Lower Pt. Vicente re-envisioned

The view from Lower Point Vicente at sunset. Photo by David Rosenfeld

The City of Rancho Palos Verdes is officially moving on from its debacle with the Annenberg Foundation last year.

Conservationists who wanted to preserve the cherished bluff at Lower Point Vicente near the lighthouse may get what they wanted. City planners are getting ready to ask the public what they envision for the site, and though nothing is being ruled out, it will probably be a much more passive design than what had previously been proposed.

In 2011, the Annenberg Foundation withdrew its plan for a $50 million educational center focused on land animals next to the current Point Vicente Interpretive Center, which largely focuses on aquatic life. Faced with growing opposition and a new city council, after three years of planning the Foundation simply walked away

The new vision plan suggests more natural enhancements liked improved trails, possibly erecting outdoor exhibits and adding more parking spaces. The cliff-side grounds are already popular with whale watchers and other nature seekers.

“We want to reach out to the community about what they envision there,” said public works director Joel Rojas. “We really do need to enhance the public experience there.”

Resident Eva Cicoria said she was pleased with the new tack.

“This amendment takes us back on the road that restrictions on the land and public input over decades had us on until the Annenberg proposal came along,” Cicoria said. “What I’m hoping we’ll do in the future is move toward something like this where kids can run around, play, climb boulders and explore the natural world.”

Former mayor Ann Shaw said the new plan makes sense.

“This is one of the nicest areas in RPV,” Shaw told the council last month. “It’s a jewel of the city. I think by following this process it will make it more user friendly. I’m happy to hear you are going to address the parking.”

A series of public workshops are expected to begin in February and then the city will pursue grant funding.

“We hope to move as quickly as possible,” Rojas said. “As we all know it takes time to get things built.”

Rojas said he didn’t think the Annenberg episode left any lasting marks on the city’s reputation, which is already known for its building approval process that can be longer than other cities.

“The city was founded on a lot of principles of preserving low density and a lot of open space,” he said. “Obviously it’s not good to have things take longer than it should but it’s good that people get involved.” ER


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