MINUTES FOR JUNE 22nd 2017
Voting Members in Attendance: Maryam Zar, Chris Spitz [acting Secretary], Sue Kohl, Cathy Russell, Barbara Marinacci, Dick Wulliger, Leiauna Anderson, Sarah Conner, Danielle Samulon.
Voting Alternates: Susan Payne, Leah Cox, Carol Bruch, Kelly Comras, Brenda Theveny.
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Brian Deming.
1. Certification of Quorum. The Chair Maryam Zar called the meeting to order at 7:04 pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Sue Kohl read the Mission Statement.
3. Introduction of the Board and Audience. The board and audience were introduced.
4. Approval of Minutes & Upcoming Meetings. 1) Approval of Minutes: The Chair deemed the minutes of June 8, 2017 approved as distributed. 2) Upcoming Meetings: 7/27/17. 1) Chipotle CUB. 2) Sam’s Restaurant CUB. 3) WRAC-Recommended Motions – (a) Open Space Element/GP Process Transparency, (b) Planning Bulletins, (c) Department of City Planning Safeguards. 8/24/17. 1) ASM Bloom Field Deputy Tim Harter and new Pacific Palisades Field Deputy, Melissa Kaufler – (a) Housing Bills (b) Cell Tower regulation (SB 649) status & commitment to local controls. 2) Sgt. Eun, from West LAPD Traffic. There will only be one meeting in the months of July and August.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Chair announced that the Agenda is as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Deferred due to Richard Cohen’s absence. The Chair announced that there were no significant transactions since the last meeting.
7. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
7.1. From the Chair.
7.1.1. PAPA wagon+ (4th of July parade). The Chair announced that PPCC will have a larger wagon than usual in the parade. If any board members would like to ride there is room for 6 more. Daphne Gronich reported that PAPA still needs volunteers, primarily banner carriers.
7.1.2. 881 Alma Real/Pali Post Signage updates. The Chair indicated that a further update will be given at the next meeting.
7.1.3. STRs/Home Sharing Ordinance update. A letter approved by the EC is available at https://pacpalicc.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/06/Home20Sharing20Ord.June202017.pdf.
7.1.4. DWP fence construction at Marquez site. The Chair explained that the fence around the site will be fortified.
7.1.5. DOT (Caltrans) study on possibilities for adding 3rd left turn lane from Temescal to PCH. The Chair stated that DOT (Caltrans) is doing a study on the possibility of adding a 3rd left lane on Temescal Canyon at PCH (southbound). See alternatives at https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Temescal20to20PCH203rd20lane20design2020alternatives.pdf.
7.1.6. Discussion with LAPD Sgt. Eun following Officer Basaker and O’Dea presentations; update regarding speed surveys and funding for task forces. The Chair has had discussions with Sgt. Eun about the surveys and funding. He will attend our August meeting.
7.1.7. Update from LAPD Dep. Chief of Police, Dennis Kato, regarding additional officer deployment on bus routes and reinforcement of beach patrol during busy summer months. Dep. Chief Kato has asked to deploy officers on bus routes to stem the flow of homelessness when it poses a health and safety risk and he supports reinforcement of the beach patrol during the summer.
7.2. From Officers.
7.2.1. Chris Spitz (Chair/President Emeritus).
Cell tower regulation (SB 649) update. Chris announced that a letter in opposition to the bill was approved by the E.C. and sent to Assemblymember Bloom (https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PPCC-letter-SB649-fin1.pdf). We recently learned that the bill will be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee on June 28 and that comments to the Committee were due as of June 22; a second letter was then sent to the Committee and to ASMs Bloom and Ridley-Thomas, both of whom are members of the Committee (https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PPCC-letter-SB649-LGcmtee.pdf). Opposition letters have been sent by some of our members, including PPRA and Peter Culhane. Strong opposition has also been submitted by the County of Los Angeles, Councilmember Koretz and Councilmember Bonin, as well as by WRAC (letters on PPCC website under Resources/Presentations to PPCC). The City of Los Angeles has not weighed in yet because a resolution in opposition is still pending in committee and hasn’t been voted on. Chris will keep everyone informed of the status.
7.3. From At-Large and Area Reps.
7.3.1. Carol Bruch (Area 4 first alternate).
Carol reported in Rick Mills’ absence that a meeting recently took place with 25 neighbors in the Las Pulgas Canyon area, at which another resident, Cosimo Pizzulli, presented plans for development of 8 plots. She explained that he is seeking approval in concept for the development from the Planning Dept. He does not plan to build the buildings himself, but if approved the plans would be available to the purchaser who would have to go through the Planning process under new rules. Cosimo filed his application under the old rules. He stated that he is not pushing any of the limits (whether under old or new rules) and is being more conservative. Some of these plots are on septic tanks and Cosimo told neighbors that he proposes to build sewer lines connected to the City line. The plan would be for the new lines to be privately owned. Neighbors expressed concern about geological issues; Cosimo informed them that no new caissons are needed and the geology is safe. The neighbors will be meeting to study old files related to development and geology of the area. Brenda Theveny stated that the files are over 30 years old; there are many old geological studies and documents they will need to review. Carol also announced that Cosimo will seek approval from the Civic League at its June 26 meeting at 7:30pm in the Methodist Church. Sarah Conner asked whether hydrological issues will be addressed. Carol explained that the neighbors will be looking at all concerns related to a creek in the area and the stability of the canyon and road. She indicated that Cosimo maintains that the area where houses will be located along Marquette is distant from where the slope into the canyon is located, but residents who attended the meeting are deeply concerned about geologic safety, the impact on the road and the installation of a private sewer line as opposed to a City-managed sewer line.
7.3.2. Leah Cox (Area 2 second alternate).
In Peter Culhane’s absence, Leah reported that Peter attended a recent meeting with Dave Dwyer (chair of the Highlands Presidents Council), Lisa Cahill of CD11, and Bruce Schwartz of PRIDE. They discussed several issues involving graffiti, street signage, illegal signs, dead trees, overgrown trees, unsafe structures, broken chain link fencing, a utility pole that has been in a right of way for 12 months, the trail head at 16701 Via la Costa, and standing water in swales in canyon areas in the Highlands off of Palisades Dr. These swales have never been cleaned out. There is a great deal of water there and concern about mosquitos and the Zika virus. This is a public health hazard. Lisa Cahill reported that Vector Control inspected the swales and initially found no mosquitos. A supervisor will return for further inspection. The plan is to drain the smaller areas first. Some of the larger ones are actually 1/4 acre ecosystems and funds will have to be budgeted over the next year to take care of these.
7.4. From Organizational Reps.
7.4.1. Susan Payne (Chamber of Commerce).
Update on Chamber and Dog Park Working Group. Susan reported that the first meeting of the Dog Park Working Group took place on June 15 at CD11. Four officials from Rec & Parks (RAP) were present and all said it was important that they be there. Six Working Group members were there. There was discussion about what people are looking for and funding for a dog park, which will be very expensive. A new dog park will be going in on Veteran near Wilshire. There are 8 pages of City requirements for a dog park, including a prohibition on siting within 150 ft. from any house. The new dog park was approved even though it didn’t meet all of the City requirements. The Working Group is looking at all dog parks and investigating sites in the Palisades. They have ruled out several in advance. The dog park would most likely be located under a lease on land owned by RAP or CalTrans. The RAP officials at the meeting indicated they were excited about the possibility of a Palisades dog park. The meeting was very positive and everyone feels the dog park possibility is closer than it’s ever been. Dog park advocate Leslie Campbell (audience) stated that while they are encouraged, this is still a long process and there are no guarantees. Susan explained that sites that were ruled out include the fire road at top of Lachman; Temescal Gateway Park; the DWP site on Marquez; an area north of the Highlands Plaza on Sunset; and the old Bernheimer lot (now purchased by new owners). She stated that a possible location may be on Temescal Canyon Road south of the high school. The discussions will continue.
Other announcements from Susan. 1) The 20th annual Palisades Sidewalk Sale will take place on Saturday June 24th in the Village. There will be deep discounts and everyone is invited. 2) Caruso has signed a lease with Cinepolis to manage the Bay Theater; Cinepolis is a luxury theater operator based in Dallas. They are very successful and operate 16 theaters at this time, including one at a Caurso development in Westlake.
7.4.2. Barbara Marinacci (Palisades Beautiful).
Report on illegal dumping. Barbara explained that a fatal, fungal tree disease caused by tiny beetles smaller than fleas is killing off over 100 species of trees. The disease is spreading and has hit Brentwood. The mission of Palisades Beautiful is to plant trees and it wants to keep live trees in our area. Barbara stated that she’s not sure if the dumping of tree stumps and cut wood on Temescal Canyon Road is illegal but it is not being monitored. She explained that the problem is that the fungal disease is being transported by the beetles and the disease is spread in cut wood. There was discussion about the fact that many residents view the dumping of wood on Temescal as a positive tradition in the Palisades; however, residents may not be aware of the problem of cut wood spreading the fatal disease. Lisa Cahill of CD11 stated that she will look into this with experts at Tree People. She indicated that the beetle disease is pervasive statewide and there is no real solution at this time other than minimizing the amount of wood being left around.
7.5. From Governmental Representatives.
7.5.1. Stephanie Cohen, District Director, West-Metro LA Field Office (Office of LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl). Due to time constraints Stephanie was unable to stay and give a report. The Chair welcomed her and invited her to return in August.
7.5.2. Lisa Cahill, Palisades-Brentwood Field Deputy, Office of Councilmember Mike Bonin.
Lisa gave several announcements: 1) The Brentwood newsstand lease was not renewed by Whole Foods; Bonin wrote letter of support and there will be a gathering/celebration at the newsstand this Saturday with a petition to try and urge Whole Foods to let the newsstand remain. 2) Hazmat concern and/or other emergency situations involving boulders and rocks spilling into roadways: We should used the same 800 numbers we already know, plus 311; the City will try to triage and take care of problems as soon as possible; call Lisa if the issue is not being handled quickly enough. Daphne Gronich (audience): 311 is not being monitored as frequently on weekends; what should we do in those situations? DWP has a 24 hour customer service line, but Daphne said she couldn’t get through that line either. 3) The Santa Monica Fire Dept. will conduct training exercises next week in Potrero Canyon; there will be 3 hour shifts, with trucks and helicopters; Lisa doesn’t know exact dates but will try and find out for us. 4) The presence of swales in the Highlands off of Palisades Dr. with standing water is a priority and CD11 is working on that. There are no mosquitoes presently according to Vector Control. A supervisor will come out tomorrow to look at all the sites. The work will be coordinated with all departments. 5) Asilomar: this is in the first phase of dewatering and there will be community meetings and more information provided. 6) Great Streets project on Venice and Safety projects on Vista del Mar: some constituents are happy and some aren’t.
Chris thanked Mike for his outstanding letter re SB 649; Lisa will convey the message.
The Chair said that LAPD thinks that if more task forces can be implemented this might impact motorcycle activity. However, they need overtime funding for the task forces (otherwise they will be diverted, funding for task forces will run out and motorcycle activity will increase). She asked Lisa to follow up and let us know if it’s an option for us to secure special or overtime funding for these task forces to operate from the 405 to PCH; Lisa will convey the message.
7.5.3. Daniel Tamm, Westside Area Representative for Mayor Garcetti.
Regarding religious tolerance, Daniel announced that the Mayor participates in many interfaith events. Daniel is also the Mayor’s Interfaith Representative and he has been working with an Interfaith Collective on “Days of Compassion,” which is realizing the intent of Prop HHH and Prop H – with a focus on the building of permanent supportive housing everywhere in LA. He stated that all communities should welcome the building of such housing on a variety of parcels, repurposed property, under-utilized real estate, etc. The City, County, LAHSA, local councils and interfaith groups have been working together on this issue. The Mayor asks for our support for the Housing Impact Trust Fund (“linkage fee”). The Fund is intended to incentivize the building of housing, with developers helping fund certain projects. This is now in a Council committee but there is not 100% support. Cathy Russell: would imposition of this fee discourage the building of housing? Daniel: studies have shown this would not happen; other cities are setting higher fees on development and they keep building. Daniel reported that the estimated revenue would be about $100 million a year. The goal is to build at least 1000 units a year. The Chair announced that PPCC may take up the matter of the linkage fee and whether PPCC wishes to support at the next board meeting.
7.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
8. Reports from Committees – None.
9. General Public Comment.
Daphne Gronich (PAPA) asked that residents not call PAPA to complain if chairs are put out on sidewalks more than 24 hours before the parade. She also announced that they are shifting the fireworks to the pool side of the high school; parking and “no stopping” restrictions will still be in force. There is a need to keep the streets clear for safety reasons.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, guest speaker.
Mike thanked the PPCC board for having him. He introduced our Neighborhood Prosecutor Veronica de la Cruz-Robles and emphasized that his focus is on neighborhoods. He also introduced Lara Drina Schwartz, a prosecutor in his office who had formerly worked with Stuart House (the Rape Treatment Center) in prosecuting cases of abuse. She has now shifted positions and is in charge of a program involving kids living in traumatized environments, in which according to recent science their brains don’t develop properly and they never reach what they were biologically intended to be. Mike wants to develop partnerships to intervene, interact and work on this issue.
Mike explained that he is one of three citywide office holders – the Mayor, the Controller & himself. The City Attorney essentially has three roles. First, he advises the City on every issue with legal aspects. He is also involved in civil litigation, either defending the City in lawsuits or affirmatively suing on behalf of the City, its citizens or the State. Mike has tried to take cases on the defensive side and turn them around to make a positive benefit for the City. He described examples such as the Wells Fargo lawsuit and suits against major retailers for false advertising regarding pricing, and against hospitals for dumping homeless. The third category of the City Attorney’s work involves prosecution of misdemeanors. These include domestic violence, elder abuse, drunk driving, vandalism and graffiti. They prosecute between 45,000-50,000 cases a year. An important measure is that they are reducing the likelihood of recidivism. In this category, has tried to lead the way in Los Angeles and nationally on criminal justice reform. He instituted the Neighborhood Justice Program, in which volunteers are trained in principles of restorative justice. He cited examples of individuals whose lives have been positively impacted by the program. The Neighborhood Justice Program has resulted in a less than 5% recidivism rate.
Mike also advised that he has formed a nationwide coalition of prosecutors who are working on the issue of gun violence.
Regarding homelessness, Mike explained that he has long been involved with the issue. As former Director of Bet Tzedek, he went to homeless shelters throughout the county. His pitch is that we shouldn’t do things the way we used to do. His office won a $6 million grant to coordinate mobile teams to go out on the streets and intervene with homeless before they enter the justice systems. He has also instituted homeless citation clinics. These clinics go out to neighborhoods throughout the region. They are organized in advance, the homeless are told when there will be a clinic, and they are given advice about low-level citations. The City Attorney’s office explains that it will work with individuals to erase their citations, but in return they need to perform community obligations for homeless services providers who come to the clinic. This has been a transformative program. Mike is also is leading an effort to transform vagrant hotels throughout the City to house the homeless.
The Chair thanked him and commented on his idea about using hotels; some are detrimental or not protective, and he is transforming this into something positive. She also acknowledged the benefits of the Neighborhood Justice Program, which she went through.
Carol Bruch asked what the City Attorney is doing about religious intolerance. Mike explained that he is personally involved in this issue. On Tuesday night he went to the Culver City mosque for Ramadan. He has spoken there before and also at many other mosques. He is Jewish and thinks this is really important. He also went to LAX on the night the travel ban was first instituted to try and secure the release of detainees. He explained that he asked the person in charge for their authority in holding detainees but couldn’t get answers to his questions. It is very important to him to prevent hate crimes.
Sue Pascoe asked how she can get Councilmember Bonin’s office to release emails she has been asking for under the Public Records Act since July 2016. Mike explained that the City Attorney’s office gives advice to City officials regarding the requirements of the law. The City aspires to comply with every law, including the Public Records Act. The City Attorney can’t direct City officials what to do; his office can only advise. He also stated that he cannot speak to what’s happening in this specific instance. He is the lawyer for the City and his client is the City. The City Charter says that the City Attorney is the lawyer for the municipal corporation of the City of Los Angeles (this includes the Mayor, the City Council and all City Departments). Councilmember Bonin would be his client for purposes of this issue. Mike therefore can’t state what his office may have told the Councilmember as that would violate privileges.
Sarah Conner stated that she is seeing more and more graffiti and asked what can be done about the issue. Mike stated that this is an important issue; graffiti often signifies gang activity. There is a number to call to report it. Chris Spitz noted that the number, including a phone app, are on the PPCC website under Resources/Government Contacts. Mike explained that his office engages in efforts to eradicate the problem by sentencing offenders to clean up graffiti. This is the “broken windows” theory of law enforcement; City officials seek to intervene to create conditions where it’s not ok to do the offending act, such as graffiti.
Donna Vaccarino (audience) asked whether the City allows for disclosure of ex parte communications. Mike stated that he assumes she is speaking about a Planning Commissioner having meetings with one side. Donna asked what if a Commissioner stated he has had an ex parte communication? Mike replied that his office has given advice when that occurs; he cannot speak to this due to pending litigation.
Patrick Hart (audience) commented that he is interested in hearing about the task force going out onto the street. He stated that we are seeing an increasing number of very mentally disturbed individuals coming here from buses. How can we deal with this? Mike explained that Measure H is the county initiative that will provide $1 billion over time for homeless services. There have been some efforts in the past to take teams to the streets for intervention. The County Supervisors have authorized funds for more of this activity. A complement of mental health advocates is needed and that will be provided through Measure H. Believes they will be deployed in the next few months. The Chair described what PPTFH is doing in terms of sending out outreach workers to work with the homeless. How can we be assured that we get the mental health component? Mike suggested that we work with Sheila Kuehl’s office because the County oversees Measure H.
Ted Weitz (audience) asked in regard to the Pali Post sign issue whether the City Attorney has authority to file a civil nuisance suit if an over-illuminated large sign is being maintained contrary to community standards. Mike explained that his office has brought nuisance actions in cases involving serious matters such as homes selling cocaine or other drugs but hasn’t done so to his knowledge in a case involving a sign. He would have to look at the specific attributes of the sign to see if it would warrant a nuisance action. Regarding this particular sign, Mike further explained that the judge said the City Departments involved took too long and therefore the permit was deemed approved. His offices very much wants to be a constructive player to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Again, however, he can’t direct City Departments to do anything. He has instructed his risk management attorneys to work with the City Departments to prevent problems from occurring later on. The Chair asked whether we could have been told earlier on that this had been going on in court. Mike responded that there might be ways to do that going forward. The Chair also asked if there is a counterpart to Veronica (the Neighborhood Prosecutor) regarding civil issues. Mike explained that they don’t have resources to hire extra people to be a counterpart to Veronica regarding pending civil litigation. Chris Spitz asked whether CD11 would have been told about the sign lawsuit when it was filed; Mike replied that he didn’t know.
Carol Bruch asked whether there are any plans to make various forms of funding available to condo owners and others for seismic retrofitting. Mike replied that didn’t know. Daniel Tamm added that he also didn’t know the answer but can find out.
Donna Vaccarino (audience) commented in regard to the sign issue that she doesn’t understand how the City Attorney could have presented incorrect information to the judge. Mike responded that he isn’t aware of any incorrect information being proffered in that case. He hopes that when his lawyers go to court they provide precise, accurate information. The City Attorney would never give incorrect information knowingly.
An audience member asked about using vagrant hotels for the homeless; is there a pilot program and who is the coordinator? Mike stated that they are still sorting this out to make the program take place. Capri Maddox is his special assistant in his office who is working on this. The goal is to have the hotel program in place soon, within 2 or 3 months. The Chair and board thanked Mike for his presentation.
12. Adjournment. The Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:07 pm.