08/28/2001 Planning Commission Minutes 08/28/2001, 2001, August, Planning, Commission, Minutes, Meeting, Commissioner Cartwright discussed a letter to the editor written by Commissioner Long that had been published in the Palos Verdes News and the Daily Breeze. He stated that the letter was highly critical of the majority of the Planning Commission who had voted August 14 to recommend to the City Council to use a portion of Upper Point Vicente for the Long Point project. He felt that Commissioner Long had a right to write to whomever he wishes, but did not have a right to misstate a position or distort facts to make his point. He quoted several portions of the letter, which he felt were misleading or untrue. He felt Commissioner Long was ill advised to write a letter to the editor as a Planning Commissioner before the Planning Commission had concluded deliberations The 08/28/2001 RPV Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, PLANNING COMMISSION,, REGULAR MEETING AUGUST 28,, 2001

CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES

PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

AUGUST 28, 2001

 

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:03 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.

 

FLAG SALUTE

 

Vice Chairman Clark led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

ROLL CALL

 

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

 

Absent:           Commissioner Mueller was absent (excused)

 

Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Deputy Director Snow, Acting Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Schonborn, Assistant City Attorney Pittman, and Recording Secretary Peterson

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Chairman Lyon suggested hearing the items in the following order:  5, 1, 2, 3, 6, and 4.  The Commission agreed.   

 

CONTINUED BUSINESS

 

5.                  Height Variation 920, Grading Permit No. 2274, Minor Exception Permit No. 320, and Fence, Wall, and Hedge Permit No. 36:  Mr. And Mrs. Kiger (applicant) 30357 Diamonte Lane.

 

Without objection, Chairman Lyon tabled the item, as recommended by staff, until a new application is submitted and a new public hearing is noticed.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

 

Director/Secretary Rojas reported that the City Council, at their last meeting, adopted the Housing Element and did not enter into a new Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the developer for the Senior Affordable Housing project.  He explained that the City Council directed staff to look into alternative uses for the site. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas distributed a copy of an e-mail from Commissioner Mueller, a letter regarding the zone 2 moratorium issue, and 14 pieces of correspondence regarding Long Point.  In addition, he noted there were 2 items of late correspondence regarding Long Point, which the Planning Commission directed be distributed. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that he had received a copy of a letter from Mr. Freeman and from Ms. Clarkson regarding the Planning Commission policy on e-mail.  The other Commissioners acknowledged they had received the same correspondence.

 

Commissioner Cartwright discussed a letter to the editor written by Commissioner Long that had been published in the Palos Verdes News and the Daily Breeze.  He stated that the letter was highly critical of the majority of the Planning Commission who had voted August 14 to recommend to the City Council to use a portion of Upper Point Vicente for the Long Point project.  He felt that Commissioner Long had a right to write to whomever he wishes, but did not have a right to misstate a position or distort facts to make his point.  He quoted several portions of the letter, which he felt were misleading or untrue. He felt Commissioner Long was ill advised to write a letter to the editor as a Planning Commissioner before the Planning Commission had concluded deliberations.  He felt this would confuse the public and make it more difficult for the Commission to act collectively on tough, difficult issues.  More importantly, he felt the public deserved fair and honest dealings and to distort facts and misstate a Commissioner’s position in an attempt to sway public opinion was not fair.

 

Commissioner Long stated that that in writing the letters to the editor he was attempting to express a better statement of the views that oppose the project in a better way than had been presented in the newspaper articles.  He stated that what was in the letter was nothing more than a summary of what he had said at the meeting. He felt that a statement made at 1:00 a.m. at the Planning Commission meeting was less useful to the public than a statement that could be read and considered by the public.  He stated that the purpose of writing the letter was to encourage those who are opposed to the project and encourage the City Council to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision.  He stated that it was not intent to distort anyone’s position. 

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall stated that there had always been an unwritten code that the Commission was not to debate a Commission decision made as a whole.  He stated that the Commissioners join ranks to report their joint decisions to the City Council and the public as a single body.  He did not think individual Commissioners should attempt to influence the City Council’s decision beyond the debate that took place within the Planning Commission meetings.  He felt the letter written to the editor was a deliberate attempt to do just that.  He felt the decision made by the Planning Commission should be upheld by all of the Planning Commissioners.

 

Commissioner Paulson expressed his disappointment with the letters to the editor.  He stated that Commissioner Long had his opportunity in a public forum to articulate his position on the subject.  He felt that Commissioner Long had a right to write to the editor, however he felt it should have been done as an individual citizen and not as a member of the Planning Commission.  He stated that he would make his decisions regarding Long Point based on the facts presented to the Planning Commission in the public hearings and staff reports. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that, if asked, he would have advised Commissioner Long not to write the letters to the editor.  He stated the Commission must act together as a Commission.  He stated the issue of use of Upper Point Vicente was still before the Planning Commission and from that perspective he regretted the letter to the editor.

 

Chairman Lyon added that he was disappointed and felt it was very important for the Planning Commission to continue to work together.  He felt that Commissioner Long has had many opportunities to state his views to the Planning Commission and the public at the various hearings.  He felt it was very disappointing when one member of the Planning Commission could not accept the majority decision of the Planning Commission.  He asked Commissioner Long if he had intended to sign his letter as a Planning Commissioner. 

 

Commissioner Long responded that he did not sign the letter on behalf of the Planning Commission but merely had indicated that he was a member of the Commission to the newspaper.  The newspaper then changed his signature to read in the manner in which it read in the letter.

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

1.                  Minutes of August 14, 2001

 

Commissioner Long noted a typo on page 15 of the minutes. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright noted that on page 13 of the minutes there were some comments he made that he felt should have been included.  He requested the Recording Secretary listen to the tape and include the comments in the minutes. He requested the minutes be returned at the next meeting to verify these corrections.

 

Vice Chairman Clark noted on page 17 of the minutes there were comments he made that were left out that he would like included. He also noted on page 20 of the minutes there were comments he made that he would like repeated in his remarks on page 17.

 

Chairman Lyon noted a typo on page 4 of the minutes.  He noted on page 7 of the minutes that one of the statements was out of order and requested that it be revised.  Chairman Lyon corrected the motion, as stated, on page 11. 

 

Without objection, the minutes were continued to the meeting of September 11, 2001.

 

2.                  Planning Commission e-mail addresses

 

Chairman Lyon stated that the Commission and staff had received several letters from the public regarding the Planning Commission e-mail policy.   He clarified that when there is an item before the Commission, any information received by one Commissioner must be shared with all of the Commission.  He stated that there must be a procedure guaranteeing that any correspondence received by one Commissioner will be received by all.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that he absolutely wants public input and the Planning Commission needed a policy to ensure that it happens most effectively. 

 

Commissioner Paulson felt that the intent of the Planning Commission when this subject was originally discussed was to improve the methods of getting public input to the Commissioners.  He felt the process agreed upon at the meeting would provide a better way of getting communications to the Commissioners.  He discussed his concerns with getting e-mail directly from the public and noted that the public could not assume Commissioners would get their e-mail in a timely manner if they happen to be out of town.  He felt that whatever approach was chosen, it must include timeliness and the ability to transmit the information to the Commissioners wherever they may be. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright emphasized the fact that he does not have access to a computer that could be used to receive e-mail from the public. He felt the system that was in place was working reasonably well. 

 

Commissioner Long agreed that it was important that all of the Commissioners receive the same e-mail, they all receive them at as much the same time as possible, and they all have them in advance of the meeting in which they’re intended to relate.  He stated that if it was easier to be centralized with the City staff it would be something that would assist all of the Commissioners.

 

Commissioner Paulson wondered if it were time to look at an overall City policy on how e-mail information should be handled.  He was concerned that the City Council and the different Commissions and Committees all handled their e-mails in a different manner.

 

Chairman Lyon agreed but added that they were in a position only to recommend the City Council establish such a policy.  He felt the best thing to do was clarify the procedure the Planning Commission would like to follow and present that to the City Council as a model that they may wish to emulate or change at their discretion.

 

Commissioner Long felt the Planning Commission should reconsider the previous directive to remove all personal e-mail addresses from the City roster.  He stated there were several Commissioners willing to have their e-mail addresses available to the public and invited the public to use his private e-mail addresses, which are tlong@nossaman.com and longrpv@concentric.net.

 

Commissioner Cartwright clarified that the Planning Commission had directed the Planning Staff to collect all e-mail sent to the City and send the e-mail to the Commissioners in the most efficient manner possible.  He emphasized that there was no direction to censor the e-mail and all e-mail was to be forwarded.

 

Chairman Lyon suggested reaffirming the existence of the central planning Commission e-mail address, which should be the main vehicle of communication with the Planning Commission.  Secondly, on the website or City roster, add any information each individual Planning Commissioner would like to have shown.  He stated the central e-mail received up to 5:30 p.m. on the Monday before the meeting should be forwarded to each of the Planning Commissioners. He stated that e-mail received after 5:30 p.m. should be treated as late correspondence.  He stated that the e-mail should be automatically forwarded to all of the Commissioners who have an e-mail address and those who do not, it will be placed with the written material to be given to that Commissioner.

 

Commissioner Long asked staff if the City had the capability to digest the e-mail.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that he did not know the answer and would have to check with the technical staff.  He also stated he would have to check to see if a cutoff time of 5:30 could be set up on the e-mail system for the automatic forwarding of the e-mail.

 

Vice Chairman Clark was concerned that if staff did not present the Commissioners with a hard copy of the e-mail, there may be e-mails that Commissioners do not receive because of travel, etc.  He asked Assistant City Attorney to comment on Mr. Freeman’s correspondence to the Planning Commission, if he had seen it.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated he had not reviewed Mr. Freeman’s correspondence, but did discuss what e-mail is private and what e-mail is public.  He stated that any e-mail received through the city website became a matter of public record at that point.  If the e-mail is sent to the Planning Commissioner’s personal e-mail address it is not public information until the Planning Commissioner discloses the e-mail, unless the e-mail is relative to a matter before the Planning Commission.

 

Commissioner Paulson moved to continue the use of the City website for e-mail directed to the Planning Commission, however Commissioners should put any information regarding personal e-mail addresses back onto the City roster if they desired.  He stated that staff should return to the Planning Commission at the next meeting with a recommended procedure and policy for the Commission to consider, seconded by Commissioner Long.  Approved, (6-0).

 

Vice Chairman Clark suggested this item be opened to public comment at the next meeting.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

3.                  Conditional Use Permit No. 176 – Revision ‘C’

 

Associate Planner Schonborn presented a brief staff report.  He explained the original Conditional Use Permit and the two subsequent revisions to that Conditional Use Permit.  He explained that the Permit expired in August, 1998.  He explained that the request before the Commission was an extension of the original CUP for the continued operation of the school and a request for approval to increase the maximum student enrollment.  He stated that staff could make all necessary findings for approval of the Conditional Use Permit Revision.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked staff what the existing enrollment cap was under the Conditional Use Permit.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the existing cap was 28 students, however he noted that the current enrollment is 110 students, as it had increased incrementally through the years.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall asked how many students Ladera Linda School could hold.

 

Associate Planner Schonborn answered that the school could hold 338 students.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if there was a way, if this request were approved, to monitor enrollment and if enrollment were to exceed what was approved by the Planning Commission, a revision would be applied for. 

 

Associate Planner Schonborn stated the conditions have been modified to indicate which rooms are to be used at the school with a cap of 112 students.  He noted that any deviation from either the cap or additional rooms to be utilized would require a revision before the Planning Commission.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing

 

John Ernst 32201 Forrestal Drive (applicant) stated he was available for questions.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked if a cap of 112 students was enough and if they would have to come back to the Planning Commission in the future to request a raise to that cap.

 

Mr. Ernst stated that 112 students was based on the amount of rooms currently being used at the school.  He explained that he would have to go before the City Council to request the use of more rooms, and all of the rooms at Ladera Linda were currently being used.

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated that she had brought to the attention of the City Council that the Montessori School at Ladera Linda does not have it’s own meters and is using the electrical and gas meters designed for the entire school.  She felt that because nobody was overseeing the use of the meter the school was using as much electricity and heat as they desired.  She stated that the Recreation and Parks Department had told her they keep that in mind when they calculate the rental fee for the rooms.  She questioned whether they do keep that in mind, particularly now that the utility rates have risen so high.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if this issue was handled in a lease agreement.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that this issue had been raised before and that the utilities are handled under a lease agreement which is approved by the City Council. 

 

Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.

 

Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-27 thereby approving Conditional Use Permit No. 176 – Revision ‘C’ as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.  Approved, (6-0).

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

6.                  General Plan Annual Report

 

Chairman Lyon waived the reading of the staff report.

 

Commissioner Paulson referred to Commissioner Mueller’s e-mail in which he noted that on page 5 of the General Plan there was no reference to the Golden Cove Montessori School.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that would be incorporated.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked staff when was the last time the General Plan had a comprehensive review and update.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that the City’s General Plan had not had a comprehensive review or update.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if there were State requirements to review and update the General Plan.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas answered that the State only requires the Housing Element to be updated.

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked why the City Council had not addressed the possibility of a comprehensive review and update of the General Plan.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the last time the City Council addressed the subject they felt that the original policies and goals of the General Plan are still valid.

 

Chairman Lyon noted on Page 7, a statement where the City had entered into an agreement to purchase 622 acres of open space land.  He stated that should be 722 acres.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to forward the General Plan to the City Council, as amended, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright.  Approved, (6-0)

 

RECESS AND RECONVENE

 

At 8:40 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:55 p.m. at which time they reconvened.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS)

 

Lois Larue was called to speak but did not respond.

 

CONTINUED BUSINESS (CONT)

 

4.                  Long Point Resort:  6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Blvd.

 

Chairman Lyon suggested the following:  1) hearing the staff report; 2) open the public hearing to hear comments limited to elements of the new plan or the draft conditions of approval included in the staff report; 3) a discussion amongst the Commissioners to determine if the new plan meets the requirements of the motion made at the last meeting.  If it does not meet the requirements, the Commission may consider modifications to the plan that would satisfy the requirements; 4) review the draft conditions of approval; and, 5) vote on the approval or denial of the project.

 

Commissioner Cartwright agreed with the suggestions, however he felt that the Commission should hear from the applicant, since a new plan was being presented.

 

Chairman Lyon stated his thought was that the staff report would describe the new plan and in the discussion of the new plan if there were questions, the Commission may direct those questions to the applicant.

 

Vice Chairman Clark felt the applicant should have a chance to describe the revisions made to the plan after the staff report has been given.  In reviewing Chairman Lyon’s suggestions, he did not feel the Planning Commission was in a position to make a decision on the project relative to the resort hotel area.  The Commission agreed.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report.  A revised plan was displayed on the overhead projector and Mr. Mihranian pointed out that hole no. 5 had been removed, resulting in an increase of public area of approximately 12.6 acres.  He pointed out the areas where the applicant had removed park area and one overlook area.  He noted that the golf area had been reduced from 35.6 acres to 20.3 acres.  He explained that hole no. 8 had been modified to co-exist with the golf school and practice facility.  He stated that the revised plan has resulted in less impact to biological resources and in general the plan is designed to ensure public safety.  He stated that the City’s EIR consultant and traffic consultant were available if the Commissioners had questions. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark addressed a letter received from the Department of Interior relative to concerns over the use of Upper Point Vicente.  He stated that the letter indicates the Department of Interior has significant or serious concerns with the use of Upper Point Vicente in this project.  He asked staff about these concerns.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated he was aware of these concerns and noted they were primarily over habitat connections at Upper Point Vicente.  He stated that the EIR consultants had concluded that the impacts to biological resources are not significant after mitigation.  He stated that staff felt the changes made to the project plan are an improvement and address some of the concerns the resources agencies have expressed.  He stated that it was staff’s intent to meet with the resources agencies to review the latest changes to the plan.

 

Commissioner Cartwright discussed view corridors and impacts to these corridors from buildings on Long Point that were proposed to be 26 feet high.  He asked if staff had addressed these concerns.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that staff had addressed these concerns in the conditions of approval for the resort hotel area.  He noted that  the proposed structures that exceed the height limits have been restricted in the conditions of approval, based on the Coastal Plan’s vertical zones. 

 

Commissioner Paulson noted that in Commissioner Mueller’s e-mail he expressed concern about the height of buildings on the resort hotel area.  He asked what was being used as the base to determine the height of the structures.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian answered that in regards to height calculations, the commercial recreation zone in which the resort hotel is located does not specify how height is measured.  He explained that it was staff’s approach in this case was to measure height from finished grade.  He noted that the applicant has requested to grade the site and lower the existing grade. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if they had concerns with golf safety on holes 7 and 8.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated that staff was deferring to the recommendations of the golf safety sub-consultant for holes 7 and 8 and that they be incorporated into the plan. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked staff if the applicant had reviewed the recommendations of the golf safety expert and if they had agreed to implement these recommendations.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian stated the applicant had received the recommendations but was uncertain as to whether he accepted these recommendations.

 

Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.

 

Mike Mohler 11777 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, displayed a map that he felt responded, to the letter, to the condition set forth by the Planning Commission.  He noted that the new plan does reasonably protect important habitat and bird nesting areas, which he noted the City consultant agreed with, and relocates public trails and scenic overlooks to protect public safety.  He reviewed the new golf plan at Upper Point Vicente and noted that public park area increased, native vegetation area increased, and the golf area decreased. 

 

Commissioner Paulson expressed concern with hole no. 2.  He asked what the distance was from the tee to the path. 

 

Mr. Mohler stated it was approximately 100 feet, and approximately 50 feet downslope.  He stated there was sufficient grade separation enhanced by shrubbery and a fence that would provide total protection for anyone on the path. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if this berm concept was built into the existing plan.

 

Acting Senior Planner stated that the plan showed more of a fence rather than a berm.

 

Mr. Mohler explained that the fencing and berms were integrated into the landscaping. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Mohler if he agreed with the consultant’s recommendations regarding hole no. 3.

 

Mr. Mohler answered that he could live with the consultant’s recommendations regarding hole no. 3.  He did not agree with the consultant’s recommendations for hole no. 2.  He stated that he did not think the consultant realized the road was already graded and he preferred not to do any more grading than was necessary.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated his concern with parallel fairways, such as holes 3 and 4, and the possibility of being hit by golf balls. 

 

Mr. Mohler stated that hole no. 4 was a par 3 and the city consultant agreed that it worked well and there were no problems from a design or safety point of view.  He stated he was trying to be responsive to the biologist concerns while considering golf safety.  He noted that there was quite a bit of vegetation between the two holes. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Mohler if he had an idea of the distance from the back tee at hole no. 4 to a point he indicated at hole no. 3.

 

Mr. Mohler did not know the distance but said he would get the answer for him.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that, as described, he was satisfied that holes 3 and 4 were safe.  He felt that the consultant’s suggestion to move the cart path on hole no. 2 was not a good suggestion when one considers all of the factors.  He felt it was safer as described with the shrubbery fence and berm. 

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that if that was the case, then there should be something submitted or incorporated into the plans that describes in detail how this will happen.

 

Chairman Lyon suggested adding this as a condition.  Staff agreed.

 

Commissioner Cartwright added that a condition should be added reflecting the applicant was in agreement with the consultant’s recommendation regarding hole no. 3.

 

Commissioner Paulson read condition “E” of the development agreement regarding public access to the resort hotel and golf course.  He asked Mr. Mohler if he agreed with this condition.

 

Mr. Mohler stated the developer would record easements to the satisfaction of the City over the property to ensure public use, as stated in the condition.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall requested a condition be added that no golf cart or pedestrian path have a slope greater than 20 percent.

 

Mr. Mohler felt that was a good condition, but indicated there was one trail that was over 20 percent and asked that one be excluded.  He noted the area around the trail had tremendous habitat and felt it was better to limit any additional grading in that area. 

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall agreed, as did staff.

 

Alfred Sattler 1904 Avendia Aprenda stated he was the political chair for the Palos Verdes/South Bay region of the Sierra Club.  He stated that he was pleased with the directive that includes the condition that the plan reasonably protect important habitat and bird nesting areas.  He felt that in order to determine whether this condition has been met the Planning Commission will need to thoroughly review all comments that are submitted for the revised biological section of the EIR.  He did not think the Planning Commission could make any responsible decision as to whether this condition has been met until the public comment period for this section of the EIR has been closed.  He felt that many of the mitigation measures proposed in the EIR are inadequate and unsubstantiated, and despite developer claims, impacts to habitat from this project will be severe.

 

Dr. Jeff Greenwood 3612 Gurnard Ave., San Pedro, felt that public park area and private golf courses do not mingle very well.  He stated his experiences at Ocean Trails have not been good, and described his experiences.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that staff would look into Dr. Greenwood’s experience to make sure that wasn’t still happening.

 

Joseph Picarelli 30311 Via Borica discussed holes 3 and 4 and did not think Mr. Mohler explained them very well.  He felt the changes at holes 3 and 4 were major changes and needed further review.  He did not think the adjacent properties were being considered in terms of safety. 

 

Chairman Lyon noted that the changes to holes 3 and 4 were made 3 months ago, on the plans dated May 17, 2001.

 

Don Shults 2129 Velez Drive felt the changes requested by the Planning Commission to the Upper Point Vicente property have been made.  He stated he had heard enough from golfers to realize there are some dangerous spots that need to be looked at closer.  He felt it was time to ask the developer to leave Point Vicente property altogether and there was room on the developer’s own property to develop the resort and golf course. 

 

Frank Buzard 26961 Springcreek Road stated he was going to go home and wished the Planning Commissioners could to, as they were going to have to listen to several more hours of absolute drivel and irrelevancy. 

 

Rowland Driskell 30 Via Capri stated that it is likely that a par 3 executive course would not offer a golf experience commensurate with the needs of the typical resort guest.  He noted that this proposed course was now 634 yards less than an executive course.  He read a portion of a letter from the National Park Service regarding the use of Upper Point Vicente which indicated they would now favor public recreational uses of the property which has the fewest impacts on biological resources. 

 

William Tolliffe 6347 Tarragon Road stated the latest golf course proposed for the Long Point development has problems.  He felt the some-time driving range / some time 9th hole was an inconvenience for the early morning golfer and restrict the use of the driving range.  He felt this would have little appeal for the experienced golfer or the beginner.  He was concerned that shots at holes 2 and 6 would be made over habitat, where in order to retrieve a bungled drive the golfer must walk into the brush or give up the ball.  He felt safety problems still existed at holes 2 and 3.  He felt that there was a need for a comprehensive Upper Point Vicente plan to preserve the natural habitat and improve the recreational features.

 

Ann Shaw 30036 noted that twice in the Conditions of Approval there were statements that no netting would be allowed.  She asked that if, in the future, it became evident that netting was necessary for safety purposes, could that condition be changed.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman responded that a discretionary application could always be reviewed by the body that crafts the permits, so that if there was some need to change a condition, the change could be brought before the deciding body at a public hearing to determine if the condition should be changed.

 

Ms. Shaw stated that she did not see anything in the conditions regarding application of pesticides and fertilizers on the golf course.  She asked if that was included anywhere.

 

Acting Senior Planner Mihranian responded that pesticides and fertilizers were addressed in the mitigation monitoring program.  He stated that the conditions were worded so that the project would adhere to all mitigation measures approved in the certification of the EIR. 

 

Ms. Shaw asked what had happened to the need for a regulation 9-hole golf course that the developer could not live without.  She stated that golfers who wanted to practice on the driving range want to do it at any time of the day.  She stated that golfers who want to play golf do not want to play on a hole that is used as a driving range.  She felt this new design was proposed because Destination Resorts was not willing to give up one single rental unit.  She stated that if the Planning Commission were to approve this design they were accepting the developer’s contention that they must have all 582 rental units. 

 

Dena Friedson 1737 Via Boronada, PVE, did not think the idea of a hole that also served as a driving range would never work.  She did not think golfers would want to play on such an abbreviated course.  She did not think investors or lenders would want to risk their money on such a project.  She did not think the new design reasonably protected important habitat and bird nesting areas at Upper Point Vicente. 

 

Frank Bescoby 19 Surrey Lane did not feel the area around hole no. 2 was safe for people walking the trails, as errant golf shots could come down at very sharp angles.  He was also concerned for the area at Villa Capri and the Church as errant shots from hole no. 4 could land in the parking areas. 

 

Gloria Anderson 6818 Los Verdes had noted that in no place in the staff report is the spelled out that 50 percent of the golf tee times would be reserved for the public.  She asked who would decide which 50 percent would be given to the public.  She stated there was nothing discussing the protection of the beach.  She noted that there was mention of equestrian trails in the staff report.  She asked if there was a stable proposed.  She wondered if the people at Villa Capri have considered the fact that they would be exposed for 4 years to a major amount of dust during construction.  Finally, she asked what the accessed value of the property was around City Hall. 

 

Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road was disappointed that the Planning Commission was willing to give away City owned property. 

 

Barbara Sattler 1904 Avenida Aprenda asked the Commissioners to give careful review to the biological section of the EIR.  She also asked that the Commissioners carefully review all comments received regarding that section.  She stated she had come across a letter from California Water Service stating that the increased development in the area would require the addition of a storage tank of 5 million gallons of water which would require a site of 1 to 2 acres with a tank approximately 35 feet high and 130 – 150 feet in diameter.  She stated she did not see this tank anywhere on the plans and has not heard it addressed by anyone.

 

Holly Cain 52 Avenida Corona noted that mitigating a problem was not solving a problem.  She felt that mitigation makes what is terrible a little less bad.  She noted that time shares were not allowed on the property, so the developer called the time-shares “villas”.  She did not see anything in the staff report about keeping pesticides and fertilizers out of the ocean.  She did not think the use of land at Upper Point Vicente was appropriate for the use of a private developer for golf.  She noted that Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife have money available to purchase other property, however both have stated that there is no money coming to Rancho Palos Verdes because of the golf that is proposed at Upper Point Vicente.

 

Commissioner Paulson indicated that he would like to get the name and phone number of the person Ms. Cain spoke to at the Department of the Interior.

 

Mr. Mohler stated that there were no trails planned between fairways.  He mentioned the trail at Ocean Trails that runs perpendicular to the coast and that it was extremely close to the golf course.  He stated that if the City employed the same golf safety analysis rigors on Ocean Trails that they have to this proposed plan he did not think there would be any public trails at Ocean Trails.  He discussed a resort in Oregon and stated that what was very noticeable was that every golf hole had bike trails and paths 30 feet off of the fairway.  He stated that golf and pedestrian traffic could co-exist, as he had seen it happen.  Mr. Mohler noted that in one letter from the National Park Service they recognize the potential for golf being an acceptable use of the Upper Point Vicente area.  They continued on to speculate on what the conditions might be.  He explained that they pursued this subject with the National Park Service and they were told that one condition that would make the proposal more amenable would be the recordation of public use on private property.  He stated that this is something he has already agreed to. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked how pesticides would be kept on the golf course and not in the ocean or habitat area.

 

Mr. Mohler stated that the mitigation monitoring program has provided mitigation measures that must be followed, and they will be followed to the tee.  Secondly, the habitat conservation plan will monitor the issues and that the acceptable pesticides and fertilizers will be used.

 

Commissioner Cartwright asked Mr. Mohler to comment on the statement by one of the speakers that at two of the holes the ball would have to be hit over habitat area and golfers would have to go into the habitat area to retrieve their balls. 

 

Mr. Mohler stated that the speaker was correct in that the flight of the ball in both cases would fly over sections of habitat.  He noted that this circumstance happens 4 or 5 times at Ocean Trails.  He stated golfers will not be able to go into the habitat.  There will be golf marshals on site, golfers will have to sign agreements before golfing stating they will not enter the habitat area, and if golfers do enter the habitat area to retrieve a ball they will be ejected from the golf course. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked to speak to the biologist for the EIR.  He stated there had been quite a bit of discussion regarding the conditions put in place for the protection of the nesting areas and habitat areas.  He asked Ms. Johnson if she had any comments to the condition that she made on the proposed revision and if this proposed revision protect the areas in question.

 

Ann Johnson, the city biological sub-consultant, stated that this proposed plan is consistent with the previous plan in preservation and proposed restoration of habitat.  She stated the new plan actually proposes more restoration and preservation.  She stated she has made some recommendations regarding limiting some of the trails through the habitat area.  She stated that she had also made a recommendation, in the area south and east of the Coast Guard site, to limit the relocation of natural trails. 

 

Chairman Lyon explained that the Planning Commission would now discuss whether or not this revised plan satisfies the requirement of the motion made at the last meeting.  He stated that involved the Upper Point Vicente property as well as the resort hotel area. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked Mr. Mohler to describe the concept of the dual use between the golf course and the practice facility/driving range.

 

Mr. Mohler began by stating that the golf course on the Upper Point Vicente site was not the developer’s proposal but rather what the Planning Commission did with their proposal.  Mr. Mohler displayed the overhead of the proposed golf course and pointed out the various locations of the holes.  At the request of Vice Chairman Clark, Mr. Mohler pointed out the area that the practice facility and driving range was previously located.  He explained that because of the new direction given by the Planning Commission the golf school was now challenged rather than the golf course.  He felt it was important that there was still a good 9-hole golf experience.  He stated that the golf school now has scheduling issues.  He felt they would be able to operate the putting and chipping facilities all day, but based on golf and school demand a demand schedule would have to be created, and the golf school would have to have flexibility.  He felt this was part of the compromise the Planning Commission asked the applicant to make in removing the par 5 hole on Upper Point Vicente.

 

Commissioner Paulson clarified that the Planning Commission did not force anything on the developer to come up with this design.  He stated that this design was one that the applicant elected to do in response to what was decided at the last meeting.  He stated this was only one approach to solve the problem of not having the 5th hole at Upper Point Vicente, not the only approach.

 

Mr. Mohler agreed, and pointed out where a par 3 golf hole could be located.  He stated there was no room to keep the villas and parking and have the width to create a golf hole in that area.  He agreed there were options, but the options in the applicant’s opinion weaken the golf course. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that in attempting to preserve a 9-hole golf course, the applicant has taken away the driving range and practice facility.  The issue he saw with this approach was three-fold:  1) One of the real attracters designed into the project was a practice facility to be used at any time and located at the resort. That, coupled with the state of the art golf academy was a real attracter.  He felt this attractor has now been diluted.  2)  The developer has taken away one of the natural elements of the symbiotic relationship with Ocean Trails.  He noted that Ocean Trails does not have a practice facility or driving range.  He stated that the previous plan met the needs of Ocean Trails and Ocean Trails has the reciprocal championship 18-hole golf course experience, and 3)  He was having a difficult time understanding how the developer would manage the logistics and timing of actual play on the course without effectively eliminating the practice facility, as it was really part of the course.  He asked Mr. Mohler if there was anything else, that may not be obvious, that drove him to this schematic conceptual plan other than preserving a 9-hole course.

 

Mr. Mohler began by stating they did not design Long Point to accommodate Ocean Trails, nor did Ocean Trails design their project for Long Point.  He stated they designed what they felt was a freestanding project, and had to have an amenity that would be an attraction for the financing and justification for the resort hotel.

 

Vice Chairman Clark agreed, however he stated that Ocean Trails does exist and what they don’t have they have put into their plan. 

 

Mr. Mohler agreed that the symbiotic relationship has been lessened some because space has been created for major general public uses.  He stated that something had to give and he felt he had done the best he could keeping in mind the project economics before the Finance Committee. 

 

Vice Chairman asked Mr. Mohler for his reaction to the suggestion the developer return to the concept of a state of the art practice facility, three holes on the Long Point property that could be multiplied or effectively turned into a 9-hole experience, and remove golf from Upper Point Vicente.

 

Mr. Mohler responded that was clearly not the motion that was passed nor the instructions received, and was not the direction he was heading with this plan.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he found that plan, as submitted, not to be acceptable.  He felt the Planning Commission had in mind, when discussing the motion at the last meeting, that the villas would be removed and be replaced with golf area.  He felt the practice facility was a key part of the plan and did not understand why the developer went to the dual use hole concept.  He felt it was an arrangement that clearly would not work.

 

Mr. Mohler responded that the Planning Commission pulled the villa issue out of the motion, which may have thrown him a curve.  He stated he had tried to follow the conditions as best they could. He stated that if this was a modification they felt they had to have, they had a right to vote it in. 

 

Chairman Lyon asked Mr. Mohler and the Planning Commissioners how they felt about taking out the villas and adding another golf hole, which would allow the retention of the driving range.  He felt this would preserve the concept approved by the Planning Commission at the last meeting.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that the motion did not include the villas for a very specific reason, it was a motion concerning the property at Upper Point Vicente Park area.  He noted that he had made a statement at the last meeting that it should be the developer’s discretion as to how he compensated for the loss of hole no. 5.  He stated he was opposed to villas for many reasons.  He was concerned that this new proposal compromised part of the basic reason this overall project was created.  He felt that it was the developer’s decision as to whether the project would be economically viable with the retention of the villas and the reduction of the practice facilities.

 

Commissioner Long asked Mr. Mohler if this proposal was really what he wanted.  He asked if this proposal had come so far from what was originally proposed that it was really no longer what he wanted, as it doesn’t give the developer what he needs.  He asked Mr. Mohler if there was something else he had in mind.

 

Mr. Mohler’s answer was no.  He stated that in developing this proposal they were trying to comply with the Planning Commission’s intent for the Upper Point Vicente property, as the Planning Commission had not had many discussions for the proposals on the Long Point property.  He agreed that this proposal was not as good as it was with the 5th hole on Upper Point Vicente, but he felt from an operational and aesthetic standpoint the proposal was a beautiful amenity both on the City and Long Point property.

 

Chairman Lyon asked Mr. Mohler to describe how the plan would look with the elimination of the villas.

 

Mr. Mohler responded that the space could accommodate a 160 to 170 yard, par 3 hole.  He stated the practice facility could remain the way it originally was. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark asked if the villas were of greater value in the project than the practice facility.

 

Mr. Mohler stated he did not know the answer to that question.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated the Finance Advisory Committee was still analyzing the financial plan submitted to the City.  He asked if they were looking at the latest plan or the previous plan.

 

Mr. Mohler answered they were looking at the previous plan, but he did have a discussion with the Finance Director asking if he could pass this new information to the consultant for comment at the next Finance Committee meeting, which he did.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that approximately 5 percent of the revenue would come from golf.  He asked if that 5 percent included the golf practice facility and golf academy.

 

Mr. Mohler responded that the 5 percent was all inclusive

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated he was one of the Commissioner’s who suggested removing the elimination of the villas from the motion at the previous meeting, as he had not heard any good reason as to why the villas should be eliminated from the project.  He still had not heard a good reason to eliminate the villas from the project.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that a subdivision map would need to be filed in order to build the villas.  He also noted that the villas would be independently owned homes, with limitations on the number of days of usage.  He stated he had problems with this type of arrangement as it was not part of the hotel business. 

 

Commissioner Long took a different approach and felt that a golf amenity was unnecessary and could be achieved through Ocean Trails and that Long Point could build more villas instead of fewer.  He felt all kinds of conditions could be attached to the villas that run with the land and the fortuity that the individual villas could be sold to individual persons would be of no consequence in terms of the outward operation of the facility to the outside observer.  He stated that the logic behind the villas was that some people had cash to burn and are willing to spend amounts of money that could not reasonably be economically justified as investments to have a house that they will be in only 90 days per year.  Further, these houses will have deed restrictions on them and that the resort will be able to rent to other people at an enormous profit. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright agreed that villas are an amenity that would not be unique to Long Point, and are something that are found in most large resorts. 

 

Chairman Lyon stated that eliminating the villas would free up land that could be used for the golf course and relieves the pressure on Upper Point Vicente.  He did not think the villas were an attractive entry into the Long Point area and felt it would be far more attractive to have a golf hole at the location rather than condominiums.  He stated there was a view impairment issue with the villas, which would go away if the land were used for a golf hole.  Lastly, the elimination of the villas would enable the developer to retain the practice facility and driving range which he felt was imperative to make the project viable.

 

Vice Chairman Clark agreed that the practice facility was absolutely essential.  However, he noted that one of the top resort developers in the world was adding this type of villa concept to their properties.  He stated these villas were an economic multiplier for the resort. 

 

Commissioner Paulson asked if a zone change would be necessary to build the villas.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas responded that a zone change would not be required, as staff believed that they are consistent with the Commercial/Recreation zoning.

 

Chairman Lyon questioned whether the Coastal Commission would accept the villas as an element of a public use complex.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that in a past staff report examples were cited where the Coastal Commission has found similar arrangements to be consistent.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that what was weighing heavily in his decision was if there was a possibility of losing the lower development for the sake of 20 acres of the 77 acres at Upper Point Vicente.  He was convinced that unless something was done to revise the current plan to retain the driving range, he had problems with the proposal.

 

Vice Chairman Clark felt that the general consensus of the Commission was to send the developer back to reconsider the conceptual plan.  He stated that it also seemed to be the consensus of the Commission that the practice facility was an important amenity to the plan. He suggested that Destination Resorts needs to look at whether or not there is greater value to them in this project with the villas on their property versus taking golf off of Upper Point Vicente and putting it only on their property.

 

Commissioner Vannorsdall suggested asking the developer to consider relocating some of the villas rather than eliminating them.

 

Mr. Mohler stated that it has been his experience in 30 years of practice that a City body will approve a project, deny a project, or approve the project with conditions.  He stated that if the Planning Commission wants something changed they have the right to ask it to be changed.  He stated this was not a multiple-choice task and he couldn’t keep coming back and ask how the Planning Commission liked the current plan.  He stated that the Planning Commission spoke with conviction at the last meeting about Upper Point Vicente.  He asked that the Planning Commission do the same with respect to the Long Point property. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that, when reviewing Ocean Trails, the developer had been sent back several times to revise the plan to meet the concerns and issues that the Planning Commission and public had. He felt this was a major project and this was a typical process in trying to find a refined project that the Planning Commission could approve.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that he would like to determine whether or not this plan, or modification to this plan, was acceptable to the Planning Commission.  He stated that the motion made at the last meeting required the applicant to return to the Planning Commission with a revised plan.  He stated that it was clear that as stated, the plan was not acceptable to the Commission.  He stated that the Commission needed to make a decision, and a proper way to decide it was to vote on the acceptability of the developer’s plan, not to send him back.  Further, if the motion does not carry then it automatically defaults back to a decision of no use of public land at Upper Point Vicente Park for golf. 

 

Commissioner Cartwright agreed but believed that the Commission had agreed that the applicant could return to the Commission with a plan for Upper Point Vicente, but did not say that he had to come back with a plan that was acceptable to the Commission for the Long Point property. 

 

Chairman Lyon read aloud the motion that was made and approved at the last meeting.  He did not feel that it said nor implied that the plan was restricted to Upper Point Vicente.

 

Vice Chairman Clark pointed out that the applicant has changed the golf course on Upper Point Vicente and the lower area.  He asked how the Commission could deal with the acceptability of part of the plan and not the rest. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark noted that the applicant has submitted a revised plan, as required by the motion, however the revised plan was not acceptable to the Commission and therefore the use of Upper Point Vicente Park for golf purposes should be denied. 

 

Chairman Lyon moved to accept the plan submitted by the applicant with the additional condition that the villas be eliminated and the golf practice facility be restored, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall.

 

Commissioner Cartwright did not feel it was appropriate to make a decision to trade the villas for a practice facility without any information or facts that would allow them to make that decision. 

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that before making such a motion it would be more appropriate to send the applicant back to consider those kind of changes in the context with any others that he can come up with that he believes fit within the compatibility, and return to the Planning Commission with his findings.

 

Commissioner Paulson felt that the Commission could all agree that they would support a motion that a dedicated practice facility should be included in the project. He felt this was direct guidance that the applicant must respond to and how he responds to that guidance is at the applicant’s discretion.

 

Chairman Lyon revised his motion to ask the applicant to bring back to the Planning Commission a revised plan that retains a dedicated golf practice facility on his property, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. 

 

Director/Secretary Rojas noted that in a past staff report, staff had indicated that the current parcel for the villas does not meet the Development Code lot area criteria for the CR zoning district.  Therefore, if the Commission wishes to create that parcel they would have to make special findings under the Conditional Use Permit.

 

Chairman Lyon noted that this would not mean that the use of Upper Point Vicente was approved for golf.  He stated that the Commission would review the entire plan before making that determination.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated that the applicant had returned to the Commission with a plan that was not acceptable and the Commission was asking the applicant to make revisions.  He asked if the new revised plan that the applicant presents is still not acceptable to the Commission, will the Commission then revert back to the condition that was in the original motion.

 

Director/Secretary Rojas stated that this motion has an implication that the previous motion made last meeting is not being met.  He felt the Planning Commission may be indirectly determining that the plan presented was not acceptable.  He suggested one way to resolve the problem was to reword the motion and asked the Assistant City Attorney for assistance.

 

Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated the implication was that by requesting the modification to the plan, as submitted, the plan does not meet the prior motion and suggested it may be more appropriate to word the motion to state that with the following modifications the plan would be acceptable.

 

Commissioner Paulson stated that was pre-supposing that the changes would be acceptable.

 

Chairman Lyon stated that the Planning Commission was merely asking the applicant to return to the Commission with a plan that embodies one change that they have dictated, which is to incorporate the original concept of a practice facility.  He noted that this does not restrict the applicant from making other changes.

 

Commissioner Long added that the prior motion does not prevent the Planning Commission from subsequently finding the revised plan the applicant will be submitting, with suitable modifications, does satisfy the prior motion.  He did not think there was anything in the prior motion that says there will be only one opportunity to submit a revised plan.

 

Chairman Lyon repeated his motion.  The motion passed, (5-1) with Commissioner Long dissenting.

 

Commissioner Long stated that had voted against the motion because he was concerned that the motion created the implication that the Planning Commission was recommending the use of public land for private use.

 

Commissioner Paulson asked staff if, before the next meeting, they would research the letter from California Water Service about the water storage tank and whether that tank would be an onsite requirement.  He also noted the comment from a speaker regarding equestrian trails and asked staff to explain that at the next meeting.

 

Commissioner Long asked about conditions regarding liability insurance.  He also would like to see some discussion regarding the joint use of bike paths and pedestrian paths.  He asked to have a better understanding of the dangers of golf balls to motorists and cyclists on Palos Verdes Drive South.

 

Commissioner Cartwright stated that one of the speakers had voiced their concerns about dust during construction and he asked staff to make sure that issue was covered in the conditions of approval.

 

Vice Chairman Clark stated he would like a report at the next meeting regarding staff’s interaction with the resource agencies relative to their concerns regarding the project.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Chairman Lyon adjourned the meeting at 11:59 p.m.