MINUTES FOR MARCH 23rd 2017
Voting members in attendance: Maryam Zar, Richard Cohen, George Wolfberg, Chris Spitz [acting Secretary], Lou Kamer, David Kaplan, Sue Kohl, Cathy Russell, Danielle Samulon, Barbara Marinacci, Dick Wulliger, Gil Dembo, Reza Akef, Rick McGeagh, Leiauna Anderson, Rick Mills, David Card, Rick Lemmo.
Voting alternates: Doug McCormick, Alan Goldsmith, Bruce Schwartz, Barbara Kohn.
Non-voting advisors and alternates: Kevin Niles, Brian Deming, Andy Frew, Ted Mackie, Ron Dean, Doria Anselmo.
1. Certification of Quorum. The Chair Maryam Zar called the meeting to order at 7:02pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Chris Spitz 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 March 9, 2017 approved as distributed. 2) Upcoming Meetings 4/13/17. 1) WRAC-recommended motions regarding density; 2) Moku Sushi CUB. 4/27/17. 1) PPTFH Count report; 2) (tentative) Bylaws amendments (first distribution). 5/11/17. 1) (tentative) Bylaws amendments discussion and vote; 2) (tentative) Bernheimer Gardens new property owners; 3) Nominating Committee announcement. 5/25/17. 1) MKPOA/PPCL presentation; 2) City Attorney as guest.
5. Consideration of Agenda. Maryam announced that the Agenda is as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Richard Cohen reported that PPCC has a bank account balance of $41,032. There was one significant transaction since the last meeting – payment of our D&O liability premium of $515. Renewal of our general liability policy will also be coming up in a couple of weeks.
7. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
7.1. From the Chair.
7.1.1. Secretary announcement. Maryam stated that due to his work commitments, Michael Soneff has had to resign as Secretary. Maryam has found a wonderful replacement and that is Allison Holdorff. Allison was one of the candidates in the recent election for the LAUSD School Board District 4 seat. She will be able to begin as PPCC’s Secretary in April. The board unanimously approved Allison’s appointment as Secretary.
7.1.2. Nominating Committee (Officers election). Maryam announced appointment of the Nominating Committee to recommend nominees for PPCC officers for the term beginning in July. The election will take place the first meeting in June. The Committee members are Dick Wulliger (Chair), Danielle Samulon, Barbara Marinacci and Rick McGeagh.
7.1.3. Drug awareness programming at middle and high school. Maryam explained that since PPCC addressed the issue of marijuana regulation, parents have emailed her with interest in the issue. She has lined up three days of lunchtime programming at Paul Revere Middle School for drug awareness; a representative of DEA will attend. Similar programming will also occur at the high school.
7.1.4. Sharon Shapiro departure. Maryam reported that unfortunately our area deputy Sharon Shapiro is no longer with the CD11 office. She stated that Debbie Dyner Harris of CD11 will report with further details.
7.2. From Officers.
7.2.1. George Wolfberg (Vice Chair).
George stated that this past Tuesday there were several hearings at the Planning Dept. for Coastal Development Permits for various parcels on DePauw. George and Gil Dembo both attended. George wanted to make sure that the hearing officer was aware of the Zoning Information Bulletin, which was drafted at the instigation of PPCC to inform people building on these lots that there is concern for the view shed from Canyon trails. We don’t want 12 ft. retaining walls on the edge of the canyon. The point was well made and was successful. One of the developers indicated that he was going to require a haul route on three of the sites. Reza is one of the builders on the rim and he is hauling soil directly into the canyon, thereby saving neighborhood streets from having the trucks. The other developer wants to do the same, and George put him in contact with the City Engineer in charge, Pedro Garcia. More soil isn’t needed for the canyon at this point but they will stay in contact in the event the opportunity arises in the future.
7.2.2. Chris Spitz (Chair/President Emeritus).
Chris reported that the Executive Committee approved a letter from the Chair stating our longstanding and continuing support for the Zoning Information Bulletin guidelines with respect to development on the Potrero Canyon rim, in order to protect the view shed from Canyon trails, and also stating that we concur with the written comments of George Wolfberg in regard to certain DePauw rim developments which are applying for Coastal Development Permits. Anyone with questions about the Zoning Information Bulletin or PPCC’s position is welcome to contact Chris or George after the meeting. The letters can be viewed at the PPCC website.
Chris also reported that the proposed new Accessory Dwelling Units Ordinance was approved as amended in the City Council PLUM Committee on Tuesday. We are seeking information as to the approved amendments and will follow up as needed. The matter will next proceed to the full City Council for a vote. Please contact Chris with any questions about this ordinance.
Finally, Chris reminded the board that the recent zoning code changes, including the BMO-BHO code amendments and R1Variation Zones for the Palisades, are in effect as of last Friday. Residents can view the changes on the Planning Department/Neighborhood Conservation website, or for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
7.3. From At-Large and Area Reps.
7.3.1. Sue Kohl (Area 5).
Sue announced that the City has repaired many sidewalks in the Alphabet Streets. They will return in September to repair more. A few addresses had to be referred to another agency but they are working hard. Sue also stated that Bruce Schwartz did all the work replanting the median at Sunset & Chautauqua and due to the heavy rains had to do it all over again. The board extended its thanks to Bruce.
7.3.2. Lou Kamer (At Large).
Lou reported that a work party cleaned up the walkway on Chautauqua this past Sunday and it was great for the community to work together. A second work party will take place next month. Daphne Gronich presented to Lou the idea of approaching Revere students to come up with the next project that they think is important. Gil Dembo asked whether the walkway on Chautauqua should be paved by the City. Maryam said we will leave that to Debbie to address. Sue Kohl asked if any of the work was on private property. Lou explained that they only worked on the area that is City property, up to the curb. He explained that going along Chautauqua at some point the walkway becomes very thin until there is only private property with no sidewalk.
7.3.3. Cathy Russell (Area 7).
Cathy explained that trees along Sunset have been trimmed. There is going to be a grove planting party on March 25. David Card explained that the grove planting work will take place on Saturday at Rustic Canyon Park at 9am. They will be pulling weeds and planting new Acacia, Eucalyptus and other trees. David stated that he and George will be there and invited all in the community to pitch in. Cathy also reported that the Rustic Canyon Park Spring Festival will take place on April 15 from 11am-2pm, as will a Crafters Fair from 11am-4pm. George announced that a grant was received for the City to put in a new sidewalk on Entrada. Because the street is above the gutter, the City will grind down the street to meet the new gutter.
7.4. From Organizational Reps.
7.4.1. Rick McGeagh (PPBA). Rick reported that the annual Spring Eggstravaganza will take place on April 15 from 10am-2pm at the Palisades Recreation Center, with an egg hunt and activities for babies-12 year olds. Please contact the park if you are interested in helping out.
7.4.2. Rick Lemmo (Chamber of Commerce). Rick announced that the Chamber’s next Distinguished Speaker Series event, previously scheduled for March 30, has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict with the speaker Brendan Jacobson. The event will be rescheduled. The Chamber is also hosting an after-hours mixer at Palisades High School on March 27, 2017 from 5:30-7:30pm.
7.5. From Governmental Representatives.
7.5.1. Michael Moore – Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), SLO.
Officer Moore stated that crime is starting to go down and people seem to have gotten the message about not leaving keys in cars. Richard Cohen asked about the incident that was reported involving an old woman in her car on Las Pulgas. Officer Moore had no information about that. Lou asked what can be done to mitigate problems with motorcycles. Officer Moore stated that LAPD is trying, but not a lot can be done about the noise. Past inspections have shown that the bikes are not altered to make excessive noise, and the noise is due to the fact that they are in a pack. The police must look for other violations such as speeding, failing to stop at lights, not having proper permits, etc. Officer Menchaca, who spoke at PPCC a few meetings ago, has been replaced. The West Traffic Division knows the motorcycles are an ongoing complaint. In response to a question from Chris Spitz, Officer Moore confirmed that Officer O’Dea is still working on motorcycle issues at West Traffic. Lou mentioned that there are ordinances in other areas that put heavy fines on excessive speeding and asked whether we can we do this. Richard Cohen said that speed laws are instituted by the State and we can’t do anything about that. Maryam asked if the police are issuing violations for speeding. Officer Moore explained that the police are around and do issue speeding citations, but the majority of violations are from vehicles other than motorcycles. Sometimes the police determine that the bikers are out of compliance and don’t have the proper motorcycle license. The bikers send out scouts in advance to see if LAPD are present along the route. Officer Moore also announced that we will have a new captain coming in, Brian Winling. It will be a smooth transition. David Card asked if bikers have qualifications to be riding on motorcycles. Officer Moore said that most do, and if not, the bikes are taken away. Richard Cohen explained that the largest group is the Ruthless Ryderz, who can be found online. There are certificates of appreciation for their toy drives on their FB page. They aren’t Hell’s Angels but are aggressive riders. Their attitude is that these are public roads and we’ll do as we please. Alan Goldsmith asked whether the criminal investigation of the fire on Michael Lane, when a woman was killed, has been resolved. Officer Moore explained that this would be by arson investigators and he doesn’t have information about that investigation. An audience member stated that she has seen immigration enforcement trucks in the area, along West Channel Rd. Does LAPD know about this? Officer Moore is aware but doesn’t have any information; LAPD is out of the loop in regard to immigration enforcement. Donna Vaccarino (audience) asked what recourse there is for residents who observe speeding in the Alphabet Streets. Officer Moore explained that LAPD uses the section of the law that allows citations to be issued based on whether the vehicle is traveling at an “unsafe speed” according to road and area conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit. However, an officer has to observe the incident. If residents observe speeding they can notify Officer Moore and he will get the information to West Traffic. LAPD will need license plate information and other details. Sometimes if it is a local resident Officer Moore will visit the person himself and this can be effective. Donna reported that in some adjacent communities Officer Moore is mentioned as someone who is on top of enforcement. Maryam thanked him for his efforts.
7.5.2. Debbie Dyner Harris – Office of Councilman Mike Bonin, District Director.
Debbie announced that Sharon Shapiro has moved on to other opportunities and is now working for Waste Management, a private company. She did not have time to say a proper farewell but on her behalf Debbie says thank you from Sharon. Debbie’s standards are very high for Sharon’s replacement. In the meantime, Debbie is here for whatever we need. She reported that Mike Bonin is grateful for our support in his election. He won with 72% of the vote district wide and owes his election significantly to the Palisades, which voted over 75% in support of Bonin. He will work very hard for us. CD11 was glad to be able to get the trees trimmed on Sunset. Debbie thanked Lou for his group cleanup effort. CD11 will be happy to work with them in the future and provide guidance. She reported that street medians are supposed to be maintained by the City but the City’s contractor walked off the job citywide and they don’t know when they are getting a new contractor. They will try to get help if there is a safety or visibility problem in the interim. Brian Deming asked about sending a message for Sharon, and Debbie said to send messages to her and she will forward on. Reza Akef asked if there is a way to get better advance notification regarding subcontractors working on the street for utilities. Debbie replied that she will try to connect with the Bureau of Street Services about this. Sometimes if a contractor doesn’t have permission they will call LAPD. CD11 doesn’t get notification during regular work hours. She will look into whether a system can be put in place for more advance notification. Maryam asked that PPCC also be informed in advance so that we can let the community know. Lou stated that he has been working on a Google WAZE program and he could put street closures in the program. Debbie will look into it.
7.5.3. (Add on) Janet Turner – Office of Congressman Ted Lieu, District Representative.
Janet reported that all are invited to a reception for the Congressional Art Competition on April 22, 2017, at the Wallis Annenberg Center. Artwork entries are still being invited. Winning artwork hangs in the Congress in Washington, D.C. Congressman Lieu introduced a cyber scholarship for students pursuing degrees in cyber security. He has co-sponsored a bill involving biofeedback for vets suffering from PTSD. He also wrote a letter to Homeland Security to increase public awareness of mobile phone security issues. Janet also reported that the summer 2017 internship program is now open; only students outside of LA are accepted for the summer program.
7.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
8. Reports from Committees.
8.1. Nominating Committee.
Dick Wulliger (Committee Chair) reported that the Committee is looking at four officer positions for the term commencing on July 1: Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. The Committee would like to receive names of persons who are interested in running. Anyone can suggest potential nominees to Dick (email address on PPCC website); members may self-nominate. The Nominating Committee will meet and consider all potential nominees. At the first PPCC meeting in May the Committee will present its nominations. Board members can then nominate other persons for officer positions at the second meeting in May. The election of officers will occur at the first meeting in June.
9. General Public Comment – None.
10. Old Business.
10.1. Shell Station – Matters of Hours of Operation and Sales of Alcohol.
Maryam announced that the minutes of the Feb. 9 PPCC meeting were distributed to the board and the parties on both sides are here to answer questions. She has received two letters submitted by the applicants and concerned neighbors. Maryam read first from the concerned neighbors’ letter in opposition to the application for operating hours and a CUB, in which the reasons for their opposition were given. She then read from a letter by the applicant Saeed Kohaneff, giving his position and updates on the status of negotiations regarding the matter. Maryam stated that there were two issues that the board would be discussing: operating hours and alcohol sales.
A. Operating hours: Barbara Kohn offered to read draft minutes of what was approved at the DRB; they approved the design and also made comments about the use which were not forwarded to the Director of Planning. Maryam indicated that this would be deferred until later in the meeting if there is time. Andy Frew: What are the current working hours? Michael Kohaneff: 6am-11pm. The City allows 7am-11pm. Andy: Do they have CUP in place for 6am-11pm? Michael K: Those are the original hours for the site that predate the CUP process; they are operating on grandfathered hours. David Card: What is the applicant now proposing now for operating hours? Michael K: We are asking for 5am- midnight. Rick Lemmo: What are you asking for alcohol sales hours? Michael K: 8am-10pm, but we are flexible. David Kaplan: Of the 272 names on an opposing petition, how many are outside the immediate area? Sandra Eddy (audience): At least 80% are in the condo area. Reza Akef: Regarding protection for kids, is swiping of the IDs required for everyone, including adults? Michael K: Yes, the register won’t allow the transaction if no ID is swiped. Reza: What other measures are there? Michael K: They are considering putting in refrigerators behind the cashier so only the cashiers would have access to the alcohol. Alan Goldsmith: What types of wine and beer will be sold? Michael K: Only craft beers, 6-packs or more, and higher end wines, with the cheapest bottles at $19.99. Lou Kamer: Many kids are getting alcohol purchased by adults and brought to them; the applicants have the burden of proof that this isn’t a detriment to the community. What is your response beyond locking cabinets; how does this use protect the community? Reza: Parents can go to Ralphs and Gelson’s and buy alcohol for kids; it is not fair to hold Mr. Kohaneff to that standard. Reza agrees there should be a plan for the village, but it is not fair to subject Mr. Kohaneff to a unilateral approach. Reza watches people go into Ralphs and buy items for the homeless. Maryam: Research shows that most underage persons access alcohol through their own home. She will agendize a broader discussion at a future date about alcohol sales in Pacific Palisades. Michael K: They will have a huge advantage over Ralphs in terms of security, because the cashier will have the ability via security camera to see if kids are outside and whether adults are buying alcohol for them. Lou: He is concerned about proximity to homes and safe routes to school. Is this an appropriate use for this area? Michael K: They have never had any violations in 10 years at their locations. Richard Cohen: As a rule the PPCC board doesn’t take positions in favor of development. There have been only two notable exceptions – a Sunrise height variance and the Caruso project. He doesn’t think there would be a 2/3 consensus in favor of this application. On the other hand, the applicants were responsible in their operations at the Mobil station and now have moved to Shell; it seems fair that they should have a shot at doing the business they intend to do at property which they own. Richard would be reluctant to deny them the right to do that business. But he is also concerned about favoring the project in the face of the neighbors’ concerns. Excellent arguments have been presented on both sides. He doesn’t see a potential for a consensus and there may not be a point in beating a dead horse. Sue Kohl: Why do the applicants want to operate 5am-midnight? Michael K: Between 11-12pm and between 5-6am are busy times; with the Caruso project open they want to be able to service workers and people leaving movies and stores. This is a convenience for the community. No alcohol will be sold after 10pm. Doug McCormick: He is in favor of having a broad discussion on the larger topic of alcohol. We have the responsibility to set the tenor for the community we live in. Gil Dembo: We need to look at the reality that any new gas station that goes up anywhere has some kind of convenience adjacent or included in it. This is the way of the future. We don’t have control over businesses. Maryam: In the prior DRB discussions the point was made that gas stations are a convenience and there may be fewer and fewer of them because gas is not lucrative; to be profitable they need mini marts and have stopped doing car repairs. David Kaplan: This dispute between an operator and neighbors is a classic dispute. He doesn’t understand the reliance on the argument about impact on children. Ralphs, Gelson’s and CVS all sell alcohol and are down the street. What makes this mini mart more susceptible to children getting alcohol than any other place? David thinks this concern is excessive. Ron Dean: By right they can’t have alcohol and can’t change their hours. They are asking for an exception. The law says several conditions must be met. He does not feel the board is being rational. Maryam: The hours they are given are 7am-11pm without a CUP, but they are grandfathered in from 6am-11pm. They now want 5am-midnight. Rick Lemmo: The opinion of the Chamber of Commerce is that first, you must look at the history; in this case they’ve run a good business. Next, is what they are asking for out of the ordinary? No. And are they willing to curtail something to make the neighborhood happy? Yes, they are curtailing alcohol sales. In addition, between 5-6am and 11pm-midnight they are offering things that are beneficial to the community. The Chamber therefore supports the requested operating hours of 5am-midnight and also the requested alcohol sales hours. Barbara Kohn: This board had a similar conversation about the Starbucks Highlands operating hours; the board voted that a 5am opening was too early due to the proximity of apartments across the street. Chris Spitz pointed out that the position was taken because Starbucks was going to have early morning deliveries, but we were told at the prior meeting that is not the case with the Shell Station. Michael K: They will not be doing early morning deliveries. Marge Gold: The 76 station operating hours are 6am-11pm; this is the same thing the neighbors are asking here.
Rick Lemmo moved on behalf of the Chamber to recommend approving the applicants’ proposed operating hours of 5am-midnight. Reza Akef seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the motion failed for lack of the required 2/3 vote for passage. Rick Mills then moved to affirm the hours of operation from 6am-11pm. The motion failed for lack of a second.
B. Alcohol sales: Michael K reiterated that the proposed alcohol sales hours are 8am-10pm. The hours at the other location were 8-2am. Marge Gold (audience): No gas station with a mini mart within the Specific Plan area sells alcohol. Cathy Russell: Mobil did sell alcohol prior to being closed. Brian Deming: Why was Mobil different? Ron Dean: They were grandfathered in and were located in a business district, not near residences. Maryam: This isn’t unprecedented in the City; Mobil also predated the requirement for a CUB. Doug McCormick: As PPTFH Chair he works with the State Beach liquor store re homelessness.
Reza moved for PPCC not to take a position and to allow the parties to work out their differences themselves. David Kaplan seconded the motion. The motion passed by a vote in favor by at least 2/3 of members voting.
10.2. Caruso Construction Project.
Update from Michael Gazzano, VP of Development and Project Manager for the Caruso Village Project.
Michael reported that Caruso received requests for a viewing window to allow residents to see the progress of construction, and that has now been installed on Sunset Blvd. People are excited to be able to view the construction and have thanked Caruso. Michael invited all to come and visit the viewing window to see the progress. The status of the project as of today is that they have reached the bottom of the parking structure, between 30-40 ft. deep. They are in community partnerships with the Park Advisory Board and PRIDE to work on initiatives in the near future, to be determined. Michael explained that the unprecedented rain has impacted the hauling. They have been hit by 40 days of rain delays. It takes 2-3 days after rains for soil to dry out, which means roughly two months of delays. However, they are still on schedule for the grand opening in summer 2018. They have reached the bottom of the hole as of today, but some soil still needs to be brought out. The previous soil removal was done with mass excavation, but now there is a need for more surgical soil excavation. Foundation work and other bits of the project are starting but they need to re-sequence some activities; hauling will continue for the remaining soil. There will be some relief for the community, in that hauling hours will be reduced and will now will start at 9am and end at 5pm. Caruso will also be using smaller trucks, shortened from 65 ft. to 26 ft. The number of truck trips has been significantly reduced, by 90% or fewer. They will not be hauling every day. Hauling will continue until April/May. The next step is to start foundation work this week, but the heavy concrete pour days won’t be for a while; Michael will update the community when that is to occur. The number of concrete trucks used for foundation work will be significantly less than the number of hauling trucks; the concrete trucks won’t use Chautauqua but instead will use Temescal Canyon both ways. Regarding the construction barricades: Caruso would like to put up new graphics but the issue is still pending. Complaints were filed with the City and some have been dismissed. They look forward to being able to add the new graphics, which will be artwork from school kids and historical pictures. David Kaplan: Will the dirt continue to go into the canyon? Michael: Yes, the hauling trucks will continue to go down Chautauqua and then into Potrero. Bruce Schwartz: Have you ever hit water? Michael: No, water is at 90 ft. and Caruso is only going down 40 ft. Alan Goldsmith: He understands that foundation concrete trucks and hauling trucks will not be operating on the same day. Cathy Russell: Will there be a number of concrete trucks coming all at once? Michael: Yes, there will be a few days like that when they are pouring big slabs; Caruso will give advance notice to the community. The concrete truck route will be up and down Temescal Canyon. Sue Pascoe: Is Caruso aware of DWP work putting in vaults for pole tops and that certain lanes on Sunset will be closed while the work is ongoing between March-June? Michael: He will stay in touch with the City and will coordinate regarding possible impediments. Lou: Will concrete pouring take place over spring break or into the summer? Michael: It will be throughout. David Kaplan: He understands they will go down to one or two smaller trucks for hauling going forward – how many trucks were used for the main soil hauling? Michael: Between 10-12 trucks had been used for soil hauling so going down to one or two trucks for the remainder is significant. David Card: The Caruso trucks back up and block lanes on Sunset going east; there is concern that when the project is open for business traffic going into the project will also block lanes. Michael: He is happy to talk to LADOT to make traffic light adjustments as needed; Caruso wants people to arrive conveniently at the project. Rick Mills: Can you say anything about new business tenants? Michael: The leasing of Vintage has been announced; they also have agreements with Benton’s and are talking to other existing tenants. Nothing is finalized; they are in many negotiations with exciting concepts, but nothing public yet. Nicole Howard (audience): What were the objections to the barricades? Michael: Some people didn’t like the name of the company on the signs; Caruso tried to work with them and wants to do a local art contest with schools for kids’ artwork, plus historical photos to be placed on the barricades, but then complaints were filed with the City; some were thrown out and there is another current one that the City doesn’t know what to do with. The new graphics are on hold until they can get resolution. Donna Vaccarino (audience): She is concerned about the schedule and volume of trucks coming in to deliver construction materials. Michael: He will return and update us on that. Marge Gold (audience): Will they open temporary offices in the Paliskates site? Michael: This may happen in the future. Daphne Gronich (audience): Traffic on Sunset going east (coming from west of Temescal Canyon) is a significant problem for people going to schools such as Revere. She suggests adjusting the hours when big hauls occur. Michael: They will be mindful of this.
11. New Business – None.
12. Adjournment. Maryam adjourned the meeting at 8:55pm.