The fate of a controversial retirement community in Rancho Palos Verdes will depend on the vote of Councilman Mel Hughes, who was absent from a four-hour public hearing this week when the City Council split evenly on the project.
In January, the city Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit, a zoning variance and a grading permit to allow Marriott Corp. to proceed with plans to build 250 independent living units and a 100-bed health-care facility on 34 acres at the northeast corner of Crestridge Road and Crenshaw Boulevard.
Neighbors who opposed the project appealed to the council. At Tuesday’s hearing, a Marriott representative and several residents said the project is needed, but opponents argued that it would be too large for the lot.
The project would be built on the portion of the land zoned institutional. A city staff report said the rest is too steep for construction.
Councilmen Robert Ryan and John McTaggart said they agreed with opponents of the project.
Mayor Jacki Bacharach and Councilman Douglas Hinchliffe said they would vote for the development, though Bacharach wanted several requirements imposed, including an annual review of parking needs and a ban on employee travel during rush hours.
The council decided to wait two weeks to learn how Hughes, who reportedly was out of town, would vote. A 2-to-2 vote would have upheld the Planning Commission’s approval but would not have allowed the council to add conditions.
If the appeal fails and the development is approved, Marriott may still face an uphill battle.
Nell Mirels, mayor of neighboring Rolling Hills Estates, told the council that her city does not want Palos Verdes Drives North and East used for trucks hauling an estimated 65,000 cubic yards of fill dirt from the project to the Chandler gravel quarry in Rolling Hills Estates. She said parts of the route “simply can’t handle the weight that’s being proposed.”
Lomita Also Opposed
Mirels suggested that the trucks go through Lomita to the quarry, but Lomita has also indicated an unwillingness to allow the trucks.
In a telephone interview after the meeting, Bacharach said the city geologist has been asked to research the idea of using some of the fill to stabilize the Portuguese Bend landslide in Rancho Palos Verdes.
“We don’t want to go to war with Lomita,” Bacharach said. She added that the Marriott permits were granted under the condition that the roads to be affected by construction must be checked, and bonds must be posted “to cover any loss of pavement life.”