Question & Answer

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As a Matter of Fact....

Last updated August 4, 2017 


The Question & Answer Page is intended to address community questions and provide accurate information.

The Palos Verdes Library District published a helpful guide to distinguish fake news and determine news accuracy.

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Archived Postings


question_mark Is PVEPD using the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system right now?

Yes. The Police Department has established protocols, trained its personnel, and is currently utilizing data/active alerts from other ALPRs cameras, including the ones on the Peninsula, Torrance and several other cities in LA County. Dispatch receives live alerts and the PVEPD Detective Bureau uses ALPR data as a very successful investigative tool. This ALPR data has proven beneficial in investigating crimes, recovering stolen vehicles and aided in making arrests. There have been two vehicles that were stolen from PVE that the PVEPD Detective Bureau recovered within 24 hours by using the ALPR data.

question_mark Does the City of Palos Verdes Estates have an ALPR system and what is the status of obtaining it?

Yes. The City of Palos Verdes Estates joined with the Cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills in a multi-city agreement for implementation of Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) at gateway locations around the Peninsula.  Two locations are scheduled for ALPR cameras in PVE.  They will be installed near Via Rosa and Palos Verdes Boulevard, and on Via Valmonte. 

question_mark What process is underway to get the ALPR cameras installed?

Unlike Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates, Palos Verdes Estates does not have:

  • existing traffic signal, street lighting or other adequate camera supports
  • readily available electrical service points along roadways

Both are necessary to install the equipment.  The other two cities utilized their existing infrastructure to place equipment on; Palos Verdes Estates must retain contractors to install the necessary infrastructure.

Since the City did not receive any bids, the City reached out to potential contractors and was quoted $100,000 to install the infrastructure. The City is now proceeding with constructing and bidding incremental components to install the system at a lower cost.

 question_mark What is the City doing to fully bring on the ALPR system?

At this time, the City is working directly with Southern California Edison and underground contractors/electricians to establish electric service and construct poles/foundations at the locations where the ALPR cameras will be installed.  The project is being pursued incrementally. 

The installations are projected to be completed no later than the end of year.

question_mark Why are the fountains turned off?

As a result of Measure D failing at the polls in March 2017, the City faced a $5 million shortfall for funding City operations.  Since April 2017, many community meetings were held that focused on this financial situation and how to address the 25% loss of revenue.  With adoption of the budget in June 2017, four strategies were implemented to temporarily solve this problem:

  • Budget cuts
  • Defunding some capital projects
  • Repurposing funds that had been set aside for the replacement of equipment
  • Using reserves

As one of the citywide budget cuts, the City Council temporarily eliminated the contract and maintenance services of all City fountains; this reduction saves the City approximately $20,000 for the year. Additionally, several of the City’s fountains are in need of capital outlay to rehabilitate repair pumps, piping, basins and other features. The City does not have funding in the budget for the necessary repairs. 

However, the budget situation identifies an opportunity for residents to support City projects and services, at least potentially until a new substantial revenue source can be established. Residents may be interested in contributing to the City for replacing the pump and the cost of operation and maintenance.   If you have specific questions about contributing, please call (310) 378-0383.

For more information, please visit

question_mark The City Manager is the second highest paid City Manager in the state, the highest paid City Manager per capita, and has a $250,000 salary per year.

According to Transparent CA and CA State Controller’s Government Compensation in California, the highest and second highest paid City Manager is an employee of the City of Escondido and San Jose, respectively.  The highest paid City Manager per capita is an employee of the City of Vernon. According to the League of California Cities, there are 482 cities in California.

Per the employment agreement with the City, the 2016 annual salary is $213,180.

Tables 04.10.17

For more information, please see the City Manager page. To view additional City Manager salary information, please click to view records by Transparent CA and Government Compensation in California.

question_mark Will the City will eliminate its Police Department and contract with the Los Angeles County’s Sheriff Department for law enforcement services?

The City is committed to maintaining essential public safety services and specifically the Police Department, and while many residents express support for the City’s Police Department, many difficult choices will be necessary for determining the mix of budget reductions, reserves and other funding for balancing the budget.  Everything will be on the table for consideration; when the City is facing a 36% reduction in operating costs and position vacancies cannot be filled, no individual department can be spared an impact.  The City Council will be provided with options for utilizing fiscal reserves, funds appropriated for capital improvement projects, and funds designated for equipment replacement combined with decision packages consisting of costs and service level reductions for balancing the budget.

The City Council will resume their discussion on balancing the FY 2017/18 budget at the June 13th City Council meeting. To receive notification of when the meeting agenda and staff report are posted, sign up at


question_mark Will the Butcher Hill project block/close Via Valmonte?

The City is not aware of any plans or proposals associated with this or any project that would involve closing or blocking Via Valmonte.  Specifically, the developer’s traffic report mentions nothing about this. To view information such as the project plan and other studies, please visit the project's page on the Torrance City website. For updates, please visit the Neighboring Projects of Interest page.

question_mark Why doesn’t the City post and make available on line: contracts, agreements, invoices, reports, ordinances, guidelines, and grant submissions and results?

The City is working toward having existing documents available on-line in a searchable data base through a public portal.  As time and funding permits for scanning or converting documents, and identifying and organizing them into a user-friendly and searchable format, the City is and will be posting information.  The City’s website is continually being updated with information.  The Open Government Portal is the current location for many documents.  Others can be found on the City website on the Department page(s).  The City uses Questys for creating the public portal and direct access to documents. 

Ordinances constitute the Municipal Code that can be accessed here.

Public records are available are also available by request. For more information, click here.


question_mark Please explain the Parklands MOU.

Please click here to review the MOU (agreement) pertaining to the parklands on Via Panorama and the associated court filings.


question_mark The City spends a significant amount on employee overtime.

When staff, primarily police officers and dispatchers are on leave, whether it is for vacation, training, disability, or medical, overtime is necessary to back-fill the vacancy and provide public safety, officer safety and sustain operations. Over the past three years, there have been many personnel on leave resulting in significant overtime. In addition, extra work for planned or unplanned events also results in overtime. A few include the Police Department’s response to the spike in burglaries (2015), Lunada Bay surfing (2016), and bicyclists (2016). Officers working the overtime burglary detail were responsible for catching the burglary crew and ending the burglary spree.  


question_mark  What meetings were held with City staff regarding bicycling in the City and has the City taken into consideration all the costs and obligations associated with bicycle routes?

The City has no plan or scheduled discussion at this time for creating bicycle routes through the City. However, bicyclists’ and drivers’ shared use of the roadways and compliance with the California Vehicle Code are important to the City for public safety. To address public safety, City representatives have met with cycling groups and resident groups. City officials have also talked individually with residents and cyclists. As City officials routinely communicate with members of the public on municipal matters, meetings and conversations with groups and individuals will continue with parties interested in bicycling and roadway safety. Policy matters and recommendations, roadway changes, and the costs and obligations associated with bicycle routes will be subject to discussion by the Traffic Safety Committee and City Council.

To receive notification of City Council meeting agendas, please sign up for e-notifications


question_markHow are topics for City Council agendas determined?

Council meetings are the business meetings of the City.  Council agendas are composed of items that are pertinent to fulling the operational goals and priorities, the action items to implement the policies and budget of the Council.  Staff prepares the agenda based on actions necessary for the continuity of business.  For timing and placement of agenda items, the agendas are prepared in consultation with the Mayor, and Mayor Pro Tem as available.  Council Members may also place items on the agenda.  Please see Council Operating Guidelines (#2) for an overview of the Council member’s role in the process of setting agendas.  The process herein represent generally accepted practices; in cities, staff develops a proposed agenda and works with elected officials to finalize it. 

 question_mark Chief Kepley has been on leave.  Why?

The Police Chief is on leave.  The City does not comment publicly on personnel matters.

 question_markDoes the City identify and achieve cost savings and efficiencies?

Mindful of the City’s limited resources and increased public demand for service, city staff continually evaluates practices and processes for efficiencies and cost savings.  The City has achieved savings and efficiencies through bidding, use of technology, website upgrades, cooperative agreements with other agencies, contracting services, use of volunteers, etc.  We welcome additional input from the public to improve services and reduce costs where appropriate.

question_markWhy doesn’t the City bid its legal services rather than have an exclusive agreement for legal services.

Most California cities retain legal services of legal firms that specialize in municipal government. Since 2010, through a competitive bid process, the City Council retained the firm of Jenkins & Hogin.  Ms. Christi Hogin was named as the City Attorney (an appointed, non-elected position) to serve Palos Verdes Estates.  The City retains other legal counsel on an as-needed basis for specialty services such as labor negotiations. 

question_markHow are the invoices for the City Attorney approved?

City Attorney invoices are reviewed monthly by the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and City Manager. When each invoice is received and the detail is provided to the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, this committee provides an internal review of the invoice and may ask for more detail. Once approved by the Council, all checks are processed. The City Treasurer has no role in the processing and approval of invoices. The City Treasurer is responsible for managing the investments of the City.

 question_mark Is the City following any guidelines to determine cell tower locations?

To have a better understanding of how the City can play a role in regulating cell tower locations, please see the Wireless Telecommunication Facilities FAQ.  

State and Federal laws, and a variety of Court rulings prescribe and limit all cities’ ability to influence the locations for cell sites.  In fact, cities can only control “time, place and manner,” and under, the Palos Verdes Estates Municipal Code (PVEMC) Chapter 18.55, the City specifically regulates the location, design, and aesthetics of wireless facilities or commercial antennas.   An enhanced regulation is currently before the Planning Commission for discussion and more information can be found on the Planning & Building Department’s page.

 question_mark Can the City can receive a greater share of the 1% of property taxes paid by property owners?

To change the apportionment of property taxes received by a City like Palos Verdes Estates, statewide legislation to reallocate tax revenue among all cities throughout the state would be necessary.

The approval of Proposition 13 in 1978 established that property taxes are limited to 1% of the property value assessed at the time of purchase. After voters approved Proposition 13, the apportionment of property tax revenue was set by Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8).  The process of property tax collection and allocation is based on State statutes that apply to all counties and all cities in the State.   

Because of the limitation of property tax established by Proposition 13, if the City received a greater percentage of the 1% paid in property taxes, it would mean that another public agency or agencies would receive less funding. The establishment of a 1% maximum property tax rate by Proposition 13 created a property tax revenue “pie” from which all public agencies share.  A greater portion of this property tax pie going to the City or to another public agency necessarily reduces the share of other public agencies.  Changing the allocation of the 1% distribution will require repeal or change of AB 8 approved by the Legislature and Governor.

Changes to a public agency’s share of property tax revenue only occurs when a public agency takes over the provision of services from another public agency.  An example would be if a city were to take over the Library District. The city’s share of the 1% in property taxes would be increased by the apportionment previously allocated to the Library as compensation for the provision of those services.

On April 6, 2017, the City sent a letter to Supervisor Janice Hahn requesting that Los Angeles County consider increasing the City's share of property tax or to include the City in the Fire Suppression Benefit Assessment District without charge to the City. The County's response can be read here.

Related links:

question_markCan growth in property taxes eventually allow the special tax to be eliminated if spending is carefully managed?

 According to HdL Coren & Cone, the City’s property tax consultant, growth in property tax revenue is very limited by the requirements of Proposition 13 adopted by the voters in 1978. 

As a result of these limitations on growth in assessed value and fixing the City’s share of the 1% tax rate, property tax revenues are seldom able to keep pace with increases in operational expenses.  Unless there is a great deal of new development or annexation of additional territories, growth in property taxes, even over long periods, will not be able to fill a $4.8 million hole in the budget.  Based on the 1% tax rate under Prop 13 and the City’s 11.3% share of that tax rate, the addition of $10 million in new or added value will add $11,300 in revenue to the City’s general fund.  In order to add $4.8 million in new revenue that would replace the special tax, an additional $4.25 billion in value would have to be added.  

2016 stats


Given that homes in the City turn over at about the same rate, there is no way to estimate how many homes that have not been sold for many years and how many homes that have been purchased fairly recently will sell in a particular year.

Generally, value is added to a property when square footage is added.  The remodeling of a kitchen or bathroom doesn’t typically cause the Assessor to add assessed value to a property even if the remodel costs many thousands of dollars.  These remodels are considered as added improvements.  Replacing wood fences with block walls, adding a swimming pool or enclosed patios would cause an increase in valuation.

The FY14/15-15/16 Building Activity Report provides additional information on how much the City received for building permits and development on average. Fees for improvements and changes to existing homes and recently sold homes are incorporated into the General Fund (Page 17, FY16-18 Budget).

Over the past 15 years, assessed values in the City have increased by 100.6%.  The growth per year varied, however, on average, growth has been approximately 6.7% per year.  The growth in assessed value takes into account values added by the annual inflation adjustment (2%); new construction, transfers of ownership and all other forms of improvements.  In order to generate $4.8 million in revenue to the City, an additional $4.2 billion in assessed value would be needed.  Based on the current assessed value of $6.75 billion and a growth rate of 6.7% per year, it would take approximately 7 or 8 years to achieve the valuation necessary to generate tax revenue sufficient to fund another $4.8 million in operating costs. 

This time projection is absent increases to Fire and Paramedic contract cost increases averaging 3% a year, and other concurrent cost increases that regularly are necessary for maintaining City operations and services.  The cost of City services for fuel, equipment, technology, facility repairs, capital projects, contract services, State mandates, salaries and benefits, and insurance regularly increase.  It is unclear if or when the current revenue shortfall can be realistically covered by property tax revenues. 

*Data provided by HdL Coren & Cone 2016-2017 Property Data Preliminary Property Tax Reports and 2016/17 Property Tax Summary

For more information regarding property taxes, visit the City Finances page.

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