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MINUTES FROM JANUARY 23rd 2020
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Rick Mills, Brenda Theveny, Dick Wulliger, Barbara Marinacci, Alan Goldsmith, Rick McGeagh, Jan Ostendorf, Cathi Ruddy
Voting Alternates: Andrew Wolfberg, Fay Vahdani, David Peterson
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Mary Mueller, Zennon Ulyate-Crow, Miriam Schulman
1. Certification of Quorum. In the absence of a Chair, Vice-Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:01pm and certified that a quorum was present.
2. Reading of Community Council’s Mission. Richard Cohen read the Mission Statement.
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 1/09/20 were deemed approved as corrected. 2) Upcoming Meetings– February 13, 2020: Briefing on proposed Gladstones Redevelopment project. February 27, 2020: Guest Speaker – LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin. March 12, 2020: LADWP presentation on the Palisades’ power needs. March 26, 2020: Guest Speaker – LA City Controller Ron Galperin (postponed from 1/23/20).
5. Consideration of Agenda. The agenda was considered.
6. Treasurer’s Report. The Treasurer Richard Cohen reported that the Council’s bank balance is $41,723. There were no significant transactions since his last report. He also gave a quick recap of the Awards party: our revenue was $8,300 and we had expenses of about $6,230, for a positive net of $2,070. Of that amount about $1,700 was due to contributions, mostly increments added to ticket purchases. Food, room rental, awards costs and beverage costs were the primary expenditures. The Treasurer extended congratulations to all involved.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Marge Gold (resident). From March 6-16, the Village Green will again be “Yarn Bombed” in honor of Woman’s History Month by Michelle Villemaire.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair (Presiding Officer).
8.1.1. Resignation of Chair; presiding officer nomination & board approval of replacement (Bylaws, Art. VII.4.E). Thank you to outgoing Chair Emeritus.
The Vice-Chair announced that our esteemed Chair George Wolfberg has resigned as Chair and read from his resignation letter of January 14, 2020, which concluded with the following: “I find great comfort in knowing that our historic Community Council is in such good hands.” See attachment below for the full text of the letter.
The Vice-Chair described his 10 years of positive experience working with George. He praised George for his service to the community and explained that as a result of his resignation, George has now become Chair Emeritus. The Vice-Chair also thanked outgoing Chair Emeritus Maryam Zar for her service. He then “handed the gavel” to the Treasurer to preside over the nomination and approval of a replacement PPCC Chair.
The Treasurer read aloud from the Bylaws provision that governs the replacement of the Chair (cited above). He noted that he has known and worked with George since 2002. He described their extensive experience together and working relationship, and he praised George for his mentorship, exemplary leadership and service to the community. The Treasurer then nominated Vice-Chair David Card for the Chair position, explaining that George recruited David as Vice-Chair and had the utmost confidence in him. David has been serving admirably as Presiding Officer in the Chair’s absence since August 2019 and is willing to continue to serve as Chair for the next few months (until the Officers’ election in June 2020) and is also open to serving as Chair if he is nominated and elected during the Officers’ election. The Treasurer called for a vote of the board to approve David Card as PPCC Chair. RESULT: Unanimous board approval.
The new Chair David Card then resumed presiding over the meeting.
8.1.2. PP Park Advisory Board 1/15/20 meeting update. The Chair attended the meeting and reported that there was a presentation by the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) project engineer for Potrero Canyon Park, Pedro Garcia. He also noted that he went on a tour of the park this morning as a Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee (PCCAC) member, with a few other members and BOE representatives, to see the progress of the park. He reported that the shape has been formed and there is more to be done. The rough grading stage is almost completed and the landscaping phase is going out to bid soon. This will be a passive park with a hiking trail. There won’t be picnic tables but there will be an open field southwest of the baseball fields, and entrances by the tennis courts and the opening at the south end of the park above PCH; there will likely be another entrance on Friends St. There will be fencing around the rim (which may be only 4 ft. high) and the entrance gates will be “Trilogy” gates to be locked at night (opened at dawn and closed at dusk every day). He noted that it is impossible to keep out all who may try to enter the park at various points around the rim and that some people will try to hop over or cut open any fencing in place. The next phase of the project will be to build a pedestrian bridge across PCH from the beach parking lot to the park entrance at the south end. There were questions at the Park Advisory Board (PAB) meeting about how park trash would be handled. The trash may be taken to receptacles placed in the current staging area adjacent to PCH, below the south end of the park, subject to Caltrans approval.
Rick McGeagh (PPBA; also a PAB member) stated that the bridge construction would allow park visitors to park along PCH. He noted that the Recreation Center is only gaining 31 parking spaces and the PAB has expressed its support for the bridge. One problem is that the bridge is estimated to cost at least $10 million and will require permits. The Chair noted that the bridge was the PCCAC’s number one priority in order to provide for a safe crossing across PCH. David Peterson(Area 6 1st Alternate): Are there estimates on the traffic expected at the passive park? The Chair: He is not aware of any estimates, but the original Coastal permit required 11 parking spaces and may have been amended. Parking spaces will be on the left side of the turnaround at the Recreation Center entrance. Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative): Is there a way for the plans to be made available to anyone who wants to see plans? The Chair: He will suggest to Pedro Garcia that once drawings are completed Mr. Garcia should consider placing them in the library. However, he cautioned that the plans will include many pages of architectural drawings. Comments have been made on the drawings by some PCCAC members. The Chair hasn’t seen all of the drawings. BOE is usually reluctant to release documents publicly until they are final and have gone out to bid. Andrew Wolfberg(Area 8 1st Alternate): Will there be security cameras at the entrance gates? The Chair: BOE has been asked about this and have reported that the Natural History Museum has a pilot program that positions cameras in open space areas to track wildlife; it is possible this may be utilized in Potrero Canyon. Barbara Marinacci (Garden Club) commented that the park should be landscaped with all native vegetation. The Chair: The landscape plan recommended by PCCAC, which he developed, calls for all native vegetation. The Secretary Chris Spitz: As a resident of Friends St., she noted that people often use wire-cutters or other means to open the chain link fence in place now and she requested that the Chair notify BOE of this problem in connection with the new proposed fencing. Steve Cron(Area 2 Representative): Will there be new bathrooms in the park? The Chair: Only at the tennis court entrance.
8.1.3. Fire Safety — Planned Evacuation Drill & Fire Suppression classes (updates & information). An LAFD evacuation drill is being planned for the Highlands and upper Marquez, similar to the Mandeville Canyon evacuation drill last year. This will occur in May (specific date to be determined). The drill is being organized by Deputy Chief Armando Hogan. Lisa Cahill of CD11 has asked us to form a small volunteer team to give advice and possibly help on the day of the event. The volunteer team will consist of David Card, Cathi Ruddy, Miriam Schulman, Haldis Toppel, K.C. Soll, Steve Cron and Joanna Spak (who has requested that LAFD consider holding an evacuation drill for the Castellammare areas as well). K.C. Soll is also offering to arrange for a Fire Suppression course for the Palisades and we are awaiting details.
8.1.4. Status of PPRA Primary Representative and Area 4 2nd Alternate seats. PPRA has appointed Jan Ostendorf as its new primary representative, replacing Bill Klein who was unable to continue serving. As a result, we now have an opening for the Area 4 2nd Alternate position (formerly held by Jan). We will be initiating the process to fill that vacant seat in due course.
8.1.5. PPCC Position Letter re Ban on Sales of Flavored Tobacco (Vaping): https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Flavored-Tobacco-Letter.pdf.
8.1.6. Arnie Wishnick Sign Installation Ceremony 1/16/20 update. This ceremonial event was well-attended and there was a huge turnout to honor Arnie. There are now two signs on Antioch saying “Arnie Wishnick Way,” one at each end of the block.
8.1.7. SMCCA Aircraft Noise Update:
8.1.8. Mitchell Schwartz. Palisadian Mitchell Schwartz is a starting Tackle on the Kansas City Chiefs and will be playing in the Super Bowl this year. Best wishes to him!
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary).
a) SB 50:
Joint PPCC/BCC letter: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PPCC-BCC-SB50-Letter.pdf
PPCC (Vice-Chair/Secretary) letter:
The Secretary announced that SB 50 is now being considered by the Senate Rules Committee, and is expected to go to a floor vote soon. PPCC has written another letter to the Rules Committee, explaining our position in greater detail and urging amendment of the bill to provide a clear exemption from mandated up-zoning for parcels in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, without exception. See: https://pacpalicc.org/wpcontent/uploads/2020/01/LetterSenaterRulesSB50R.pdf
Another message has also been sent to the California Fire Chiefs and the LA County Fire Department. See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Message-to-Fire-Chiefs.pdf
The Secretary explained that PPCC and BCC have been writing and speaking extensively with elected officials and fire professionals about this issue. BCC’s Chair Michelle Bisnoff even traveled to Sacramento yesterday and spoke with the legislative directors for all members of the Rules Committee. The Secretary thanked BCC’s Chair for her efforts. There are complicated issues involving the meaning of the bill’s confusing language about the fire hazard exception which the Secretary briefly explained. She stressed that we are continuing to insist on a clear exemption for our VHFHSZ areas (all of the Palisades), without exemption. Meanwhile we are still awaiting the results of a review being conducted by the California Fire Chiefs, LA Country Fire and the firefighters union, but we anticipate that the bill will pass in the Senate and then go to the Assembly before the January 31 deadline. At this point Assemblymember Bloom’s position on the bill is unknown. We will continue to monitor and reach out to him and other key Assemblymembers as necessary. The Secretary stated that she would welcome assistance from Board members in this endeavor and she asked anyone interested to contact her.
b) WRAC Leadership 1/15/20 meeting update: No action was taken by leadership at the last meeting. A representative of the Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment (the agency that oversees neighborhood councils/NCs) provided information about restrictions on the conduct of NCs, including the use of funds and resources, speech and taking positions on ballot measures. It was emphasized again that NCs are not permitted to speak with or lobby non-City officials regarding their positions on issues. The Secretary noted that the type of engagement by PPCC and BCC with state officials relative to SB 50, as just described, would not be permitted if PPCC were to become certified with the City.
c) Legislation update: The Secretary had no additional updates.
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. Andrew Wolfberg (Area 8 1st Alternate). The Genesis Open Golf Tournament at the Riviera Country Club will take place from February 10-16. Attendees are asked not to use the Capri entrance; all attendees will be directed to the Longworth Entrance. Ride-sharing drop-offs will be at Revere Middle School. Check the Genesis Open website for more information.
8.3.2. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative). He participated in the Homeless Count on Wednesday night for the first time. He estimates that 60-70 people attended. He learned a lot, made friends and encourages everyone to volunteer next year.
8.3.3. Alan Goldsmith (At-large Representative). He asked if there was a date set for the evacuation drill and he offered to join the volunteer team. The Chair reiterated that the drill will occur in May but no specific date has been set at this time. The Chair also explained that the volunteer team is now in place and will be more effective if kept at a small number; Alan can be an “alternate” member of the team.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Cathi Ruddy (PP Woman’s Club). Upcoming PPWC fundraising events: 1) the annual Fashion Show, Tuesday March 10, 11am-2pm; tickets are $40 and available at the Club. 2) the annual Rummage Sale, Saturday, March 28, 9am-3pm; please consider donating good quality items for the sale (drop-off with Club Director Roberta Donahue at the Clubhouse; check with Roberta for drop-off times).
8.4.2. Fay Vahdani (Chamber of Commerce Alternate). The Chamber’s annual Installation Dinner will take place on January 30 from 6-9pm at the Woman’s Club. Honorary Mayors. Billy & Janice Crystal will help install Sarah Knauer as Chair and the other new officers and board members. A BBQ dinner and entertainment will be included. Tickets are $75, available at the Chamber website.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives– None.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6.1. In the absence of Transportation Advisor Patti Post, the Secretary reported on the status of the Marvin Braude Beach Trail Improvement Project. Ms. Post recently received an email message from Yggy Ruiz, Project Manager with the LA County Dept. of Public Works, who explained that the Coastal Commission is attempting to place the matter on the February agenda so that a Coastal permit may be issued. He also stated that the project is still on schedule to begin construction later this year. The Treasurer provided further details about the project’s status.
8.6.2. Zennon Ulyate-Crow (Youth Advisor). Pali High recently had a College Orientation Night, which was a big success. Tomorrow there will be a “Super Smash Bros” (video game) tournament at the Recreation Center, hosted by the Youth Council at the Recreation Center.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC). The Chair reported that the PFC has been meeting regularly and working on the Hartzell St. pilot project as well as evaluating a list developed by the Forestry Division of 150 trees as appropriate street trees. PFC members are looking at the pros and cons of each listed tree in light of various factors (size, shade cover, watering needs, roots, etc.). The Committee’s work is ongoing.
10. Old Business.
10.1. PPCC Operations: Beginning a board discussion/possible formation of committees.
a) Awards event: What is the desired format going forward? Should the awards guidelines be revised and/or do we wish to continue sponsoring awards?
b) Finances/fundraising: How do we plan to cover PPCC annual expenses?
c) Beyond the Minutes: Admin. duties that the Secretary alone has been handling – is there a feasible alternative?
d) Website, email and social media platforms: Do we need to update?
e) Other outreach: Should PPCC hold additional community events or conduct additional outreach?
f) Suggestions from community members/audience.
Topic (a): Awards Event. The Chair initially asked whether everyone wanted to continue the Awards event. There was extended discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of various venues, including the Woman’s Club, Gladstones and the Temescal Canyon Gateway Park Dining Hall. Suggestions and comments on this topic included the following: Sue Pascoe(resident): PPCC should designate a service club member of the Council each year to be in charge of the event. Sue Kohl: We should keep the tradition although it is a lot of work; it would be difficult to get all the organizational members to agree to put on the event. We should charge a little more and perhaps hire a party planner. Steve Cron: The event was sold out early on last year; he believes people will buy tickets at a higher price. The Secretary: The attendance is usually tied to who the Awardees are and whether there are many interested people who want to celebrate with the Awardees. She noted that the Boy Scouts purchased three entire tables last year because Mike Lanning was an Awardee. She also related that several community members over the years have complained because they feel the ticket price is too high. We set the price lower this year because the venue was not as expensive as Gladstones but we probably could have charged more and people would have still bought tickets. Putting on the event was a huge amount of work and she is unwilling to do this again. She also noted the work that Sue Kohl has been doing with getting flowers and table decorations for several years, as well as the work put in by the Committee Chair Mary Mueller and other Committee members. One difficulty in planning for the event: Because of the Awards timeline, we don’t know until November who the Awardees will be or if there will even be any Awardees. The Treasurer: He agreed that the event at the Woman’s Club was lovely and he noted that many attendees remarked positively on the warmth of the Clubhouse venue vs. the Gladstones venue. However, the event production at the Woman’s Club required an enormous commitment of volunteer effort, especially because, unlike Gladstones, the food, drink, partyware, linens, tableware, chafing dishes and the like all had to be brought in and set up; and due to cost we couldn’t hire a caterer who could have supplied all of that plus servers and people to clean up. In addition, every year we give around 20 complimentary tickets to elected officials and first responders, which PPCC underwrites. We also used to do a tribute book, which generated more revenues for PPCC (example: Caruso took out an expensive ad several times on the back cover). If we had a volunteer to go out and solicit ads and produce the book, that would be a significant fundraiser for PPCC and could help underwrite event costs. Andrew Wolfberg: PPCC might suggest that attendees be given the option of paying for one of the “comps” (police officer, firefighter or government rep) to attend. Mary Mueller(At-large 1st Alternate; 2019 Awards Event Chair): If we could begin event planning earlier in the year, perhaps in August, we could begin soliciting ads for a tribute book and working on other event details. A straw vote of members was then held on whether or not PPCC should continue to hold the Awards event party, as we have been doing. RESULT: almost unanimous in favor of continuing to hold a party for the Awards event. Alan Goldsmith(the sole member who indicated opposition) explained that he thinks that people are excluded from participating due to inability to purchase tickets; he suggested “expanding and democratizing” the awards event, making it free of charge and perhaps holding it in connection with 4th of July festivities. There were no comments by others in favor of this suggestion.
Topic (b): Fundraising/finances. The Treasurer explained: Our annual expenses vary; they sometimes run about $2-3,000, at other times they are $4-5,000. Every other year have Area and At-large Representative elections. There were costs for developing the voting interface in the first year of electronic voting. It’s hard to say what exact number is needed to keep the Council running each year. Much of the expense is tied to the Awards event. He estimates that as a general rule, we need about $3,000 every year to sustain operations. We have a “Donate” page on the website which suggests $25 in “dues” from community members. We used to send out mailers suggesting this amount. The Treasurer’s employer last year donated $2,000 to PPCC in a matching grant program. He suggests other Board members might inquire whether their employers had such a program. Rick Mills(Area 4 Representative): There is an ongoing problem with residents who don’t know about PPCC. He suggests sending an email reminder that everyone donate $25. The Secretarywas asked how many people are on our group email list. Answer: around 2,000. Miriam Schulman: Everyone should forward the email to at least 5 friends and the email message should include a blurb with what we do. Andrew Wolfberg: Real estate agents could give information to new homeowners about PPCC. Cathi Ruddy (Woman’s Club; PPCC Public Safety Liaison): Residents should be encouraged to host MYN programs which could include information about PPCC. Christine Card (resident): Each Area Rep should let their constituents know about PPCC. Zennon Ulyate-Crow: We need something like banners put up publicly to demonstrate PPCC’s presence in the community. We should set up booths in public places where members could answer questions and provide information about PPCC. The Secretary noted that during her tenure as Chair she had instituted a PPCC table at the Farmers Market but there were very few volunteers and she ended up doing most of the work. David Peterson: Information about PPCC should be sent out to HOAS and other local organizations. Christine Card: PPCC should add another board position: Communications Director.
Topic (c): Beyond the Minutes. The Secretary noted that she had distributed a summary of the administrative tasks she has been doing for many years (most of which are not required under the bylaws). See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/C.SpitzTasks-1-09-20.pdf.
She explained that she will not always be on the PPCC Board; she cannot continue to do everything she’s been doing and she asked for help, especially with some of the discrete tasks such as preparing all the member table cards. No one specifically volunteered to help with any of these tasks during the meeting. However, there were several suggestions for other approaches to administration from the Board and audience members. Miriam Schulman (Fire Safety Advisor): Her HOA has hired an administrative aide at a cost of $35 an hour or around $300 month; she might be available to PPCC. Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative): Suggested that members split up some of these duties. Audience member (resident): Suggested engaging youth to take on some of the tasks as part of their community service. Zennon Ulyate-Crow: He believes many young people would volunteer; the Recreation Center Youth Council recently received 130 applications for 30 volunteer spots on that council. The Treasurer: Many of the tasks that the Secretary handles are complex and require experience, training and a longer-term commitment than most youth are able to give. He also noted that since we aren’t taking in many donations from the public, unless we have a large fundraiser the expense of hiring an outside administrator would have to come from the PPCC’s reserve funds, which we must preserve as much as possible to ensure that the Council continues its good work in perpetuity. The Secretary: Several of the tasks require administrative access to the website and email accounts; it would be best if only a small number of reliable persons were assigned to these types of tasks. She also explained that PPCC used to do postal mailings to Palisades addresses, with hard-copy newsletters and requests for donations, but hasn’t done this for the past several years since the mailing expenses exceeded donation receipts. Rick McGeagh: We should hire someone accountable for administrative tasks; this issue is related to fundraising. He related that many residents are not familiar with PPCC, and he suggested that PPCC send out an email to the public with a dedicated subject line, describing PPCC generally and also specifically requesting donations. The Secretary indicated that she would try to do so when she is able to take the time to create such an email. Area Representatives could then forward the email to their constituents/mailing lists. Sue Kohl and Steve Cron both indicated they would do so and would add a personal message encouraging residents to donate to PPCC and sign up for emails. Richard Wulliger (Historical Society): The Chair should appoint someone on the Board to handle administrative tasks. The Secretary pointed out that everyone is a volunteer and the Chair can’t force members to volunteer for this position or take on any tasks.
Topic (d): Website, etc. Due to time constraints the board was unable to expand discussion of this topic, except as noted above.
Topic (e): Other outreach. See remarks noted above during discussion of other topics.
Topic (f): Suggestions from community members/audience. See remarks noted above during discussion of other topics.
The Chair thanked everyone for their suggestions and noted that we will continue the discussion as time allows at a later date.
11. New Business – None.
12. Adjournment. The Chair adjourned the meeting at 7:45pm.
ATTACHMENT – Item 8.1.1: Resignation Letter from Chair George Wolfberg.
January 14, 2020
Mr. David Card, Vice Chair
Pacific Palisades Community Council
Via email DavidCard22@gmail.com
Re: PPCC Chairmanship
I thank you and the entire PPCC for all of the love and support, as I have been focused almost entirely on challenges to my physical health since August, 2019. I was so honored by how I was received at the annual awards dinner and was thrilled to have been able to attend with my family and see all of your friendly faces.
Having said that, I am no longer able to serve, nor currently anticipate resuming duties, as your Chairperson. Please consider this a formal resignation and to be effective immediately. I find great comfort in knowing that our historic Community Council is in such good hands.
Pacific Palisades Community Council