MINUTES FOR APRIL 25th 2019
Voting Members in Attendance: George Wolfberg, Richard G. Cohen, Chris Spitz, Rick Mills, Joanna Spak, Steve Boyers, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Bill Bruns, Dick Wulliger, Duke Ostendorf, Sarah Knauer, Jean Sharp, Brenda Theveny
Voting Alternates: David Card, Barbara Kohn, John Padden, Robin Meyers, Andrew Wolfberg
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Barbara Marinacci, Jan Ostendorf, Kelly Comras, Melanie Bouer, Miriam Schulman, Bruce Schwartz
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. John Padden 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 4/11/19 were deemed approved as corrected. 2) Upcoming Meetings – May 9, 2019: Nominating Committee’s announcement of candidates for officer positions; Board nominations of officer candidates open until 15 minutes before close of meeting; 2nd Distribution, discussion & vote on Bylaws amendments. May 23, 2019: close of Board nominations of officers; update on wildfire safety by PPCC Wildfire Advisor Miriam Schulman; (tentative) discussion of parking meter revenues (use for streetscape projects in the BID area). June 13, 2019: candidates forum (if needed) and Board election of PPCC officers for the 2019-2020 term; LAX modernization plan update by Los Angeles World Airways representatives. 6/27: guest speaker (moved from 5/23) – Councilmember Mike Bonin; Q&A about matters of community concern. Additional topics to be announced.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Chair announced that the agenda is as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Richard Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $41,676.66. There were no significant transactions since the last report.
7. General Public Comment — None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair.
The Chair began by announcing that the first Board members to open the agenda were Sue Kohl and Brenda Theveny, in a virtual tie; the Secretary presented each with a gift of treats.
8.1.1. WRAC Leadership Meeting update. WRAC Leadership met on April 17 and five motions were approved for recommendation to the fourteen member-councils, including:
- Support for the findings of the City Attorney’s Blue Ribbon panel on school safety;
- Urging the new Wildland Urban Interface Hazard Mitigation Taskforce to conduct outreach to and consider the concerns of neighborhoods;
- Urging the City to develop planning, zoning and leasing regulations for co-living developments which although residential in nature function similar to hotels;
- Request the Housing and Community Investment Dept. to fully comply with state and city affordable housing density bonuses per concerns expressed in the City Controller’s January 2017 audit report; and
- Support Councilman Ryu’s motion to prohibit developer and contractor contributions to City elected officials.
Motions on these five initiatives will be on our next agenda.
8.1.2. Topanga Emergency Fair, Sunday, May 5. For more information visit OneTopanga.
8.1.3. Community Fire Safety Meeting. The event will take place at 7pm on 4/30 at Paul Revere Middle School.
8.1.4. Chautauqua Repaving. Repaving of Chautauqua from Sunset Blvd. to PCH will take place on May 4-5. Work will start at 6:30am each day to permit conclusion of the work each day one hour earlier. There may be some closures on W. Channel Rd., so it will be best to avoid the area. The repaving is being done by the City and will not involve new signage at the intersection of Chautauqua & PCH, since that is within the authority of Caltrans. We will pass on to officials the suggestion for warning signs about the repaving.
8.1.5. Councilmember Mike Bonin’s PPCC Appearance. The Councilmember’s appearance as a guest speaker at PPCC has been moved to our June 27th meeting.
8.1.6. Resolution regarding Electric Scooter Hit and Run. Father Kidney was severely injured by an electric scooter in a hit and run accident. The scooter provider refused to give the user’s name to the police. Steve Boyers (Area 7 Representative) is drafting a proposed resolution to be taken up at our next meeting, which will state PPCC’s opposition to the City granting business licenses to scooter providers that refuse to comply with law enforcement.
8.1.7. Board Member Contact Information. It has come to the Chair’s attention that some members around the table do not know how to contact others around the table via phone or email. As has been the case for many years, this information is publicly posted on our website, www.pacpalic.org, under the Leadershiptab.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary) gave an update on SB 50 (Wiener). This is the so-called “transit-rich” and “jobs-rich” housing bill that would eliminate local control over land use and zoning in much of Los Angeles – by some estimates more than 40% of the City. The City Council unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the bill and the League of California Cities is also opposed, as are PPCC and six other WRAC member councils. The bill had earlier passed in the Senate Housing Committee and was heard yesterday in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. It also passed in that committee after a compromise was reached in order to gain votes. We haven’t yet seen the amended language, but we understand that the bill will now exclude certain small cities in the Coastal Zone and also properties in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone – which would include virtually all of the Palisades. SB 50 will now go to the Appropriations Committee and if it passes there, to the full Senate for a vote. We will continue to analyze and monitor its status.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative). The MKPOA annual meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 8. Details will be posted on the PPCC website calendar.
8.3.2. Andrew Wolfberg (Area 8 1st Alternate). The annual Canyon School Fiesta is this Sunday from 11am-4pm.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Sarah Knauer (Chamber of Commerce). The Chamber will host a Business & Wellness Fair on May 19 along Antioch & Via de la Paz, with booths, games & food trucks.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives.
8.5.1. Janet Turner, District Representative, Congressman Ted Lieu.
The District office has been moved to 1465 Corinth in West LA (in the same building as CD11). The phone and fax numbers remain the same. She distributed handouts and reported that the Congressman has joined others in Congress in sending a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking for strong funding for USACE operations, including LA River restoration. He has also co-sponsored the “Save the Internet” Act to bring back net neutrality. Additionally, Congressman Lieu and others in Congress have introduced a bill to allow the West LA Armory serve as a year-round homeless shelter.
8.5.2. Lisa Cahill, CD 11 Palisades-Brentwood Deputy.
Chautauqua Blvd. will be repaved on May 4-5. There will be a press release and advance notice will be given. Repaving will be from PCH to Sunset. The goal is to finish the project in one weekend. Work will start early in the morning and end by 6pm each day. The road will be closed and signs will be placed on Sunset east & west bound, and if possible in the vicinity PCH & W. Channel Rd., which may also be closed; drivers should try to avoid the area next weekend.
8.5.3. Zac Gaidzik, West-Metro Field Deputy, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Yesterday’s Westwood Connect Day and was a success and many homeless individuals received services. Other updates: The Board of Supervisors (BOS) has established a County-wide youth advisory board; contact Zac for more information [firstname.lastname@example.org]. The use of Round Up is being halted at all County facilities; the BOS is looking for alternatives for pest management and is also looking for veterinary care supplies. Regarding the LA River, the Master Plan process is ongoing and the public can participate [see LA River Master Plan].The BOS believes that Congress has not adequately funded USACE operations; a motion has been introduced for the County to take over 40 miles of the River from USACE. Supervisor Kuehl appreciated receiving PPCC’s motion regarding LA River flood protection and mitigation [see PPCC River Letter].
8.6. From PPCC Advisors– None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Bylaws Committee (Richard G. Cohen, Chair). The Committee Chair reported on the First Distribution of proposed Bylaws amendments as follows:
The Committee has completed its work and submitted a Committee Report, “Redline”and “Clean”versions of the proposed Bylaws amendments, which were distributed with the agenda and are also posted on the PPCC website. The amendments address the disciplinary process to make the process fairer. The Code of Conduct is applied more broadly to all Board members, including organizations, alternates, advisors and candidates for officer and elected representative. The amendments also define and clarify Board membership, and there is a great deal of administrative clean-up.
A substantive issue that the Committee also tackled was resolving the problem of organizational representatives being allowed to request undisputed postponement of votes on motions. After serious debate the Committee resolved not to remove the right of an organizational representative to postpone the Board vote in order to return to his or her board for instruction on how to vote; however, if there’s a time constraint and comments need to be submitted or a position taken before the PPCC Board’s next meeting, the Committee decided to balance the interests by requiring the Chair in that situation to call for a straw vote of the Board, which will in turn inform the Executive Committee members, who are empowered by the Bylaws to take action for the Board in the event of an urgency.
The Committee Chair noted that a question had arisen regarding the attendance requirement for organizational members. He explained the amendments (on p. 13 of the amending document) and noted that member organizations in a single organization category are allowed to miss more meetings than other members without an excuse for non-attendance, before their seat is lost or deemed vacated (i.e., such organizations receive an advantage over other members). He also explained that the amendments applying to organizations in a single organization category were added to provide a remedy to the situation of an organizational representative’s unexcused non-attendance for extended periods of time – which PPCC had previously experienced with one member in a single organization category, whose representative did not attend meetings for over a year and gave no excuse, yet the Bylaws provided for no recourse to the Board or sanction of the organization involved.
The Second Distribution, discussion and vote on the proposed amendments will occur at the PPCC meeting on May 9. The Committee Chair urged those with comments and questions and comments to reach out to him before the May 9th meeting.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Developing a Workable Street Tree Policy for the Palisades. Participants: Michael G. Terry, President, Palisades Beautiful; Stephen Duprey, Supervisor, Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division. Discussion only.
The Chair began by explaining that on September 18, he attended a sold-out/standing room only seminar in Studio City given by Angelenos for Trees. David Card was also there. It was very inspiring to see so many dedicated and caring people and the Chair was moved to learn more about the City’s forestry program. Because of budget cuts and inertia, the City’s program was clearly not up to snuff compared to other Cities like San Francisco and Seattle. Subsequently, PPCC had a Power Point presentation on the Urban Forest by Ileana Wachtel and not long after, with the support of Kelly Comras, we were able to save the two iconic trees adjacent to LAFD Station 69 – progress one tree at a time. Tonight, we will have another Power Point presentation from Michael G. Terry of Palisades Beautiful (PB), which will underscore how many of the existing trees in our community are no longer on the City’s approved street tree list. Plus, we welcome Stephen Duprey, Supervisor, Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division, to inform us and add to the discussion and perhaps point us toward a new street tree policy.
Mr. Terry then proceeded with his Power Point presentation, “Street Tree Democracy” [see Street Tree Policy Presentation]. He explained the roles of PB, City Plants and Urban Forestry and the history of PB’s participation in street tree planting in Pacific Palisades. In the past, residents would go to PB to facilitate the planning of a street tree in the parkway in front of their home, but that is no longer the case. Now, someone wanting a new street tree needs to go straight to Urban Forestry. At the request of Urban Forestry, PB is asking for PPCC feedback and approval of policy positions regarding street trees, so that the policies will be recognized by Urban Forestry and PB can resume facilitation of street tree planting.
Mr. Terry explained the various exhibits in his presentation, including the original PB street tree list (Exhibit A), and he described various risk factors and other issues regarding street tree suitability which have led to Urban Forestry concluding that more than a majority (59%) of street trees on the original PB list are no longer suitable for parkways in the Palisades. As a result, he indicated that Urban Forestry has effectively abrogated the original PB street tree list. Mr. Terry also briefly explained the three draft street policies contained in his presentation and the process proposed to be followed by residents seeking help from PB in planting street trees. He again explained that PB has been told by Urban Forestry that PB will not be permitted to facilitate the planting of street trees unless it develops policies that are workable and are approved by PPCC.
Stephen Duprey of Urban Forestry then spoke, announcing that Urban Forestry is beginning a new era of focus on tree health and growth, with renewed interest in developing an Urban Forest Master Plan for the City. Urban Forestry is also updating its website and expects to have a revised, up-to-date street tree selection guide posted within the year. He explained that in the Palisades, street trees that were originally on the list for planting were chosen by horticulturalists in the early 1970’s but are now faced by new challenges of drought, fire hazard and disease (e.g., the shot-hole borer beetle), which in turn cause liability issues for homeowners and the City. There is value in diversifying trees rather than having a monoculture. One issue that Urban Forestry has considered is language in the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Community Plan (p. V-6), which might suggest that a specific species be planted as the common tree for all street frontages. Mr. Terry explained that this is an aspirational goal only. Mr. Duprey encouraged the Palisades community to develop a new street tree policy, approved by PPCC, which will inform Urban Forestry and allow PB to resume facilitating the planting of street trees.
A lively Q&A ensued, with numerous questions and comments from Board and audience members. It was noted that the various exhibits (street tree lists) in the presentation do not list every street or block in the Palisades, to which Mr. Terry responded that some areas (e.g., the Highlands) had not been developed when the first list was created in the 1970s, that PB had focused on the original Village area but is now prevented from facilitating any street tree plantings due to the lack of an updated policy, and that individuals and developers are planting street trees everywhere without regard to the existence of any policies. Mr. Terry also emphasized that PB is not involved and will not be involved with removal of any trees, and that there is little or no enforcement as Urban Forestry does not have funding for enforcement.
Kelly Comras (Area 1 2nd Alternate) commented that she has reviewed the Santa Monica and Culver City street tree policies which deal with some of the same issues. She believes that an independent outside expert should be engaged to develop a policy for the Palisades. Richard Cohen questioned who would pay for such an expert and noted that PPTFH was originally a PPCC committee but then spun off to became an independent entity when significant fundraising and more pro-active efforts became necessary. He and Haldis Toppel both suggested that the PPCC Board is not in a position to evaluate these complex issues, and that a PPCC committee should first be formed with members who have expertise or an interest in street tree matters. Such a committee could make recommendations to the PPCC Board, including whether an outside expert should be retained to help develop a policy. Barbara Marinacci stated her belief that PB should not be developing a policy on its own, that her own preference is for the same or similar trees to be planted on each block, and that policy decisions should be developed with consensus and according to Urban Forestry and Street Services standards.
Lisa Cahill of CD11, who also worked with Tree People for over 10 years and has personally planted or facilitated the planting of hundreds of trees, provided valuable insight. She indicated that there has been a deep division in the community about what an appropriate street tree policy should be and as a result no trees are being planted. She encouraged the formation of a PPCC committee which she believes would be useful in this regard. She also indicated that CD11 would respect any plan approved by PPCC as it trusts PPCC to do due diligence. Mr. Duprey also reiterated that Urban Forestry supports us and that although there has been division on this issue in the past, he believes that a united front, represented by PPCC efforts, would be helpful.
David Card (At-large 1st Alternate) indicated concern that developers are now planting whatever trees they want whenever they want, no trees are being planted by PB, no one is going to Urban Forestry for permission and mature trees are dying. He is worried about becoming bogged down in an expensive, time-consuming process. He has also reviewed the Santa Monica and Culver City street tree policies and believes these should be looked at in terms of developing a policy for the Palisades. There were further comments about the committee process and the need to exhaust every opportunity to achieve a consensus on a workable street tree policy. There was informal consensus that a PPCC committee should be formed, with several members suggesting that David Card be appointed as the committee chair, and possible other committee members to include Kelly Comras, Barbara Marinacci, Michael G. Terry and others with an interest or expertise in these issues. The Chair will consider whether to appoint such a committee in the near future.
12. Adjournment. The Chair adjourned the meeting at 8:58pm.