MINUTES FROM FEBRUARY 25th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Karen Ridgley, Joanna Spak, Sue Kohl, Jenny Li, Reza Akef, Craig Natvig, Beth Holden-Garland, Alan Goldsmith, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Richard Blumenberg, Jim Kirtley, Brenda Theveny
Voting Alternates: Cindy Kirven, Kevin Niles
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Jack Coleman, Kimberly Bloom, Mary Mueller, Lee Anne Sanderson
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:01pm. Chris Spitz 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 February 11, 2021 were approved. Upcoming meetings: March 11, 2021: (1) School reopenings update from Allison Polhill (District Director, LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin); (2) WRAC-recommended motion re affordable housing bills.; (3) LADWP updates (low water pressure in Area 5, postponed from today’s meeting; measures to protect sensitive plants in area of pole replacement project). March 25, 2021: CD 11 presentation on proposed regulations and a pilot program for “Personal Delivery Devices” (remote-controlled/robotic delivery of purchases). April 8, 2021: City Redistricting 2021 presentation (Michele Prichard, Commissioner/CD 11 Representative to the Redistricting Commission).
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 $36,802.26. There have been no significant transactions since the last report.
7. General Public Comment – None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. PPCC recent comment letters (Housing Element Update EIR & Processes & Procedures Ordinance).
The Chair reiterated that the letters linked in the agenda have been submitted. He then described each of the letters and reiterated our concerns as set forth in the letters.
8.1.2. Jack-in-the-Box site project update.
The Chair announced that Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative) attended the last City Council Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing of this project. The PLUM Committee reaffirmed its prior approval of the project, which will consist of 39 units & ground floor retail. The developer will add 4 moderate-income units to the previous 4 low-income units, so that the project will have a total of 8 low–moderate income units. It will otherwise be the same-sized project.
8.1.3. Beach bike path extension project update.
The Chair explained: This project has been slowly developing. The County engineer has advised that approval of a grant from the State has been received and construction will begin by December this year. A Coastal Development Permit was also issued. Construction will likely take a year to complete. The path extension will run from the City of Santa Monica border to the Bel Air Bay Club.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). WRAC/other updates.
The Secretary reported that motions to oppose SB 9 and 10 have been passed by a majority of WRAC member councils and have become adopted positions of WRAC. Position letters will be submitted forthwith. Meanwhile, the bills will be heard in the Senate Housing Committee on March 18. The City Council still hasn’t taken up the resolutions by Councilmember Koretz to oppose the bills, although the City’s Chief Legislative Analyst has filed reports recommending that the City pass the resolutions and oppose both bills. We will continue to monitor.
The WRAC board also passed for recommendation to member councils the motion that the Secretary had originally sponsored to support certain affordable housing legislation. The PPCC board will consider this motion at our March 11th meeting.
The Chair, the Secretary and 3 or 4 other board members attended a Zoom meeting yesterday with Senators Ben Allen and Henry Stern (Malibu, Calabasas) to discuss legislation regarding restrictions on new development in fire zones. Other meeting attendees included numerous community and elected leaders from Brentwood, Bel Air, Sherman Oaks, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and even Santa Clarita. This is obviously an issue of great concern to hillside communities. Sen. Stern indicated that his and Allen’s proposed bill to ban new development in the fire zone, SB 155, was basically a “blunt instrument”/opening salvo to raise the issue, and he doesn’t expect it to pass unless amended. He definitely wants to make clear in the bill that property owners can rebuild on a 1:1 basis after a disaster or in order to build a new home to replace a “tear down” structure. There was quite a bit discussed about legislative amendments and how best to protect properties in what is called the “Wildland Urban Interface,” and the discussion will continue.
8.2.2. David Kaplan (Vice-Chair) reported that he attended a virtual State Board of Forestry & Fire Protection meeting on February 24th. The discussion involved proposed amendments to update emergency fire safety regulations that were put in place in July 2020. The new regulations are intended to address the intersection between the state’s housing supply crisis and the wildfire crisis. They will be enacted in July 2021. There was discussion about various definitions, road and driveway standards for ingress and egress, safety requirements and rebuilding standards after wildfires. The Board will conduct ongoing meetings to discuss the proposed amendments. We will post relevant information. [Related materials: https://calfire.app.box.com/v/firesaferegulations2021. Board of Forestry website; info. on how to register for meetings: https://bof.fire.ca.gov/.]
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives.
8.3.1. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) explained that she is also President of Marquez Knolls Property Owners Association (MKPOA). An issue of great concern to MKPOA is the 45 ft. height limit affecting properties in the Coastal Zone. She is again requesting to have this issue studied by the PPCC Land Use Committee (LUC). Construction is ongoing at a large house on the corner of Marquez and Ida which appears to be 45 ft. high with 4 stories in the rear portion. She believes this may impact future home construction in the Coastal Zone. The Chair stated that he will refer this issue to the LUC and that we also need to speak with CD 11 about the matter. Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative) and Karen Ridgley (Area 4 Representative) both stated that they have seen the house under construction in Area 3 and share Ms. Toppel’s concerns.
8.3.2. Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative) reported that she attended a 7-hour hearing of the City Planning Commission (CPC) today, February 25. On the agenda for consideration were the proposed Citywide Sign Ordinance (recent version supported by the Council PLUM Committee) and the Mello Act Ordinance. Regarding the Sign Ordinance: the CPC rejected the PLUM Committee’s version, and instead reiterated its approval of Version B+ (a version previously supported by the CPC which PPCC also supports), with some revisions. Regarding the Mello Act: This is a state law which preserves & expands affordable housing in the Coastal Zone. The City of LA has been implementing the Act with interim administrative procedures. This ordinance would add a new section in the Municipal Code and would clarify and standardize controls. It is intended to provide more affordable housing in the Coastal Zone. There was a lengthy discussion and after points were made by Councilmember Bonin and the Legal Aid Foundation, the matter was tabled to a future CPC meeting in May.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Jim Kirtley (YMCA) advised that the Y’s food distribution program is going well. Fifty bags of groceries were given out to needy individuals last week and there were 8-10 volunteers helping with the distribution. The program takes place on Thursdays at 12pm in front of the Y on Via de la Paz.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives. Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. LAPD Officer James Allen (attending for acting SLO Jae Lee, who was unable to attend due to illness). Officer Allen stated that he will be out at the El Medio bluffs tonight in a special detail with other LAPD officers. They received reports from residents that people were speeding on El Medio, and he is part of a special LAPD task force to enforce the curfew and speeding laws. Karen Ridgely thanked Officers Allen and Lee, who had met with a group of Area 4 residents about this issue. They believe the task force will be extremely productive. Officer Allen also reported that Officer Perez will substitute in as acting SLO in two weeks. Officer Allen will follow in the SLO position again after Officer Perez’s rotation ends.
8.5.2. Zachary Alamillo, CD 11 Constituent Advocate (attending for CD 11 Field Deputy Durrah Wagner, who was unable to attend), reported that the new turn signal at Sunset & Chautauqua will be activated in about 3 weeks. There was a recent water cut-off issue in the Palisades that occurred at 5pm yesterday. LADWP fixed the problem, but another water main break happened today in Mandeville Canyon and LADWP is working right now on the problem.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors
8.6.1. Jack Coleman (Youth Advisor), announced that Los Angeles schools are now allowed to have sports activities per a recent County Health Dept. order. The order applies to all schools in LA County.
9. Reports from Committees – None.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Public Safety/Disaster Readiness Forum #2. Discussion only. Guest speakers:
(a) K. C. Soll – Resident, LAFD CERT and Red Cross “Map Your Neighborhood” (MYN) volunteer program coordinator.
(b) Jenny Buchbinder – Resident and Palisades Highlands “Ready Your LA Neighborhood” (RYLAN) volunteer program coordinator.
(c) Hank Wright – LAFD Battalion 9 Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS/amateur radio) volunteer communications unit leader.
(d) New: Stephanie Benjamin – EMT (Masters in Emergency Management), head of Culver City CERT training and volunteer during Katrina.
The Chair welcomed the speakers and noted that K.C. Soll has put together this program for PPCC. He invited Ms. Soll to speak first and introduce the remaining speakers.
Ms. Soll introduced herself as a resident and LAFD CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteer trainer in the Palisades. She was born and raised in the Palisades and has lived in the Highlands for the last 4 years. She has coordinated CERT training with LAFD in the Highlands and also at Palisades Presbyterian Church with many groups.
Ms. Soll next introduced Hank Wright, head of the LAFD Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS/ amateur radio) in the Palisades and nearby areas. Mr. Wright explained that he is the LAFD Battalion 9 Communications Unit Leader. He works with both Fire Stations 69 and 23 in the Palisades. ACS is the official communications service for LAFD; it is a back-up for the City’s other communications systems. He next showed a slide show and spoke about emergency preparedness measures. He described the LAFD Emergency Preparedness Guide and urged everyone to download a copy from LAFD [Link to the Guide at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/disaster-preparedness/]. Mr. Wright’s call to action: 1) make a plan for disasters; 2) Have an FRS radio (such as walkie-talkies); they have limited range and are easy to use; be sure to have extra batteries; and 3) sign up for Notify LA and Pulse Point apps. He stressed that there are 19 LAFD personnel in the Palisades at any given time. They have 6 pieces of equipment. We have 23,000+ residents. LAFD personnel may be swiftly overwhelmed during an emergency. For this reason, it is important that we know our neighbors in order to help one another. A good way to do that is to sign up for Ready Your LA Neighborhood (RYLAN) or Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) as a back-up or force multiplier. That’s what ACS is intended for as well. He also noted the importance of the CERT program and described how it trains people in skills to use during emergencies.
The Chair asked Mr. Wright to describe his activities with the American Legion (Palisades Post 283). Mr. Wright explained that he is part of a program sponsored by the Sons of the American legion. They are working on refurbishing their radio to provide emergency communications for the community. Richard Cohen (Treasurer) noted that he is a licensed ham radio operator and asked whom he would reach out to regarding the ham radio group. Mr. Wright replied that those interested should contact the PPCC emergency ham group at email@example.com. He will also be conducting training at the American Legion. It will not be highly technical, i.e., learning Morse Code won’t be required. Contact Kevin Niles of the American Legion for more information [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Ms. Soll then introduced Stephanie Benjamin, the head of CERT training for Culver City. She has a Masters degree in emergency management, fire investigation and law enforcement. Using a Power Point presentation, Ms. Benjamin described her extensive background and experience, which includes multiple certifications. She was also a volunteer EMT in Louisiana during the Hurricane Katrina crisis for 5 months.
Ms. Benjamin stressed the importance of making a plan and having a bond with the community through programs such as RYLAN so that neighbors can respond to people in need when a disaster occurs. She gave important emergency preparedness tips, which include creating a family plan, making up an emergency kit, having proper tools in the kit, knowing how to use the tools, identifying hazards in the home and workplace, and fixing hazards in advance. She gave a detailed description of what should go into emergency kits and which supplies and tools we should have on hand for emergency purposes. She also gave extensive advice specific to earthquakes.
Lastly, Ms. Soll introduced Jenny Buchbinder, a volunteer coordinator for the RYLAN program in the Palisades Highlands. Ms. Buchbinder explained that she is a 20-year resident of the Highlands. Four years ago, she attended a meeting to learn about emergency preparedness. She learned at that time about the importance of mutual aid and the RYLAN program, which is sponsored by the City of LA Emergency Management Dept. (EMD). She relied on expertise from the City to help implement the program for her neighborhood in the Highlands and it has been successful. Jackie Koci Tamayo is the City’s Westside EMD-RYLAN coordinator. The Secretary advised that Ms. Tamayo’s contact information is on the PPCC website Disaster Readiness page. The Chair also noted that Ms. Tamayo may be familiar to many Palisadians as our past Rustic Canyon Park Director. Ms. Buchbinder then showed a video which explained the RYLAN program. She encouraged everyone to look into implementing the program for their neighborhood.
Joanna Spak: She had CERT training a few years ago and wonders if there are any refresher courses. Ms. Soll: This will be happening soon; firefighters are working on a Zoom presentation but it is not yet available. Ms. Benjamin: Go to FEMA’s emergency management institute, where you can take classes online; there are also classes on Stop the Bleed.org. Judy Hewlitt (audience): The University of Utah has an online refresher course on CERT.
Ms. Soll also noted that she has been working on a Power Point presentation for seniors and elders on disaster readiness. She will share the program with anyone with an elderly family member who is concerned. She can be reached at CERT.Palisades@gmail.com.
The Chair thanked all of the guest speakers for their presentations.
11.2. Low water pressure problem in Area 5 – Deborah Hong, LADWP Community Affairs Liaison – postponed to next meeting.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:36 pm.