MINUTES FROM SEPTEMBER 24th 2020
Meeting held via Zoom videoconference
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Haldis Toppel, Brenda Theveny, Barbara Marinacci, Dick Wulliger, Rick McGeagh, Cathi Ruddy, Reza Akef,* Alan Goldsmith* (*arrived late)
Voting Alternates: Melanie Bouer, Peter Powell, Beth Holden-Garland, Cathy Russell
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Zennon Ulyate-Crow, Jack Coleman, Patti Post, Mary Mueller, Marilyn Wexler
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 5:30pm. Mary Mueller 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 August 27, 2020 were approved. October 8, 2020: (1) welcome new & returning Board members; (2) presentation by Jeff Klein, outreach manager for the Recorder-Registrar/County Clerk’s office, on the November election voting process; (3) (tentative) consideration of Via de las Olas parkway tree replacement matter; October 22, 2020: (tentative) consideration of WRAC-recommended motions; other 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 cash balance is $38,781.58. We received several donations amounting to $125 in connection with the election. The cost of conducting our election amounted to $728. This is much lower than previous cycles because we now have the system established. Prior to online voting it cost us about $8,000 to print and send ballots and we received just a few hundred ballots back. In each of the last three cycles using the online system which Heather Cohen and the Treasurer developed, we received more than 1,000 votes at much lower cost and with much greater convenience.
In addition, the Treasurer filed PPCC’s California Secretary of State form SI-100 as required biennially.
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 at least until January 31, 2021 (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 rather than in-person through January 31, 2021. We will continue to hold meetings via Zoom through the end of January, at which time the Committee will revisit the circumstances.
8.1.2. Executive Committee recommendation to cancel the December 2020 PPCC Awards event due to exigent circumstances; request for Board approval. The Chair reported that the Executive Committee has unanimously voted to recommend canceling the December 2020 PPCC Awards event due to the pandemic conditions. He asked for the Board’s approval; the Board unanimously approved canceling the event.
8.1.3. Alternate Area & At-large Representatives Application Process: Appointment of Three Chairs Committee (Bylaws, Art. VIII.3.C and D); applications now being accepted; see: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Alternates-Application-Notice-2020.pdf.
The Chair announced the following members of the Three Chairs Committee: Maryam Zar, Committee Chair; Chris Spitz and Randy Young. All are past PPCC Chairs, as required by the Bylaws. The Three Chairs Committee will review and consider applications from interested and eligible community members to become Alternate 1st and 2nd Area & At-large Representatives. Applications are now being accepted. Information about how to apply is linked on the PPCC website home page under “Alternates Application Information.” The deadline to submit applications is 5pm on December 18. The Three Chairs Committee will present nominations for election by the Board, likely at the October 22, 2020 PPCC meeting. We encourage Palisadians to apply for these positions.
8.1.4. Thank you to outgoing PPCC Board members (term ending September 30, 2020). The Chair bade farewell to the following outgoing members and thanked them for their longstanding service to the Board and the community: Area reps Reza Akef, Steve Boyers, Rick Mills and David Peterson; and Organizational reps Amy Baker, Barbara Marinacci, Rick McGeagh, Jan Ostendorf and Cathi Ruddy.
8.1.5. Orientation session for new members (tentative date Oct. 1, 5:30pm; details TBA). The Chair announced that there will be an online orientation session for new Board members on October 1 at 5:30pm. Returning Board members are welcome to attend; contact email@example.com for log-in instructions if interested.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). (1) Update on state housing bills: The Secretary reported that since her last update at the August 13 PPCC meeting, SB 902 (Wiener) failed in Committee, but SB 1120 (Atkins) passed in two Committees and then reached the Assembly floor. The bill would have allowed lots splits and duplexes on all parcels in single-family residential zones statewide, thus eliminating single-family zoning and without a full exemption for the high fire zone. After the bill passed in Committee, PPCC’s Executive Committee approved a letter which was submitted to Governor Newsom, urging him to veto SB 1120 if it reached his desk. The letter is on the PPCC website and we have previously distributed it to our email list, but we will also include it in the minutes. [See Letter to the Governor: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/8-21-20-signed-Housing-to-Gov.pdf.] As has been widely reported, SB 1120 was then taken up by the full Assembly only minutes before the midnight deadline to pass bills during this session; our Assembly member Bloom and several other Los Angeles-area Assemblymembers voted No, but the bill nonetheless passed in the Assembly by only one vote. However, time ran out before the required concurring vote by the Senate could be taken, so the bill failed. We expect some form of either SB 902 and/or SB 1120 to return in early 2021. We will continue to monitor and to emphasize the need for a full exemption for high fire hazard zones.
(2) 9/16 WRAC meeting report: The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (known as WRAC) held its regular monthly leadership meeting on September 16. For those who are unfamiliar, WRAC is an alliance of all 14 neighborhood and community councils on the Westside of Los Angeles, ranging from Westchester to the Palisades and Bel Air to Westwood to Palms. The Secretary Chris Spitz is the primary PPCC representative to WRAC, appointed by PPCC Chair Dave Card, who is the alternate representative. Chris was elected Vice-Chair of WRAC at the meeting. She joins the newly-elected WRAC Chair Matt Wersinger, President of Del Rey Neighborhood Council and Secretary Robin Greenberg, President of Bel Air-Beverlycrest Neighborhood Council. WRAC bade farewell to its Chair this past year, PPCC Chair Emeritus Maryam Zar, who decided not to run again, and thanked her for her service. The Secretary reported that the new WRAC Executive Team has ideas to invigorate the organization and hopefully make it even more relevant in terms of expressing our regional concerns and positions, as adopted by at least 2/3 of member councils, to elected officials. Stay tuned for a few motions that were passed by the leadership group for recommendation to member councils, which we may take up at a later PPCC meeting.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives – None.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Cathi Ruddy (PP Woman’s Club). The PPWC is sponsoring a flu vaccine clinic at the Clubhouse on October 17, 2020 from 9am-noon. The vaccinations will be free for everyone 6 months of age and older. The vaccines are in the doses given to them by the County Health Dept.; she doesn’t know if there will be senior citizen doses.
8.4.2. Chris Spitz (reporting at the request of Bob Benton in the absence of a Chamber of Commerce representative). As reported in the Palisadian-Post, the Chamber is pleased to announce that the new Palisades Honorary Mayor is Eugene Levy.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives. Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/.
8.5.1. Durrah Wagner, CD11 Palisades-Brentwood Field Deputy.
Ms. Wagner reported that top of mind for the Palisades community is the ongoing fires. Councilmember Bonin recently brought forward a motion in Council with the goal of protecting neighborhoods in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ). She next provided an update on the storm basins along Palisades Dr.; CD11 is working with Sanitation on removing debris collected in the basins; this is an ongoing effort that will last a several weeks or even months. She urged everyone to be prepared for emergencies by signing up for NotifyLA. LA County has a great new emergency preparedness guide which the Secretary noted is posted on our website. Requests for improved signage at the El Medio/Asilomar bluffs have been put in to Recreation and Parks.
Ms. Wagner also related that a constituent who rents an apartment in a building on Sunset Blvd. is suffering quality of life issues involving her landlord and the condition of the property. CD11 has been helping her work with HCIDLA to ensure that Code violations can be addressed. The County Public Health Dept. has also been involved in assessing the situation. Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative) has been helping the constituent as well. The Chair noted that this is Karen Miller who lives at 17020 W. Sunset Blvd. She had wanted to speak during public comment but informed the Chair before the meeting that she was ill due to toxic conditions in the building. She has submitted many complaints about Code violations and the agencies involved have cited the owner. There are ongoing inspections to ensure compliance. The next re-inspection is on September 28.
The Chair acknowledged that improvements have been made at the top of Lachman Lane to improve security; he thanked Ms. Wagner for her work to try and correct conditions and improve the situation at that location.
8.5.2. Kevin Taylor, West Area Representative, Mayor Garcetti.
Mr. Taylor introduced himself as the new West Area Representative for the Mayor, a position that he has now held for a couple of months. He is a former neighborhood council president and was the Mayor’s representative in another part of the City a few years ago. He explained that he has unfortunate news for us: the special parking meter revenue funds were cut from the budget along with all non-essential budget expenditures. The Mayor wishes that this didn’t have to happen; contact Mr. Taylor if you have additional questions.
Mr. Taylor next reminded us that it is very important to get our flu vaccinations this season. We need to follow all the protocols to keep infection rates lower for the required period of time in order to reopen. Some grants have been available through the LA COVID relief fund, in various rounds. Right now, we are in round 4.5, specifically for certain non-profits. This is the final week to submit the completed census; he urged everyone to do so. The Mayor is also forming a Youth Council; visit www.lamayor.org/myc for more information.
The Chair noted that the Palisades community is very upset about the parking meter revenues now going into the general budget. He reiterated that our highest priority is maintaining our police and fire resources in Pacific Palisades. He described how vital these resources are to us and repeated that it is imperative to keep funding for these resources in the budget.
8.5.3. Deborah Hong, LADWP Community Affairs Liaison, and staff from the LADWP Power Systems and Environmental Affairs departments (see Item 11.1 below).
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. Zennon Ulyate-Crow and Jack Coleman (Youth Advisors). There is a virtual environment at Pali High. Most school activities have been canceled due to COVID. Administrators and faculty can go on campus, but many are working from home. There is an ongoing discussion about how to open the pool safely, with legal waivers. Harvard-Westlake has reopened for sports practice with social distancing. Students must fill out a waiver and questionnaire on an app; they need clearance from the app before going to sports activities every day. Many students are becoming student poll workers. Since the County is facing a shortage of poll workers it is important to have volunteers to help count the votes and to prevent long lines at polling places during COVID.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Election Committee (David Kaplan, Committee Chair). Report on the 2020 Election of Area and At-large Representatives – announcement of election results. The Committee Chair reported on the vote counting process and results, as contained in the Election Committee Report: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Election-Cmte-Report-September-2020.pdf. The newly-elected Representatives are: Area 1, Joanna Spak; Area 2, Steve Cron; Area 3, Haldis Toppel; Area 4, Karen Ridgley; Area 5, Sue Kohl; Area 6, Matthew Quiat; Area 7, Jenny Li; At-large, Alan Goldsmith. Area 8 is vacant and will be filled via the Alternate Representative application & election process.
The Committee Chair also noted that the Election vote counts are contained in the Results Data Sheet, which will be published on the PPCC website and distributed to the email list: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Election-2020-Vote-Talley.pdf. On behalf of the Committee he congratulated all the newly-elected Representatives, who will take their seats as of October 1, 2020 and will serve a two-year term.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. LADWP Presentation — Proposed Power Pole Replacement Project. Guest speakers: Deborah Hong, LADWP Community Affairs Liaison, and staff from LADWP Power Systems & Environmental Affairs departments. Possible Board action. For background on the project, see:
Deborah Hong and Albert Van Stryk (LADWP Distribution Construction and Maintenance Superintendent) were both present. Ms. Hong gave a brief overview of the project and noted that the document prepared by the Secretary was a good background summary. There are 220 wooden poles in the Temescal Canyon area that were installed between 1935 and 1955. LADWP proposes to replace these poles with weathered steel poles, which are more resistant to fire and dry winds and meet current PUC safety standards and load requirements. The poles are located in rugged terrain, accessible only to hikers and mountain bikers. Multiple jurisdictions are involved, including the MRCA and CCC. Construction started a year ago but an endangered plant was discovered (as described in the background summary). LADWP has been using third-party experts to survey the area and is working on a plan to mitigate harm to the plants while allowing the needed pole replacement to proceed.
LADWP will attend the CCC’s three-day meeting on Nov. 4-6, when the mitigation plan will be presented. They hope to receive permission from the CCC to proceed. Ms. Hong emphasized that the existing poles are in danger of failing and asked for PPCC’s support for the proposal.
Mr. Van Stryk then spoke, explaining that this is the alternate feed to the Palisades and is of critical importance to the community. It is a high priority for LADWP to bring the poles into the modern age to meet new PUC standard for construction. The poles will be of weathered steel, painted brown, and will have “rapter guards” which prevent birds from being killed by the voltage. Pictures showing exemplars of the proposed poles and a map of the area where the poles will be replaced were shown onscreen during the meeting.
Richard Cohen (Treasurer) noted that many Palisades community members are concerned about preserving our natural environment; he asked how the endangered plants may be damaged by the construction and what is the plan to protect them. Ms. Hong: LADWP has conducted an exhaustive biological survey and she understands that the CCC is weighing in on a proposed plan. LADWP has engaged biologists and environmental advisors to give input and to conduct studies. They are working with the CCC and all agencies involved and waiting for a recommendation on the mitigation plan.
The Treasurer asked whether approval of the project would be contingent on a mitigation plan for the plants. Ms. Hong: This is not an “either-or” choice for LADWP. She explained that they must replace the poles and they must also put in place a plan that sufficiently protects the plants. They have engaged third-party experts to survey the area and are leaving it up to the agencies with jurisdiction over the area as to how best to protect the plants.
Beth Holden Garland (PPRA) asked if there would be a break in service during construction. Mr. Van Stryk: This is a sub-transmission line. Power will not go off during construction and there will be no disruption to power.
A question was asked whether LADWP has access to seeds for the plants. Ms. Hong: She believes that as part of the biological survey seeds were collected.
A brief discussion ensued about the process of submitting comments to the CCC should PPCC wish to express a position on the project. The board took no action on the matter at this time, pending further information about the status of the mitigation plan.
11.2. As time allows: Motion in City Council to temporarily halt construction in hillside & high fire zone areas (CMs Ryu & Koretz; Council File 20-1170). Discussion & possible Board action. Motion: https://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2020/20-1170_mot_09-15-2020.pdf. Status: assigned to the Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM); hearing not yet set (as of agenda distribution).
The Chair summarized the motion by Councilmembers Ryu and Koretz, which calls for an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) to temporarily halt construction in hillside and high fire zone areas Citywide. He noted that a hearing in the PLUM Committee had still not been set and he invited discussion to ascertain Board members’ views about the motion. Cathi Ruddy stated that the motion was not well-drafted and needs work on the language to focus on the actual problem of congestion rather than construction. The Treasurer commented that there is little risk of fire caused by construction, and he agreed that the motion language needs more work to address congestion. He also observed that construction sites have protocols in place and that if there were a wildfire, workers at sites would be ordered to leave immediately. Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative) stated that this may be a problem for communities in Council Districts 4 and 5, but it is not a problem for the Palisades community. He objects to the motion’s one-size-fits-all approach; if an ICO is needed for communities in Council Districts 4 and 5, it should be limited to those areas or communities. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) noted that the focus of the motion should be trying to address congestion, not construction per se. There are substandard streets in Area 3 which have only one way in and out and the problem of congestion as related to these conditions should be addressed.
The Chair called for a straw poll to confirm the opinion of the Board as to the following general position: While PPCC supports efforts to improve public safety during wildfire evacuations, this motion as written is not relevant to conditions in the Palisades; it should be more tightly worded and focused on solving the problem of congestion rather than construction, i.e., keeping evacuation routes clear during wildfire events. The Board voted unanimously in favor and authorized submission of a letter expressing this position to City Council.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:11pm.