MINUTES FOR MARCH 22nd 2018
Voting Members in Attendance: Maryam Zar, George Wolfberg, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz (acting Secretary), Peter Culhane, Sue Kohl, Rick Mills, Danielle Samulon, Richard Wulliger, Gil Dembo, Reza Akef, Cathy Russell, Sarah Conner, Lou Kamer, Rick Lemmo (left seat during Item 10.1 below), Andy Frew, Bruce Schwartz
Voting Alternates: Jody Margulies, Jim Kirtley, Susan Payne (took seat only during Item 10.1 below)
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Susan Payne (except as noted above), Amir Ebtehadj
1. Certification of Quorum. Chair Maryam Zar called the meeting to order at 7:09 pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Rick Mills read the Council’s Mission.
3. Introduction of the Board and Audience. The board and audience were introduced.
4. Approval of Minutes & Upcoming Meetings. 1) Approval of Minutes – The minutes of March 8, 2018 were approved as distributed. 2) Upcoming Meetings – 4/12/18 and 4/26/18.
5. Consideration of Agenda. Chair announced that the agenda was as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Richard Cohen (Treasurer) reported that our bank balance is $41,095.98 and that there were no significant transactions since the last meeting. Chair asked if Richard could report with more detail on transactions. Richard replied that he could do that and would do so if instructed but most people find such level of detail boring. He regularly reports any significant transactions, such as the insurance premium payment reported at the last meeting. He also provides the annual detailed report on the Council’s finances at the end of June as required by the bylaws, but would report more frequently with greater detail if the Chair requests it.
7. General Public Comment on local issues.
7.1. Diane Bleak, resident: She is concerned regarding what happened at the last LUC meeting (which she was unable to attend due to work demands), based on a report in the Palisadian Post. She believes, based upon the statements attributed to an LUC member in that article, that there are developers on the LUC who have conflicts of interest. Reza Akef stated that he is the developer on the LUC and was at the LUC meeting; that the Post’s reporting was incorrect; and that he disputed the characterization of what occurred. Chair stated that she would speak with the Executive Committee about these concerns and stressed that PPCC provides a forum and wants to hear from residents.
7.2. Marge Gold, resident: Yarn bombing will take place on the Village Green tomorrow starting on 8am.
7.3. Public comment related to the Caruso Palisades Village update (comments heard after conclusion of Item 10.1 below; Michael Gazzano not present):
1) Ted Weitz, nearby resident, passed out different plans which he said showed that what is being built is different from what was originally depicted on plans provided by Caruso. He stated that Caruso promised a 9 ft. landscaping barrier between the building and street on the north end; according to Ted this hasn’t occurred and he also expressed concern about the location of transformers. Chair asked if he has gone to the City with his concerns. Ted said he has gone to DWP who told him these were Caruso’s choices.
2) Richard Cohen (Treasurer) responded that Ted had raised these questions at the recent meeting with Caruso for supporters and nearby residents, and that Caruso had publicly responded that DWP had advised Caruso that the transformers had to be in this location. Richard related that Caruso also had explained that they made changes over the months to take into account Ted’s concerns and that the area may look bare now but there will be landscaping and the planting will grow.
3) Jay Rosenthal, nearby resident, explained that he walks the area 2-4 times a day and it seems to him there is at least 9 ft. of landscaping barrier.
4) Donna Vaccarino, resident and architect, stated that the project has been permitted but as an architect she has reviewed renderings and has noticed that some of the buildings seem to have changes from what was on the plans, which she described.
5) Len Nguyen, CD11 Planning Deputy, stated that if there are concerns about exceeding or not following plans, the plans are on file and concerns can be submitted to Building & Safety. There is a building inspector assigned to the project and the approved plans are on site. If anyone needs to find out how to have concerns addressed Len will help them with the process so they can have the inspector verify whether plans are being followed.
6) Lou Kamer (At Large rep) stated that he has worked with both sides and welcomes the project, but it is a big transformation from a little village and there has been a struggle with communication. He hopes the new website feature will allay fears and answer questions.
7) Sue Kohl (Area 5 rep) commented that she takes issue with the suggestion of any communication problems; she doesn’t know anyone who could name a developer who would do more outreach than Caruso has. She stated that Michael Gazzano has given out his phone number and email for the last few years to anyone who wanted to speak to him. Caruso owns this development and there is some proprietary information that we are not privy to and we cannot obtain that.
8) Gil Dembo (TCA) commented that this is a dynamic project; it is not set in stone; there will be continual changes and tweaks to make it work.
9) Chair asked Sue Kohl about parking efforts. Sue explained that preferential parking districts (PPD) are being established; they are well on the way. Permit parking will not be on the streets that didn’t want it. This had to be requested by residents. 8-10 blocks had residents who wanted preferential parking. Most petitions were accepted but some are still being worked on. It is a complicated, long process. Signatures from 80% of all addresses are required on those blocks and not all could get the required number to sign petitions. The streets getting permit parking status (i.e., located in the one approved PPD so far): Albright, Monument, Embury, Via de la Paz, and a couple of short nearby streets (Charm Acres). Sue explained that parking was a problem in residential streets even before Caruso project because employees already would park there. Caruso has said at PPCC meetings and other community meetings that he will provide parking for all his employees, but we don’t know what the impacts on residential streets will be at this point. Sue is still working on the PPDs but this may take a while. She will try to put together a report with the Chair. Len Nguyen reported that residents interested in setting up a PPD can email email@example.com. Emails will go to the preferential parking unit and an analyst will respond.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair.
8.1.1. The Nominating Committee for the upcoming officers election has been appointed. The members are: Dick Wulliger, Committee Chair; Danielle Samulon; Sarah Conner, Rick Mills; Alan Goldsmith. Dick Wulliger asked everyone to let the Committee know if anyone is interested or knows of someone else interested in an Officer position.
8.1.2. Before her term is up, Chair will appoint the Election Committee for the Elected Representatives Election. She wants to aggregate comments for election improvements and will refer the matter to the Bylaws Committee.
8.1.3. Chair and George Wolfberg spoke at the recent memorial for Kurt Toppel. There were several former PPCC Chairs in the room. A good showing was made for PPCC at the memorial.
8.1.4. The Brentwood community will be doing something similar to our safety meeting.
8.1.5. Regarding the LUC and the Eldercare Facility, Chair will be speaking with LUC Chair Howard Robinson regarding the nuances of our position and writing a possible additional letter. She will also be addressing the issue of an even-numbered committee.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. George Wolfberg (Vice-Chair). George reported that he had accompanied Golden Sparkplug winner Debbie Warfel to a meeting at Senator Kamala Harris’ West LA Office regarding commercial aircraft noise issues in our community. The Senator’s staff is aware of complaints from West Adams residents as well as residents in Lake Arrowhead, Benedict Canyon, Culver City and more. It was discovered that Sen. Harris did not receive the emails regarding our aircraft noise nor the files from Senator Boxer. George and Debbie spent about a day recreating the missing information to bring Senator Harris’ Southern California Deputy Director up to date.
8.2.2. Chris Spitz (Chair/President Emeritus). Chris reported that a supermajority of 11 WRAC member councils have passed motions opposing SB 827. Maryam Zar, WRAC Vice-Chair and Acting Chair in the WRAC Chair’s absence, has submitted a WRAC position letter to the Council Rules Committee, indicating WRAC’s strong opposition to the bill and support for a Council resolution in opposition to SB 827 proposed by Councilmember Ryu, which will be heard in committee tomorrow. The WRAC letter is on the PPCC website. https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WRAC-supermajority-Letter-SB-827.pdf.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Reps.
8.3.1. Lou Kamer (At Large). Lou announced that the parade will have new website as of April 1. PAPA needs volunteers desperately. They will be doing community floats from all areas. RING may be sponsoring. A special CERT training is being organized through the LAFD for the Palisades and Lou is looking at dates and venues. This will be for 7 weeks, 1 night a week. 30 people are interested so far. The most recent previous CERT training had taken place in Brentwood at Revere.
8.4. From Organizational Reps.
8.4.1. Jody Margulies (Optimists Club). Reporting in the absence of David Card (American Legion), Jody announced that there is a Spring Egg Hunt and Crafters Faire at Rustic Canyon Recreation Center on March 31, 10-2pm, admission free.
8.4.2. Rick Lemmo (Chamber of Commerce). Rick reported that there will be a new event on April 21st, with the Chamber and the YMCA working together on Health and Family Fitness. It will be held at Simon Meadow. Susan Payne: RING will open a pop up store and is one of the safety sponsors of the Health and Fitness event. Rick also announced that the Chamber is being remodeled, with completion expected the 1st week of May.
8.5. From Government Offices/Representatives.
8.5.1. LAPD SLO, Michael Moore. Officer Moore reported that Palisades crime as a whole is down 31%, but vehicle break-ins are up 6%. Lots of these break-ins involve people from outside the Palisades coming in for hiking and other activities and then being victimized. Please email Officer Moore with any questions.
8.5.2. Office of Congressman Ted Lieu, Janet Turner – Not present.
8.5.3. Councilmember Mike Bonin, Planning Deputy Len Nguyen. Len reported that the Home Sharing (Short Term Rentals) Ordinance will be heard in PLUM on March 27. The Chair thanked Len for attending the meeting and imparting valuable information during discussion of other items.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. Amir Eptehadj (Youth Advisor). Amir stated that Pali High had a march/walkout on March 14, with over 2000 students marching off campus, going up Bowdoin and going back to campus. He thanked everyone for their support. Councilmember Bonin, Allison Holdorff Pohlhill and Maryam Zar attended the event. They held voter registration, and over 200 students registered to vote. This past Tuesday, the Palisades Ambassadors were recognized by Mike Bonin at the LA City Council and received a commendation certificate from the City. “Footloose”, the Spring Musical, is playing at Pali High the weekend of April 6th, 8th and 13th-14th. Rick Mills: Since Pali is raising funds to increase security, how can people contribute? Amir: There is a committee to address security concerns and there is a fundraising project on campus. Visit www.palihigh.org; information is on the main page of the website. Regarding the March 24 rally downtown: Pali High doesn’t have a group going but individuals will be attending. As to the status of college acceptances, the Valedictorian will be attending Yale and there were acceptances at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, UCLA and USC, among others. Many Pali seniors will be attending prestigious universities in the fall. Amir encouraged the board that if anyone has an event with volunteer opportunities, please contact Amir for volunteers.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. LUC (Sarah Conner, Vice-Chair, reporting in the absence of Howard Robinson, Chair). Report and recap of meeting held on 3/13/18. Sarah stated that coverage of the meeting was in the News and Post. The LUC looked at the issue of the Eldercare Facility again, applying the Coastal Act and Regional Interpretive Guidelines. A motion for the LUC to recommend that the PPCC board take up the matter of the building’s height violating Coastal requirements failed by a vote of 3 to 5. The appeal will be heard on April 18 at 4pm at the Henry Medina center in West LA.
9.2. Village Project Community Liaison Committee (VPCLC Sue Kohl & David Kaplan, Co-Chairs). Update and introduction by Sue Kohl (in David Kaplan’s absence) of the Caruso Palisades Village presentation. Sue introduced Michael Gazzano, Vice President of Caruso. He was invited in January to come to a meeting in the spring to give an update. Last month Rick Caruso himself gave an update on the project to immediate neighbors and supporters. Michael is now here as promised. The Caruso team has received questions that were recently posted on Nextdoor and is gathering information in response to be put on the website. Residents will be able to visit palisadesvillageca.com, scroll down to project updates, and will get answers to most if not all of the questions posed. Interested persons can also ask further questions by hitting the contact button and someone from the Caruso team will reply. (See Item 10.1 below.)
10. Old Business.
10.1. Caruso Palisades Village Update. Chair announced that this will be an update only, not discussion or Q&A; she apologized for the agenda description. There will be an interactive feature online to address questions, which will be launched tomorrow.
Michael Gazzano then gave his update regarding three topics:
1) Grand opening date: The Caruso team and tenants are very excited as we are today 6 months from the opening. The shops will be open for business on Saturday, September 22.
2) Construction updates: Michael showed a Power Point and video depicting progress of construction throughout the project. The theater tenant is already onsite doing build-out of the interior of the movie theater. There will be 5 auditoriums, less than 300 seats total. These will be more like screening rooms, with 25-60 seats in each room, reclining chairs, food, drinks and first-run movies. The facility will be called the Bay Theater. Framing of all buildings is continuing; tenants will soon be coming on site to build out their spaces. Amazon Books will be on the corner of Sunset and Swarthmore. Michael also showed renderings depicting that the park space will be part of the project.
3) Tenant recap (to date):
Bay Theatre, Cinepolis, Vintage Grocers, Amazon Books
McConnell’s Ice Cream, Al Forte, SunLife Organics, General Porpoise, edo little bites, Sweet Laurel Bakery
Max-Bone, Zimmermann, Towne by Elyse Walker, Jennifer Meyer, Carbon38, Botanica Bazaar, The Little Market
Michael described the nature of the tenants’ businesses. He explained that many have connections to the Palisades and they are excited to be located here.
Regarding alcohol applications: Michael advised that there have been three so far; a number of restaurants are coming soon; eight in total were approved by the City.
Questions and answers will be on the website, palisadesvillageca.com, this weekend. The new website will have an extended FAQ. This is intended so that there are no misinterpretations. Residents can also submit additional questions directly on the website, or they can email questions to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair asked about security. Michael responded that Caruso takes security very seriously and hires the best of the best; he said that the new head of security is phenomenal. The project will have many security cameras. Caruso will also have trained uniformed officers 24/7 and also plainclothes officers throughout.
Chair concluded by stating that we have the VPCLC to keep tabs on the construction phase. This committee was to be in place through the construction. After September we will think about a possible new committee. The review period for the project is over and hearings were held, construction is underway. This body won’t undertake further review. Chair has conveyed her own concerns and had them addressed. (Public Comment related to the update then took place after Michael left the meeting; see Item 7.3 above.)
11. New Business.
11.1. Patrick Frank, Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight – Deferred to 4/26.
12. Adjournment. Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:00 pm.