MINUTES FOR SEPTEMBER 26th 2019
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Richard G. Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, David Kaplan, Sue Kohl, Reza Akef, Rick Mills, Haldis Toppel, Brenda Theveny, Sarah Knauer, Jim Kirtley, Jean Sharp, Dick Wulliger, Ellie Jenkins, Richard Blumenberg
Voting Alternates: Barbara Marinacci, Mary Mueller, Robin Meyers, Cathy Russell
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Zennon Ulyate-Crow, Rob Weber, Eric Dugdale, Cathi Ruddy, Susan Orenstein, David Peterson, Amy Baker
1. Certification of Quorum. Vice-Chair David Card (Presiding Officer in the absence of the Chair George Wolfberg) called the meeting to order at 6:05pm and certified that a quorum was present. He explained that the Chair is still undergoing medical treatment; we continue to wish him well and for his full recovery.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. David Card 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 9/12/19 were deemed approved. 2) Upcoming Meetings– October 10, 2019: (1) Gladstones Redevelopment Project briefing; (2) Presentation on LA County voting changes; (3) Welcome new PPCC organizational members. October 24, 2019: (1) Board consideration of possible Land Use Committee (LUC) recommendation regarding Calvary Christian School Conditional Use Permit (CUP) / Coastal Development Permit (CDP) Application; (2) Possible 3 Chairs Committee nomination & Board election of 2nd Alternate At-large Representative; (3) (Tentative) discussion and possible Board action regarding the Palisades Forestry Committee’s recommendation for an Urban Forestry Policy. November 14, 2019: Guest speaker – Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Presiding Officer announced that the agenda items will be taken up in a different order, with Items 11.1 and 11.2 being first called and remaining items then called as determined by the Presiding Officer.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Richard G. Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $40,073.66. There have been no significant transactions since the last report.
7. General Public Comment – None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair (Presiding Officer).
8.1.1. Applications for vacant At-large 2nd Alternate seat now open. Deadline for submission of applications: 5pm on October 20, 2019. See Alternate Application Notice: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/PPCC-2nd-Alt.-App-Notice.2.pdf.
8.1.2. Thank you to outgoing organizational members (as of Oct. 1). The Presiding Officer thanked the following for their service: Bill Bruns (Friends of the Library); Jim Kirtley (YMCA); Ellie Jenkins (Westside Waldorf School); Jean Sharp (Optimists); Sarah Conner & Barbara Kohn (PPRA; PPRA will remain on the Board with new representatives).
8.1.3. Congress of Neighborhoods. This valuable event will take place on Saturday, September 28, at City Hall downtown. Members are encouraged to sign-up and attend.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary) announced that an orientation session for new representatives on the PPCC Board will take place on October 7 at 4pm in the Library. Anyone interested is welcome to attend. She also stated that in the interest of time she would not repeat most of the information already contained in the documents linked in the agenda; she had distributed a further written update to the board which is posted on the PPCC website under Resources/Reports & Summaries.
[See http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/PPCC-Amicus-Support-Letter-9.15.19.pdf; Boise Summary: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Boise-summary.pdf;ADUs & Other Legislation Update:http://pacpalicc.org/wp- content/uploads/2019/09/ADUs-and-Other-Legislation-Update.pdf;and Further Update: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Further-Legislation-Update-9-26-19-4.pdf.]
A link to the further update will be included in the meeting recap to be sent out tomorrow. The Secretary provided a brief summary: (1) PPCC supports the Brentwood Community Council amicus brief in an important U.S. Supreme Court case involving homeless overnight camping. Both the City and County of Los Angeles have filed amicus briefs, along with 16 other entities and individuals, who are asking the Supreme Court to take the case and clarify the law regarding overnight camping. The PPCC letter is included in the BCC brief. Links to the letter and the brief are on our website and will be in the meeting recap to be sent out tomorrow. (2) We also learned that several new Accessory Dwelling Units (granny flats) bills have passed in the state legislature; collectively, these bills allow up to 3 housing units (2 ADUs and one main dwelling) on virtually all R-1 lots in the state of California, thus effectively eliminating single-family housing, which is most of the Palisades. The City is re-evaluating the draft ADUs ordinance in light of these new bills. (3) New sign ordinance provisions are moving along in the City process which may allow digital signs in our parks; Councilmember Bonin is opposed and we are monitoring. (4) On a more positive note, we learned some interesting things at the last WRAC meeting from the City’s Petroleum Administrator and from Sen. Ben Allen. (5) Finally, on a smaller but still important scale – we are pleased that a new automated litter bin has replaced the old overflowing concrete bin outside of this room on Alma Real. The City will now be collecting trash from the new bin twice weekly. She thanked Mr. Helou of Sanitation and his Supervisor Bill Musselman for their assistance.
8.2.2. Richard G. Cohen (Treasurer) reported that he attended the C-PAB meeting on September 24. Commander Cory Palka of LAPD West Bureau was in attendance, along with West L.A. Station Captain Vic Davalos, SLO Michael Moore and the other Senior Lead Officers from West L.A. areas. The meeting was well-attended. The good news is that crime is down substantially in WLA, in some areas by 16-20%. But the bad news is that police resources are allocated based upon crime statistics so West L.A.’s favorable numbers have led to lower manpower allocations to West L.A. neighborhoods. The Treasurer was able to speak with Commander Palka about the situation in the Palisades and emphasized the need for the Palisades patrol car to be dispatched every day for every shift. He reminded Commander Palka of the Palisades’ geographic isolation and distance from the station. Commander Palka indicated that he knew about our situation and repeated the promise that Pacific Palisades would be assigned a patrol car 24/7.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Rep) announced that a California appellate court has issued a ruling concerning the interpretation of certain CC&Rs in the Marquez area in connection with a view obstruction case. In the opinion of MKPOA this was an incorrect the ruling that will affect virtually every HOA. MKPOA is now working on revising the applicable CC&Rs.
8.3.2. Cathy Russell (Area 7 1st Alternate) reported that the controversial “Beglari” house on Greentree has finally been torn down.
8.3.3. Rick Mills (Area 4 Rep) announced that last weekend he participated in an interesting trip to the Owens Valley Aqueduct. The trip was organized by LADWP for NC members and community leaders across the City. He may give a longer report at a future meeting, but in the meantime explained that throughout the trip he heard many complaints from NC members about the constraints placed on NCs and their lack of power within the City. His conclusion was that PPCC should be glad we are not a certified NC.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Cathi Ruddy (Alternate, the PP Woman’s Club). The PPWC is hosting three upcoming worthwhile events: On October 19, there will be a wine tasting, art and jazz fundraiser at the Clubhouse; the annual flu shot clinic for adults will take place on October 23; and the Holiday Boutique will be on November 2. More information about these events is on the PPCC website calendar.
8.4.2. Amy Baker (Alternate, Palisades Elementary). On October 12, the school’s annual “Hee Haw Day” event will take place from 2-6pm, featuring food trucks, games and family fun. The Secretary will add this event to the PPCC website calendar.
8.4.3. Jim Kirtley (YMCA). The Y’s annual Pumpkin Patch will open at Simon Meadow on Oct. 1 and run through Oct. 30. On October 14, the Y will host a “flu season” seminar to help people learn how to battle the flu. The event is free and no registration is necessary. Details will be added to the PPCC website calendar.
8.4.4. Eric Dugdale (Alternate, Historical Society). The Historical Society will soon be holding a program on the history of trees in the Palisades (date TBA; more details to come).
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives.
8.5.1. Lisa Cahill, CD11 Palisades Deputy – not in attendance.
8.5.2. Kevin James, President, Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commission. See Item 11.1 below.
8.5.3. Alex Helou, Assistant Director, Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. See Item 11.2 below.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. Patti Post (Transportation). Status of the Marvin Braude Beach Path extension. In Ms. Post’s absence, the Presiding Officer reported that she had distributed a written update on the status of the project which is posted on the PPCC website under Resources/Report & Summaries. Her report will also be linked in the meeting recap which will be sent out tomorrow. He briefly explained that the City of Santa Monica has already started its portion of the project, with one path for pedestrians and one for vehicle riders. The Santa Monica portion will run from south of the pier to the SM/LA City line near the Annenberg Beach House. The County’s portion of the project, from the LA City line to Will Rogers State Beach, will begin in the fall of 2020, subject to Coastal Commission approval. Santa Monica City staff will be at a Pop-Up event to explain the project this Saturday from 1-3pm at Ocean Front Walk near Parking Lot 3 in Santa Monica.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Land Use Committee (LUC; Howard Robinson, Chair). The Presiding Officer reminded everyone that the next LUC meeting will take place on October 17, 2019, 6pm in the Library; topic: Calvary Christian School (701 Palisades Dr.) CUP / CDP Application.
9.2. Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC; David Card, Chair). The Committee Chair invited input on the PFC’s proposal for an urban forestry policy for the Palisades. Michael Terry, a member of the PFC, distributed a flyer on street tree monoculture. There were no comments. See PFC Report: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/PFC-Mission-Objectives-Appendices- straight-190901.pdf. The Committee Chair also announced that the PFC members would be meeting on October 1 to discuss the report and a possible future recommendation to the Board.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Guest Speaker: Kevin James, President, Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commission.
Mr. James first reported on the portfolio of the Board of Public Works (BPW). First, BPW is one of many City commissions, but it is the only full-time commission. There are five members of the BPW from different parts of the City. They are political appointees, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. Mr. James deals with all the Council Districts and City departments. There are five bureaus and seven divisions within the Dept. of Public Works. Sanitation is the largest bureau; it handles trash collection, is the environmental protection agency for the City, and manages waste water treatment plants, water recycling and storm water treatment.
Street Services (also known as Streets LA) manages our street inventory (the largest municipal urban street inventory in the world); it fixes streets and sidewalks but does other things as well. Essentially the City owns the public right of way (PROW), which comprises 15% of all the land in Los Angeles. Street Services also manages the Urban Forestry Division, which deals with street trees, and the Special Events Division, which manages events every day of the year; examples include the LA Marathon, the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl and the Palisades 4th of July parade.
The Bureau of Engineering (BOE) is self-explanatory; it deals with more projects, more comprehensively than any other bureaus within Public Works. BOE is also the lead on the Bridge Home program and it handles infrastructure permitting in sidewalks & streets (the PROW).
The Bureau of Street Lighting manages all street lights in the City. Street Lighting and BOE are the City’s leads for implementation of the 5G wireless network, which will use thousands of street lighting poles.
The Bureau of Contract Administration manages the budget for Public Works; it oversees contracts and also enforces minimum wage laws. There are also Public Affairs and Accounting offices. New offices within the Public Works Dept. include the Office of Petroleum Administration and Natural Gas Safety (established in 2015 after the Aliso Canyon gas leak); and the Office of Film & Television production (created by the Mayor in 2014).
Two additional new offices are the Office of Climate Emergency (in process) and the City Forest Officer: Rachel Malarich. For many years the City’s departments had been practicing an urban forest canopy policy in “silos.” Mr. James explained that Ms. Malarich is an extension of the Mayor’s office; will be a part of his “cabinet” which meets once a month; will work with all City departments; and will have authority to implement the Mayor’s policy relative to the Urban Forest in all of the City departments.
Mr. James emphasized that we need an inventory of all trees in the City. The first inventory will be of street trees in the PROW. There is $2 million in the City’s budget for a street tree inventory, and bids have already been received for this work. The City is also committed to implementing an Urban Forest Master Plan, which is a longer-term goal related to all trees in the City. There is money budgeted to begin that process.
The Presiding Officer began Q&A by asking if the street tree inventory bids are within the budget. Mr. James stated that the bids are sealed until opened in public at a BPW meeting; he has not seen the bids yet. The Presiding Officer noted that the PPCC Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC) is developing a recommendation for an urban forestry policy for the Palisades and has been working with Stephen Du Prey of Urban Forestry, who is an excellent liaison to the Committee. The Presiding Officer also explained that the PFC proposes to undertake as a pilot project an inventory of street trees along one street and that we are fully supportive of the Urban Forest Master Plan process. Mr. James replied that a number of City Business Improvement Districts are partnering with BPW on street tree inventories of their own.
Chris Spitz (Secretary) commented favorably on the new Petroleum Administrator’s presentation at the last Westside Regional Alliance of Councils meeting. David Peterson (Area 6 1st Alternate) next asked who is in charge of sidewalk repairs? Mr. James: Public Works & Street Services. The City is accelerating its sidewalk repair program. It is too expensive to have litigation when people are injured. Because of a legal settlement the City is required to spend $30 million yearly on sidewalk repairs for several years. This past year they increased the budget by an additional $10 million to accelerate the repairs based on risk management. There is not much leeway in the priority of repairs: 1) they must first repair the sidewalks with the worst problems in terms of ADA non-compliance (about 20% of the repairs each year); 2) they next do repairs around public facilities, e.g., bus stops, metro stops, hospitals, schools, etc.; 3) next are other commercial areas; and 4) residential areas are last. They are hitting all four areas every year but there is a limit to the amount of money that can be spent in each area. BOE is the project manager for the sidewalk repair program, but Street Services crews do the work. They also contract out some of the work since they don’t have staff to do all the work in house; they can train small businesses and individuals who need work to do sidewalk repair; they provide smaller contracts for those entities and individuals as well.
Reza Akef (Area 8 Rep) raised a concern about whether the Bureau of Contract Administration has two standards, one for private developers and one for the public utilities, in terms of requirements with respect to street work. Mr. Akef stated that private developers must be supervised by an inspector, deposit fees and post a bond, whereas he believes public utilities are not inspected and are not required to deposit fees or post a bond. Mr. James replied that he does not agree with that assessment. Deposits are required from utilities; whenever you cut into a street you damage the road. The largest customer at Contract Administration (the entity that pays the most in fees) is LADWP. All telecoms must pay a street damage restoration fee, including a deposit. They complain about it but they do pay. They are also inspected: Nothing happens in the PROW that is not approved by an inspector. The process for inspection by LADWP is different than the process for a private developer, but that is because they are a City agency and are more accountable than a private developer.
The Presiding Officer then asked about infrastructure to provide necessary power to Pacific Palisades. He explained that we have had many brown-outs in the Palisades due to increased electrical usage. LADWP’s temporary solution was to erect pole top distributing stations in the PROW. The Presiding Officer also stated that we would rather see transformers underground or a new substation built on land that LADWP already owns. The community went through a debate several years ago about this issue, but action is needed soon as we will continue to have more brownouts. Mr. James replied that everyone wants underground power lines, but he has no jurisdiction over LADWP.
The Presiding Officer next raised another issue: the major public works project involving Potrero Canyon Park. He introduced PPCC Legal Advisor Rob Weber, who explained the lengthy history of the project (over 40 years), the involvement of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and the community’s frustration with the length of time and cost. He noted that funds from the sale of canyon rim lots have gone into a special Trust Fund for the park, but we have just learned from BOE project manager Pedro Garcia about recent cost overruns of almost $4 million that jeopardize plans to erect a pedestrian bridge across PCH. He asked for Mr. James’ help in getting BOE to make this a priority. Mr. James noted that aspects of the project have come before the BPW, mostly involving drainage and liability issues. He indicated he would have Mr. Garcia speak with us.
Eric Dugdale (Historical Society Alternate) expressed concern about 5G network installations. Mr. James: The telecoms have lobbyists and we continue to fight with the state legislature and Congress over the issue of local control over cell tower regulation. He noted that we were successful a few years ago in convincing Gov. Brown to veto a bill that would have stripped municipalities of regulatory authority. The Presiding Officer and board then thanked Mr. James for his presentation.
11.2. Recycling in Los Angeles – Latest information from Bureau of Sanitation Assistant Director Alex Helou.
Mr. Helou distributed a handout with information about the City’s new “Use, Reuse and Shop Smart” program. He provided basic information about the trash collection and recycling process in residential and commercial areas. He then spoke about the Bureau of Sanitation’s goals regarding organic waste: we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions coming out of landfills by diverting 90% of organic waste from landfills by 2025 and 95% by 2035, with $100% diversion by 2050. There is one landfill left in the City – Sunshine Canyon. The Bureau of Sanitation is working with many agencies, including at LAX, to reduce organic waste. Food waste is collected and taken to a facility for anaerobic processing. The Bureau is also initiating a campaign to cut food waste throughout the City. A pilot project is starting in which a select number of households will receive kitchen pails to collect food waste and then place in the green bin. By 2021, all households will receive the pail and be asked to participate. This will allow greenhouse gas emissions from organic waste to be captured at the landfill.
Q&A then ensued with questions about a variety of topics, including: overflowing trash cans at our Recreation Center, which have resulted in rat problems; potential future issues with trash collection in Potrero Canyon Park; the lack of recycling at the Recreation Center; multi-family building trash collection; the types of plastic that can be recycled and where this is going. Mr. Helou stated that he will check with Recreation & Parks about the park trash collection matters; the parks are overseen by Recreation & Parks, but if Sanitation is able to be involved with trash collection at our parks, they will be happy to do so. He also stated that certain plastic items are 100% recycled — Nos. 1, 2 and 5 are being recycled; other numbers are not. It was also noted that trash is not being collected from the decorative PRIDE bins in the Marquez area. Mr. Helou stated that Sanitation does not do manual collections and only collects from Automated Litter Bins (ALBs) in commercial areas. If the area wishes to have the decorative bins replaced by ALBs, the City can do that and can collect from the ALBs. The Secretary reminded everyone that at PPCC’s and the Friends of the Library’s request, Sanitation replaced the old overflowing concrete bin on the sidewalk outside the library with an ALB and is now doing regular collection at this site; the Marquez neighborhood will have to consider whether they want to have ALBs rather than the decorative bins which may possibly be collected by PRIDE. The Presiding Officer and board thanked Mr. Helou for his presentation.
12. Adjournment. The Presiding Officer adjourned the meeting at 7:40pm.