MINUTES FOR FEBRUARY 9th 2017
Voting members in attendance: Maryam Zar, Richard Cohen, Michael Soneff, Chris Spitz, Reza Akef, Peter Culhane, Lou Kamer, David Kaplan, Sue Kohl, Rick Mills, Cathy Russell, Danielle Samulon, David Card, Barbara Marinacci, Dick Wulliger, Richard Blumenberg, Sarah Conner, Rick Lemmo
Voting alternates: Doug McCormick, Janet Anderson, Ted Mackie
Non-voting advisors and alternates: Amir Ebtehadj, Andy Frew, Kevin Niles, David Peterson, Carol Bruch, Doria Anselmo, Quentin Fleming, Matthew Rodman, Susan Payne
1. Certification of Quorum. The Chair Maryam Zar called the meeting to order at 7:01pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Maryam read the Mission Statement.
3. Introduction of the Board and Audience. The board and audience were introduced.
4. Approval of Minutes & Upcoming Meetings. 1) Approval of Minutes: Maryam deemed the minutes of January 26, 2017 approved. 2) Upcoming Meetings: 2/23/17. Vehicle Dwelling Ordinance discussion.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Agenda is as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Richard Cohen reported that the PPCC has a balance of $39,762.16.
7. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
7.1. From the Chair.
7.1.1. Announcement regarding CD11 Candidates Forum.
Maryam explained that as WRAC Co-Chair she organized a neutral forum sponsored by WRAC for all the candidates to attend on February 27th at Windward School, a date which was believed to be originally acceptable to all the candidates. One challenger is withholding his confirmation and the other reneged after previously committing to attend the 2/27 WRAC forum. Another forum was organized by PPRA for 2/16 but not all candidates are expected to attend. Maryam advised that she will let the public know the status of the WRAC-sponsored forum and whether it is going forward in the near future.
7.1.2. Caruso Village Project construction signage. Maryam stated that Michael Gazzano of Caruso is present and will report on the status later in the meeting.
7.2. From Officers.
7.2.1. Chris Spitz (Chair/President Emeritus) – WRAC LUPC update.
Chris explained that she and George Wolfberg are the PPCC representatives to this committee, which discusses land use matters pertinent to the Westside and at times recommends motions to the WRAC leadership. They attended the meeting last Sunday. Three motions were recommended to leadership, including one calling for figures as to population density and another calling for maximum build out numbers. The third motion involved a proposed Safe Parking Pilot Program, which is still in committee and has not yet been implemented. The committee is recommending to WRAC leadership that government properties be considered for this use. Chris and George raised a concern about overnight vehicle dwelling in beach parking lots. The committee did pass a motion which was believed to address this concern, however, Chris believes the language of the recommended motion may not be amenable to the PPCC. Maryam will address this with leadership. On short-term rentals: Chris reported that the home sharing ordinance has been drafted and will be heard soon in the PLUM committee. The ordinance includes a 180 day annual cap on short-term rentals; PPCC has called for a 30 day cap; other groups are asking for 60 days.
7.3. From At-Large and Area Reps.
7.3.1. Peter Culhane (Area 2). Peter stated that he had nothing new to report.
7.3.3. Reza Akef (Area 8). Reza reported that the Genesis Open will take place next weekend. No parking signs will be enforced starting on the 15th until Sunday the 19th. HOAs have requested no exceptions. Ticketing will be taking place.
7.4. From Organizational Reps.
7.4.1. Barbara Marinacci (Palisades Beautiful) re NEXT Garden.
Barbara noted that Palisades Beautiful “works like hell” on all the Temescal gardens. She invited the community to come and check them out. The gardens should be beautiful in spring. Rec & Parks invested $60,000 in the garden some years ago. The hours are Tuesday from 3-5 and Saturday from 9-4.
7.4.3. Janet Anderson (PPBA).
PAB public meeting update (parking). Janet is a member of the PAB, along with Rick McGeagh. She stated that the PAB meets quarterly. At the January meeting there was no update on the canyon, but they are trying to move forward with Bocce ball and parking. There was discussion of a possible community garden in the center island. They are forming a Task Force to discuss a dog park in the area. At Barrington Park there is a dog park, but they are reducing that park to half the size, and relocating one half to Westwood. Sharon Shapiro reported that Patricia Keane of CD11 is meeting with people on park-related issues.
7.4.4. Sarah Conner (PPRA).
Measure S & overnight parking. Sarah reported that PPRA is working to support Measure S. She asked the community to research the issue. The PPRA board has expressed dissatisfaction with having stripes on different streets in the Palisades and residential parking. Sarah also announced that there will be a Candidates forum on February 16 sponsored by PPRA at University Synagogue in Brentwood from 7-9 pm. Registration required on Eventbrite. Sarah first stated that all three candidates would attend, but this statement was later corrected by CD11 Deputy Sharon Shapiro (see item 7.5.2 below).
7.4.5. David Card (Rotary Club).
David reminded the board of the Galentine’s Day and Kids Night Out events at Rustic Canyon on Saturday February 11. He also reported that Randy Young recently visited the Rotary Club to give a presentation on the history of the Palisades.
7.5. From Governmental Representatives.
7.5.1. Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) – Not present.
7.5.2. Sharon Shapiro – Office of Councilman Mike Bonin, Field Deputy.
Prop O update: The work is moving along. The lane closure work is done and they are restriping that area. To lessen the impact, they will restripe on Saturday the 18th. The project is on track for the fall of next year (target November 2017). Right now they have nearly completed the building that will enclose the storm water treatment, and the pipe work is substantially completed. The lane should be reopened by the end of the month. Regarding the new vehicle dwelling rules: City Planning decided which streets to allow or not allow at night. The decision was based on zoning and the location of sensitive uses. Maryam: Veronica de la Cruz Robles from the City Attorney’s office will be here at the next meeting to answer questions; we will also have an LAPD detail to explain enforcement. Sharon noted that the population of people living in their vehicles is decreasing because of a month of outreach done by LAPD and LAHSA. There will be no new signage to go along with the new parking rules. Reza: Asked about potential mudslides and locations of concern. Sharon asked Reza to send the locations to her directly. Regarding the candidates forum: Sharon stated that organizers of the forum on the 16th were informed that the Councilmember would not attend and that the only such event that the Councilmember has confirmed to attend is the WRAC forum on the 27th.
7.5.3. Lila Kalaf – Office of State Senator Ben Allen.
Lila noted that the new legislative session started last month. Senator Allen is the chair of the Education committee, Environmental Caucus. This includes environmental protection, transportation, arts education, and quality education. The deadline for new legislation is February 17th. The infrastructure package includes a statewide housing bond to increase funding for existing affordable housing programs.
7.6. From PPCC Advisors.
7.6.1. Youth – Amir Ebtehadj.
Amir thanked Caruso for the security guard on Temescal. He announced various upcoming school events: Pali Elementary will have Jump Rope for Heart event on Valentine’s Day, featuring the Harlem Globetrotters. The Pali Elementary Founders Day event is on 2/13. Canyon Charter School is having a talent show. There is also a Pali High Story Corps event (called Human Kind) by the Drama Department, encouraging local Palisadians to come talk about their lives, which will be translated into skits.
8. Reports from Committees.
8.1. VPCLC – David Kaplan & Sue Kohl, Co-Chairs.
Michael Gazzano presented an update on the project in place of the Co-Chairs. He showed slides of the progress and hauling to date. He explained that the project hauling has been slightly delayed by heavy rains. There is dust mitigation with water trucks. Crossing guards are present at three intersections. Caruso has also hired three LADOT officers to help guide traffic. There is no exact date when hauling will end but it is expected by the end of March. Regarding the temporary safety barricades (incorrectly referred to by some as construction signage): The concern expressed by some residents to Michael is the use of the Caruso logo six times around the perimeter of the project. He has discussed the matter with those who have expressed concerns to attempt to address any problems. Michael has heard a rumor that an appeal or complaint may have been filed with the city challenging the legality of the barricades, but he has not received an actual notice of this appeal/complaint. Michael explained that the existing graphics will eventually be changed out with new tenants’ ads. The use of historical photos of the Palisades is also being considered. Michael showed examples of possible new graphics depicting photos of the Bay Theatre and Swarthmore in the 1950s or 60s, juxtaposed with renderings of the Caruso project plans. Another idea that Caruso is considering is holding a community drawing contest for Palisades schoolchildren, with the winning drawings to be displayed on the barricades and donations by Caruso to the winners’ schools. He showed a possible example of this graphic as well. Maryam invited Michael back to give updates in March & April.
9. General Public Comment – None.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Shell Station – latest filings and community discussion.
Michael Kohanoff, one of the Shell station partners, and Neil Brower, Esq., part of the entitlement team, report that they have continued to meet with neighbors and the DRB. The DRB recommended approval of the design of the building. The station owners have further limited hours of operation. The building has changed mostly in design, with a slightly decreased square footage. It is about 900 sq. feet inside. Trash enclosures are now internal to the building. The only alcohol sold will be beer and wine, and the hours have been constrained. Two of the refrigerator units will be locked, and accessible only to the attendant. The owners are willing to discuss the hours. All purchaser IDs will be swiped.
Richard Finkel, the architect, discussed some of the minor changes. They will demolish the existing building, allowing more maneuvering on the property. The driveway will be at the back of the project. Pumps and tanks will be left in place. The project is now lower and is more modern, consistent with design feedback from the DRB. Site runoff will be collected and treated. Restrooms will be key-operated. The entire square footage is 2,750, with 915 being retail space. Maryam reiterated that the DRB has recommended approval of this project. The CUP application has been distributed, along with a memo from Ron Dean expressing his opinion. Maryam asked for the design plans to be provided so that they can be distributed to the public. David Kaplan asked about ingress and egress from the driveways onto Via. (No response noted.)
Maryam then directed the discussion to the hours of operation. She explained that the station owners have asked for extended hours. The hours being requested are 5 am – midnight. A required finding is that the service being offered is essential or beneficial to the community. Maryam asked what about the service is essential or beneficial? Saeed Kohanoff said that the community wants the service even beyond the requested hours. He noted that many people need gasoline early in the morning or late at night. Police and security companies congregated at the Mobil station that he formerly owned in order to take a coffee break. Maryam noted that security isn’t noted in the application. Would they consider a security person within certain hours? Saeed Kohanoff replied that they have closed circuit cameras, but that they never had any crime issues at the Mobil station. He also noted that they would be open to trying a security officer within certain hours.
Maryam then noted that the Specific Plan asks that the building be compatible within the area, or that incompatibility is mitigated, and that the project fits in with the commercial area. Saeed Kohanoff said that someone suggested an alarm or security light when exiting the easement in the back. Mr. Brower noted that they were well within the requirements of the Specific Plan in square footage, and the building is shorter than the buildings nearby. The use itself is within the base zoning and the additional zoning within the Specific Plan. The store is simply a shift from the previous store down the road. Mr. Finkel noted that there is no significant impact created by the traffic. Gas station traffic is based on the number of pumps. There are no additional pumps than there were before, so there is a negligible traffic impact. Traffic will no longer go around the building. Pumps will not be operational at night. There will be a buffer between the pump islands and the canopy. The building will mitigate sound and light. They are adding lots of landscaping. There will be greenery and brick at the back of the building.
Maryam asked about parking spaces for bicycles. Mr. Finkel: The plan has parking spaces for bikes. It’s not in the application, but there are bike racks. Chris Spitz asked when deliveries will occur. Saeed Kohanoff stated that deliveries will not occur during early morning or evening rush hour periods and will be within the operating hours. David Kaplan wondered if there is a necessity for beer and wine sales. Mr. Brower stated that the community needs gasoline at odd hours. Maryam asked if this is an undue concentration. Mr. Brower stated that moving the operation just down the street is not increasing density. He also said that the station needs to be open at 5 am for convenience of getting coffee or other things for people who must travel early in the morning. Richard Cohen asked about the hours the former Mobil station. Saeed Kohanoff stated that it was open 24 hours but the state law required alcohol sales to stop at 2am. He also stated in response to a question that there is no provision in the design for a bank teller window.
Maryam noted that there was discussion at the DRB about the need for a gas station. Lou Kamer noted that since October there have been 10 incidents of crime within a three-block radius. Saeed Kohanoff replied that his station is not the cause of any additional crime and there were no incidents of crime at the Mobil station. Daphne Gronich (audience) asked about additional lighting at night. Mr. Brower explained that most of the lights would be off when not in operation. The signage itself would not be oriented toward the condos; most lighting would be facing toward Sunset. Most of the light would come from the islands, and those would not change. Marge Gold (audience) said that she cannot see how the proposed hours of operation are essential to the community, and they’re not necessary in the Village. Ted Weitz (audience) stated that there is a convalescent home on the block, as well as a condo building across the alley. This is not the same location as the Mobil station—it is unique. The constant shutting of car doors, engine noise and noise with cars backing out is inevitable at the gas station. He stated his opinion that 7am-11pm are reasonable hours. He noted that the Caruso market will close at 9pm. There is no reason to keep the station open any later than they are allowed by right.
Jill Jones, a resident of the adjacent condo building, noted that they are 25 feet from the Shell station. Windows are close to the building. Residents can look right into the store. Lights will shine into the building. She stated that 11am-11pm operating hours is their right, and is what the community is asking for. Residents would be disturbed by 5am arrivals. The current operations are 6am-11 pm. Lou Kamer asked if there have been complaints about the existing Shell station. Jill noted that there have been complaints that have been addressed, but that extended hours would cause a huge problem. Saeed Kohanoff has been available at several meetings. She feels that he would listen to residents. The Shell station used to be open 24 hours. Michael Kohanoff noted that the original proposal was for 24 hours but they have now reduced the requested hours.
Maryam then turned the discussion to the sale of alcohol. The proposed alcohol sales hours are 10am-11pm. Saeed Kohanoff said they would have any hours where the community feels safe. Stuart Mueller (audience) stated that there is a chicken and egg problem, in that the station was there long before the condos were there. The building has more of an impact than the gas station. Maryam asked if we need another place that sells beer and wine, and if it is in keeping with the community. It was noted that of the 7 locations that will be selling alcohol at the Village project, two are offsite sales. Saeed Kohanoff explained that the Shell station will sell craft or high quality beer and wine only, with six packs and no individual cans or bottles of beer for sale. He also remarked on what he believed was the unfairness of taking away his right to sell alcohol
Maryam asked for the highest rating by volume of alcohol sold. Response: Malt liquor does not fall under beer and wine. The sales will be mostly craft brews and wine. The CUP application lists the maximum volume at 16%. Marge Gold (audience) stated that there is not an entitlement in the Specific Plan for alcohol. An audience member asked about the expected profits from beer and wine sales. Saeed Konaoff said that it varies based on location. Sue Kohl asked about requiring a driver license, and whether someone obviously over 21 will be carded. Saeed Kohnanoff replied that the drivers license must be swiped and anyone without an ID will not be served.
David Kaplan asked if there was a purpose for asking for the additional hour of alcohol sales over what is available at Gelsons. Mr. Brower said that he is amenable to additionally limiting the hours. Maryam asked whether their alcohol sales will adversely affect the community. (No response.) Ted Weitz (audience) remarked that at the last Council meeting there was a presentation about marijuana and the youth impact. 92% of high school seniors report consuming alcohol (NIH). Convenience stores are the easiest places for youth to purchase alcohol. It is close to the high school, near a middle school bus stop, and near the elementary schools. It will become a problem area because of straw sales. Reza Akef stated that it’s not fair to single out the Shell station. Maryam said there are good arguments on both sides. She will agendize this again for further discussion, possibly in March. There is no date yet for the CUP hearing.
12. Adjournment. Maryam adjourned the meeting at 9:02pm.