MINUTES FOR FEBRUARY 28th 2019
Voting Members in Attendance: George Wolfberg, Peter F. Culhane, Richard G. Cohen, Chris Spitz, David Kaplan, Rick Mills, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, Alan Goldsmith, Reza Akef, Haldis Toppel, Richard Blumenberg, Bill Bruns, Brenda Theveny, Jean Sharp, Sarah Knauer, Sarah Conner, Richard Wulliger, Duke Ostendorf
Voting Alternates: Marilyn Wexler, Steve Lantz
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Mary Mueller, David Card, Patti Post, Barbara Marinacci, Cathi Ruddy, Eli Safaie-Kia [see Item 8.1.1 below]
1. Certification of Quorum. The Chair George Wolfberg called the meeting to order at 7:00pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Patti Post read the Council’s Mission.
3. Introduction of the Board and Audience. The board and audience were introduced.
4. Approval of Minutes & Upcoming Meetings. 1) Approval of Minutes – the minutes of 2/14/19 were deemed approved as corrected. 2) Upcoming Meetings – March 14, 2019: 1) Capt. III Vic Davalos, Commanding Officer, LAPD West Area; 2) other topics to be announced. March 28, 2019: Topics to be announced.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Chair announced that the agenda is as distributed with the exception of Pastor Davis’ report (see Sec. 11.3, below) which will be moved up to allow the pastor to attend another meeting.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Richard Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $42,430.58. He also reported that since the last meeting PPCC has received about $600 of tribute revenue and the refund of a small erroneous charge by Gladstone’s, bringing PPCC’s net positive cash flow from the Gala to about $8,780 with about $250 left to collect. This excellent result is the Council’s best ever Gala performance. The Treasurer again thanked all who worked so hard to make it a success.There were no other significant transactions this period.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Michael Terry (President, Palisades Beautiful) provided information about street tree policy and selection. He advised that the Palisades has no viable street tree policy in place. There is an old document that lists approved street trees, but he has learned after consulting with Urban Forestry that 59% of tree species on the old list are no longer permitted. If anyone wishes to see it, he has a marked-up copy of the list. He has tried but has not been able to find a connection between the list and the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Community Plan. Palisades Beautiful has no official policy on street tree species selection.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair.
8.1.1. Approval of Youth Advisors. The Chair nominated and introduced Eli Safaie-Kia as PPCC Youth Advisor. Eli is President of the Palisades Charter High School Ambassadors. The board approved his appointment as PPCC Youth Advisor [Bylaws Art. XIV].
8.1.2. Zoning Code Workshop 3/30/19. Save the date for this important event sponsored by PPCC and BCC, which will take place on March 30 at 10:30am at Gilbert Hall, Palisades Charter High School. Expert speakers will provide information on how to access the new revised Zoning Code. Click on links and/or buttons on our website and in PPCC email messages for more information.
8.1.3. WRAC Leadership Update. The Chair and Secretary Chris Spitzattended last week’s Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) leadership meeting. There have been thirteen member-councils of WRAC for many years. At the meeting, WRAC leaders welcomed a fourteenth council, North Westwood Neighborhood Council, which was recently certified by the City as a neighborhood council representing the North Westwood/UCLA area.
8.1.4. Board Member Opening of Agenda. The Chair again honored the first board member to open the agenda of the last meeting with a special hand-crafted gift from the Wolfberg kitchen: David Kaplan. Board members are reminded that the agenda may be accessed by clicking on the link and/or button that is always provided within the message distributing the agenda.
8.1.5. The Chair welcomed new Chamber of Commerce representatives to the PPCC board: Sarah Knauer (Chamber Chair-elect), primary (in attendance), and Marissa Hermer (owner of The Draycott), alternate (not in attendance). He also thanked past Chamber primary representative Rick Lemmo for his service to PPCC.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary) announced that the PPCC position letter regarding SB 50 has been sent to Councilmember Mike Bonin and other elected officials, including Councilmember Paul Koretz. The letter is posted on the PPCC website [SB 50 Letter]. She noted that we learned today that Councilmember Koretz has introduced an important resolution, as requested in our letter, for the Los Angeles City Council to oppose SB 50. This is a significant development, since if the resolution passes it will likely have an impact on the progress of this bill.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. Steve Cron (Area Two Representative). On Tuesday, he and Lisa Cahill met with four members of the Dept. of Recreation & Parks and three members of LAFD to look at conditions involving brush and downed trees along Palisades Dr. The City’s policy provides that downed trees more than 10 ft. from a roadway or 200 ft. from residences are not removed. There are no residences along most of the lower portion of Palisades Dr. Two or three dead trees have fallen over, but all but one of these trees are more than 10 ft. from the roadway and will have to remain where they fell. One downed tree is on the edge of the roadway, so it was cut into pieces and will be cleared away when the City begins doing brush clearance along Palisades Dr. in May or June. A Highlands Fire Safety community meeting has been scheduled for March 19, 7-9pm at Calvary Christian Church. Speakers will include Fire Chiefs Armando Hogan and Orin Saunders. All are welcome, although the meeting orientation will be the Highlands. Peter Culhane (Vice-Chair) was instrumental in getting permission to use Calvary’s facilities. The meeting will be recorded and posted if feasible so that people who can’t attend will be able to view the recording.
8.3.2. Marilyn Wexler (Area Seven 2nd Alternate). A female cougar (mountain lion) has been hanging out at Rustic Canyon park. Neighbors are nervous and uncertain about what can be done. LAPD SLO Michael Moore: He is aware of the situation. This is a state issue; the City’s Animal Services Dept. won’t take action unless the animal displays aggression. The official state agency is the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife; SLO Moore will try to follow-up.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Sarah Conner (PPRA). PPRA has heard from Barbara Marinacci on the important issue of street tree selection. Sarah announced that Kelly Comras will be leading a PPRA committee to work on this issue.
8.4.2. Richard Wulliger (Historical Society). On Tuesday, the Society sponsored an interesting talk at Theatre Palisades with historian Eric Wannamaker on the role of Native Americans in making movies at Inceville. There was a great deal of interest and the event was well-attended.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives.
8.5.1. LAPD SLO Michael Moore.
Since the beginning of year there have been eleven reported stolen vehicles. Eight cars were recovered and all eight had key fobs in them. The owners reported that they had not left keys in the car but may not have remembered that extra fobs could have been in the glove box. Officer Moore advises the community to make sure there are no keys left in cars, which in some cases allow the car door to be opened. Criminals are now trying handles first to see if the cars open. Reza Akef (Area Eight Representative) asked if any of the stolen cars were particular model years of Ford products which he asserted would not lock if the key fob is in the car. Officer Moore did not know. He said that residents should call police services if they see someone trying to open car doors.
Bill Bruns (Friends of the Library) asked about better traffic enforcement at the Chautauqua & Sunset intersection. Officer Moore will speak with the motor officer in charge, Officer Ryan Basaker, about obtaining more enforcement at that intersection.
Richard Cohen (Treasurer) commented that these issues have come up at C-PAB meetings which he attends. He noted that doors won’t lock with most modern cars if the key fob is still in the car. This could be an issue of valet keys being left in glove boxes, which allows criminals simply to push the start button. Regarding traffic enforcement, the Treasurer has been told that there are only six motor officers for the entire West Traffic area and under new policy directives from LAPD Chief Moore they have been pulled away to do traffic accident reports, in order to free up other officers to fight crime. This has resulted in officers being removed from traffic enforcement, and there are no longer officers sitting on Sunset or San Vicente with laser guns checking speed.
8.5.2. Zac Gaidzik (West-Metro LA Field Deputy, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl).
The Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kuehl to phase out the use of pepper spray in all juvenile facilities. The Supervisor is thrilled that BOS passed a series of motions to fund 1600 affordable housing units throughout the southland in the coming fiscal year, and also passed a motion by Supervisor Kuehl to preserve the emergency tenant assistance fund. BOS additionally voted to support the Hope for the Coast vision to protect our coast line. A Nextgen Bus Study is being sponsored by Metro in order to overhaul the entire bus system; a Bus Study workshop will take place on Mar. 5, 4-7pm at the Felicia Mahood Senior Center, 11338 Santa Monica Blvd., WLA. The County is now offering beach wheelchairs in some locations on a first-come first-served basis. Motorized wheelchairs are available at Perry’s at Santa Monica beach. David Card (At-large 1st Alternate) raised a question about BOS taking over the 50 miles of the LA River. Response: BOS passed a motion co-sponsored by Supervisor Kuehl to initiate a study to start the process of updating the Master Plan for the River. Sarah Knauer (Chamber Representative): What is the process for getting better traffic signage on Channel Rd. & Chautauqua regarding lane turns? Response: LADOT is in charge and knows about the sign issue at this location, as does Councilmember Bonin’s office. They will need a push.
8.5.3. Janet Turner (District Representative, Congressman Ted Lieu).
The Congressman has been very busy sponsoring bills that have just been introduced in Congress. He has sponsored HR976 – the Air Traffic Noise Pollution Act. It is a first step calling for a study of noise and pollution impacts of air traffic. Questions were asked whether the bill addresses the impacts from general aviation and freight drones; she will bring back answers. She also described other legislation that Congressman Lieu has sponsored or co-sponsored, including the “Rebuild America’s Schools Act,” which would provide for infrastructure and safety improvements for schools; a bill to provide tax credits to employers for providing educational loans to employees; and a “Medicare for All” bill.
8.5.2. Eric Bruins (CD 11 Transportation Deputy).
Regarding environmental issues: LADWP will not reinvest in natural gas and will look to replace this energy source with renewable energy. The Hyperion water treatment plant will be recycling 100% of waste water. This will be used for non-potable purposes (e.g., irrigation) or will be recycled back into the aquifer and kept in storage. See also additional report in Item 11.2 below.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. Eli Safaie-Kia (Youth Advisor) reported that “Game Night” will take place this Friday, March 1 at 6:30pm in Mercer Hall at Pali High. The event is open to everyone. All proceeds will go to support the Pali High Ambassadors.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Bylaws Committee (Richard G. Cohen, Chair).
- Second Distribution of proposed amendments to the PPCC Bylaws, recommended by the Committee. See 1) Committee Report and 2) “Redline” plus “Clean” draft of proposed amendments, distributed concurrently with the meeting agenda via PPCC email and posted on the PPCC website.
- Motion by the Bylaws Committee to Adopt the Proposed (Redline/Clean) Amendments. A second was not necessary because the motion was made by a committee of more than one voting member. Committee Chair Richard G. Cohen explained the proposed amendments; after discussion a vote was taken. Vote: Passed by unanimous vote of board members present.
Richard Cohen also reported that the Bylaws Committee has met and will be proposing extensive revisions of Bylaws provisions related to the Area and At-large Representative elections, with the First Distribution of the redline amendments to occur in connection with our next meeting on March 14. He further advised that the Executive Committee has unanimously approved a Bylaws Committee recommendation to correct certain minor typographical errors and “informalities” (capitalization and nomenclature) in Appendix B of the Bylaws (area boundaries). These errors will therefore be corrected without the necessity of a board vote [Bylaws Appendix C, SR-8].
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Adel H. Hagekhalil, Executive Director & General Manager, Bureau of Street Services (Street Services information and Q&A).
Mr. Hagekhalil provided information on his background and goals for the Bureau of Street Services (BSS). He was worked for the City for 30 years but was recently recruited to the position of BSS General Manager. The new nomenclature of BSS is “Streets LA.” He wants to transform the streets, trees & sidewalks to be safe, mobile and sustainable. He intends to work with everyone so that Los Angeles will have a “world class” streetscape. The City has not invested in our streetscape for some time and he is advocating for change. The former policy was simply to do what was necessary to keep “good” streets in shape and to neglect “failed” streets. He is making a shift in the policy and intends to do advance planning using innovation, technology & data to keep our streets safe. He has a team with him who are working on these plans. He has requested significant new budgetary resources from the City for BSS operations. A new “street damage restoration” fee is being imposed on utilities who make utility cuts causing streets to be compromised. New paving material is being developed to replace the use of asphalt; it is 10 times stronger and also cheaper and more environmentally sustainable than asphalt. The City also needs to invest in street trees. His team is working toward scheduled-tree trimming, instead of simply responding to emergencies. BSS is also paying attention to tree removal; they want to be sure the tree actually needs to be removed and if so, that an equivalent replacement tree will be planted. Regarding street furniture: He wants to make sure that 75% of ridership on the transit system will have shade shelters at transit stops; he would like to install “smart” shelters.
Mr. Hagekhalil introduced his team in attendance: Stehanie Clements, Chief Financial Officer; Veronica Maxwell, Community Liaison; Aida Valencia, Repaving & Resurfacing; Elvin Galindo, Enforcement; and Steven Duprey and David Miranda, Urban Forestry. Mr. Miranda stated that Urban Forestry will work with the community on updating our street trees plan.
Q&A then ensued. Reza Akef (Area Eight Representative): Do you make utility companies contract with the City to make sure their work is up to par when trenching or cutting into streets? Response (Galindo): Yes. His investigators will come out and inspect to make sure utility companies are properly doing the work. Reza challenged this and stated that in his experience as a builder, he sees utility companies frequently tearing up streets and inadequately covering excavations which leads to decay and cracking. He believes the new restoration fee is not sufficient. Response (Hagekhalil): He hears the concern and will consider it.
Peter Culhane: He has mapped out over 25 miles of street curbing in the Palisades that could be swept. We are looking for street sweepers. Response (Hagekhalil): The City has long had specific routes for sweeping but this hasn’t been updated for a long time. He is committed to revamping the entire program. The first step will be to address streets that have lots of trash, such as commercial areas/traffic corridors.
Richard Cohen: Regarding street furniture, we have a Specific Plan which the community contends applies to street furniture in the PROW. In the past PPCC has hired an attorney to assert our position to the City. We don’t want our beautiful street furniture, which was paid for and installed by one of our own community groups, to be replaced with furniture not of our choice, and further, we don’t want commercial advertising and digital signs in the PROW. Response (Hagekhalil): He understands and will work with us in the future on street furniture and signage in the PROW.
Alan Goldsmith (At-large Representative): Asked about BSS funding in terms of real dollars. Response (Hagekhalil): We have various funding sources, including taxes and the restoration fee fund. He is proposing to make investments in failed streets, to make sidewalks safe, to reduce liability for claims, and to plan for the future. The BSS budget was $168 million last year and his proposal to the Mayor this year is over $300 million.
Sarah Conner: Will BSS be looking at withdrawn streets? Response (Hagekhalil): The City Council has voted to bring back previously withdrawn streets and they will look at these. Q: What does he mean about bringing in equivalent trees to replace trees that are removed? Response: We have a “tree summit” coming up on April 26 to look at best practices in replacing trees.
Patti Post (Transportation Advisor): Suggested that BSS work on coordinating all of its divisions. An example of one of the issues: A street will be re-slurried, but the re-striping then doesn’t occur for months afterwards. This is a safety issue. Response (Hagekhalil): We now have monthly meetings to deal with these issues and we will be looking at better coordination.
Haldis Toppel (Area Three Representative): Raised an issue about fixing a small problem on her street that could become a big problem as this is in a slide area.
Krishna Thangavelu (resident): Urged that no highly flammable street trees be planted as we are a high fire hazard area. Response (Miranda): We will work on an appropriate street tree list for the Palisades.
John Padden (PRIDE): We are working on a plan to revitalize and revamp the streetscape in our commercial area. We will need to raise funds and also work with the City. How can we work with you to be proactive, and are there funds available for some of this work? Response (Hagekhalil): Indicated he could not help with funding but suggested that he and Veronica Maxwell (Community Liaison) can help with streamlining the permit process. He can also help with the Sanitation Dept. in terms of servicing trash cans.
Sue Pascoe (resident): Can BSS look at conditions on Temescal Canyon Road? Response (Hagekhalil): Yes.
David Card (At-large 1st Alternate): Expressed concern about protecting the urban forest and urged Urban Forestry to consider at the April summit not only getting action on a preferable street tree list but also trying to get street trees treated as infrastructure.
Chris Spitz: Asked for an update on the status of Chautauqua repaving. Response (Hagekhalil & Valencia): The repaving had been scheduled twice in the past but had to be pushed back due to construction and trenching. Right now, there is a hold on repaving until April 19. BSS has penciled-in the work for April 27-28. The repaving will be from Sunset Blvd. to PCH. David Kaplan (Area 6 Representative): A contractor for AT&T will be doing trenching on Chautauqua at some point in the future (exact date unknown); he will follow up with BSS.
Mr. Hagekhalil reiterated the intention of BSS to work with the community and assist us with our streetscape needs and concerns.
11.2. CD 11 Transportation Deputy Eric Bruins (Bonin motion re electric scooters, LADOT “Vision Zero” report & new pilot program to return parking meter revenues to the Palisades).
Dockless electric scooters: There has been no change legislatively since his first report to the PPCC board. The full program will kick in during in the first week of March. Patti Post (Transportation Advisor) asked about fees and enforcement. Response: The City hasn’t allocated any money yet as permit fees are just starting to be collected. There be evaluation and outreach. LADOT is hosting workshops on the program, with one on March 20 at 7pm in Mar Vista [Disability Community Resource Center, 12901 Venice Blvd., LA 90066]. Bill Bruns: Are there limits on the number of permitted devices? Response: There are different allocations depending on areas. Each operator can receive permits for a maximum of 3,000 devices. Some are applying only for small fleets (100) and some are applying for the full program. Most of the concentration is in other areas. They have not seen active interest in placing these devices in the Palisades (likely due to topography). So far there have been seven or eight conditional permits issued; eleven have applied for the full program. The program covers electric bikes as well as scooters.
Vision Zero: In December the City approved priority corridors and intersections for attention in 2019. They are prioritized according to the rate of severe and fatal accidents. Number One on the list is the PCH & Temescal Canyon intersection, with the PCH & Sunset intersection also included. The discussion will be about redesigning the intersections. Timeline: Over the next several months the City and Caltrans will talk about what they want to do about modifications to the intersections. There won’t be radical design changes. They will be looking at signal timing (giving pedestrians a head start) and intersection tightening (cars being required to turn more at a right angle/decreasing turning radius). Patti Post: When is your best guess when there might be a plan for these intersections? Response: We will likely have a plan in 5-6 months. CD 11 is also working to fund a signalized left turn phase at the Sunset & Chautauqua intersection (although that intersection is not on the Vision Zero list).
Parking Meter Funds Return Program: The program was approved a month ago. The Palisades BID is one of three pilot areas. Chris Spitz: How much of the revenues will be returned to the Palisades? Response: Fifteen percent (15%) of all meter revenues in the BID area will be earmarked and the BID is in charge of outreach to the community for input on streetscape improvements. He expects around $65,000 annually to go to the BID.
11.3. Pastor Kenneth Davis, Palisades Lutheran Church (Feed My Starving Children program). Pastor Davis briefly explained that this is a community wide event to support efforts to eradicate hunger world-wide, one child at a time, through the distribution of meal packets. They had the first packing event in 2017 in which 88,000 meal packets were packed and then distributed to 70 countries. The packing event in 2019 is being hosted at Corpus Christi Church and sponsored by Palisades Lutheran Church. It will take place on Thursday, June 20; different shifts will be available in the evening, and all ages can participate, including children as young as 4 years old up as well as adults. The goal is to pack 100,000 meal packets this year. The Pali High Ambassadors have committed to help. The Chair encouraged participation by PPCC members, noting that June 20 is not a PPCC meeting date. Information will be posted on the Palisades Lutheran Church website [PLC-FMSC].
12. Adjournment. The Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:05 pm.