Return to Index of 2019 Minutes


Voting Members in Attendance:  George Wolfberg, Richard G. Cohen, Chris Spitz, Maryam Zar, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, Sue Kohl, Haldis Toppel, Steve Boyers, Reza Akef, Richard Blumenberg, Duke Ostendorf, Bill Bruns, Jean Sharp, Brenda Theveny, Ellie Jenkins, Sarah Knauer, Dick Wulliger

Voting Alternates:  David Card, David Peterson, Barbara Kohn, Jan Ostendorf

Non-voting Advisors and Alternates:  Zennon Ulyate-Crow, John Padden, Barbara Marinacci, Amy Baker, Cathi Ruddy, Bruce Schwartz, Cathy Russell.

1.    Certification of Quorum.  TheChair George Wolfberg called the meeting to order at 7:00pm and certified that a quorum was present.

2.    Reading of Community Council’s Mission.  Reza Akef 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 5/23/19 were deemed approved.  2) Upcoming Meetings – June 27, 2019:  Guest speaker Councilmember Mike Bonin; Q&A about matters of community concern. July & August, 2019:  There will be one meeting only each month (dates to be announced; see item 12 below).  Tentative topics, July meeting: (1) LAX Landside Modernization Plan update (deferred from June 13); (2) Gladstones Redevelopment Plan update. Additional topics to be announced.

5.    Consideration of Agenda.  The Chair announced that the agenda is as distributed.

6.    Treasurer’s Report.  Treasurer Richard G. Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $39,847.66.  A payment of $1000 was made to PAPA for our parade participation costs.  There were no other significant transactions since the last report.

7.    General Public Comment – None.

8.    Reports, Announcements and Concerns.

8.1.    From the Chair.

8.1.1.    Upcoming PPCC Land Use Committee (LUC) meeting 6/27/19.  The Committee will meet on June 27 from 5 to 6:30pm regarding the project for the former Jack-in-the-Box site.  The meeting will be held in the Swarthmore Room above the lobby at the Palisades Village.  See the PPCC calendar on our website for details.

8.1.2.    Gladstones Redevelopment Project open house/community meeting 5/18/19.  This meeting will also take place in the Swarthmore Room, at 5pmon June 18.  For more information and to RSVP see the event listing on the PPCC Calendar on our website.

8.1.3.    Protected left turn signal at Sunset and Chautauqua.  Councilman Bonin’s office advises that this long-awaited signal / safety improvement is part of the LADOT 2019-2020 funded signal work program. Obviously, we urge an early completion of this project.

8.1.4.    “Failed Streets.”  Some Board membersmay recall that about 10 years ago, a former director of Street Services briefed the PPCC Board on the Bureau’s policy for surviving the economic downturn and severe budget cuts by not spending money on streets that needed major reconstruction.  The Chair recallsthat these were rated “D” and “F” under this plan. Now, Lisa Cahill of CD11 has informed the Chairthat there will be major work done of some of these so-called “Failed Streets” in the coming year. She would like us to prioritize a list of any such streets. Please let the Chairknow of any candidates. He will relay any candidate streets to Ms. Cahilland a priority list will be established for Street Services review. Please let the Chair know.

8.1.5.    Beach Bike Path.  We are following up on complaints received regarding excess sand on the Beach Bike Path.

8.1.6.    LAPD notice re recent criminal racist threats. LAPD has issued a community alert with a photograph of the offender which we have distributed on social media and will post on the PPCC website.

8.2.    From Officers.

8.2.1.    Chris Spitz (Secretary) gave an update on recent legislation regarding dockless electric scooters, short term rentals, the Citywide Sign Ordinance and “mini-SB 50” legislation.  See Spitz Legislation Summary.  She explained that there were further updates since the summary was written: 1) the Planning Dept. today made public the draft Administrative Guidelines for the Home-Sharing Ordinance; based on a quick review the Secretary believes that the Guidelines contain the requirements PPCC has requested, except for proof of liability insurance; 2) Assemblymember Bloom’s legislative deputy has confirmed that Pacific Palisades would likely fall within two exemptions under AB 1279:  properties located in the Coastal Zone and properties that are within the High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Brief discussion and Q&A ensued.

8.3.    From At-Large and Area Representatives.

8.3.1.    Steve Boyers (Area 7) gave a report on the City Council Transportation Committee meeting on June 13 and the dockless scooter provider matter.  See Boyers Report. Extended discussion & Q&A ensued.

8.3.2.    Reza Akef (Area 8).  Regarding the situation about a change in enrollment policy at Canyon Charter Elementary School:  After the Chair’s initial letter of concern to our LAUSD Board Member and the Area 8 Representative’s follow-up, Member Nick Melvoin has announced that children of Polo Fields residents can now enter Kindergarten at Canyon School this year. However, Polo Fields parents remain concerned about whether their younger children will be permitted to attend in future years.

Regarding events at Will Rogers State Park:  Area residents are concerned because there are many applications for large events to be held in the park, which can have negative impacts and nearby residents have little or no say.  The neighborhood sometimes suffers from excess drinking of alcohol by event patrons, drunken pedestrians, ride-share pick-ups & drop-offs on nearby streets and the like.  Residents do not want to take money away from school boosters, but the community wishes to have input in order to lessen impacts on the neighborhood.

8.3.3.    Steve Cron (Area 2).  The Area 2 Representative will hold unofficial “office hours” this Sunday from 10-12n at the Starbucks on Palisades Dr. to talk with constituents about community issues.

8.3.4.    David Card (At-large 1stAlternate).  Monetary awards were recently given by the Rotary Club to deserving students at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Palisades Charter High School.  It is very rewarding to see kids performing well.  Some awards were on the basis of need.

8.4.    From Organizational Representatives.

8.4.1.    Dick Wulliger (Historical Society).  Pacific Palisades Historical Society (PPHS) will hold its Members & Guests Luncheon on June 20 at the Aldersgate Retreat Center. Doors open at 12n, luncheon at 12:30pm. Naturalist and award-winning author Charles Hood will speak on the diversity of backyard wildlife in Los Angeles. RSVP as soon as possible; $25.  PHHS has also given a monetary award to a senior at Pali High.

8.4.2.    Sarah Knauer (Chamber of Commerce).  The next Chamber Evening Mixer will be at the Bay Club on June 18 at 5pm.  Check the Chamber website for details.

8.4.3.    Duke Ostendorf (YMCA).  The YMCA-Optimists annual youth track meet took place last Saturday and was a great success. Thanks to the Optimists Club for their invaluable assistance in making the event happen every year.

8.4.4.    Jean Smart (Optimists).  The Optimists Club has also recently given out monetary awards to deserving students.

8.5.    From Government Offices / Representatives.

8.5.1.    Zak Gaidzik, West-Metro LA Field Deputy, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

Regarding dockless electric scooters: the County has found that scooter providers are concerned about the release of aggregate data because once it is released to government, the data becomes public information and competitors can get the information.  A work-around involves first releasing the data to an NGO; the government can then access the data in bits & pieces.  County update:  The County celebrated Gay Pride Month by honoring openly gay County leadership, including several supervisors and managers.  The Supervisors received an interim report from the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee:  jail time needs to be last solution; instead, the County should first take a wholistic approach by identifying what is going on individually with each offender and what training and services each person needs.  The Supervisors have passed a new protection for Section 8 voucher holders. There is also a new homeless incentive program which incentivizes landlords to rent to formerly homeless individuals. The Supervisors are concerned about recent proposals instituted by HUD Secretary Ben Carson (involving removing all residents of a federally funded housing unit if one resident is undocumented or without legal status; and removing protections for transgender individuals by denying them access to shelter programs).  The Supervisors have made motions regarding these matters (to provide for a plan to house people who may be removed from federal funded housing, and to explain to the HUD Secretary why denying transgenders access to shelter programs is a bad idea).

8.6.    From PPCC Advisors.

8.6.1.    Zenon Ulyate-Crow (Youth Advisor). The Palisades Charter High School school year has concluded; graduation was great; and students are looking forward to summer and the coming school year. Zennon also announced that he is part of a group of students who recently organized a Youth Park Board at the Palisades Recreation Center. The Chair noted that PPCC congratulates the Pali High graduating class.

9.     Reports from Committees.

9.1.    Palisades Street Tree Committee (PSTC; David Card, Chair).  Committee meeting update.

At its most recent meeting, PSTC welcomed guest Grace Phillips, chair of the Santa Monica Urban Forest Task Force.  She imparted valuable information about the Task Force and tips on what the PSTC should or should not do to be successful.  She also emphasized the importance of doing a street tree inventory (including vacancies), and of the Committee working in cooperation with City employees and agencies in charge of street trees and with the general public – all three (PSTC, the City and the public) need to work together.  The next PSTC meeting will be on Monday, June 17 at 11am in the Palisades branch library. The Committee does not have a set meeting schedule.  The June 17 meeting will be open to the public.  PSTC members will discuss the Committee’s goals and objectives. PSTC members also recently conducted a street tree count in all PPCC areas.  The total count of street trees in parkways, medians and public rights-of-way in all PPCC areas (not including vacancies) is 7,960. This number includes many varieties of trees.

10.    Old Business.

10.1.1     WRAC-recommended Motion re Study of Ride Sharing Data to Assess Impacts on LA Traffic; sponsored in PPCC by Secretary Chris Spitz(postponed from 5/23/19 meeting). Background: NPR Article; Chicago Tribune Article; Wired Article. Proposed motion:

“[Pacific Palisades Community Council] requests that the State of California mandate that localities be empowered to assess the impact on traffic and congestion of ride sharing services by mandating comprehensive data from ride sharing companies available for study. Data should include time spent on the road to and from their homes and between rides for all ridesharing drivers as compared to traffic that would be generated by private vehicles making each trip. The results of this survey should guide both local and state policy in regards to ridesharing and better understand our transportation system. Using such data, the City of Los Angeles should then establish benchmark dates prior to and after implementation of each ridesharing platform and study in a scientific manner using all data available to determine if ride sharing vehicles add to or lessen congestion within the City of Los Angeles.”

The Secretary introduced the motion. Second by Maryam Zar. Following discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

11.   New Business.

11.1.   Plans to restore historic buildings at the West LA VA. Presenters: Christine Barrie and Leah Wang, spokesperson for the “1887 Fund.” See 1887 Fund.

Ms. Wang introduced the mission of the 1887 Fund:  to restore five historic buildings on the West LA VA (Veterans National Home) campus.  The most prominent of the historic buildings is the Wadsworth Chapel.  It is intended to be restored for collective use for our veterans who have served our country.  She showed a short video explaining the project.  Ms. Barrie also explained the legacy and purpose of the Veterans National Home.  They wish to have the chapel open as a place for discussion among vets who are dealing with the wounds of war.  A parallel movement is the VA Master Plan to revitalize housing at the VA and to provide permanent supportive housing for vets.  Issues involving allocation of funding are still being sorted through, and the environmental process is ongoing.  The Secretary stated that the PPCC meeting recap will include a link to a 10-minute video about the 1887 Fund project.

11.2.   Election of PPCC Officers for the 2019-2020 term. Bylaws Art. VII.3 and 4.

11.2.1.   Board Election of Officers – uncontested seats[no Candidates Forum]: David Card, Vice-Chair; Richard G. Cohen, Treasurer; Chris Spitz, Secretary. Election Procedure: The election may be by Board acclamation or, in lieu of acclamation, the Board will vote by secret written ballot (Item 11.2.2.B below).

The Chair asked whether there were any objections by Board Members to electing the above officers by acclamation. There were no objections.  The Chair therefore announced that each of the above uncontested candidates was elected to his or her respective office by acclamation.  On behalf of the elected officers, the Secretary thanked the Board for the vote of confidence and expressed their eagerness to continue working on behalf of PPCC and the entire Palisades community.

11.2.2.    Candidates Forum and Board Election of Chair – contested seat: George Wolfberg & Haldis Toppel. Forum Moderator: Doug McCormick (Area One 1st Alternate).

A.    Forum Procedure:  The candidates may give opening statements of two minutes each. The Moderator will then ask the candidates questions selected by the Moderator from cards submitted by Board Members during the meeting (questioners must provide their names on the cards and may choose to remain anonymous). Questions may be directed to both candidates or to an individual candidate (“questioned candidate”). Candidates’ answers will be limited to one minute each, except that after a questioned candidate answers a question directed to that candidate, the other candidate may have 30 seconds to respond to the answer. Total aggregate time for Q&A: ten minutes (may be extended as time allows). Following Q&A, the candidates may give closing statements of one minute each.

The candidates forum was conducted by Moderator Doug McCormick as set forth above. Each candidate gave an opening statement [see attached opening statements] and answered several questions submitted by voting Board Members.  Haldis Toppel gave a closing statement; George Wolfberg declined to give a closing statement.

B.    Election Procedure:  The Board will vote by secret written ballot; blank ballots or abstentions count as “No” votes. Ballots will be collected and votes counted outside of the meeting room by two non-voting Board members (“vote counters”) appointed by the Chair. PPCC’s outside accountant will be present (if available) during the ballot counting. The vote counters will report the vote count to the Moderator, who will announce the winner’s name and the numerical vote.

Following the candidates forum, the Chair announced that he had appointed Bruce Schwartz (Area Two 2nd Alternate) and John Padden (PRIDE Representative/Civic Organizations Alternate) as the two vote-counters, as required by the PPCC Bylaws. He also announced that he had invited PPCC’s outside accountant to attend, as required by the Bylaws, but the accountant could not be present.  The Chair counted the voting Board Members present (22) and announced that he was entering that number on a Teller’s Sheet (per Roberts’ Rules of Order), along with the number of votes required by the Bylaws for election of the Chair (12 – a majority of voting Board Members present).  The vote-counters would complete the Teller’s Sheet after counting the ballots.

The election of Chair proceeded as set forth above.  The vote-counters distributed written ballots to all voting Board Members, who voted in secret and handed their completed ballots to the vote-counters. The vote-counters left the room, counted the ballots and completed the Teller’s Sheet.  Upon completion, the vote-counters returned and privately gave the ballots and the completed Teller’s Sheet with the vote counts to the Moderator Doug McCormick.  The Moderator then publicly announced that George Wolfberg had won the election for Chair. He also announced the vote count as follows:  Wolfberg: 17 votes; Toppel: 5 votes.  There were no blank ballots/abstentions.

12.    Adjournment.  Following the election, the Chair announced that the July & August meeting dates would be July 25 and August 22.  The Chair then adjourned the meeting at 9pm.


ATTACHMENT – Item 11.2.2.A:  Candidates Forum Opening Statements

George Wolfberg Statement

I have tried to make our relations with the board and interested parties more user friendly.  We did this by accelerating the release of our comprehensive agenda package to the Friday before the board meeting to give everyone –

more time to review over weekend, as well as being

more friendly for press deadlines

Also, the order of general public comment was moved up — why? In the past, public comment was held until just before adjournment.  Now comments are made before we hear from representatives of public officials in the room so they are aware of any issues.

There have been many initiatives, including

Wildfire safety – Identified dedicated/motivated advisor in Miriam Schulman who has briefed us and continues to show great leadership in making us safer from the inevitable wildfires we will experience.  I just completed three days of comprehensive briefings along with reps from fire agencies, insurance companies as well as homeowners.

Tree issues – I sponsored several briefings regarding trees in our community and the decline in the City’s tree canopy.  Very pleased that with Kelly Comras’ help we saved two large pine trees at Fire Station 69 from being cut down. Finally, the Pali street tree committee chaired by David Card was created and is hard at work.

Parking meter return issue — we learned from our transportation advisor Patti Post that some parking meter revenue was being returned to communities such as Westwood.  After a spirited campaign we were added to the program and expect $65K/yr. For streetscape and sidewalk improvements)—we have created a partnership between PPCC and our BID to gain public input and meet Brown act / hearing requirements – – we are waiting for LADOT to issue final guidelines.

We joined with Brentwood Community Council to present a community workshop explaining the re-code process.

I look forward to another banner year for the PPCC and our community.

Haldis Toppel Statement

Good evening, I am Haldis Toppel, and I am before you tonight out of great respect for the organization, its members, and the Board.

  • In the past I have closely supported two Presidents, my late husband Kurt and then Steve Boyers.
  • I served as PPCC Secretary and Vice President,
  • I served for two years as President of the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club during the clubhouse renovation.
  • I am currently President of MKPOA and I am PPCC Area 3 Representative

My young son once asked me why he had to attend a birthday party and I answered him: “Because you are invited.”

It is with that same sense of obligation and respect for invitations, that I accepted Barbara Kohn’s nomination from the floor. I must add, that I had about 5 minutes notice of this plan prior to the meeting.

I accepted the nomination to demonstrate that elections with multiple candidates for any given position can be handled with courtesy, respect, and dignity, and that it honors all involved, the individuals making the nomination, may it be by committee or from the floor, the nominees themselves, and ultimately the voters.

I have great respect for George Wolfberg and have known him for decades. If George gets elected, I have committed to him my full support, and George has done the same. If I get elected, I will serve with concern, compassion and with collaboration, with the help and advice of those who have carried this organization for so long, especially George as Chair Emeritus

I am hoping that this election will set the stage for a kinder and gentler process for the future and encourage multiple candidates to seek office.

My request to you tonight is to vote your conscience, with your heart, for the candidate of your choice, with no regret, with no drama, and with the assurance that we all work together for the good of this community.

Thank you for listening.

Return to Index of 2019 Minutes