MINUTES FROM SEPTEMBER 9th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, Karen Ridgley, Haldis Toppel, Sue Kohl, Jenny Li, Matthew Quiat, Craig Natvig, Beth Holden-Garland, Richard Blumenberg, Brenda Theveny, Jim Kirtley, Reza Akef, Fay Vahdani, Peter Powell
Voting Alternates: Marilyn Wexler
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Jack Coleman, Jackson Walter, Allison Polhill, John Padden, Kimberly Bloom, Janet Anderson, Michael Edlen, Rick McGeagh, Cindy Kirven, Karyn Weber, Cathy Russell, Melanie Bouer, Rick Mills
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:01 pm. The Secretary Chris Spitz read the Mission Statement.
2. Introduction of Zoom engineer. Zoom engineer Alex Ponting was introduced.
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 August 12, 2021 were approved as corrected (to add Sue Kohl as attending). Upcoming meetings: September 23: (1) 5:45pm-6:30pm (hard adjournment): abbreviated PPCC board meeting – farewell to departing organizational representatives; thanks to Officer Rusty Redican for his service; possible action re 405 Fwy toll-pay express lanes proposal (see Item 11.1 below); (2) 6:30pm-8:30pm (immediately following PPCC board meeting): Emergency Preparedness Town Hall via Zoom with Brentwood Community Council (see Item 8.1.2 below). October 14, 2021: (1) Beginning of PPCC fiscal year and welcome to new organizational representatives; (2) LUC report on zoning in the Palisades.
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 $63,494.32.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Marge Gold (resident). Since Ms. Gold could not stay for the entire meeting, she wanted to comment on a few matters: dockless electric scooters are a nuisance and should not be allowed; she asked if the Village Green could be listed in the proposed letter to Councilmember Bonin; she would also like something to be done about the unacceptable conditions she has observed at the library where homeless individuals are camping in the portico area near the community room.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. City Redistricting update. Community Interest Statement submitted to City Commission on 8/19/21: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PPCC-Community-Interest-Statement-8-12-21.pdf.
The Chair summarized the PPCC Statement and noted that it has been submitted to the City and is now publicly posted on the City Redistricting Commission’s website.
8.1.2. Emergency Preparedness Town Hall with Brentwood Community Council, 9/23/21, 6:30-8:30pm via Zoom. BCC is organizing this important informational meeting which Palisadians can attend immediately following the PPCC Board meeting on the 23rd. We will follow up with more details as soon as they are available.
8.1.3. Recreation and Parks (RAP) updates: 9/2/21 RAP Commission hearing (Marvin Braude Beach Bike Path extension status); 9/16/21 RAP Facility Repair & Maintenance Commission Task Force (RAP Task Force) meeting (expected topics: proposed Palisades Dog Park status; restricting BBQs in parks in the VHFHSZ; maintenance of benches & tables in Veterans Gardens at Palisades Recreation Center).
The Chair explained that the bike path extension was approved by the RAP Commission at the September 2nd meeting; authorities can now start building the extension. It will be double-wide so that one-half of the path will be used for bikes and the other half for pedestrians and runners. There will be a bridge over the drain at Santa Monica Canyon. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative): Is this the same extension that was promised years ago? The Chair: Yes, they’ve been working on it for a long time. It will run from the Santa Monica border up to the southern part of the big parking lot past the volleyball courts when it will become single-wide through the parking lot at the lifeguard headquarters. The Chair is concerned about transitioning from double-wide to single-wide at that location and has suggested appropriate signage to warn bicyclists and pedestrians. Steve Cron: Will the path at some point extend beyond the Bel Air Bay Club? The Chair: He doesn’t know of any plans for a further extension and he noted some of the topographical conditions that might prevent such an extension.
With regard to the RAP Task Force: RAP Commissioner Joe Halper is a member; there are several local issues that he would like to be taken up, including the status of the Palisades dog park, BBQs in parks in the VHFHSZ and benches and tables maintenance at the Veterans Gardens. Since Mr. Halper cannot attend the next meeting on the 16th, these matters will likely not be on the agenda at that time but may be on the next meeting agenda after that. The Chair encouraged interested community members to sign up for notices for dates and times of the RAP Task Force meetings. The dog park organizers have signed up for notices.
8.1.4. LA Congress of Neighborhoods, 9/25/21, 8am-3:45pm via Zoom. To register visit: https://www.neighborhoodcongress.la/?mc_cid=c72278e380&mc_eid=97a42e3dd6. This free, all-day event is an opportunity for persons interested in civic matters to obtain extensive information and network with public officials. It is open to everyone, not just neighborhood council members.
8.1.5. Draft Housing Element Update. Public hearings on 9/21 and 9/22/21. For information about the hearings see: https://planning.lacity.org/plans-policies/housing-element-update#events. For information about the draft EIR see: https://planning.lacity.org/plans-policies/community-plan-update/housing-element-news/draft-environmental-impact-report. Comments on the draft EIR are due 9/7/21. For information about the draft plan see: https://planning.lacity.org/plans-policies/housing-element-update#draft-plan. Comments to Planning staff on the draft plan are due 9/22/21. The Executive Committee is reviewing and may submit comments on both documents with Brentwood Community Council.
The Chair described the housing element update process and announced that a comment letter has been submitted; a link will be added to the minutes. [New comment letter: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PPCC-Comment-Letter-Housing-Element-DEIR.pdf.]
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Secretary Chris Spitz. SB 9 and 10 update. Letter to Governor Newsom 8/26/21: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PPCC-Letter-Governor-SB910.pdf. Email Letter to Mayor Garcetti 9/2/21: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Email-Letter-to-Mayor-9-2-21.pdf.
The Secretary announced that these bills passed in the legislature at the end of August. Assemblymember Bloom was a No vote and Senator Allen was “NVR” on both bills effectively a No). The bills are now on the Governor’s desk either for signature or a veto. He has until September 15 to sign or veto [correction: per another rule involving timing of the legislative session, the veto deadline is actually October 10]. PPCC’s E.C. and officers have written additional letters which are on the PPCC website and have been distributed to the board [see: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Supp.-Letter-Governor-SB910.pdf and http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/9-7-21-Email-re-SB-9-and-10.pdf]. We don’t know if the City’s lobbyist in Sacramento has reached out directly to the Governor although we’ve urged her to do so. Meanwhile, Councilmember Paul Koretz has also written to the Governor requesting his veto (see his letter on the PPCC website under Resources/Presentations).
The Secretary also urged board and community members to submit comments to the Governor urging his veto of these bills. Information about how to submit comments is in the recent PPCC Mailchimp bulletin which in turn is linked on the PPCC website.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives.
8.3.1. Karen Ridgley (Area 4). The recent wood dump on Temescal Canyon Blvd. was the largest she’s ever seen. She called Noah Fleishman and he put in a 3-1-1 request for Sanitation to pick it up. The no dumping signs have been torn down. She urges everyone to make 3-1-1 requests and take photos of the persons doing the dumping if possible.
8.3.2. Sue Kohl (Area 5). She thanked the Chair and Secretary for their efforts on the Will Rogers homeless housing matter. She is curious about possible traffic ramifications from the location of the proposed dog park on Temescal Canyon. Will many people be making dangerous U-turns to access the side of the street where the park will be located? The Chair: He is sure that was studied and discussed during past approval processes; he also noted that people can drive around the block rather than make U-turns.
8.3.3. Rick McGeagh (Area 7 Alternate). A horrific fire was recently evaded in the Will Rogers State Park neighborhood. A lady who was driving down Will Rogers Rd. flew off a cliff and the accident started a fire. A neighbor saw the incident, called LAFD and the fire fortunately was put out. The woman was not seriously injured. The area is a cauldron of dead brush and trees. Residents have communicated with Noah Fleishman and Jerry West, the State Parks acting Angeles District Superintendent, asking which agency has jurisdiction on Will Rogers Rd. and imploring that the railing along the road be rebuilt.
8.3.4. Jenny Li (Area 7 Representative). A man named Felix is known as the guardian of Rustic Canyon Park. The general feeling is that he’s an asset to the park. Marilyn Wexler (At-large 2nd Alternate and president, Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association): Felix has been sleeping at the park for 6 years and agrees he is an asset to the park. The Chair: Felix has added to the safety of the park at Rustic Canyon; someone had complained to the police about his closing the gates when they are supposed to be closed; he leaves the exit gate open so people can exit. Cathy Russell (Area 7 2nd Alternate): She is appalled because the park has been neglected. The park director is never there and is unresponsive; residents instead go to Felix for help.
8.3.5. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative). He is disturbed by people stealing other people’s lawn signs related to the recall election. He hopes this will be reported to authorities.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Jim Kirtley (YMCA). Lou Kamer (resident) will speak on YMCA events. There will be a community clean-up on September 25 between 8am-11am. The YMCA has a new program for teens; if they show a vaccination card they’ll get a two-month free membership. The Pumpkin Patch, the Holiday Ho Ho Ho and the Christmas tree lot will all be returning.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives. Contact information available at: http://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. Allison Holdorff Polhill, Chief Advisor & District Director, LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin (and PPCC Education Advisor) – LAUSD update [Member Nick Melvoin announced as attending after agenda distribution].
The Chair introduced Mr. Melvoin, who noted that it was his pleasure to speak with PPCC. He explained that he would talk about the LAUSD redistricting process, about what has happened during the first few weeks of school and about some of the school improvements.
The Charter requires the school boundaries to be redrawn every ten years; there is a fifteen – member redistricting commission. The census data just come out and the commission is now meeting. His designee to the commission is Wendy Gruehl. So far, there was a pop in population growth in the west valley which he represents. He doesn’t think he’ll lose the Palisades or West Los Angeles but the process must play out.
On school reopenings: Mr. Melvoin explained that the LAUSD board has voted unanimously to put in place a vaccination requirement for eligible students aged 12 and over, to begin at the start of the next semester. This requirement doesn’t apply to independent charter schools like Pali High which can decide what it wants to do. He feels this is critical for the schools to stay open. LAUSD has been leading the country in terms of masking and testing requirements and air filtration systems, and they are now leading the country with student vaccination requirements as well.
Ninety-eight per cent of kids are back in school for full-time, in-person learning. LAUSD has implemented the safest possible environment for kids. He wants to be sure that everyone is safe but that learning is not disrupted. He is proud that they introduced a plan for quarantined students to enable them to continue with their teacher. Individual students can Zoom in to the class. LAUSD is searching for a new superintendent. Mr. Melvoin is holding a Zoom town hall after the PPCC meeting. They are doing a national search. He would like community voices to engage on this.
One of Mr. Melvoin’s priorities is decentralizing LAUSD. There are now 44 communities of schools which are essentially mini-districts. Every week LAUSD is supporting new physical improvements to our schools. He is pushing for HVAC systems to be implemented or improved at Pali High, which is an LAUSD-owned property. His office has been assisting Revere with traffic on Allenford and with a community garden. They are also assisting with improvements at Canyon Elementary. They are looking for a new principal at Marquez Elementary. They are also working to replace air filtration systems for the Pali school complex.
Q&A then ensued. The Treasurer: He expressed the view that LAUSD has done the right thing requiring vaccinations. Mr. Melvoin: He thanked the Treasurer and agreed that this was the right thing to do.
Chat questions were asked: Is there air conditioning at Pali High throughout the school buildings? What about exemptions from the vaccine requirement?
Allison Polhill (Mr. Melvoin’s Chief Advisor/District Director and PPCC Education Advisor): Their office is working to get air conditioning in the entire school. Regarding the HVAC system, because Measure RR passed there are now $7 billion in funds available for facilities projects. Mr. Melvoin advocated for Pali High to be the first to get air conditioning, as it is one of the few LAUSD schools that doesn’t have AC throughout; they are working on getting this for all areas and they think it will happen.
Mr. Melvoin: Regarding vaccine exemptions, this will be the same process as with other immunizations; there will be medical exemptions that parents can apply for. This is the same as with vaccines for polio and measles.
Kimberly Bloom (Area 5 1st Alternate): How many board members voted to require vaccinations and was it unanimous? Mr. Melvoin: Seven board members attended and the vote was 6-0, with one board member recusing himself because of a stock interest in Pfiser.
Questions on chat related to sidewalk repairs and crossing guards: Mr. Melvoin: They are working with Councilmember Bonin, with whom they have a good relationship, attempting to make sure that necessary sidewalk repairs near schools are completed and that problems related to crossing guards are fixed.
The Chair: How is the school able to receive adequate funding during the pandemic when government funding is based on attendance? Mr. Melvoin: They were able to work with Senator Allen and Assemblymember Bloom and got legislation passed to hold the district harmless from attendance requirements. LAUSD is now getting the same amount of funding as it received in 2019-2020 based on that attendance, but this will end eventually.
The Chair thanked Mr. Melvoin and Ms. Polhill for speaking with the Council.
8.5.2. Eric Bruins, CD 11 Transportation Director – Dockless electric scooters regulation update. See Scooters Reporting Info.: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Dockless-Electric-Scooter-Issues.pdf.
Mr. Bruins gave an update on “micromobility” (dockless electric scooters) in the City. There was a hearing in August last year to determine the future of the program. The City Council decided to adopt the program with revisions to address problems involving lack of accountability for operators. Earlier in March this year there was another hearing about equity issues. In April this year, the Council approved an ordinance that including fining operators that aren’t complying with their permits. LADOT is allowed to use the data they collect from reporting to assess penalties for operators. That has not happened yet but he expects it will happen soon. Currently there are six scooter operators with permits in the City. No operator is currently operating more than 4,000 vehicles. Only two operators are in CD 11, mainly in Venice and West Los Angeles. No other location in CD 11 is considered a top scooter use neighborhood. The two “hot spots” for scooter use in the City are first Downtown LA, and then Venice.
Karen Ridgley: She is concerned about the scooters being left in inappropriate places. Does the community have knowledge that they are the only oversight? When someone makes a report how rapidly does someone show up at the location to pick up the scooter? How can we learn the level of compliance and how oversight is working? Mr. Bruins: His office has included information in all of their communications about scooters; the Secretary has prepared an information sheet that includes information about calling 3-1-1 to report scooter issues. Q: Are helmets required? Mr. Bruins: Adults are not required to wear helmets in California.
8.5.3. Officer Brian Espin, LAPD Senior Lead Officer.
Officer Espin gave a brief crime update. In the last couple of weeks a few more burglaries had popped up. In the week prior we only had two vehicle-related crimes. One burglary involved someone acting as a delivery person who jumped over a side gate and went around the back. Another involved an open window or an unlocked door. He highly recommends installing an instant notification camera system. Our LAPD beach detail officers starting this fall will be Officers Adam Margin and Jose Bermudez. These will be our two beach detail officers until next summer.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – See Item 8.5.1 above.
8.6.1. Jack Coleman (Youth): Students returned in-person to school at Harvard-Westlake two weeks ago. Everything has gone smoothly so far; there is testing once a week. Vaccinations were required over the summer. It is important to be back in school in-person. The Chair thanked Jack again for his work on the video of Will Rogers State Beach, while Jack reminded everyone that Peggy Holter also produced the interviews and that the entire Communications Committee assisted in the process. Jackson Walter (Youth): Windward students have been back in school for two weeks; there have been no outbreaks. There was a senior party and a girl had COVID but it didn’t spread. They have had lots of testing and no one else has tested positive. The transition from online to in-person went well and everyone is happy.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Executive Committee.
1) Update re beach homeless housing. Report on recent developments, including remarks on additional documents produced by the City following the CAO’s finding of infeasibility, in response to an additional PPCC PRA request.
The Chair summarized the Executive Committee’s report and the Secretary further summarized some of the documents received by PPCC from the CAO in response to our Public Records Act request. She noted that while we are relieved with the finding of infeasibility, we are disturbed that the documents confirmed the extent of involvement by city, county and state officials who participated since August of last year in eagerly planning for this use at Will Rogers State Beach, without informing constituents and ignoring or making no effort to ascertain the important facts showing infeasibility. PPCC was forced to spent extensive amounts of time researching and presenting critical information over the course of more than four months, most of which appeared not to have been considered by public officials. She also explained the additional reason for infeasibility that we recently learned from Sen. Allen’s office, involving the SEMS guidelines administered by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (as discussed in the Committee’s written report). As she noted, this proposal was doomed from the start and should never have been made in the first place.
2) Motion by the Committee to Support CF 21-0929 (designation of public schools as sensitive uses; ban on encampments in PROW within 500 ft. of public schools). See attachment below for text of motion and background information.
The Chair introduced the motion on behalf of the Executive Committee. No second was necessary since the motion was brought by more than one voting board member. The Chair read and briefly explained the motion as set forth in the attachment below, and asked for discussion. Members had several questions and comments about topics such as why private schools were not included in the motion, whether the library campers would be covered by the motion, whether addresses were correct and where camping would be prohibited. The Chair and Secretary answered all questions.
A vote was then taken. Result: Unanimous in support of the motion by all members voting (all Ayes and one abstention).
3) Motion by the Committee for Board Approval of Letter to Councilmember Bonin for Resolution Designating Sensitive Uses in Pacific Palisades (LAMC Sec. 41.18(c)(1) and 41.18(d)). Draft letter for approval: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PPCC-Letter-Bonin-Sensitive-Uses.pdf. See also attachment below for background information.
The Chair introduced the motion on behalf of the Committee. No second was necessary since the motion was brought by more than one voting board member. He briefly explained the motion and noted that the text of the draft letter was linked in the agenda. He summarized the letter and read each of the locations proposed for designation as sensitive uses. He then called for discussion.
Noah Fleishman (CD 11 Palisades Deputy): He noted that LAMC Sec. 41.18 restricts camping in the public right of way and he explained Councilmember Bonin’s opposition to the ordinance. The Treasurer, the Secretary and the Chair in turn explained why the Executive Committee disagrees with the Councilmember and recommends that the Board approve the letter. The Treasurer noted in particular that it was the Councilmember’s own actions and positions over the course of the last year that led to the necessity for this ordinance and for constituents to request protection for public right of way areas near sensitive uses such as schools, day care centers, public parks and libraries. In response to public comment earlier in the evening, the Secretary also explained that the ordinance provides that only public parks, not privately-owned property such as the Village Green, can be designated as sensitive uses for enforcement under the ordinance. Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative) stated that in his view it is disgraceful that an argument is being made that the term “homeless” applies to all people who are unhoused.
A vote was then taken. Result: Unanimous in support of the motion by all members voting (all Ayes and one abstention).
9.2. Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC) (Cindy Kirven, Chair). Update on the Hartzell Street pilot project.
Ms. Kirven explained that the PFC has been working to get street trees planted on five blocks of Hartzell St. There are 52 qualified vacancies. They have been working with neighbors and the Executive Director of City Plants, who confirmed that City Plants can provide free trees and facilitate the actual planting. The PFC’s next step is to coordinate with neighbors who want to participate. They will need to fill out a form and answer questions, as well as agree to water trees and undertake maintenance for a period of time. No actions are being taken by the PFC to cause any liability for the Council.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. 405 Freeway – Sepulveda Pass Toll-Pay Express Lanes Proposal; possible impact on the Palisades & Brentwood (Sunset Blvd. traffic/commutes). Discussion only (possible action on 9/23). Background information: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/88d93c10a2164de89349bbcd30bcf6b2.
The Chair explained that Metro (MTA) is proposing to install toll-pay express lanes in the Sepulveda Pass on the 405 Freeway. He described the options being proposed. There is a deadline of October 1 to comment on the scope of the study of the alternatives. Our Transportation Advisor Patti Post has suggested that the only thing we might consider in terms of comment by the deadline is to ask for a study of how each of the alternatives will affect traffic on Sunset Blvd. and on PCH. The Treasurer: Impacts on surrounding traffic will be the main focus of this study. The whole idea of the proposal is to improve traffic flow throughout the entire system. He does not believe that any comments are needed at this stage, before the study has been completed. The Chair: We will have further discussion and possible Board action at the next PPCC meeting on September 23 on whether to submit comments on the scope of the study.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 pm.
Attachments – Items 9.1(2) & (3):
Item 9.1(2) – Motion by the Executive Committee to Support CF 21-0929:
Regarding Council File 21-0929 (Buscaino/Koretz): Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) supports the proposed resolution for the City Council to prohibit sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property, in or upon any street, sidewalk, or other public rights-of-way within a radius of 500 feet from all schools listed in Attachment A to the Council File, including without limitation Canyon Charter Elementary, Marquez Charter Elementary, Palisades Charter Elementary, Palisades Charter High School, Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Paul Revere Charter Middle School Science Magnet/Tech/Math Magnet; and further, upon adoption of the resolution, for the City Council to direct the Department of Transportation to post signs giving notice of the restrictions in the radius specified.
PPCC also requests that the definition of “radius” be clarified to specify a radius of 500 feet from the exterior boundary lines of the schools listed in Attachment A to the Council File.
Item 9.1(3): Motion by the Executive Committee for Board Approval of Letter to CM Bonin for Resolution Designating Sensitive Uses in Pacific Palisades:
Draft letter for approval: http://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PPCC-Letter-Bonin-Sensitive-Uses.pdf.