MINUTES FROM MARCH 24th 2022
Voting Members in Attendance: David Card, David Kaplan, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, Sue Kohl, Joanna Spak, Jenny Li, Matt Quiat* (*partial attendance), Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Alan Goldsmith, Reza Akef, Fay Vahdani, Eric Dugdale, Janet Anderson, Brenda Theveny, Beth Holden-Garland
Voting Alternates: Nina Kidd, Cindy Kirven* (*upon Matt Quiat’s departure)
Non-voting Advisors and Alternates: Jackson Walter, Mary Mueller, Kimberly Bloom, Gil Dembo, Michael Edlen
1. Call to order and reading of Mission Statement. The Chair David Card called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. Sue Kohl 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 March 10, 2022 were approved. Upcoming meetings: April 14, 2022: (1) Disaster preparedness update by K.C. Soll, CERT coordinator; (2) Second distribution and vote on proposed Bylaws Amendments; (3) Appointment of Nominating Committee (to nominate candidates for the election of PPCC officers, 2022-23 term; Bylaws Art. VII.1). April 28, 2022: Topics to be announced (meeting will start early at 5:45pm, with hard adjournment at 6:30pm, to accommodate attendance at the City Attorney Candidates Forum hosted by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, beginning at 6:30pm on 4/28).
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 $56,529.36. Since the last report we have renewed both our D&O liability policy (on March 7) and our General Corporate Liability insurance policy. Both policies were renewed at approximately the same premiums as last year – $659 for the D&O and $974 for the General Liability. We also renewed our annual P.O. box rental renewal fee for $216. There have been no other significant transactions since the Treasurer’s last report.
7. General Public Comment – None.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon: Updates; see Executive Committee 3/15/22 letter to RAP Commissioners: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/PPCC-EC-Letter-RAP-Commissioners.pdf.
The Chair noted that the letter was sent as indicated. There were two Recreation and Parks (RAP) Commission meetings last week, one of a committee and the other of the full board. The Chair briefly summarized those meetings. The landscape contract is reported to be 35% complete. Planting will start next month. According to the project manager, change orders due to rain storms will total $630K. The agenda for last week’s RAP committee meeting shows pictures of the damage. There was severe devastation to the bottom dam and other damage to the access road. The City will run out of money from the proceeds of sales of rim lots which are in a trust fund. There may be future change orders and the contingency fund may have to be increased. RAP and the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) are both looking for additional funds. Noah Fleishman, CD 11 Deputy District Director, has submitted a report to PPCC in which he says that the City is confident it will find the money to complete the project. At the RAP Commission meetings last week, a City Attorney who was present said that he and RAP Planning Supervisor Darryl Ford would look into whether ten rim lots on Friends St. (now included as part of the park) are in fact dedicated parkland. If they determine the lots are not dedicated, the sale of those lots may be a possible source of funds to complete the project. The Chair then spoke about the pedestrian bridge/PCH overcrossing and the trail running from the mouth of Potrero Canyon to Temescal Canyon Road. The state has funded $11M for the bridge, based on the original estimate for design and construction, but the funding may be insufficient due to inflation. A BOE staffer has been assigned to begin working on plans for the bridge, starting July 1, 2022. With respect to the trail running from the mouth of Potrero Canyon to Temescal Canyon Road, there are ongoing negotiations with Caltrans regarding the status of the right of way along PCH. BOE has prepared a map that is being fine-tuned to show where the trail would be located.
The Chair then described a draft letter that the Executive Committee proposes to send, stating support for improvement of the trail to Temescal Canyon Road and asking for the City to request federal funding for the trail under the program that Congressman Lieu’s Deputy District Director Janet Turner has described to us. The letter was shown on screen [see: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/DRAFT-EC-Letter-Lat-Trail-Funding.pdf]. Because the application for federal funding will be due in mid-April (before the next Board meeting can take place), the Chair explained that the Executive Committee will take a straw poll (permitted under the Bylaws) as to whether the Board approves the Executive Committee sending the letter. Discussion: Nina Kidd (Friends of the Library) asked whether anyone had communicated with PPTFH regarding homeless encampments and signage in the area of the trail. The Chair doesn’t know if PPTFH has been contacted but he noted that this is an attempt to get one of our government agencies to apply for funding. The trail proposal has been in the works for many years and is needed in order to complete the park. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) feels that having a trail there is wonderful and a great idea, but she noted that the area is used for Caltrans storage and questions realistically who is going to walk a mile from Potrero Canyon to Temescal Canyon. The Chair stated that he has measured the distance and it is .6 miles as the crow flies. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative) asked whether the trail is a substitute for the bridge or whether both are being proposed. The Chair and the Secretary explained that the trail and the bridge are both proposed as alternate ways for pedestrians to safely cross PCH in order to access the beach. The Chair noted that the bridge will likely take five years to build whereas the trail, if funded, could be completed much sooner. The Secretary added that the trail was recommended by the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee in its report in 2008 which has not changed since the report was issued; the trail has been discussed and contemplated for many years, it is depicted in maps shown to the public and it is a requirement of the Coastal Development Permit.
Noah Fleishman (CD 11 Deputy District Director) then explained that the City is actively looking for sources of funding in order to complete the park and build the trail and the bridge. He does not know the status of negotiations with Caltrans about a right of way along PCH over Caltrans property. Beth Holden-Garland (PPRA) asked about possibly instituting a shuttle bus service from the beach parking lot to Potrero Canyon. The Chair stated that he hasn’t heard that idea before, but it might be worth considering. Eric Dugdale (PP Historical Society) thinks the proposed trail is a really good idea and that the draft letter is a good one. LAPD SLO Brian Espin opined that until a bridge is established there should be signage indicating no beach access unless there’s fencing bordering the trail along PCH. He strongly recommends this for public safety reasons. The Chair noted that there is a sign in the landscape plan stating no coastal access. The Secretary cautioned that the Coastal Commission requires coastal access although public safety is also a consideration. The Chair indicated that there have been some discussions with BOE about installing fencing along PCH to prevent unsafe crossing. A straw poll of Board members was then taken. Result: unanimous support for the Executive Committee to submit the letter and request that the City apply for federal funding for the trail.
8.2. From Officers.
8.2.1. Chris Spitz (Secretary). On April 25th, The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) will host a CD 11 Candidates Forum (at 6:30pm), and on April 28th, WRAC will host a City Attorney Candidates Forum (at 6:30pm), followed by a County Supervisor District 3 Candidates Forum (at 8pm). All of these events will be via Zoom webinar. We will provide links to register as soon as they are available. All are invited. PPCC will adjust its meeting time on 4/28 to allow for attendance at the WRAC forum. The PPCC board meeting will start at 5:45pm and end at 6:30pm.
In addition, the PPCC Executive Committee submitted a letter to City officials on March 23, 2022, asking for additional information from knowledgeable City officials regarding Potrero Canyon matters. The letter has been forwarded to the Board and is posted on the website [https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/PPCC-EC-Letter-RAP-Potrero-Status1.pdf].
8.3. From Area and At-large Representatives – None.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives.
8.4.1. Nina Kidd (Friends of the Library) announced that by May 2022, it may be possible for PPCC and other groups to use the Library’s community room for meetings.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives – Contact information available at: https://pacpalicc.org/index.php/government-contacts/
8.5.1. LAPD SLO Brian Espin. SLO Espin reported that the Palisades is looking well in terms of crime. There were 21 burglaries by this time last year; this year there were 12; last year there were 63 car thefts; now there were 43. He cautioned that although we are doing well, residents should always be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
8.5.2. Noah Fleishman (CD 11 Deputy District Director). Mr. Fleishman submitted a written report which the Secretary noted has been sent to the Board and will be linked in the meeting recap message. He reported that Potrero Canyon is coming along nicely and it is hoped that the park will open in the fall of 2022; the City is also hoping to find additional funding. Congratulations to Resilient Palisades for becoming a member of PPCC. Resilient Palisades will host an Earth Day festival on April 16th, to be co-sponsored by CD 11 and the Mayor’s office. Haldis Toppel (Area 3 Representative) expressed thanks for the City’s inspection of a sinkhole-type condition on Enchanted Way. Mr. Fleishman explained that a BOE inspector came out and wrote a report, which described short-term interventions and long-term solutions. He will arrange to get this report to Ms. Toppel.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors – None.
9. Reports from Committees.
9.1. PPCC Candidates Forum Committee (Jenny Li, Committee Chair). Update on BCC-PPCC Forum. Ms. Li explained that the Committee met yesterday with their BCC counterpart. The PPCC Committee members are herself, Chris Spitz, Kimberly Bloom, Karen Ridgley, Haldis Toppel and the PPCC Chair (ex officio). The forum will take place on May 3 at 7pm via Zoom webinar. The same six candidates as announced at the last meeting are confirmed to attend. PPCC Youth Advisor Jack Coleman will help plan the webinar. A former BCC Vice-Chair, Daniel Abramson, will be the moderator. Mr. Abramson is Assistant General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer at RAND; he has experience with election law and has moderated other debates/fora; he also resides in PPCC Area 8 (the Polo Fields). A flyer will be coming out in the next week or two which will contain details on how to register. Kimberly Bloom is working on the flyer. Ms. Li encouraged the community to submit topics and questions for the forum. Direct suggestions and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9.2. Executive Committee (David Card, Chair). Committee recommendation and motion for Board approval to add Resilient Palisades to Appendix A to the Bylaws (“Organizations Eligible to Send Representatives”; Bylaws, Art. VIII.1.A(4)). See completed RP organization certification form: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/RP-PPCC-certification.pdf.
The Chair presented the motion on behalf of the Executive Committee. No second was necessary as the motion was made by a committee of more than one voting member. The Chair described Resilient Palisades’ many contributions to the community. PPCC awarded Golden Sparkplug recognition last year to the organization’s leader Ingrid Steinberg. Ryan Craig, who is spearheading the microgrid project and spoke at the last PPCC board meeting, was in attendance. Resilient Palisades has applied to become a member of the Board and has submitted a completed certification form which was linked in the agenda. The Executive Committee approves Resilient Palisades’ application to become an organizational member of PPCC and now moves for the Board’s approval. The Bylaws require a 2/3 vote of the entire Board for the motion to pass (i.e., at least 15 members must vote in the affirmative).
Mr. Craig was invited to say a few words. He stated that it is an honor to be considered for PPCC Board membership. Resilient Palisades has been operating for two years. They have four active community teams and 500 registered members, 50 of whom are quite active. They want to become a rotating member and act as a liaison to make sure we’re aware of everything Resilient Palisades is doing so that we can help each other.
Discussion: Richard Cohen (PPCC Treasurer and Bylaws Committee Chair): The standard under the PPCC Bylaws to add an organization is whether or not their interests are already reflected by other organizations on the Council. In this case, Resilient Palisades’ interests aren’t adequately represented on the Council. The issues they focus on are important and deserve to be considered. Resilient Palisades is a 501(c)(3), as is PPCC. They fit within the parameters of the PPCC Bylaws. In addition, they have young members who are committed to these issues; bringing in younger members is essential for PPCC. The Secretary: She is fully supportive. Steve Cron (Area 2 Representative): He is fully supportive. An individual voice vote of Board members was then taken. Result: Motion passed unanimously by all members voting (18-0-1), i.e., more than 2/3 of the Board membership.
9.3. PPCC Bylaws Committee (Richard Cohen, Chair). First distribution of proposed bylaws amendments. Bylaws Committee motion for Board adoption of amendments (Second Distribution and Board vote on motion to take place on April 14, 2022). See the following documents distributed concurrently with the meeting agenda via PPCC email and posted on the PPCC website:
1) Committee Report: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Bylaws-Cmte-Report-March-2022R.pdf.
2) Amendments “Redline”: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/PPCC-BYLAWS-April-22-REDLINE.pdf.
3) Amendments “Clean”: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/PPCC-BYLAWS-April-22-CLEAN.pdf.
Mr. Cohen explained that there will be a Second Distribution with a full discussion and vote at the next meeting; he then briefly described the proposed amendments. The first category of amendments is to replace the old map, depicted in Appendix B to the Bylaws, with the digital map on the website, as the official map to define the boundaries of the Council and each of the Areas. He noted that the map in Appendix B is a page from the former Thomas Guide, with boundaries marked by a Sharpie that are not clearly delineated. PPCC’s esteemed past Chair, the late George Wolfberg, with Heather Cohen (Mr. Cohen’s daughter), were responsible for creating the online map and worked meticulously to make sure that it is accurate. The online map is much more accurate than the old map in the Bylaws.
A few proposed amendments involve minor “housekeeping” and clarification of language. Another amendment would clean up the Bylaws language involving appointment of alternates in situations when a category has two rotating organizations and one of the positions is vacant. Other amendments deal with situations when elected Area representatives no longer live in the Area they were elected to represent, or when an elected At-large representative no longer lives or operates a business or owns property within the Palisades’ boundaries. In the past we had a situation when an elected representative moved to Beverly Hills and didn’t let us know that he no longer lived in the Palisades. The proposed amendments provide that an Area representative cannot be gone for more than 30 days from the Area where he or she lives (or more than 30 days from the Palisades, in the case of an At-large representative), unless they obtain dispensation from the Chair.
Mr. Cohen then showed onscreen the redline page of Appendix A to the Bylaws (list of organizational members). He described the proposed changes to Appendix A: The Business & Commerce category would now have two members, P.R.I.D.E. and the Chamber of Commerce (which is in the process of transition). The Civic Organizations category would consist of the Civic League and Resilient Palisades. If the amendments are passed, then during this term P.R.I.D.E. and the Civic League would be the primaries in their respective categories and the Chamber and Resilient Palisades would be the respective alternates in their categories. He noted that all of the affected organizations seem to be fine with the changes. There is a need to have nine categories of organizational members to balance the nine elected representatives; the decisions on placement of organizations in Appendix A were made in order to maintain that balance.
Discussion: Steve Cron: He is unclear about the positions of the organizations and the sharing of votes in a category with rotating members. Mr. Cohen and the Secretary explained how the rotating organizational membership worked and how votes occur in those categories: There is one vote by the primary member representative; if he or she cannot attend, the next organization in line is the alternate and its representative may vote in place of the primary. The organizations rotate annually, with terms beginning on October 1 each year; in the case of categories with only two organizations, in any given year each organization will be either the primary or the alternate member in that category; in cases with more than two organizations, the positions change annually and the member that was the primary prior to October 1 will be replaced by the former alternate, with the next organization in line becoming the new alternate. Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative): Both P.R.I.D.E. and Resilient Palisades are organizations focused on environmental matters. Why is P.R.I.D.E. placed in the Business category and Resilient Palisades in the Civic Organizations category instead of the Environment category? Mr. Cohen: P.R.I.D.E.’s focus is on improving the commercial areas of the Palisades and its board includes members of the business community. The Committee felt that it is appropriate to include them in the Business & Commerce category and P.R.I.D.E. is fine with that designation. Many Palisades organizations say that they are committed to the environment and improving the community but for various reasons aren’t included in the Environment category. The Committee used its best judgment in determining the placement of organizations in the Appendix A categories. There will be an opportunity for more discussion at the April 14th meeting.
9.4. (New) PPCC Palisades Forestry Committee (PFC/Cindy Kirven, Chair). Today was the street tree planting day as announced in the recent PPCC/PFC press release. The PFC expected that 13 trees would be planted on Hartzell St. but ten ended up being planted because of issues that arose (utility infrastructure interference, inadequate space or a homeowner’s change of mind). Ms. Kirven showed photos of the tree-planting on screen and described the tree species that were planted. The PFC did the tree selection which was approved by Urban Forestry. City Plants and the LA Conservancy Corps did the actual planting and did a nice job. The PFC will next move to planting street trees on Via de la Paz.
10. Old Business – None.
11. New Business.
11.1. See item 9.2. above.
11.2. Brush Clearance Presentation – LAFD Brush Clearance Unit.
The Chair introduced LAFD Capt. Bryan Nassour and Inspector Warren Sutton of the Brush Clearance Unit. Capt. Nassour explained that Inspector Sutton oversees all of the Palisades and he (Capt. Nassour) supervises 14 LAFD inspectors who oversee and maintain their areas to make sure the Fire Code is followed in the VHFHSZ. This includes oversight of private properties and public properties maintained by city and state agencies. All Palisades parcel owners should have received a brush clearance notice. LAFD no longer allows for a self-inspection waiver. LAFD inspectors will be coming out and inspecting all properties on May 1; clearances are subject to the Fire Code. The inspectors can come out multiple times to a property as a result of complaints, prior failures of inspection and the like. If a notice to comply is issued, the owner is given 30 days to become compliant. If they fail to comply, they will receive a $31 fee. If after a second time the condition still has not been abated, the fee will increase to $638. After a third time, the fee increases to $1308. At that point LAFD contractors will come out and abate the hazard but the owner will still have to pay the fee. There is an option to appeal with 3rd party appeal officers. The City has the right to put a lien on the property if the appeal is lost and the owner doesn’t pay the fee.
Capt. Nassour explained that LAFD just wants compliance. They do write multiple notices although they don’t want to have to do so. They just want to keep the community safe from brush fires. Owners can hire the LAFD contractors to do private work. Visit LAFD.org/brush for more information on fire prevention and brush clearance. He highly encourages everyone to register within the VMS system. This allows you to see information on your parcel and the status of your property. Visit: VMS3.lafd.org. Read the information notice which has details on how to register. Parcel owners can only see information about their own parcel on the system. If you are applying for fire insurance renewal, you can print out your own document via the VMS system to show you have passed inspection; if you are not part of the system LAFD can print out the document and email it to you to show you are in compliance.
Capt. Nassour next introduced Inspector Sutton, who has been in the district for more than two years and knows our area well. Inspector Sutton indicated that residents may reach out to him with any questions: email@example.com.
Joanna Spak (Area 1 Representative): How do you ensure access to yards and do you let owners know in advance when you will be coming out to inspect? Insp. Sutton: He can’t give advance notice because there are too many parcels being inspected. He sometimes knocks on doors or hikes around properties to see conditions; he can also see the conditions on parcels next door to ones he is inspecting. Capt. Nassour: If the gate is locked and the inspectors need to hop a fence, they are required to knock on the door first; if no one is home they will then try to hop fence if it’s not too tall. If they do get in the back yard, they will put a tag on the door indicating whether the owner has passed or failed the inspection.
Beth Holden-Garland (PPRA): She has had positive experiences with LAFD inspections. She has noticed many pine needles and dry brush on Sunset Blvd., which are potential fire hazards. Who takes care of clearing these conditions? Capt. Nassour: If the conditions fall on government property, LAFD will send out crews to clear and abate all hazards. Pali High maintains and handles brush hazards themselves. They try to eliminate lateral growth on pine trees. If hazards are in the street, LA Street Services should be called to come out and clear the conditions with a street sweeper. LAFD works with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to get clearance to clear and abate areas off of Sunset near Will Rogers.
Eric Dugdale (PP Historical Society): Fires are often started by power poles/lines. Who inspects the areas around power poles? Capt. Nassour: LAFD handles inspection of all power poles in LA City. An exception is when the pole is in deep brush within MRCA areas, such as Camp Josepho. LAFD lets nearby property owners and LADWP know of any hazards involving power poles/lines. LADWP goes out to trim trees around wires, especially high voltage lines (they trim at least ten feet away from the lines). LAFD will cite LADWP if there is a hazard involving transmission lines too close to homes.
Janet Anderson (AYSO): How is inspection done with HOAs up in the Highlands? Capt. Nassour: LAFD requires each individual property owner to be inspected and registered. If there is commonly-owned/HOA property, LAFD will write up the inspection to the HOA’s board of directors.
Capt. Nassour also explained that residents may stop by any LAFD station, such as Stations 69 and 23 in the Palisades, with basic brush questions. Station staff have the Captain’s direct line and can forward questions to him. He tries to respond within 24 hours. The stations also have pamphlets on brush clearance. Capt. Nassour’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org but he suggests reaching out to Inspector Sutton first.
The Chair thanked Capt. Nassour and Inspector Sutton for the presentation and for their work in keeping us safe.
11.3. Motion to Support WRAC-recommended Motion: Request Use of “Cool Asphalt” for Paving (sponsored in PPCC by the PPCC Executive Committee). See attachment, following, for motion text and background information.
The Secretary presented the motion on behalf of the Executive Committee. No second was necessary as the motion was made by a committee of more than one voting member. She noted that the motion had arisen from a recommendation of the WRAC Transportation Committee and briefly explained the purpose of the motion. Discussion was called but there was none. A vote was then taken. Result: Unanimous in support of the motion.
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:49 pm.
ATTACHMENT – Item 11.3:
Motion to Support WRAC-recommended Motion: Request Use of “Cool Asphalt” for paving.
Background information: https://westsidecouncils.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Motion-MTC-Cool-Asphalt-Background.pdf.
WRAC requests that the City Bureau of Engineering uses “cool asphalt” for paving with the following recommendations:
- Request that StreetsLA prioritizes its program for cooling, including that the Bureau of Engineering coat roads and sidewalks with “cool asphalt.”
- Request that Council Districts allocate discretionary funding to StreetsLA to expand coating with cool asphalt in their areas.
- Request that the City prioritize and implement the program by allocating sufficient funding.
- Request that the City publicize the streets that are scheduled to be coated.
- Request that the City prioritize implementation based on areas with high heat temperatures, low tree canopy cover, high use transit stops and high pedestrian traffic areas.
- Request that the City study the feasibility and cost of producing, installing and maintaining its own product (the cool street coating).
- Request that the City plant street trees where coating is applied, to increase the effectiveness of the coating and provide a holistic approach.