Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult
— Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

PVrrg’s Six Pillars of Good Government

Principles for Palos Verdes Estates

The values and philosophy that we'd like to see our elected representatives embrace include the following six pillars:

Elected officials, committees, commissions and staff, who together form the City Government (CG) of Palos Verdes Estates, are guided in all of their actions, by the following principles:

  • Ethics & integrity

  • Humility & respect

  • Fiscal responsibility

  • Openness & transparency

  • Accessibility & engagement  

  • Profound appreciation for the history & character of PVE

If you support these principles, and would like to encourage our elected officials to follow them, please sign this petition (click here) and return it by email to info@pvrrg.org or fax to (310) 349-3381.

What this means in practice...                                                          

I.        Ethics & integrity

Code of Conduct (COC): Elected officials (City Council and Treasurer), create and abide by a COC, which all members of CG are required to sign and follow, promising that they will: 

  • Act, first and foremost, in the best interests of the City and its residents.

  • Conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and truthfulness.

  • Comply with all applicable municipal, state and federal laws.

  • Avoid all of conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.

  • Hold themselves and each other accountable for performance.

The Mayor and City Attorney effectively enforce the COC. 

Whistleblower Program: The City Council contracts with an independent external provider to institute a whistleblower reporting and protection program, including an anonymous hotline, for employees, contractors and residents.

Contractor/Vendor Relationships: All members of CG hold external contractors and other vendors to the highest ethical standards and perform adequate due diligence to ensure they meet those standards. 

Legal Compliance: The City Attorney reviews, revises as necessary, and approves all legal documents (grants, contracts, etc.) prior to execution to ensure they are compliant with applicable law and do not violate or jeopardize the City’s CC&Rs.  

II.       Humility & Respect

All members of CG:

  • Recognize that they work to serve the City and its residents.

  • Consistently demonstrate courtesy and respect for City residents, each other, and all external parties with whom they interact.

  • Behave in a fair and impartial manner.

  • Exhibit open-mindedness, willingness to listen to input from residents and to consider alternative options and opinions.

  • Provide thoughtful, documented responses to all questions and concerns raised orally (in public meetings) or in writing.

III.     Financial responsibility

The City Council, works with the independent auditors, the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) and the City Treasurer to ensure:

  • All applicable accounting standards promulgated by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) are correctly and consistently followed. 

  • An effective system of internal financial controls (IFC) is developed, implemented and enforced. The IFC system is independently audited and updated at least annually.

  • A long-term financial plan (LTFP), is developed to forecast income and expenses, (both operating and capital), over a 10-year time horizon. The LTFP is updated annually or more often if there are significant changes in circumstances due to economic, legal/regulatory, environmental, political or other events. (Slightly reworded.)

  • The LTFP is required to address repayment of City employee pension and healthcare obligations as well as any other current or anticipated long-term liabilities. The LTFP is also required to set goals for funds to be held in reserves for future and/or unanticipated needs. (Slightly reworded.)

  • The LTFP serves as a basis for the annual budget; variances from budget are analyzed and reported on each month. This report is made available to the public.

  •  The CG strives to hold annual expenses, including depreciation, to less than revenues plus a pre-determined (per the LTFP) reserve contribution.

  •  An ongoing, cyclical, operations review program, e.g., the Toyota Kaizen model, is in place to identify opportunities for waste reduction and cost savings; these cost savings are implemented wherever feasible.

  •  All expenditures for goods or services in excess of a minimum threshold (e.g., $25,000), are subject to a documented, competitive bidding process. 

  •  An annual financial calendar of all significant due dates (financial plan, budget, audit, FAC meetings, etc.) is developed, published on the PVE website and updated promptly for any changes. See also Pillar IV below. 

IV.     Openness & transparency

The CG publishes timely, accurate and materially complete information on the PVE website, including meeting agendas, minutes, video recordings of meetings, financial reports, etc. Public documents are made available for public review significantly in advance to allow resident input/feedback to be included in meeting packets.

The CG, in coordination with the City Attorney, develops, implements and maintains a Records Retention & Document Management Policy and procedures to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and easy retrieval of information as requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The CG strives to ensure all communications with the public are in plain, understandable English and should be carefully reviewed for consistency with prior publications and statements.                    

V.       Accessibility & Engagement

CG develops and implements a formal Communications Plan designed to inform and engage the City’s residents, as well as to provide opportunities for residents to have their voices heard. Activities such as “Town Halls” and citizen surveys are part of this plan.

All elected City officials make time to meet with and listento residentsin personas well as to provide timely and courteous replies to their questions.

All City residents are able to contact elected City officials, singly or in groups, via a confidential email system that cannot be accessed or viewed by City staff.

VI.     Profound appreciation for the history & character of PVE* 

“Over the years, the City’s governance has been guided by the vision of the original founders with an emphasis on preserving, protecting and enhancing the quality of life and natural assets that make Palos Verdes Estates unique.” 

(PVE Website)

As Custodians of the City of Palos Verdes Estates and its heritage, CG makes decisions guided by:

Preservation of the original beauty, environmental health and quality of life envisioned by those who designed and built PVE*, including: 

  • Conservation of aesthetically and culturally important man-made structures and landscape features. 

  • Conservation and protection of the natural environment. 

  • Maintenance of open spaces, trails and parklands and guaranteeing unimpeded public access thereto.

  • Preservation and protection of the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs).

 Achieving a balance between their commitments as custodians of the City versus: 

  • The rights and interests of individual residents, for example: protection of urban forests versus impairment of residential views.

  • The demands of progress, for example: technology improvements, such as cell towers, versus their aesthetic impact.

 *See Appendix

Appendix:

History

In 1913, Frank Vanderlip and a group of investors purchased 25,000 acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula situated along the southern border of Los Angeles County, and hired Olmsted Brothers to develop the expansive coastal landscape. Initially, John Charles Olmsted, Frederick Jr.’s brother, led the project. During WWI progress languished and, in 1920, John Charles died of cancer. Frederick Jr. assumed leadership of the project until its completion in 1923. 

Palos Verdes was one of the Olmsted brothers’ largest and most complex projects. Input from scientists, engineers, and horticulturalists was required to transform the site from rugged, hilly lime-shale terrain to 16,000 acres suitable for luxury homes, a country club, resorts, golf courses, and parkland, all with sweeping views and vistas to the rocky coast and Pacific Ocean. 

As planned, the project was divided into five distinct districts: Valmonte, Malaga Cove, Lunada Bay, Margate and Montemalaga, each neighborhood was to have its own elementary school and commercial area and regionally-sympathetic Mediterranean architectural styles, with an emphasis on Spanish red tile roofs and light-colored stucco outer walls. Trails and parkways were woven through parkland along the coast, with plazas and neighborhood parks providing central gathering spaces for residents and visitors. Curvilinear roads were designed to avoid degrading the existing terrain. 

Deed restrictions were put in place to maintain aesthetics, and a paid Art Jury is still employed to preserve community character and standards in architecture and landscape design in the older, now historic parts of the development. Several buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Wayfarers Chapel designed by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright and a famous architect in his own right, as well as the Palos Verdes Public Library and adjacent Farnham Martin's Park, which were designed by Myron Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Sadly, another of Lloyd Wright’s buildings, the Moore House at 504 Paseo del Mar, was demolished in 2012 despite attempts by the Los Angeles Conservancy to save it. The Bowler House on 3456 Via Campesina, also known as the “Bird of Paradise” house, is another private residence built by Lloyd Wright.  

Design

Palos Verdes Estates was master-planned by visionary 20thcentury landscape architects and brothers, John Charles and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Their father Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. who designed New York’s celebrated Central Park, which opened in 1858, as well as Chicago’s Jackson Park, home of the legendary 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, originally founded their firm, Olmsted Brothers. Following in their father’s footsteps, the brothers joined him as partners and eventual successors in the emerging landscape architecture business. 

The younger Olmsteds carried on the work and aesthetic philosophy of their father. 

Olmsted designs were known for maintaining broad open spaces in addition to conserving and showcasing natural features of the landscape, such as coastlines, hills and trees. In addition, they incorporated locally found materials, such as Palos Verdes stone, and featured native plants that would thrive in the climate. The aesthetic result is that their landscapes appear to evolve from rather than intrude upon the naturally occurring beauty of the location. 

The Olmsteds were also early innovators in designing and developing ecologically sound infrastructure. For example, they conducted intensive studies of soil and climate, incorporating their findings into the design of roadways and public spaces to optimize absorption of storm water. 

In addition, the Olmsteds were among the founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and played an influential role in creating the National Park Service. They have several other well-known landscape designs to their credit, including national and local parks, such as Acadia and Yosemite, university campuses, such as UC Berkley and Stanford and residential properties, such as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Bibliography:

Residents who have signed the Petition and endorse the above Values and Philosophy (but not necessarily all the views on this website):

  • Souzan Ardalan

  • Carolyn Blalock

  • Gayne Brenneman

  • Stephen Calhoun

  • Kate Greenberg*

  • John Harbison*

  • Renata Harbison*

  • Carlos Juelle

  • Ken Jung

  • Patricia Kasschow*

  • George Kay*

  • Michale Kemps

  • Ratan Lalchandani*

  • Jeff Lewis

  • Mike Moody

  • Linda Nespole

  • Stacey Nozaki

  • Jim Nyman

  • Rose Ramsay*

  • Dwight Streit

  • Michael Thiel*

  • Patricia Vancura

  • Ann Whisenhunt

  • Jenene Wilson*

* Steering Committee Member