Return to Index of 2016 Minutes


Voting Members in Attendance:  Chris Spitz, Maryam Zar, Jennifer Malaret, Richard Cohen, Barbara Kohn, Sarah Conner, Kelly Comras, Greg Sinaiko, Rick Mills, Sue Kohl, Stuart Muller, Cathy Russell, Reza Akef, Bruce Schwartz, Barbara Marinacci, Gilbert Dembo, Richard Wulliger, Janet Anderson, Todd Wadler, Rick Lemmo, Nancy Niles and Cathy Russell.

Voting Alternates:  Diane Bleak and Quentin Fleming.

Non-voting Advisors and Alternates:  Alan Goldsmith, Michael Soneff, Donna Vaccarino, David Kaplan, Carol Bruch, Laura Mack, Ted Mackie and Kevin Niles.

Start of Business Meeting

1.    Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Maryam Zar read the Mission Statement.

2.    Call to Order and Introduction of the Board and Audience. Chris Spitz called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.  Introduction of the Board and audience.

3.    Certification of Quorum.  Chris certified that a quorum was present at 7:04 pm.

4.    Adoption of Minutes/Upcoming Meetings.  Chris deemed the January 14, 2016 minutes approved as corrected.  Upcoming meetings:  2/11/16.   Further presentation / discussion re Village Starbucks Proposed CUB (onsite beer and wine sales).  2/25/16. (Tentative) VPLUC  update / report supplement / Board  discussion re Village Project land use application (see VPLUC Preliminary Report,, and PPCC minutes of 1/14/16; expected public release of MND / traffic study:  mid-February).

5.     Consideration of Agenda.  The President considered the agenda.

6.     Treasurer’s Report. Richard Cohen reported the financial status as of January 28, 2016.  The total account balances equal $39,067. Richard stated that the only significant transaction was the payment of D&O general liability insurance.

7.     Reports, Announcements and Concerns.

7.1.    Announcements from the President, Chris Spitz.

7.1.1.    Meeting Ground Rules.  1) Due to library rules, the meeting must end promptly at 9 pm; as needed, the President will stay after the meeting to answer questions.  2) The President conducts meeting order and may rearrange order of discussion at her discretion.  3) Board members and audience shall only speak when called upon by the President; there shall be no interruptions except to make a point of order.  4) The President’s role in maintaining meeting order shall be honored.  5)  All discussion shall be civil, respectful and courteous.  (PPCC Bylaws

7.1.2.    PPCC Communications Committee.

Chris announced the committee is made up of: Maryam Zar (Chair), Michael Soneff, George Wolfberg, Brian Deming, Janet Anderson and Chris Spitz (ex officio), members.  The committee’s focus is the launch and maintenance of new PPCC website (in progress); potential e-newsletter; and ongoing messaging/outreach.

7.1.3.    Short Term Rentals (STRs) Update.

Chris stated that PPCC was waiting for distribution and transmittal by the City Planning Dept. of draft ordinance to legalize STRs which are currently illegal in residential zones (draft expected by mid-February).  PPCC position:  opposed to permitting STRs in residential zones (see PPCC minutes of 9/24/15, 10/8/15, 10/22/15, 11/12/15 and attached letters).

7.1.4.    BMO/BHO Amendment Update.  See letter attached to PPCC minutes of 1/14/16.

7.1.5.    Sunset Blvd. Traffic Solutions Community Charrette / Workshop, sponsored by Councilmember Mike Bonin.  February 6, 2016, 8:30am – 1:30pm.  This will be an interactive discussion with experts on ideas to address Sunset traffic problems.  To RSVP go to:

7.1.6.    Update on aircraft noise / support for MVCC motion.  See attached letter below and PPCC minutes of 1/14/16.

7.1.7.    Update on Proposed Village Starbucks CUB.

Hearing date 1/26/16.  Chris reported that as expected (as of agenda distribution) per requests of the applicant and PPCC the file will be kept open for comment by PPCC after further presentation to the board on 2/11/16.  Chris reported that she had conducted a survey of three area stores which have the Evenings Program and would be submitting a report to the board.

7.2.    Announcements from Governmental Representatives Representatives  (Note:  Contact information at:

7.2.1.    Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) – SLO Officer Moore — Not in attendance.

7.2.2.    Los Angeles City Council, District 11; Councilmember Mike Bonin’s Office.

Sharon Shapiro, Field Deputy.  Sharon reported that: (1) CD-11 was appreciative of PPCC’s input on the FAA noise issue.  Councilmember Bonin is pursuing additional information.  (2) The Active 11 event was successful and Councilmember Bonin thanked residents for turning out.  (3) Sunset Traffic – event will be on February 6, 2016 from 9 am to noon and it will focus on traffic from Kenter to the 405, see also 7.1.6 on this agenda.  (4) CD11 Newsletter – will be released tomorrow and Councilmember Bonin hopes people will seek out messages on important topics such as a recent motion for a report from LAPD to report back on deployment measures. (5) Homeless Task Force Count – CD11 thanked Maryam Zar, OPCC and all other people involved in the homeless count and other affiliated efforts.  Questions: (1) at the C-PAB meeting it was stated that a pull of resources to Metro was not affecting the Palisades.  Sharon stated that the Councilmembers are asking the same questions for this specific division and citywide; there is conversation about specialized units (ala probation compliance) and she suggested that we monitor reaction to the Councilmember’s motion. Maryam Zar referenced additional resources for the homeless count.

7.2.3.    Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.  Daniel Tamm, Westside Area Representative, Mayor’s Interfaith Liaison — Not in attendance.

7.2.4.    California State Assembly, Office of Assemblymember Richard Bloom. Stephanie Cohen, Field Representative — Not in attendance.

7.2.5.    California State Senate, Office of State Senator Ben Allen. Lila Kalaf, District Representative — Not in attendance.

7.2.6.    United States Congress, Office of Congressman Ted Lieu. Janet Turner, District Representative — Not in attendance.

7.3.    Announcements from Board Members and Advisors.

7.3.1.    Officers/Area Representatives.

1)  Maryam Zar, Vice-President.   PPTFH update (1/28/16 Homeless Count and recent OPCC outreach).  Maryam stated that there was a count this morning and while the numbers are not finalized it does not appear that there has been a notable increase. The LA Times was in attendance and reporting. (2) Richard Cohen – reported that at the recent CPAB meeting the City Attorney said that LAMC 63.44 has been changed (the law that makes it a violation to camp or loiter in a park or beach subject to that code, i.e., Will Rogers State Beach).  The LA City Council changed that law to make the first infraction a ticket violation and not a misdemeanor.  This complicates enforcement; the discussion that ensued was to hold the City Council responsible for complicating enforcement.  It is unclear when this law was changed by the Council and what is the effective date of the new terms.   (3) Richard Cohen reported that the Pacific Palisades Charter Library will be waiving over-due fees through February 13, 2016.  (4) Sue Kohl (Area 5) – reported that LAPD had done foot patrol in the Alphabet Streets and the effort was received very positively by residents. (5) Reza Akef (Area 8) – tomorrow there is a meeting regarding the Northern Trust Open (traffic control, reduction of neighborhood impacts, etc.) at CD-11 with Area 7 and Area 8 representatives.

7.3.2.    Organizational Representatives.

(1) Rick Lemmo (Chamber of Commerce) – the newest Honorary Mayor is Kevin Nealon (former SNL cast member). (2) Gil Dembo (TCA) – reported that two more lots will be auctioned off to facilitate the completion by the City of Potrero Canyon Park.

8.    Reports from Committees.

8.1.    Bylaws Committee (Richard Cohen and Jennifer Malaret, Co-Chairs).

Richard Cohen reported on joint meeting of the Bylaws and Executive Committees, January 22, 2016.  Topic: drafting of proposed bylaws amendments relative to elected Area and At-large representatives, election procedures and a minor adjustment to Area 3 and Area 4 boundaries (Bylaws Art. VIII.1.B and D; Appendix B and Attachment A).  In consideration of the upcoming (July-September 2016) election process for Area and At-large representatives, and in consideration of the advice of both the Bylaws and Executive Committees, the Chair directed the Bylaws Committee to discuss and draft amendment language to:

1.  Voting:  With the goal of getting as many total votes as possible, the bylaws should enable the PPCC to conduct voting by any one or more of the following methods: U.S. mail, in-person at the Farmer’s Market (or other comparable public venue), and on-line (if available).

2.   Area Representative Candidate Application: Any person desiring to be a candidate for election or re-election shall sign a Candidate Qualification Form that will, at minimum, include: (A) certification of address of that person’s “principal” residence as defined by the Los Angeles County Assessor, i.e., “(1) where you are registered to vote; (2) the home address on your automobile registration, and (3) where you normally return after work. If after considering these criteria you are still uncertain, choose the place at which you have spent the major portion of your time this year.”; (B) certification of the date on which the dwelling began to be occupied as the candidate’s principal residence; and (C) notice to the candidate of the obligation, if elected, to immediately inform PPCC of a change in principal residence.

3.  At-large Candidate Application:  A Candidate Qualification Form similar to that detailed in #2 above shall be required and include a comparable certifications relative to principal residence, ownership of real property or operation of a business in Pacific Palisades.

4.  Area Representative Boundaries: to clarify descriptions and with the agreement of the current Area 3 and Area 4 representatives, the Area Representative Boundaries shall be modified such that both sides of Las Casas are included in Area 3 and any property with a Grenola street address shall be included in Area 4.

5.  Area and At-large Representatives: should an Area Representative no longer maintain his or her principal residence within Area Representative Boundary for which he or she is serving then the seat shall be deemed vacant.  Comparable language to be drafted relative to an At-large Representative.

6.   General Amendments: Newsletter and posting requirements shall be updated and modernized to reflect current practices, along with other amendments to Bylaws Art. VIII.1.B and D; Appendix B and Attachment A that the Bylaws Committee may recommend.

Discussion: (1) the Grenola residents see the entire loop as a unit and perhaps all the streets should stay together.  Richard explained that Baylor really goes with Area 3 because it is impacted by Marquez but the end streets share things in common more with Las Pulgas Canyon.

9.    Old Business.

9.1.    Above Ground Facilities (AGF) Ordinance.

Chris Spitz reported the following:  1) Background:  A revised draft ordinance regulating cell towers and other structures in the public right of way (PROW) was transmitted by the City Attorney on 12/8/15 to City Council committees (hearing TBD). Revisions include: removal of the existing exemption for utility-pole mounted antennas (in certain circumstances); expansion of notice for cell towers in the PROW; and (limited) enhancement of aesthetic criteria.  Chris stated that interested persons should contact President Chris Spitz for a more detailed summary (  Chris showed several visuals of types of poles – and explained the information contained in the attachments below.  See attachments below.  2) MOTION by the Executive Committee: That PPCC support the AGF Ordinance revised as of December 8, 2015, but with a request that “Community Councils” be included among the organizations entitled to receive notice under LAMC Sections 62.08.VII.D.1(e) and 2(e).  Discussion:  None.  Action: The Motion passed unanimously.

10.    New Business.

10.1.    LADWP presentation re proposed temporary (pole-mounted) facilities to increase power capacity due to overloaded circuits in the Palisades.

At a minimum, it is expected that the installations may affect and/or be located in PPCC Areas 3 (Marquez) and 5 (Village/Alphabet Streets) potentially near existing LADWP properties, although also possible in other locations (note:  the proposed DS-104/substation location will NOT be a topic of discussion).   Presentation:  Jack Waizenegger, Assistant Director, Power Systems Engineering Division, LADWP. Bill Herriott, Manager of Distribution and Maintenance for Water & Power.  “Three Troubled DWP Circuits in Pacific Palisades.”  We all want safe, sustainable, affordable, quality and reliable power.  In the Palisades the load has been growing for many years (new homes, businesses, home expansion, additional electronics).  Delayed construction of a new distributing station.  LADWP feels a new station is really needed to improve power quality and reliability. The Palisades is operating on 9 or 10 circuits from 3 “feeders”. Three existing troubled circuits/” feeders” are: (a) outage prone and (b) overloaded.  A map of two circuits was shown of neighborhoods west of Temescal Canyon Road (DS-29) and Area 1.  The third severely overloaded circuit is just adjacent and covers additional areas south of Temescal Canyon Road but also includes the Via Bluffs.  Duration of outages ran far beyond the rest of the City of LA with outages beyond 13 hours.  In the City of LA, a total outage is expected once every 14-15 months.  The Palisades has had 3 within 12 months by comparison.  Our outages are on average 3 to 4 times greater then other areas of the City.  Jack reviewed the Overload Statistics from 2009-2015, which ranged from 85% to 138% usage.  Temporary measures before the summer of 2016 are needed in order to avoid disconnecting service (reference homeowner letter previously sent by LADWP).  Solutions: (1) continue various miscellaneous repairs and replacements per 10/21/2015 letter sent to residents, (2) short term solution is to split the three circuits with two pole top distribution stations to form five circuits and (3) long term solution is to build a new distributing station.   To create three circuits there need to be new locations for pole top sites: (1) Marquez Site, new DS-198, in the public right of way near the existing vault underneath Marquez Ave. and within the existing pole line.  (2) New PTDS 195 south from the corner of El Medio and Sunset Blvd. Benefits:  relieve the overloaded circuits, improve power quality and reliability, and limitations compared to a new distribution station.  Cons:  The pole tops are fused, no backup supply, no backup transformer, no regulation, OH exposure, and minimal remote monitoring and control.  A distributing station would not have the limitations listed previously.  So having a distributing station is safer, there is no overhead exposure or exposure to cars and pole tops have minimal monitoring and control which require remote response.  Visual:  a sample DS-194 on Foothill Blvd. between Jeff Avenue and Brainerd Avenue is what the Palisades installations will look like.  Design and Construction:  LADWP standards are C633-16 last designed in 2012.  The design complies with ADA, GO-95, Cal-OSHA, Title 8 and LADWP rules regarding service and safety.  LADWP has the right to install these per CA Streets and Highway Code Sections 5100-5105.  The installations comply with Power Distribution Division Construction Standards, Transformer Pad Location Requirements for Ambient Sounds Levels in Residential Zones, C721-018; and City of LA Noise Ordinances.  The installations comply with EMF, the Prudent Avoidance Policy (low or no cost avoiding/placing).  Currently there are 34 existing citywide PTDSs.  Schedule:  construction will begin in March with 4 weeks needed per each PTDS.  In-service before summer.  The installations will stay in service until a new permanent DS is built.  There is a CEPA NOP (Notice of Prep) to come sometime this year for a permanent DS.  More PTDSs will be needed; perhaps within a year.  It is likely a third pole top will be built somewhere in the community by winter 2016 but that site has not been determined.  Discussion: Chris stated that before discussion she would like to highlight the notice contained in the meeting agenda for this topic:  the proposed DS-104/substation location will NOT be a topic of discussion.  Arguments about any particular permanent substation location are not appropriate tonight and should be reserved for another time and place.  Any speaker who comments on a specific location for the DS 104 substation will be out of order.   However, just to be clear, general questions about DWP’s process as it relates to the substation and these pole-mounted facilities would be fair and consistent with the agenda. Board Discussion: (1) can the installations be put underground?  No.  Undergrounding would cost too much, take longer to build and would be more disruptive because of the need to construct large vaults into and under the streets. (2) how can we get the community to support LADWP providing power to the entire Pacific Palisades? The CEQA process will be starting and it is helpful for PPCC and residents to be an active part of that process.  Alternative technologies (solar, energy efficiencies, batteries, more efficient appliances, don’t waste energy, etc.) that consumers can utilize help but are not a substitute for these pole tops or a new substation. (3) can we miniaturize these stations like other devices that have gotten smaller?  Main conductors and transformers do not change, i.e. a certain size copper or aluminum can only carry so much based on their natural properties.  If you need to haul a big wagon you need a big truck. (4) if the pole top installations are not built what would the consequences be? The number of outages will increase and they will take longer to restore. (5) once the permanent station is built will these be removed? Yes. (6) what is the longest running pole top facility?  They can last a few decades.  (7) to avoid disrupting traffic where El Medio hits Sunset by the high school, can construction work be scheduled to avoid heavy traffic times before and after school, or is there another location for this tower? The PTDS needs to be located at this intersection. The alternate locations are across Sunset in front of either the Lutheran or Presbyterian church where the unit would be much more visible and along a Scenic Highway. The construction equipment is very noisy so it is not used in the evening in residential areas. Crews have a nine hour shift and usually work 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. The work will be completed by WLA distribution crews and won’t be contracted out.  LADWP works with school and the rapid transit department when work goes on in front of bus stops. Chris Spitz asked that PPCC get notice and enjoy a cooperative working relationship as does the Brentwood Community Council.  (8) have there been issues with the 34 installations, like blowing up or being any more dangerous than a regular pole?  Any installation is vulnerable to the public.  There is no data for failure of pole top installations that Bill is aware of. (9) why can’t the pole go on the rear of the land that the LADWP owns so it is out of sight and out of mind? If it is on private property a CUP would be needed and the process would take too long and that site is too contentious to do anything other than a by right installation. (10) noting reliability, redundancy and fuse blowing comments will residents closer to the new pole tops getting better power? There are many factors involved and it is possible there will be regulating problems so it is not really an answerable question.  The location of the pole tops really cannot be changed.  (11) would the Sunset and El Medio pole top transformer benefit the High School in any way and can it be coordinated with school hours and vacation schedules?  The pole tops are not to supply power for the schools because the schools have their own transformers on site and the pole tops do not increase capacity. (12) DS29 (existing) is a supply station, there is no pole top installation going there. (13) could the two pole tops be built simultaneously? No, one will be finished and then the second built to avoid circuit interruption.  (14) do these changes take into account Caruso’s Village Project?  No this project deals with the existing overload that has been in place for years.  Bill says likely the Village Project will be fed off of a different system and the pole top DS network should not be affected.  Audience Discussion: (1) there is a cost on the community in terms of aesthetics.  The vast majority of outages were not caused by overuse.  The idea is to reduce the amount of areas affected by the outages.  No, the actual system equipment is overloaded in addition to losses being caused by palm fronds and drivers who hit poles.  Heat is the biggest cause of trouble. Every time a transformer is refused because it is too hot that takes life out of transformers and the same is true for underground cables.  Repairs can only be made so many times before replacements have to be made. (2) neighborhoods have been plunged into the dark.  There are new condominium units that are being built.  Residents support a permanent distribution station being built. (3) a resident living across from the Marquez pole top DS site expressed concern about aesthetics and height of the pole top installation.  Bill thought the tallest pole would be 55 or 60 feet and the racks sit 25-30 feet off the ground. (4) will it be a stand alone pole top or will there be attached power lines?  How far will the power lines reach? Does dragging additional power lines to existing poles create a hazard? If something happens at either pole top installation how long would it take for the issue to be addressed?  Additional lines have no affect on reliability other then to improve it.  The pole top installations will tap into existing poles and underground vaults. They must be located close to other already established supply lines.  (5) what is the estimated cost for the pole top projects? Each installation is roughly $200,000.  (6) have you considered the aesthetics of these pole top installations and are these the best looking they can be? LADWP does consider aesthetics and tries to minimize their footprint size-wise and surrounding visual environment.  The poles are subject to wind loading calculations and LADWP’s poles have to be worked on in conjunction with all other Joint Pole Authority participants (cell companies, etc.).

11.    General Public Comment — None.

12.    Adjournment.  Chris Spitz adjourned the meeting at 9:01PM.



January 15, 2016

Honorable Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Councilmember (CD 11)
Honorable Herb J. Wesson, Jr., Los Angeles City Council President and Councilmember (CD 10)
All other Los Angeles City Councilmembers (Hon. Blumenfield, Buscaino, Cedillo, Englander, Fuentes, Harris-Dawson, Huizar, Koretz, Krekorian, Martinez, Price, O’Farrell and Ryu)

Via email to all Councilmembers

Hon. Councilmembers Bonin and Wesson and all other members of the Los Angeles City Council:

Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) has been the voice of the community for more than forty years.  The recent increase in noise from low-flying commercial aircraft has resulted in complaints from residents in Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica Canyon as well as in West Los Angeles, Mar Vista, Santa Monica and adjacent areas.  Last night our board was briefed by the FAA on the proposed Metroplex program with additional attention given to the current complaints.  The PPCC board takes notice of our residents’ concerns regarding the increased noise from commercial flight operations over our community.  We have reviewed the attached motion unanimously passed by the Mar Vista Community Council on January 12, 2016.  We note that the airplanes flying over Mar Vista appear to be the same craft that have flown over our community.  The MVCC motion supports flight operations into LAX over neighborhoods, specifically including Pacific Palisades, that offer a reduction of noise impacts.

After the FAA briefing, the PPCC board unanimously approved a motion to concur with and support the MVCC motion.

In the brief time it has taken to prepare this document around 6:00 AM, four aircraft have flown low over my house.  Thank you for your consideration.


Christina Spitz, President
Pacific Palisades Community Council

Encl. (MVCC Motion)

cc (via email):

Honorable Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator for California
Honorable Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senator for California
Honorable Ted Lieu, U.S. Congressman (33rd District California)
Honorable Karen Bass, U.S. Congresswoman (37th District California)
Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Honorable Tony Vazquez, Mayor, City of Santa Monica
Kathryn Pantoja, Environmental Affairs Officer (Noise Management), LAWA
Omar Pulido, LAX Community Liaison, CD11

MVCC Motion passed unanimously – January 12. 2016

WHEREAS, the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) is an official neighborhood organization of the City of Los Angeles;

WHEREAS, beginning no later than October 2015, residents of Mar Vista have observed and experienced significant overhead changes to arrival patterns of commercial passenger airplanes into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX);

WHEREAS these airplanes fly over Mar Vista every 1-2 minutes, beginning before dawn and continuing through the day into the evening, at altitudes lower than they did prior to October 2015, emitting noise at higher levels than they did prior to October 2015;

WHEREAS, residents of the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, and other parts of the City of Los Angeles have reported similar observations regarding changes to approach paths to LAX since at least October 2015;

WHEREAS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for flight approaches and departures relating to LAX;

WHEREAS, the FAA is in the process of implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), with the goal of transforming the country’s air traffic control system from a ground-based system to a satellite-based system in order to increase efficiency, safety, and predictability to flights throughout the United States;

WHEREAS, on October 8, 2015, the FAA concluded a public comment period relating to its implementation of NextGen technology for LAX and other Southern California airports;

WHEREAS, representatives of the FAA have not explained the reason for the observed changes to flight approaches into LAX over Mar Vista but have denied that they are associated with NextGen implementation;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the MVCC requests and supports efforts by the Los Angeles City Council to request information from the FAA regarding the reason for the observed changes to flight approaches into LAX over Mar Vista.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the MVCC supports flight approaches into LAX over the neighborhoods noted above that would offer a reduction of noise impacts.


Talking Points re Revised AGF Ordinance
(CF 09-2645; City Attorney Draft Dated December 8, 2015)

A.       Background

1.       In September 2012, acting on a 2009 motion by former Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, the City Council directed the City Attorney to revise the current Above Ground Facilities (AGF) Ordinance (LAMC §62.00, et seq. — regulating cell towers and other structures, known as “AGFs,” located in the public right-of-way).  Specifically, the Council called for elimination of the existing exemption for utility pole-mounted cell towers, expansion of notification requirements, enhancement of aesthetic criteria and proof of gap-in-coverage (Council File 09-2645).  PPCC and many other community organizations (including all members of WRAC) strongly supported these directed revisions.

2.      Following the Council’s directive and later directives from the Public Works and Gang Reduction (PWGR) and PLUM Committees (to eliminate the proof of gap-in-coverage requirement and to retain an exemption for utility pole-mounted “Small Cell” installations; see Secs. B.1 and C.1, below), the City Attorney submitted multiple drafts of a revised AGF Ordinance (in 2013, 2014 and most recently on December 8, 2015).

3.     The December 8, 2015 draft (“2015 Draft”; reflects input from City agencies such as LADWP, Planning, Cultural Affairs and the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) and includes further revisions by the City Attorney in light of recent changes in federal and state law.  The PWGR and PLUM Committees are expected to consider the 2015 Draft in a possible joint session in early 2016.

B.      Key Provisions of the 2015 Draft

1.        The exemption for utility pole-mounted antennas is eliminated in certain circumstances: Antennas larger than “Small Cell” (see below) are not exempt (i.e., the exemption is eliminated) in all areas other than commercial (C) and manufacturing (M) zones, and in C and M zones in two circumstances: (1) if the pole is located in a defined “below grade” area (e.g., Specific Plan, Historic Preservation, Scenic Highway) or (2) if the adjoining lot “has residential use.”  The utility poles themselves (apart from antennas) and all Small Cell antennas are also exempt, wherever located.  (See Small Cell definition discussed in Sec. C.1, below; other exemptions are listed in Sec. C.5, below.)

2.    Notice is expanded for cell towers in the public right-of-way (including freestanding “monopole” cell towers and non-exempt utility pole-mounted large antennas, i.e., those where the exemption is eliminated, as noted above):  The AGF applicant must mail notice of the application to any owners and residents of lots within a 250 ft. radius from the proposed AGF location; and to Neighborhood Councils (but not Community Councils), the City Council office and homeowners’ and/or residents’ associations within the boundaries of the proposed AGF location.  Note: the AGF applicant must provide proof of mailing (via postal service receipts, mailing service certification or “certification from the Applicant”); the existing registered mail requirement is eliminated (also eliminated in prior draft iterations); and more limited (existing) notice requirements remain for smaller, non-cell tower AGFs (e.g., cabinets).

3.   Aesthetic criteria are enhanced, to a degree: Specifically, most AGFs (including freestanding “monopole” cell towers) located in residential and below grade areas are subject to a new “Least Intrusive Means Test” (“the least amount of physical or aesthetic intrusion into the Public Right-of-Way, taking into account the physical characteristics of the AGF, including but not limited to, size, shape, height, volume, color, noise, camouflaging and screening”) – except that non-exempt utility pole-mounted large antennas are subject to a different (new) discretionary requirement:  the AGF applicant may be required to paint the antennas to match the pole in order to “conceal or minimize visual impact.”  Note:  utility-pole mounted antennas are also subject to state law, e.g., Public Utilities Code requirements regarding pole attachments.

C.      Other Provisions of Note

1.     A “Small Cell” (exempt under the 2015 Draft and per the PWGR and PLUM Committees’ directive) is defined as an antenna or “group of antennas” mounted on a utility pole with a “total cumulative volume” of not more than 3.0 cubic feet, excluding cable and conduit.  Additionally, a Small Cell must extend no more than 6 inches from the pole unless additional “stand-off” is required to comply with applicable health or safety regulations; and may not be installed more than 6 feet above the highest transmission lines on a utility pole.  Note:  a prior 2014 draft specified a total volume of “less than 2.0 cubic feet” for a single antenna, i.e., not “cumulative” volume for a “group of antennas.”

2.     Non-exempt utility pole-mounted large antennas are not subject to prior Cultural Affairs Commission design approval (required for all other AGFs), nor to height limits (since the poles themselves are exempt) – but are subject to other applicable provisions.

3.      Pre-determination field investigations of AGF locations will now be at the discretion of BOE.  Note:  Existing provisions (also in prior draft iterations) for some mandatory field investigations (in certain specified instances) have been eliminated.

4.     Certification that the facility will comply with applicable FCC requirements (also directed by the City Council in 2012) remains a requirement in the 2015 Draft (as in prior iterations).

5.     Persons or organizations that received initial notice of the AGF application (other than Neighborhood Councils and the Council office) may appeal the BOE’s determination.  Any appeal must be “received by” BOE within 14 calendar days from the date of notification of the determination (notification to be given by the AGF applicant within 3 calendar days to all those who received initial notice of the application).  Note: the existing language (also in prior draft iterations; now eliminated) is for appeals to be “submitted to” as opposed to “received by” BOE within 14 calendar days.

6.     In addition to Small Cells, exempt facilities include (among other specified structures):  street light poles, fire hydrants, traffic and pedestrian control fixtures, utility poles (other than non-exempt antennas mounted on the poles), utility pole-mounted antennas in C and M zones (except as described in Sec. B.1 above), electrical power meters associated with Small Cell or exempt utility pole-mounted facilities (new), and “vent stacks” related to underground vaults.

7.     The 2015 Draft contains numerous revisions with varying degrees of significance.  Those interested should review the Council File and the 2015 Draft (link in Sec. A.3, above) and should not rely solely on these Talking Points for information.

Christina Spitz, President
Pacific Palisades Community Council
January 8, 2016

The Skinny – How Are Cell Towers Treated Under the 2015 Draft AGF Ordinance?[1]

Freestanding (“Monopole”) Cell Towers[2]

Notice:  Applicant must mail notice of the AGF application to: owners and residents of lots within a 250 ft. radius of the tower location, the Neighborhood Council and Council office where the tower is located, and relevant HOAs and/or residents’ associations.
Applicable Standards:  Subject to height limits and “Least Intrusive Means Test” (if located in a residential or defined “below grade” area, e.g., Specific Plan, Historic Preservation, Scenic Highway); “hardship waiver” required (if located in a below grade area); other aesthetic, public safety and permit processing requirements apply.
Appeals:  Any person or organization that received initial notice of the application (except for Neighborhood Councils and the Council office) may appeal.  Process:[3]  Applicant must (within 3 calendar days of BOE’s determination) notify those same persons and organizations of the determination; appeals must be “received by” BOE within 14 calendar days from date of notification, i.e., actual time to initiate an appeal may be shorter than 14 days.

Utility Pole-Mounted Cell Towers[4]

Exempt Facilities, i.e., those not subject to ordinance requirements:  Utility poles themselves (apart from antennas) and other specified structures in all areas; “Small Cell” antennas in all areas;[5] antennas attached to poles in commercial (C) and manufacturing (M) zones, except in two circumstances (see below).
Non-Exempt Facilities, i.e., those subject to ordinance requirements:  Large antennas (not Small Cells) in all areas other than C and M zones, and in C and M zones if: (1) the pole is located in a below grade area, or (2) the adjoining lot “has residential use.”
Notice and Appeals:  If non-exempt antennas:  Same processes apply as set forth above.
Applicable Standards:  If non-exempt antennas: Not subject to height limits or Least Intrusive Means Test; hardship waiver required (if located in a below grade area); subject to new discretionary aesthetic requirement[6] and other applicable provisions.

Christina Spitz, President
Pacific Palisades Community Council
January 8, 2016

[1] Don’t forget – the Above Ground Facilities (AGF) Ordinance only deals with cell towers and other structures located in the “public right-of-way” (sidewalks, parkways, medians, alleys, streets).  Cell towers located on private property (buildings, yards, parking lots, etc.) are governed by different Municipal Code regulations; additional permitting requirements also apply to towers located in the Coastal zone (including in the public right-of-way).
[2] These types of towers consist of antennas set on poles (usually metal) that are not used to support (i.e., not attached to) any power, cable, telephone or telecommunication lines or wires.  Examples: two on Sunset Blvd. just east of Capri in the Palisades Riviera and several along Palisades Dr. in the Palisades Highlands.
[3] AGF applications are initially processed by the Bureau of Engineering (BOE); staff determines administratively whether to approve the application (without a hearing).  BOE’s determination becomes final if no timely appeal is made; any appeals are decided by the Board of Public Works (with a hearing), “subject to the City Council’s right of review under Charter Section 245.”
[4] In contrast with “monopoles,” these types of towers consist of antennas set on utility poles (usually wood) that are used to support (i.e., are attached to) power, cable, telephone or telecommunication lines or wires.  Examples: several along Sunset Blvd. in Brentwood and the Palisades and one at Via de la Paz & DePauw in the Palisades.
[5] “Small Cell” basic definition: a utility pole-mounted antenna or group of antennas with a total cumulative volume of not more than 3.0 cubic feet, excluding cable and conduit.
[6] Applicant may be required to paint antennas to match the pole in order to “conceal or minimize visual impact;” antennas are also subject to state law, e.g., Public Utilities Code requirements regarding pole attachments.

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