Rancho Palos Verdes Landslide Moratorium Workshop-Seaview Staff Report Rancho Palos Verdes Landslide Moratorium Workshop-Seaview Staff Report Rancho Palos Verdes Landslide Moratorium Workshop-Seaview Staff Report
EVALUATION OF PORTUGUESE BEND LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM ORDIANANCE


TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM: LES EVANS, CITY MANAGER, AND CAROL LYNCH, CITY ATTORNEY

DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2005

SUBJECT: CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF AN URGENCY ORDINANCE AND INTRODUCTION OF A NON-URGENCY ORDINANCE REVOKING SECTION 15.20.040 K. OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE RELATED TO CONSTRUCTION OF CERTAIN STRUCTURES IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA, AS OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AND REVOKING CERTAIN PERMITS ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 15.20.040 K.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Read by Title only, waive further reading and Adopt Urgency Ordinance No. _____U, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES PRECLUDING THE ISSUANCE OF, AND REVOKING, CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA, AS OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF

2. Read by Title only, waive further reading and introduce Ordinance No. __, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES PRECLUDING THE ISSUANCE OF, AND REVOKING, CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA, AS OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE

BACKGROUND

Historically, the City’s Moratorium on Land Use Permits (Municipal Code Chapter 15.20) has recognized two separate areas within the overall landslide moratorium area that are subject to differing development criteria. The entirety of the landslide moratorium area, referred to as the area “outlined in red on the landslide moratorium map” (the “Red Area”) is subject to the provisions of the moratorium. However, there is also a small area on the eastern side of the moratorium area described as the area “outlined in blue on the landslide moratorium map” (the “Blue Area”). Unlike the areas solely in the Red Area, the owners of properties in the Blue Area are entitled, subject to certain conditions, to seek approval of a landside moratorium exception permit for “[t]he construction of residential buildings, accessory structures, pools/spas, and grading….” (Municipal Code Section 15.20.040 K.) The code also requires applicants to submit geological studies reasonably required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the city geotechnical staff that the proposed project would not aggravate the existing situation. (Id.)

The more flexible treatment of development proposals in the Blue Area, which was adopted in September 1989, was based on the fact that this area had been subdivided previously and was almost completely developed (only one or two lots were not developed) and included a sewer system, along with a lack of indicators of recent movement in the Blue Area. These factors distinguished this Area from other portions of the Landslide Moratorium Area.

However, following the unusual rains that occurred in the 2004-05 rainy season, there is increasing evidence that portions of the Blue Area are now moving. Attached hereto as Exhibit A are photographs of cracking in Dauntless Drive and an adjacent driveway. This cracking was first brought to the City’s attention and observed in May, 2005, when these photographs were taken.

In addition, the city’s geotechnical consultant, in reviewing a development proposal for the property at 4380 Dauntless Drive, noted the tension cracks on Dauntless, which indicated landslide movement in a report dated October 25, 2005. A copy of this recent report also is attached.

The indications of land movement raise the possibility of continued slow landslide creep, which has been well documented in the nearby Portuguese Bend and Abalone Cove landslide areas, where properties have suffered damage caused by this ongoing landslide movement. Following the winter rains last year, landslides in other communities, such as Ventura County and Orange County have caused even more catastrophic results.

DISCUSSION

Proposed Ordinances

In light of the new evidence documenting movement of portions of Blue Area, staff recommends revocation of the more flexible provisions of Section 15.20.040 K. applicable to the Blue Area. Further, staff recommends that the Blue Area be subject to the stricter provisions of Section 15.20.040 that are applicable to the remainder of the Landslide Moratorium Area, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989.

Staff recommends this course of action due to public health, safety and welfare concerns related to (1) the construction and occupation of habitable structures in an area that recent evidence newly suggests may be unstable; (2) the related increase in population in an area that recent evidence newly suggests may be unstable; and (3) completely independent of (1) and (2), the potential that such additional construction activities have to aggravate the existing situation.

Revocation of Certain Permits and Approvals

In light of the new evidence of landslide movement in the Blue Area, staff recommends that the City Council revoke certain permits and approvals that have been granted for properties in the Blue Area that have not yet been vested. Staff has reviewed the permits and approvals that have been granted and has found that some of them have not yet been “vested” because substantial work in reliance on the permit or approval has not been completed. Projects that have not vested would not be able to proceed if the proposed ordinances were adopted.

When the Landslide Moratorium ordinance was initially adopted, Section 15.20.030 of the municipal code revoked “[a]ny building, grading permit, or other permit for new construction in the landslide moratorium area which has been previously granted by the city which has not been acted upon in substantial reliance by the holder thereof….” Similarly, here staff recommends revocation of all permits issued in the Blue Area pursuant to the more relaxed standards of Section 15.20.040K that have not yet been vested through substantial reliance on said permits and approvals, so as to preclude any impacts adverse to the public health, safety and welfare.

Nonetheless, if the ordinance is amended as recommended by staff, the owners of property in the Blue Area could continue to seek landslide moratorium exception permits for such things as replacement of an existing residential building or structure under certain conditions, undertaking certain minor projects involving addition of up to a cumulative 600 square feet of building area per parcel; construction of temporary minor nonresidential structures of less than 120 square feet in size, and construction of detached or attached garages. (See, e.g, Section 15.20.040 B, H, I, L.)

Further, the owners of property in the Blue Area would still be allowed to maintain existing structures and facilities without expansions of water usage, conduct remedial grading to correct landslide activities, obtain approvals for geologic investigation permits, and submit lot line adjustment applications. (See, e.g., Section 15.20.040 A, F, G, I , J.)

The City and the Redevelopment Agency would be permitted to approve certain environmental assessments for city or redevelopment agency projects, perform certain landslide mitigation activities and issue geologic investigation permits. (See, e.g., Section 15.20.040 D, E)

Further, just like any other area that is subject to the Landslide Moratorium, owners of property in the Blue Area can seek exclusion from the Landslide Moratorium pursuant to the provisions of Section 15.20.100. In order to qualify for such an exclusion, an applicant must show, among other things, that the proposed project will not aggravate any existing geologic conditions in the area, which is interpreted as a requirement for a factor of safety of 1.5.

Urgency Findings

If the Council adopts the urgency version of the Ordinance, the City Council will need to do so by a 4/5 vote and approve the findings supporting the urgency ordinance. Those findings are set forth in Section 5 of the urgency version of the Ordinance.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

CEQA

Staff has reviewed the proposed Ordinance Amendment for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and determined that the proposed urgency and non-urgency ordinance are statutorily exempt from CEQA’s provisions pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15269 (Emergency Projects). The proposed ordinances are a specific action necessary to prevent or mitigate an emergency situation. Further, the proposed ordinances “are covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects, which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment [as is the case here] the activity is not subject to CEQA.” (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3).) Here, it is clear that the increased limitations on development activities will limit development opportunities and activities to a greater degree than the current codes, and thus no significant effect on the environment will result from the proposed ordinance amendment. Finally, the proposed ordinances are categorically exempt from CEQA because they establish an action taken to protect the environment from the potential impacts associated with the more intense development that is allowed pursuant to the current code. (CEQA Guidelines Sec. 15308.) For each of these reasons, independently, and collectively, the ordinances are not subject to CEQA’s provisions.

CONCLUSION

Adoption of the proposed urgency ordinance and introduction of the non-urgency ordinance would protect the public health, safety and welfare by limiting the intensity of development that can occur in the Blue area, thus limiting the possibility of exacerbating the landslide activity by significant construction activity, and acknowledging the nuisance conditions present in this area, and the additional nuisance conditions that may result from continued exacerbated land movement.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to the recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:

1. The City Council could adopt a moratorium on all permits and approvals in the Blue Area, and on the continued processing of certain related development applications while it studies other options.

2. The City Council may decide to take no action on the draft Ordinance, thereby disapproving this code amendment, and retaining the more flexible standards applicable to the Blue Area.

Respectfully submitted:

Les Evans, Carol Lynch,
City Manager City Attorney

Attachments:

Draft Ordinance
Photos of Land Movement
Geologist Report dated October 25, 2005

860483_4.DOC

ORDINANCE NO. ________U

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES PRECLUDING THE ISSUANCE OF, AND REVOKING, CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA, AS OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE AND DECLARING THE URGENCY THEREOF

WHEREAS, in September 1978, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 108U, which established the Landslide Moratorium Area in a portion of the City, as depicted on a map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and

WHEREAS, in February 1981, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 139U, which added the area known as Klondike Canyon to the Landslide Moratorium Area, which is described as the area outlined in red on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and

WHEREAS, in September 1989, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 247, which added a new provision to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance that provided the possibility for more intense development than previously was permitted in the Klondike Canyon Area, as outlined in blue on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (“Blue Area”); and

WHEREAS, in May 2005, following the unusual winter rains during the winter of 2004-2005, the first indications that the Blue Area may be experiencing landslide movement appeared; and

WHEREAS, in October 2005, the City received a report from the City Geologist, who was reviewing a proposed development in the Blue Area, that discussed the issue of landslide movement in the Blue Area; and

WHEREAS, based on the new evidence of landslide movement in the Blue Area, the City Council has considered whether the more flexible development standards that had been allowed in the Blue Area since 1989 should be repealed so that the Blue Area will be subject to the same development criteria that are applicable to the other areas that are subject to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989;

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code is hereby repealed.

SECTION 2. Any landslide moratorium exception permit that was granted by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code and any other permit for development, construction or grading in the portion of the Landslide Moratorium Area that is outlined in blue on the Landslide Moratorium Map (“Blue Area”) for a project for which a moratorium exception permit had been granted by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, but which has not been acted upon in substantial reliance by the holder thereof, is hereby revoked of no further force and effect.

SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any other ordinance or code of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, no application for a building, grading or other permit for a project within the Blue Area shall be accepted for filing, and no such permit shall be issued, for any project for which a landslide moratorium exception permit had been issued by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

SECTION 4. Notwithstanding any provision of this Ordinance, other than Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, all of the other provisions of Chapter 15.20 shall continue to apply to any and all property located in the Blue Area. Accordingly, this Ordinance shall not invalidate permits for projects in the Blue Area for which a moratorium exception permit was issued pursuant to Paragraphs A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N, or O of Section 15.20.040.

Nothing contained in this section shall exempt or except the proposed construction or use from any requirement or regulation of the Building Code, Zoning Ordinance or other ordinance of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

SECTION 5. It has recently come to the attention of the City Council that the land identified in the Blue Area, which was previously thought to be stable, may in fact be susceptible to or experiencing current landslide movement. In order to protect the public health, safety and welfare, geological studies should be conducted to determine the stability of the land in question and to whether development of new structures on undeveloped lots or parcels, substantial additions to existing homes, or the construction of certain accessory structures on properties in the Blue Area should be allowed. Until such geological studies are completed and evaluated it cannot be determined whether such construction in the Blue Area (1) is safe in light of the newly observed instability, or (2) will adversely impact the stability of said Area. Development in areas of geologic instability and landslide both in this City, such as the landslide at Ocean Trails, and in other communities, such as Laguna Hills and La Conchita, have demonstrated the resulting devastation and that can occur. This ordinance is therefore necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare and shall take effect immediately upon adoption as an urgency ordinance.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 15th day of November, 2005, by the following vote:

AYES:
NOES:
ABSENT
______________________________
MAYOR

ATTEST:

__________________________________
CITY CLERK

I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing is true and correct copy of Ordinance No. _____ approved and adopted by the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes at a meeting thereof held on the 15th day of November, 2005.

__________________________________
CAROLYNN A. PETRU, CITY CLERK

ORDINANCE NO. ________

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES PRECLUDING THE ISSUANCE OF, AND REVOKING, CERTAIN PERMITS AND THE PROCESSING OF PLANNING APPROVALS IN THE PORTION OF THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM AREA, AS OUTLINED IN BLUE ON THE LANDSLIDE MORATORIUM MAP ON FILE IN THE CITY’S PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT DEPARTMENT, WHICH INCLUDES PORTIONS OF DAUNTLESS DRIVE, EXULTANT DRIVE, ADMIRABLE DRIVE AND PALOS VERDES DRIVE SOUTH, AND AMENDING THE RANCHO PALOS VERDES MUNICIPAL CODE

WHEREAS, in September 1978, the City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 108U, which established the Landslide Moratorium Area in a portion of the City, as depicted on a map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and

WHEREAS, in February 1981, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 139U, which added the area known as Klondike Canyon to the Landslide Moratorium Area, which is described as the area outlined in red on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement; and

WHEREAS, in September 1989, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 247, which added a new provision to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance that provided the possibility for more intense development than previously was permitted in the Klondike Canyon Area, as outlined in blue on the map that is on file in the City’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (“Blue Area”); and

WHEREAS, in May 2005, following the unusual winter rains during the winter of 2004-2005, the first indications that the Blue Area may be experiencing landslide movement appeared; and

WHEREAS, in October 2005, the City received a report from the City Geologist, who was reviewing a proposed development in the Blue Area, that discussed the issue of landslide movement in the Blue Area; and

WHEREAS, based on the new evidence of landslide movement in the Blue Area, the City Council has considered whether the more flexible development standards that had been allowed in the Blue Area since 1989 should be repealed so that the Blue Area will be subject to the same development criteria that are applicable to the other areas that are subject to the Landslide Moratorium Ordinance, as was the case from February 1981 through September 1989;

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code is hereby repealed.

SECTION 2. Any landslide moratorium exception permit that was granted by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code and any other permit for development, construction or grading in the portion of the Landslide Moratorium Area that is outlined in blue on the Landslide Moratorium Map (“Blue Area”) for a project for which a moratorium exception permit had been granted by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, but which has not been acted upon in substantial reliance by the holder thereof, is hereby revoked of no further force and effect.

SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any other ordinance or code of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, no application for a building, grading or other permit for a project within the Blue Area shall be accepted for filing, and no such permit shall be issued, for any project for which a landslide moratorium exception permit had been issued by the City pursuant to Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

SECTION 4. Notwithstanding any provision of this Ordinance, other than Section 15.20.040K of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code, all of the other provisions of Chapter 15.20 shall continue to apply to any and all property located in the Blue Area. Accordingly, this Ordinance shall not invalidate permits for projects in the Blue Area for which a moratorium exception permit was issued pursuant to Paragraphs A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N, or O of Section 15.20.040.

Nothing contained in this section shall exempt or except the proposed construction or use from any requirement or regulation of the Building Code, Zoning Ordinance or other ordinance of the Rancho Palos Verdes Municipal Code.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 15th day of November, 2005, by the following vote:

AYES:
NOES:
ABSENT
______________________________
MAYOR

ATTEST:

__________________________________
CITY CLERK

I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing is true and correct copy of Ordinance No. _____ approved and adopted by the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes at a meeting thereof held on the 15th day of November, 2005.

__________________________________
CAROLYNN A. PETRU, CITY CLERK