Return to Index of 2019 Minutes

MINUTES FOR OCTOBER 24th 2019

Voting Members in Attendance:  George Wolfberg,David Card, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Steve Cron, Alan Goldsmith, Reza Akef, Steve Boyers, Rick Mills, Brenda Theveny, Dick Wulliger, Barbara Marinacci, Rick McGeagh, Amy Baker, Rick McGeagh, Maryam Zar (partial attendance), John Padden (partial attendance)

Voting Alternates:  Danielle Samulon, Beth Holden Garland, Bob Benton, David Peterson (partial attendance), Kevin Niles (partial attendance), Richard Blumenberg (voting after departure of John Padden)

Non-voting Advisors and Alternates:  Cathy Russell, Marilyn Wexler, Eric Dugdale, Howard Robinson, Melanie Bouer

1.    Certification of Quorum.  George Wolfberg (Chair) called the meeting to order at 6:02pm and certified that a quorum was present.  The  Chair “handed the gavel” to Vice-Chair David Card to serve as Presiding Officer.

2.    Reading of Community Council’s Mission.  The Chair 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 10/10/19 were deemed approved as corrected. 2) Upcoming Meetings – 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 (new:  the event will take place at the PP Woman’s Club Clubhouse; more details to come). January 9, 2020: Topics to be announced. January 23, 2020: Briefing on proposed Gladstones Redevelopment; additional topics to be announced.

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

6.    Treasurer’s Report.  Treasurer Richard G. Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $40, 071.72. 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.    2019 Citizen of the Year and Golden Sparkplugs Awards.  Appointment of Awards Event Committee (AEC).  The AEC members are:  Mary Mueller, Chair; David Card, Chris Spitz, Sue Kohl, Haldis Toppel, Bruce Schwartz, John Padden. Additional board members were invited to join the committee to help plan and produce the event, which will take place on December 12 at the Woman’s Club Clubhouse.  More details will be forthcoming. Don’t forget to submit awards nominations by the deadline:  9pm on Saturday, October 26.

8.1.2.    Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board (PAB) 10/16/19 meeting update.  The Presiding Officer recounted some of the meeting highlights:  The Veterans Garden has been approved by LA City Council; the organizers plan to break ground in November or December; it will take 3 months to build; the City will need to give them a right of entry.  Sometime next year, in connection with the Potrero Canyon Park development, there will be increased parking added in the upper end of the park; 23 spaces will be added to satisfy the conditions of the Coastal Permit for Potrero Canyon Park.  The new parking will overlook the bowl and be on the same level as the turning circle. They will repave all of the new area and will replant the turning circle, hopefully with trees.  They won’t resurface the rest of the parking lot which they aren’t touching for new parking.  The PAB is looking into how to get that done and whether private funding is necessary.  Also, the tennis court hole should have been filled and Courts 7 and 8 at the bottom should have been resurfaced by now.  The PAB was asked by Recreation and Parks to list their repairs priorities: #1 – the windows in the old gym office are inoperable and need to be replaced; #2 – the restroom in the old gym needs remodeling, including repairs to become ADA-compliant; #3 – the rest of the parking lot needs resurfacing;  #4 – phone, computer lines and WiFi need to be added to the lobby rooms of the new gym for some of the staff to be able to move in there and use; #5 – the playground needs improvements to become ADA-accessible, which is estimated to cost $500,000.

8.1.3.    Dog park funding update.  See letter from Executive Committee to Councilmember Bonin: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PPCC-Dog-Park-EIR-Funding-Letter.pdf.  We have requested that the Councilmember approve the use of Palisades Recreation Center Quimby funds for completion of the required EIR for the dog park.

8.1.4.    Palisades Fire.  PPCC sincerely thanks all our firefighters and first responders for their heroic efforts to keep us safe.  The officers have sent out individual messages of thanks to the LA City Fire Dept., LA County Fire Dept., LAPD and CalFire.  We have also sent a thank you message to the entire community. See message linked on the PPCC website homepage:  https://mailchi.mp/pacpalicc/t5l2odsle0-1170077?fbclid=IwAR2G5STb1XPhaE3lv7UUFEWASlogSLp-c9JK6K4IE7yF3nQB_QK0FHPHsG4.

We continue to remind the community of the PPCC Emergency Readiness page on our website, which has a wealth of information about how to protect against wildfires and other emergencies.

8.2.    From Officers.

8.2.1.    Chris Spitz (Secretary).  Updates:  WRAC 10/17/19 meeting and legislation status.  The Secretary briefly summarized her written report which was distributed to board members and has been posted on the PPCC website:  http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/8.2-OfficersReport.10-24.19.pdf.

8.3.    From At-Large and Area Representatives

8.3.1.    Alan Goldsmith (At-large) asked for an update on the tree removal on Via de las Olas.  The Presiding Officer reported that although he does not know all the details, the trees will have to be replaced.  There are consequences to removing street trees without a permit.

8.4.    From Organizational Representatives.

8.4.1.    Dick Wulliger (PP Historical Society) announced a new program, “The History of Trees in the Palisades,” with guest speaker Randy Young, on November 7 at 7pm in Theatre Palisades.  All are invited.  Admission is free and there will be refreshments afterwards.

8.4.2.    Rick McGeagh (PPBA) stated that the annual “Spooktacular” event returns to the Palisades Recreation Center this Saturday, from 3-7pm.  The Presiding Officer noted that the “Fiesta of Fright” event will take place at Rustic Canyon Recreation Center on Saturday from 4-8pm.

8.5.    From Government Offices / Representatives.

8.5.1.    Stephen Du Prey, Superintendent with the Urban Forestry Division, Bureau of Street Services, and liaison to the PPCC Palisades Forestry Committee, was in attendance.  See Item 9.4 below.

8.6.    From PPCC Advisors.

8.6.1.    Sharla Steinman (Youth Advisor) reported on upcoming events at Palisades High.  The Pali High Ambassadors would love to help with other events in the Palisades.  Any organizations that need help should contact ambassadors@pchs.pali.org or visit www.paliambassadors.org.

9.    Reports from Committees.

9.1.    Awards Selection Committee (ASC; David Kaplan, Chair).  Committee update/Awards nomination & selection process. Deadline to submit nominations: 9pm, October 26.

In the absence of Committee Chair David Kaplan, Secretary and ASC member Chris Spitz gave the report.  Awards nominations will be accepted until 9pm on Sat., Oct. 26.  Information about eligibility and submission requirements can be found in the Awards Nomination Press Release which is linked on the PPCC website home page.

The Secretary explained that shortly after all the awards nominations are received, PPCC board members will be asked confidentially for input on the nominees.  Look for that email to be sent out on Sunday.  If board members would like to comment confidentially on any of the nominees, please send those to the PPCC email address within 3 days after receipt of the email message.

The ASC will then meet and consider the nominations and any input received from the board.  The ASC members are David Kaplan, Daphne Gronich (former Citizen of the Year), Sue Kohl, Sarah Knauer and Chris Spitz.   The Committee will make its decisions based on the Awards Guidelines.  The ASC is not obligated to select any awardees if, in the ASC members’ judgment, the nominees do not meet the criteria set out in the Guidelines.  ASC members may also, in their discretion, choose a recipient of Pride of the Palisades honors – this honor is intended to be given from time to time only in exceptional circumstances and for extraordinary achievement, as determined by the ASC.  Past Pride of the Palisades honorees have included Bill Bruns, the PP Task Force on Homelessness, Bob Benton and Arnie Wishnick.  Lists of all past awardees can be found in the Awards Guidelines on the PPCC website.

The ASC will announce the names of Citizen of the Year, Golden Sparkplug Award and possible Pride of the Palisades honorees at the PPCC meeting on November 14.  Presentation of the awards will take place at our holiday meeting on December 12.  More details about the event will be coming soon.

9.2.    Three Chairs Committee (Maryam Zar, Chair; Chris Spitz; Richard Cohen).  Committee nomination and possible Board election of 2nd Alternate At-large Representative.

Committee Chair Maryam Zar announced that the Committee’s nominee for the position of 2nd Alternate At-large Representative is Quentin Fleming. She explained that Mr. Fleming is a professor in the business school at USC who had previously served on the Board for many years as the 1st Alternate At-large Representative, when George Wolfberg was the primary At-large representative. He is very familiar with PPCC, has served as a moderator for some of our past forums, and is respected by all Board members who have worked with him. The Committee members believe that he is highly qualified for the position.  She then moved on behalf of the Committee for the Board to approve and elect Mr. Fleming as 2nd Alternate At-large Representative (no second necessary as the motion was made by more than one voting board member). The Presiding Office asked if any board member wished to discuss the nominee. No one asked for discussion.  A vote was then taken.  Result:  Unanimous in favor of the motion. Mr. Fleming will serve the same term as the primary At-large Representative Alan Goldsmith (through September 30, 2020).

9.3.    Land Use Committee (LUC; Howard Robinson, Chair).  LUC recommendation and possible Board action re Calvary Christian School (701 Palisades Dr.) application for Plan Approval to its Conditional Use Permit & for a Coastal Development Permit (“the Application”). See LUC 10/17/19 Meeting Summary: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PPCC-Land-Use-Committee-10-17-Summary.pdf.

Leslie Clark, Director of Admissions, and Vince Downey, Head of School, were in attendance, as were Matt Dzurec (the school’s land use consultant), Richard Berliner (its architect) and Jerry Overland (its parking consultant). Mr. Downey and Ms. Clark gave a brief presentation explaining the proposed project and the school’s Planning application.  The school has not done any projects for 10 years; the last project was its arts & technology building.  It is in the mode of a capital campaign to raise funds for these new projects. They displayed large boards showing details and layouts for the proposed projects.

Mr. Downey explained that the first proposed project, a lunch servery area, will be located in the upper portion of the school site and will include a new building, play equipment, landscaping and seating.  They also propose to build a new playground area that will replace parking spaces in the upper blacktop area; this will include a new sports court and  playground equipment, trees and seating.

Regarding parking:  The school is asking to reduce the current parking requirement to 188 spaces.  The school’s representatives explained that current CUP requires 241 parking spots.  This requirement dates from 1989, when there was concurrent use at full capacity of church and school facilities.  Thirty years later the school does not have that concurrent use. The parking study shows maximum parking use is 108 spaces during the week and 97 spaces on Sundays.  They are projecting that 165 spots will be needed if the modified CUP is approved.  LADOT has approved the parking study.

The school also wishes to increase enrollment from 432 students to up to 490 students.It was explained that the school currently has room for 455 students; the additional 23 students would bring in $500,000 annually.  The school’s tuition at $20,000 is one of lowest in the area for private schools. The extra money would allow the school to continue operating at the same level and continue offering scholarships to lower income students.

The last proposed project is a theater & “maker space” building, which would not be built for 8-10 years.  Once approval is received the school will begin raising capital funds for that project. They are seeking approval now rather than having to go through the expense and time of filing another application at a later date. The theatre building is tucked in the middle of campus and will not be visible to SeaRidge neighbors.

Howard Robinson (LUC Chair) then spoke.  He explained that the LUC members spent over an hour on the project at their meeting on October 17.  The LUC determined that the applicant has a strong 30-year record in the community. No neighbors had any complaints and the SeaRidge complex across the street is not opposed. The LUC looked at the required Findings for the requested Plan Approval and Coastal Development Permit and had no concerns about the Findings.  There were two issues of concern:

1) The school is asking for approval for a 10,000 sq. ft. building (the theatre building) to be built in the future; why are they processing the application now and how can we make sure the plans won’t change in the future? After discussion, the LUC members realized that the required architectural plans that are submitted must get stamped by the City as approved; they will set forth all the requirements that the school must comply with pursuant to the approvals (height, parking, use, etc.).  Also, the parking study and LADOT traffic plan had calculated parking requirements for this project based on the submitted plan.

2). There were questions about reducing the amount of parking when an increase in student enrollment was being requested. The LUC realized the amount of parking the school currently has, as well as the amount they are now requesting, are both above Code requirements.  In addition, the church and school functions operate separately and generally are not used concurrently.  According to the approved parking study, peak parking demand is only 108; the projected need for the new uses is only 165 spaces, per the approved study, but the school is proposing 188 spaces (more than the Code requirement).

The LUC Chair then explained that the LUC unanimously voted to make the following recommendation to the Board, wanting to make sure that the few times of concurrent use would be baked-in the condition of approval:  “The PPCC LUC recommends that the Board adopt the following position: PPCC does not oppose the Application, contingent upon the Board’s review and approval of language to be provided by the applicant recommending a condition to regulate the concurrent use of facilities at the site.”

The LUC Chair further reported that the school has now agreed on language of a condition of approval (a hand-out was distributed to board members showing the proposed language, which the school had agreed on that afternoon, 10/24):

“The applicant shall not use church facilities and school facilities for concurrent general assembly purposes with the exception of a maximum of six times per calendar year.  For concurrent assembly events exceeding 564 total attendees, the applicant shall provide a valet attendant for parking purposes.”

Chris Spitz (Secretary) then made the following motion; second by David Peterson (Area 6 1st Alternate):

“PPCC does not object to the discretionary Planning application at 701 Palisades Drive, contingent on the Applicant’s submission and City’s adoption of the recommended Condition of Approval regarding concurrent events involving church facilities and school facilities at the subject site, as follows:

“The applicant shall not use church facilities and school facilities for concurrent general assembly purposes with the exception of a maximum of six times per calendar year.  For concurrent assembly events exceeding 564 total attendees, the applicant shall provide a valet attendant for parking purposes.”

Discussion about the motion then ensued.  It was explained that the 564 number assumes that vehicles coming to park on campus during concurrent events will on average carry three persons per car (3 x 188 spaces = 564).  There were various questions about building height, parking, staging during construction, the plans, the six assembly events (an example being an annual picnic after Sunday services which school members are invited to attend along with church members), and landscaping.  The school representatives stated that no protected trees are being removed; they hope to preserve existing trees and add trees. The proposed projects have received a categorical exemption under CEQA.  They did not look into adding a crosswalk across Palisades Dr. at that location (to access the Highlands Plaza across the street), since the school already has a rule that school members (parents, students, staff) must walk to the corner of Palisades Dr. & Sunset and cross at that location.  Barbara Marinacci (PP Garden Club) stated that she lives in the condominium complex nearest the school to the south on Palisades Dr. and that the school has been a good neighbor.

Following discussion, a vote was then taken.  Result:  Unanimous in favor of the motion.  A position letter will be submitted to the appropriate authorities in due course.

9.4.    Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC; David Card, Chair). Introduction of resolution for Board approval of the PFC Mission Statement and proposed street tree selection policy for the Palisades; possible Board action.

Committee Chair David Card explained that as PFC Chair, he would be making the PFC presentation and introducing the resolution; for this reason, he “handed the gavel” to Treasurer Richard Cohen to serve as Presiding Officer for Item 9.4.

The PFC Chair moved for the board to adopt the proposed resolution as set forth in the meeting agenda (see attachment); second by Steve Boyers (Area 7 Representative). He introduced other members of the PFC in attendance and thanked them for their work so far:  Cindy Kirven (Garden Club), Marilyn Wexler (Area 7 2nd Alternate), Michael Terry (Palisades Beautiful); as well as liaison Stephen Du Prey (Urban Forestry) and participant Lisa V. (tree activist).

The PFC Chair then went over the proposed resolution point by point.  He explained that the resolution endorses the Mission Statement which is also set forth in the PFC Report dated 9/1/19 (Report).  The resolution additionally endorses a proposed street tree selection policy, as adapted from the Report pursuant to edits by the PFC on October 15, 2019 (see attachment).  He further explained that the motion before the board was not to endorse the Report in its entirety; the resolution simply draws from certain portions of the Report and does not include any language authorizing action items.

Discussion then ensued.  Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative):  Is the intent of the resolution to protect the urban forest from unnecessary removals?  The PFC Chair explained that the Report had more specifics which are not a part of the resolution. There is nothing in the resolution about outreach or requiring notification to homeowners.  Richard Cohen (Presiding Officer for this item) stated that this is the community providing guidance to the City; we are not taking on responsibility for enforcement or anything other than telling the City what kind of trees we want and what kind of management we would like to see. Decisions about any notices would have to come from the City.  The PFC Chair further noted that the resolution sets forth general guidelines and a general philosophy; it is aspirational and does not contain any action items.

Rick Mills (Area 4 Representative) asked whether this resolution will remove the local log jam among local groups in regard to tree planting.  The PFC Chair: This is a step in that direction. We will work with the City to tell the City what we want in general and will walk hand in hand with the City toward the goal of getting more trees planted.  We will not actually be planting trees.  A question was asked about the City’s authority to plant trees in the right of way.  Stephen Duprey responded that if the City is going to plant, water and maintain street trees for three years, the policy is that they can go ahead and do that.

Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative) complimented the PFC on its incredible work. He asked whether passing this this resolution will help to get the City to plant more trees.  Mr. Du Prey: That is the goal.  This is the motion to unfreeze that log jam so we can plant more diverse trees; it will help expedite the planting of trees.

Richard Blumenberg (PP Civic League) commented that the City should develop a set of rules regarding street tree removal that everyone can understand when they buy property.  He made a motion to amend the resolution by adding an additional point, as follows: “PPCC urges the Urban Forestry Division to develop rules & criteria that are published in advance so that homeowners will know exactly what the requirements are for removal of street trees before making a decision to buy the property.” Second by Reza Akef. Discussion of the proposed amendment took place. The comments overall were that the resolution is simply an attempt to break the log jam; this amendment isn’t needed or appropriate at this time.  A vote on the motion to amend was taken.  Result: failed for lack of a majority in favor.

A vote on the main motion (to adopt the proposed resolution) was then taken. Result: More than the required 2/3 majority of members voting (19-2-1) voted in favor of adopting the resolution (see attachment).  A position letter will be submitted to the appropriate authorities in due course.

10.    Old Business – None.

11.    New Business – None.

12.    Adjournment.  The Presiding Officer adjourned the meeting at 7:33 pm.

ATTACHMENT – Item 9.4:

 Resolution re Street Tree Selections & Urban Forestry
Presented and adopted at the October 24, 2019 PPCC meeting

Whereas, Pacific Palisades is blessed with an abundant forest of trees, including street trees in our public parkways, medians, and public right of ways, as well as in our public parks;

Whereas, the founders of Pacific Palisades and successive generations of civic leaders have recognized the many benefits of a healthy and robust urban forest;

Whereas, the urban forest is the greatest generator of oxygen and other ecological benefits, as well as providing economic, aesthetic, social, emotional and quality of life benefits;

Whereas, the Urban Forestry Division (UFD), City of Los Angeles, has recently done limited planting of street trees in the Palisades, and both the Palisades community and the UFD agree on the need to work together to facilitate the preservation and enhancement of our urban forest and its canopy;

Whereas, the PPCC formed the Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC), consisting of landscape professionals, community organizations, tree advocates, and local government officials;

Whereas, after studying the issue for five months, at the September 12, 2019 PPCC meeting, the PFC presented its report (the “Report”) dated September 1, 2019 and has since considered all comments submitted in response;

Now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Pacific Palisades Community Council endorses the Mission Statement of the PFC in the Report, as follows:

PFC MISSION STATEMENT

Enhance and sustain the health and beauty of the Pacific Palisades urban forest for future generations by facilitating the planting of appropriate trees and the caring for our existing trees;

Educate our community about the economic, environmental, health, social, emotional and aesthetic benefits of the trees that comprise our urban forest;

Protect the urban forest from unnecessary removals by better management, planning and enforcement, and honor the history of trees in the community; and

Establish a replicable model of a community urban forest task force for Pacific Palisades in partnership with the City of Los Angeles.

RESOLVED further, that the PPCC specifically endorses the following street tree selection policy (the “Policy”) (the language of which has been adapted from the PFC Report (Paragraphs 1, portions of 2A, and 2B), pursuant to edits approved by the PFC at its October 15, 2019 meeting for purposes of this Resolution):

1.   Primary Objective: To facilitate the preservation, enhancement, and best practices management of the Pacific Palisades community’s urban forest.

A.  The initial focus is on street trees in the public parkways, medians and rights of way, both our existing trees and the vacant spaces where street trees do not presently exist.

B.  We aim to maximize the number of urban forest trees and their canopy by facilitating the planting of more trees, and to minimize the number of trees that are removed.

C.  The goal is to develop an urban forestry policy that increases the age and species diversity in the public tree population, augments biomass and canopy coverage community wide, enhances the character and aesthetics of our neighborhoods, and achieves exemplary stewardship of the forest for all who live and work here.

2.  Urban Forest Policy: To create urban forest policies that implement the Mission and the Primary Objective, and to work with both the City of Los Angeles urban forestry leadership and the Pacific Palisades community to discuss and adopt urban forest policies to achieve that objective. Such policies may include:

A.  Selection Policy: The Committee has decided to use the following criteria for selecting appropriate species of street trees, according to local circumstances and as permitted by the City of Los Angeles Urban Forestry Division.

1)  Criteria: The Right Tree in the Right Place. The right tree in the right place will be determined by the following criteria, which will be considered when selecting street trees as vacancies occur:

a) Growspace Availability: Soil volume is the most important criterion. A bigger growspace allows for a larger tree species, while small growspaces require smaller tree species. The preference is for the largest species for the available growspace.

b) Water Requirements and Growing Conditions: The water requirement of the species and its ability to withstand little watering when established. Micro- climate conditions, such as salt air, wind, heat, etc.

c) Species diversity: A new, different species, that does not share the same vulnerabilities.

d) Aesthetics and Neighborhood Character: Blend aesthetically with existing species and with the neighborhood character.

e) Canopy Size: Consider the mature tree’s canopy size and form, and the proximity of buildings and other structures or trees. Generally, the preference is for larger canopies.

f) Land Use and Traffic Considerations: Commercial vs. residential streets, truck clearance, pollution tolerance, root pruning tolerance, pedestrian shade, overhead wires, etc.

g) Disease Resistance and Susceptibility.

h) Availability: Monitor tree availability, and research new species introductions.

i) Special Cases may be considered.

B.  Diversity and Adaptation Over Time Policy: A policy of diversity of species, genus, form, and aesthetics (evergreen, deciduous, broad leaf, small leaf, flowering or not, leaf color, etc.) across Pacific Palisades. A policy of flexibility and adaptation to changing conditions over time.

Return to Index of 2019 Minutes