MINUTES FROM NOVEMBER 12th 2020
Meeting held via Zoom videoconference
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Matthew Quiat, Jenny Li, Karen Ridgley, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Brenda Theveny, Craig Natvig, Beth Holden-Garland, Alan Goldsmith, Steve Cron, Maryam Zar, Haldis Toppel, Dick Wulliger, Fay Vahdani, Richard Blumenberg, Reza Akef
Voting Alternates: None
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Sharon Kilbride, Jack Coleman, John Padden, Melanie Bouer, Mary Mueller, Marilyn Wexler, Karyn Weber, Cindy Kirven, Kimberly Bloom
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 5:30pm. Beth Holden-Garland read the Mission Statement.
2. Introduction of Zoom engineer. The Chair welcomed everyone and introduced the technical engineer Alex Ponting. Introductions of the Board and audience were deferred.
3. Roll call of voting members and certification of quorum. The Chair called the roll of voting members and certified that there was a quorum.
4. Approval of Minutes. The minutes of October 22, 2020 were approved. Upcoming meetings: January 14, 2021: topics to be announced. There is one PPCC meeting only in each of the months of November and December, on the 2nd Thursday of the month. The Holiday Awards event is normally held on the December meeting date, but will not be held this year. The December 10th meeting is cancelled.
5. Consideration of Agenda. Agenda items may be taken out of order at the discretion of the Chair.
6. Treasurer’s Report.
The Treasurer Richard G. Cohen reported that PPCC’s cash balance is $38,013.05. There have been no significant transactions since the last report.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Lou Kamer (resident) explained that LADOT and CD11 have installed improvements to the Chautauqua/Corona Del Mar intersection, including installing a new crosswalk, signage, bollards, a pedestrian island and bumper lines on the side of the street for people walking. The Chair explained that when the LADOT originally proposed to remove the crosswalk, the neighbors, Lou Kamer, the nearby PPCC Area representatives and PPCC Board members all objected. CD 11 staff supported the community and worked with LADOT to reverse its original decision and to make these improvements to the intersection. Mr. Kamer also explained that he and a group of residents have been trying to maintain the dirt pathway on Chautauqua by clearing brush and keeping it level. He will bring to the Council a proposal about possibly paving the pathway. The goal is to make this a safe and beautiful route for pedestrians. Mr. Kamer also announced that this year there will be a different holiday “Ho, Ho, Ho” celebration due to the pandemic; an announcement with details about the event will be forthcoming.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. Update on status of recent motions in City Council:
(a) Ryu motion for an ICO/temporary construction halt (CF 20-1170): Passed in Council PLUM committee on 10/29/20 as amended by CD4. The Chair explained the amendments: the motion no longer calls for an immediate ICO on construction but requests LAFD and other agencies to report on enforcement options to address bottlenecks in evacuation routes and temporary suspension options for large vehicle hauling and staging operations during highest fire risk days. The amended text has been sent to the Board. [See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Supplement-to-PPCC-11-12-20-AgendaR.pdf].
A hearing date in the full City Council still hasn’t been set.
(b) Bonin motion related to the VHFHSZ and evacuation routes (CF 20-1213): Passed in Council Public Safety committee on 10/13/20 and & in PLUM committee on 11/5/20, as amended by CD11 to include, in addition to evacuation routes in the VHFHSZ, all areas impacted by climate change (e.g., tsunami zones and areas subject to sea-level rise). The Chair reported that the motion passed in City Council on November 10, 2020.
(c) Ryu motion to expand the Hillside Construction Regulation District (HCRD) Ordinance (CF 20-1101): Passed in full Council on 10/29/20; Planning Dept. directed to prepare ordinance amendments and map of areas where the HCRD would apply; PPCC will monitor. The Chair noted that there are no further updates.
8.1.2. Update on status of LAPD beach patrol in Pacific Palisades.
PPCC Letter: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PPCC-Beach-Detail-Funding-Letter.pdf
Asm. Bloom Letter: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Letter-of-Support-Pacific-Palisades-Beach-Detail.pdf
8.1.3. PCH Task Force Report.
Senators Allen and Stern and Assemblymember Bloom all attended the last PCH Task Force meeting. Sen. Allen sponsored a new law that phases out a certain fire suppressant that is cancer-causing. All three of these elected officials agreed that density and fire evacuation were important issues. Caltrans reported that it is conducting a traffic study on the PCH/Chautauqua intersection, with possible major improvements to be proposed. PPCC Transportation Advisor Patti Post is trying to set up a meeting to talk with Caltrans about the intersection and possible improvements. The City of Malibu also reported at the Task Force meeting that it has worked out coordination and control of PCH stoplights from Malibu to the Ventura County line to go all “green” in the event of emergency evacuations. There are emergency generators installed at all the stoplights. They are also studying different sirens for use in emergencies. Malibu has set up evacuation zones and is coordinating with the Topanga Canyon community on evacuation of residents by zones during emergencies. The idea is to push people to evacuate north towards Ventura, not south towards the Palisades and other parts of Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). Dockless electric scooters – local & state regulation status update.
The Secretary summarized the information contained in her written report linked in the agenda. She also stated that she had recently learned about a lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the City regarding the LADOT’s data-tracking program and had written a supplemental report about the lawsuit which was distributed to the Board before the meeting. [See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Supplement-to-PPCC-11-12-Agenda-re-scooters.pdf] She explained the status of the lawsuit. The Secretary further reported on the status of the proposed Vacation Rentals ordinance, which passed in City Council today (November 12). The proposed ordinance would allow a certain number of non-primary residences to be rented out short-term. She noted that PPCC had submitted a message to the Council File reiterating its request, originally made in January 2020, for a 24-hour hotline for neighbors to report issues such as party houses, noise, nuisances and other violations of ordinance provisions. The ordinance must now be drafted by the Planning Dept. We will attempt to monitor.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives
8.3.1. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative) reported that there has been a big increase in speeding and drag racing in the Highlands. He has been in touch with Capt. Tom. They don’t know of a solution but they are working on it. Capt. Tom says it’s a problem all over the City. Other Area Representatives and Alternates reported that speeding and drag racing is also going on along Sunset Blvd., on Alma Real near the library, and in the El Medio bluffs. CD11 Field Deputy Durrah Wagner stated that she has met with residents of the Mountaingate area in Brentwood, which is also experiencing speeding and drag racing. She will speak with Steve Cron about exploring avenues to help with the situation.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives – None.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives. Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. Durrah Wagner (CD 11 Palisades-Brentwood Field Deputy). See Item 8.3.1. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) explained that she is trying to understand the 45 ft. height limit in her Area and would like someone from CD 11 to get back to her. Ms. Wagner stated that she would check with CD 11 Planning Director Len Nguyen to schedule a meeting.
8.5.2. Veronica de la Cruz-Robles (Neighborhood Prosecutor, City Attorney’s office). She is just checking in and listening to our meeting. She noted that her office has been dealing a lot with the problem of party houses, mainly in Bel Air and other areas of the City. People continue to throw large gatherings despite the public health orders. The City has been able to shut off utilities to these houses in several cases. This problem hasn’t affected the Palisades as much. Many of these party houses are short-term rentals. Her office is working with City agencies to strengthen the Home-Sharing Ordinance. An issue with the hotline (which is already in the administrative rules) is that the police are not always able to respond immediately to complaints about noise and nuisances, especially late at night. Beth Holden-Garland (PPRA) remarked that she is concerned because she sees young people gathering and partying on the streets near her home and not wearing masks.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. Sharon Kilbride (PPCC Homelessness Advisor & Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness/PPTFH Co-President) explained that members of PPTFH have been working with the LAPD Beach Patrol. They are doing a good job and getting into the hillsides to address public safety problems. There is an arsonist with mental illness who is homeless in the Palisades. He has started two spot fires which the Beach Patrol has been able to put out. Police have tracked him and he seems to have backed off. Two other spot fires in the lower Corona del Mar bluffs were also put out. There was another fire in Temescal Gateway Park in a trash can. Ms. Kilbride can’t confirm if these fires were started by homeless people. She reminded everyone to be vigilant about fires. She also announced that this Monday, November 16th at 7pm, there will be a PPTFH online community meeting on homeless mental health. Information is on the PPTFH website.
9. Reports from Committees – None.
10. Old Business.
10.1. Motion recommended to member-councils by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) – eliminate gut-and-amend bill process; sponsored in PPCC by Secretary Chris Spitz (PPCC primary WRAC representative & WRAC Vice-Chair); deferred from October 22, 2020. See attachment for motion text and background information: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Attachments-to-11-12-20-AgendaR.pdf.
The Secretary introduced the motion and referenced the background information that had been provided in the agenda [see attachment below]. The Chair briefly explained that this is a “bait & switch” maneuver which misleads the public as to the intent and actual content of the legislation being proposed. The Secretary then moved that the Board vote to support the motion. Second: Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative). Discussion: None. A vote was taken. Result: Unanimous in favor of the motion.
11. New Business.
11.1. Guest speaker: Assemblymember Richard Bloom. Remarks by the Assemblymember and Q&A.
The Chair welcomed and introduced Assemblymember Bloom and also thanked him for his strong support for retention of our Beach Patrol. The Assemblymember indicated he will continue to advocate for this detail as it is important for the community’s safety. He thanked the Palisades for his re-election. He spoke about what happened this past year in Sacramento. He noted that his field representative Melissa Kaufler, who was in attendance, will confirm that their office has been inundated with unemployment/EDD requests – over 700 this year. In a normal year they have 20-30 cases. The legislative session was cut short during COVID. The legislators lost a few weeks of time to work on the budget, although they were able to pass a budget on time. There was a $1billion authorization for the Governor’s use to address the COVID crisis/important needs.
Assemblymember Bloom noted that several important bills that he introduced this past session had passed. He explained that AB 1788 – a moratorium on the use of second generation rodenticides – will take effect in January. He worked with folks in the Palisades and other areas for five years to get this bill to fruition. He’ll continue to carry animal welfare bills and would like to introduce a bill this session to create a canine blood bank system. He also noted that his office had a successful forum on hate speech and he will ask the Governor to create a commission on hate.
The Assemblymember further mentioned AB 1766, which will require the state to provide data to assess why board & care facilities have been shutting down. This may be due to fact that real estate values have gone up too high and the rate of reimbursement for the services are such that it’s more valuable for the property owner to sell. This is one of many drivers of homelessness. He has been prioritizing homelessness for over 20 years. He believes in a team approach to the problem and wants to concentrate on the mental health aspects. There is an epidemic of meth use; this is connected to mental health because it brings on psychosis.
The Chair explained that we are concerned about proposed legislation to increase housing density in residential areas in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ). Assemblymember Bloom acknowledged these concerns while stating that he would continue to address housing affordability – this is a crisis that is not going away. He explained that his Budget Committee has held hearings on fire prevention. He recognizes that safe ingress & egress are of critical importance in emergencies. Also important are improving the ability to create defensible space and home hardening measures. The Secretary thanked Assemblymember Bloom for including an unconditional exemption for the VHFHSZ in one of his housing bills last session.
Steve Cron asked if there was funding for new equipment and machinery to fight fires. The Assemblymember: Yes, over the past few years when the budget was flush we brought CalFire to full capacity, including new equipment, more personnel and new helicopters. Last year, they were set to fund new LiDar (laser beam) technology which would have been able to detect and pinpoint fires. That had to be dropped from the budget due to the economy. He hopes they can bring this back.
Leslie Campbell (resident; PP Dog Park Working Group) explained that over the past five years the Working Group has tried to get support for a dog park in the Palisades. They now have support from Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks, CD11, PPCC and the community. A few weeks ago they got a major boost – Measure A funds for one year were allotted for the project, thanks to Durrah Wagner of CD11. They will still need to raise $600,000 more in funding and will also need to obtain a Coastal Development Permit (CDP). She asked if Asssemblymember Bloom could help with the CDP. The Assemblymember indicated that he is a dog lover and can try to help; at a minimum, he can write a letter to the California Coastal Commission (CCC). He is a former Coastal Commissioner and may be able to explore with the current CCC how to expedite the request. He noted that the CCC is thorough in its process. The Working Group should stay in contact with Melissa Kaufler.
Jack Coleman (Youth Advisor) explained that AB 331, which contained an ethnic studies mandate that was anti-Semitic, was vetoed by the Governor. Will the Assemblymember commit to voting No on any legislation with an ethnic studies mandate that is not inclusive or is anti-Semitic? Assemblymember Bloom: Yes. He explained his efforts in this regard and stated that he will continue to work on this issue. Anti-Semitism has no place in any curriculum.
The Chair thanked the Assemblymember for speaking with us and answering our questions.
11.2. Motion recommended to member-councils by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) – Community Plans update process/requests to Planning; sponsored in PPCC by the PPCC Community Plan Update Committee (CPUC). See attachment for motion text and background information: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Attachments-to-11-12-20-AgendaR.pdf.
The Secretary (as a member of the Community Plan Update Committee/CPUC) introduced the motion and referenced the background information that had been provided in the agenda [see attachment below]. The Chair briefly explained the reasons why the CPUC was sponsoring this motion. The Secretary then moved that the board vote to support the motion. No second was necessary as the motion was made by a committee of more than one voting Board member. Discussion: None. A vote was taken. Result: Unanimous in favor of the motion.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 6:45pm.
Item 10.1 (text of motion)
Whereas the Sacramento Legislative process known as Gut-and-Amend eliminates transparency and public participation by misleading the intent and content of the bill being considered,
[Pacific Palisades Community Council] recommends the following reform: Eliminate the “gut-and-amend” bill process and request the City of Los Angeles include in its Sacramento legislative priorities the elimination of the “gut-and-amend” bill process.
Item 11.2 (text of motion)
Motion to support and include for official input to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning in reference to the WRAC Member Community Plan updates, a delay of 6 months due to COVID 19 and restrictions related to public access, meetings and participation and further request the following:
- An appropriate assessment of how the COVID 19 and future pandemics will impact current and future mobility, housing, design, environmental and health and safety needs and concerns.
- Current and future data projections relevant to the task of updating all WRAC member Community Plans.
- Incorporation of an additional step in the Community Plan update timeline that allows for presentation of the staff draft plan and an associated public comment period, or a second and revised concept plan phase. Allocation of time for staff to review public comments and incorporate changes to reflect input prior to issuing any NOP [Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report] for the start of the environmental review process. It is improper to issue an NOP and conduct a DEIR for a draft plan that the community has had neither the chance to see or review.
- Thorough public outreach is a must and should include all stakeholders. The Planning Department has not allocated proper time or resources, and City Council must do so moving forward so that no stakeholders are left uninformed about the process.