MINUTES FROM FEBRUARY 23rd 2023
1. Call to Order and Reading of Community Council’s Mission.
The Vice-President (presiding in the absence of the President) called the meeting to order at 6:03 pm. The PPCC mission was read by Karen Ridgley.
2. Roll-call of Board members and Certification of Quorum.
Presiding Officer, Jenny Li, called roll and certified quorum.
Voting Board members present: Jenny Li, Randy Young, David Card, Beth Holden-Garland, Murray Levy, Steve Cron, Haldis Toppel, Karen Ridgley, Sue Kohl, Cindy Simon, Julie Silliman, Chris Spitz, John Padden, Nina Kidd, Greg Heidt, Barbara Kohn, Kevin Niles, Rick McGeagh, Shirley Haggstrom, Courtney Macker,
Non-voting Board members present: Joanna Spak, Daphne Gronich, Alisa Wolfson, Nancy Niles, Jessica Rogers.
3. Introduction of attendees. Introductions were made.
4. Approval of Minutes:. February 9, 2023, minutes were approved as corrected.
5. Consideration of Agenda & Upcoming Meetings. The agenda was considered as distributed.
6. Treasurer’s Report.
Randy Young reported that he has been compiling information for our corporate tax return. As of January 31, 2023, he reported that we have $53,790.63 in our PPCC bank account.
7. General Public Comment.
Eric Herzog and Jane Abrams (residents) were present for public comment. They commented about disaster preparedness in the Marquez Knolls/upper Enchanted area. The water main break at the corner of Lachman and Jacon last week had resulted in closing off streets that blocked many in the area. Eric asked for all to imagine a wildfire in the mountains above the Palisades and being asked to evacuate. With cars parked on both sides of the street, residents would be trying to get out while ER vehicles would be trying to get in. Jacon Way would quickly be clogged, and we could have a disaster similar to the Paradise fire where people lost their lives. Enchanted and the hills above Marquez are not the only areas with just one or two minor outlet streets. Therefore, he suggests we think, as a community, about a disaster plan worked out with the fire department as to how to evacuate safely, and perhaps schedule drills so we can find/consider alternate evacuation routes for neighborhoods who need them. There was a fire road on Lachman, but that has been blocked (Haldis Toppel, Area 3 Representative, can speak to that), and other parking rules can be considered to help evacuations. We also need to educate residents as to fire and evacuation safety measures. Jane Abrams spoke of the access road between Enchanted and Lachman – it was open, up until the late 70’s and early 80’s, but it is blocked off now. The homeowner seems to have gotten a legal permit to block that road, and that is unbelievable because it is a matter of public safety. The fact that that access road has been blocked because a property owner wanted something that benefits the property without consideration of the broader consideration of the peril, is an affront to community safety and something must be done.
The Presiding Officer called on Haldis Toppel, who had invited the public comment on this matter, to comment. Haldis urged the city, LAFD, LADWP and all other agencies involved in the matter to review the blocking of the fire access road and revive this secondary access as a matter of public safety. Haldis noted that this is not a local Marquez issue, but a broader Palisadian issue across all hillside neighborhoods.
Lou Kamer (PPCC Transportation Advisor) commented that he has spoken to different departments about the closure and believes PPCC and others interested in public safety can do more.
Krishna Thangavelu (PPCC rep to the WRAC Public Safety Committee) commented that she has a document which demonstrates the need for strategic planning for public safety in the Palisades. This should be renewed annually because of our vulnerabilities, including wild fire, and she believes PPCC needs to bring a group together to address these issues.
Chris Spitz (At-large Representative) commented that PPCC has been concerned about issues of evacuation for years, knowing that we are entirely in the VHFSZ, and we have tried to set up evacuation drills and other preparedness exercises in the past. That is different from the gate issue, which should be worked on, and is top of mind for many.
8. Reports, Announcements and Concerns.
8.1. From the Chair/Presiding Officer. The PPCC President was not in attendance. Her announcements were noted by the Vice President who was the Presiding Officer.
8.1.1. The Council Office (CD 11) has acknowledged our PCOC letter and has promised to give replies on all concerns, as well as set up a meeting to make sure we are present at the handover of work from City Engineers (BOE) to RAP Maintenance contractor.
8.1.2. Sen. Ben Allen and ASM Jacqui Irwin’s office set up a call to discuss Caltrans and the City process of collaboration to assess the costs and plans for the Lateral trail connecting Potrero Canyon Park to the beach. We were told that progress is being made like never before and that it has been informative to learn that little has been done heretofore by way of any formal request by the City to ask for a feasibility study for the trail. The team is working to bring the trail to fruition with the bridge project on the horizon. Stay tuned for more info and a formal President’s report on discussion at the next meeting.
8.2. From Officers and Chair Emeritus.
8.2.1. Jenny Li (VP and Presiding Officer). None.
8.2.2. David Card (Chair Emeritus).
Cited the PPOC February 9th letter (https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/PCOC-letter-1.pdf ). Waiting to hear back from the city on meetings and updates. Expect to hear back before our next PCOC meeting on the first Monday of March. We have since added two more issues: weeding and brush clearance. The city has hired Waste Unlimited to pull weeds, and they have been out for several days. It is an ongoing job and we hope they continue through the transition period from BOE to RAP, so that weeds do not take over the Canyon. Regarding brush clearance, we would like to be able to inform homeowners how and where to clear brush and get clarity from LAFD what the policy should be for rim residents. Dave noted that repairs have begun in the Canyon – we were told they would begin to fill the erosion and put in a pipe down one of the slopes that is most eroded. Reseeding and replanting is also due to begin in the Spring. Stay tuned for more updates. Restated the purpose of the PCOC – a receptacle of comment and input from the community so that we can be informed as to community concerns and how best to respond to those or ask the city to address them. Dave noted that in case of emergency, the email for PCOC is not the method of communication. In those cases, people should call the Park office at the Palisades Rec Center, or LAPD’s non-emergency line. Things are looking great in the Canyon as the first wave of flowers are in full bloom! There is an app: “inaturalist” to identify some of the flowers – download it and take a walk in the Canyon.
Dave also reported on a Zoom call with ASM Irwin and Sen. Allen’s office where we were informed that Caltrans and BOE were finally at the table together but that not much has been done through the years to bring these agencies together and figure out how to share the use of the space at the mouth of the Canyon in order for the trail and bridge to studies for feasibility. Things are moving. Nina Kidd (Friends of the Library Representative) suggested the SM Mountains Rec Area also has a great app people can look up.
8.2.3. Beth Holden-Garland (Secretary).
Beth reported about pacpalicc Instagram and Facebook accounts. She asked Area and Organizational reps to send content for social media. She also noted that longtime Palisadian Ray Liotta (Area 2 resident) is getting a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where his daughter, Karsen Liotta (Pali High graduate and Palisadian), will be accepting the honor. As a longtime friend, Beth is proud and happy for the family and encourages all to watch the Walk of Fame on their website (walkoffame.com).
8.3. From At-Large and Area Representatives.
8.3.1. Murray Levy, Area One Representative.
a. Illegal grading in Paseo Miramar.
Residents of Paseo Miramar observed ongoing illegal grading occurring which they finally stopped by physically blocking the machinery. The Council should support these residents and specifically determine which agency is responsible for enforcing grading regulations, and ensure that they do so. He’s like to know who should residents call when they note illegal grading or excavation? What consequences does an organization or person known to have started illegal excavations face?
b. Hanging tree limbs on Sunset pose a community hazard.
Ms. Sylvia Kistler, a Palisades resident, told Murray that she personally saw tree limbs fall on moving cars driving on Sunset Blvd. on two occasions. We are all aware of large tree limbs hanging over lanes on Sunset. Can we ask the city to trim tree limbs hanging over Sunset before a falling tree causes serious injury?
c. Prolonged excavation and construction which causes neighborhood blight, etc.
In the Castellammare area there are three examples of excavations that have been allowed to proceed in a start-stop fashion for years. He cited several examples in Area 1 including a site covered in tattered plastic for over a year on Tramonto; a site at the corner of Revello and Positano that’s been going on and off for over 3 years; and the infamous “ground zero” at the corner of Castellammare and Revello that was started 25 years ago and never finished or stabilized. He has pictures of these three sites which he can share. He’d like to know if there are any similar examples in other areas of the Palisades, and his own neighbors would like to know how Building and Safety allows situations like these to remain. Specifically, he asked of there are time limits associated with grading permits? Does Building and Safety make any assessment of an applicant’s financial and technical ability to complete a project before issuing a grading permit? Are there completion bonds or some other mechanism to ensure that excavations are completed or stabilized required, and when are those mechanisms triggered? Perhaps PPCC could invite a representative from Building and Safety (suggests Frank Lara) to a future meeting to address these and other questions. He believes this is important information for the entire community.
Chris Spitz noted that PPCC already has taken a position on completion bonds for unfinished construction/excavation, having voted in favor of a WRAC motion a few years ago which became a WRAC position in support of a motion then brought by former Councilmember Koretz in City Council, to ask Building and Safety to report on what can be done about requiring such completion bonds. She noted that the Koretz motion apparently never moved forward in City Council but will attempt to follow up.
8.3.2. Julie Silliman (Area 7 Representative) reported on a gala for the Uplifters at Rustic Canyon. On May 30th, a celebration of the cornerstone time capsule left by the Uplifters will take place; and a main event for the 100th year anniversary of Rustic Canyon is being planned. More information will be made public soon.
8.3.3. Chris Spitz (At-large Representative) reported that the Friends of the Library president had asked for help with the trash can in front of the library on Alma Real, which was overflowing with trash. Chris emailed an LA Sanitation contact from years ago (who had helped with a prior trash bin problem). Sanitation in turn decided to add an additional day of trash pickup at the library (either on Friday or Monday, in addition to the two days that are already on the schedule) and will monitor conditions.
8.3.4. Cindy Simon (Area 6 Representative) reported that she also noticed overflowing trash from the nearby 881 Alma Real Building. She contacted the building management and reported the overflowing trash. She was assured that the building management would look into it. She was pleased that her phone call led to resolution of the issue rather easily. Similarly, she reported that she put up a laminated sign on the Friends St. gate (entrance to Potrero Canyon Park, across from residences) to warn users to close the gate more softly in order not to make noise, and the (homemade) posted signs seem to be working.
8.4. From Organizational Representatives
8.4.1. Nina Kidd (Friends of the Library Representative) reported that the library is coming to life again. Please check the website for events and classes.
8.4.2. Courtney Macker (PPRA Representative) reported on a meeting with LAPD Officer Bermudez, Capt. Heredia and Sgt. Scott and reported that they believe they’ve identified the suspect in the recent attempted rape matter, though he is not yet in custody.
8.4.3. Barbara Kohn (PP Historical Society Alternate) reported that the Historical Society is hosting a walk at Los Liones on April 1st. It will be led by Shirley Haggstrom and Randy Young and begin at the small Amphitheatre. Departure time will be at 10 am and return at noon. Historical information and displays will be on display after the walk along with refreshments and a celebration of 50 years of history. Stay tuned for more info and RSVP in March.
8.4.4. Rick McGeagh (PPBA Representative) reported that the annual PPBA Pancake Breakfast on opening day of the baseball season will take place on Sat., March 11. The breakfast starts at 7:30 am. Ceremonies start at 9 am and games begin at 9:30. He believes that this is the 2nd best day in the Palisades! PPBA has a record number of players (over 500), so please join.
8.4.5. Shirley Haggstrom (TCA Representative) reiterated that this is the 50th anniversary of the Historical Society. The hike event will be celebrating native plants, volunteerism and more. Look for the flyer in March. She also reported that TCA is planning a March hike up to Chicken Ridge. Look for more information in March.
8.5. From Government Offices / Representatives
8.5.1. Brian Espin. LAPD Senior Lead Officer for Pacific Palisades. Not present.
8.5.2. Zac Gaidzik, Deputy, County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, District 3. Not present.
8.5.3. Michael Amster, CD11 Field Deputy, Councilwoman Traci Park.
Mr. Amster reported that he went on a ride along with SLO Espin as well as a clean-up effort with PPTFH. They recognized the dry brush behind the Caltrans barrier along PCH. He can report that that has been cleared. Traci Park was at the American Legion celebrating African American Marines. Mr. Amster also observed Pickle Ball at the Rec Center. He reported that he is working on bringing together the stakeholder meeting for Potrero Canyon matters.
Rick McGeagh (PPBA Representative and Area 7 1st alternate) thanked Mr. Amster for addressing the dangerous pothole on Will Rogers Rd.
Dave Card (Chair Emeritus) informed Mr. Amster about the ongoing issue of use of the maintenance gate at the Riviera Country Club for member access. He suggested that if Mr. Amster is not aware of that matter, he should check in with Reza Akef (Area 8 Representative) and other Area reps to become familiar with the issue. Mr. Amster said he was familiar with the issue, has heard both perspectives and has spoken to residents.
8.5.4. Skylar Payab, Westside Field Deputy for Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, gave the Board information and reported that they have been connecting with Sen. Allen’s office and Caltrans regarding the trail and bridge issues. ASM Irwin herself will be meeting with the head of Caltrans to discuss matters further.
8.5.5. Rad Nowroozi, Field Representative, State Senator Ben Allen, SD24. Not present.
8.5.6. Allison Holdorff, Sr. Advisor to LAUSD Board member Nick Melvoin, reported that LAUSD is making tutoring available to all students and looking for mentors for students. She is in contact with Dr. Magee and Tom Iannucci to address local Charter Complex issues. They are working on traffic issues at Revere and air conditioning issues at Pali High. Pali Elementary has had a successful “jump for heart” event and will have an upcoming movie night. Marquez Elementary’s enrollment is growing and LAUSD is working with them to secure more teachers. LAUSD Bulletin, 88694, is an evacuation protocol document she is happy to share with the community.
8.6. From PPCC Advisors and WRAC Representatives.
8.6.1. Lou Kamer, PPCC Transportation Advisor. Lou reported on safety and efficiency in transportation and road adjustments. He has been in touch with ASM Irwin, Sen. Allen and Caltrans offices as well as LADOT to make sure safety is paramount as well as efficiency. Projects he is working on include the PCH Caltrans barricade with gaps where homeless people go behind the barricade for encampment. Campfires in the area have caused three outbreaks of wildfires. The responses to these fires are costly and the public safety repercussions are many. He has been working with government offices to maintain the gaps for the requisite access needed for maintenance, but also securing them for public safety.
Second issue is the traffic light on Entrada and PCH. He spoke to LADOT today (2/23) and they reported that they are working though the permit process for changes to the light at the intersection.
He is also working on crosswalks – Lou has asked LADOT to look at all crosswalks (especially near schools) to determine where they need to be re-striped or improved. More to come.
A discussion ensued about crosswalk safety near schools. Julie Silliman (PPCC Area 7 Representative) reported that a crosswalk at Entrada and Stassi Lane is disfavored by the community. Greg Heidt (PPCC Education Representative) reported that several lights on Temescal Canyon Rd. are out. Board members asked Michael Amster to address the outage. Board members impressed upon him that this was a critical matter that needs immediate attention. The Presiding Officer Jenny Li suggested a 311 report. Lou Kamer reported that he had already made a 311 call and would share the information with Mr. Amster.
8.6.2. Chris Spitz (PPCC At-large Rep, WRAC Vice Chair and PPCC Rep to WRAC). Chris reported that the WRAC Board met last week and she shared pictures and updates with WRAC Board members about GW Park at Potrero Canyon; she noted that several WRAC Board members knew George Wolfberg from his time as a member of WRAC. ASM Irwin was a guest speaker and gave a report about evacuation issues and is working on possible legislation to amend SB9 to eliminate increased density in the VHFHSZ. LADWP gave a presentation to WRAC about a proposal by an environmental group to the Water Control Board to restrict LADWP’s water rights in the Mono Basin. LADWP encourages people and councils to submit written comment, due on March 17th, opposing the restriction of their water rights. We will hear more at the March 9th PPCC meeting.
9. Reports from Committees. None [but see the Chair Emeritus report in item 8.2.2. above].
10. Old Business. None.
11. New Business.
11.1. Al Fresco Dining Ordinance. Discussion Item Only: The Presiding Officer explained that while the City seeks to make permanent the Al Fresco dining arrangements which relaxed sidewalk dining rules and helped save restaurants through the pandemic, there are new regulations being proposed that many residents oppose as a result of safety issues and reduced parking. Chris Spitz explained that PPCC has asked the new joint Chamber to poll Palisades business members and see if they can help us determine how our businesses feel about the new ordinance. There is a draft ordinance in the works with fees and regulations which have either been added or suspended in a way that either burdens restaurant owners or alarms communities which host the outdoor dining facilities.
The Presiding Officer suggested PPCC members read up on the ordinance in case the Board decides to take a position. Haldis Toppel encouraged people to help restaurants maintain outdoor dining, as it helps restaurants thrive.
Julie Silliman spoke about SM Canyon restaurants that have turned many parking spots, including handicap parking, into outdoor dining spaces. She knows people support Al Fresco dining but notes that restaurants take up sidewalks and parking spots that may impact community safety. She suggests that the City should survey more of the issues before passing an ordinance and really study the impact of outdoor dining on communities/neighborhoods.
Julie also noted that valet parking is an issue as parking attendants create chaos on small streets and while it is lively, it is also perilous. Fire is also an issue, as the structures on sidewalks are often made of wood, and could pose a danger. She suggests the city look more deeply into codifying Al-Fresco dining.
Dave Card and Beth Holden-Garland spoke in support of outdoor dining and suggested we ask our friends and neighbors to consider their thoughts and submit comment.
Chris Spitz reported that we may wish to learn more and take a position in the months to come (the current deadline to submit comment on the Planning staff report is 3/3/23, but there will be other opportunities for comment as the proposed ordinance goes through the process in the Planning Commission and City Council).
We/PPCC acting though the President and at-Large Area Rep, have asked the Chamber of Commerce (joint Malibu/Pacific Palisades) to see if they can learn, perhaps though polling, what our local restaurants and other businesses think. This matter may be back before the board for additional discussion and possible motion. See, for reference: https://planning.lacity.org/odocument/0d713059-f892-4c1f-8607-b37d4693a1be/Draft_Ordinance.pdf
12. Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 7:51pm.