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MINUTES FOR OCTOBER 10th 2019

Voting Members in Attendance:  David Card, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, David Kaplan, Sue Kohl, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Brenda Theveny, Bill Klein, Dick Wulliger, John Padden, Cathi Ruddy, Barbara Marinacci, Amy Baker, Rick Mills, Rick McGeagh (partial attendance)

Voting Alternates:  Mary Mueller, Marilyn Wexler

Non-voting Advisors and Alternates:  Richard Blumenberg, Beth Holden Garland, Craig Natvig, Bruce Schwartz

1.    Certification of Quorum.  Vice-Chair David Card (Presiding Officer in the absence of the Chair George Wolfberg) called the meeting to order at 6:00pm and certified that a quorum was present.

2.    Reading of Community Council’s Mission.   Sue Kohl 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 9/26/19 were deemed approved. 2) Upcoming Meetings–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) Discussion and possible Board action regarding a proposed Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC) resolution for Board approval of the PFC Mission Statement and street tree designation policy for the Palisades. November 14, 2019: (1) Guest speaker – Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin. (2) Awards Selection Committee announcement of 2019 Awards honorees. December 12, 2019: Holiday meeting and Awards celebration (details to come).

5.    Consideration of Agenda.  The agenda was as distributed.

6.    Treasurer’s Report.  In the absence of Treasurer Richard G. Cohen, Secretary Chris Spitz gave the Treasurer’s report:  The Council’s bank balance is $40,073.66. There have been no significant transactions since the last report.

7.    General Public Comment.

7.1.    Phillis Dudick (Friends of the Parry House) reported on the Historic Cultural Monument status for the Parry House on Camarosa Dr.  After three public hearings, the House had passed every test for Historic Cultural Monument designation. The City Council approved the designation on October 8 and the Parry House as well as the historic Deodar Cedar tree on its grounds are now designated and preserved.  She expressed thanks for the many letters of support from Palisades organizations and individuals, including the Historical Society and PPCC Vice-Chair David Card; the Board also thanked Ms. Dudick for her work.

7.2.    Laura Schneider (Friends of the Library) reported that the Los Angeles City Council has approved the construction of a bookstore within the Library (at this point awaiting only the Mayor’s sign-off); she thanked PPCC for its support.  She also reminded everyone of the inaugural “Palisades Reads” events (the book: “Shelter Us, a Novel,” by Laura Diamond; kick-off party & panel discussion on October 23; book club meeting on November 13).  Details are on the PPCC calendar.  Finally, Ms. Schneider thanked PPCC and Secretary Chris Spitz for help in obtaining a replacement litter bin for the sidewalk adjacent to the Library, with twice-weekly litter pick-up by the City.

8.    Reports, Announcements and Concerns.

8.1.   From the Chair (Presiding Officer).

8.1.1.    Welcome new and returning organizational members (as of Oct. 1):  New and returning organizational members were welcomed to the Board by name. See the following list for all names: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-2020-PPCC-Organizations.pdf

8.1.2.    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.

8.1.3.    2019 Citizen of the Year and Golden Sparkplugs Awards.  Appointment of Awards Selection Committee (ASC). Awards nominations are now open; deadline to submit nominations (via email): 9pm on October 26.  The ASC members are David Kaplan, Committee Chair (Area 6 Representative); Daphne Gronich (past Citizen of the Year); Sarah Knauer (Chamber of Commerce Representative); Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative) and Chris Spitz (PPCC Secretary). See Awards Nomination Press Release: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Awards-Nomination-Press-Release-2019.pdf. The awardees will be announced on November 14 and the Awards presentation and celebration will take place at the PPCC meeting on December 12.

8.1.4.    Congress of Neighborhoods 9/28/19 recap.  The Presiding Officer was unable to attend; Cathi Ruddy (PP Woman’s Club Representative & Emergency Preparedness Officer) attended a session on emergency preparedness and the City’s RYLAN program.  See Item 10.2 below.

8.2.    From Officers.

8.2.1.    Chris Spitz (Secretary) announced that PPCC Chair George Wolfberg was able to attend the PCH Task Force meeting this morning in Santa Monica.  He explained to the Secretary that he felt it was important to attend, despite his illness, in order to convey the importance of Caltrans finally addressing the serious safety problems with the Chautauqua/PCH intersection.  The Chair reported that he was warmly received, and that  Caltrans representatives indicated that they had received a letter from Mike Bonin and were aware of an excellent letter that PPCC Transportation Advisor Patti Post had recently sent about the intersection issue.  The Chair reported that Caltrans is now treating this as a priority and have begun working on possible solutions, although we don’t have a timetable. Sue Pascoe, who also attended the Task Force meeting, stated that Caltrans indicated it must first develop a model of the intersection, although there is no indication as to when this might occur. The Secretary expressed thanks to the Chair for his dedication to the community.

The Secretary also announced that a successful orientation session for new organizational representatives took place on October 7 in the Library.  She further explained that there have been misstatements in the press and on social media regarding PPCC’s position in support of the BCC amicus brief in the Boisehomeless overnight camping case. To dispel any misconceptions, she reiterated that neither PPCC nor BCC has called for the Ninth Circuit’s decision in that case to be overturned; we have instead requested that the U.S. Supreme Court grant the petition for writ of certiorari in order to provide clarification and guidance in light of conflicting federal rulings as to the constitutional limits on local government regulatory authority.  See the officers’ message to the Palisades News on 9/28/19 (link in the agenda & posted on the PPCC website):  http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Message-to-the-Editor-of-the-Palisades-News.pdf.

Finally, the Secretary reported that we have learned from PPCC Homelessness Advisor Sharon Kilbride that there is a serious fire hazard on privately-owned property known as Marquez Canyon (adjacent to the Highlands Plaza mall, to the east), consisting of abandoned homeless encampments. Ms. Kilbride and PPTFH have been attempting to have the encampment remains removed for quite some time, to no avail.  Recently, an LAFD inspector posted a notice on the property, requiring the property owner (an LLC) to abate the public nuisance and hazardous conditions. So far, there has been no response. The Secretary researched the matter and learned that the owner’s registration as an LLC with the Secretary of State has been canceled and the LLC is supposedly located in the UK.  She does not know what steps can or will be taken next.

8.3.    From At-Large and Area Representatives.

8.3.1.    Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) announced that the annual Marquez Knolls Block Party will take place on October 26 from 11am-3pm in the Marquez Business District. She distributed flyers. This will be a fun family event and everyone is invited.

8.4.    From Organizational Representatives.

8.4.1.    Cathi Ruddy (PP Woman’s Club) reported that the Woman’s Club is hosting a “jazz, wine & fine art” fundraiser at the PPWC Clubhouse on Saturday evening, October 19.  Details are on the PPCC website calendar.

8.5.    From Government Offices / Representatives.

8.5.1.    Janet Turner, District Representative, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu. Report on response by the USPS Office of the Inspector General regarding mail theft in the Palisades. In Ms. Turner’s absence, the presiding officer read from the Inspector General’s letter.  See: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PPCC-USPS-OIG-Response-Letter.pdf.

8.5.2.    Zachary Gaidzik, West/Metro LA Field Deputy, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.  See Item 11.1 below. 

8.6.    From PPCC Advisors– None.

9.    Reports from Committees.

9.1.    Land Use Committee (LUC; Howard Robinson, Chair).  In the Committee Chair’s absence, 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.  The Secretary also stated that links to the meeting agenda and relevant documents are posted on the PPCC website.

9.2.    Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC; David Card, Chair).  The Committee Chair reported that the PFC members are continuing to meet regularly to discuss urban forestry policy for the Palisades and are finalizing a possible resolution for Board approval. The resolution is expected to be presented for discussion and possible Board action at the PPCC meeting on October 24, 2019.

10.    Old Business – None.

11.    New Business.

11.1.    LA County Voting Changes. Presentation by Zachary Gaidzik, West/Metro LA Field Deputy, Supervisor Kuehl.

Mr. Gaidzik explained that voting in LA County is changing in ways that will hopefully improve the experience, make it easier to vote and increase voter participation.  The changes are in three ways. The first is where you will vote. Until now everyone voted at a precinct near your home on one day.  With the new change, everyone can vote at 1000 different vote centers all over the County – in places such as churches, libraries and malls.  This will increase voter participation.  The next change is when you can vote.  You will be able to vote for a period of 11 consecutive days up until the election, but you won’t learn the results until polls close at 8pm on election day.  There is also an exciting new feature that the County has been working on since 2010 – the electronic ballot marking device.  This device will not be connected to the internet. Voters will still use paper ballots, which the County believes are critical to the ability to audit.  The difference will be that the ballot will consist of a piece of paper 8 1/2 x 11 in size, which voters will insert in the electronic marking device in order to vote. You “tap” the screen as to whom you want to vote for. The device then prints out the ballot showing who you voted for, in plain English, which is then put in a reinforced steel box where it will be taken to a location in Norwalk to be counted.  There are changes to help voters with disabilities. You can increase font size and contrast on the screen.  You can also listen via headphones and vote that way, with a toggle switch in order to access Braille. The devices will be in 14 different languages. The concept is to make voting incredibly easy for everyone.

Voters may still be able to vote by mail if they choose. These ballots will also be on 8 1/2x 11 pieces of paper and will be clearer and easier to read. The new system will be implemented for the March 2020 election. The County is also moving to an “e-poll system” which will show voter registration in an electronic book format (rather than the old paper printouts).  This is the only aspect of the system that will be connected to the internet. It will be monitored 24-7; the entire voting data base will be actively monitored and watched.

In the Palisades, the Branch Library will likely be a vote center, as will the American Legion, the Bel Air Bay Club, Marquez Elementary, Palisades High, Palisades Lutheran Church and other locations. Sample ballots will be mailed out that will show all locations, including the location closest to where you live, but voters can vote in any of the vote centers in the County.

Q&A ensued with a number of questions.  Q: Will election costs go up because of the number of new sites?  A:  We previously had 5,000 locations, but now there will be 1,000, so the number will go down. There will be trained individuals as well as volunteers at the sites.  The impact on total costs probably won’t be significant.

Q: Will we still have voting by mail as an option?  A: Yes.  If you are a permanent vote-by- mail person, you can choose to vote by going to one of the vote centers, checking in with the e-poll system and then voting in person.  If you vote by mail and then try to vote in person, your last vote will be canceled; it is illegal to vote twice.

Q: What will happen with provisional votes? A:  The goal is to reduce the number of provisional votes; the new system effectively eliminates that, but there will be “conditional” voting, which occurs if you are registering to vote for the first time at a voting center; your vote will count after your eligibility is verified.  Q:  Will there be a check-in?  A:  Yes, except there won’t be the paper printouts with lists; check-in will be via the e-poll system book – this is a laptop on its own private server which is used at the site & taken to and from the center every day.

Q: Has the system been used and gone through an election cycle in other areas?  A:  The voting center model was tested and has been used in Nevada for 1-2 years; several counties in California have also done this.  They report that using the vote center model has effectively increased voter turnout. LA County developed the electronic ballot marking device and it will solely be used here.

Q: How will you get people to work the polls when traditionally there is trouble getting enough volunteers?  A:  They will be hiring additional County employees during this time who will be trained. Q: Will there be qualified people working the e-poll computer?  A:  Yes, people will be highly trained specifically for the system. The County is doing a huge hiring rush right now.  There will also be backups for all of the equipment.  They can bring in trailers as back-up voting centers.  There will also be “pop up” voting trailers, which will go out to farmers markets and grocery store parking lots.

Q: Does the State run the program? A: This program is being implemented by the County in compliance with a State mandate to overhaul and improve all county voting systems.  Each County can set up its own voting structure.  All voting goes through the County, not the City.  The State must certify each county’s voting system.

Q: Who counts the votes?  A:  The County Registrar-Recorder’s office counts all the votes.  All counting is done under lock and key with armed guards.  The public can go and watch the count happen. We take a long time to verify the count.

Q: What background checks are required for people being hired?  A:  The same checks as are required for all County employees; standard procedures will be applied. Q: Can persons register on the day of voting onsite on any of the 11 days of the voting period?  A:  Yes.

Q: How much do you anticipate voter participation will increase?  A:  We don’t have an exact number but we do know from data from other California counties that they increased their participation using the vote center model.

The Presiding Officer and Board thanked Mr. Gaidzik for his informative presentation.

11.2.    Update on Disaster Readiness.  Presentation by Cathi Ruddy (PPCC Woman’s Club Rep & Emergency Preparedness Officer/liaison to the City Emergency Management Dept.).

Ms. Ruddy explained that the City of Los Angeles has asked all NCs and CCs in LA to present an emergency preparedness program called RYLAN to their communities.  It’s basically the same as the Red Cross MYN program.  The Palisades is about a year ahead of the rest of the City since we started doing this last year.  Joanna Spak has received Red Cross training and David Kaplan has hosted an MYN meeting for his condo building.  Ms. Ruddy has presented these programs to a number of groups of about 20 homes in the Palisades.  With RYLAN, the City provides materials and speakers to present the program to the neighborhood.  The City only has eight speakers so it is tough to schedule this.  The City will also have a follow-up drill in neighborhoods about six months after the program is presented and the neighborhood is trained. Ms. Ruddy can provide information on either of these programs to everyone interested.

Ms. Ruddy emphasized that it is also very important for businesses to have a resiliency plan.  There are problems with power being shut off and businesses going out of business after emergencies.  She will get together with the Palisades Chamber of Commerce and see if they are interested. It would also be important for NCs and CCs to develop an emergency communication plan, including posting notices if the internet goes down in an emergency. Everyone is being asked to organize in order to deal with situations if emergency responders are not available.

Ms. Ruddy encouraged everyone to participate in the RYLAN or MYN programs as a great way to get to know your neighborhood. She also encouraged everyone to sign up with Notify LA.  Another great resource is the PPCC website; however, there is so much information it sometimes becomes overwhelming.  A RYLAN or MYN meeting is a good way to start.

Zachary Gaidzik (Field Deputy, Sheila Kuehl) stated that the County also has an emergency survival guide, which is available in a link on the PPCC website.

The Presiding Officer advised that he had attended an emergency preparedness fair in Topanga, which has a communications system.  If there’s a way of communicating in the event the power grid is down, that would be useful.  Ms. Ruddy stated that we need to link neighborhood groups together and to address the problem of cell phones going down during emergencies.  She indicated that some Palisades residents are talking about rebuilding the ham radio network.

Joanna Spak expressed concern about evacuation in hillside areas with winding narrow roads.  It was suggested that this may be a part of RYLAN; additionally, both Santa Monica Canyon and Mandeville Canyon have had evacuation drills organized by LAFD. Mike Bonin’s office participated and might be a resource.

Ms. Ruddy mentioned the need to keep neighborhood groups to a manageable size of about 20 homes for purposes of RYLAN and MYN, so that realistically you can reach everyone.  Rick Mills suggested that building such a group of neighbors is similar to starting a Neighborhood Watch and there is a lot of overlap.

It was noted that during the recent brush fire incident above Palisades Dr., some people drove to Station 23 and parked in front of the driveway at the station, thus blocking ingress & egress for fire trucks. Ms. Ruddy stressed that it’s best to report fires over the phone rather than physically go to the station; the station is not staffed 24/7 and there may not be someone there to receive the report in person.  9-1-1 should also be called in medical emergencies.

Ms. Ruddy made available sign-up sheets for those interested in organizing a neighborhood RYLAN or MYN group; she will follow up with anyone interested. The Presiding Officer and Board thanked Ms. Ruddy for her work and for presenting to the Board.

12.    Adjournment.  The Presiding Officer adjourned the meeting at 7:15 pm.

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