MINUTES FROM APRIL 8th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Karen Ridgley, Sue Kohl, Matthew Quiat, Joanna Spak, Jenny Li, Reza Akef, Alan Goldsmith, Beth Holden-Garland, Peter Powell, Craig Natvig, Eric Dugdale, Richard Blumenberg, Trish Bowe, Fay Vahdani
Voting Alternates: Danielle Samulon, Melanie Bouer, Janet Anderson, Susan Orenstein
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Rob Weber, Zennon Ulyate-Crow, Jack Coleman, John Padden, Kevin Niles, Mary Mueller, Kimberly Bloom, Rick McGeagh, Cathy Russell, Karyn Weber, Lee Anne Sanderson
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. The Chair 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. At the Chair’s direction the Secretary called the roll of voting members; the Chair certified that there was a quorum.
4. Approval of Minutes. The minutes of March 11, 2021 were approved as corrected. Upcoming meetings: April 22, 2021: (1) Update on the Gladstones redevelopment project (by the concessionaire’s representative); (2) City Redistricting 2021 presentation (Michele Prichard, Commissioner/CD 11 Representative to the Redistricting Commission) — postponed from 4/8/21. May 13, 2021: Nominating Committee announcement of officer candidates; nominations from Board open. May 27, 2021: Close of Board nominations. Additional topics to be announced
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 $35,701.26. Since his last report there have been a couple of miscellaneous donations received, amounting to a total of approximately $300.
7. General Public Comment – See Item 11.1 below.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. Letter re proposed appeal fee increase:
8.1.2. Appointment of Nominating Committee to nominate PPCC officer candidates for the 2021- 2022 term (Bylaws Art. VII.1). The Chair announced the following members of the Nominating Committee: Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative; Committee Chair); Jennny Li (Area 7 Representative); Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative).
8.1.3. Robotic Personal Delivery Devices – clarification regarding applicable law. No report.
8.2. From Officers – None.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives – None.
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. LAPD Officer Omir Perez, acting SLO for the Palisades. SLO Perez announced that he will serve as the Palisades’ acting SLO until the end of this week. He will be working on Saturday night. Officer Brian Espin will replace Officer Perez as our next acting SLO.
8.5.2. CD 11 (temporary) Field Deputy & Sr. Planning Deputy Len Nguyen – Not in attendance.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Executive Committee. Motion regarding pedestrian overcrossing (bridge) over PCH, sponsored by the Executive Committee. See Timeline/Key Points:
The Chair announced that the motion was withdrawn from the agenda because the City appears to have prioritized other infrastructure needs and will not be filing an application for federal funding.
9.2. Land Use Committee (LUC; Howard Robinson, Chair). (Tentative) Update on research: Marquez/Ida residential project & related non-hillside Coastal area zoning issues. In the Committee Chair’s absence, the PPCC Chair announced that the LUC held a working meeting today and is continuing its research and investigation into the zoning issues.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Councilmember Bonin Motion re Homeless Housing (possible “tiny homes”/safe camping at Will Rogers State Beach parking lot & other sites in CD 11). Discussion only. See Bonin Motion at: https://11thdistrict.com/news/no-stone-left-unturned/ (click on arrows at bottom left of motion to move forward or back between motion pages).
The Chair welcomed Councilmember Mike Bonin, who presented a slide show with information about his motion. CM Bonin stated that the Los Angeles homeless situation is in indescribable crisis. He gave the numbers of people dying on our streets and noted that there has been a dramatic increase in homelessness. The numbers are expected to double nationwide and in Los Angeles in a year. He further described the dire conditions and emphasized that multiple strategies are needed to address the crisis, including housing and prevention. He discussed the menu of options. The interim solutions are bridge housing, Project Room Key and host homes. The immediate solutions are “tiny homes” or cabin communities, safe parking and safe camping. The public, the courts and our consciences are demanding solutions. He spoke about the federal lawsuit overseen by Judge Carter. The Judge will demand that each Council district participate in a plan to address homelessness. CM Bonin has called for a consent decree. He described the areas that already have supportive housing. He is proposing the next step in all of this: immediate life-saving measures to deal with the crisis on the streets. Measures taken have included purchasing motel rooms, leasing motel rooms and leasing apartment units. He is also using part of the West LA Civic Center where his offices are located as bridge housing for women. He is now proposing cabin communities, safe camping and safe parking in various areas of CD11. He described what “tiny homes” or cabin communities are and what they consist of. They will provide onsite services, security and a path out of homelessness. The City has already opened several such communities in other areas. Safe camping involves people being allowed to put up tents or being provided with tents in sanctioned areas. There will be onsite management, sanitation, security and services. Not yet decided: the precise locations of the sites, the types of housing or shelter capacity, the operations and rules. He has only asked for City agencies to evaluate the sites, to begin discussions and determine how to find funding.
Why is this being proposed on the Westside? It’s an epic crisis, people are dying, and the direction the Council is taking involves every district doing their part. The options on the Westside are limited mainly to government-owned properties. He has offered multiple locations in his motion. He stressed that every community needs to be part of the solution. The crisis demands as much action as possible. During the pandemic last year, the City began using recreation centers for temporary homeless housing. The Palisades Recreation Center was thought to be inappropriate, but the beach parking lot was proposed as an alternate site in discussions. He is now proposing this site.
CM Bonin then described the process that will take place: His motion will first go to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, and if it passes in Committee will then go to the full Council. If the motion passes in Council that will start the study process. City agencies would then evaluate the proposals and public discussion would continue. The funding must be ascertained. The proposal would then go through a required public approval process with multiple jurisdictions involved. He would like to hear ideas for other sites in the Palisades if this site isn’t considered ideal.
Questions and answers with Board members then ensued.
The Chair: He understands that Judge Carter was concerned about camping under the freeways because of pollution. PCH qualifies as a freeway with 6 lanes of traffic. It is also an attractive nuisance for homelessness; many have died jaywalking across PCH. The beach parking lot seems a dangerous place to house people. CM Bonin: That would be part of the evaluation. There are camping areas on other portions of PCH where there is traffic. Dockweiler Beach is not on PCH but it also has an adjacent road. There is a difference between being housed in the open air versus under a freeway overpass.
Matt Quiat (Area 6 Representative): If the beach parking lot were to be used, how would that impact the millions of people who visit the beach every year? CM Bonin: The Coastal Commission will weigh in on this. He proposes just taking part of the parking lot at the southern end. The Commission knows this won’t be permanent; there will be a short-term impact for a year or two. This must be balanced against the crisis of people dying.
Beth Holden Garland (PPRA): The public beach is for the public; it is an area sacred for families. She doesn’t see that sufficient resources are there for the homeless, such as sanitation and other services. There have been several fatalities with crossings on PCH. How is he addressing impacts on children going to school at Pali High? CM Bonin: These issues will all be addressed during the process. Regarding food and services: These would be provided as part of the program for the cabin communities.
Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative): He is a private developer. Private developers are not building affordable housing because the City is imposing Draconian rules on builders. He complained about the actions of a homeless person outside property he owns. CM Bonin: There are many drivers of the cost of housing. He is against reducing wages. The fact that there is a homeless person acting inappropriately outside of the property owned by Mr. Akef is an argument for the Councilmember’s motion.
Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative): She represents the Alphabet Streets. She has received an overwhelming number of emails and calls from residents who are upset about the use of the beach parking lot to house the homelessness. She has a lot of interaction with PPTFH volunteers and police officers on the beach. The message she gets from the officers is that they are very much against this proposal and think it’s a terrible idea. Getting services to homeless people at the beach in this way can’t be managed. CM Bonin: LAPD wants to get out of the homeless business. In order to do this, we need more housing and services. We have to be providing services in every location. There are no ideal locations.
Danielle Samulon (Area 3 1st Alternate). She represents the Marquez area. This part of the beach is literally the playground for the Palisades and for others; young kids go there to play and others go to learn how to surf. The whole City goes to the beach. It’s the Central Park of Los Angeles. This would be like putting homeless cabins in Central Park. Are mentally ill people going in these places? How many cabins would be there? Are there other cabin communities in beach parking lots? What has happened with Measure HHH? CM Bonin: Every neighborhood must have a park for people to play in. A number of projects on the Westside are being funded with HHH funding but because the costs have gone up, the number of units being built is lower than originally projected. There are cabin communities in Redondo Beach and Santa Cruz. Ms. Samulon: Are these on or near beaches? (No response.)
Trish Bowe (Rotary Club): Can you verify what these cabins are costing? CM Bonin: Pallet shelters cost between $6,000-7,000 per cabin; that is the base cost. The cost goes up with required additional infrastructure. There are showers and plumbing at Will Rogers, so this could be tied in.
David Kaplan (Vice-Chair): What do you say to those people who believe that these temporary housing units will never go away but will expand and take over a greater part of the parking lots? How can we believe these assurances? CM Bonin: All projects in the Coastal Zone are subject to the Coastal Commission. They won’t allow anything other than something that is temporary or emergency. The Commission will give time parameters, such as when it will have to be shut down. Mr. Kaplan: What’s to stop the City from asking the Commission to expand the time? CM Bonin: We have other agencies that are responsive in this situation; the County owns the beach parking lot.
Karen Ridgley (Area 4 Representative): She is concerned about the proximity of Pali High to the parking lot location for the tiny houses. What are the implications for our youth who use the beach for recreation and sports? Are there any laws protecting the youth who would be exposed through the proximity to homeless housing on the beach? CM Bonin: These are things that will need to be evaluated and discussed in the process. This is early in the process; he is only saying this is worth looking into and worth evaluating. Ms. Ridgley: What is the management team he expects at the location? We have all seen horrendous videos showing violence in Venice. What will prevent that from happening on our beach areas? CM Bonin: The operator will be chosen later. An example might be The People Concern. Regarding the Venice situation: Restating the problem isn’t the reason not to do the solution. We aren’t proposing what is happening in Venice; we are proposing a solution to that problem.
Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative): What is the time frame for the process; how long will it be before the plan for the Will Rogers site will be ready for public comment? CM Bonin: Public comment begins now. He is asking City agencies to look at different properties and places. It’s hard to tell how long this will take. We want to be able to move as expeditiously as possible. The Coastal approval process can take months.
Fay Vahdani (Chamber of Commerce): Speaking on behalf of the Chamber, we are opposing this plan. The beach parking lot is not appropriate for tiny homes or safe camping sites. CM Bonin: You do not want the City to look at it? Ms. Vahdani: No, based on what we’ve seen in Brentwood and other areas, we don’t want to see this come to our area. CM Bonin: There is a problem outside the fence of the VA, but inside the fence where the tents are, they have a safe camping program with rules and security. That is what he is proposing. Don’t look at the outside of the fence. He again suggested that anyone who wishes to propose an alternative location in the Palisades should let him know.
The Chair thanked the Councilmember for his presentation and for answering the Board’s questions. CM Bonin left the meeting at that point to attend another meeting. Public comment continued.
Eric Dugdale (PPHS): Providing historical perspective, he related that the woman who gave the public the land for the VA wanted it to be called the Old Soldiers Home, originally to house Civil War veterans. The situation has changed from the original idea. The authorities should consider other areas to house the homeless before considering dangerous areas.
Rob Weber (PPCC Legal Advisor): The beach parking lot is a terrible location for various reasons. It is a danger to the homeless and the public. The beach is one of the jewels of Los Angeles and purposely moving homeless people there would be a mistake. He is offended that CM Bonin is trying to shame the Palisades. We have been dealing with the homeless ourselves for many years.
Alan Goldsmith (At-large Representative): This will destroy the bicycle path. People are vulnerable on bikes and he knows from experience that the homeless harass cyclists. There is no infrastructure and no access to services and amenities.
Karyn Weber (Area 6 1st Alternate): She agrees with Mr. Goldsmith. The bike path is a jewel for the City. She also fears that excrement and needles will be left on the beach where kids play. Considering housing on the beach as an alternative during the early pandemic emergency as described by CM Bonin was a totally different situation.
The Chair: The choice at that time was to deal with an immediate emergency early on in the virus. The Palisades Recreation Center was a horrible choice. The beach parking lot was closed then and nobody was using the beach. It was a totally different situation. There is no immediate emergency right now. Homelessness has been with us for years.
Zennon Ulyate-Crow (PPCC Youth Advisor/Topanga Canyon resident): He would rather have a temporary shelter at the beach than what is happening now. He attends Pali High and encounters local homeless people on the beach and in our bluffs areas. It is safer to have the homeless temporarily sheltered in the Palisades. He supports putting local homeless people in shelters on the beach.
Jack Coleman (PPCC Youth Advisor/Palisades resident): He disagrees with our other Youth Advisor. The beach is vital to the Palisades and to all of Los Angeles. He has participated in Junior Lifeguards on the beach. His grandmother and her neighbor walk on the bike path several times a week. Nothing that has been said makes him think there will be sufficient controls to keep people safe in this location. There should not be a prison on the beach.
Lori Guggenheim (resident): There are good reasons to oppose this motion. This is not just about us Palisadians; the whole of LA County would be damaged. The beach is a playground for all of Los Angeles to visit and use. How are people going to have access if an encampment is there?
Lucia Ludovico (resident): She will fight this proposal as hard as she can and has a lot of company. This will not end homelessness.
Krishna Thangavelu (resident): We must examine the assumption that the judge can force us to do anything. Only we will govern us.
Chuck Hart (resident): He is adamantly opposed.
Marjan Rajabi (resident): If the motion is approved, then people who are addicted will have a legal right to live in the beach parking lot and this creates lots of potential other problems. She vehemently opposes the proposal.
David Howard (resident): He agrees with everyone. The “inside” brings terrible attractions to the “outside.” Examples are at the VA and in Venice. We must stand firm and unite.
Diane Lenkin (SM Canyon resident): She understands the anger and concerns. The Canyon has been dealing with the homeless for 5 years. We need to do something for these people, for our property and for ourselves. Please think of us in the Canyon. This is not a good solution.
Julia Breitman (resident): She is concerned about summer camps on the beach. What will happen to them when there is an encampment at that same spot? She is adamantly opposed.
Paul Guggenheim (resident): The City has failed in terms of a long-term solution. This is a dangerous short-term solution. We need 8 or 9 MGM Grands to house the homeless – a solution that is scalable, sustainable and safe. It is ridiculous to compare the road adjacent to Dockweiler with PCH.
Audrey Foster (SM Canyon resident): Living in the Canyon, she has been afraid to go to the beach due to the many homeless who are there.
Ken Sykes (resident): He is concerned about the proposal and has serious health concerns. What happens to the beach when people don’t stay in the tiny homes? There are plenty of other alternatives.
Kyle Gerstenschlager (Venice-Palisades resident): He is moving here from Venice. CM Bonin failed us in Venice.
Julie Lai (resident): A sustainable solution is needed, not this proposal. This is not a viable solution. We should not rely on the Coastal Commission.
Ashley Schwartz (Mar Vista resident): She lives across from the project in Mar Vista Gardens. She is adamantly opposed to this proposal. We need to be thinking more about the collective community.
Sinjin Smith (resident): It would be one thing to take care of the Palisades’ own homeless. But asking us in the Palisades to take care of all these people who come from all over the country is not acceptable. Homelessness will continue to happen and grow unless they stop making it attractive for people to come here.
John Attard (SM Canyon resident): Living in the Canyon, he knows this isn’t a solution. Choosing the most expensive real estate with limited resources isn’t a good idea.
Michelle Bisnoff (BCC Chair): Brentwood has received more than 11,000 comments in response to what is happening with the homeless. No one is in favor of using parks or beaches to house the homeless. There was a recent homicide in the homeless encampment outside of the VA. BCC has for some time been in favor of using an empty municipal building in West Los Angeles to house and service the homeless. Why are we not building a huge facility for rehab and drug abuse treatment?
Dave Harvilicz (Venice resident): He sees this as a political move by CM Bonin. People need mental health facilities.
Jenny Li (Area 7 Representative): This is a statewide issue. There is a lot of other open land that could be used for a temporary site. The City needs to be looking for underutilized buildings with roofs overhead.
The Chair then explained that the Secretary has drafted a proposed motion with input from the Executive Committee. The draft motion opposes CM Bonin’s proposal to use beaches and parks for homeless housing. The Chair stated that the Board could not formally vote on this draft motion because the agenda item was specified for discussion only. A formal vote can be taken at the next Board meeting. However, the Chair explained that the Board’s opinion could be ascertained at this time by a straw poll. This could in turn be used by the Executive Committee should it become necessary to take action, pursuant to PPCC Bylaws, if CM Bonin’s motion is scheduled for hearing in committee before the next Board meeting. The proposed draft motion was shared on the screen and the Chair summarized each of the points in the motion. He asked for discussion before conducting a straw poll. Sue Kohl, Karen Ridgley, Beth Holden Garland, Richard Blumenberg (Civic League) and Peter Powell (Corpus Christi School) all specifically expressed their support. There were no statements in opposition. The Chair then called for voting Board members to indicate their opinion via a straw poll vote. Result: Unanimous in support of the draft proposed motion.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:49pm.