MINUTES FROM JANUARY 9th 2020
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Chris Spitz, Maryam Zar, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, David Kaplan, Steve Cron, Reza Akef, Brenda Theveny, Dick Wulliger, Bill Klein, John Padden, Amy Baker, Alan Goldsmith, Cathi Ruddy, Rick McGeagh
Voting Alternates: Danielle Samulon, Fay Vahdani, Steve Lantz, Cathy Russell
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Howard Robinson, Beth Holden Garland, Quentin Fleming, Richard Blumenberg
1. Certification of Quorum. In the absence of the Chair, Vice-Chair David Card (Presiding Officer) called the meeting to order at 6:00pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Barbara Marinacci read the Mission Statement.
3. Introduction of the Board and Audience. The Board and audience were introduced. Fay Vahdani was introduced as the new alternate representative for the Chamber of Commerce.
4. Approval of Minutes & Upcoming Meetings. 1) Approval of Minutes –the minutes of 11/14/19 and 12/12/19 were deemed approved. 2) Upcoming Meetings–January 23, 2020: Guest Speaker City Controller Ron Galperin. February 13, 2020: Briefing on proposed Gladstones Redevelopment project. February 27, 2020: Topics to be announced.
5. Consideration of Agenda. The agenda was considered.
6. Treasurer’s Report. In the absence of the Treasurer, the Presiding Officer reported that the Council’s bank balance is $41,675. The Treasurer will provide an accounting of the Awards event at the 1/23/20 Board meeting.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Kim Clary (resident/PPTFH board member). Ms. Clary reported that the Palisades Homeless Count will take place on January 22, 9pm-midnight at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. This is the 6th annual Count in the Palisades. More volunteers are needed and she encouraged everyone to participate in this valuable endeavor. For information and to sign up, see the PPTFH flyer linked in the PPCC website calendar entry or contact her at email@example.com.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair (Presiding Officer).
8.1.1. Park Advisory Board (PAB) public meeting. The PAB will meet on Wednesday, Janurary 15 at 7pm in the Recreation Center small gym. There will be a presentation by the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) on the status of Potrero Canyon Park. There will also be updates on the dog park and Veterans Gardens.
8.1.2. Dog Park Update (CD11 response to PPCC request for approval of funding for EIR). Councilmember Bonin’s Deputy Lisa Cahill stated that she will address this in her report.
8.1.3. Neighborhood Sustainability Alliance meeting, Sat. 1/11/20 (“Green New Year, the Green New Deal”). The Vice-Chair will attend and report back to the board.
8.1.4. Evacuation Drill for the Palisades (the Highlands and Upper Marquez). LAFD Deputy Chief Armando Hogan is supervising the organization of this event, which will take place in May (date TBA). Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative) asked whether the drill can be extended to other areas of the Palisades. Lisa Cahill responded that she will address this in her report.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). Updates and new information:
a) Legislation (rooftop digital advertising on taxicabs; vacation rentals; ADUs; SB 50) and Boisecase: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Legislation-Update-Jan.-2020R1.pdf
b) Vacation rentals letter: Vacation rentals letter: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Vacation-Rentals-Letter.pdf
c) Berggruen project: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/BerggruenProject4.pdf
The Secretary noted that there was no new information on the taxicab rooftop advertising, vacation rentals, ADUs and Boisematters, as set forth in her written summary.
Regarding SB 50, the bill’s author Sen. Wiener has introduced several amendments which may impact the Palisades. The bill is complicated and difficult to decipher, but most importantly, it appears that Sen. Wiener has eliminated the prior exception for Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones in most R-1 areas (i.e., all of the Palisades). We are working with Sen. Allen, who opposes the bill, along with our colleagues in Brentwood, to obtain a clarification and to urge Sen. Wiener to “add back” the high fire zone exemption. If the exemption no longer applies, then the Palisades would be subject to another of the bill’s provisions that hasn’t been changed: single-family zoning would be effectively eliminated and fourplexes would now be permitted by right in almost all R-1 zones statewide (on vacant lots or in connection with conversion but not demolishment of existing structures). However, it’s important to note that due to new legislation permitting more ADUs (which the Secretary had previously reported on), each R-1 site if large enough could potentially have up to 12 dwelling units (up to 2 ADUs would be permitted in connection with each of the 4 main dwelling units). Obviously, this level of increased density in the VHFHSZ would be very concerning to our community and a major public safety threat. We will follow up along with Brentwood CC and take appropriate steps with elected officials to ensure that if the bill passes, it includes a clear exemption for the VHFHSZ. Again, the bill must pass in the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate by the end of the month, otherwise it will die.
As to the Berggruen matter, the Secretary explained that she had only one update to her written summary: the MRCA lawsuit against Berggruen, referenced in footnote 1, has never been formally filed; we are told it is being held until the MRCA is assured that there will be no impact on trail easements with the new plan to site the Institute near Mountaingate.
The Secretary encouraged anyone with questions to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives – None.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Rick McGeagh (PPBA). Baseball season is starting, with evaluations this weekend. Approximately 370 children will be evaluated; this is an increase over last year, with many new youth becoming involved in the program.
8.4.2. Fay Vahdani (Chamber of Commerce). The next Chamber networking breakfast will take place on January 15, 2020 at 8am at Porta Via on Swarthmore. The Chamber’s annual Installation Dinner will take place on January 30, 2020, from 6-9pm at the Woman’s Club. Sarah Knauer will be celebrated as the new Chamber Chair. Ms. Vahadani was welcomed as the new Chamber alternate on the PPCC board.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives.
8.5.1. LAPD SLO Michael Moore & West Traffic Division Officer Ryan Basaker (Community Traffic Services Unit). Update on dangerous vehicle racing/speeding on Sunset Blvd. (including the recent serious accident on Sunset & Marquez involving racing vehicles) and what measures, if any, can be taken to address this serious problem.
SLO Moore reported that there were 32 fewer crimes in in the Palisades in 2019 than in 2018.
Officer Basaker reported that on December 15, 2019, the driver of a Lamborghini made an improper turn which caused him to run into a street sign, dent a light pole and flip the car over. There were no injuries. Speed may have been involved but the primary collision factor was the improper turn. Alan Goldsmith (At-large rep) stated that he was there and several eye witnesses told him that the driver was speeding at 100 MPH. Officer Basaker: That’s inaccurate; if he was driving that fast the accident and injuries would have been much worse. Audience remarks: There were two cars involved in racing. Officer Basaker: He wasn’t there but is going on what is in the report. He acknowledged that speeding on Sunset is an ongoing problem. The police now have a current survey so they are able to use radar devices for speed enforcement. Traffic officers are in the Palisades quite often. They have had task force days when officers from other areas come out and issue speeding tickets here. Last Saturday, Officer Basaker spent all day doing speed enforcement. The majority of drivers he cites are residents. It seems this is an ongoing problem and he does get out as often as he can. He’s usually there during daytime hours and another traffic officer, Officer Clifford, covers at other times. Maryam Zar (Chair Emeritus) asked questions about the status of left turn lane from Sunset onto Chautauqua (where there was a motorcycle accident involving a fatality a few years ago) and also about drivers routinely blowing through the red light on Sunset at the entrance to Will Rogers State Park; she noted that people rarely stop at the light. Officer Basaker: that’s a DOT issue and he can bring it up. Audience: There was an accident today where a car flipped at that location. Officer Basaker: No speed was involved. The Presiding Officer (David Card, Vice-Chair): Enforcement is needed on Bienveneda, where people routinely don’t slow down for stop signs. Danielle Samulon (Area 3 Representative): There is also a problem with drivers failing to stop at the stop sign on Marquez at Bollinger. Officer Basaker: He’s aware and has written many tickets there. This is a problem across the City. Law enforcement can’t be in all places at all times because the officers are spread out so much. David Kaplan (Area 6 Representative): There is also a problem with the one-way alley behind the Methodist Church, which is used by residents to access parking entrances. Many people drive the wrong way into the alley from Antioch, surprising residents who exit their parking lots along the alley and are unexpectedly confronted with cars coming into the alley the wrong way from Antioch. Officer Basaker will look into what can be done.
The Secretary remarked that it is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. She and the board expressed thanks and appreciation to the officers in attendance.
8.5.2. Zachary Gaidzik, West-Metro LA Field Deputy, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Mr. Gaidzik reported that the Board of Supervisors has welcomed a new Chair, Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Supervisor Hilda Solis is Chair pro Tempore in 2020. The Supervisors have created the “WHAM” Committee (acronym for Measures W, H, A & M), to focus on the $1+billion in funding from those measures. Supervisor Janice Hahn has introduced a motion to address and permit telecomuting by LA County employees. He explained that under the new Pet Friendly Housing Ordinance, any housing project that receives County funds must be pet friendly. There is also a new Beach Emergency Evacuation Light System, which involves a strobing light system connected to the lifeguard stations to help the hearing-impaired know when to evacuate in emergencies.
Q&A ensued. Q: What’s happening with the beach path extension? A: He doesn’t know but can find out. Q: What is going on with WLA Courthouse? A: It has been closed and the County is exercising first right of purchase and intends to build some sort of affordable housing. They have to pay fair market value for the property as it is owned by the Judicial Council. The County needs to partner with a private developer to finance acquisition and construction. There will be an update on the project at WRAC in the next couple of months. Q: Can the County do anything about dry brush along Sunset at Will Rogers State Park? A: LA City can’t cite the state for overgrown brush. Q: The park has let foliage along Sunset grow to hazardous conditions; can the County address this? A: He will look into it and see what’s possible. Q: Why is the County recently allowing camping in certain areas of the Santa Monica Mountains? A: He understands that this was a negotiation between County and the Coastal Commission regarding accessibility; he will get further details for us.
8.5.3. Janet Turner, Field Supervisor, Congressman Ted. Lieu.
Ms. Turner handed out flyers for two upcoming Congressional events: the annual Art Competition for high school students (submissions due by February 14) and Service Academy Day (February 29; RSVPs due by February 21). Information for both events will be posted on the PPCC website calendar. Congressman Lieu was able to get passed and signed legislation that will now allow the Armory near the VA on Federal Ave. to become a shelter for all homeless individuals (not just for veterans). The County controls the property. At the VA itself, a homeless shelter for veterans will open in March with 100 beds. The Congressman has co-sponsored three bills about e-cigarettes, calling for programs to help educate students about the health risks. Legislation is now being introduced in Congress to help the homeless. Congressman Lieu has co-signed bills to produce more affordable housing. There are four major pieces of legislation in this regard being discussed in the House. Ms. Turner concluded her remarks by announcing the availability to veterans of the new Columbarium at Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood. Ten thousand spots are available to veterans and their spouses. The Columbarium is a result of the determined efforts of Palisades resident Col. Dick Littlestone.
8.5.4. Lisa Cahill, Palisades Deputy, Mike Bonin/CD11.
Ms. Cahill sated that the clogged storm drains on Palisades Dr. near Santa Inez are being addressed. She advised that those calling 311 about problems should send the service request number to Ms. Cahill and she will help get the work done faster. Regarding the fire drill in May: this will be similar to the Mandeville Canyon drill in 2019. It will involve the Highlands and Upper Marquez. Chief Hogan reached out to her and she has in turn reached out to community leaders to form a working group to help with publicity and organization. Last year’s drill was very helpful to residents of Mandeville Canyon, especially with the Brentwood fire evacuations during the recent Getty Fire. She understands that LAFD will also look at other areas of the Palisades that need to be evacuated.
Ms. Cahill also reported that the Park Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday will include discussion of the dog park and Potrero Canyon Park. Regarding Potrero, grading is finishing up and they are moving into the landscaping phase; the landscaping is going out to bid soon and all is moving forward well. She stated that BOE is doing a wonderful job, is working efficiently and finding cost-effective solutions. Regarding the Permit Parking District near Palisades Village: new signs have been installed today on certain blocks to extend permit parking to the entire area that might be impacted (six blocks). Next Thursday, January 16, there will be a ceremonial sign installation on Antioch in front of the Chamber of Commerce offices for “Arnie Wishnick Way.” The event will take place from 3-4pm and there will be a reception at the Chamber following the ceremony. The commemorative signs will be placed between Swarthmore & Via de la Paz; one will be on a light pole in front of the Chamber and another in front of the clothing store on Swarthmore. The sign installation will be cerremonial in honor of the late Chamber director Arnie Wishnick; Antioch will remain the official street name, which will be helpful for business owners along the street who will not have to change their addresses.
Several questions were asked of Ms. Cahill. Q: Are the culverts on Palisades Dr. the clogged drains that she was talking about earlier? A: Yes. Q: When will the grand opening for Potrero Canyon Park take place? A: The projected date is now April 2021. Q: Is there any update on cleaning up the parkway across from the shopping area in Marquez Knolls, where the light pole is still leaning over from the traffic accident? A: She will look into it. Q: Which blocks in the Alphabets now have restricted parking signs? A: She named the streets. Q: Regarding Potrero, is there any chance of a pedestrian bridge over PCH? A: Yes, there’s a chance but the status is complicated. BOE & Recreation & Parks (RAP) are following the recommendation for the bridge in the PCCAC report, which is the blueprint. There is an intent for the bridge, but funding wasn’t part of the original plan. For funding, CD11 will work with City agencies and will also work with State officials (Assemblymember Bloom and Senator Allen) to secure additional funding. The Secretary noted that the Presiding Officer (Vice-Chair David Card) was a key member of the PCCAC. He reiterated that the first priority was safe crossing over PCH, and he also noted that there should be an improved trail up to Temescal. Q: What about west rim access? A: Ms. Cahill, PCCAC members, Commissioner Halper and others will meet with members of the Planning Dept. regarding fencing. They will consider current needs, the PCCAC report, wildlife considerations, etc. There will be an access gate on Friends St. Q: What about funding required for the dog park EIR? A: There are Measure A and Quimby funds, but Councilmember Bonin wants to make sure he’s coming up with a plan for the use of these funds that’s comprehensive for the entire District. He has met with Mike Shull, RAP General Manager. The funding issue is tied up with the need for repairs at the Recreation Center. She hopes to report on this at the PAB meeting.
Regarding the pedestrian bridge over PCH: Rick McGeagh stressed the need for the bridge which will allow park visitors to park at the beach; we are only gaining 19 parking spaces at the Recreation Center, which is already parked at capacity. He stated that having a bridge to beach parking is imperative. Regarding evacuation drills for other areas: David Moreno (resident) pointed out that there were problems with evacuation in Castellammare during the last Palisades fire and that area would like to be considered for part of the drills. Maryam Zar also noted that during the same evacuation period, people would drive up streets while residents were being evacuated in order to get a good view of the fire and take pictures. Ms. Cahill will ask LAFD what can be done about this. Regarding the Station 69 garage door which was dented from a car crash: This hasn’t been fixed and until it’s fixed the door must remain open. Ms. Cahill explained that the door’s panels are custom and have to be fitted. The General Services Division is working on the problem and trying to expedite the repair, but this takes time.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Land Use Committee (LUC; Howard Robinson, Chair). Project updates (Calvary Christian School; former Jack-in-the-Box site/mixed use project; the Highlands Eldercare project).
Highlands Eldercare project:
The Committee Chair described the background regarding the prior project approvals by the City Zoning Administrator, the WLA Area Planning Commission and the California Coastal Commission. He stated that PPRA has filed a lawsuit for a writ of mandamus against the City and the Coastal Commission, asking for a court determination that the governmental agencies made a mistake in approving the project. Project opponent Robert Flick has told the Committee Chair that PPRA is hoping for a March trial date; no depositions have taken place yet.
In March this year the applicant submitted plans for a building permit to the Dept. of Building & Safety (LADBS) for a Plan Check review. An issue has arisen as to whether the applicant is complying with allowable floor area ratio (FAR) under the Zoning and/or Building Codes. That issue is now being considered by LADBS; the City Attorney is involved with the review. It is an issue of Code-compliance. The Committee Chair explained that since the discretionary approvals are contingent on Plan Check review, if it is determined that the plans as proposed do not meet the Zoning or Building Codes, then the plans must be modified or the applicant could apply for another discretionary approval to address the Code issue. Alternatively, if LADBS issues a building permit for the current design prior to court action,
The Committee Chair explained that because the lawsuit is still pending the applicant must in that case decide whether to take the risk of proceeding with construction.
Former Jack-in-the-Box site/mixed use project:
The Committee Chair noted the PPCC Board’s prior vote in August 2019 to oppose the project as proposed. He explained that the project stalled after PPCC’s position letter was submitted to the City. The applicant’s representative Michael Gonzales has confirmed to the Committee Chair that the applicant is redesigning the project to address community concerns. The assigned City Planner Kenton Trinh also explained to the Committee Chair that the existing application is currently on hold; he advised that the applicant is making revisions to the proposed project and has yet to resubmit. The Committee Chair has invited Mr. Gonzales to return to the LUC and/or the PPCC Board for a further presentation in the future if there are significant design changes.
Calvary Christian School:
The Committee Chair reminded the Board that in October 2019, PPCC members voted not to oppose the project, contingent on a condition of approval limiting concurrent general assembly functions; a PPCC position letter was then submitted to the City. The public hearing was held on November 18, 2019. It was lightly attended, with two members of the Church attending and one member of the public speaking in support. The Committee Chair also attended, verbally conveyed PPCC’s position, and made sure that the hearing officer had PPCC’s letter and understood PPCC’s position, which was supported by the Church. A determination letter is not expected for approximately two more months. [For more details see: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PPCC-LUC-Update-1-9-20-2.pdf.]
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Awards Recap. David Card, PPCC Vice-Chair; David Kaplan, Awards Selection Committee Chair. Discussion only.
The Presiding Officer recounted that this was a very successful event held at a wonderful venue, the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club. In attendance were City Attorney Mike Feuer, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, and representatives of all our local government elected officials. Our first responders were also in attendance, including LAFD Battalion Chief Percy Jones, the Station 69 Captains and team, LAPD SLO Michael Moore, Traffic Officer Ryan Basaker and Beach Patrol Officers Rusty Redican and Jimmy Soliman. PPCC thanked them for their service. The audience even sang Happy Birthday to Officer Redican, who was celebrating his 50th birthday that evening. The Presiding Officer reported that per the Treasurer, we did make a small profit of $2066. The income covered our event expenses, which was our goal, so we were successful in that regard. The Treasurer will report in greater detail at our next meeting. The Presiding Officer thanked Secretary Chris Spitz, Committee Chairs David Kaplan and Mary Mueller and the members of the Selection and Event Committees. He also thanked Woman’s Club Manager Roberta Donahue and President Nancy Niles for their invaluable assistance.
The Selection Committee Chair remarked that this Awards event was particularly successful due to the awardees. He explained that we had long-time, deeply involved community members who received awards appropriately: George Wolfberg (Pride of the Palisades), Kevin Niles (Citizen of the Year) and Mike Lanning (Golden Sparkplug) have all been extraordinary contributors to the community for many years, and Mr. Niles and Mr. Lanning had important accomplishments in the past year. In addition, Don Camacho and Lisa Glantz received honors as Golden Sparkplugs for their significant recent accomplishments and contributions to the community, and they were appreciative of being part of the celebration. There was a sense of joy in the room, which was partially a function of the room itself. Several attendees told the Committee Chair that the Woman’s Club was a wonderful place to hold the event and this was the best event to celebrate the awardees that they had attended. He concluded by recognizing and thanking Secretary Chris Spitz for her central role in producing the event.
11.2. PPCC Operations: Beginning a board discussion/possible formation of committees –Deferred due to lack of time.
11.3. Motion re Ban on Sale of Flavored Tobacco (Vaping) Products (recommended by WRAC members; co-sponsors in PPCC: Chris Spitz, Secretary & Maryam Zar, Chair Emeritus).
Proposed Motion: “[Referencing Council File 18-1104, Pacific Palisades Community Council] supports the findings of the City Attorney regarding vaping products, as expressed in the September 18, 2019 Report regarding “Policy Options for Banning or Restricting the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products to Youth,” and opposes a carve-out for menthol products as well as hookah.”
City Attorney Report – http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2018/18-1104_rpt_ATTY_09-18-2019.pdf
Motion in City Council – http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2018/18-1104_mot_11-16-2018.pdf
City Attorney Info. re Hookah Enforcement –
Before introducing the motion, the Secretary stated that she had sent the Board information about a new bill which we learned about this week from the City Attorney’s Office of Tobacco Enforcement: SB 793 (Hill), just introduced in the State Senate, which would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products statewide, without exception [see SB 793 Position Paper]. She stated that the she and the Chair Emeritus are now amending the motion in PPCC to add the following sentence:
“In addition, Pacific Palisades Community Council supports proposed SB 793 (Hill), which would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products statewide, without exception.”
The Secretary and Chair Emeritus then introduced the motion as amended. No second was necessary as the motion was made by two voting members. The Secretary and Chair Emeritus briefly related the background for the motion as set forth in the Secretary’s summary, including the fact that a representative of the City Attorney’s Office of Tobacco Enforcement had attended the last WRAC meeting and requested support from member-councils for the City Attorney’s report and his call for a ban on sales of all flavored tobacco products without exception. Discussion ensued, with Board members raising several questions or commenting on related issues, including enforcement, education, youth access (despite the existing ban on under-21 sales), online sales regulation, and possible increase in illegal purchases and use resulting from a ban. A vote was taken on the motion as amended. Vote: unanimous in favor of the motion by members casting votes (19-0-1).
12. Adjournment. The Presiding Officer adjourned the meeting at 7:45pm.