CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Tetreault at 6:10 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Karp led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Karp, Perestam, Mueller, and Chairman Tetreault
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner Mihranian, Associate Planner Blumenthal, and Assistant Planner Sohn.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The Planning Commission unanimously agreed to hear Agenda Item No. 6 before agenda Item No. 5.
Staff distributed one item of correspondence for Agenda Item. No. 5.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE REGARDING NON-AGENDA ITEMS
1. Height Variation and Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2005-00067): 6409 Via Canada
Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report, explaining the Planning Commission had conceptually approved this project at the last meeting and this was the Resolution reflecting the decision.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-01 thereby approving the Height Variation and Grading Permit as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner PERESTAM. Approved, (4-0).
2. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2005-00404): 30136 Via Rivera
Assistant Planner Sohn presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation. She explained that staff was able to make the necessary findings and was therefore recommending approval of the project as conditioned in the staff report.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Steven Spiener 707 Torrance Blvd, Redondo Beach (representing the owners) stated that the applicants have worked very hard to address the issues of the neighbors and the Planning Commission. He discussed the windows and stated the owners very much like windows that operate and are transparent, and what was previously proposed were windows that are translucent and did not operate. He noted that now there are no windows in that location and did not feel this was a very good idea. He stated he had asked the owners to make every concession they were willing to make and still build anything at all. He felt the Stones followed his recommendation and that is what is presently before the Planning Commission. He noted that the two-story entrance tower that was a concern has been eliminated. He stated that the Stones have done everything that there were asked to do and everything they are willing to do, and have stretched to try to do something that is neighborhood compatible. He felt with the changes proposed, the tower removed, the square footage managed, the windows in the back eliminated, and the side yard setback increased, the house is no longer intrusive.
Doug Bell 30149 Via Rivera noted that at the previous Planning Commission meeting it was suggested the applicant have a meeting with the neighbors to discuss the issues and proposed revisions to the plans. He stated that, to his knowledge, this was not done. He explained that the foyer is no longer an issue for him and that he agreed that there should be some windows along the back of the house, suggesting translucence, inoperable windows. Concerning the south side yard setback, however, he questioned if an additional three feet is substantial or not. He also questioned if the revised addition of 4,688 square feet includes the garage or is just the house. Finally, he felt that there could be more of a substantial setback if, on the second floor, the master bedroom was in the front of the house with the master bath and closets were placed behind the bedroom.
Commissioner Mueller asked Mr. Bell if translucent windows would be acceptable.
Mr. Bell explained that the original issue was one of privacy and that translucent windows would allow for privacy as well as allowing for sunlight in the rooms on that side of the house.
Commissioner Mueller asked Mr. Bell if he was suggesting the translucent windows be operable.
Mr. Bell answered that there are many ways the translucent windows can be operable, and given the right circumstance he felt that the windows could be operable.
In reviewing the plans, Commissioner Mueller noted that the setbacks seem to meet City requirements, and asked Mr. Bell if he was suggesting that it does not.
Mr. Bell acknowledged that the proposed setbacks meet Code, however he did not feel the setbacks meet the Neighborhood Compatibility requirements.
Chairman Tetreault felt the confusion might be in terminology, and asked Mr. Bell if, when referring to setback, he was actually referring to articulation and more of a deeper step between the first floor over the garage and the second floor.
Mr. Bell answered that was correct.
Amos Thompson 30146 Via Rivera, stated he was concerned with the neighbor and questioned if 3 feet is considered substantial.
Mr. Spierer (in rebuttal) explained a meeting was not held with the neighbors because the applicant intended to do everything asked by the Planning Commission. Secondly, he noted that he distributed his business card to all of the neighbors and encouraged them to contact him with any concerns or comments, as well as encouraging them to contact the Stones. He stated that he did not receive any phone calls from the neighbors, nor did the Stones. Regarding articulation, he explained that after the last meeting the Stones spent a good deal of time and money reorganizing their entire architectural plan from the perspective of utilization so they could remove the three feet. He felt that whether three feet is substantial or not depends on which side of the property you’re standing on. He felt that the three feet represents an effort to cooperate completely with the neighborhood and to meet the expectations and suggestions made by the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Mueller asked staff what the square footage of the new proposal is, and does that figure include the garage.
Assistant Planner Sohn answered that the new house with the additions will be 4,688 square feet, which includes the garage.
Commissioner Mueller asked staff to indicate on the plans where the windows in question would be.
Assistant Planner Sohn showed on a plan where these windows would be located.
Commissioner Perestam stated he was satisfied with the three-foot setback on the second story and hoped the Planning Commission could easily work through the issue of the windows.
Commissioner Mueller stated that there are only two reasons he could think of to do a setback on a second story addition, that being articulation and square footage. He did not think the square footage was that out of character with the neighborhood and asked if the Commissioners if the request to reduce the setback was for articulation purposes or was it to reduce the square footage.
Commissioner Perestam recalled the request for the reduction was due to the concerns of privacy and the closeness of the second story to the smaller single story residence next door.
Chairman Tetreault stated that he had a concern with neighborhood compatibility and noted that throughout the neighborhood he could not see any other homes which had a tall vertical two-story wall on the short side yard up against another house with a short side yard. Therefore, he felt that it was necessary for neighborhood compatibility to have further articulation. He stated that the additional 3 feet alleviated his concerns he had with the project.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he can point out many instances in many neighborhoods where people have taken advantage of their setbacks, and in most of those cases they did not necessarily articulate their house. He noted that in this case he could understand the concern about the existing neighborhood, however as he drove around the neighborhood he noticed some examples of homes which had additions to them and did not see the articulation in those homes. He felt that if a two-foot setback would address the concerns for articulation then it might be a hardship to ask for 5 feet.
Chairman Tetreault also noticed there had been some remodeling in the neighborhood and there were some examples of homes with little or no articulation in the second story, but he noticed in those instances it was on the side of the yard that had a much larger side yard setback so that the buffer between properties was much greater. He was concerned that this would be the first example of having, on the short side yard, a two-story building with little or no articulation.
Regarding the windows, Commissioner Mueller felt that if there is a requirement that the glass itself is translucent, he is comfortable with the privacy concerns. He felt that by not allowing the windows to open is going a little bit beyond what was intended to preserve privacy.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the windows were eliminated because, in redesigning the home, the area which the windows would be serving is now storage/wardrobe closets and the windows are not needed.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-02 thereby approving the Height Variation and Grading Permit as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Perestam.
Commissioner Mueller stated that he would be inclined to not support the motion as the three additional feet of setback on the second story will be a hardship on the applicant and did not want to set a precedence that a large setback will have to be incurred if a second story is allowed in many parts of the City. He felt that the two-foot setback was sufficient articulation.
Vice Chairman Knight, though not voting on the motion because he arrived after the public testimony was heard, responded that he has noticed other architectural styles where the setback exceeds two or three feet. He felt that in this particular case, because of the setbacks on the lot and where the lot is located, it warrants what the staff recommendation is.
Commissioner Karp noted that the applicant has agreed to the more severe articulation and felt the Planning Commission should move on to the next item.
Commissioner Mueller responded that the attorney for the applicant stated he had asked the applicants to make every concession they could make to make the project work, and he was concerned about undue hardship on the applicant that they may or may not like the addition that they are spending quite a bit of money to build. Therefore, if the Planning Commission felt that two feet of setback was enough articulation, he would not want to ignore that.
The motion to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-02 as recommended by staff was approved, (3-1-2) with Commissioner Mueller dissenting and Commissioner Gerstner and Vice Chairman Knight abstaining.
3. Revision to Conditional Use Permit (Case No. ZON2005-00439): Seabreeze HOA
Director/Secretary Rojas presented a brief staff report, explaining the proposed revision is proposed to allow a small fence along the Crest Road and Highridge Road frontages of the Seabreeze Tract. However, because there is a section that staff would like to further study to see what, if any, view impairment this would cause, staff is recommending the item be continued to the January 24th Planning Commission meeting.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Tom Alley 6304 Sattes Drive stated that he will return and make his comments on January 24th.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp moved to continue the public hearing to January 24th, second by Vice Chairman Knight. Approved, (6-0).
4. Variance and Site Plan Review (Case No. ZON2005-00408: 17 Martingale Dr
Assistant Planner Sohn presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Variance and Site Plan Review. She explained that staff determined that the applicant’s intended use of the lot is extraordinary and the Variance for this project is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of a substantial property right of the applicant and granting the Variance will not be materially detrimental to the public and is not contrary to the General Plan. Therefore, staff is recommending approval of the Variance and Site Plan Review as conditioned in the staff report.
Vice Chairman asked if the Variance was for both the non-complying 10’6” front setback and the 8-foot step exception, or if it was just for the 8-foot step exception.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that it is just for the 8-foot step exception, as the applicant wants to build a single story residence on a sloping lot, which the Code does not contemplate.
Commissioner Perestam asked why it appears there is a small setback to the right side of the proposed residence and quite a bit of space to the left side of the proposed house, and asked staff if they know why it was designed that way.
Assistant Planner Sohn responded that staff has no information as to why the house is situated where it is on the property.
Chairman Tetreault asked if there will be any access to the basement area from inside the house.
Assistant Planner Sohn answered that, through her conversations with the applicant, there will be no access to that area from inside the residence and the entire lower level will be non-habitable.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Anthony Gudish 2149 Stonewood Ct San Pedro (applicant) stated he was available for any questions from the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Perestam asked Mr. Gudish why the house was not more centered on the property in terms of side yard setbacks.
Mr. Gudish explained that there are 5-foot easements on either side of the house. He explained that there is a 10-foot setback on the right side of the house and the extra area on the left is for the septic tank.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Knight stated he understood the need for the Variance in this instance and could make the necessary findings to support the approval of the Variance.
Chairman Tetreault agreed that the Variance was necessary and he too was able to make the necessary findings.
Chairman Knight moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-03 thereby approving the Variance and Site Plan Review as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (6-0)
6. Height Variation Permit (Case No. ZON2005-00470): 29206 Beachside Dr.
Commissioner Perestam recused himself from the public hearing, as he knows the applicant personally, and left his seat.
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation. He explained that staff was able to make all of the necessary findings and is recommending approval of the project as conditioned in the staff report.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Kevin McNab 29206 Beachside Drive (applicant) explained he requested this application to add two bedrooms and a bathroom over the garage area to accommodate his wife’s mother and one of her daughters. He felt that the addition is not obtrusive and he has worked with the neighbors in designing the second story.
Alan Sakimoto 1441 W. 183rd St, Gardena (architect) stated he was available for any questions.
There being no questions, Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp stated he had visited the site and felt this was an extremely innocuous addition and almost a non-issue. He did not think the addition will impact anyone in the neighborhood, and commended the architect.
Commissioner Gerstner agreed, and felt that this was an extremely well planned addition.
Vice Chairman Knight noted that this is not the same type of addition over the garage as others in the neighborhood, as the others seem to be set back from the street a little further. However, he felt that this addition was not egregious enough for him not to support the addition.
Commissioner Mueller felt that, for an addition over the garage, this was very well articulated and fits well into the neighborhood.
Vice Chairman Knight moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2006-04 thereby approving the Height Variation as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Perestam recused.
5. Height Variation, Grading Permit, Variance (Case No. ZON2003-00620): 6010 Ocean Terrace Drive
Associate Planner Blumenthal explaining he scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation, Grading Permit, and Variance. He explained that staff was able to make the necessary findings for the Height Variation and Grading Permit, however because this is a large vacant lot, staff was only able to make 3 of the 4 findings for the Variance. Therefore, staff was recommending approval of the Height Variation and Grading Permit and denial of the Variance, subject to the conditions in the staff report.
Commissioner Karp stated he read a letter from one of the neighbors who pointed out that the City Council, when they approved the tract map, had certain restrictions on grading, which is also a part of the CC&Rs. He asked staff how, when the tract map was approved with certain restrictions, staff can now ask the Planning Commission to waive those restrictions and permit the building outside of the BGR.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the way the tract map was approved, it refers to outside and inside the BGR areas. There was a subsequent amendment to the Tract Map which allows for minor grading and minor structures outside the BGR which would be consistent with what is being proposed for the RV parking space. Therefore, the proposed grading does meet the requirements of the Tract Map. Regarding the CC&Rs, he explained they are a private issue that must be enforced by the Homeowners Association, and the City does not enforce CC&Rs.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that the amendment allows for grading no greater than 10 percent slope, and in measuring this grading he felt it was more than 10 percent.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that based on a slope analysis submitted by the applicant the slope is less than 10 percent.
Vice Chairman Knight stated that the map used by staff was then not accurate, as he measured the gradation on the map and it is greater than 10 percent.
Associate Planner Blumenthal responded that staff can go back and verify, however staff typically relies on the applicant’s engineer for this information.
Vice Chairman Knight asked if there were any issues with the multiple curb cuts proposed for the project.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the Public Works Department had reviewed this plan and gave an initial approval for the multiple curb cuts.
Vice Chairman Knight referred to the proposed swimming pool and the filtration devices. He asked if these filters are designed to filter out the chlorine and bromine.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that the site drainage was reviewed by the City’s storm water consultant, and the consultant has looked at and approved the drainage. He explained the applicant is responsible for maintaining these filters and there is a recorded covenant stating that. He also explained that the storm water consultant does annual inspections of these properties.
Associate Planner Blumenthal did not know the exact location of the pool equipment, however he noted that the equipment must meet the three-foot setback from the property line.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Jan Trobaugh 2420 Carson Street (architect) stated that the pool equipment is not shown because the intent is to locate the pool equipment back to back with the neighbor’s pool equipment, which is not specifically marked on the plan. Regarding the 30 inch step-down, he explained that the lot is not level and it will depend on where the measurement is taken from as to whether the wall complies or not. He stated he will work with staff to determine where to take the measurement. He discussed the wall at the rear of the lot and asked that it be allowed at the bottom of the slope so that it will not be as intrusive, as at the top of the lot the wall will appear very tall. He also explained that all of the grading will take place, with or without the basement, as the soils engineer has required the first five feet of the dirt be removed and recompacted.
Commissioner Karp stated that he has read the CC&Rs and they do not provide for RV parking on the property, yet there is RV parking proposed on the property. He asked Mr. Trobaugh why he did not feel he has to follow the CC&Rs.
Mr. Trobaugh asked that another speaker be allowed to answer that item.
Mark LaCharite, Rolling Hills Estates, stated that he has worked very closely with the neighbor to the east to impact their property as little as possible. He explained that the idea of the wall at the back of the property is to provide a 5 to 6 foot wall for the pool. Regarding the RV parking, the area is not intended to be permanent RV parking, but rather an area he can park his RV for packing one or two days prior to a trip.
Commissioner Mueller asked Mr. LaCharite if he would be willing to adjust the height of the wall, perhaps to be slightly lower.
Mr. LaCharite answered that he is open to suggestions.
Commissioner Karp asked Mr. LaCharite to justify how he can suggest building in RV parking when his CC&Rs strictly prohibit that use.
Mr. LaCharite explained that the area is not for storing the RV for any permanent time. He said if that is an issue he will leave the RV on the street when loading and unloading it.
Carole Black 5964 Ocean Terrace Drive stated she lives two houses up the street from the proposed new house. She felt that the house that was originally represented in the early neighborhood consultation process is not the house that is currently being proposed. She also reiterated that RV parking is not allowed in the CC&Rs. She did not think a 6-foot wall is allowed in the development and requested the wall be lowered. She then read a letter from her neighbor, Lorenzo Jones, who is out of the country and could not attend the meeting. In that letter Mr. Jones felt that the staff report is biased in favor of the applicant. Mr. Jones felt that a single story building is necessary, as anything taller will overlook the other properties on Pacifica Drive. He was not in favor of the Variance request, as it will be a mammoth fence 6 feet high by 200 feet long, which is not in character with the neighborhood. He objected to the ploy of classifying Pacifica Drive as the side street, thus favoring Mr. LaCharite. Since Pacifica Drive is one of the only three streets in the Ocean Terrace neighborhood it is the major street of 11 homeowners who will have to look at a mammoth bulk and mass every time they leave and return to their homes.
John Muckel 6024 Ocean Terrace Drive disputed the size of the lot as reported in the staff report, and referred to the tract map which reports a small size lot. He felt this results in a 6,700 square foot house on a lot that is 1,000 square feet smaller than his lot. He noted that he did sign that he had viewed the plans during the early neighborhood consultation process, however at that time he made it clear that he was not in favor of the project. However, since that time the plans have changed and the neighbors who were consulted during the early neighborhood consultation have not seen the new plans. He stated that over the years the lot has eroded, etc., and felt that it needs to be regarded and recompacted to bring it back to the condition recorded in the original tract map. He discussed the RV parking and asked that the Planning Commission not approve something that is contrary to the CC&Rs. He also stated that in the CC&Rs it states that all grading within the BGR be minor in scope for footings, landscaping, and site drainage. Not withstanding the remedial grading, minor in scope does not deal with over 800 cubic yards to create a garage under the house. He felt the proposed project is too large for the neighborhood and should not be approved as currently proposed.
Bill Glantz 32034 Searidge Circle strongly felt there is too much structure for the lot size, noting there is no other house in the neighborhood has under structure parking. He also objected to the RV parking area.
Jim Beggans 6015 Ocean Terrace Drive stated that staff does have a color document of the grade of the property which shows the grade at the back of the property where the RV parking is proposed is in excess of 10 percent. He also noted that the BGR is also a part of the CC&Rs, and failed to see why the Planning Commission would look at the BGR line as a requirement for development in the tract yet ignore the other portions of the CC&Rs, which are part of the tract amendment. Regarding the wall along Pacifica Drive, he noted that when standing on the sidewalk that wall will in excess of 6 feet because of the location of the sidewalk to the property. He also objected to the height of the proposed retaining walls along the property, which are in excess of what the City allows. He stated that he has yet to see a plan which complies with the City requirements in regards to the height of the structure, and every plan shown to the neighbors has had missing or incorrect information.
Stan Michota 32072 Pacifica Drive stated that on every plan he has seen there is a 3 to 5 foot strip between the wall and the sidewalk that shows no landscaping. He felt it was very important to add a condition of approval for any wall that is approved to soften the appearance of the wall. He very much objected to the RV parking that is proposed on the property. He stated that all of the neighbors have complied with many regulations to live in this neighborhood, and the Variances requested have been minor. He distributed pictures to the Planning Commission showing the slopes on this property, noting the grading will not be minor.
Mr. Trobaugh (in rebuttal) stated that he is aware that he cannot pour the pad at the rear of the lot level. He stated that no matter what house is eventually built on this particular lot, there will never be minor grading. He felt that over 3,000 cubic yards of dirt has to be moved to build any house on the lot. He noted that there is a house on Pacifica Drive and one on Ocean Terrace Drive that have built garages below the residence. He did not think building this garage as proposed adding any additional grading to the project. Regarding the retaining walls, he felt it would be possible to build a 5-foot retaining wall on the north side of the driveway. Regarding the other retaining wall, he did not think it would be possible to make a smaller wall because of the way it cuts into the slope.
Commissioner Karp asked Mr. Trobaugh if he has considered scraping down the first three feet of the property to lower the pad and thus lowering the overall mass of the house.
Mr. Trobaugh answered that he had not considered that, because lowering the pad would then put them in the BGR.
Commissioner Karp asked if it would be possible to keep the current design while lowering the pad 2 to 3 feet.
Mr. Trobaugh answered that the current design could not be used, as there would not be a way to enter the garage.
Commissioner Karp asked if the garage could be moved from under the house to some place level with the house.
Mr. Trobaugh answered that it is possible, but they would rather not. Mr. Trobaugh noted that it was time for the joint meeting regarding the Marymount project, and requested that his item be continued to the next meeting.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Gerstner moved to continue the public hearing to the January 24, 2006 meeting, seconded by seconded by Commissioner Mueller. Approved, (6-0)
RANCHO PALOS VERDES
Commissioner Karp stated that he is not eligible to participate in the public hearing as a Planning Commissioner and therefore recused himself and left the dais.
From the Planning Commission were Commissioners Gerstner, Mueller, Perestam, Vice Chairman Knight and Chairman Tetreault, with Commissioner Karp recused.
From the Traffic Safety Committee were Commissioners Mevers, Parfenov, Klein, Lewis, and Chair Shephard. Commissioners Willens and Wright were absent.
7. EIR Scoping meeting (Case No. ZON2005-00317): Marymount College
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that this meeting is a scoping meeting which is not required by CEQA, however the City encourages these meetings as it is a good opportunity for residents to verbalize their comments. He noted that written comments carry the same weight as verbal comments, and all comments will be given to the EIR Consultants, who will in turn respond to all issues relating to substantive issues of environmental concern. He noted that comments regarding the merits of the project will not be responded to in the EIR, as those hearings will take place later in the year.
Senior Planner Mihranian presented a brief staff report and noted that the final day to receive written comments on the Initial Study is Friday, January 13th by 4:30 p.m. He gave a brief description of the project and noted that the proposed pre-school has been withdrawn from the application. He noted that the Draft EIR is anticipated to be available to the public in April, 2006.
Rita Garcia of RBF Consulting explained the purpose of the public scoping meeting is to inform the public of the proposed project, present an overview of the environmental review process and issues to be addressed in the EIR, an obtain public comments regarding potential environmental issues of concern associated with the construction and operation of the proposed project. She explained the CEQA process, including the preparation of a draft EIR, responses to the public’s comments on the draft EIR, and any revisions to the draft EIR text as deemed necessary. She explained the issues to be addressed in the EIR, as required by CEQA.
Senior Planner Mihranian stated the purpose of this meeting is to receive comments on the Initial Study, and there will be an opportunity in the near future to hear comments on the merits of the project.
Chairman Tetreault opened the public hearing.
Thomas McFadden 30731 Ganado Drive (applicant) referred to pictures in a power point presentation which shows the view of the campus from Palos Verdes Drive and a rendered picture of the same view when the dorms are built. He felt the improvement plan has found a middle ground, noting that the priory is create a safe and secure residential environment on the existing campus, to improve Marymount College as a community resource, and to work through concerns with the neighbors. He addressed an issue from the last meeting, which he felt had no place in a meeting regarding potential environmental considerations, which is the nature of the Marymount College mission and the quality of the student body. He stated he has been the president of Marymount College for 14 years and takes extreme exception with the characterizations heard at the last scoping meeting that Marymount is a reform school and the students are criminals. He stated that was neither fair nor appropriate. He explained that the students contribute many hours of service to the community and over 90 percent of the students transfer to four-year institutions of higher learning. He acknowledged that on occasion there have been unfortunate events, as happens on every college campus in the United States. He explained that data on campus crime statistics will show that Marymount statistics are among the lowest of any college or university in Southern California. Secondly, he explained that Marymount College does pay taxes, more than $1.7 million annually in federal, state, and local taxes and contributions to the storm drain fees will exceed $200,000. Thirdly, it was asserted that Dean College was not an accurate benchmark for how students in two-year colleges benefit from on campus housing. He read excerpts from a letter sent by the President of Dean College which states that Dean College and Marymount College share many similar characteristics and noted that 90 percent of undergraduate students live in college sponsored by the college. He stated he would submit the entire letter for the record. He stated that he has listened, compromised, and wants to enhance Marymount College as a community resource and at the same time improve the lives, safety, and learning environment for the services. He stated they will continue to listen to legitimate, fact based comments throughout the process.
Lois Karp speaking on behalf of CCCME stated that at the last meeting she presented a power point presentation as well as an alternative plan, and since that time the group has done additional studies of the plans and documents, resulting in additional comments to the presentation. She stated that in reviewing the geologic reports she did not find that any borings were taken in the location of the largest dorm, which is at the south end of the property. She noted there will be a request in the CUP to place the building there on the extreme slope, and she was asking that this request not be granted. She stated that Marymount College is in an Institutional Zone, however this was not a planned zone at the time of incorporation, merely a classification done after incorporation that any property with a school on it was zoned institution. She noted there were no hearings in the neighborhood when this area was zoned institutional. She also stated there is no mention in the General Plan of a housing element in an Institutional Zone. She that Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines are strictly followed in all new construction projects within the City, with maximum weight being given to residents who live near the project, not those who live miles away. She explained that the new buildings are proposed to be 38 to 44 feet in height and have great bulk and mass. She felt it was very difficult for non-professionals to visualize the height and location of these buildings, and computer-simulated drawings have proven unreliable in the past. She requested silhouettes and flags, in addition to the computer renderings, in an effort to allow the residents to understand the bulk and mass of the project. She also requested a 3-D model of the project which includes the surrounding homes so the impact on the surrounding homes can be easily seen and understood. She also stated that at the last meeting Marymount College stated there would be 68 percent open space with this project, however she has been unable to substantiate that number, and asked the EIR to evaluate that and give an exact percentage of open space on this project. As previously mentioned, parking is currently inadequate, and the addition of 120 spaces is still quite short of the RPV Parking Code, which is one space for every two students, one space for every two employees, plus one space for every five student seats. She asked the EIR determine and state the correct number and show the rationale of how the total number meets the RPV Parking Codes. She concluded by stating CCCME represents over 1,000 homes and has comprehensively reviewed the plans. She felt that the residents who live in the immediate neighborhood of the college should have a greater say in what the project looks like.
Jack Karp felt that many of the speakers at this meeting will not be giving comments regarding the draft EIR. He noted that there will be many speakers who are employees of the college, students at the college, a vendor selling services, or a member of the Board of Directors and most of these speakers will not have any ties to the community. He objected to such speakers who do not live near the college and do not have to suffer the consequences of the college expansion. He questioned if the student speakers are at this meeting voluntarily or if they are getting college credit for attending the meeting, and where do these students really live.
Dr. Nancy Sanders stated she is a professor at the college and lives fairly near the campus. She asked that the EIR look closely at geology, noise, and traffic, as the project should go smoothly for everyone. She questioned if this project should be entitled the Marymount Expansion Program, as there is a cap on the student body and the project is not truly an expansion but an improvement. She encouraged the EIR to distinguish between what is factual and things that are just worries.
Maria Grau 6 Paseo de Castana stated that her son attended Marymount College in preparation for his college career at USC. She asked that the EIR look closely at who is attending Marymount and how many of the students are coming from the community and the South Bay.
Ariana Leon stated she currently lives in the La Vista Verde Estates in Rancho Palos Verdes, and explained she selected Marymount College because she was looking for a place of transition. She stated that she was not here to play politics and throw out statistics, but to share her experiences at Marymount and why she thinks there can only be positive results to having dorms on campus. She asked the EIR to consider the hard work Marymount students are striving towards, are doing, and will continue to do.
Veronica Yniguez stated she is from Sacramento and in her second year at Marymount College. She discussed her involvement with the college, and noted that it is a 6-mile trip to campus and 6 miles back, resulting in a minimum of 60 miles per week. She felt that for a college student that is very difficult. She stated that having dorms on campus will give students the feeling of community, and asked the EIR look very carefully at the benefits of on campus housing to the students.
Kaitlyn Mayberry stated she chose Marymount College so she could have a fresh start and improve her status through academics, volunteer service, and contribute to society. She asked that the mistakes that a few students have made at Marymount not condemn the entire student body. She discussed her current activities at the college and believes on campus housing will be extremely beneficial to future students. She felt that if housing is built on campus there will be fewer students driving up and down the hill. She felt that the advantages of on campus housing far outweigh the disadvantages and future students will contribute greatly to the community.
Thao Nguyen stated she is from Lakewood and is currently a student at Marymount College. She discussed her experiences at Marymount and noted that she currently lives on one of the off campus dorms. She felt that on campus housing would enhance the sense of community and asked the EIR to examine how on campus housing would benefit the entire community. She concluded by stating that she was very offended to have a Rancho Palos Verdes resident call Marymount College a reform school and would accept only C average students, and asked residents to look at transfer rates and records of community service among the students.
Don Swartz 2038 Daladier Drive stated he has no relation to Marymount College and is here to support the College and education. He felt that to remain a great society, one must support, foster, and encourage education and educational institutions in good, creative, and effective ways. He stated that over the years nothing stays static, communities evolve, needs change, institutions must react and adjust to a changing view to their future. He felt that Marymount is adjusting to address its changing future. He stated that the City has the legal authority and ability within CEQA to simplify the approval process for Marymount, and will serve the community well if it does.
Kari Sayers stated she is a teacher at Marymount College stated that it is true that Marymount College has taken in students who were surfing when they should have been studying, however, these students are now preparing for a successful transfer to a four year college. She discussed her students and said without hesitation that there is not one of her students who would do any harm to the community. She felt that the current library is woefully inadequate, as a college needs a good library as a tool to teach basic research skills.
Christine Leible asked the EIR study in a fair and balanced manner the benefits that Marymount College brings to the community and economy with young people living on the Peninsula. She felt that high quality schools are a benefit to any community, and noted that there are not enough institutions to meet the increasing demands of students who wish to pursue a college education. She therefore felt a Marymount education is key to the local community economic health.
DeDe Hicks 32859 Seagate Drive stated that she would like to address a question that came up at the last scoping meeting regarding what the Marymount students do in the community. She related many activities the students do on campus and off campus for the entire community. She felt these hard working students could do even more if they lived and worked together in dorms on the campus, and asked the EIR address this particular issue.
Lynn Elliott 3726 Coolheights Drive gave brief statistics on the number of students from Peninsula High School who attended Marymount College, noting that number has doubled in the last 4 years. She asked the EIR look at how well, or poorly, Palos Verdes Drive East is for new and inexperienced drivers. She also asked if look at whether speed humps, especially between Ganado Drive and Palos Verdes Drive South would prevent cars from driving too fast.
Eric Randall 6526 Madeline Cove Drive asked if the EIR would include socio-economic impacts. As an example, he noted that almost everyone in the room benefits from the excellent educational system on the peninsula, and many people move to the area for the schools. He noted that, when selling properties, he includes Marymount College in the educational system. He therefore felt that everyone’s house has a little extra value because of the educational system. Secondly, he discussed positive impacts to the neighbors by having Marymount. He noted that one can drive a short drive or walk to concerns, lecture series, and other educational events. He asked the EIR consider socio-economic impacts of a fully functional college in the community.
Karen Thordarson stated that she would like the EIR to study the impact of the project to native vegetation and consider planting native vegetation on the slopes around the college.
Viktor Rzetewski 30411 Palos Verdes Drive East felt there were a number of positive environmental, socio-economical benefits to having a faith based private college in the community. He noted that when buying his home 6 years ago having Marymount College only 2 blocks away was a positive influence in deciding to buy their home. Secondly, it was beneficial to his son to attend Marymount College and be able to walk to campus, and finally, Marymount College has been open to the public to hold meetings and attend events on campus. He felt anything that can be done to modernize, beautify, and improve the campus is beneficial to the community.
Chris Venn 2810 San Ramon Drive stated he shares a wall with the Marymount Campus. He noted that proponents have stated that traffic will be reduced if the dorms are built on campus, as students will not have to travel to and from campus. He felt the expansion of the campus and the inclusion of dormitories will lead to an increase in traffic, as students will want to go to Starbucks for coffee, Rolling Hills Plaza for a movie, or San Pedro. He felt the environmental impact of this increased traffic will be significant.
JoAnn Evans disagreed with the prior statement, and felt that anything that can be done to lower the traffic on Palos Verdes Drive East would be beneficial.
Dr. Sue Soldoff 3414 Coolheights Drive stated that she is a Marymount neighbor and a member of the Marymount Board of Trustees. She felt that there are many benefits to having students living on campus, noting that can be trained as part of the emergency response team, can be hired by neighbors to do jobs around the homes such as babysitting and gardening. Therefore, she requested the EIR address the issue of the actual direct benefit to Marymount neighbors of having residence halls on campus.
Steve Soldoff 3414 Collheights Drive requested the EIR address the impacts of the grading and ensure the site will be safe now and into the future and will not impact the stability of the homes in the neighborhood.
Joan Williams discussed the socio-economical benefits of Marymount College, noting that the college has some wonderful programs for retired people. She also agreed with the comment that there is a necessity to change and keep current with the wants and needs of the educational system.
Stephanie Hart 2244 Daladier Drive stated she takes great exception to the correlation between criminal elements and the students at the college. She felt that the resentments and unfounded hostilities generated by unreasonable and irrational behavior and thinking to be more detrimental to the community welfare than any amount of noise, traffic, or youthful exuberance. She stated that communities like this needs institutions like Marymount, as it provides intellectual and cultural opportunities for lifelong learning, provides resources for community activities and programs, stimulates economic growth, and the annual influx of young people keeps all of us young and the community alive. She asked the EIR to reflect on the value that Marymount College has brought to Rancho Palos Verdes in terms of educational, cultural, and economic benefits.
Grace Malolepszy stated she lives on Casilina Drive and has a view of the college, and would like to see as many renderings as possible to understand the scope of the project. She was concerned that with the addition of the sports complex there would be an influx of traffic from students using the facilities on the weekdays and weekends. She was also very concerned that the pre-school was eliminated from the plan, and asked why it was eliminated.
Marcy Good 2501 Via la Selva, PVE explained that her child with Downs Syndrome was one of the six students graduating from Peninsula High School as a part of the charter class of the Skills for Independence Class. She discussed how these students need to be mixed into the community with others their own age. She explained how Marymount College has opened up their campus for these young adults and the library has offered an opportunity for these children to have their first work experience. She explained that last year she was appointed by the Governor to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, and on the State level this is exactly what the State is looking for, a partnership between private and public.
James Flanigan stated that he is a Trustee of the college and asked the EIR to study is the economic impact of Marymount College to the Peninsula and to Rancho Palos Verdes. He noted that there are students and faculty and employees who spend their money on the peninsula. He also stated that a tuition charging college such as Marymount must provide a level of facilities, otherwise the college cannot attract those who pay the tuition.
Terry Taricco 6216 Via Subida stated he has no objection to students at Marymount College, however he felt that the comments from the students at this meeting are irrelevant, as the expansion is for the benefit of the college. As a resident of the area that is directly, he felt that the Planning and Traffic Commissions should ignore spurious benefits that are non-quantifiable. He noted that Marymount does not pay property taxes and employment taxes are meaningless to the City. He felt that the only thing that should be looked at is the impact to the immediate neighborhood. He felt that if the project is going to go through Marymount College and the students should step up and ask how they can make the residents life better and how are we not going to put more of a burden on you. He asked why the residents should accept any more burdens whatsoever. He felt that if this project is approved there should be a complete ban of motorcycles on campus because of the noise and there should be traffic curfews. He asked that the EIR look at the City Charter and the goals of the City, and why the City was founded.
Dorian Dunlavey 3255 Parkhurst Drive asked about the geologic impact of moving 84,000 cubic yards of earth and the demolishing of hillsides and the impact that will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. She noted there are ancient land faults in the area as well as the San Ramon Canyon Landslide and the Tarapaca Landslide. She felt that once all of this earth moving has commenced it will be too late to stem the tide of a landslide precipitated by the disturbance of the unstable geologic underpinning known to be in the area. She asked what will be the recourse if the switchback area of Palos Verdes Drive East is destroyed.
Franklin Melton 2950 Vista del Mar asked the EIR look at the lighting on the project and the impact of that lighting to the residents, suggesting the lighting be more vertical than horizontal. He also felt the issue of noise be addressed, as currently from his home he can hear students on campus talking.
Vicki Hanger 2938 Vista del Mar stated that the placement of the dorms will be in the backyard of the residents on the north side of Vista del Mar. She asked the EIR look at the impacts of noise, parking, and to discern the difference between opinion and fact in regards to this project.
Dwight Hanger 2938 Vista del Mar stated he would like the EIR to address the traffic on the switchback, particularly around 9:00 a.m. when classes start and the traffic coming out of Vista del Mar and Ganado Drive. He asked it look at the number of citations given to students and faculty and the number of cars parked daily on the street. He also asked it look at the number of students housed on campus versus the total number of students at the college. He noted that this is a very quiet, rural community and was concerned that the additional lighting will have a great impact on the neighborhood. He asked the EIR quantify the noise from the students and their cars, will it be now around the clock and on weekends. He addressed the issue of additional crime, as there will now be many cars parked on campus 24 hours a day. Lastly, he felt this was a lot like putting apartments in the middle of the community, and if there are any unique things the EIR should be looking at when putting a concentrated group of people in one area.
James Gordon 3538 Bendigo Drive discussed what he described as urban Marymount College myths, including first year students guaranteed housing, the graduation and transfer rates, their interest in naval surplus land, the term residential campus, and the traffic the students create as well as their parking needs.
Betty Riedman 3668 Cliffsite Drive stated she is not opposed to the expansion but is very concerned about the traffic. She felt that rather than having the current traffic early in the morning and in the afternoon, there will now be traffic 24/7. She discussed Dr. McFadden’s comparison to Dean College, noting that Dean College has 100 acres of land for their residences. She discussed parking, noting that there are 720 degree seeking students plus staff at the campus. If there are 256 students living on campus with 463 parking spaces available, leaving 263 additionally needed spaces. Therefore, there will be street parking.
Ray Day 30241 Via Borica stated that he is in support of the improvement program, and that compromises can be reached. He asked the EIR do a fair and balanced job in getting to the bottom of the facts.
Mitch Hahn 31245 Ganado Drive distributed a letter he had written as well as articles from the Daily Breeze. He stated that the college draws both good apples and bad apples into the neighborhood. He felt that it was the campus, rather than the education, that draws students in from areas outside of southern California. He felt the college should focus on providing a better education to the students. He was concerned with the amount of cut proposed as well as the drainage.
Chris Hahn 31245 Ganado Drive asked that the number of seats at the college be put in writing, including part time students, full time students, and commuter students. She did not think a fair traffic study could be done without the real numbers on how the property will be used. She asked for the crime statistics on thefts, property damage, shootings, rapes, and assaults on the Marymount campus and the neighborhood surrounding the campus as well as the area that student housing is now located. She also asked for the cost to the City for the Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department to support on campus housing.
Marc Harris 2750 San Ramon Drive stated that Marymount College has been a great neighbor. He had a power point presentation to show where his lot is located and a rendering of where the grading will occur. He stated that 100 percent of his lot line that connects with Marymount will be affected by the grading. He explained there will be a tall masonry wall in addition to landscaping. He stated that his complete ocean and Catalina Island view will be blocked by at least 14 feet of wall and landscaping. He stated that there is virtually no setback from his property to the proposed parking lot, and was very concerned about the lighting that will spill into his property. He asked the EIR look into these issues.
Tom Redfield 31273 Ganado Drive stated he is part of the leadership of CCCME, emphasizing they are concerned citizens, not opposing citizens. He explained that the coalition has made it clear to the college that they are very willing to work with them to find a plan that will be acceptable to both the college and the neighbors. He felt, however, that the college has been far from cooperative in sharing information with the coalition. He stated that the Board of Trustees has excluded all of the leadership of the surrounding five communities from their contacts. He stated that most of the supporters of the project are connected some way with the college. He felt it was very important for the applicant to offer options and alternatives. He stated that the CCCME has spent hundreds of hours and quite a bit of money in preparing a two campus strategy, which will give the college everything they want: a dramatic upgrade and remodel on the Marymount campus and housing and athletic facilities on the Navy property. He noted that Marymount has not offered it’s own alternative plans. He emphasized that the CCCME is working to help improve the Marymount campus, not take it away, as the college is a valuable resource to the community. He felt that at the end of this long project the application must be rejected because of the devastating impacts for the following reasons: 1) There is not enough land and space available, nor is the surrounding residential area appropriate; 2) There are neighborhood compatibility standards that must be met, and questioned if more than doubling the size of the campus is compatible under any of the guidelines in the City; 3) The application does not meet the guidelines of the General Plan; 4) The land is not zoned for high density dorms; and, 5) The General Plan strongly protects the City’s invaluable view corridors, and the Marymount plan totally destroys the entire upper part of the current green barrier by removing the beautiful hill and trees. He stated that many speakers asked the EIR to address the positive economic and social values of the expansion, and asked what the point is. He stated that if the college is not expanded the economic value and value to the community is not going to go away, it will be retained. He stated that, based on published figures, leading realtors have strongly suggested that the homes around Marymount can anticipate losing at least 20 percent of their value. He emphasized that, if the project is approved, there will be 3, 5, to 10 years of dirt, noise, and instability during construction. He questioned who would buy a house during that time. He stated that most residents cannot visualize, by looking at flat engineered drawings, the massive size of this project. He asked there be actual scale models and silhouetting on the dorms, library, and athletic facilities. He stated that a completion bond must be required guaranteeing the project is completed in 3 years.
Chairman Tetreault closed the public hearing.
Vice Chairman Knight requested the EIR include computer simulated photos of pre-construction and post-construction taken from the perspective of important vantage points, including any view corridors identified in the General Plan.
Commissioner Mueller was very concerned with the athletic fields and the noise that would be generated, and asked the EIR look at how the noise from the athletic fields will propagate to he surrounding residents. He also felt that weekend traffic and the issues of light and glare should be seriously studied.
Chairman Tetreault asked that the map included in the EIR also include the surrounding neighborhoods rather than just the property lines of the site.
Director/Secretary Rojas reiterated that written comments regarding the EIR will be accepted up to Friday, January 13th at 4:30 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
8. Minutes of December 13, 2005
Commissioner Karp returned to the dais and asked the minutes be divided into two sections, the regular meeting and the joint meeting. The Planning Commission agreed.
Vice Chairman Knight moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting as presented, seconded by Commissioner Perestam. Approved, (5-0-1) with Commissioner Mueller abstaining since he was absent from that meeting.
Vice Chairman Knight moved to approve the minutes of the joint meeting as presented, seconded by Commissioner Gerstner. Approved, (4-1-1) with Commissioner Mueller abstaining as he was absent from that meeting and Commissioner Karp recused.
ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON FUTURE AGENDAS
9. Pre-Agenda for the meeting of January 24, 2006
Director/Secretary Rojas stated that the Item 5 continued from this meeting will be placed on the January 24th Agenda and the View Restoration Guideline amendments will be taken off of the Agenda.
The Planning Commission approved the revised agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:02 a.m.