MINUTES FROM JANUARY 14th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Matthew Quiat, Jenny Li, Karen Ridgley, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Brenda Theveny, Craig Natvig, Beth Holden-Garland, Alan Goldsmith, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Fay Vahdani, Richard Blumenberg, Reza Akef, Eric Dugdale, Jim Kirtley
Voting Alternates: None
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Zennon Ulyate-Crow, Jack Coleman, Karyn Weber, Cindy Kirven, Rick Mills, Rick McGeagh, Lee Anne Sanderson
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 5:30pm. Steve Cron 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 November 12, 2020 were approved. Upcoming meetings: January 28, 2021 — Zac Gaidzik (Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s deputy) will speak on COVID and vaccines.
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 $38,848.32. 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. Executive Committee determination of exigent circumstances/in-person meetings infeasible; Zoom meetings to be held indefinitely (until orders and conditions allow). Bylaws, Art. IX.1.A. The Chair explained that the Executive Committee has unanimously determined that exigent circumstances (as defined by the Bylaws) continue to exist, requiring PPCC meetings to be held virtually for an indefinite period. We will continue to hold meetings by Zoom until orders and conditions allow.
8.1.2. Riviera Country Club/Longworth Maintenance Gate update. The Chair explained that the Area 8 Representatives have been alerted by neighbors that the Riviera Country Club (RCC) has been using the maintenance gate for public access, which is an unauthorized use. The Chair recently met with Len Nguyen (CD 11 Senior Planning Deputy), Durrah Wagner (CD 11 Palisades Deputy) and Don Smith (RCC General Manager) to talk about the issue. This is a concern to Area 8 residents in the Polo Fields neighborhood. There are traffic and school safety issues along Allenford Dr. and Longworth Ave. The participants in this meeting discussed their concerns and viewpoints. The Chair, along with the Area 8 Representatives Reza Akef and Andrew Wolfberg, will be meeting in one week with Councilmember Bonin, Len Nguyen and Durrah Wagner to discuss our viewpoints on the subject. Meanwhile, based on our past position in support of the neighbors when this issue arose in 2018, the Executive Committee has sent a letter to Councilmember Bonin requesting that he in turn request that the Planning Dept. issue a Zoning Determination letter regarding the use of the maintenance gate. The letter has been sent to the PPCC Board and is posted on the PPCC website [See: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/PPCC-EC-Letter-re-RCC-Longworth-Gate.pdf].
8.1.3. Palisades SLO Michael Moore retiring; new acting SLO as of 1/17: James Allen. The Chair announced that we are losing one of our favorite LAPD officers: longtime Palisades Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore is retiring on January 17. The Chair remarked that SLO Moore has done a wonderful job for us, and has been open to and cooperative with residents and PPCC. He will be replaced temporarily, starting on the 17th, by Officer James Allen as the Acting (not permanent) SLO. Capt. Tom of LAPD West Division has advised that there are several candidates for the position and we will see them coming forward.
8.1.4. [New: County Vaccine Information.] The Chair summarized a recent press release from the LA County Public Health Dept. The County is ramping up vaccine efforts. The goal is to complete vaccinations of frontline health care workers and staff by the end of January. Visit www.vaccinatelacounty.com for more information. There will be a Town Hall on Tuesday, January 29 on Facebook and other media platforms about the vaccine.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). Updates: 1) STAP program (digital signs in bus shelters): Bonin Motion (CF 20-1536): https://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2020/20-1536_mot_11-24-2020.pdfPPCC Letter: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/PPCC-Letter-Motion-STAP-RFP.pdf
2) WRAC meetings 11/16 & 12/21/20; 3) new proposed legislation (SB 9 and 10). See 1/8/21 Update: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/WRAC-Legislative-Update-1-08-21.pdf.
The Secretary briefly summarized the information contained in her written report linked in the agenda. She also stated that the WRAC LUC had unanimously passed both motions to oppose SB 9 and 10 and this matter will be on the WRAC board agenda on January 18.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives
8.3.1. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative). There is a situation involving 45 ft. high buildings being constructed in the Coastal Zone. She would like PPCC to look into this issue. Mike Bonin is aware of the issue and he will make a motion in City Council to reverse the problem. The Chair noted that if Councilmember Bonin makes a motion, we will refer the matter to the LUC for consideration. Ms. Toppel also noted that there has been a slew of catalytic converter thefts. She advised residents to keep cars parked inside.
8.3.2. Karen Ridgley (Area 4 Representative). She wished to thank CD11 Palisades Deputy Durrah Wagenr for working with residents on the road racing issue and for assistance in getting speed humps on Asilomar and El Medio.
8.3.3. Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative). She stated that she deeply appreciates everything Congressman Lieu is doing to represent us in Congress.
8.3.4. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative). He also thanked Durrah Wagner for her help with the street racing problem on Palisades Dr.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives
8.4.1. Eric Dugdale (PP Historical Society). Happy Birthday Pacific Palisades! The 99th anniversary of the founding of the Palisades is today, January 14. He observed that as of 100 years ago we were getting over another pandemic. PPHS will be coming out with books and there will be a lot of things happening this year.
8.4.2. Fay Vahdani (PP Chamber of Commerce). She invites everyone to join the Chamber at 6pm on January 26th for the Mayoral Inauguration of Eugene Levy. The event is free and open to the public. Register at the Chamber’s website.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives. Contact information available at: http://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. Brad Fingard, new West Area Representative, Mayor Garcetti. He wished everyone a Happy New Year and remarked that he is excited to be taking on this new role. Mr. Fingard has had two years of experience with the City working with CD 4 (former Councilmember Ryu). The COVID-19 vaccine is top of mind right now. The City has launched a new website, www.coronavirus.lacity.org/vaccine. The public can sign up for a vaccine-related newsletter from the County. Officials are hoping to get to the point of vaccinating persons 65 and older by early February. He also announced that the City has successfully negotiated bargaining agreements with several City unions to allow furloughs to stop. The City is also working to secure emergency funding from the most recent federal CARES package. The Chair asked what the Mayor is doing about police cuts. Mr. Fingard explained that the LAPD union hasn’t been open to renegotiating pensions, but the conversations will continue. The Mayor is pleased that negotiations with the LAFD and civilian unions have been successful.
8.5.2. Deborah Hong, LADWP Community Liaison (see also item 11.1 below).
8.5.3. Janet Turner, Field Representative, Congressman Ted Lieu. She reported that we have received more money for USPS through the last COVID relief package. USPS has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic. We will have mail delays; mail will not arrive daily but in a bundle every few days; this will likely last for about 14 days. USPS will now have more money to hire more workers. Ms. Turner will give a more thorough update next time on COVID relief.
8.5.4. Durrah Wagner (CD 11 Palisades Deputy). She has been helping constituents in the Palisades. CD11 staff are working hard not to be affected by the furloughs; she noted that it looks like they’ve been spared from scheduled furloughs due to successful negotiations, but they will have to take off two days for mandatory furloughs. She is strongly advocating for retention of the LAPD beach patrol which has been working with the PPTFH. The beach patrol is a very important component to PPTFH’s work. Ms. Wagner is also working on a six-month plan. She invited all who are planning future events to please contact her.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. PPCC Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC/Cindy Kirven Chair). Status report on the PFC’s work to date on a tree-planting plan for the Palisades. See PFC outreach letter to 900 block of Hartzell: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Hartzell-Neighbor-Outreach-1-6-21.pdf.
The Committee Chair announced that the PFC is working on a street tree planting plan and they are beginning neighborhood outreach. The first test street that the PFC is analyzing for street tree planting is the 900 block of Hartzell. A letter and flyer will be sent to all homeowners as per the agenda attachments. The PFC members want to introduce themselves to neighbors on Hartzell and to request neighbors’ comments and feedback. They want to excite neighbors about the benefits of trees. There will be a second communication only to people who have a vacancy to qualify for a free street tree. The neighbor must agree to water the tree for five years. The PFC would be the coordinator of neighborhood residents. Urban Forestry will coordinate with agencies and the identification of trees. City Plants (a non-profit organization that operates in a public/private partnership with the City) will coordinate planting after the PFC makes recommendations and obtains approvals. The PFC will return to PPCC for approval as the program progresses.
Steve Cron: When will planting take place? Response: We don’t know yet; it depends on how quickly we can get feedback. It is a slow process but we are moving forward. The Secretary: What if a neighbor with a vacancy doesn’t want a tree to be planted? Response: People must get city permits if they want their own tree. We won’t force a tree if someone doesn’t want one planted. Eric Dugdale: He lives on Hartzell and wants to preserve an old Eucalyptus tree. Response: One of the goals of the PFC is to preserve trees. Our first priority is to plant trees where they are missing.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. LADWP Update. Guest speaker: LADWP Community Affairs Liaison Deborah Hong. Discussion only. Also present and introduced by Ms. Hong: LADWP Electrical Services Managers Ruben Hauser and Dominic Cerulli.
Ms. Hong announced that there are two upcoming online meetings in January that may be of interest to residents (each with multiple meeting dates): the LA 100 Study (to determine how we can reach 100% renewable energy); and the Urban Water Management Plan. She will provide the information to the Secretary. She also noted that if anyone has questions about their individual LADWP bill, they should contact her at: Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruben Hauser next discussed the Temescal Gateway Park pole replacement project. Approximately 70 of the old poles have been replaced, with about 150 more still to be replaced. About 140 of those are in Topanga State Park; LADWP is awaiting a permit for those replacements from park authorities. The remaining approximately 10 poles are in the Coastal area and LADWP is working on obtaining Coastal Commission approval of those replacements. The poles are painted brown steel and will be better able to withstand wildfire. The Secretary asked about the Coastal Commission process and what is happening with the plan to mitigate harm to the endangered plant that we learned about in LADWP’s prior presentation. Mr. Hauser: LADWP’s regulatory group is still working this out with the Coastal Commission; they expect the permit to be issued in March. Mr. Hauser handles only the construction. The Environmental Affairs group is working out the details of the legal matters. The Chair: How is the plant replacement going to be handled? Are more of the plants in the way of the pole replacements? Mr. Hauser: They are being vigilant to make sure no more plants will be removed; they are working out the language of the mitigation plan with the Coastal Commission. Ms. Hong: Our environmental and regulatory group have been working on details of the mitigation plan with the Coastal Commission. Once the permit is approved in March they can proceed. She will return in March to explain the mitigation plan.
Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative): Have the metal poles been tested and will they survive wildfire? Will the wires also be resistant to fire? Mr. Hauser: The reason wood poles fail is that the heat from the fire weakens the pole and once the pole falls the wires also fall down. Unlike wood poles, steel poles don’t burn and have three times the strength; they are far more fire-resistant than wood poles. The arms of the poles are fiberglass. In the past, LADWP used wood crossarms which succumbed to the heat. The conductors are traditionally made of copper because of the salt air; they do a good job of withstanding the heat.
The Chair: Are the wood poles from the 1930s or older? Mr. Hauser: Yes, most are from the 30s and 40s. Ms. Hong: There are about 220 wooden poles which date from 1935-1955. The Chair: This project is important because it brings power to the Palisades; it is one of only two sources of power to Pacific Palisades, the other running along Sunset Blvd.
The Secretary: How long will it take to complete the project? Mr. Hauser: It will take about two months to complete after the permit is issued in March.
The Chair: The second topic we would like to have LADWP address is brush clearance around poles in the Palisades.
Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative): A fire recently broke out at the base of a utility pole on Castellammare, at the edge of the Tramonto slide area. The neighbors were able to notice this and contacted the authorities to put out the fire, otherwise a huge wildfire could have ensued. There is native vegetation in the area. The components on the pole itself had malfunctioned. A number of residents are concerns about vegetation around the bases of poles. What is LADWP doing in terms of preventing potential wildfires, with vegetation, aging poles and malfunctioning components on those poles? Have any poles recently been inspected and have these issues been addressed?
Mr. Hauser: With vegetation, we inspect the area around the poles every year, mostly assessing how trees are growing around the poles and conductors. The inspection crew comes out once each year, then another crew comes out afterward and does necessary trimming, then a crew comes out to verify that the work was done. Another inspection crew comes out each year and looks at the equipment to see what is broken and needs to be replaced; they also look at vegetation as well (so that a potential vegetation problem gets addressed twice every year). The poles themselves are inspected differently. They are regularly looked at when the conductor inspection is done. Also, every 5-10 years LADWP does an inspection just of the poles; they use treatments for termites, etc. Mr. Hauser anticipates doing more detailed inspections going forward due to a new contract they’ve entered into. They will be looking for hotspots on the equipment, using infrared cameras. The vegetation contract has also been renewed and will have more resources available for trimming and for more frequent inspections.
Joanna Spak: A resident was told by LADWP that a particular pole has been put into the queue for replacement and hardening. How can we find out which poles are in the queue? Mr. Hauser: Let us know if you think a pole needs inspecting and replacing. Mr. Hong: She will get a contact number for people to call which the Secretary can put in the minutes and/or add to the website [number to call: 1-800-342-5397].
The Chair thanked the LADWP representatives for their presentations.
11.2. Motion recommended to member-councils by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC): A) Prioritize elementary school reopenings; B) Oppose BONC social media policy; C) Support CF 20-1174 (unfinished development/enforcement). See attachment below for text of recommended motions. Background information: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Background-InformationR.pdf.
Motion A): T he Secretary introduced the motion and referenced the background information that had been provided in the agenda [see attachment below for text of motion]. The Secretary then moved that the board vote to support the motion. Second: Peter Powell (Corpus Christ School/Education Representative). Extensive discussion then ensued.
Lauren Park Mulder (Principal, Marquez Elementary): She is the new Principal at Marquez, with thirteen years of school administrative experience. She described her background. She stated that she believes the motion is right on the mark and covers all the aspects of reopening of schools, and that she appreciated the comprehensive approach of the motion. She explained that many of our local public schools are charter schools; they have flexibility with class size and instruction but must adhere to LAUSD guidelines. They have received the Public Health revised order and are following all directives. Today she met with the school safety committee. They will be conducting training in safety and reopening protocols, which include screening, sanitizing and social distancing. They have two classrooms full of PPE as well as signs, directives, etc. They have also marked the campus for areas that might transmit the virus and have rearranged classroom furniture. They are still working on screening procedures and are preparing daily for safe reopening. They don’t want to prematurely rush into things, and it is important that there is a safe action plan.
Sean Whitley (Friends of Marquez/parent): He appreciates all the work the school is doing to reopen the school. It is painfully obvious that there is no substitute for in-person education. Missing that interaction is very tough for students, especially the youngest. He supports any effort to get students back in school faster.
Casey Ryan Foster (Palisades Elementary parent): She is grateful for the work that we are doing and for bringing this motion.
Peter Powell (Education Representative and Dean of Students at Corpus Christi): Grades TK-4 at Corpus Christi have been onsite for quite some time. The parents and students are very happy. The teachers are happy that they don’t have to teach online. They are looking forward to the vaccine and getting back to normal interaction and socialization with kids. He appreciates the board’s support in getting schools open as soon as possible. He remarked on the precautions that must be taken: Ms. Park Mulder laid them out well. At Corpus Christi, every kid’s temperature taken drop off in the morning; they are then escorted into school at a safe distance. Classrooms have 12 or fewer students in each cohort. There are plexiglass dividers. The staff disinfects several times a day. The school has an App that allows parents to check in before drop off and to enter safety protocol questions. This takes the cooperation of families in the community. Andrew Wolfberg (Area 8 1st Alternate): Have any students been diagnosed with COVID? Mr. Powell: He can’t discuss that.
Richard Cohen (Treasurer): He supports the work educators are doing but doesn’t understand why we’re doing this. This is a matter for the health officials to determine. The Secretary explained that this is intended to allow the voice of Westside constituents to be heard on this issue.
Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative): He doesn’t understand why Andrew’s question didn’t get answered.
Steve Cron: He is confused about the wording. He saw this as prioritizing reopening for elementary school students. The Secretary explained that it is calling for funding to allow for prioritization of safe reopening for elementary and vulnerable students.
Beth Holden Garland (PPRA): She noted that we must get over the hump of the surge.
Karyn Weber (Area 6 1st Alternate): She has two high school students and has seen a decline in everything since schools have been closed. It will be safe once it is determined to be safe.
Jenny Li (Area 7 Representative): Parents are upset and offended that other things have been opened when schools haven’t; we should be using our efforts to put kids back in school if possible.
Honey Rosenthal (parent): Distance learning isn’t working for the vast majority of students; they will be impacted for life. There is increasing depression, anxiety, obesity and other harm by not going to school, which outweighs the risk of in-person schooling.
Jack Coleman (Youth Advisor): His view as a student is that it is absolutely crucial to support this motion. The evidence that school closures have caused negative impacts on students is overwhelming.
Mia (Palisades Elementary parent): She was excited to see the information about this meeting and the motion. She noted that the students have been so diligent.
Peter Powell: Regarding the earlier question about students testing positive, he is not at liberty to share specifics. He didn’t mean to be rude but there are protocols that must be followed. He noted that if a student tests positive, they would have to shut down a cohort; the school hasn’t had to do so. He also agrees with the last comments; young students are very diligent following protocols.
Zennon Ulyate-Crow (Youth Advisor): It is not our place to decide whether to go back or not; that is up to the health care experts. He feels that we do need to get younger children back to school.
A vote was taken. Result: 12-6-2; motion passed by a 2/3 majority.
Motion B): The Secretary introduced the motion and referenced the background information that had been provided in the agenda [see attachment below for text of motion]. The Secretary then moved that the board vote to support the motion. Second: Richard Cohen. Discussion: None. A vote was taken. Result: Unanimous in favor of the motion.
Motion C): The Secretary introduced the motion and referenced the background information that had been provided in the agenda [see attachment below for text of motion]. The Secretary then moved that the board vote to support the motion. Second: Richard Cohen. Discussion: Reza Akef remarked that under current law a project cannot remain unfinished for more than two years; this motion provides for enforcement remedies. The Chair noted that he has had an uncompleted house near him for many years. A vote was taken. Result: Unanimous in favor of the motion.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:40pm.
ATTACHMENT – Item 11.2 (Text of adopted motions: A, B & C)
A) Prioritize elementary school reopenings
Whereas schools provide “essential academic and social-emotional learning” environments, and a broader array of resources including “physical, mental health, and therapeutic services”1;
Whereas “school closures impede learning and compound inequities, disproportionately affecting disadvantaged children”2; and particularly disadvantaged are students who are at a young age, have special needs, or are from underprivileged households;
Whereas many states and countries have successfully prioritized the opening of schools over businesses, instead of the other way around;
Whereas Federal, State and local governments can offer stipends, grants, and loans to businesses and employees who may be forced to close, however the same government bodies cannot offer redress to students for lost opportunities and benefits derived from education;
Whereas “safe and consistently open schools are essential for many parents and guardians … to reenter the workforce”3, and forcing working parents into full time childcare is neither fair nor sustainable;
Whereas the health of all students, staff and teachers must be protected, the federal government and State of California must provide school districts with the resources needed for the safe reopening of schools and to contain outbreaks (should they occur) including the prioritization of school staff and teachers in vaccine distribution;
Therefore, Pacific Palisades Community Council supports prioritizing the many efforts needed to safely reopen elementary schools and special-needs classes for the most vulnerable students in Los Angeles including, but not limited to, daily testing, vaccinations for all qualified students and staff, access to personal protective equipment and the necessary training and signed COVID protocol agreements.
1 Levinson M, Cevik M, Lipsitch M. Reopening primary schools during the pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine. 2020 Sep 3;383:981-985.
2 Armitage R, Nellums LB. Considering inequalities in the school closure response to COVID-19. The Lancet Global Health. 2020 May 1;8(5):e644.
3 Ludvigsson JF. Children are unlikely to be the main to be the main drivers of the COVID‐19 pandemic – a systematic review. Acta Paediatrica. 2020 May 19.
B) Oppose BONC [Board of Neighborhood Commissioners] social media policy
Whereas the proposed BONC Social Media Policy is a direct overreach in power and scope of limiting the ability of Neighborhood Councils to effectively communicate with their constituency; it requires onerous and unenforceable clauses; is overly complicated when existing rules cover many of the issues outlined and a simpler approach would be more appropriate; Therefore, the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils opposes the proposed BONC Social Media Policy.
C) Support CF 20-1174 (unfinished development/enforcement)
Motion to support CF 20-1174 (Koretz and Ryu). Whereas there are unfinished development projects citywide, which were issued building permits, in some instances, more than 8 years prior, such unfinished projects causing the building sites to become eyesores and a disturbance to abutting property owners and neighborhood residents, therefore the City Council is to instruct the Department of Building and Safety, in consultation with the City Attorney, to prepare a report with the department’s enforcement of Municipal Code 126.96.36.199.3. to provide remedies such as a completion bond, which sets time limits to complete projects.