the deletion of condition of approval no.12 addressing the windows, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.  Approved, (6-0).


7.                  Height Variation No. 920, Grading Permit No. 2274, Minor Exception Permit NO. 320, and Fence/Wall & Hedge Permit No. 36:  Mr. and Mrs. Kiger (applicant) 30375 Diamonte Lane


Commissioner Long moved to continue the public hearing to August 28, 2001 as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.  Approved,





8.                  Planning Commission e-mail addresses


Chairman Lyon stated that historically and traditionally there have been conventional ways of communicating with the Planning Commission:  direct correspondence and through the public hearing process.  However, through technology there is now another way through e-mail.  He felt there was no guarantee that any given Commissioner was going to receive and read material sent by someone directly to the Planning Commissioners.  He explained that staff had suggested opening an e-mail address for the Planning Commission at City Hall.  He felt that e-mail could go to that address and the Director would then receive the material and make the judgement to forward it to the Commission, put it with the staff report, or deliver it to the Commission on the night of the meeting.


Commissioner Paulson completely supported the new e-mail site at City Hall.


Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the public has the perception that e-mailing the Commission directly is the most efficient way to contact the Commissioners, however he felt this new e-mail address would be the most effective way for the public to contact the Commission, since the Commissioners would receive the same correspondence at the same time.  He noted that the Commissioner’s personal e-mail addresses are currently on the Planning Commission roster, which is public information.  He asked if the Commissioners wanted their personal e-mails taken off of the roster.


The Commission agreed to have their personal e-mail addresses taken off of the roster and the new e-mail address of pc@rpv.com replace it.


Chairman Lyon moved to have all e-mail correspondence directed to the new city hall e-mail site and have all personal e-mail addresses removed from the roster, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.  Approved, (6-0).




Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 11:36 p.m.