MINUTES FROM NOVEMBER 18th 2021
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Joanna Spak, Steve Cron, Sue Kohl, Karen Ridgley, Haldis Toppel, Alan Goldsmith, John Padden, Brenda Theveny, Kevin Niles, Cliff Roberts, Janet Anderson, Fay Vahdani, Beth Holden-Garland
Voting Alternates: Rick McGeagh, Cindy Kirven, Barbara Kohn
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Jack Coleman, Jackson Walter, Mary Mueller, Marilyn Wexler, Nancy Niles, Michael Edlen, Melanie Bouer, Don Scott, Richard Blumenberg
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 5:59 pm. The Chair 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 28, 2021 were approved. Upcoming meetings: December 9, 2021: PPCC Awards presentation/ceremony. January 13, 2021 and January 27, 2022: 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 Cohen reported that PPCC’s balance is $63,118.75. Since his last report we have filed our Sept 30 year-end tax and compliance returns including IRS Form 990-N, California State Franchise Tax Board form 199N and our State of California Form RRF-1 which is filed with the California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. This completes our annual cycle of compliance filings.
7. General Public Comment.
7.1. Lou Kamer (resident) announced that the Holiday HoHoHo!, with Santa Claus, will return to the community this year. The event, sponsored by the YMCA, is free and will take place on December 11 from 3-5pm at Simon Meadow in Temescal Canyon Park.
7.2. Michelle Bisnoff (Brentwood Community Council Chair) remarked that Brentwood is the Palisades’ sister community. She has worked extensively with the Secretary Chris Spitz who has been Ms. Bisnoff’s partner in addressing our common community concerns, such as homelessness, public safety and zoning. Ms. Bisnoff thanked the Secretary and congratulated her on receiving the Citizen of the Year award. Ms. Bisnoff terms out this year but hopes that Brentwood and the Palisades will continue to work together on our common interests. The Chair and Secretary also thanked and congratulated Ms. Bisnoff.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. Redistricting update. PPCC letter to State Redistricting Commission: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/PPCC-Letter-State-Redistricting.pdf. The Chair confirmed that the letter to the State Redistricting Commission (linked above) has been submitted. He added that the Executive Committee also submitted a letter this week to the County Redistricting Commission on an emergency basis (deadline for comment was before the Board could meet). The County Commission is proposing four draft plans and our letter states that we support the draft plan that most closely resembles the configuration of our district: [See https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PPCC-Letter-County-Redistricting.pdf]. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative) noted that the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club also submitted a letter to the State Redistricting Commission, arguing that the Palisades should not be divided up for purposes of representation.
8.1.2. Pacific Palisades Centennial 2022 – request for Board approval of (1) PPCC ad in commemorative booklet and (2) other PPCC initiatives, including possible planting of trees, to honor the Centennial. The Chair first invited Barbara Kohn (Pacific Palisades Historical Society – PPHS) to provide information about the Centennial (see item 8.4.1 below). Following this presentation, the Chair moved for the Board to approve PPCC taking out a $200 ad in the Centennial publication and to approve PPCC sponsoring and facilitating, with the PPCC Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC), the planting of up to 100 trees in the Palisades to honor the Centennial, including the purchase or donation toward the purchase of up to 3 trees to kick-off the 100-tree effort. The Secretary raised a friendly amendment, requesting that the two parts of the motion be taken up and voted on separately. The Chair agreed to taking separate votes on the two parts of the motion.
1) Request for Board approval of a $200 PPCC ad in the Centennial publication. Second by Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative). Discussion: The Secretary: She supports the proposal. Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative): She can’t imagine anyone not supporting the proposal. Vote then taken; result: unanimous support.
2) Request for Board approval of PPCC sponsoring and facilitating, with the PFC, the planting of up to 100 trees in the Palisades to honor the Centennial, including the purchase or donation toward the purchase of up to three trees to kick-off the 100-tree effort. Second by Joanna Spak. Discussion: The Chair explained that the details of the purchase and planting are to be worked out, but it is expected that the trees will be in 15-gallon containers. The Secretary: Would this be a PPCC-sponsored endeavor? The Chair: Yes, the PFC is a committee of PPCC and the sponsor would be PPCC. The Treasurer: Is this a request for general support for this endeavor, i.e., the Board would not be authorizing the specifics regarding tree purchases or planting activities? Is this basically a general endeavor to increase the amount of trees throughout the community? The Chair: Yes, that’s the general purpose and goal of the motion language. He would like general authorization from the Board and any specifics regarding purchases or donations beyond the specific language of the motion would be authorized by the Executive Committee. The Treasurer also raised liability concerns he had previously raised with past proposed activities that may involve some risk and may not be construed to be within our Mission and/or covered by PPCC insurance. The Chair: With regard to actual tree planting, he envisions that Board members, community members or other volunteers would participate as individuals, not on behalf of PPCC, in the physical planting of trees. This is an effort generally to sponsor and facilitate the planting of up to 100 trees in the Palisades to honor the 100 years since the Palisades’ founding. The Chair personally does not see any issues of concern for PPCC. The Treasurer noted that with this explanation he had no objection. Vote then taken; result: unanimous support.
8.1.3. R-1, coastal, non-hillside zoning – (tentative) LUC meeting in January to obtain input from affected community members. The Chair announced that the PPCC LUC will meet at January 11, 5:30-7:30pm via Zoom, to discuss the issue of zoning regulations that govern R-1, coastal, non-hillside areas of the Palisades and to obtain community input. The LUC Chair is communicating with CD 11 Planning deputies, who are in turn in contact with the Planning Dept., to obtain definitive zoning maps of the Palisades. PPCC will make the maps publicly available once they are obtained. An agenda with more details will be distributed and posted on the PPCC website prior to the meeting.
8.1.4. Executive Committee letter re STAP Program (Digital Ads/Street Furniture) MND: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PPCC-EC-Letter-STAP-MND.pdf. The Chair explained the proposed program and PPCC’s letter, which requests an EIR and written confirmation authorizing the Palisades to retain its existing street furniture. The letter was submitted on an emergency basis (deadline for comment was before the Board could meet).
8.2. From Officers – None.
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives.
8.3.1. Karen Ridgley (Area 4 Representative). There were recent large wood dumps in five locations blocking the sidewalk along Temescal Canyon Rd. She notified Noah Fleishman of CD 11 and he is attempting to deal with the problem. Enforcement is challenging because the dumps often occur at night or at times when the individuals involved can’t be identified.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Barbara Kohn (PPHS). There will be a special Centennial event to honor the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Pacific Palisades, sponsored by PPHS, on Saturday, January 15, 2022 from 1-3pm at Simon Meadow in Temescal Canyon Park. An extensive program is planned. There will be a Centennial publication sponsored by PPHS which will be distributed for free to all 13,000 residences in the Palisades community. The publication will include photographs and the history of the Palisades. It will not include traditional commercial advertising, but there will be chronological boxes showing the history. Individuals, families, organizations and businesses can purchase ad space in the boxes that show when they moved here and established residency or when their group or business was founded. These ads will be $200 for organizations & businesses and $150 for individuals & families. Jeff Ridgeway can be contacted for more details about purchasing ads at 310-573-0150. The event at Simon Meadow will follow all COVID protocols, including masks and vaccination requirements. There will be a large white tent with chairs set on the grass. There is an art contest for students, with the American Legion awarding prizes to contest winners. Donna Vaccarino of PPHS provided further details: This will be a celebratory event. PPHS is working with the Legion and there will be a presentation of the colors. It will be in the tradition of a “Chautauqua”: there will be a Chumash / Tongva blessing, a Methodist prayer, and speeches by invited guests; a Theatre Palisades Youth Group choir will sing; and images of Palisades history, courtesy of Randy Young, will be shown. Student art contest winners’ artwork will also be shown and a commemorative blanket will be offered for sale. There will also be open houses and exhibits at Seven Arrows School at Aldersgate and the Woman’s Club, as well as an 8pm performance at Theatre Palisades, with a reading of “Abby’s Irish Rose.” All events are free. Community members are invited to register on the PPHS website soon, because seating in the tent will be limited.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives – Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tom and SLO Brian Espin (see also agenda item 11.1).
The Chair introduced and welcomed Capt. Tom, who began by stating that he appreciated the opportunity to address the community. He is the Commanding Officer of LAPD’s West LA Division, which covers an area of 65 sq. miles – the largest division area in City of LA, and ½ of the operations area of West Bureau. He has been here for almost 2 years. He grew up on the Westside, is a University High grad, and is very invested in the community. Yesterday, he and other officers, including SLO Espin and Sgt. Alpert, gave a presentation to the American Legion regarding LAPD’s structure, staffing and operations. This was a pilot presentation. They provided an overview of how the West LA Division compares with other LAPD divisions in terms of residents and types of crimes. He would love to make the full presentation to PPCC in the future. He was unable to do that this evening due to a conflict in his scheduling. The officers need at least an hour to complete the entire presentation. They could probably break this down into three 20-minute sessions, for a three-part series with 10 minutes for Q&A at each session. Capt. Tom noted that questions that came up at the Legion involved the beach detail and whether it will continue during the winter. He explained that the beach detail is staffed with Officers Jose Bermudez and Adam Margin. Officer Bermudez is a former narcotics officer and a great resource for the detail. A large number of homeless individuals have some kind of narcotics addiction. That is the root cause of many of the issues we are confronting. There are societal and technological changes that the police must deal with, such as the reduction of former felonies to misdemeanors and the elimination of cash bail. Capt. Tom will be happy to return to PPCC for a further presentation when it is convenient.
Questions from Board members/audience: Marilyn Wexler (At-large 2nd Alternate): She is concerned about an individual who has been is hanging out at the bottom of Santa Monica Canyon and is now in Rustic Canyon park harassing folks. Capt. Tom: He received an email about this; SLO Espin is familiar with the person. There haven’t been report documents with open charges where the person can be arrested. One of the themes of the American Legion presentation was that victims must report crimes so that 1) the person can be arrested, and 2) police can then know the number of reported crimes in the area. The data determines where officers will be deployed. Capt. Tom encourages people to file crime reports. The Chair: Jim Cragg, Legion Commander, is working with Lou Kamer and other residents on a flyer that will tell everyone whom to call and communicate with at LAPD. Karen Ridgley: Has there been an assessment of the time it takes to call in on the non-emergency line to get a connection? Has the response time been improved? Capt. Tom: The captain of the LAPD Communications Division informed him that the approximate wait time for non-emergency calls is 15 mins. Residents say it’s much longer than that. One person complained that they were on hold for 40+ minutes, but the Department’s research showed that the person who claimed this was only on hold for 7 minutes and then hung up. LAPD tracks all the call data. When he returns to PPCC, Capt. Tom will add to his presentation a slide showing the average wait times for the community. Sue Kohl: She is aware of a situation involving child abuse that she has reported to child services; should she call police as well? Capt. Tom: Yes, if she believes a crime is occurring, she should call the police, who can then respond and do an investigation. Ms. Kohl: Can she remain anonymous if she calls? Capt. Tom: Residents can report crimes anonymously through Crime Stoppers Los Angeles. In 911 calls the caller’s name doesn’t have to be given, but he cautioned that 911 phone records are kept and become part of the case package if there is a criminal trial.
The Chair thanked Capt. Tom and stated that we look forward to the longer presentation at an upcoming meeting.
SLO Espin then reported on crime in the Palisades. Property crimes, including vehicle break-ins, are still the biggest problem. Aggravated assaults are up 60% from last year. These involve people visiting the Palisades area and do not involve Palisadians. The assaults mostly occur on PCH south of Sunset and on some parts of Sunset through Temescal Canyon and Chautauqua, and also in the beach area. The majority involve out-of-towners. Regarding Ms. Wexler’s earlier question: The person sleeping in Rustic Canyon park was arrested the next morning. The park closes at 10:30pm; there is signage and officers can use that tool to move people out if they are sleeping overnight at the park. Ms. Wexler: Who monitors the situation? SLO Espin: The City Park Ranger is supposed to monitor, but we don’t have one assigned to the West side. They respond as necessary when called. Residents can call LAPD, but officers get there when they can as it’s not an emergency. Veronica de la Cruz (Neighborhood Prosecutor for West LA, in attendance): There have been many questions about LAMC 41.18, which some have labeled an “anti-camping” ordinance. She explained the ordinance and noted that it is better described as an “accessibility” ordinance.
8.5.2. CD 11 Palisades-Brentwood Deputy Noah Fleishman. The Chair explained that Mr. Fleishman was unable to attend the meeting due to a conflicting family event. Mr. Fleishman provided a written report, which will be distributed with the meeting recap. The Chair briefly summarized some key points in the report, including a motion to reduce speed limits on City streets, bike-sharing “Sharrows” painted on streets in Santa Monica Canyon, replacement of sections of the guardrail on Will Rogers Rd., a certificate of thanks to Jimmy Dunne and the bocce club, and the scheduled reopening of the library in late November or early December; the library will have updated high-speed internet and better lighting. [See: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PPCC-Report_11-18-2021-Meeting.pdf]
8.5.3. Janet Turner, Field Director, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu. The infrastructure bill passed in Congress and was signed on November 15. Some of the highlights include rebuilding roads and bridges, providing clean drinking water, expanding high speed internet, improving high speed transit and addressing the climate crisis. She reported on specifics of funding that will go to California, including funding for wildfire protection and affordable housing. She reported on the status of the Build Back Better Plan and also related that the Congressman was a guest speaker at the last PPTFH meeting, when he gave an update on the San Vicente encampment. At his invitation, the VA Secretary visited the West LA VA and announced a major project to expedite more housing on the campus. Billions of dollars in federal funds have been allocated for homelessness and every city, including Los Angeles, has received housing vouchers.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors.
8.6. Jack Coleman (Youth). He offered his help with the Centennial and any other community events. The students at Harvard Westlake are happy to be back in school.
8.7. Jackson Walter (Youth). Everything is going well at Windward School. He has started talking with HOAs in the Highlands about fire safety. If he can be of help with any organizations in the Palisades, he is happy to do so.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. Awards Committee (Kevin Niles, Committee Chair; members David Kaplan, Sharon Kilbride, Sue Kohl, Mary Mueller). Announcement of Awards honorees and report on their accomplishments; update on plans for the presentation of Awards and celebration with honorees on December 9th. The Chair thanked Committee Chair Kevin Niles and members of the Committee for their work and stated that although an earlier announcement had been made via email, PPCC’s official announcement of the Awards honorees would now be made:
Citizen of the Year: PPCC Vice-Chair David Kaplan announced the Citizen honoree, Christina Spitz, and read a biographical statement about her accomplishments.
Golden Sparkplugs: Sue Kohl (Area 5 Representative) announced Sparkplug honorees Scott Cullen, Matthew Rodman and Krishna Thangavelu. PPCC Chair David Card announced Sparkplug honorees Rick McGeagh and Ingrid Steinberg. Ms. Kohl and Mr. Card also read biographical information about the respective awardees’ accomplishments. [See https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PPCC-2021-Awards-Honorees-Information.pdf.]
The Chair congratulated all the awardees and announced that PPCC will be honoring them at the PPCC Zoom meeting on December 9th. The Committee is still working on plans for the event. Although it will be a virtual celebration, the event will hopefully be an enjoyable way to honor the awardees and celebrate with them. More details will be coming soon.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tom, Commanding Officer, West LA area – Guest speaker (see item 8.5.1 above).
11.2. (As time allows) Motion by Chris Spitz to support Council File 14-1057-S9 (Buscaino) – proposed ban on vehicle dwelling on residential streets. See Background Information: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Background-information-Vehicle-Dwelling-Motion.pdf. The Secretary introduced the motion and the Chair seconded. She and the Chair described the motion by Councilmember Buscaino and invited discussion. Alan Goldsmith (At-large Representative): What is Mr. Bonin’s position? The Secretary: She doesn’t know and doesn’t want to speculate. The Chair: Noah Fleishman isn’t here to tell us. A vote was then taken; result: unanimous support.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:29 pm.