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MINUTES FROM JULY 9th 2020

Meeting held via Zoom videoconference

Voting Members in Attendance:  David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, David Peterson, Rick Mills, Alan Goldsmith, Brenda Theveny, Barbara Marinacci, John Padden, Fay Vahdani, Rick McGeagh, Dick Wulliger

Voting Alternates:  Kevin Niles, Robin Meyers, Cathy Russell

Non-voting Advisors and Alternates:  Rob Weber, Melanie Bouer

1.    Call to order and reading of Mission Statement.  The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 5:30pm.  Robin Meyers read the Mission Statement

2.    Introduction of Zoom engineer.  The Chair welcomed everyone and introduced the technical engineer Alex Ponting.  Introductions of the Board and audience were deferred.

3.    Roll call of voting members and certification of quorum. The Chair called the roll of voting members and certified that there was a quorum.

4.    Approval of Minutes.  The minutes of June 25 and June 30, 2020 were approved. The Chair described the upcoming meetings, authorized by the Executive Committee (depending on the Board’s ratification of the nomination/election process and timeline) – July 23, 2020 (Special Meeting: officer candidates’ forum, if required, & officers’ election; announcement of incumbent elected Representatives running for re-election); August 13, 2020 (Board meeting: announcement of candidates running for Area & At-large Representatives’ election); and August 27, 2020 (Special Meeting: candidates’ forum, if required due to contested elections).  Councilmember Mike Bonin and LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tom are confirmed to attend, respectively, the meetings of July 23 and August 13.

5.    Consideration of Agenda.  Agenda Items may be taken out of order at the discretion of the Chair.

6.    Treasurer’s Report.

The Treasurer Richard G. Cohen reported that PPCC’s cash balance is $39,910.07.  The only significant transactions in the last few weeks related to setting up the PPCC Zoom meetings. He announced that it’s time for the annual Treasurer’s Report as required by the Bylaws and noted that the full Report would be attached to the minutes [see Agenda Attachment below].  He summarized the following highlights of the Report:

  • It cost about $4,100 to run PPCC for the past year, of which $1,500 was the expense of liability and directors & officers insurance premiums, $1,000 was a gift to PAPA for last year’s parade and there was a $400 contribution to the Library for a new sound system.  Mailchimp, data and other digital related expense made up the bulk of the balance of expenses.
  • Offsetting the costs were profits from our downsized Gala of about $2,000 and other contributions, mostly also related to the holiday event.
  • We ended the year just about breaking even with a decrease of $461 in our bank balance. See Agenda Attachment (Treasurer’s Report) below.

The Treasurer also commented that the Covid-19 pandemic may prevent a holiday fundraising event this year which suggests that our policy of maintaining and safeguarding a healthy bank balance was a wise course of action.  He noted that we currently don’t know how long it will be before in-person fundraising events may resume and it is reassuring to know that we have several years of resources to fall back on.

7.    General Public Comment.

7.1.    Krishna Thangavelu (resident) expressed concern about ongoing illegal fireworks usage on the bluff above the Tahitian Terrace mobile home park.  The Chair noted that fireworks have been illegally set off every night for weeks in our bluff areas and along the coast.

8.    Reports, Announcements and Concerns.

8.1.    From the Chair/Presiding Officer.

8.1.1.   Executive Committee determination of exigent circumstances/in-person meetings infeasible for at least two regular Board meetings (Bylaws, Art. IX.1.A).

The Execute Committee has found that exigent circumstances (as defined by the bylaws) continue to exist, requiring the meeting to be held virtually rather than in-person.

8.1.2.    Actions and positions taken by the Executive Committee from March – June, 2020 (period of time when Board was unable to meet due to the pandemic); Executive Committee request for Board ratification of the Executive Committee’s actions/positions.  See Agenda Attachment below.

The Board unanimously ratified all actions and positions taken by the Executive Committee from March – June, 2020.

8.1.3.    Officers’ and Area & At-large Representatives’ nomination/election process & time frame, authorized by the Executive Committee; Executive Committee request for Board ratification of the process & time frame.  See Agenda Attachment below.

The Board unanimously ratified the officers’ and Area & At-large Representatives’ nomination/election process & time frame, authorized by the Executive Committee.

8.1.4.    Board nominations of officer candidates – accepted until 15 minutes before scheduled close of meeting (6:15pm; Bylaws, Art. VII.2) (depending on Board ratification of process & time frame).

The Chair stated that Board nominations for officers’ positions would be accepted until 6:15pm. No nominations were made by the Board upon the Chair’s announcement of this item.  See also Item 12 below.

8.1.5.    Incumbent Area & At-large Representatives – deadline for written notification to Chair of intent to run for re-election: one hour before the scheduled start of the July 23rd Special Meeting; incumbents who do not timely submit written notification are deemed conclusively not to be running (depending on Board ratification of process & time frame). See Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.D.2.

The Chair reiterated and explained this requirement and the deadline.  The scheduled start of the July 23rd meeting will likely be 5:30pm, but will be officially noticed in the meeting agenda which will be distributed via Mailchimp to the PPCC email list and posted on the PPCC website at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting.

8.1.6.    Update on 17346 Sunset Blvd. (former JIB site project).  See 6/3/20 message to Planning: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Message-to-Planning-re-JIB-hearing.pdf.

The Chair noted that he had designated Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative) to speak on behalf of PPCC at the 6/6/20 telephonic hearing of this project before a hearing officer for the City Planning Commission/CPC.  She explained that she participated in the hearing (one of 13 persons who testified) and reiterated PPCC’s position that we oppose the project at the proposed height and density in light of the minimal changes in the revised plans.  An additional hearing by the CPC will tentatively take place on August 13, with a written staff recommendation expected approximately ten days before the CPC hearing.  The file will remain open for further written comments until the next hearing.

8.1.7.    Appointment of “Community Plan Update” Committee (CPUC).

The Chair has appointed this new committee to get a head start on the Community Plan update process. The process is expected to begin next year, will take at least three years to complete and will eventually be led by the City. The CPUC will review the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Community Plan (CP) with an eye towards revisions that we would like to see eventually incorporated in the CP.  The CPUC will work with a companion committee being formed by Brentwood Community Council, will report back to the Board and will conduct community outreach.  The CPUC members are:  Richard Blumenberg (PPCC Civic League Representative, LUC member & architect); Patti Post (PPCC Transportation Advisor, LUC member & transportation planner); Howard Robinson (PPCC Area 3 2nd Alternate, LUC Chair & planning consultant); Joanna Spak (PPCC Area 1 Representative & LUC member); Chris Spitz (PPCC Secretary, LUC member & past PPCC Chair); Randy Young (Palisades historian, past PPCC Chair & participant in prior CP revision process); and David Card, PPCC Chair & landscape designer (ex officio/nonvoting).

8.2.    From Officers.

8.2.1.    Chris Spitz (Secretary).  Further housing density bills update.

The Secretary explained that the legislature is now in recess but that all Senate bills that we oppose (as detailed in prior reports and positions) have been sent to the State Assembly and are assigned to the Committee on Local Government.  Our Assemblymember Richard Bloom is a member of that Committee.  We will continue to monitor and will likely communicate further with ASM Bloom about these bills.  The Chair emphasized that these bills apply statewide, that single-family zoning would effectively be eliminated, and that without an unconditional exemption for the fire zone, the greater density caused by these bills would strain our narrow streets and cause unsafe conditions during wildfire evacuations and other emergencies in the Palisades.

8.3.    From At-Large and Area Representatives – None.

8.4.    From Organizational Representatives – None.

8.5.    From Government Offices / Representatives.   Contact information available at: http://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/.

8.5.1.    LAFD Deputy Chief Armando Hogan, West Bureau Commander.  See Item 11.1 below.

8.5.2.    Janet Turner, Field Supervisor, Congressman Ted Lieu.  Ms. Turner announced that the Congressman supports the “Moving Forward Act” (a massive plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure and support families) which recently passed in the House, as well as the action plan by House Democrats on the Select Committee on Climate Change to put the country on a path to reaching net zero carbon pollution by the year 2050.  She also advised that this is “Dog Bite Awareness Month” and the U.S. Postal Service wants everyone to know that it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding dog bites: If your dog gets out and bites a mail carrier, you will be permanently prohibited from receiving mail delivery at your home.

8.5.3.    Durrah Wagner, CD11 Constituent Advocate.  Ms. Wagner introduce herself and encouraged the community to contact her with questions and concerns. The Secretary noted that Ms. Wagner’s contact information is on the PPCC website under Resources/Government Contacts.

8.6.    From PPCC Advisors – None.

9.    Reports from Committees – None.

10.    Old Business – None.

11.    New Business. 

11.1.    LAFD Deputy Chief Armando Hogan, West Bureau Commander. 

The Chair welcomed Deputy Chief Hogan, who introduced himself and provided brief background information on his service with LAFD.  This is his 38th year with the Fire Department.  He is Commander of the West Bureau, which is responsible for a large area of Los Angeles encompassing many neighborhoods on the Westside, from Hollywood (where he is headquartered) to Westchester/LAX to the Palisades.   

Q&A then ensued, with the Chair first asking questions that had been submitted in advance by Board members:

Q:  What is the progress on brush clearance inspections and compliance in the Palisades?

A:  The Department conducts this process by fire station districts; in the Palisades these are Stations 69 and 23.  From a total parcel perspective, there are 5,606 single family dwellings in the Palisades; of that number, 5,319 passed inspections and 295 non-compliance notices were sent out.  He also provided compliance/non-compliance figures on public parcels in the Palisades.  Inspectors will conduct follow-up on those that didn’t pass inspections.  Because of COVID-19 everything has been pushed back. Visit the LAFD website brush clearance page (“Brush”) for updated information and timetables [https://www.lafd.org/fire-prevention/brush].  LAFD is also working with Recreation and Parks and LADWP, at times using bulldozers for brush clearance in areas within their jurisdiction.

Q:  What is the impact of the new City budget cuts on the level of service in the Palisades, specifically the strength and operations of our two stations?

A:  We are fortunate as the budget relates to LAFD, because Stations 69 and 23 will be untouched and will still have the same levels of staffing and service.

Q:  Is there any possibility that we may still have a fire evacuation drill in the Palisades?  Can it be done in a virtual manner?

A:  The Department is looking at both.  He believes the drill would be more beneficial if done in-person, but he has a new staff member who can do simulations and they will see how that will go.  LAFD uses Google Meet for virtual meetings.  He would like to get together with the community and talk about brush and changing terminology; for example, evacuations are no longer called “Voluntary” or “Mandatory,” but instead are now described as either a “Warning” or an “Order.”  He explained the differences.  The reason for the changed terminology was to make the orders easier for residents to understand.  He may arrange for a virtual meeting for us in the near future.

Q/Comments: There is a wetland area within Recreation and Parks/RAP land at the top of Temescal Canyon Park, opposite the RAP maintenance gate, which was recently cut back significantly.  Cindy Kirven (PPCC Forestry Committee Chair) explained further:  This is a riparian zone which is home to frogs and has other ecological benefits.  The landscape company hired to do brush clearance didn’t cut back deadwood from trees but instead weed-whacked wetland plants and thus destroyed the ecology. The agencies need to do better management of fire preparedness, and to be mindful of ecological issues as well as fire protection.

A:  This was not an LAFD hire.  RAP made the hire from its fire prevention/brush clearance unit. It has been brought to LAFD’s attention.  The Department has reached out to RAP and will follow up to ensure that we are all better versed in the ecology and habitats when doing brush clearance.  It’s on the radar and has been discussed.

Additional questions/comments from audience and board members:

Cheryl Zomber (resident):  There are continuous problems on the fire road that connects Marquez Knolls and the Highlands, which she described in detail, including parties with BBQs and alcohol in that area, two car accidents near the top of Lachman Lane by partiers, and illegal fireworks.  She has been working with Councilmember Bonin’s office on traffic issues and needs help from LAFD.  The gate to the fire road is locked on the Marquez side but needs to be locked on the Highlands side.  Residents would like LAFD and LAPD to put up locks and chains on both sides of the road.

Chief Hogan:  Residents should speak with Station 23. He went to inspect this condition a few years ago. Some residents were concerned about how they would get out if the gate were locked.  The captains at Station 23 will let her know what the best method is for dealing with the gate. This is really an easement, not an actual fire road.  LAFD will do whatever is best using an abundance of caution.  He reiterated that he will leave this up to the local fire company as they will know best what to do about the gate.

Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative):  He participated in a walkaround of the area last fall.  He doesn’t know if there is uniformity of opinion on what should be done with the gate.  He recalls that LAFD wanted to be the agency to determine what should be open.  He’s not sure people in the Highlands agree with upper Lachman Lane residents on what to do.

Chief Hogan:  He doesn’t have a problem with locking the gate but he will revisit the issue and will discuss further with concerned residents offline.

Rick McGeagh (PPBA Representative):  He lives alongside Will Rogers State Historic Park.  There is an area on Sunset Blvd. between the State Park Road and the switchback along Sunset that isn’t cleared of brush.  There had been a dispute over which agency is responsible for brush clearance in this area: Park Rangers or LAFD?  He read from a statement received from the Park Rangers: There is now agreement that LAFD will clear the area.

Chief Hogan: LAFD is working with the “Alert Wildfire” project.  This is an initiative sponsored by universities that involves placing cameras in the wildland environment as a “pre-fire” measure.  LAFD is looking for help from the community as to where cameras should be located.  The goal is fire prevention, not surveillance of individuals.  Cameras should be in an elevated location.  CERT members will probably monitor.  Areas with poor cell service are ideal spots to locate cameras in order to help firefighters spot fire incidents early on.  Send ideas for camera locations to info.@pacpalicc.org or to Dave Card.  PPCC will pass the ideas on to Chief Hogan.

Patrick Hart (resident):  He has questions about brush clearance related to homeless-set fires.  There was a fire in the lower bluffs last week and a fire in Castellammare this morning with homeless articles present.  Does LAFD investigate homeless fires?  Also, there is a homeless encampment in Marquez Canyon (the area to the east of the Highlands Starbucks, off of Sunset) where the property owner can’t be found.  What can LAFD do about brush clearance in that area?

Chief Hogan:  Go to “Brush” on LAFD.org.  Scroll down to “reporting a homeless encampment.”  LAFD works with LAHSA and other agencies to identify locations. The Department can’t always investigate fires of any type of suspicion.  Sometimes if they get to the scene and it’s a small fire, they won’t necessarily call out the arson unit.  Usually they’ll document the fire if it’s in a homeless encampment.

Patrick Hart: Is there any plan to clear brush on the steep hillside below the Via bluffs?

Chief Hogan:  There’s always a plan; he doesn’t know the timetable but will make sure local inspectors are aware of the problem.

The Chair thanked Chief Hogan for speaking to the Board and community and answering our questions.

12.    Adjournment.   At 6:14pm the Chair called for nominations from Board members for officer positions.  There were no nominations and at 6:15pm the Chair announced that nominations were closed.  Discussion of agenda items continued until the meeting was adjourned at 6:40pm.

ATTACHMENTS:

Item 6 – Annual Treasurer’s Report

PPCC Treasurer’s Report June 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020
Balance 6/1/2019 40,902
Balance 5/31/2020 40,441
Decrease in Funds -461
Regular Contributions (many Gala related) 1,572
Rent – Use of Library Room 108
Insurance 1,500
Mailchimp / Data / Misc 1,113
PAPA, LAFD, Library gifts 1,460
P.O. Box Rental 150
Other Expenses ($500 refund, small misc) -231
Total Operating Expenses 4,100
Operating Loss -2,528
Dinner & Tribute Revenue 8,295
Event Costs 6,228
Event Profit 2,067
Decrease in Funds -461
Total Decrease since June 1, 2019 -461

Item 8.1.2 — Actions and Positions taken by the Executive Committee

Budget/Public Safety: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PPCC-EC-Letter-re-funding.pdf

Homeless Shelter/Public Health, Safety:
http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PPCC-EC-Letter-re-homeless-shelter-plan.pdf

http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PPCC-EC-Letter-to-Mayor-re-homeless-shelter.pdf

http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PPCC-Letter-re-Homeless-Health-Safety.pdf

http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PPCC-EC-Letter-to-Mayor-re-homeless-shelter-2.pdf

Housing Density Bills:
http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PPCC-EC-Letter-re-SB902Appropriations.pdf

http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PPCC-EC-Letter-Senate-Housing-Density-Bills.pdf

http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Fire-Hazard-Exemption-Policy.pdf

Marinette Rd. Project: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PPCC-Letter-re-1270-Marinette2R.pdf

Resolution Suspending Elections:
http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PPCC-Executive-Committee-Resolution-re-Suspension.pdf 

Item 8.1.3 – Officers’ and Area & At-large Representatives’ Nomination/Election Process & Time Frame, authorized by the Executive Committee

Officers’ Process & Time Frame:

June 30 – Special Board Meeting:  1) Nominating Committee announcement of officer nominations; 2) Board member nominations open and accepted until 15 mins. before close of July 9 Special Board Meeting (Bylaws, Art. VII.1-2)

July 9 – July Board Meeting:  Board member nominations of officers accepted until 15 mins. before close of meeting (Bylaws, Art. VII.2)

July 23 – Special Board Meeting: 1) Officer candidates forum held (if any contested seats); 2) election of officers for 2020-2021 term. If necessary due to contested offices, majority of EC will decide on alternate voting procedures (Bylaws, Art. VII.3-4 & IV.1.C)

Area & At-large Representatives’ Process & Time Frame:

On or before July 23 Special Board Meeting:  Chair to appoint the Election Committee for the election of Area & At-large Representatives for the 2020-2022 term; if the office of Chair is contested, the current Chair to coordinate with the opposing candidate/s in appointing Committee members (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 1.A)

One hour before scheduled start of July 23 Special Board Meeting:  Deadline for incumbents to submit written notification to Chair of intention to run for re-election for the 2020-2022 term (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.D.2)

July 23 – Special Board Meeting:  1) Announcement of Chair’s appointment of the Election Committee; 2) Announcement of incumbents running for re-election for the 2020-2022 term (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.D.2)

On or before July 30:  Nominating Committee to distribute Notice of Election Nominations to the public (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 2.A)

One hour before scheduled start of August 13 Board Meeting:  Deadline for candidates, including incumbents, to submit Candidate Statements to the Chair (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.D.1)

August 13 – August Board Meeting: Chair announces names of candidates running for Area and At-large Representative positions; if necessary due to a candidate’s name being erroneously omitted from the announced list, majority of EC will decide on an alternate procedure for the candidate to submit required documents (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.D.1)

Upon adjournment of August 13 Board Meeting:  Campaigning may commence (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 3.H.1)

August 27 – Special Board Meeting:  Candidates forum held (if any contested offices) (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 6)

September 4 (8 days after the Aug. 27 Board Meeting):  Election ballot link published on PPCC website and voting commences (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 4.B.2)

September 18 (2 weeks after voting commences) – Deadline for submission of ballots (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 5.C)

Between September 18-24:  Election Committee to count ballots and determine winners; if necessary, majority of Committee will decide on an alternate virtual procedure to count ballots and/or for coin toss, if required in case of a tie (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 7.A-C)

September 24 – Board Meeting:  Deadline for Election Committee to announce names of winners and vote count, first to candidates and then to the public (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 7.D)

Ten days after public release of election results:  Deadline for any challenge to election results (Attachment A to Bylaws, Sec. 7.F)

October 1:  Term of office for newly-elected Area & At-large Representatives begins (Bylaws, Art. VIII.2.B, Art. XI); if any election challenge is made pursuant to Sec. 7.F of Attachment A and is not resolved before October 1, the current Representative of the challenged seat shall remain in office until the challenge is resolved.

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