MINUTES FROM OCTOBER 28th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Jenny Li, John Padden, Brenda Theveny, Andy Frew, Kevin Niles, Cliff Roberts, Janet Anderson, Beth Holden-Garland
Voting Alternates: Andrew Wolfberg, Mary Mueller, Cindy Kirven, Kimberly Bloom, Rick Mills, Barbara Kohn
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Jack Coleman, Jackson Walter, Lee Anne Sanderson, Richard Blumenberg, Michael Edlen, Melanie Bouer, Nina Kidd, Don Scott, Greg Heidt
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. Joanna Spak read the Mission Statement.
2. Introduction of Zoom engineer. Zoom engineer Alex Ponting was introduced.
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 14, 2021 were approved. Upcoming meetings: November 18, 2021 (no meeting on November 11/Veterans Day): Announcement of PPCC Citizen of the Year and Golden Sparkplug honorees; Guest speaker – LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tom, Commanding Officer, West LA area. December 9, 2021: PPCC Awards presentation/ceremony.
5. Consideration of Agenda. Agenda items may be taken out of order at the discretion of the Chair.
6. Treasurer’s Report – Deferred to the November 18th meeting.
7. General Public Comment – None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. PPCC 2021 Citizen of the Year & Golden Sparkplug Awards. Nominations deadline: October 31, 9pm.
See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Awards-Nomination-Press-Release-2021.pdf. The Chair summarized the Awards nominations process and eligibility requirements. He also invited nominations from the community and reiterated the deadline for submission of nominations: 9pm on October 31st.
8.1.2. City redistricting update (Commission to approve final map of districts, 10/21). The Chair noted that the LA City district maps haven’t changed since the last PPCC meeting. CD 11 is virtually the same with no changes. A surprise that we have just learned this week: Congressional and Assembly districts in the Palisades may be split into two districts each. Under the new state draft redistricting plans for both the Congressional and Assembly seats, Pacific Palisades is split in half along Sunset Blvd. The same thing has been proposed in Brentwood. Kimberly Bloom (Area 5 Alternate): She disagrees with splitting the area into two districts. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative): He feels it is outrageous to split the area and to group residents who live north of Sunset with Valley areas, with whom they have little in common. Chris Spitz (Secretary): She noted that Malibu would be part of the new district as well as neighborhoods in the Valley; she also agrees it’s an outrageous proposal. The Chair then described the proposed new Congressional districts. One would be the Malibu San Fernando Valley District, and the other would be the “Shoreline District.” This would be similar with the proposed Assembly districts. Rick Mills (Area 4 Alternate): He prefers that the Palisades be linked with other Westside communities. The Chair noted that comments can be submitted at www.wedrawthelinesCA.org. The Chair then called for a “sense of the board” show of hands: Does the board object to the proposed splitting of the Palisades for this purpose and does it want the Executive Committee to submit a letter with our objection to the State Redistricting Commission tomorrow? Result: unanimous that the Board objects to the proposal and wishes a letter to be submitted to the Commission stating PPCC’s objection. The Chair noted that such a letter would be submitted.
8.1.3. Housing Element update. The Chair reported that this was approved by the City Planning Commission and will be going to PLUM and eventually to City Council. Any areas in the VHFHSZ and Flood Zone are excluded from the rezoning program for added density. This could affect the Community Plan update process which is not starting any time soon. We also don’t know how SB 9 will affect all of these measures. There is a general push to add more housing. The City Council has passed a motion to ask the City Attorney and the Planning Dept. to come up with incentives to create more affordable housing in high opportunity/high resource areas. They have 30 days to come up with ideas.
8.1.4. LAFD Fire Drone Presentation (Westridge Trailhead in Brentwood, 11/4, 12pm). The Chair reminded everyone about this upcoming in-person presentation in Brentwood about the LAFD drone program.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Secretary Chris Spitz. Legislation/anti-camping updates. The Secretary reminded everyone that SB 9 will go into effect in January, at which time most single-family zoning will be eliminated in California. We have been working with leaders from Brentwood Community Council and Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council to determine what can be done in Los Angeles to better protect our fire zone areas within the constraints of SB 9. We’ve learned that Councilmember Koretz is drafting a motion asking the Planning Dept. to draft an implementation memo with appropriate protections. His land use deputy has cautioned us, however, that there seems to be a reluctance in City Council to take any action to protect the hillsides as they may not wish to be seen as NIMBYs; they are having a hard time finding a second for the motion. We’ll continue to follow up.
Regarding LAMC Sec. 41.18, PPCC has sent a second letter to Councilmember Bonin, asking him to designate sensitive sites in the Palisades to protect against encampments in the public right of way [see: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/PPCC-Letter-Bonin-2-re-41.18.pdf]. We still haven’t had a response from the Councilmember. Meanwhile, many Councilmembers in other districts are filing resolutions to protect their areas. An article about this matter will be coming out tomorrow in the Westside Current, which is an online news media outlet that covers Venice and other Coastal areas of the Westside.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives – None.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Nina Kidd (Friends of the Library, Alternate Organization). The Palisades Branch Library is subject to a “No Loitering” regulation which is in the Municipal Code and is posted. This can be enforced. The matter involving the homeless person who has been camping on the Library premises was referred to CD 11 and LAPD. Ms. Kidd has also met with PPTFH Co-Chair Sharon Kilbride and SLO Brian Espin regarding what can be done about this individual before the Library re-opens. The re-opening will occur around December 1st. They are awaiting cabling for the new high-speed Wi Fi, which has been delayed due to the supply chain issues. The Library will have new wonderful programs when it re-opens.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives – Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. LAPD SLO Brian Espin. Officer Espin sends out bi-weekly crime updates with a map. He related the bigger picture: Since 2020, year-to-date we have done well crime-wise, although this year we have had a spike in various crimes. They don’t know the reason why. He related YTD crime statistics in 2021. The slight increase in crime since 2020 may be due to an increase in homelessness but they don’t have the data yet. LAPD has seen people from others areas come in to the Palisades and commit burglaries. There have been a few instances when homeless individuals tried to break into homes. His advice: Keep everything locked, even when you are home. Overall, crime in the Palisades is only 8% of crime in the entire West LA area. He reiterated that Palisadians should lock their cars and not leave valuables of any kind, including empty backpacks or anything that can be seen, inside cars. Regarding the issue of “Ruby,” the individual who has been camping at the library: Officer Espin has had meeting with Sharon Kilbride of PPTFH and Nina Kidd. Ruby has been cited several times but the primary focus of LAPD and PPTFH has been outreach – we want to see Ruby and all homeless individuals get the help they need. Once the library is getting close to re-opening, then they will handle the situation and see if there’s a crime that can be enforced. He doesn’t want to see Ruby simply leave and then camp on someone else’s property. As time progresses, they will start doing more on the enforcement side. The beach detail has been doing really good work with PPTFH in the beach and bluffs areas. The first goal is outreach and then the crime issue can be dealt with. LAPD gets involved when a crime is involved; it is not a crime just to be homeless. Again, outreach and enforcement efforts with Ruby at the Library will increase as we get close to re-opening.
Andrew Wolfberg (Area 8 1st Alternate): What can be done about the person who is living in a car next to Paul Revere Middle School? Officer Espin: The City used to have a vehicle dwelling ordinance, but this has expired so officers don’t have a tool for enforcement. LAPD hasn’t been directed yet to enforce LAMC Sec. 41.18 near schools and overpasses. They can hold vehicle dwellers to regular parking restrictions that are now in place, such as the 72-hour limit on parking in one spot on the street. The officers try to conduct outreach first. Veronica de la Cruz (Deputy City Attorney and West LA Neighborhood Prosecutor): The City Attorney’s office has been working with LAPD regarding 41.18. They have been sent materials related to accessibility, ADA requirements pertaining to sidewalk blockage, and the like. Enforcement of subsection (c) of the ordinance is on hold because the Councilmembers first have to file resolutions to designate sites. The Chair noted the importance of protecting children with respect to encampments near schools, parks and the library.
8.5.2. CD 11 Palisades-Brentwood Deputy Noah Fleishman. He noted that he had nothing to add to the issue regarding 41.18, and that he only had a short update. There is now a street repaving schedule for November and December in the Palisades. The major repaving project is Temescal Canyon Rd., from PCH to Sunset Blvd. He will share the start date with us later. In order to help with homelessness, he suggests participation in the Homeless Count this coming January. Visit the website, www.theycountwillyou.org. Councilmember Bonin has brought a motion to make al fresco dining permanent. The Metro board passed a pilot program for free transit rides for K-12 plus community college students. Contact Eric Bruins of CD 11 for information about applying for the program (charter and independent school students have to register for the program; LAUSD school students are automatically enrolled).
The Chair: Has Councilmember Bonin seen PPCC’s letters regarding 41.18 and will he respond? Mr. Fleishman: Mr. Bonin has seen the letters and is in the process of preparing a FAQ about 41.18; the Councilmember is studying this issue and is not ruling out designating sites. Kevin Niles (American Legion): Will Temescal Canyon Rd. have a total repaving? Mr. Fleishman: Yes, it will be total. There will be traffic mitigation plans. He is unsure right now if both sides of the street will be closed. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative): Is it possible to do repaving during the holidays in December? Mr. Fleishman: He will ask if they can do this during Pali High’s winter break.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
Jack Coleman (Youth): Students are happy to be back in school. He believes it’s important to remember students when it comes to homelessness. He asked everyone to keep seniors in mind as it’s a stressful time when they are applying to colleges. He also thanked PPCC for all its support for him.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Land Use Committee (LUC; Committee Chair Howard Robinson). Report on zoning in Pacific Palisades.
Mr. Robinson explained that this issue came to the LUC almost a year ago. The committee first presented an interim report to the PPCC Board in March 2021. The LUC has now prepared a 2nd Interim Report which has been distributed to the Board and will be posted on the website and distributed to the community via PPCC email. [2nd Interim Report: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/PPCC-Land-Use-Committee-2nd-Interim-Report-Final-10.28.21.pdf.]
He briefly described the situation which is further explained in the reports: As a result of concerns raised about the large home being built on Ida in the lower Marquez neighborhood, the LUC started looking into the zoning regulations and discovered that if three characteristics all exist at a given property – (1) zoned R-1; (2) located in the coastal zone; and (3) not located in the hillside zone – a new single-family home can be built on that property up to 45 ft. tall with an FAR of 3 times the buildable area of the lot. The property on Ida St. met all of these three characteristics. When plans for a home that met this large size at the property on Ida were approved, the neighbors, not knowing about the applicable rules, became upset. The LUC started looking at it and discovered the unique donut hole in the regulations. The project was completely legal and City staff had looked at it carefully. At one point, LADBS issued a stop-work notice because there had been an error in one of the permits; a few months later the permit was reinstated after the homeowner corrected the error and building is now continuing. Many areas of the Palisades meet these three characteristics which allow for larger homes to be built. Again, the home on Ida that triggered the concern is legal and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Mr. Robinson noted that there seems to be a lack of understanding in the community about what the zoning regulations are in the Palisades. The LUC has therefore prepared an Excel spreadsheet “Zoning Chart” that lists all of the Palisades’ single-family residential zones and describes the important regulations pertaining to each zone. This has been distributed to the Board and will be made available on the website and to the public via email distribution. Mr. Robinson thanked Richard Blumenberg, AIA (PP Civic League Representative & LUC member) for working with Mr. Robinson and providing information for the Chart. To make the Chart more usable we’ve requested a series of zoning maps from the Planning Dept. A first round of maps was produced and the maps are now being updated. The completed maps will be posted when available. Mr. Robinson then shared on the screen the Zoning Chart which will be distributed and posted on the PPCC website and he went over various aspects of the Chart in some detail. [Zoning Chart: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/PacPal-Zoning-Chart-Final-10.28.21.xlsx]
Mr. Robinson then briefly summarized what might be done about the “donut hole” in the regulations pertaining to single-family R-1, non-hillside, coastal zone properties. Councilmember Bonin has offered a motion to City Council to extend the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) rules into the coastal, non-hillside zone. The City Council adopted the motion in January 2020, directing City staff to work on drafting a new ordinance. However, all work seems to have stopped and the Councilmember hasn’t pushed staff to work on this. One option is for us to try and urge Bonin and City staff to resume work on this. The LUC recommendation is that PPCC schedule a public meeting in the future to discuss and take public input in order to get a sense of the affected community as to what action the Board should recommend to the City. The Council File to extend the BMO expires in March 2022.
As to why the original BMO did not apply to coastal, non-hillside properties, Mr. Robinson explained that the BMO was passed Citywide in order to restrict “McMansions.” City staff apparently felt that coastal areas were different than other City areas and they may have believed that at some point in the near future a Local Coastal Program would be developed for the City’s coastal areas which they expected would address these issues. Unfortunately, that has not happened.
As to when the “donut hole” regulations were first enacted, Mr. Robinson explained that this was as early as 1977 and likely even earlier. Decades ago, the 45 ft. height was applied Citywide and as time went on the height limit was reduced bit by bit in certain areas, but not in the coastal zone.
The Chair noted that a meeting will be scheduled to obtain public input on this issue as soon as feasible (future meeting date to be determined).
9.2. Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC; Committee Chair Cindy Kirven). Update on the PFC’s work. Mr. Kirven announced that the PFC had two items to report on:
(1) The Hartzell St. “street tree planting” test project. The Committee has finished signing up residents who are interested in getting street trees. The project covers all five blocks of Hartzell. Signatures of those interested are being submitted to Urban Forestry and City Plants. Urban Forestry is confirming the information and will issue permits; then City Plants arranges for the trees to be delivered and they will physically do the planting. City Plants will also bring other trees that neighbors can take and plant on their streets. The PFC is now considering street tree vacancies on Via de la Paz.
(2) The PFC has made a proposal to the PPCC Executive Committee which would also be brought to the PP Historical Society (PPHS). This involves PPCC sponsoring the planting of a memorial tree to commemorate the Palisades’ upcoming Centennial and also potentially planting 100 trees in honor of the community’s 100 years (“100 Trees for 100 Years”). The Chair: The Executive Committee is in favor of furthering this proposal. The commemorative tree will likely cost around $300 and there might be a plaque placed near it to show PPCC’s sponsorship of the tree. The physical planting would be done by other volunteers. The “100 Trees” might involve trees that have been planted by City Plants per the PFC’s street tree test project and other trees to be planted in other areas; additional details to be determined and discussed. The Secretary asked for clarification that this proposal for the Centennial is a recommendation to the Board and if approved would be sponsored by PPCC; Ms. Kirven confirmed that the PFC is a committee of PPCC and that this would be a PPCC effort. Steve Cron: Where will the commemorative tree be planted and what will it be? Ms. Kirven: We don’t know exactly; one possibility is in the Founders Oak median or on Theatre Palisades property. There could be several locations. Cliff Roberts (Paul Revere Middle School): Where is Founders Oak? Barbara Kohn (PPHS Alternate rep): It is in the island in the center of Haverford St., across from Theatre Palisades and near Aldersgate and the Woman’s Club. PPHS will be meeting about the plans for the Centennial which will take place in mid-January. The Secretary asked about the timing of Board approval, since this matter was not on the October 28th agenda for Board action. The Chair explained that the proposal can be added to the November 18th agenda for PPCC Board approval.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Mural proposed for Theatre Palisades. Presentation by representatives of Theatre Palisades and the Pacific Palisades Historical Society; possible Board action.
Philip Bartolf, President of the Theatre Palisades board, explained that the Theatre’s board has approved putting up a mural honoring a young Palisadian, Molly Steinsapir, who passed away earlier in 2021 due to a tragic bicycle accident. The mural would be placed on the west facing wall of Pierson Playhouse along Temescal Canyon Rd. It will not be placed on the retaining wall. The size will be 18’ x 20’ and the design will be based on a Theatre Palisades Youth production of Peter Pan, in which Molly was a cast member. It will be painted by a local artist. Right now, the wall is blank. Theatre Paliasdes is grateful for the support of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society (PPHS). Harris Smith, PPHS Treasurer, stated that PPHS endorses and supports this mural, and that Molly’s mother Kay Steinsapir is paying for and will maintain and take responsibility for the mural. The mural will be based on the original Peter Pan (not the Disney version) and Molly will be shown as Wendy looking out of a window into the night sky. Mr. Bartolf then shared on the screen materials that had been sent to PPCC by Theatre Palisades. Examples of the artist’s work in general were included in the materials; a drawing of the proposed mural was not included. Mr. Bartolf also explained that Theatre Palisades is in the process of obtaining an arts mural permit from the City and that another community meeting will be needed before the permit is issued. The Chair then stated that he would like to take a straw poll to gauge the Board’s opinion and he asked for discussion. Mary Mueller (At-Large 1st Alternate): She thinks this will be awesome. The Secretary: Since Theatre Palisades supports the mural, she sees no reason to object. Barbara Kohn (PPHS Alternate rep): PPHS strongly supports the mural and the permit is in process. Jon Ganz (also presenting on behalf of Theatre Palisades): There is a concept for the mural; in connection with the application for a mural permit, the artist will need to draw something out closer to the time of the next community meeting and they will share drawings with PPCC at that time. The Chair called for a “sense of the board” show of hands: Does the Board favor the proposed mural in concept for Theatre Palisades? Result: Unanimous support for the mural in concept.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:38 pm.