CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Lyon at 7:06 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Mueller led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Fox, Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Schonborn, Assistant Planner Yu, Assistant City Attorney Pittman, and Recording Secretary Peterson.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
After a brief discussion the agenda was approved as presented. However, the Commission reserved the right to switch the order of items 7 and 8, if needed, later in the meeting.
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that the City Council had approved the General Plan Implementation Report that had been forwarded to them by the Planning Commission. He also reported that the City Council would begin their hearings for the Long Point project on November 7 at Miraleste Middle School. Finally, regarding neighborhood compatibility, he stated that the City Council had directed staff to research the possibility of a code amendment.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of correspondence relating to Agenda Item No. 5, one item of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 6 and 15 items of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 7.
1. Minutes of September 25, 2001
Commissioner Long asked that the reason for his recusal as noted on page 2 of the minutes be clarified.
Commissioner Cartwright noted typos on page 4 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Clark noted on page 18 of the minutes that there may be a comment made by Mr. Tippets that was not included in the minutes. He asked that the tape be checked and the comment added. He also noted a typo on page 15 of the minutes.
Chairman Lyon noted two words left out of the motion on page 24 of the minutes.
Vice Chairman Clark asked the first paragraph on page 23 be modified to add "as envisioned by the Vice Chairman in his previous motion".
The minutes were approved as amended, without objection, (7-0).
2. Conditional Use Permit No. 136, Grading Permit No. 1246, and Lot Line Adjustment No. 38: York Long Point Associates, 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South
Commissioner Long began by asking staff what the authority was in the Municipal Code that would allow the Planning Commission to grant an extension for entitlements that have already expired.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman responded that the request for the extension was filed prior to the date of expiration. However, because of the scheduling of the agendas the item was not placed on the agenda before it expired. He stated that as long as the application was received prior to the expiration of the permits then the Planning Commission had the authority to consider the extension request.
Commissioner Mueller asked how many times these permits have been extended.
Director/Secretary Rojas answered that these permits have been extended nine times.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Ann Shaw 30036 Via Borica stated that Destination Resorts does not want the Long Point entitlements, but rather their own plans for the site. She felt the Planning Commission should be accommodating and the Long Point entitlements should not be extended.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Clark questioned why the landowner would want the extension, particularly in light of a very thorough presentation by Mike Mohler (representing the developer) as to why the current entitlements would not be feasible for the proposed project.
Commissioner Cartwright felt the landowner would be foolish not to request an extension, as the City has not finalized the current request, and may not for some time. He stated that all the request does is keep in place what has already been approved.
Director/Secretary Rojas responded to Commissioner Long’s question regarding the authority in the Municipal Code to grant the extension. He stated that the Conditions of Approval of the Conditional Use Permit established the regulations for the permit expiration. He noted that the Conditions stated that extensions of up to one year may be granted by the Planning Commission if requested prior to expiration.
Commissioner Long was satisfied that there were no limitations on the number of extensions allowed.
Commissioner Long stated that he had hoped the landowner would be present to explain to the Planning Commission the viability of a project that is limited to the Long Point property. He felt that implicit in the application of extension was an acknowledgement that such a project is viable, and he was inclined to agree. He felt that by granting this request the Planning Commission might be saying that they agree that a project restricted to the Long Point property, and not making use of City property, is a viable project, as the owner seems to acknowledge in applying for an extension.
Commissioner Cartwright did not agree with that interpretation.
Chairman Lyon moved to approve the requested one-year extension, thereby setting the expiration date as September 11, 2002, with all conditions of approval remaining in full force and effect, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. Approved, 7-0.
3. Height Variation No. 936: Mr. and Mrs. Samer Mistry, 758 Birchman Dr.
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report. She explained the reason for the height variation application and stated that staff had determined that no views would be impacted by the addition, there was no privacy impaction, and it was compatible with the immediate neighborhood.
Commissioner Paulson moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-33 thereby approving Height Variation Permit No. 936 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. Approved, (7-0).4. Conditional Use Permit No. 229, Grading Permit No. 2283, and Environmental Assessment No. 740: Verizon Wireless Services.
Commissioner Long stated that the next two items on the agenda were from Verizon Wireless. He stated that his law firm has either in the past or is currently affiliated with Verizon Wireless, and while he personally is not currently doing work for Verizon Wireless he will, as he has done in the past, recuse himself from the next two items to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He explained that the request was to replace the existing flagpole with a new similarly designed flagpole at the same location. He stated the height of the proposed flag pole was 10 feet higher than what was now existing, thereby maintaining an overall height of 45 feet. He stated that all findings could be made for the three applications and there would be no significant adverse affects on adjacent properties. He explained that staff found the proposal is consistent with the Wireless Communications Antenna Development Guidelines, and therefore staff recommends the Planning Commission certify the Mitigated Negative Declaration and approve the Conditional Use Permit and Grading Permit, subject to conditions.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
Lorena Martinez representing Verizon Wireless stated she was available to answer any questions.
Commissioner Mueller asked if there were any alternatives looked at as far as the location of the proposed pole.
Ms. Martinez responded that other sites were considered, however the proposed location offered optimum coverage.
Commissioner Mueller asked about the proposed height and if the pole actually had to be that high.
Ms. Martinez answered that the radio frequency engineers had stated that 45 feet was the height that offered coverage in the area.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Mueller clarified his concerns. He stated in a community such as this that is concerned with preserving views, large poles such as the one proposed should be avoided and hoped that other options had been considered. He wondered if other options might not have been considered because they were not as good at providing reception as this option.
Chairman Lyon felt this was replacing an existing flag pole with a new flag pole that happens to have some antenna panels mounted inside of it that are not visible.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-34 thereby certifying the Mitigated Negative Declaration and adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-35 thereby approving Conditional Use Permit No. 229 and Grading Permit No. 2283 as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. Approved, (5-1) with Commissioner Mueller dissenting and Commissioner Long recused.
5. Conditional Use Permit No. 226, Grading Permit No. 2296 and Environmental Assessment No. 742: Verizon Wireless Service
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report. He explained the proposal. He noted that staff had determined through the initial study process that there are potentially significant impacts to the aesthetic environment that cannot be mitigated with the project. He explained that this was due, in part, to the location at the top of the slope, the close proximity to adjacent homes, and the open space nature of the Forrestal property. Regarding the Conditional Use Permit, he explained that based upon visual and aesthetic impacts, staff determined the site is not adequate in size and configuration to accommodate the proposed use. Staff believes that in approving the subject use there will be significant adverse affects on adjacent properties with regards to affecting a scenic vista from the Stalwart Trail along Forrestal Drive. He also explained that staff believed the proposed use was contrary to the General Plan, the facility will not blend with the surrounding environment, that the visual impacts will be significant due to the fact that this is a new pole at a site that currently does not have any poles. Further, staff does not believe the project is consistent with the Wireless Communications Antenna Development Guidelines, specifically it does not preserve view corridors and there is an imbalance of public and private costs and benefits where there will be a greater cost to the public and a greater benefit to the applicant. Therefore, staff recommends denial of the project.
Vice Chairman Clark noted in the staff report that staff believes there may be other alternative methods. He asked if staff discussed any alternative methods with the applicant to accomplish their purpose.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that there were discussions in regards to alternative sites and types of uses, however this proposal was the most preferable to the applicant.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing.
John Koos 357 Van Ness Way, Torrance (representing Verizon) gave a brief history of the proposal. He felt this design blended nicely with the site, especially since the antennas would be located inside the pole. He stated that the engineers had felt that the objectives of the antennas could be reached at a height of 30 feet, but not at a lower height. He explained that Verizon had looked into locating on existing telephone poles, but determined that these poles were too low. He stated he was available for any questions or suggestions.
Commissioner Cartwright asked if any other locations in the area had been considered or if Verizon had considered co-location in the area with other services.
Mr. Koos answered that other locations had been considered on the property, however they were not as desirable. As far as co-location, he was not sure where the other companies were located in the area.
Vice Chairman Clark was concerned that Mr. Koos did not know where the other providers had their locations in the area, which implies that he had not analyzed whether or not co-locations meet Verizon objectives.
Don Richardson 32206 Helm Place stated that he did not think the proposed pole blended in with the area at all. He noted that the staff report clearly indicates there is an aesthetic impact that cannot be mitigated, and he agreed. He stated that he lives in an area that spent quite a bit of money to underground their utilities and did not think this type of pole belonged in the area.
Commissioner Cartwright understood Mr. Richardson’s objection to a pole of this height overlooking his backyard. He asked if he would object to a pine tree or something else that would completely disguise the antenna.
Mr. Richardson answered that a "stealth" installation would be somewhat less objectionable. However he felt that thirty feet high was very tall and he would have to look at what was proposed.
Charles Agnew 32261 Phantom Drive stated he looked down on the school site and proposed antenna. He objected to the proposed antenna and noted that it was right on a ridgeline. He stated that he may not be opposed to hiding the antenna if it were in the right location, however the proposed power pole was not compatible with the neighborhood. He stated that he understood what Verizon was aiming for and he understood their need, but felt there had to be a better way to accomplish their goals.
Diane Weinberger 4206 Exultant Drive stated she was the president of the Seaview Residents Association. She began by stating she was not notified of the hearings for this project and stated that it was her understanding that as president of an HOA she should be notified of the project. She stated she had a list of eight residents who were opposed to the project. She requested the tower, as planned, be rejected by the Planning Commission. She stated that the residents have worked very hard to beautify their subdivision and this proposal was an eyesore.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Paulson felt that, after hearing from the applicant and the residents, there was a potential for a project that would meet everyone’s needs. He stated he would be hesitant to support any motion that would deny the project, but he also could not support a motion to approve it. He felt the applicant, staff, and residents should get together and discuss some of the alternatives based on design, location, and other items of concern.
Commissioner Cartwright agreed and suggested the item be continued to a date after the parties involved have had a chance to discuss the project.
Commissioner Vannorsdall felt the proposed location of the project was very important and encouraged the applicant to find some way to better camouflage the tower.
Commissioner Mueller stated it was important to remember that the City was most likely the beneficiary of this particular antenna location. He felt that because the neighborhood had spent their money to underground the utilities the City should make every effort to find a better location for the project. He suggested going with staff’s alternative one or denying the application without prejudice to allow the applicant to continue to work and come back with a modified plan.
Vice Chairman Clark agreed that the project needed to be re-worked and felt the applicant should work with the staff and the neighbors to see what potential win-win solution could be found. He felt that co-location opportunities with other wireless users should be explored.
Chairman Lyon agreed with the Commission and felt there was a lot of room for discussion and negotiation between the applicant, staff, and neighbors.
Commissioner Paulson moved to continue the application to the November 13, 2001 meeting, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (6-0) with Commissioner Long recused.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:40 p.m. the Commission took a short recess to 8:55 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS)
Lois Larue 3136 Barkentine Road stated that the Chairman of the Planning Commission had told her that he thought public speakers were important, however he did not allow public speakers during an earlier agenda item. She also did not think that the Chairman should make motions. She also questioned the cones in the parking lot and asked what they were for.
Commissioner Long explained that the orange cones in the parking lot were to reserve parking spaces for Commissioners who, if they arrive late, don’t have to carry boxes of information for a long distance. He expressed the view that the Chairman had followed all applicable rules and assured Ms. Larue that if he ever felt the Chairman wasn’t following established rules he would let everyone know.
Commissioner Paulson discussed public comments and stated that during the earlier agenda item the Chairman asked if there were any speakers for the item. There being no speaker slips submitted, the Chairman did not call for public speakers.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (CONT)
6. Grading Permit NO. 2191: Mr. and Mrs. Henru Wiredja, 3815 Palos Verdes Drive South
Senior Planner Mihranian presented the staff report. He explained the project and stated that the proposed height of the project was within the development code requirements for an upslope lot. He stated that in reviewing the proposed residence staff identified concerns with respect to view impacts with neighboring properties on Sea Raven Drive as well as aesthetic impacts on Palos Verdes Drives South. However, staff felt these impacts, with appropriate conditions, may be reduced to a level of insignificance. He explained that the city geologist has given the project conceptual approval, however, requiring further review at the Building and Safety stage.
Commissioner Vannorsdall asked why the project did not have a silhouette.
Senior Planner Mihranian replied that the flagging was only required for a height variation application. He stated that this is a sloping lot and by right the height limit is 16 feet from the highest point and 30 feet from the lowest point covered by the structure and therefore a height variation application was not required.
Commissioner Vannorsdall asked about the driveway and what street that driveway would be on.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that currently the driveway is located off Palos Verdes Drive South, however the City plans to extend Aqua Vista Drive. The driveway will then be located off Aqua Vista Drive.
Larry Peha 67 14th Street, Hermosa Beach, stated he was the architect for the project. He stated that he has been working on the project for quite some time with staff and has made quite a few adjustments. He noted that he has moved the residence approximately 30 feet lower on the lot, adjusted the elevations, and substantially reduced the size of the structure. He stated that the ridge of the proposed structure is 25 feet below the top of the property on Searaven Drive. He felt this resulted in no view impacts from the neighbors above. He stated he agreed with all of the conditions in the staff report except for the flat roof in the living room entry area. He did not think the architectural feature had any impact that would not change with a sloped roof.
Vice Chairman Clark asked why Mr. Peha felt the entry area should have a flat roof.
Mr. Peha answered that there is a commanding view at that point and they would like to have a little higher ceiling in that area.
Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Peha if he had any discussions with the neighbors during the development of the project.
Mr. Peha responded that he had not.
Elaine Motz 32413 Searaven Drive stated that the unstable portion of the subject lot was of great concern to her. She stated that the applicant has relocated the house to avoid the unstable portion of the lot. She did not feel it was wise to relocate the house behind the unstable portion. She was concerned that heavy equipment would further destabilize the lot. Until stability is established, she felt all other matters should be held in abeyance.
Commissioner Cartwright asked staff if the instability was due to fill.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the staff report incorrectly used the word "unstable" to describe the lower portion of the lot that contained uncompacted fill. Furthermore, staff stated that the geology reports indicated that because there is uncompacted fill on a section of the property in order to build a structure on that section of the lot, it would require an extensive caisson foundation system.
Commissioner Cartwright clarified that there was not instability on the lot, but rather quite a bit of fill of the one section. Therefore, the applicant proposed to move the structure further back where it would be more cost effective to build.
George Fink 32353 Searaven Drive was concerned about the driveway of the new home. He felt there could be a dangerous situation at the site. He stated that according to the staff report his pad was at 395 feet, per the applicant. He noted that conditions in the staff report are based on the 395-foot elevation. He asked what the true elevation of his pad was and if it was not 395 feet, he requested the conditions be changed to reflect the actual elevation of his pad. He noted that the staff report states that vegetation foliage may not exceed 395 feet. He requested the language be changed to say the foliage and vegetation may not exceed 16 feet in height or an elevation height of 390 feet, whichever is the lowest. He stated this would provide the protection that was intended. He asked if irrigation of the landscaping of the new residence would likely cause instability of the slope.
Commissioner Paulson asked for clarification regarding the foliage on the proposed project.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that the condition reads the applicant is required to submit a landscape plan and the foliage shall not exceed 16 feet in height or a maximum elevation height of 395 feet, whichever is more restrictive. He stated that Mr. Fink was asking that the condition be changed to whichever is lower, which staff could change.
Commissioner Paulson asked about the fencing along the rear property line.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that when staff was analyzing the height of the structure and looking at the building pad elevations along Searaven Drive, Mr. Fink’s property is the lowest, at an approximately elevation of 398 feet. He stated that is a safe condition since it is actually lower than the contour elevation on the applicant’s property.
Chairman Lyon asked how the pad elevation of Mr. Fink’s property was determined to be 395 feet in elevation.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that a land surveyor determined the elevation, as indicated on the surveyed site plan.
David Campana 32405 Searaven Drive stated he has a magnificent view from his property. He was concerned that he maintains that view and was very happy to hear that the fence line of the proposed property was below his pad. He was concerned that the foliage requirements be included in the conditions of approval. He noted that there are no fences in the neighborhood and a fence would destroy the views of the ocean. He stated that he was supportive of the proposed project and hoped things would go well.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Chairman Lyon asked if the geology report clearly indicated that the proposed house can and will be built on bedrock.
Senior Planner Mihranian answered that the city geologist has reviewed numerous reports for the property and conceptually approved the project in August. He explained that this was a conceptual approval and further reports will be submitted for approval prior to the issuance of building and grading permits.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2001-36 with the modifications noted to the elevation, fencing, and vegetation as suggested by the speaker, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. Approved, (7-0).
At this point, Commissioner Long felt it was a good time to re-examine the Agenda. He felt that if agenda item no. 7 were heard before the Long Point item, he was concerned that Long Point would not be heard until very late. He did not think this was in the best interest of the Commission or the City to begin the discussion of Long Point at such a late hour. He recommended either putting item no. 8 in advance of item no. 7 or continue Long Point to another date, sufficiently in advance of the anticipated time the City Council has set for hearing Long Point.
Chairman Lyon polled the audience to see how many speakers there were for agenda item no. 7. He felt there was a significant number, and wanted to be sure that the Planning Commission listened carefully to all of their concerns.
Commissioner Paulson stated that he could not vote one way or the other on this project tonight. He felt that he needed to see the parcel flagged and asked if there were a way to continue the item and request the parcel be flagged.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that could be done. He also felt that the flagging issue and another matter that staff wished to discuss could be addressed without having to open the public hearing and the item could be continued to a future date.
Commissioner Vannorsdall agreed that he could not possibly make a decision until the flagging was in place and that the item should be continued until the flagging was done
Vice Chairman Clark agreed that the item should be continued, however he felt that the residents who have come to the meeting and waited to speak should be given the chance to speak at this meeting.
Chairman Lyon agreed that the flagging was necessary. He felt there were other issues that needed to be addressed and suggested the applicant work with the concerned neighbors to understand and identify and alleviate any of these concerns.
Commissioner Cartwright noted that the entire project did not need to be silhouetted. He felt the Commission and the neighbors were mostly concerned about the ridgeline.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that staff would like to address a flurry of late letter writing regarding condition no. 8, which required that a portion of the property be dedicated for public access. He stated that it was staff’s intention to delete this condition, and hoped this would address many of the comments that would have been directed to the Planning Commission.
Vice Chairman Clark recommended polling the audience to see how many people wished to speak tonight, or hearing the discussion of the Planning Commission, would be willing to wait and have the item continued.
Chairman Lyon stated that it was clear the Planning Commission could not and would not make a decision at this meeting regarding this issue. He stated that the Commission needed to see an outline of the ridgeline of the house. He explained that once the Commission has seen this ridgeline they could more rationally address whether or not there was a view issue from each of the residences. He polled the audience and noted a number of people wishing to speak at this meeting on agenda item no. 7.
Commissioner Cartwright stated that he had spent a lot of time reading and studying the material for the Long Point project and he did not want to continue that item to another meeting. He felt that Long Point should be heard and resolved at this meeting.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to suspend the Planning Commission rules to continue beyond 11:00 p.m. in order to hear agenda item no. 8, Long Point, seconded by Commissioner Paulson.
Commissioner Long was concerned that every time the Planning Commission reached an important discussion regarding Long Point it has been very late in the evening. He urged the Planning Commission to consider why they would vote for this motion now. He felt that the most important part of the Long Point decision was before the Planning Commission and they needed to get the conditions of approval right, and he was concerned that this could not happen if the decisions were made very late in the evening.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated that since item no. 7 was a publicly noticed item the Planning Commission was legally obligated to open the public hearing. He stated that the Commission could offer those speakers who are here and could not come back to the next meeting and wished to speak to do so, and request that those who are able to come to the next meeting hold their comments to that time.
On a roll call vote of 4-3 the motion passed, with Commissioners Long, Mueller, and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
7. Coastal Permit No. 170, Grading Permit No. 2260, Coastal Permit No. 172, and Grading Permit No. 2281: Eric Johnson, 2 Yacht Harbor Drive
Senior Planner Fox presented the staff report. He stated that all residential development on the site would occur outside the landslide moratorium area. He stated that there were two findings necessary for a Coastal Permit, and staff found that these findings could be found. He explained that staff has assessed the likely impacts of the project upon public views, and believe the impairment will not be significant. He also stated that the Coastal Plan is that the project is consistent with applicable public access and recreation policies of the Coastal Act. However, since the Portuguese Bend Community is a private community and does not provide public access to coastal resources, the approval of the project has no affect on existing coastal access. Further, there is adequate existing coastal access nearby at Ocean Trails and Abalone Cove Park. He discussed the grading applications and noted there are nine findings required to be made. He stated that staff has found that all nine findings could be made for the project. He discussed the scale of the proposed residence, and while clearly much larger than the 10 nearest homes in the Portuguese Bend Club and Seaview Community, however considering the significantly larger lot size of the proposed project, the scale of the proposed house is in proportion to its lot as he homes in the surrounding neighborhood. He stated that there had been a number of letters received regarding the project and the issues of concerns raised in the letters was the size of the house relative to the surrounding homes, the height of the structure, impairment of private views and the economic impact of impairment views on property values, damage to nearby homes during construction, impacts upon land movement in the adjacent landslide moratorium area, and the affects of headlights from vehicles on the realigned portion of the street.
Commissioner Long asked how many other neighborhood compatibility analyses have been done that include the structure-to-lot ratio analysis.
Senior Planner Fox stated that he has done two or three others. He stated that this was done to show a meaningful comparison of developed lots.
Chairman Lyon opened the public hearing for the purpose of hearing those individuals who cannot appear at the October 23 meeting.
Commissioner Paulson and Vice Chairman Clark both felt that anyone who wanted to speak should speak, and the Commission agreed.
Eric Johnson (applicant) 92 Yacht Harbor Drive acknowledged that there were those who were concerned with the impact of the proposed project. He felt that once they view the project on an impact standpoint, they will find the project has much less of an impact than the previously approved Transamerica subdivision. He stated that he has worked very hard to situate the structures on the property to minimize the impacts to surrounding properties. He addressed the height of the structures, which are proposed at a maximum elevation of 230 feet, which is lower than the previous development proposal approved for the site. He also noted that his proposal was 11,000 square feet of structure above grade as opposed to the previously approved 70,000 square feet of structure above grade. He stated that the grading quantities for the project were significantly less than those of the previously approved project and only 2,000 cubic yards would be exported as opposed to 21,000 in the prior approved plan. He stated he was a professional scientist and geologist and it was very important to him to understand the stability of the area he was building on. He was very confident that the area was safe to build on. He stated that he has worked very hard to design a project that was well within his rights to build. He noted that there were no variances or height variations required. He stated that he would continue to work with the community to make sure that everyone appreciates how good of an outcome for this site the proposed project will be. He stated that he would begin flagging the ridgeline immediately.
Commissioner Paulson asked Mr. Johnson if his definition of "community" included not only Portuguese Bend but the houses across the street along Palos Verdes Drive South.
Mr. Johnson agreed.
Jill Carlton 4265 Palos Verdes Drive South felt the look of the house was very lovely, but was concerned with the affect of the road realignment. She stated that the applicant has stated he does not require a Variance and is building what he can by right. She questioned this statement. She stated that if the project were being permitted without the road realignment, the ridgeline height would be at 230 elevation, which is in excess of the code and therefore subject to a height variation. She felt the project should be treated as a height variation with all of the proper procedures or the height of the project should be lowered to comply with the height variation guidelines. She felt that a road relocation that effectively gives the applicant additional height leeway at the detriment of her possible view should not be allowed without proper consideration. She felt that approving the road realignment prior to silhouetting and approving the project itself would be allowing the project to be approved under less stringent rules and public scrutiny. She stated that if the project were approved at 226 elevation she would have no further objection to the project, as it would be equal to the ridge height approved for the Transamerica project and less of an impact on the view on the view corridor.
Commissioner Long asked staff to respond to the comments of the last speaker at the next meeting. He felt these comments could be important as to whether or not the Commission can go forward on the project on the assumption it does not need a height variation. He was very interested on the City Attorney’s views on how the road realignment and the height variation interrelated.
Jack Jones 4225 Palos Verdes Drive South stated that he learned from the Transamerica hearings that however is going to develop the property must work with the community, which is more than the Portuguese Bend Beach Club. He explained that the applicant had invited the neighborhood to his home to explain the project, however all he could determine at the time was that this was a huge and beautiful development. He was not able to come to any conclusion as to what the impact would be on his views. He felt sure, however, that it would have a severe impact on his view. He was pleased the Planning Commission requested some flagging on the property and encouraged the Commission to consider the realignment of the road together with development of the home. He acknowledged that Mr. Johnson should be able to develop his property to his liking, and he should be able to do so within reason.
Deborah Huff 4245 Palos Verdes Drive South also had concerns about the views and felt it was important to work through any legal issues regarding the height variation and the road realignment. She stated she was very pleased to have the Johnsons in the neighborhood but felt she had to express her concerns as a homeowner, which was the possible loss of her view.
Diane Weinberger 4206 Exultant Drive stated she was not notified about this project and felt she should have been as she was the president of the Seaview HOA. She stated that she had just read the staff report and disagreed with some things and found some discrepancies and inconsistencies. She stated she would put her concerns in a letter to the Planning Commission which she would do before the next meeting. She felt it was important to have the applicant flag the ridgeline but added that the City should still have the capability to flag the house if necessary.
William McLaughlin 4157 Maritime Road stated he was very happy with the proposal and felt the applicant had listened to and accepted a lot of community input. He noted that Transamerica had planned 15 houses for the area, where Mr. Johnson was proposing only one. He was concerned that if the proposal was rejected there was nothing stopping Mr. Johnson from selling the property to a developer.
Steve Stewart 4164 Maritime Road stated he too was happy to have a single family dwelling on the property rather than multiple homes that would impact the open space, wildlife, and natural habitat. He felt the project was pleasing to the eye and was happy that the applicant had worked so closely with the neighbors.
Lenee Bilski 4255 Palos Verdes Drive South distributed photographs to the Commissioners. She discussed the road and felt the road was proposed to be relocated rather than realigned. She stated that this would change the measurements in the plan as the structural height was based on the new road location. She felt that the two-degree viewing arc was measured from her property. She felt that either the two-degree arc should be measured from 220-foot elevation of Palos Verdes Drive South or the height variation should be applied to the project. Regarding geology, she asked if a construction bond could be issued which would allow the houses in the Seaview area to be protected or insured by the applicant or his agent in case of any earth movement. Finally, she commended the Commission on their request for a silhouette at the property.
William Silverthorn 93 Yacht Harbor Drive noted that the applicant could build a house up to 16 feet in height by right however the proposal was 12 feet in height. Furthermore, by moving the road the applicant was moving the house farther away from Palos Verdes Drive South, giving another 4 feet of view. He didn’t think there was a more welcome design that could be put on the property which has all of the neighbors’ views in mind.
Chairman Lyon closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Paulson moved to continue the hearing to the meeting of October 26, 2001 with the direction that the applicant flag the ridgeline of the proposed project, the proposal of the road realignment and the new home be considered jointly at the next meeting, and the staff address the points raised by the public, seconded by Chairman Lyon. Approved, (7-0).
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 11:00 p.m. the Commission took a short recess to 11:10 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
CONTINUED BUSINESS8. Long Point Resort: Consisting of Coastal Permit No. 166, General Plan Amendment No. 28, Conditional Use Permit No. 215, Conditional Use Permit No. 216, Parcel Map No. 26073, Grading Permit No. 2229, Grading Permit No. 2230 and the associated Final Environmental Impact Report: Destination Resorts (applicant) 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South and 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Chairman Lyon suggested addressing the three issues for Long Point in turn: first the EIR Resolution, followed by the Conditions of Approval for the resort hotel area, finally the Conditions of Approval for the Upper Point Vicente area.
Senior Planner Mihranian presented a brief staff report. He reviewed the Resolutions with the attached Exhibits. Regarding the Resolution for the Upper Point Vicente area, he noted that the Resolution will be amended to eliminate the trail segment between hole 2 and the Coast Guard property. He stated that, while not specifically mentioned in the motion, it was staff’s understanding that the lookout pavilion along the trail will also be eliminated. Mr. Mihranian addressed the traffic section of the Conditions of Approval and noted a correction pertaining to page 11, condition no. 75 for the resort hotel area as well as page 9, condition no. 63 for the Upper Point Vicente area. He stated it should read: "the west leg with one left turn lane, one shared left and through lane, and one right turn lane." He concluded by stating that the contents of the Resolutions were based entirely on the project findings that were previously reviewed by the Commission and an action on each Resolution must be made in order to forward the proposed project to the City Council.
Commissioner Long referred to the draft resolution for the EIR on page 4 of 7, section 4, and asked staff for an explanation for where the reference is to guideline section 15084 (e) and what the general provisions of that section are.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman quoted Section 15084 (e) to the Commission.
Chairman Lyon suggested each Commissioner express, in turn, any concerns they had with the EIR.
Commissioner Paulson asked for clarification regarding the fencing. He stated that the EIR discussed no fencing being allowed but also discussed fencing being provided around certain areas to provide mitigating measures.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated that low fencing (6 to 8 feet in height) would be allowed along the golf course to ensure public safety.
Commissioner Paulson asked if those fences would block the movement of the wild animals in the area from moving from one location to another.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated that there was a specific requirement that the fencing along the habitat areas be of a split rail nature, or something similar, to provide pass-through for the wildlife.
Commissioner Cartwright, Chairman Lyon, Vice Chairman Clark, and Commissioner Vannorsdall had no comments regarding the EIR.
Commissioner Long referred to page 5 of the draft resolution. He did not believe the Commission could or should make the findings set forth in sections 6 or 7. Regarding section 10 of the resolution, he felt the finding suggested an implicit endorsement of the use of public land for the project. Therefore, he could not agree with finding no. 10.
Regarding Exhibit A, Commissioner Long noted on page 9, wildlife movement. He felt the project would result in a fragmented habitat that was less useful. On page 28, F3, he disagreed with the statement that the recreational uses proposed by the project were generally consistent with the Program of Utilization. He disagreed with the statement that proposed recreational facilities would be designated for public use. He also disagreed with the statement that the proposed use will be consistent with the deed requirements that Upper Point Vicente be used and maintained for public purposes. He felt the project was making as much use of the land for private purposes as public. He referred to page 28, item 1, which stated that an amendment to the program of utilization shall be prepared. He felt that any necessary program of utilization amendments should come before the approval of the project.
Commissioner Long next referred to page 46 which discussed the various alternatives analyzed by the Final Environmental Impact Report. He stated that those alternatives did not include any serious analysis of the alternative the Vice Chairman suggested, which was that the project proceed in a manner that would have some relationship with Ocean Trails and not make use of a subsidy of public land. He stated that the alternate use of other property owned by the current owner of Long Point was also seriously not considered, as well as the possibility of reduced hotel taxes as an alternate public subsidy was not considered.
Commissioner Long discussed page 47, the reasons for rejecting the no project alternative. He referred to the last sentence regarding the use of additional acreage and stated he disagreed with it. On page 52 he noted a statement which said the existing entitlements on the Long Point property were not considered viable. He stated that in the very evening the Planning Commission approved the extension of the existing entitlements, the Commission was also finding the existing entitlements were not considered viable.
Commissioner Long stated that these were his concerns certifying the EIR strictly from the draft resolution and findings, however he had questions concerning the actual EIR, which he understood the Chairman was not inviting the Commission to submit those questions to staff at this time.
Commissioner Mueller agreed with the questions raised by Commissioner Long and added that on pages 36 and 37 there was a lot of discussion on public service and utilities. He stated there was no mention of water consumption, which he felt should be included. On page 40 he asked why the EIR did not address the glare issue when discussing the parking. He discussed page 45 and objected to the statement in the project alternatives which stated the Planning Commission finds that specific economic, social, and other considerations make infeasible each of the project alternatives identified. He did not think economic considerations should be included, particularly since the Commission had never reviewed any report from the Finance Committee. He noted on page 50, the word "infeasible" which he felt could be softened to say "less desirable". He did not think some of the options were completely infeasible. He also did not think the wording in the first sentence on page 52 was appropriate and should state the property was undeveloped and natural rather than under developed and dilapidated.
Commissioner Vannorsdall moved to forward a recommendation to the City Council to certify the Environmental Impact Report, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright.
Commissioner Long stated that he had comments on Exhibit B which he had not made previously. On page 2, he objected to the statement that additional revenue to the City would come from concessions for the use of Upper Point Vicente. He stated that, in the absence of any report from the Finance Committee, there was no evidence to support that statement and it was purely speculative. On page 4 he read the sentence at the top of the page, stating that any one and each of the forgoing benefits constitutes a significant consideration sufficient to approve the project. He asked the Commission if, in reviewing the bullet points on pages 3 and 4 of the findings, if any one of those alone was enough.
Chairman Lyon suggested wording to replace the "any one and each" that states the Planning Commission specifically finds that the forgoing benefits constitute significant consideration sufficient to approve.
Commissioner Paulson suggested striking the "quality" in the statement "quality golf".
The motion passed, (4-3) with Commissioners Long, Mueller and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
Chairman Lyon then addressed the conditions of approval for the resort hotel area, which includes Exhibit A through a resolution. He noted that the resolution merely states all of the findings that the Planning Commission has already approved, therefore the Planning Commission should focus on the conditions of approval.
Commissioner Long agreed, and added that while some Commissioners may not be able to make the necessary findings they may have comments on the conditions of approval that the rest of the Commission may find useful.
Commissioner Paulson noted on page 14, regarding the resort villas. He was concerned that the height restriction that the villas cannot exceed the height of Palos Verdes Drive South was not included in the conditions. He noted a typo on page 22, condition no.158.
Chairman Lyon commented that on page 2 it would be better to put item no. H before item no. C. He stated that item H addresses the development of the area formerly known as hole no. 5 and item no. C addresses the maintenance and financial responsibility for those improvements. He also suggested adding a phrase to the end of no. H to say "to the satisfaction of the City Council." He also suggested adding another item to no. F that addresses the equitable allocation of tee times available for the public and hotel guests.
Vice Chairman Clark stated that there was a component missing in the assumption that this project was using City land, which was the ability to form a Rancho Palos Verdes men’s and women’s golf club open to residents of Rancho Palos Verdes who will have priority.
Chairman Lyon referred to page 16 item no. 105. He suggested inserting "or practice facility" in the phrase "no safety netting for the golf course shall be permitted." He noted a typo in item no. 104.
Vice Chairman Clark referred to condition no. 35 which discusses specific structure sizes on the Long Point property. He asked why the condition stated that the structures substantially comply.
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that buildings typically deviate slightly and is rare that the size would come in at exactly 20,000 square feet. He suggested clarifying the condition to state that the building shall not exceed 20,000 square feet.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated that the reason the condition is worded this was because when actual construction plans are drawn up, the dimensions and square footages change slightly. He stated that staff was working off plans that are predominately elevations and floor plans. He explained that sometimes when construction plans are finalized the square footages will shrink.
Vice Chairman Clark asked what "substantially complies with" means.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman answered that "substantially complies with" means within a reasonable amount. He stated that if the conditions state 20,000 square feet and the plans show 30,000 square feet that would be an issue for the Planning Commission or City Council to discuss.
Commissioner Vannorsdall noted that "substantially complies with" was less restrictive than cannot exceed.
The Commission agreed.
Commissioner Long referred to page 2, 8b. He suggested it be re-written as follows: "A guarantee of minimum revenue generation as projected by the applicant, and a guarantee of all of the applicant’s financial obligations under the development agreement in a form and amount acceptable to the City Council, preferably an irrevocable letter of credit which will be provided to the City prior to the issuance of building permits."
Commissioner Paulson agreed with this change.
Commissioner Long did not think an insurance provision should substitute for indemnity provisions. He felt very strongly that adequate indemnity provisions be included. He stated that the indemnity should provide that the City enter into an indemnity agreement with an entity that has net worth.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman suggested adding to condition 8 another paragraph that includes specific language that an indemnity agreement shall be part of the development and/or concession agreement.
Commissioner Long discussed condition 19 and suggested the City require adequate insurance for the operation of the golf course with the City being named as additional insured. He felt there should be adequate insurance to cover the resort operation in general and did not feel that $5 million in limits was adequate. He felt that the limits should apply separately to the site. He suggested the city staff and city attorney review and approve the form of the policy, and not merely the certificate of insurance.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman stated that most of Commissioner Long’s concerns are addressed in the City’s standard requirements for insurance and asked if it would suffice if a provision were inserted stating any insurance policy shall comply with all standard requirements of insurance as determined by the risk manager.
Commissioner Long felt that would satisfy his concerns. He then discussed combined pedestrian/bike paths and reiterated that he felt those types of paths were undesirable.
Mueller discussed page 16 and the conditions regarding fences. He asked that a condition be added addressing fencing along Palos Verdes Drive South. He suggested any fencing along Palos Verdes Drive South be modeled after the fencing that was installed in front of Oceanfront Estates on Palos Verdes Drive West.
Commissioner Cartwright felt that the requirement should only be on the ocean side of the street, as that would tie the properties together.
Assistant City Attorney asked for clarification in the matter of the joint trails. He asked if there were any changes proposed regarding that issue.
Chairman Lyon answered that there were no changes regarding joint trails.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman asked about the insurance issues. He suggested increasing the limits of the grading insurance and also suggested dealing with the insurance and indemnity issues together as part of the development agreement for the overall project, and the concession agreement, with respect to use of public property.
Commissioner Long stated that his point was that somewhere the City had to express the concept that if the developer is going to operate a public golf course with public easements and partially on public land, the City had some potential liability and the developer should provide insurance that meets the City standard requirements, has adequate limits, has limits that apply separately to the site, names the city as an additional insured, insurance is primary as the City’s insurance, insurance has low deductible and other terms and provisions adequate to the City’s risk manager, City Council, and the city attorney with the form of the policy and additional insured endorsement being reviewed by all concerned.
Commissioner Paulson suggested Commissioner Long review the wording for the insurance requirements prior to formalizing the resolution to the City Council.
Commissioner Long agreed to review the language to ensure the spirit of what the Planning Commission said was included with respect to the insurance requirements.
Chairman Lyon moved to approve the resolution and conditions of approval for the Long Point site as amended by everything said, other than the combined pedestrian/bike trail, seconded by Commissioner Cartwright. Approved, (5-2) with Commissioners Long and Mueller dissenting.
Chairman Long clarified that his no vote was made solely because he did not feel he could make the finding the resolution requires him to make on page 4 of 18, where the resolution incorporates findings regarding the Environmental Impact Report. In all other respects he was satisfied that the resolution was suitable.
Chairman Lyon noted that the next item to discuss was the resolution for the General Plan amendment, which was fairly straightforward.
Chairman Lyon moved to adopt the Resolution regarding General Plan Amendment No. 28 and forward the recommendation to the City Council, seconded by Commissioner Paulson. Approved, (4-3) with Commissioners Long, Mueller, and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
Chairman Lyon next discussed the conditions of approval for the Upper Point Vicente area and again noted that the resolution contained language that was discussed at the previous meeting. He began the discussion by referring to page 14, item 106. He suggested adding grading to the requirements, so the statement would read "The developer shall grade, landscape, and irrigate the area formerly known as hole no. 5."
Commissioner Long felt it was ambiguous to refer to the area as "the area formerly known as hole no. 5." He suggested attaching a map that defines the area referred to as former hole no. 5.
Assistant City Attorney Pittman suggested taking the plan from September 6 and incorporating it as an attachment that identifies the areas on the plan that were being discussed.
Commissioner Long had a comment on item no. 41 on page 6. He suggested adding a statement that to the extent there are any drainage grates in the bikeways, the drainage grates shall be placed in a manner that is perpendicular rather than parallel to the direction of traffic.
Vice Chairman Clark noted that condition no. 42, regarding the cart and pedestrian paths, should state specifically that golf cart paths shall be curbed so that golf carts do not drive onto the pedestrian paths. He also referred to condition no. 25 and asked why July 4th was specifically singled out for requiring that the entire golf course be closed down.
Commissioner Paulson asked if condition 25 was necessary because of condition no. 26. He felt condition no. 26 accomplishes what is needed for both conditions.
The Commissioners agreed that condition no. 25 should be eliminated.
Commissioner Cartwright moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2001-40 thereby approving the conditions of approval for the Upper Point Vicente area, as modified, seconded by Commissioner Vannorsdall. Approved, (4-3) with Commissioners Long, Mueller, and Vice Chairman Clark dissenting.
Chairman Lyon noted that the Planning Commission has now forwarded a recommendation to the City Council on the Long Point project for their consideration at their November 7 meeting.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
Vice Chairman Clark asked that an item to allow for an update on the neighborhood compatibility guidelines be included on the next agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:36 a.m.