Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Karen Ridgley, Haldis Toppel, Jenny Li, Matt Quiat, Alan Goldsmith, Beth Holden-Garland, Peter Powell, Craig Natvig, Eric Dugdale, Richard Blumenberg, Brenda Theveny, Jim Kirtley, Reza Akef, Fay Vahdani
Voting Alternates: Melanie Bouer
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Michael Edlen,* Rob Weber, Jack Coleman, Jackson Walter, John Padden, Marilyn Wexler, Cathy Russell, Rick McGeagh, Mary Mueller, Nancy Niles, Janet Anderson *after appointment; see item 8.1.1 below
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. David Card read the Mission Statement.
2. Introduction of Zoom engineer. Introductions were deferred.
3. Roll call of voting members and certification of quorum. The Presiding Officer called the roll of voting members and certified that there was a quorum.
4. Approval of Minutes. The minutes of June 24, 2021 were approved. Upcoming meetings: August 12, 2021: continuing discussion/possible Board action regarding comments on redistricting boundaries. September 9 and September 23: topics to be announced.
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 balance is $58,435.65. Since his last report we have received $7,000 in donations. He had previously reported receipt of $20,410, which brings our total recent donations to approximately $27,400. There were no other 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. Beginning of the 2021-2022 term: appointment/re-appointment of Advisors and Committees; request for Board approval of Legal and Youth Advisors. See: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/PPCC-Committees-Advisors-2021-2022R.pdf.
The Chair reported that we have begun PPCC’s new administrative year, which runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. It is now time for the Chair to appoint or reappoint committees and advisors. He has appointed the committee members and advisors named on the document linked in the agenda, with some additions: Jack Coleman has been added as a member of the Communications Committee and David Kaplan has been added as a member of the Community Plan Update/Redistricting Committee (the Committee is now combined under that name). In addition, Nancy Niles and Bruce Schwartz were added as members, and CD 11 Deputy Noah Fleishman was added as an advisor replacing Len Nguyen, to the Palisades Forestry Committee. Per PPCC’s Bylaws, the Chair requested Board approval for reappointment of Rob Weber as PPCC Legal Advisor and Jack Coleman and Jackson Walter as PPCC Youth Advisors. The Board unanimously approved their reappointment.
8.1.2. George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon – update re the landscape contract and State funding for the pedestrian bridge. See prior update, 4/2/21:
http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Pedestrian-Overcrossing-PCH-R.pdf (note: the referenced application for federal funding was never submitted).
The Chair reported that park landscaping is going forward, which will include hardscape additions. The landscaping start date is July 12. Parking spaces will be added in front of the old gym, in the turning circle area. There are plans to irrigate and plant the turning circle. The park is expected to be finished in about 10 months. The legislature has approved the State budget, which includes $11 million in funding to build the pedestrian bridge from Will Rogers State Beach to the south entrance of the park. The Chair briefly explained the safety issues and the need for the bridge. He is hopeful that the bridge can get designed and funded quickly. The Chair thanked Sen. Ben Allen and Asm. Richard Bloom, who made bridge funding a priority.
8.2. From Officers
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). She announced that Bob Benton has been appointed as the alternate representative for the Chamber of Commerce, replacing Sarah Knauer in that position. Fay Vahdani will remain as primary representative. The Secretary thanked Ms. Knauer for her service to PPCC.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives.
8.3.1. Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative). Area 8 is still awaiting the City Planning Dept. letter which was supposed to come from CD11 and the Planning Dept. The neighbors are very concerned about the Riviera County Club’s unauthorized use of the Longworth Gate. A declaration is needed from the City setting forth the limitations on the use.
8.3.2. Rick McGeagh (Area 7 Alternate). PPBA is hosting the regional All-Stars tournament at the Field of Dreams this weekend.
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. Noah Fleishman, CD 11 Palisades Field Deputy.
Mr. Fleishman remarked that the 4th of July Parade was successful. He gave a shout out to the PAPA committee and in particular to Daphne Gronich and Matthew Rodman. He has spoken with PPCC’s Chair about fire safety. There was a residential fire this morning on Paseo Miramar. This was primarily inside the structure and the fire was controlled before spreading to the brush. No one was injured. Six streets in the Palisades will be repaved this week, with some restriping and bike path additions; there will be no removal of parking spots. He has a call tomorrow with the heads of all libraries on the Westside to figure out how to open the branches quickly. There will be a City redistricting meeting this Monday, July 12. Regarding the Riviera Country Club gate matter: He was been told that the letter was supposed to have been sent at the end of June. He will get back to Planning for an update. The Chair asked Mr. Fleishman to expedite the request, as this is an illegal use and needs to stop. Mr. Fleishman stated that he will pressure the Planning Dept.
8.5.2. Janet Turner, Field Director, U.S. RepresentativeTed Lieu.
Ms. Turner reported that Rep. Lieu and Sen. Padilla wrote a letter to Governor Newsom, asking that he put $1 billion in the State budget every year to go towards homelessness. The American Rescue Plan has provided over 3,000 vouchers for housing for the homeless in the City of Los Angeles. Neighboring cities have their own allotments for housing.
8.5.3. LAPD Officer Brian Espin (acting SLO).
Officer Espin noted that the 4th of July parade and fireworks were amazing. He reported that the Palisades is doing well in terms of crime. We have had a few vehicle thefts in Los Leones. He asked everyone to pass the word around not to leave keys in your car. There was a shooting on PCH on July 15th near Gladstones. The incident escalated from a verbal then to a physical altercation, then guns started shooting. The victim was shot in the leg. No one called the police. LAPD only learned about the incident when Pacific Division was notified that a shooting had taken place in the area because the victim had been hospitalized.
Officer Espin also explained that he is working with Caltrans on possible repainting of sections of PCH that he feels need to be addressed for public safety. The parking signs are faded or vandalized and should be replaced with newer, clear signs. He would also like to paint portions of PCH red when there are existing restrictions, mainly the portion coming from Getty Villa. He was asked about appointment of the Palisades SLO. Officer Espin is one of the SLO appointee announcements. There will be a deployment meeting next week. He hasn’t been assigned yet to an area. The other SLO appointee is Officer James Allen.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.2. Executive Committee. Update re Bonin motion/homeless housing on state beach parking lots/public parks (CF 21-0350) and “anti-camping” ordinance (CF 20-1376). See E.C. letter of 6/26/21:
The Chair and Secretary updated the board on events that had occurred to date related to the matters referenced on the agenda. They summarized a written document that had been sent earlier to the Board, “Update on Developments”:
The Chair also discussed the history of the area with Eric Dugdale (PP Historical Society), including the fact that the area of the parking lot where proposed homeless housing would be sited was once the site of the “Long Wharf” (monument marker is now placed at the site).
Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) asked about the status of LAPD Beach Detail Officer Rusty Redican. Officer Redican was in attendance. He explained that he loves the Palisades and is extremely appreciative of the foundation of trust and reliability that he has developed with the community. He stated that while he cannot stay with LAPD at this point, he believes we will need more officers in this area, especially when the bridge is built.
Nina Madok (resident) announced that a new 501(c)3 organization has been formed to fight the Bonin proposal – Beaches and Parks 4 All. They will not be engaging in PPCC-type work. They will be doing lobbying and working to inform our elected officials why the beaches and parks should be open for all. They will also be presenting an alternative feasibility study showing actual impacts.
9.2. Three Chairs Committee (Chris Spitz, Committee Chair; Richard G. Cohen & Steve Boyers, Members). Nomination of 2nd Alternate Representatives, Areas 3 and 8; election by the Board.
The Committee Chair announced that the Committee was nominating Michael Edlen as the nominee for the 2nd Alternate Area 3 Representative. She explained that there were multiple applicants who were all well-qualified and the decision was difficult for that reason. She thanked all the applicants. She summarized Mr. Edlen’s qualifications, including his work for many years as a well-known and respected realtor in the Palisades as well as his many philanthropic endeavors. She then requested a vote by the Board to approve Mr. Edlen as the 2nd Alternate Area 3 Representative. A vote was taken. Result: Unanimous approval.
The Committee Chair also announced that unfortunately, there were no applicants for the Area 8 2nd Alternate position. That seat will remain vacant until someone eligible comes forward to apply.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Guest speaker: Senator Ben Allen. Discussion only.
The Chair introduced Senator Allen. The Senator stated that it was a pleasure to see everyone, and that he would begin by discussing big picture issues in Sacramento. He is happy with the pace of vaccine distribution, although some portions of population are more difficult to convince. Seventy-five percent of the population over the age of 12 has received at least one shot. The hospital and death rates are the lowest since the start of the pandemic. Most businesses have now reopened. In regard to the budget, we have been greatly impacted by the stock market and now, due to the strength of the market and the economy, there’s a lot of money in the budget. Budget items include $10 billion in COVID relief and $12 billion to address homelessness. Public education funding will go up across the board. There is also funding for tourism and TV and film tax credits to keep production here, as well as funding for the arts/creative sector. Additionally, there is resiliency funding related to climate change and wildfires. There are also victories for the Palisades and coastal communities. He was able to get $2 million for maintenance and any needed project upgrades at Topanga and Will Rogers Parks. He worked closely with the PPCC Chair and Joe Halper on the Potrero Canyon park, specifically on the missing link: getting safely from the park to the beach. There is $11 million in the budget in funding for building the bridge. The Senator thanks PPCC for its years of support for this project. Construction will commence in the months ahead.
The Chair: Where will funding for the bridge go – to Caltrans or the City of LA? Sen. Allen: It will go to the City but with a Caltrans component; he will get more details about the funding for us. There will be a follow-on bill within a month or two. A question was asked: Where does the bridge start and end? The Chair: BOE did a study and had a conceptual design – the ramps will be ADA compliant, with the bridge’s end spot in a little triangle of dirt next to a bathroom at the lifeguard headquarters. This shouldn’t take away any parking spaces. On the bluff side it will switch back or will be one long ramp, ending near the mouth of the canyon at the south end.
The Secretary: PPCC opposes the motion to place homeless housing at Will Rogers State Beach. We know that the Senator supports our beaches, parks and natural resources. Can he intercede on our behalf with the State park officials to stop this from moving forward? Sen. Allen: He understands that this is now being studied for feasibility. His perspective is that public access to the coastline is important. He knows the parking lot is used for fire command and staging. He thinks there are lots of problems with the proposal. He would be surprised if the CAO came back with a finding of feasibility. He has expressed concerns but is operating under the assumption that the City is unlikely to suggest moving forward. The Secretary: We have seen through documents produced in response to our Public Requests Act requests that the City and County were working on completing the feasibility study months before the motion was even brought in City Council. Sen. Allen: We should connect offline on this issue. He would like to know more. He asked whether we have had conversations with CM Bonin’s office. The Chair: CM Bonin came to our meeting on April 8 and basically surprised us with this proposal. Unknown to us at the time, the Councilmember and his staff had been meeting with officials for almost a year about this matter, including with Coastal Commission staff.
The Treasurer: Can we count on you publicly stating your opposition to this proposal? Sen. Allen: He has problems with this but wants to look at all the data and the proposal before making a hard commitment. He will meet with us offline. The Treasurer: We believe the next few weeks are very important; your connections are very important and we hope you can squelch this. Sen. Allen: He will try to meet with Assemblymember Bloom and coordinate with him as well.
Beth Holden-Garland (PPRA): We have strongly expressed all our concerns. Our Councilmember is not on the same page as his constituents.
Nina Madok: She reiterated the information about the new organization, Beaches and Parks 4 All. They are advocating for free public access to all of our beaches and parks. She would be happy to meet with the Senator to discuss the work that has been done; she would like to present information on the impact of this proposal.
Eric Dugdale: He is concerned about bridge location if homeless housing would also be placed next to the bridge.
Sen. Allen: He looks forward to our meeting and learning more; he hears our concerns.
The Chair thanked Sen. Allen for speaking with us and for helping to secure funding for the pedestrian bridge.
11.2. (Tentative/as time allows) City Redistricting Discussion – “Communities of interest” and other factors relevant to redrawing the City Council district boundaries for Pacific Palisades. The matter was deferred due to lack of time.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 pm.