MINUTES FOR OCTOBER 26th 2017
Voting Members in Attendance: Maryam Zar, George Wolfberg, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz (Acting Secretary), David Kaplan, Sue Kohl, Rick Mills, Katie Braude, Peter Culhane, Cathy Russell, Danielle Samulon, Lou Kamer, Rick Mills, Richard Wulliger, Janet Anderson, Margarita Pagliai, Gil Dembo, David Card, Rick Lemmo, Andy Frew
Voting Alternates: Richard Blumenberg, Andrew Wolfberg
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Leah Cox, Jody Margulies, Howard Robinson, David Peterson
1. Certification of Quorum. Chair Maryam Zar called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Chair 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: Chair deemed the minutes of October 12, 2017 approved as distributed. 2) Upcoming meetings: No announcement.
5. Consideration of Agenda. Chair announced that the agenda was as distributed. She also announced that due to timing considerations all announcements would be deferred until after the Committee reports (Item 9).
6. Treasurer’s Report. Richard Cohen (Treasurer) reported that PPCC has a bank account balance of $37,740.40. There were no significant transactions since the last meeting.
7. General Public Comment on local issues – None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair.
8.1.1. Chair announced that the Dog Park Working Group would like to apply for a grant for funding. They cannot raise funds on their own because they aren’t a 501(c)(3) and have inquired whether or not a local organization can act as their 501(C)(3). The Chair suggested PPCC act as a conduit for fundraising. Chair asked if there were any objections. Treasurer Richard Cohen objected and stated that we need more information before making any decision; he would need to research whether this would be appropriate and legal. He also asked whether any sites have been identified. Janet Anderson (AYSO) stated that she is on the Park Board and two potential sites have been identified, both on lower Temescal Canyon Dr. (one near the playground and the other to the north of that area). The matter will be deferred for a full presentation and more information at a later date.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Chair/President Emeritus) distributed the attached written report on the status of SB 649 and the proposed Short Term Rentals (Home Sharing) Ordinance.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Reps – None.
8.4. From Organizational Reps.
8.4.1. Rick Lemmo (Chamber of Commerce) reminded the board of the Chamber’s holiday mixer on November 7th at the Luxe Brentwood Hotel, sponsored by Tiger Wood’s organization Genesis Open.
8.5. From Government Offices/Representatives – None.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Awards Selection Committee (George Wolfberg, Chair). George orally gave the attached Committee Report.
9.2. Land Use Committee (LUC) (Howard Robinson, Chair).
Report on LUC meeting regarding proposed 1525 Palisades Dr. eldercare facility; possible Committee recommendation and board motion. Chair Maryam Zar announced that the LUC Chair would give his report following presentations by the developer/applicant and residents/opponents. She also explained that time permitting there would be opportunity for public comment. Resident Robert Flick of Highlanders United for Good (HUG) spoke first in opposition to the project and specified a number of concerns, including building height, density and compatibility with the surrounding area; its location adjacent to zoned open space; and the Categorical Exemption from CEQA recommended by Planning staff. Kevin McDonnell, attorney representing the developer/applicant Rony Shram, then explained that the proposed use is permitted in the C-1 zone; that the project is Code-compliant and does not require a variance or a CUP; the building will be no more than 4 stories high, with a 2-level subterranean garage and sufficient parking for all employees (there will be 67 parking spaces, in excess of Code requirements); and the building will be no higher than 45 ft. measured from the lowest point five feet from the edge of the building and 39 ft. in perceived height from Palisades Dr. Asked if the height could be lowered, Mr. McDonnell indicated that a height reduction could be explored but he doesn’t know if that could be supported.
Howard then reported that the LUC held a one-and-a-half hour meeting immediately preceding the board meeting. The sole topic was the proposed eldercare facility. Presentations were made by the developer/applicant and his attorney and by representatives of HUG, and there was extensive public comment followed by discussion among the LUC members.
Howard advised the board that prior to the meeting he had personally reviewed the project plans at the City Planning Dept. offices and had made the plans and background materials available to LUC members prior to the meeting. He explained that at the meeting, the members discussed the plans and required findings under the Coastal Act and Code. At Howard’s recommendation the LUC did not take up the Planning staff recommendation to issue a Categorical Exemption because the CEQA issues are highly technical and the LUC does not have sufficient expertise to comment. He noted that there will be several opportunities to comment on environmental issues as the process proceeds.
After discussion, the LUC then voted to recommend that the PPCC board find that the use is appropriate, but that a number of concerns were raised on which the LUC could not reach consensus: 1) safety of residents in case of emergency; 2) access for employees; 3) noise and disruption; 4) height; and 5) number of units. Howard reiterated that there was no consensus to make a firm recommendation on these matters.
Howard also explained the reason why PPCC was taking this up on October 26: A hearing on the application took place on October 4, which he attended; at his request the Zoning Administrator held the file open for 30 days to allow comment by PPCC. The ZA, Howard said, pledged to keep the file open for at least 30 days. Presumably, October 26 is the only scheduled board meeting before the deadline for comment ends.
Comments and questions from the audience and board were then taken. Project opponents expressed various concerns, including those referenced by Mr. Flick as well as concerns about ingress and egress, safety, emergency access, noise, disruption and outdoor light.
Regarding concerns about ingress and egress, Howard stated that the plans do indicate directional arrows going both in and out of the driveway on Palisades Dr. Mr. Shram assured the board and audience that this was an error in drafting which will be corrected; the driveway on Palisades Dr. will be exit only and the sole entrance will be on Vereda de la Montura. Mr. Shram also assured the board and audience that he will be responsive to complaints about outdoor light.
Regarding concerns about safety and access in an emergency, Mr. Shram stated that he explained all these concerns to LAFD Assistant Chief Patrick Butler, who advised that he (Chief Butler) believes this is an “excellent” location for this facility and he sees no problem with emergency access.
Regarding CEQA concerns, several board members stated agreement with Howard and the LUC that PPCC does not have sufficient expertise to comment at this time and that there would be further opportunities for comment going forward.
After extensive discussion, Richard Cohen made a motion, seconded by Chris Spitz, to affirm the use as appropriate and to note that community members have raised certain concerns. Discussion continued, and the Chair bought up the issue of the building height. She noted, as had been noted previously at the LUC by Rick Mills and again in discussion at PPCC, that in no place in Pacific Palisades is it permissible to have commercial building heights taller than 35 feet. She asked how high the proposed eldercare center would be, and was told it would be 39 feet at its highest perceived point. The Chair noted that along the Sunset commercial corridor the height limit for buildings is 35 feet, and in Pacific Palisades Commercial Village and Neighborhoods Specific Plan (which admittedly does not apply to the Highlands), the height limit imposed in commercial areas across the Palisades is 30 feet. She asked the developer to be mindful of the current 4 to 9 feet of building height that would seem inappropriate and inconsistent with the rest of the Palisades, and asked them to consider reducing the height. The applicant team of McDonnell and Shram pledged they would. Several “friendly” amendments to the motion language were then made, discussed and accepted by the board. The final amended motion was read aloud as follows:
“PPCC finds that the proposed eldercare facility is an appropriate use. We note community concerns about height, safety, access, noise, disruption and proximity to zoned open space. The developer assures us that the Palisades Dr. driveway will be modified to exit only. Further, the developer assures us that he will be responsive to complaints about outdoor light.”
A vote was taken and the motion passed.
9.3. Bylaws Committee (George Wolfberg and Richard Cohen, Co-Chairs).
Second Distribution of proposed amendments to the PPCC Bylaws, Standing Rules and Attachment A (Election Procedure). See 1) attached Committee Report and 2) draft of proposed amendments distributed concurrently with the meeting agenda via PPCC email (“Clean” draft plus “Redline”). George orally read the attached Report and provided additional detail regarding each of the motions below, which were moved and seconded by the Bylaws Committee. Questions were asked about 1) the public comment process (Danielle Samulon); 2) how to verify that voters are actually 18 years old (Cathy Russell); 3) the agenda setting process (Lou Kamer); and 4) possibly mandating an alternate method to online voting (Eric Marshall, audience). The Co-Chairs answered all questions, explained the amendments and other relevant bylaws provisions, and related past PPCC practices and experience related to the questions. The Co-Chairs reiterated that the Attachment A amendments allow the Election Committee to provide for alternative voting methods to assist voters who may not be able to access online voting; Chair gave assurances that a non-digital voting method would be provided for in the next election cycle. It was also noted that the bylaws may be amended again in the future. Daphne Gronich (audience) suggested that we have a sign-in sheet for audience members (not as a bylaws matter). Following discussion, votes were taken on each of the following motions, in order:
Motion A: Approval of amendments to the Bylaws (including Appendix A). Passed.
Motion B: Approval of amendments to the Standing Rules (Appendix C). Passed.
Motion C: Approval of amendments to Attachment A (Election Procedure). Passed.
9.2. Awards Selection Committee (George Wolfberg, Chair). George orally read the attached Committee Report.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business – None.
12. Adjournment. Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:00 pm.
ITEM 8.2.1 – CHRIS SPITZ (CHAIR/PRESIDENT EMERITUS) REPORT
Regarding SB 649: Governor Brown vetoed the bill on October 15, 2017. In his veto statement the Governor acknowledged the value of 5G technology but also affirmed the need to preserve local government control. A revised bill is expected to be introduced in the State legislature in the coming months. We will monitor. We are also pressing the City Council to take up the matter of necessary revisions to the City’s Above Ground Facilities Ordinance (regulation of cell towers and other structures in the public right of way), stalled in the Public Works Committee for almost two years. The Council File expires on December 8 and we will seek an extension if necessary and possible.
Regarding the Short Term Rentals (STRs) / Home-Sharing Ordinance: This matter was heard once again in PLUM on October 24. Chris was among hundreds of interested persons in attendance. She was called first to speak in the line-up of Neighborhood Councils and she presented PPCC’s position as expressed in the three letters that are posted on our website. No action was taken and the matter will be subject to further Planning reports and Committee hearings. The Committee members gave some indication of additional amendments they would like to see, including providing for a CUP process to 1) allow rental of second homes or “vacation homes” on a short-term basis, and 2) allow homeowners individually to exceed the annual cap on STRs. Councilmember Englander stated that he wished to see no cap on STRs; currently, the proposed cap, approved by the CPC, is 180 days. We were also informed that short term rental of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs / Granny Flats) will not be permitted unless the unit itself is the primary residence of the property owner; if the owner actually resides in the main residence, any ADU on the property cannot be a legal STR.
Councilmember Bonin did not attend the hearing but Councilmember Koretz of CD5 attended and spoke. Among other things, based on his District’s feedback he wants to see a 90 day cap and more rigorous penalties for offenses, he is opposed to second home STRs and he wishes to restrict home sharing in high fire hazard severity zones. In her remarks Chris thanked Councilmember Koretz and also advised the Committee that PPCC would like to comment at the appropriate time on the proposed CUP process for vacation homes or rentals that exceed the annual cap, should these new provisions be included in an amended draft ordinance. We have been told that Committee staff members have stated that they were glad that PPCC and other community leaders/councils (from Brentwood, Bel Air Beverly Crest, Westchester-Playa del Rey and Westwood) were able to attend and testify.
ITEM 9.1 – AWARDS SELECTION COMMITTEE REPORT (GEORGE WOLFBERG, CHAIR)
Report of PPCC Awards Selection Committee
Handing out awards has been a PPCC tradition since 1974. The signature award is called the Golden Sparkplug Award.
The Golden Sparkplug Award honors those citizens who ignite original ideas and projects into community action that benefit Palisadians throughout the community. The project must have been initiated, in progress or completed during the current or prior calendar year. Adults and youth are both eligible, and must either own real property in, reside in or operate a business in the Palisades at the time the services were rendered.
Also, we have the prestigious Citizen of the Year Award, created by the Palisadian Post in 1947 which is awarded nearly every year. Since the paper decided it no longer wanted to present the Citizen award, the Community Council has taken it over:
The Citizen of the Year Award honors long term, steady, reliable and continuing outstanding volunteer service as well as a recent extraordinary accomplishment by an individual that resulted in a substantial benefit to the Palisades community at large. The recipient must be an adult resident of the Palisades at the time the accomplishment and long term services were rendered.
In the case of both Awards, the services, accomplishment or project must have been voluntary and not related to the nominee’s business or occupation. Neither Award can be given to PPCC board members based on services directly related to their responsibilities as board members, although such services may be considered as a qualifying factor in case of nominees for the Citizen Award. The Awards are based on the quality of work and benefits achieved, not the quantity of nominations.
And, there are other awards for the Awards Selection Committee to sort out. Prior to the Committee selecting a person or persons for an award, the Committee Chair shall circulate by email to other current members of the Board a list of those persons who have been nominated and ask that if any member of the Board desires to submit confidential comments about any nominee, they should submit any comments to the ASC Chair to be received within five days. So, all board members have a part to play. Look for this email in your mailbox this Sunday.
The awards are presented at our holiday party on Dec. 14, in lieu of a board meeting. Save this date! Our Chair has put me in charge of an awesome committee including past Citizen of the Year Daphne Gronich, Steve Boyers, Sylvia Boyd and Andy Frew. For all the details go to pacpalicc.org and click on DOCUMENTS/AWARD GUIDELINES. Submit nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry deadline is midnight this Saturday.
ITEM 9.3 – BYLAWS COMMITTEE REPORT (GEORGE WOLFBERG AND RICHARD COHEN, CO-CHAIRS)
Report of PPCC Bylaws Committee
The PPCC Bylaws govern how we are organized and operate: what we do and how we do it. The Mission Statement read at the start of each PPCC Board meeting comes verbatim from our bylaws. The Bylaws have been incrementally changed numerous times over the years. There are many authors and occasionally terminology can become confusing.
The Bylaws Committee reviewed and discussed suggestions made over the past year or so and proposes numerous, mainly minor changes. Two documents were sent to each board member for review and were published on our website: a red-line (underline/strikeout) version so each and every recommended change is highlighted and a final “clean” draft for voting purposes. Before any bylaw amendments may be adopted, they must be distributed with the agenda for two consecutive PPCC meetings per Bylaws Article XII. So, the proposed changed document was introduced, in this case, at the first meeting in October, and if all goes smoothly it is to be voted upon tonight. Parts of the document (“Attachments”) are not actually part of the bylaws and could have been adopted at the first meeting in October without second distribution. At the Committee’s recommendation, however, all the changes are proposed to be voted tonight at the second distribution.
Many of the changes are minor and have been recommended to assure clarity and consistency of terminology and uniformity of application of Bylaws provisions. Here is a rundown on the substantive changes:
- Permit vote for unopposed PPCC officer candidates by acclamation instead of paper vote. (Art. VII)
- Move up the deadline for Organizations in single organization categories to designate who will represent them for the ensuing fiscal year. (Art. VIII)
- Providing to the Chair flexibility in dealing with requests to add items to the board agenda,
- In Bylaws Appendix “A”, retitling “Cultural, Ethics and Aesthetics” category to “Culture and Aesthetics” and deleting two service clubs no longer active in Pacific Palisades, and
- Several changes to Bylaws Attachment “A” primarily to institutionalize our phase over to electronic balloting as the mailing of 10,000+ newsletters with included ballots has proved impractical. The PPCC Code of Conduct will apply to the candidates. The committee took care to recognize that on-line voting poses a challenge for a few residents by empowering the Election Committee to devise methods to facilitate voting. Two other significant changes will lower the voting age to 18 and eliminate the “one vote per household” rule thus allowing every qualified individual to vote.
So, the committee moves that the proposed recommended changes be adopted tonight. Because of slight differences in voting criteria, three votes are required.