OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:05 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Paulson led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Cartwright, Long, Mueller, Paulson, Vannorsdall, Vice Chairman Clark, and Chairman Lyon
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Deputy Director Snow, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, Assistant Planner Yu, and Assistant City Attorney Pittman.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Without objection, Chairman Lyon approved the agenda as presented.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed items of correspondence relating to Agenda Item Nos. 4, 5, and 6 and noted items of late correspondence related to agenda item no. 5 which were not accepted by the Commission.
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that correspondence had been received regarding the "Planning Commission e-mail" item discussed at the previous meeting, including a request to re-agendize the item. The Commission agreed to re-agendize the item.
Commissioner Long reported that he had attended a breakfast meeting with members of SOC II. He stated that there was no discussion on any of the pending permit applications, however they did discuss use of public land for the project.
Commissioner Cartwright reported that he had a phone conversation with Steve Kuykendall regarding the Tentative Tract Map application on Palos Verdes Drive West. He also received a package from Dena Friedson with information regarding the Long Point project.
Commissioner Paulson stated he had received the same information from Ms. Friedson and he had also had a conversation with Mr. Kuykendall regarding Agenda Item No. 4.
Chairman Lyon, Commissioner Mueller, Vice Chairman Clark all reported that they had received phone calls from Mr. Kuykendall regarding Agenda Item No. 4.
1. Minutes of July 10, 2001
Commissioner Long noted a typo on page 12 of the minutes.
The minutes were approved as amended, (7-0).
Commissioner Long did not feel the last paragraph on page 1 of the minutes reflected what was actually said, and felt it should only say that the Chairman reported he had a discussion with Mike Mohler.
Commissioner Long noted on page 15 of the minutes a comment should be added to the last paragraph noting that he had indicated that finding no. 6 should not be treated as being identical to finding no. 4. He also asked that the phrase "which he did not feel could be made" be added to the next sentence in the paragraph.
The minutes were approved as amended, (7-0).
Commissioner Long stated that he had been on vacation and had not been able to perform the site visit, therefore he would recuse himself from this application.
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report. She explained the project and noted that staff was able to make all findings necessary and recommended approval of the project.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if staff had received any public comments regarding the project.
Assistant Planner Yu answered that there had been no comments received from the public.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Celly Adamo (applicant) 27401 Los Altos, Suite 275, Mission Viejo stated she was available for any questions.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if there had been a master plan submitted to the City.
Ms. Adamo explained that the type of proposed antenna was not part of a network and therefore no master plan existed.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-22, thereby approving Conditional Use Permit No. 227 as presented by staff, (6-0-1) with Commissioner Long abstaining.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report for his continued item. He reported that a meeting had been held with neighbors and as a result of the meeting the design of the tract was modified to address concerns by lowering building pads of lots 9 and 10, separate driveways were eliminated to lots 9, 10 and 13. He noted these lots were now served by a flag lot driveway that serves lot 12. He noted the grading quantities had been significantly reduced. He explained that concerns regarding lot density could be addressed through development standards for the proposed lots. He noted these development standards were included in the conditions of approval. Mr. Mihranian stated that staff had received a phone call from Palos Verdes Estates expressing concerns over the amount of earth movement and construction vehicle activity on Palos Verdes Estates streets. He explained that staff had modified the conditions and the modification was presented to the Commission in a memo distributed at the beginning of the meeting.
Vice Chairman Clark expressed concern over the lot size and the size of the proposed homes on these lots.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
David Olin 123 Palm Drive, Hermosa Beach stated he was the designer for the project. He stated that the project meets all the requirements of the RS-4 zone and no variances would be required. He discussed lot 13 and the letter received by staff from a resident who was concerned his view would be impaired. He stated he would drop the height of the roof 2 feet, which would make it the same height as the roofs on lots 9 and 10. He requested a two-story home be allowed on the lot, with a maximum height of 26 feet on the downslope side. He stated he agreed with the conditions in the staff report. In discussing proposed home sizes, he noted that the size of the home included three car garages.
Commissioner Paulson asked staff if they had any problem with the architect’s proposal for lot 13.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the changes would be acceptable provided the amount of grading was reduced and that the house ridgeline does not exceed the Via Victoria street elevation.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that at the previous Planning Commission meeting on this item the houses were proposed at approximately 3,800 to 4,200 square feet. He noted that in the present staff report the size of the proposed homes were substantially larger. He was concerned with in-fill development and asked Mr. Olin for his comments.
Mr. Olin understood Mr. Clark’s concerns. He stated that the homes had good articulation and assured the Planning Commission that there were adequate setbacks. He stated there would be the maximum amount of green space which would reduce the impact of the houses.
Sandy McElroy 30034 Via Victoria thanked the Planning Commission and staff for recommending the neighborhood meeting. She felt the developer had gone out of his way to work with the neighbors and she was now confident that the project would be an asset to the neighborhood.
Rich Sittel 30020 Via Victoria stated he felt the issues previously raised had been mitigated. He felt there were two outstanding issues the Planning Commission should consider. He noted that Item No. 6 in the Conditions of Approval that lot 7 was approved for a residence height of 16 feet, however it could be built higher through a height variation. He felt the same condition should apply to lot 6, as the same type of issues applied to this lot as lot 7. He too was concerned with the size of the proposed houses and felt they were too large and not compatible with the house sizes on Via Victoria.
Faye Seiger 30034 Via Victoria stated she was very satisfied with the changes made by the developer. She discussed the trees and foliage for the new development and asked that the parkway area not be planted with trees.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian explained there were two separate conditions of approval dealing with foliage and trees. One condition dealt with the trees in the public right-of-way along Via Victoria and the other dealt with the individual lots and limiting the heights of foliage on the property. He stated that the foliage on the right-of-way was subject to review by the Director of Public Works, who would work with staff to ensure that no right-of-way trees or foliage would result in view impairment. He noted a landscape plan would be required for each individual property.
Commissioner Cartwright asked staff to explain why there appeared to be a discrepancy in the conditions of approval regarding the height of foliage on the lower lots and the upper lots.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed there was a discrepancy and suggested changing the condition of approval to incorporate the language of Proposition M which prohibits view impairment.
Gene Steiger 30034 Via Victoria was satisfied with the changes made by the developer. He discussed the monitoring of the air quality during construction and noted that grading was to cease when the wind reached 30 mph. He felt that this was too high and asked it the wind speed be lowered.
Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Steiger if he had any concerns regarding the sizes of the proposed homes.
Mr. Steiger answered that he did not have a concern over the proposed sizes of the homes.
Jerry McLaughlin 3000 PVDW, PVE, was concerned with the increase in traffic this project would cause. He felt the Commission should discuss how the construction traffic could be routed so as not to impact Palos Verdes Estates.
Commissioner Long noted that there had been correspondence from the City of Palos Verdes Estates regarding this issue.
Hal Arafat 7231 Rue Godbout objected to the size of the proposed houses and the amount of grading associated with the project.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Long reviewed condition no. 6 of Exhibit A and felt that the way it was worded may suggest that if the code is amended in the future, the amendments will not apply to this project.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that staff has found it appropriate to clarify in the conditions that staff relies on the Code when an issue is not discussed specifically in the conditions.
Commissioner Long asked why the wording couldn’t be changed to read that the development of the lots shall comply with both the specific development standards and the requirements of Title 17 of the City’s Municipal Code.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that when the Code is amended staff needs to be sure that the tract conditions of approval are applied, otherwise all tracts would be non-conforming.
Commissioner Long asked if there was going to be any grading that could potentially impact the support of adjoining existing structures.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the Building and Safety Division will review the grading plans to ensure that certain mechanisms are implemented to ensure the grading doesn’t create a hazard to adjacent properties.
Commissioner Long felt there should be a condition requiring the developer to obtain insurance of an amount sufficient, as determined by staff, to address any potential damage that may occur.
Commissioner Cartwright stated he was very happy with the outcome of the developer and neighbors working together to satisfy concerns of the neighbors. He felt the current plans reflected a very good project that he could support.
Commissioner Lyon agreed with Commissioner Cartwright.
Commissioner Mueller asked about the open space and what guarantee, if any, the City had that Palos Verdes Estates would maintain the adjacent open space and not allow it to be built out.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that this was at the discretion of Palos Verdes Estates. However he noted that at looking at the tract map the lot in question was landlocked as there is no access to it other than by a 10-foot wide trail easement.
Vice Chairman Clark asked if adopting the tract development standards still allowed each individual house to be reviewed by the City for compliance.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the applicant is still required to submit a Site Plan Review or, in some cases, a Height Variation, for each individual lot. This allows staff to do public noticing and check for neighborhood compatibility conformance.
Vice Chairman Clark asked if staff had any concerns about the maximum structure size.
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the maximum structure size includes the garage area and felt it was roughly consistent with what is in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Paulson moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-23 and P.C. Resolution No. 2001-24 as presented by staff with the modification regarding the pad elevations on lot 13, thereby approving Tract Map No. 22666, Grading No. 2282, and Environmental Assessment No. 708, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.
Commissioner Long suggested an amendment to add a condition stating that the developer shall obtain insurance, if city staff deems it appropriate, in connection with the grading.
Commissioner Paulson accepted the amendment, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. The motion passed, (7-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:30 p.m. the Commission took a short recess to 8:40 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (CONT)
Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He stated that staff had no new information to report to the Commission other than what was presented in the staff report. He stated that the City’s EIR consultant, the traffic consultant, and the biologist were all available for questions from the Planning Commission.
The Commission discussed the process for conducting the discussion of this project, concluding that the applicant would be asked to make a presentation similar to that given to the Council of Homeowners Associations, and that each speaker would be allocated two minutes to address the Commission.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Mike Mohler 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 900, Los Angeles gave the power point presentation that he had previously given at a meeting to the Council of Homeowners Associations. The presentation explained the previously approved Monahan plan and the current Long Point proposal.
Commissioner Long moved to allow those speakers who are opposed to the project and who have specific responses to Mr. Mohler’s presentation be allowed more than the specified two minute time limit to speak, seconded by Commissioner Mueller. The motion failed, (2-5) with Commissioners Cartwright, Vannorsdall, Paulson, Vice Chairman Clark, and Chairman Lyon dissenting.
Angie Papadakis 28655 Roan Road expressed her support for the project and asked the Commission to approve the project.
Bruce Megowan 700 Yarmouth Road, PVE, expressed his support for the project and noted that the City would still own the land, receive money through the concession agreement, gain new trails, as well as expanded natural habitat. Otherwise, the dilapidated condition at Long Point would continue.
Maureen Megowan 700 Yarmouth Road, PVE, stated she was firmly in support of the project. She did not think the project was viable without the 9-hole golf course.
Roberta Weaver 2978 Crownview Drive stated she was representing the Miraleste Hills Community Association, which was very much in favor of the project.
Russell Schweiger 30828 Via La Cresta stated he fully supported the project and requested it be approved.
Mike Philbin 30257 Via Victoria felt the project would add to the beauty, recreational facilities, and the revenue of the City.
Susan McNeill 32735 Seagate Drive stated she very much supported the project and felt it would be a mistake not to take the opportunity presented by the project.
Ken McNeill 32735 Seagatge Drive expressed his support for the project.
Chuck Powell 30047 Knoll View Drive stated he was in support of the project.
Betty Marler 32724 Coastsite Drive asked the Planning Commission to make a decision on the use of the property without any further delays.
Lou McCreight 101 Cresta Verde Drive, RHE, stated he was very much in favor of the project.
Jim Knight 5 Cinnamon Lane felt there were still quite a few problems with the proposed habitat restoration and biology reports. He discussed tee times and the public use of the golf course, concluding that the proposed plan would amount to 50 percent exclusion of the public. He was concerned that building the golf course on public land excludes children and would result in the loss of the utilization of the parkland. He felt the developer should work on a plan that utilizes only Long Point land.
William Tolliffe 6347 Tarragon Road discussed his objection to the golf course on public land. He encouraged the use of a golf academy on the Long Point property with the use of shuttles to Ocean Trails for golfing, believing that this configuration would be a sufficient attractor for the hotel. He asked that the City not give away what it already owns.
Jack Downhill 20 Vanderlip Drive felt the project was well conceived, well considered, and studied to death and stated his support for the project. He expressed opposition to privately owned villas on the Long Point site.
Barbara Gleghorn 28850 Crestrige Road stated that as a representative of SOC II she felt that SOC II had made many strong points supporting no development on City land. She felt other important points could be made but felt the Planning Commission needed the maximum amount of time for discussion among themselves. She stated that SOC II now has over 3,000 signatures from Rancho Palos Verdes residents plus over 1,000 other peninsula residents asking the City to keep the park for general public use.
Barbara Walsh 34 Oceanaire Drive stated that the number of signatures on the petition in support of keeping the public land is continually growing. She also stated that the City has been promised $15,000 in financial support from residents. She stated that a resident had committed to a donation of $50,000 to the City, contingent upon the City Council’s decision to retain Upper Point Vicente Park as public park land.
Trish Malin 43 Santa Catalina Drive expressed her support for the project. She stated that Rancho Palos Verdes residents would receive the benefits of tax revenue and improved landscape.
Sonja Hayes 64 Via Capri stated that the project would enhance the City. She felt it was a first class project and the City should endorse the project.
Juan Forteza 4021 Via Larga Vista, PVE felt it was time for the Planning Commission to make a decision and asked them not to pass up the project.
Linda Lawler Freitag 22 Via Capri stated that the Upper Point Vicente area has remained mostly unused, inaccessible, and unattractive. She stated the Long Point proposal would transform the property into an attractive, usable area with hiking trails, parks, overlooks, and picnic areas. She felt the proposal would restore and create new native habitat area, all at no expense to the City. She stated that 3,000 signatures on a petition was out of 46,000 residents in the City.
Joseph Freitag 22 Via Capri stated the Board of Directors of the Villa Capri HOA held a special meeting where a vote was taken regarding the use of the Upper Point Vicente area. He stated that approximately 84 percent of the homeowners were in favor of Long Point, with certain conditions being met. He noted that these conditions were contained in a letter sent to the City on July 20, 2001. He stated that Mr. Mohler has responded to the conditions, and for the most part showed a willingness to meet the conditions.
Don Shults 2129 Velez Drive stated he was president of the Rolling Hills Riviera HOA which represented approximately 700 homes. He stated at the last board meeting of May 2 it was decided to support the request of SOC II for no development on the Upper Point Vicente Park area. He read a letter from the Board.
Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, PVE stated that the General Plan was never amended to implement the Program of Utilization. She asked that the City follow the advise of the National Park Service letter of April 9 and that no development, no project, Point Vicente Park enhancement alternative has the most likelihood of being accepted.
Holly Cain 52 Avenida Corona discussed the traffic committee approval and her thoughts that traffic will significantly increase in the area.
Gerllinde Ryan 3224 Barkentine Road expressed her concerns over development of the Upper Point Vicente Park and felt the City owed it to future generations to leave the area undeveloped.
Todd Anderson 2 Masongate Drive, RHE stated his support for the project and the additional revenue it would create for the City.
Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated she was very much opposed to using Upper Point Vicente Park for golf purposes.
Ken Zuckerman 1 Ocean Trails Drive stated the Long Point project would have very positive benefits for Ocean Trails. He stated he was not concerned about competition and felt that this type of development would bring more golfers to Ocean Trails. He stated he would be available for any questions regarding the Ocean Trails golf course and their successful habitat restoration.
Bob Stearns 5023 Delacroix Drive stated he has reviewed the plans, walked the site, and attended the Planning Commission meetings. He stated that, as a result of his investigation, he was convinced the project was a positive use for the area.
Frank Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane did not think this project was the best use of public land for public use. He felt the project should be developed on Long Point land.
Eric Paris 29234 Stadia Hill Lane referred to an advertisement taken out by the developer in the Palos Verdes News. He stated that the City did not encourage the developer to file the application, but rather permitted the applicant to file the application. He felt this was a significant difference. He referred to a statement made by the developer that the Upper Point Vicente land was mostly inaccessible and ecologically disturbed. He felt this was an endorsement to minimize changes to the land, not make extensive modifications. Finally, he discussed the viability of the project as the applicant has continually scaled back the scope of the project. He encouraged the Planning Commission to disregard the developers hype, lobbying, and threats.
Mike Mohler (in rebuttal) discussed advanced reservations for tee time, and noted that a maximum of 50% would be allocated to the hotel. He pointed out that this does not include securing or encumbering 50% of the play at the golf course to hotel guests. He stated that biological issues have been addressed in the recirculated biology section of the EIR. Mr. Mohler stated he has presented the project and noted that everything he has presented has either been upheld, validated, or not disputed by the City consultants. He thanked the Commission for their patience and stated he was available for any further questions.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
The Commission discussed the process for Commission deliberations for the project.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 10:15 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess to 10:25 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS (CONT.)
Chairman Lyon moved to change the normal procedure of the Planning Commission by having each Commissioner in turn express their opinions about the project, allow the Commission to ask questions of that Commissioner about their opinions, and discuss any prospective motions they plan to make, seconded by Commissioner Long. Approved, (7-0).
Chairman Lyon began the discussion. He discussed the following points: 1) a successful hotel complex on Long Point would be beneficial to Rancho Palos Verdes. In addition to beautifying Long Point, even a fraction of the projected revenue would be very useful to the City; 2) Some land beyond the Long Point property would be needed to construct an attractive 9-hole golf course and golf academy that is said to be necessary for project viability; 3) From the City’s standpoint, allowing all of the requested golf holes on Upper Point Vicente land is not desirable. Retaining the relatively flat hill-top area by City Hall for other potential uses is most beneficial to the City; 4) It is questionable whether a 9-hole golf course would provide sufficient attraction to ensure success of this large hotel complex. This decision must be made by the applicant; 5) Even if the project were to fail in the future, conditions of approval could be included that would leave Upper Point Vicente land in better condition that it is now; 6) A cooperative arrangement with Ocean Trails golf course would significantly increase the probability of success of both projects; 7) Important habitat and bird nesting areas in Upper Point Vicente can be protected while still using some areas for golf; 8) The City already has 13 public parks totaling 241 acres and 372 acres of undeveloped City-owned open space, with plans to buy 722 acres more. This far exceeds the State guideline of 4 acres of park land per 1,000 residents (about 168 acres), and is much more than the City can currently afford to develop; 9) Development of Upper Point Vicente land by the applicant would provide far greater access to this property by the public than currently exists, and can achieve some of the SOC II goals; 10) More Rancho Palos Verdes residents are likely to use the proposed Long Point golf course and public areas than those currently using our tennis courts, bike paths, hiking trails, and many parks; 11) The location of public trails and scenic overlooks in and around golfing areas must be planned to completely avoid any reasonable chance of personal injury to the public; 12) Use of the land adjacent to Villa Capri for golf (currently proposed holes 3 and 4) would be a significant long-term benefit to Villa Capri compared with other possible uses; 13) The villas planned on Long Point property are not a necessary element of the project and may not be consistent with current zoning
Commissioner Cartwright asked Chairman Lyon to clarify the area at Upper Point Vicente Park that he suggested be retained by the City.
Chairman Lyon clarified the area on a map displayed on the overhead projector. He pointed out the relatively flat area surrounding the City Hall area, consisting of the western 2/3 of golf hole 5.
Commissioner Long asked why other land owned by Mr. York could not be used for a golf course.
Chairman Lyon felt that Mr. York owned no viable property that could serve the purpose of a golf course. He noted that the land in question was in the landslide moratorium area, would require an extensive amount of grading in an unstable area, and was not contiguous with the hotel.
Commissioner Long asked Chairman Lyon if he concluded that the likely receipts from additional revenue and/or concession agreements from the project would exceed the expenses created by the additional burden on City infrastructure.
Chairman Lyon stated that his opinion was the revenue would exceed the projected expenses.
Commissioner Long asked if there was anything Chairman Lyon could tell him that would lead to the conclusion that the City’s current parklands are more than sufficient to meet all of the anticipated future needs.
Chairman Lyon answered that one has to use some type of guideline to make that judgement. He referred to the State Guideline for Municipalities which is 4 acres per 1,000 residents. He stated that for Rancho Palos Verdes that computes to approximately 168 acres and the City currently has 241 acres of parkland and 372 additional acres pending acquisition that could be parkland.
Commissioner Long asked Chairman Lyon what his thought was if in the future the developer were to say that a 9-hole golf course was not sufficient and they needed more land for an 18 or 36-hole golf course.
Chairman Lyon felt that providing land for an 18 or 36-hole golf course was impossible. He felt the City could, however, provide some land for a 9-hole golf course.
Commissioner Vannorsdall made the following points: 1) Destination Development is a well known company and are specialists in resort type facilities. He noted that they have resorts in Maui and he felt their golf courses appear to be healthy. He also noted the company holdings in Hotel Del Coronado and operates 24 domestic hotel and condominium resorts, making if the seventh largest hospitality management company in the U.S. He felt that if the City could reach an agreement with Destination Resorts it would be the only facility of this type in Los Angeles County. That fact alone magnifies the need in the community for such a facility. 2) According to the EIR and various City committees there are no significant impacts on traffic, geology, landslides and other potential hazards. He felt this was important to the success of the project. 3) From his observation and conversations with others that seem knowledgeable in this business, a change in business conferences has been taking place over the years. He noted that companies allow the spouse and children to now go along on business trips which creates a need for casitas and other amenities proposed in this application. 4) The City has a lot to gain for other reasons beyond adding additional business to Ocean Trails and cleaning up the eye sore at Long Point, along with the tax revenues from the resort. He felt this was a good place for high school proms and other civic groups to have functions, wedding receptions, and the like. 5) If the Commission recommends the partial use of Upper Point Vicente Park, he felt this was a real contribution to the City in that it would provide public access to areas that are only accessible to the hearty hiker. It would provide walking paths, enhance the natural habitat and native plant life, provide maintenance at no cost to the City and then, after paying for the construction and maintenance of the property, pay the City a concession fee. 6) The City has 13 parks that are mostly either not developed, underdeveloped, or incomplete. The primary reason is lack of funds, and this certainly includes Upper Point Vicente Park. 7) Only a small portion of the Upper Point Vicente Park is subject to protected land and according to the present plan as submitted, it would be increased substantially. Experience at increasing natural habitat at Ocean Trails is well documented. They have more nesting gnatcatchers than ever before. 8) At the present time the only real access to the Upper Point Vicente is the flat area currently occupied by City Hall, parking, tennis court, and a helicopter pad. Most of the other areas are really not visitor friendly.
Commissioner Vannorsdall recommended the Commission encourage the developer to make some changes to their proposal in regards to the Upper Point Vicente area. He felt that it was important to retain the flat area where City Hall is located for City use. He also felt that golf safety was a key issue in terms of threat to Villa Capri and the church. He suggested removing Hole 4 from the area, meaning that Hole 3 could remain because the tee would be located in an area where one would be driving away from those entities.
Commissioner Vannorsdall felt the City has had very little commercial enterprise compared to most Cities and as such has had to struggle and impose Utility Taxes and the like. He felt it was time to allow private enterprise to provide the finances for the City’s needs rather than additional city taxes and/or suffer our dependence on whims of State Legislators in Sacramento. He felt that private enterprise should pay for the development and maintenance cost and provide the residents with more use of their own land than they currently have.
Commissioner Vannorsdall recommended that the Commission approve the partial use of the Upper Point Vicente Park and ask the applicant to come back to the Commission with their revisions.
Commissioner Paulson asked, and Commissioner Vannorsdall confirmed, that his proposal was for elimination of all of both holes 4 and 5.
Commissioner Long stated he resisted the Planning Commission having to make this decision and felt the decision on whether or not the use of public land should be used for the project should be made by the City Council. He felt the Planning Commission was being asked to make a recommendation on a decision that was, in part, a political decision. He felt the decision they were now being asked to make was on the issue of the use of public land and not the actual merits of the project. He stated that it was without question that whatever was built on the Long Point property would be far more beautiful than what is down there right now. He also felt that it was without question that Upper Point Vicente was being neglected, not effectively used, and by outside appearances was being treated by the City as surplus property.
Commissioner Long agreed with many of the opinions outlined by Chairman Lyon but was not sure they were particularly relevant to the issue at hand. He felt the issue at hand was not just whether the use of Upper Point Vicente for golf is better than the current use, but whether the use of Upper Point Vicente for golf is better than all of the other anticipated uses to which the residents of the City might want to put that land. He did not think there was very much information on that subject made available to the Planning Commission. He noted that if the Commission decides to surrender public land for use by the private developer it will, for all practical purposes, be an irrevocable decision.
Commissioner Long felt there was inadequate information on what the needs in the City are for golf versus other recreation and what is the best long-term use of the property at Upper Point Vicente. He felt that whatever public land the City has should be put to it’s best possible use, but questioned what that best possible use of Upper Point Vicente would be. He stated he had no evidence to suggest that golf would be the best possible use and so, in the Commission’s role in making this recommendation, he stated he was unprepared to support any use of public land for the project. He felt that the role of the Commission and other City officials charged with the responsibility of making recommendations and decisions was essentially as trustees of the public land and making sure the public land is put to it’s best possible use. He felt a far better use for the property, based on information and testimony received, was to devote portions of the property to habitat and softball/soccer fields. He acknowledged that if the development proceeds and is financially successful the City will undoubtedly receive improved bike baths, running trails, and public swimming pool, and much more. However, he did not think this should govern the decision as to what the City should do with public land. He stated that the reason the City land at Upper Point Vicente, as well as the land at Long Point are neglected is an issue of bad choices. He felt that the fact that a series of bad choices had been made was not a reason to make another bad choice. He further believed that use of the Filiorum property for golf could be feasible.
Commissioner Long suggested that what was being proposed is inconsistent with promises the City made when it received the land. He stated that if one looks at the application for Federal Surplus Property it shows that one of the promises the City made was they would forever use the property in accordance with the application and the approved program of utilization included in the application. He stated the application states that the land shall be devoted to public use.
Commissioner Long stated that the Commission has not heard what the City will get in return for the use of the public land. He stated there had been discussions of a concession agreement and he asked what the concession agreement will be, what will the minimum rent be, what will the percentage of gross receipts be, what will the letter of credit be, from what financial institution. He stated the City was not financially destitute. He urged his fellow Commissioners to look at the use of the City land in a long-term perspective and consider what all of the potential uses of the land may be. He stated that nothing had been considered other than leaving the land as is, enhancing the habitat, or using the land as a golf course. He felt there were a number of other uses that others in the community may have ideas for the use of the land.
Commissioner Long concluded by stating that in the negotiations with the developer, the City has laid all of it’s cards on the table while the developer has showed very little, as they have been telling the City it is all or nothing and there is no compromise. He felt that what will happen in the City approves the project in its current form, the City will be told that a 9-hole golf course is not enough and further concessions must be made. He felt the City was negotiating from a standpoint of weakness where they should be negotiating from a standpoint of strength. He stated that he would propose a motion to deny the project and reject the use of public land, or a motion to recommend denying the project in its current form.
Commissioner Vannorsdall pointed out that there would be a concession agreement and the land would not be given away.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that the question was, "Should a part of Upper Point Vicente be used as part of the Long Point Project?" He stated that the Commission has listened to different perspective and viewpoints, and that the Commission would not be able to satisfy everyone. He hoped that the Commission had included everyone in the discussion. He stated there were those who felt the project should be approved and those who opposed the project. He also felt there was a third group of people in the City who were unable to tell the difference between open space and a golf course. He did not think many of this third ground had entered into the debate.
Commissioner Cartwright felt that the use of public land was a policy issue that ultimately would be settled by elected officials. He felt policy issues do not lend themselves to the Planning Commission processes, however the Commission has been asked to make recommendations, which they would do.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he did not think golf at Upper Point Vicente was the issue because it had been conceptually approved by the City Council in 1989. He did not think habitat was an issue as impacts could be mitigated. He did not think access was an issue since there was very little public to the property now. He felt the Long Point project would be a resource for the City and that the Planning Commission should recommend the use of a portion of Upper Point Vicente that was absolutely essential to ensure a viable project. He stated that the project would eliminate eyesores at the old Marineland site and Upper Point Vicente, generate $4.5 to $5 million to the City’s general fund, lessen the City’s dependency on local and state tax dollars, create employment opportunities, attract tourist dollars, as well as significantly increase the public access to the land. He wished he had more information to potential alternative uses of Upper Point Vicente and had a better feel for how essential golf was to the viability of the project. However, without the information, he felt the best use for Upper Point Vicente was to use a portion of the land to ensure that the project goes forward.
Commissioner Mueller discussed the application made to the Federal Government for this land. He noted that the land is publicly owned and that is stressed many times in the application as well as in letters from the Park Service. He felt the most important issue in publicly owned land was access to the land. He was concerned that golf was a restrictive use and would restrict full and complete access to the land, especially by children. He wondered how public access would be guaranteed to this area when the golf course was built. He felt there were many other recreational opportunities for the site that have not been fully explored. He felt the Upper Point Vicente area needed to have joint use that supported both passive and active activities. He felt that by approving the project the City was opening up an avenue of increased liability to the City. He felt an option to approving the project would be to ask the developer to redesign the project and put all nine holes on Long Point property and provide a smaller hotel.
Commissioner Paulson asked if there were any proposed restrictions on the golf course to children.
Mike Mohler answered that there was nothing that would preclude children of any age using the golf course or having access to the area, and that the misinformation could be from financial projections.
Director/Secretary Rojas agreed that there was nothing that would restrict children from the area.
Commissioner Paulson stated he has tried to approach this project from the question of general public use as defined in the program of utilization and all of the deed restrictions. He stated he was looking for something that said that there absolutely was no golf allowed on this property. He did not think there was anything in the documents that said that in the future a passive or active use could not be put on the property. He stated that he then looked at who the prime people were who were going to be impacted as far as the project and the use of public property. He felt those living at Villa Capri were directly impacted by the project. He stated he listened to the speakers from Villa Capri and the Church and concluded that the majority felt that the golf course was the best use of the land from their viewpoint.
Commissioner Paulson felt there was a constituency in the community that would like nothing done with the property and it should be used only for view purposes and habitat. He stated there was another constituency that felt the property should be developed and was essential for the developer. He stated there was a third constituency that didn’t want any development in Upper Point Vicente or on the Long Point property. He felt that the one constituency the Planning Commission owed an obligation to was the community as a whole. He felt the community must be represented by the Planning Commission and the Commission owed that constituency a very careful review of the project as to what is going to happen in the future. He felt there was a great need for facilities for team sports in the City.
Commissioner Paulson stated that in looking at the overall benefit that can be achieved by having some use of the public property used concurrently with the Long Point property, he has come to the conclusion that there is a valid benefit to the community at large. He stated that he would propose allowing golf use for general public purposes at the currently proposed holes 3, 4, 2, and 7. He suggested the City retain the land at holes 5 and 6. He felt this would maintain for the City the views and trails and all of the land would not be committed.
Commissioner Paulson concluded by saying there was no simple solution and the solution was not black or white. He felt that if it were a viable project to build a hotel and golf course on the Long Point property somebody would have done it. He also did not feel it was a viable project, as presented, using all of the Upper Point Vicente property. He also did not think the Long Point project should include the villas and suggested they be deleted from the project.
Vice Chairman Clark complimented his fellow commissioners, the developer, and both the supporters and opponents for the hard work they had all put into this project. He realized that whatever decision was made would make someone unhappy. He stated that he was an avid golfer, however he was here as a Planning Commissioner and his job was to judge whether the proposed joint public/private land use application makes sense for the City. He discussed the project and the developer’s claim that golf was necessary for the viability of the project. He stated that 2 miles down the road is Ocean Trails, which is a world class golf course. He felt there was a symbiotic relationship between Ocean Trails and Long Point in that Long Point could provide a state of the art practice facility which Ocean Trails did not have and Ocean Trails could provide a championship 18-hole golf experience to the guests at the Long Point resort. He stated that if Ocean Trails is going to be all that it can be, it needs the resort hotel. Conversely, if Long Point is going to be all that it can be it needs Ocean Trails. He explained that he has visited all of the major 5-star resorts in California and visited many in the United States and Europe. He stated that not one of the resorts would have attracted his interest with a 9-hole golf course. He stated that Long Point and Ocean Trails would have to come together in sort of way to make both projects viable.
Vice Chairman Clark continued by stating that looking at this project in its totality and considering all of the input from the applicant and public, he could not look favorably at using public land for the golf amenity. He did not believe the golf course would be the attractor that will make the resort successful. He did think that Long Point was on the right track in proposing, along with their world class resort hotel and world class spa facility, their world class golf academy. He also felt reshaping some of the project on the Long Point site to include practice holes that are a challenge to beginning golfers and those golfers who want to hone their game would be beneficial. He did not think the financial viability of the project rests with the 9-hole golf course. To that end, he would suggest a motion denying the use of Upper Point Vicente Park or any public land for the use of a golf course and direct the applicant to return to the Planning Commission with a revised project that considers the potential design of the practice holes to give a multiplying affect to the golf experience on site. Further, he would recommend the developer consider the possibility of a tie-in with Ocean Trails for the additional golf amenities desired for the project.
Chairman Lyon moved to conditionally approve only the eastern and lower portions of Upper Point Vicente land for golf and exclude the relatively flat area by City Hall, generally the area requested for the first 300 yards of hole no. 5. This would be subject to the applicant submitting a revised plan that is acceptable to the Commission that incorporates the following features: 1) the plan must reasonably protect important habitat and nesting areas; 2) public trails and scenic overlooks must be relocated to ensure public safety; 3) develop hilltop land around City Hall for passive public recreation, the details of which could be worked out with the Recreation and Parks Department; and 4) if the applicant fails to submit a revised plan, or the plan with suitable modifications is not acceptable to the Commission, then the use of Upper Point Vicente land for golf is denied, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he believed that golf was an essential amenity to the success of the resort. He was not sure it was a good idea, however, to ask the developer to assume responsibility for a plan for the area around the City Hall.
Commissioner Long agreed with Vice Chairman Clark’s suggestion to deny the use of public land. He noted that there was nobody on the Commission who favored the approval of the project in its current form. He felt the pending motion was the wrong negotiating strategy, in the sense that the Planning Commission would be putting all of their cards on the table. He felt that Vice Chairman Clark’s proposal was a better negotiating strategy. He suggested recommending denial of the project in its current form. He felt this would open up a real discussion with the developer as to what he want, needs, and is willing to do.
Commissioner Cartwright did not disagree with Commissioner Long’s comments if the responsibility of the Planning Commission was to negotiate with the developer. He did not believe negotiating was their responsibility, and he was very reluctant to do so. He felt that the Planning Commission had been asked to make a decision on land use.
Commissioner Vannorsdall agreed with Commissioner Cartwright’s comments.
Chairman Lyon felt his motion gave the Planning Commission and developer more latitude than Vice Chairman Clark’s motion. With Vice Chairman Clark’s motion the developer could not come back to the Planning Commission with any plan that uses any of the public land. He stated that with his motion the applicant may come back with a plan that uses public land or not. The developer would still have the option, at his discretion, to use only Long Point property. He felt this gave the applicant more options.
Commissioner Long suggested a motion that recommended the Planning Commission recommends rejection of the project in its current form.
Commissioner Vannorsdall strongly objected to that suggestion as he felt the Planning Commission should give the developer some direction so that he can come back with a viable project.
Commissioner Paulson felt it was wrong to send a recommendation to the City Council which says the project is denied based on it’s current form. He felt that if the Planning Commission felt the project should be changed or modified it was their responsibility to ask the questions and have the developer come back with a modified plan and at that point either approve or deny the project.
Commissioner Mueller stated he supported Vice Chairman Clark’s recommendation but asked if that recommendation could be made without prejudice. He felt that when the Planning Commission begins carving up the use of public land then he was not sure they were then answering the request of the City Council as to whether or not public land should be used for the project.
Commissioner Long felt that if the Planning Commissioners believed that this 9-hole golf course requires some portion of public land is going to be the amenity that makes the project viable, then so be it. However, if the Planning Commission has any doubts then he suggested the doubts should weigh in favor of voting against the motion.
Commissioner Paulson had a concern with Chairman Lyon’s recommendation that the land around City Hall be developed for passive public recreation. He did not think passive use was defined.
Chairman Lyon stated he would be open to amending the recommendation to develop the hilltop land around city hall for passive and/or active recreation.
Commissioner Long referred to the suggestion that some of the golf course be put on Mr. York’s property at Filliorum. He asked staff if that entire property was in the landslide moratorium area.
Deputy Director Snow answered that approximately 15 – 20 acres of the land was outside of the moratorium area.
Chairman Lyon amended his motion to say that the applicant shall develop a plan in conjunction with City staff for use of hilltop land around City Hall for passive and/or public recreation, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.
Director/Secretary Rojas understood the Chairman’s revision however he was concerned that it would require the developer and City to come up with a plan for the passive/active public recreation area. He stated this would require hearings and input from the City, Recreation and Parks, and the City Council. He suggested revising the motion to require the developer to implement what is in the Parks Master Plan. However, if the Planning Commission wants the developer to contribute towards the development of the land, perhaps the recommendation could be reformatted so that the developer enter into a development agreement with the City and the amount of contribution towards those amenities be negotiated with the City Council.
Chairman Lyon revised his amendment so that no. 3 stated that the developer shall enter into a development agreement with the City to develop hilltop land around City Hall for passive and/or active recreation. He added that if the applicant fails to submit a revised plan or the plan with suitable modification is not suitable to the Planning Commission then the use of Upper Point Vicente land for golf is denied. The motion failed on a roll call vote, (3-4) with Commissioners Long, Mueller, Paulson and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
Vice Chairman Clark moved to deny the use Upper Point Vicente Park or any public land for the use of a golf course and direct the applicant to return to the Planning Commission with a revised project that considers the potential of an expanded golf academy and practice facility with practice holes with the potential design of the practice holes to give a multiplying affect to the golf experience on site. Further, the developer consider the possibility of a tie-in with Ocean Trails for the additional golf amenities desired for the project, seconded by Commissioner Long. The motion failed on a roll call vote, (3-4) with Commissioners Cartwright, Paulson, Vannorsdall, and Chairman Lyon dissenting.
Commissioner Paulson moved that the only public land to be considered for golf purposes are those currently labeled as holes 7, 2, 3, and 4 and all other property so indicated for golf purposes not be dedicated to golf use, which would be holes 5 and 6, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.
Commissioner Cartwright asked why he chose to eliminate the area around holes 5 and 6.
Commissioner Paulson responded that he believed hole 6 encroaches into the habitat area.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that hole 6 does not encroach into the habitat area and in his discussions with the Fish and Wildlife Agency their concerns with habitat areas were centered around holes 3, 4, and 7.
Commissioner Paulson revised his motion to conceptually approve only the eastern and lower portions of the Upper Point Vicente land for golf, excluding the relatively flat area on top of the hill by City Hall (eliminating all of Hole No. 5), subject to the applicant’s submittal of a revised plan acceptable to the Commission that incorporates the following features: 1) reasonably protects important habitat and bird nesting areas; 2) relocates public trails and scenic overlooks to ensure public safety; and 3) at the appropriate time, the applicant enters into a development agreement with the City to contribute toward the development of the area excluded from the golf course (hole no. 5) with passive and/or active public recreational amenities. Further, if the applicant fails to submit a revised plan, or the plan (with suitable modifications) is not acceptable to the Commission, then the use of Upper Point Vicente land for golf is denied, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. The motion passed (4-3) with Commissioners Long, Mueller, and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
Chairman Lyon indicated the project would return to the Planning Commission on August 24, 2001 with revisions and conditions for Planning Commission discussion.
Commissioner Long noted that, being after midnight, there should be a vote as to whether to consider any further items on the agenda. He noted that Planning Commission rules stated that no new item would be heard after 11 p.m.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to continue hearing the Agenda, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. The motion passed, (5-2) with Commissioners Long and Mueller dissenting.
6. General Plan Amendment No. 29 – Housing Element
Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report stating this was a procedural matter that had to go before the Planning Commission before being forwarded to the City Council, and that the Commission had already considered the Housing Element. He explained that the recommended changes had been incorporated into the Housing Element.
Commissioner Mueller asked about the senior affordable housing project mentioned in the Housing Element and if it was still an active project as stated in the Housing Element.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that technically, as of now, the statement is not true as the applicant had changed the plan and it was pending a hearing before City Council. He stated the Housing Element could be amended to say that an application has been submitted.
Commissioner Mueller noted a typo on page 2-24 of the Housing Element.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution NO. 2001-25, recommending City Council certification of a Negative Declaration for the project, and adopt P.C. Resolution NO. 2001-26, recommending City Council approval of General Plan Amendment NO. 29, thereby approving the final housing element, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. Approved, (7-0).
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Chairman Lyon suggested hearing Item No. 3 first and the Commission agreed.
Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 1:35 a.m.