Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters
— Albert Einstein

Description:

This issue goes back to 2005. Lower Paseo del Sol is a short street off Via Del Monte that ends with the entrance to the Paseo Del Sol Fire Road -- one of the most popular hiking trails in Palos Verdes Estates. This trail descends across the hillside overlooking Malaga Cove and all of the Los Angeles Basin including the famed "Queen's Necklace View" all the way to Malibu. The trails is paved, so it is a great place to walk after winter rains, and it is also great for bikes, baby carriages or just "easy" hiking. 

With growing interest in the trail (which goes back to the late 1920s), people were parking their cars on Lower Paseo Del Sol to access the trailhead. This caused congestion and concern among the neighbors because this road is narrower than most roads in Palos Verdes Estates and there is no cut de sac to turn around at the end. More than ten years ago the PVE City Council responded by exploring the building of a turnaround to reduce the number of people who were on the road.

However, in 2013 the City Council decided to alleviate the problem by banning all parking on the street other than the residents who live on the street, who were each given special permits.

Meanwhile, later in 2013 the City applied for a grant of $75,000 for construction of "trailhead access"-- without mentioning that no one from the public was allowed to drive to this trailhead access.  Even after the grant was awarded, the City failed to clarify that its application was misleading to the County. 

Unfortunately, the residents continued to press for the turnaround. In September 2016 the City Staff recommended rejection of all bids for construction contract for the Paseo Del Sol Turnaround Project and discontinuation of  the project. The Council disagreed with that recommendation and voted 3-2 to increase funding for the project even though the total cost has risen to $330,000. Members of the public asked whether such construction was permissible on parkland due to the underlying deed restrictions which say "no buildings, structures or concessions shall be erected, maintained or permitted upon said realty, except such as are properly incidental to the convenient and/or proper use of said realty for park and/or recreation purposes." 

The City went to the Palos Verdes Homes Association for their opinion on the deed restrictions, but the PVHA declined to get involved -- despite their responsibility for insuring that the protective restrictions and deed covenants are followed. The City then developed an alternative configuration that was located only on Right-of-Way rather than parkland (hence not running afoul of the deed restrictions) on land that was set aside in right-of-way in the 1920s-1930s for a turnaround. This plan reduced the cost to $275, 000. In January 2017 the project came back to the City Council for a final vote approving allocation of funds, and the Council voted 4-1 in favor (with Mayor Jennifer King voting against the project). The Council then made a "determination" that it was for the benefit of citizens of PVE even though it really only benefitted a few people on that street.  They also ignored and did not discuss the alternative of building on the right-of-way instead of parkland -- potential setting up more issues and potential legal challenges.

So as of 2017 the project is approved, costing $330,000 including the $75,000 in grant money. Hopefully, the extensive dirt moving by carving out the hillside in parkland and the construction of tall retaining walls will not cause geological instability. 


Chronology of Events:

  • 5/14/13 City Council Approved Parking Restrictions, Signage and Potential Turnaround on Lower Paseo Del Sol -- for staff report, click here
  • 1/28/14 City Council Approved the Application for Grant Funds from the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District for the Paseo Del Sol Turnaround Project. For Staff Report click here.
  • 2/15/14 Bill Patton filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. for misuse of funds by PVE. For that letter, click here
  • 4/14/15 City Council Approved the Preliminary Design for Paseo Del Sol Turnaround Project. For the staff report and correspondence, click here.
  • 4/22/15 Ried Schott filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. for misuse of funds by PVE. For that letter, click here
  • 7/26/16 City Council awarded the construction contract to Palp Inc. -- for staff report on adjusting the budget to pay for the project, click here
  • 9/17/16 Staff recommendation to reject all bids for construction contract for the Paseo Del Sol Turnaround Project and discontinue the project -- for staff report, click here
  • 1/24/17 Staff recommended moving the location of the project to Right-of-way (from parkland) -- a move which would lower the cost from $330,000 to $275,000. For staff report, click here

Voting Record of Elected Officials:

September 27, 2016

Voting For: Jim Goodhart, John Rea, Jim Vandever (Mayor Pro-tem) 

Voting Against:  Jennifer King (Mayor), Betty Lin Peterson


January 24, 2017

Voting For: Jim Goodhart, Betty Lin Peterson, John Rea, Jim Vandever (Mayor Pro-tem) 

Voting Against:  Jennifer King (Mayor) --see quote below

 

I wasn’t in favor of the project the last time it came to us. Just briefly, this came to us years ago as a way of utilizing a $75,000 grant. Over time for some reason that didn’t get done, and the project has now ballooned to over $200,000 when it came to us in September. Looking at it from a cost/benefit standpoint, I didn’t feel it was justified. Also, looking at it substantively, I didn’t hear any evidence at that particular hearing that showed that there was a safety reason for this. It seemed more a convenience aspect for the residents on Paseo del Sol – it would enhance their standard of living to have this. But it is a very high cost for a very small number of residents. As I pointed out, and I think Ms. Breene also pointed out, there are other benefits as to why people choose to live on this street. So I think that I just couldn’t justify the cost art that point when it came to us. During the hearing that we just heard, because we wanted to hear back from the Homeowners Association, we still haven’t heard any definitive opinion from them. So I do remain concerned about that. I am not prepared to make the findings that are required under the deed restrictions even though the majority of the Council is. So I will be dissenting from this vote.
— Jennifer King, Mayor, on January 24, 2017

PVRRG Perspective:

The decision of the PVE City Council on Paseo Del Sol Turnaround is a bad one: 

  • Its costs due to design changes have increased four-fold in just 5-years, and could be much more.  
  • There was no Environmental Impact Study made, as the CC waived this requirement. 
  • Its purported use by Fire Trucks is incorrect; these trucks will still need to back-up this street.
  • Its intended use for hikers is unlikely, because parking is only available over 1,000 feet away on Via Del Monte and is prohibited along this section of  Lower Paseo Del Sol.
  • It violates Deed Restrictions, which require such a street be “for the benefit of all residents.”  But it will mostly be used for delivery trucks & infrequent cars to turnaround, eliminating the their need to use some of the driveways on this street.  So, it has specific benefits to only a few residences, not “all.”
  • The PVHA still has certain authority over Parklands and, despite approval sought by the City and the CC, the PVHA did not specifically grant approval for this project. 
  • L.A. County of Parks and Recreation may have been misled by PVE in an application grant, with regards to points 3 and 4 above, to fund $75,000 of this project above, the City’s own cost, making the overall costs in excess of $330,000.
  • Unforeseen problems may occur, such as a destabilization of soils caused by building the retaining wall and increased vandalism on Parklands, such as graffiti and campfires. The soil in this area is unstable, and the digging may create another repeat of what happened when they cut into the hillside to extend Crenshaw leading to a huge slide and decades of litigation. Or the loss of the 18th hole at Ocean Trails (Trump National) after all the land rearranging.
  • A less expensive alternative, to create the turnaround on right-of-way and make a cul-de-sac at the end of the street, recommended by City Staff, was not fully considered by most CC members. The original plan provided for a turnaround in this location (hence the larger right-of-way and this would eliminate the risk of legal action due to potential violation of deed restrictions. It would also be less disruptive of the existing hiking trail.

In summary, this project is a waste of public resources, and benefits only a handful of residents at the expense of many more who use the parkland trail that would be turned into a large paved area and a scar on our hillside. It violates the underlying deed restrictions, and creates a public safety hazard since the disruption in the steep hillside above Malaga Cove could create a landslide/mudslide hazard. Further, the application to Los Angeles County for a grant was misleading at best, since this project has nothing to do with trail head access since Lower Paseo Del Sol is already closed to traffic by any residents other than those who live on that street.  The supporters of this project on City Council showed that they are neither friends of Parklands nor responsible stewards of taxpayer money.


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