MINUTES FOR MARCH 14th 2019
Voting Members in Attendance: George Wolfberg, Peter F. Culhane, Richard G. Cohen, Chris Spitz, David Kaplan, Rick Mills, Joanna Spak, Steve Boyers, Alan Goldsmith, Haldis Toppel, Richard Blumenberg, Brenda Theveny, Jean Sharp, Sarah Knauer, Reza Akef, Duke Ostendorf, Bill Bruns
Voting Alternates: Melanie Bouer
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: David Card, Steve Lantz, Dave Peterson, Susan Orenstein, Bruce Schwartz, Cathy Russell, Jason Sklar, Jan Ostendorf, Eli Safaie-Kia (part of meeting only)
1. Certification of Quorum. The Chair George Wolfberg called the meeting to order at 7:00pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Alan Goldsmith 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 2/28/19 were deemed approved. 2) Upcoming Meetings –March 28, 2019: Topics: (1) Second Distribution, discussion and vote on bylaws amendments; (2) other topics to be announced. April 11, 2019: Topics: (1) appointment of nominating committee for candidates for officer seats; (2) other topics to be announced.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The Chair announced that the agenda is as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Richard Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $41,562. He also reported that the renewal premium of $965 for our PPCC general liability insurance was paid, the same premium we paid last year. There were no other significant transactions this period.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Pepper Edmiston (resident). Wished to speak about gas-powered leaf blowers; deferred to presentation by LAPD Capt. Davalos (item 11.1 below).
7.2. Finn Jones (resident). Expressed concern about Potrero Canyon being fenced off without prior warning. The Chair noted that this is a construction zone and fencing is therefore required by the City. Lisa Cahill (CD11 Deputy) explained that she has had discussions with Mr. Jones and will be happy to speak with him again.
7.3. Joyce Chow. Announced that the Brentwood-Palisades Film Festival will take place on June 9-10. Visit FilmFestival for more information.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair.
8.1.1. Zoning Code Workshop 3/30/19.
The Chair reminded everyone to save the date for this important event sponsored by PPCC and BCC, which will take place on March 30 at 10:30am at Gilbert Hall, Palisades Charter High School. He and Secretary Chris Spitz urged all board members to attend and Area Representatives to provide information about the event to residents and HOAs in their areas. Links to Workshop flyers may be found on the PPCC website.
8.1.2. Board Member Opening of Agenda.
The Chair again honored the first board members to open the agenda of the last meeting with a special hand-crafted gift from the Wolfberg kitchen: a virtual tie — Duke Ostendorf and Rick Mills. Board members are reminded that the agenda may be accessed by clicking on the link and/or button that is always provided within the message distributing the agenda.
8.1.3. MoveLA Conference Update.
The Chair attended the 10th annual MoveLA summit at the LA Cathedral. These are the people who promoted Measure R and Measure M for transportation improvements. Denny Zane is involved. The next big idea is for a four-county Transportation tax covering the entire South Coast Air Quality Management District: LA, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Speakers included air quality guru Mary Nichols as well as Kevin de Leon, Ben Allen and Donald Shoup. The goal is to wipe out the use of diesel fuel which is the biggest polluter we have. Zero emission trucks exist, but the Chair learned after the event that the amortization of new diesel trucks is 18 years. Stand by for more news.
8.1.4. PCH Task Force Meeting Update.
The Task Force, which is composed of cities and the county that front on the Highway, from Santa Monica to Ventura, met last Wednesday in Malibu. The Chair attended and described a few highlights: Caltrans is still working on the design for an $8M improvement project for the McClure tunnel: new LED lights, painting and a queue warning system. There is no funding for a much-needed comprehensive study of the Chautauqua to Entrada PCH intersection. Lot 3N continues to be an issue with most drivers going for the first parking lot they see when they emerge from the tunnel; there is inadequate holding space because the ticket-taker’s shack is too close to the Highway. Caltrans wants Santa Monica to run a fiber line to the California Incline so that an extra red-light break can be created to help clear more of the tourists off the Highway and into the lot. As an interim measure, Caltrans will stencil “Do Not Block” on the roadway next to the parking lot entrance. The Chair reached out to Caltrans regarding the inconsistent barriers along PCH where a car went into the Temescal Parking lot a while ago, ending upside down and injuring a cyclist. Caltrans is not sure on whose property the barriers are placed—follow up is needed. The LA County Waterworks has a major water line that is under the old highway—which was covered by the “killer” slide in the 60’s. The will relocate the buried line beneath the relocated highway, working at night. We don’t know the exact date. Community members may have seen there was a 50’ geyser from a break in this line—so much water flows that the monitoring station did not notice this aberration. Anyone who sees a geyser along the Highway is asked to call it in at their dispatch number, 800. 675.4357 (this number will be put on the PPCC website). The first stage of the new beach pedestrian path from near the Incline to the LA City line at the Entrada parking lot will go to bid next month with construction starting probably in July—a 12-month Santa Monica project. The balance of the project by the County to the Temescal Canyon Parking Lot we hope to see in 2020. Malibu has hired a consultant to develop an evacuation plan. A couple of newly elected Malibu Council members showed up and jumped right in. DMV will be issuing a new “Endless Summer” license plate to help fund surfing for inner-city kids. Finally, Caltrans has a smartphone app called QuickMap which you can use to log in and see freeway cams and other highway information.
8.1.5. Street tree issues.
Members may recall Michael Terry’s public comments at our last Board Meeting where he noted that the Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry Division, City Plants, and CD 11 all have specifically requested one of our respected Culture and Aesthetic organizations, Palisades Beautiful, to develop a new set of workable street tree policies in collaboration withPPCC as a means of openly engaging the community in the process – and that work is under way. PPCC plans to have a robust public discussion to begin this collaboration at our meeting of April 25th.
8.1.6. DRB update.
In discussing the upcoming Zoning Code Workshop, the Chair recently learned that Brentwood is suffering from the same problems with termed-out members and vacancies as is Pacific Palisades. He and Brentwood Community Council Chair Michelle Bisnoff jointly sent a letter on March 12 to Councilmember Bonin, urging him to fully staff our respective Design Review Boards and appoint qualified new members to fill vacancies as soon as possible. The letter is posted on the PPCC website [DRB Letter].
8.1.7. Proposed CUB for new restaurant in the Village.
We have been advised that the owner of K Bakery in the Palisades, is opening a new restaurant, “Armav,” on Monument across from the clock-tower building and has applied for a Conditional Use Beverage permit to serve beer and wine. Through her representative (Valerie Sacks, who previously presented to the board on the Chipotle CUB), the owner has offered to present information about the restaurant’s plans to PPCC should the board desire. In response to the Chair’s inquiry no one indicated interest in such a presentation.
8.1.8. LADWP Pole Replacement.
As previously discussed, wooden utility poles are being replaced with new steel poles in the area extending from the Highlands to the Encino reservoir. The poles will be moved by helicopter and Palisades Dr. will not be used. The project will begin this month. An LADWP report on the project is posted on the PPCC website [Pole Replacement].
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Peter Culhane (Vice-Chair) reminded the board that there will be a Fire Preparedness/Safety community meeting on Tuesday, March 19 at 7pm at Calvary Christian School. LAFD Chief Armando Hogan will be there with his staff. All are welcome although the talk will be centered on the Highlands.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. David Card (1st Alternate At-Large). Brentwood School student Daniella Wilson recently the won the American Legion Oratorical Contest at the local, district, area and state levels. She will be the California representative at the Nationals this coming April.
8.3.2. Haldis Toppel (Area Three Representative). Street Services followed up after the last PPCC meeting to help with an unsafe street in her area. Construction has begun and she is very grateful.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Duke Ostendorf (YMCA). The organization is in the middle of their annual support campaign. He described many ways in which donated funds help the community. Please donate to the Y.
8.4.2. Sarah Knauer (Chamber of Commerce). The Chamber is holding an evening mixer at The Draycott on March 26th, 5:30-7pm. The sponsor is Dentistry by Design. More information on the Chamber’s website [Mixer].
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives.
8.5.1. LAPD Capt. Vic Davalos with Officers Maria Gray (Brentwood SLO, filling in for our SLO Moore) and Ryan Basaker (Traffic). See item 11.1 below.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors. None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Bylaws Committee (Richard G. Cohen, Chair). First Distribution of proposed amendments to the PPCC Bylaws, Bylaws (pertaining primarily to changes & improvements in the elected Representatives’ election process) recommended by the Committee. See 1) Committee Report and 2) “Redline” plus “Clean” draft of proposed amendments, distributed concurrently with the meeting agenda via PPCC email and posted on the PPCC website (“Amendments”). Motion by the Bylaws Committee for Board adoption of Amendments (parts A, B and C below). Second Distribution, discussion and votes on motion to take place on 3/28/19:
A. Bylaws Attachment A [voting requirement: majority of members voting (abstentions not counted as votes)].
B. Bylaws [voting requirement: 2/3 of members present (abstentions counted as “No” votes)].
C. Appendix C – Standing Rules (addition of SR-11) [voting requirement: majority of members present (abstentions counted as “No” votes)]
Committee Chair Richard G. Cohen briefly explained the proposed amendments which will be discussed and voted on with the Second Distribution on March 28. He urged the board to review the materials which are on the PPCC website and distributed with the agenda and he noted that anyone with questions should please contact him, the Chair or the Secretary.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. LAPD Capt. III Vic Davalos, Commanding Officer, West LA Area – Introduction to the community and Q&A.
The Chair welcomed Capt. Davalos, who explained that he was honored to be here and to have the opportunity to serve the community. He introduced officers who were with him: Officer Maria Gray (Brentwood SLO) and Officer Ryan Basaker (Traffic). Capt. Davalos has been with LAPD for 31 years. Prior to coming to West Area he was Captain at the Pacific Division for a year, then went to the Training Division for 3 ½ years, and after that to the Recruitment and Employment division. He stated that he is here to work for us. Q&A then ensued.
Pepper Edmiston (resident) provided information about the detrimental effects of gas-powered leaf blowers and air pollution and expressed serious concern over lack of enforcement. Response: Capt. Davalos wants to talk to his officers. He believes in teamwork and wants to give his absolute best to this issue. He indicated he believes the Bureau of Street Services may have primary responsibility for this issue, but that LAPD will provide officers for enforcement. He briefly discussed how the Administrative Code Enforcement (ACE) program might be used.
Richard Cohen (Treasurer) is a member of the WLA Community Police Advisory Board (C-PAB) and asked about statistics and trends in crime in Pacific Palisades. Capt. Davalos: His officers can speak to the exact numbers, but in doing his research before coming to WLA he learned that the area was at the bottom of statistics for violent crime and property crime. Today, we are no. 1 in reduction of violent crime, no. 9 in reduction of property crime and no. 7 in overall reduction of part one crime. Palisades statistics are even better as related to all of WLA. He understands it’s not all about the numbers. LAPD can use the community’s help. Often burglars will go through a glass window or French door in the back yard or use patio furniture or trashcans to get to a second story window or door. Residents should try to make it harder for burglars to get into their homes, by not leaving ladders out and securing homes. Regarding car thefts: do not leave computers, phones or other valuable items visible. Do not leave key fobs in cars. There were four auto thefts in WLA hillsides and the common denominator was a key fob left in car.
Richard Cohen: Pacific Palisades is geographically isolated and we are very far from the WLA police station. We need a police car in the Palisades because otherwise we have horrible response times. Ten years ago, the Police Chief and every WLA Captain since has promised to send out a car 24/7 to the Palisades that would be the last to be called out of the Palisades in the event of an emergency elsewhere. Can the Captain make the same promise? Capt. Davalos replied that he is publicly repeating that promise and is saying “yes” to 24/7 police car coverage in the Palisades.
A resident of the Via bluffs neighborhood stated that the community is concerned because four homes were burglarized back to back in the bluffs neighborhood on December 20. She asked how a Neighborhood Watch group can be formed. Capt. Davalos replied that he was made aware of that situation. LA County Sheriffs were following a group doing the same thing throughout the County. An arrest was made. He explained that there is a problem with home video: it’s hard to tell if the suspect was a female or male, their ethnicity, etc. LAPD is monitoring these types of crimes and working with other agencies as well. He will start looking at Nextdoor.
Officer Gray: Discussed formation of Neighborhood Watch groups. (For details on the LAPD Neighborhood Watch Program, navigate to the LAPD.online website.) Such a group can be created informally via social media. Burglary home trends are decreasing. The Palisades is now doing well in terms of burglaries but residents should still be vigilant. Palisades burglaries are down 70% and overall theft is down, but grand theft auto is up a bit due to key fobs being left in cars. Violent crime in the Palisades is virtually non-existent.
David Card (At-large 1st Alternate): Does LAPD have plans to deal with presidential candidates who will be coming to our area? Capt. Davalos: He has experience with this and discussion is starting, but LAPD is at the mercy of federal protection for candidates.
Alan Goldsmith (At-large Representative) asked about pickpockets or distraction crimes which he has seen in parking lots such as in the Marina. Capt. Davalos is not aware of those in the Palisades. His advice: be aware of surroundings when out in public, don’t walk or drive using cell phones, etc.
Rick Mills (Area Four Representative): Is there a plan for LAPD to use the police kiosk in Palisade Village? Capt. Davalos: LAPD has had officers posted there but they are not there very long. The necessary equipment is not in the kiosk, but he thinks it does have value in terms of interaction with the community. He can try to have officers spend more time there.
Sue Kohl (Area Five Representative): She has seen officers in the kiosk. She asked what was being done about the Wednesday night Ruthless Ryders; is this still on the radar for police? Officer Basaker: They are aware of the ongoing problem which will probably continue. He personally worked this for some time as part of a street racing task force which covers the whole West Bureau (a large area, from Normandie in central LA to Sunset & PCH in the Palisades). Four motor offices have to cover the entire area. The Motor Sergeant in charge is Sgt. James Tameo, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haldis Toppel (Area Three Representative): It is important to report crimes, no matter how trivial. She asked the Captain to speak about C-PAB, which she also attends. Capt. Davalos described how attendees at C-PAB meetings work to discuss and resolve issues that come up.
Jan Ostendorf (Area Four 2nd Alternate) asked whether it was possible for an officer to be assigned to the area 24/7 to intervene in terms of motorcyclists. This led to a general discussion with Officer Basaker about the dangers and problems in dealing with the motorcycle gangs. Capt. Davalos likes technology and suggested LAPD needs to use technology to the best advantage whenever it can do so. He is split on whether drones should be used. The Chair reported that the Michigan highway patrol successfully uses drones for traffic incidents. Capt. Davalos stated he would look into LAPD using drones. One possible idea is to have a major police presence and show of force prior to one or more motorcycle runs as a deterrent. Officer Baskar indicated they had success when the task force came out and worked the motorcyclists hard. Richard Cohen suggested that they do this again in May. Alan Goldsmith: Can the Captain pull in motorcycle officers from other areas to make a big impression? Capt. Davalos: He can request this, with the cooperation of the captain of another LAPD traffic unit, for a task force in May.
Reza Akef (Area Eight Representative): Several residents of the Polo Fields have donated funds towards the installation of “Flock” security cameras. They have set up a schematic of six cameras to be installed in parkways that would monitor the neighborhood streets. They would like to implement this but are not getting cooperation from Public Works, which has not dealt with this issue before. Is there anything that LAPD can do to help facilitate these installations? Officer Gray: The best pressure would be through City Council. Capt. Davalos: He supports the residents in this endeavor.
11.2. Motion to oppose video ads on taxicabs and for-hire vehicles – recommended by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) for consideration by member councils. Motion sponsored in PPCC by Chris Spitz, who read the motion as follows:
“Pacific Palisades Community Council opposes legalization of video advertisements mounted on taxicabs and for-hire vehicles (including services such as Lyft and Uber); and supports the motion by Councilmember Blumenfield to change Taxicab Rule 415(c), as set forth in Council File 19-0104.”
Second by Richard Cohen. Following an explanation of the motion and discussion, a Board vote was taken. Vote: unanimous in favor of the motion.
12. Adjournment. The Chair adjourned the meeting at 8:34 pm.