City planning error: mausoleum too close for comfort

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

UPDATE:  A settlement is in the works for condo owners affected by zoning error in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Rancho Palos Verdes nears $500,000 settlement with Vista Verde condo owners

By Cynthia Washicko, The Daily Breeze
Rancho Palos Verdes is closing in on the end of a long-running fight with several Lomita residents over a Green Hills Memorial Park mausoleum built just feet from their homes.

Under an agreement heading to the City Council for approval Tuesday, the city will pay $500,000 to settle three lawsuits filed by more than 20 Vista Verde condominium owners last year. Another $15,000 will be paid to three Vista Verde residents who chose not to take part in the litigation.

The $500,000 settlement, produced during mediation between the two sides in February, is far less than the amount Vista Verde residents demanded in the suits filed in 2016. Residents sought more than $16 million in their first suit filed in February 2016 and more than $17 million in another filed in August that year.

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Original post November 29, 2015

City officials of Rancho Palos Verdes, California have a huge problem on their hands. This story illustrates what can happen when a city tries to shoehorn as much development as possible into limited space, and when finer details of urban planning fall through the cracks.

In 2013, the city approved construction of Pacific Terrace Mausoleum adjacent to Vista Verde condominium. Somehow the structure, with its rooftop cemetery, was built just 8 feet away from condominium property. Investigations revealed that the structure does not meet Municipal Codes for a 40-foot setback.

Long-time condo owners now look straight into the side of the Mausoleum, or look out upon the rooftop memorial park, where burial ceremonies take place.

Vista Verde owners are not happy about their new neighbor, objecting to its close proximity. They have been fighting a legal battle for more than 2 years, hoping to remedy the situation.

The City’s latest proposed solution is pay each owner $8,000 toward their legal costs, and to compel Mausoleum owners to engage in mediation with each owner. In other words, the city hopes to avoid a huge lawsuit, and to avoid forcing Pacific Terrace Mausoleum owners to apply for a zoning variance after the fact.

The hope is that condo owners can be appeased with a payout, but that doesn’t appear likely.

You can read the details below. Check out the photograph to see just how close Pacific Terrace is to Vista Verde.

Rancho Palos Verdes directs Green Hills Memorial Park to work out deal with aggrieved condo owners

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