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1.   Call to Order and Reading of Community Council’s Mission.  The PPCC mission was read by Maryam Zar.

2.   Roll-call of Board members and Certification of Quorum.

The meeting was called to order at 6:03PM
Voting members present: Maryam Zar, Sue Kohl, Jenny Li, Beth Holden-Garland, Murray Levy, Bruce Schwartz, Haldis Toppel, Karen Ridgely, Kimberly Bloom, Quentin Fleming, Julie Silliman, Reza Akef, Mary Mueller, John Padden, Barbara Kohn, Aileen Haugh, Alisa Wolfson, Kevin Niles, Genevieve Bostic, James Alexakis, Hagop Tchakerian, Courtney Macker.

Non-voting members present: Cindi Young, Joanna Spak, Nancy Niles, Michael Edlen, Daphne Gronich, Betsy Handler, Harlan Hogue, Cathy Russell, Andrew Wolfberg, Alan Goldsmith, Janet Anderson.

3.   Introduction of attendees.

LAPD West Traffic Officer Blair Gabler attended the meeting to address the gridlock that has plagued the Palisades recently. The President asked for West LA Traffic to attend the meeting and help us discuss the reasons why and how to better communicate traffic accidents and manage the flow of traffic when it snarls. Officer Gabler presented statistics on collisions and an assessment of whether those have adversely impacted traffic in pacific Palisades. The board held a discussion on strategies and solutions for traffic flow and better communication. Please see the recording of the discussion on our YouTube site.

Officer Gabler is from West Traffic Division, Community Traffic Safety Unit, designated to West LA (she sees all the traffic related complaints). SLO Espin said Officer Gabler looked at some statistics to determine what kind of impact recent traffic reports have had on the community.

Lou Kamer, PPCC Traffic Advisor, said we need to see what’s causing our traffic snarls, what we can do about it and how to change outcomes, so we don’t experience standstill the way we recently have experienced.

Officer Gabler said the Traffic Analysis Unit (TAU) for West LA has not seen an increase in traffic accidents in our area. Sunset and PCH are “High Volume Roadways”, which are adversely impacted by Waze traffic patterns that redirect people to these roadways; if they are blocked, Waze re-routes people to smaller streets. TAU has reached out to Waze to see if they can change those rerouting patterns. Apparently, those roads are so encumbered with traffic that traffic police have been unable to conduct speed surveys or traps on those roads.

The President noted that this community is lodged between a mountain and an ocean, and the entire Palisades is in the VHFHSZ. We have recently gotten a glimpse of what it might look like if we had to evacuate (in the event of fire or natural disaster), and while not being alarmists, we do think it might be complicated.

Officer Gabler assured the board that in the event of evacuation, motorcycle officers would be used in great numbers to direct people out in the safest manner they can to avoid traffic snarls. It’s hard when there are only two main roadways out of the Palisades, but she has confidence that motor escorts will be there in the case of evacuation. Stop lights will be stopped, and police officers will dictate the flow of traffic and make “contra flow” touch points work well for the flow of traffic. DOT will also be involved. She is happy to come out for community meetings and help learn more from the community and gather ideas. Right now, they are focused on Waze stopping sending people though Palisadian streets, which creates congestion.

Lou Kamer noted that he founded the Waze community program in the Palisades and he can make changes to Waze rerouting protocols when there are emergencies in place. He suggested that he can help with the outreach to Waze and help make adjustments that need to be made. But the reality of our location is that we will have bottlenecks if there is an emergency (density as well as increased vehicular traffic). 81,000 cars travel through the PCH/ Chautauqua intersection daily, so we have to deal with the reality that things are going to get more congested but there are steps we can tale to mitigate a lot of the issues, especially in emergencies.

The issue of evacuations resulting in traffic snarls was repeated and finally the President brought up the idea of adaptive lights (something Malibu has invested in), which might help with the flow of traffic as situations on roads change. She said this would be a good discussion for another day.

Some Q and A ensued where people expressed a concern about being trapped in case of fire. See the exchange online at our YouTube channel.

Carl Ginsberg from My Safe LA introduced their work and made a presentation about fire safety, home hardening and local Fire Councils as a means by which to mitigate the impact of fire and to assist in emergency preparedness in the community.

Carl said My Safe LA is a nonprofit which is funded by CalFire, FEMA and others.  They teach safety in elementary schools, install smoke alarms throughout the city, hold CERT classes and also are funded by the City of LA Fire Department, with whom they’ve worked for more than 15 years, working together in communities to launch Fire Safe Councils (in conjunction with LA County). He introduced David Barrett to give a presentation and suggested we meet in person at another date to focus on Fire Safe Councils and all the benefits that they bring to communities. Please see the recording online.

Mr. Barrett said they are here to bridge the gap between residents and all the various fire agencies and try to fill them in as related to supporting communities. He suggested that the City of LA (Office of CM Park) might be very interested in helping fund adaptive lights for our area, because we are in the most dangerous part of the United States (according to FEMA) as related to wildfires. CM Park is extremely committed to her constituents, and she would be open to hearing about adaptive lights because it would be a “huge win” for her and they meet with her office all the time.

The threat of wildfire in the County of LA has a rating of 100%. The SF Valley is surrounded by the SM Mountains which are all within the VHFHSZ. Last year’s rains resulted in “fuel” if the conditions are right (temp high/humidity low). As they look at the coming year, this is a good time to harden our resilience to wildfire.

He introduced us to the Wildfire Alliance which is a collaboration of agencies that work to harden homes against fire and mitigate the possible damage. My Safe LA is the coordinator that helps with outreach and assists organizations like ours (through HOAs and Neighborhood or Community Councils) to be more prepared for wild fires by going into communities and holding monthly meetings (such as this Thursday’s meeting) where they discuss wildfire impact mitigation and other topics.

The President thanked Dave and Carl, and pledged to create a taskforce to work on both fire councils as well as mobility issues.  See more online.

4.   Approval of Minutes:  The meeting minutes from September 28, 2023 were approved

5.   Consideration of Agenda & Upcoming Meetings.

6.   Treasurer’s Report.
Account balance, $48,683.26 as of the day of reporting. Most transactions were related to the anniversary celebration. Most bills have been paid. $12,196.89 in donations (not counting in kind donations). Expenses were $9024.28.  We netted $3172.61 of income from the 50th Anniversary Jubilee & Community Celebration, which saw board members (organizational and individual) donations come together to support the event which had great turnout and resulted in community building as well as income generation. The Treasurer said several events that can generate this kind of income would be very helpful to the PPCC.

7.   General Public Comment.  None.

8.   Reports, Announcements and Concerns. 

8.1.   From the Chair/Presiding Officer.

8.1.1. The President reviewed letters written since the last meeting: . She got a call from Jeff Khau, CD11 Planning Deputy, and highlighted for him the fact that we have referred to language from our Specific Plan which seems to prohibit this kind of large scale construction on our hillside streets with unique topography steeped in nature. She reported that Jeff asked for a reduction in scale, quarterly reports to the community and a mitigated plan for construction impact in the community and on hillside streets. Jeff said he would investigate the CEQA exemption the developer had applied for. She reported that he would look into our request more intently. She also said he had reiterated the notion that a developer would strengthen the hillside and fortify the slide area as a natural extension of hillside construction.

8.1.2.   The President reported that the 50th Anniversary Jubilee & Community Celebration was a huge success with hundreds of people coming out to visit with more than 40 booths of organizations and community officials.

8.1.3.   The President gave an update on the SAB center proposal for a nonprofit headquarters in the Castellammare area, saying that the group had met with Traci Park and Jeff Khau and that no decision had been made. Apparently, no permits or entitlements have been given to the nonprofit yet by any city agency. The PPCC LUC is monitoring with great interest.

8.1.4.   The President reported that a Youth Exhibit will take place from November 1st to November 12th at the Library Community Room, hosted by PPCC – culminating in a November 9th in person meeting and an awards recognition for youth artists, as an extension of our 50th Anniversary Jubilee (we sought submissions and got an overwhelming number). More information to come.

8.1.5.   The President announced the appointment of the Awards Selection Committee and the timeline for nominees and announcement of honorees in November (11/9). The committee consists of Daphne Gronich, Sue Kohl, Beth Holden-Garland, Ryan Craig and Diana Danielle.

8.1.6.   The President announced the 2023 Holiday Dinner & Awards Gala, planned for December 14 possibly at The Draycott. There were no objections to the date (prescribed by the bylaws.)

8.1.7.   She reported that a CD11 rep and an RAP will be at the Oct 25th PAB meeting and report about Quimby funds for park and bathroom upgrades/ construction.

8.1.8.   She did not report on the Asilomar Bluffs update

8.1.9.   The President welcomed new Organizational reps.  A possible new-member orientation may take place in early November 2023.

8.2.   From Officers and Chair Emeritus

8.2.1.   Sue Kohl, Vice President, reported that she met with new the Mayor’s new West Area Field Deputy, Marian Ensley.  Sue imparted to her the major issues she could think of which included crime, homelessness, fire issues, issues at the park, pole top cameras, prosecution of serious criminals. Sue said it went well. Ms. Ensley was at the 50th Anniversary Jubilee and said she’d be on our calls in the coming weeks to keep the Mayor’s office abreast of our priorities and be a point of communication for us. She has been invited to the Holiday party and she will work on certificates for our Holiday event.

8.2.2.  Beth Holden-Garland, Secretary had no updates.

8.2.3.   Dave Card, Chair Emeritus, had no updates.

8.3.   From At-Large and Area Representatives

8.3.1.   Haldis Toppel, Area Three primary rep., reported on the MKPOA block party re-emergence as a staple in the Palisades, to take place on Saturday October 22nd. Everyone is invited to join. There will be food, music, face painting, a bounce house and many merchants participating.

8.4.    From Organizational Representatives

8.4.1.   Courtney Macker, PPRA primary rep, spurred us to discuss emergency response plans and actual escape routes for evacuation in light of recent events. This discussion becomes increasingly important as we see traffic snarls that led to gridlock for Palisadians. Courtney spoke about better communications and reiterated the need for a community app as a tool for essential communication. Officer Espin agreed that there should be better communication. He said the Wet LA Command is short staffed. The conversation with Officer Gabler, above, was prompted by this item having been agendised for discussion. See above.

8.4.2.   Kimberly Bloom, Area Five primary rep – discussion about a fundraising opportunity was tabled in the interest of time.

8.5.    From Government Offices / Representatives.

8.5.1.   Michael Amster, CD 11 Palisades Field Deputy, invited people to get involved in the Community Plan update process. He noted that the Palisades – Brentwood Community Plan is not yet in focus.

He also gave an update on the effective efforts and operations to address encampments across the District.

Temescal Canyon Road repairs are underway and Michael said he will follow up with DOT, regularly.

Michael reported that he is in conversation with DOT to hire a crossing guard at Canyon Charter School. There is a general liability concern but he is working to see what can be done in order to accommodate this one specific volunteer who wishes to be hired as a crossing guard for Canyon Charter School.

He reported that BOE gathered more info about the Via de las Olas Bluffs using drones and will complete their investigation within a few weeks.

He also reported on a Veterans Resource Fair on December 7th at the VA, where CM Traci Park will provide resources and giveaways to those who live there. Michael asked for donations of new and lightly used clothes.

8.6.   From PPCC Advisors and WRAC Representatives.

8.6.1.   Lou Kamer, Transportation Advisor, reported that PCH closures and improvements have had great impact on our neighborhood roads, and we must find better communication and impact mitigation strategies. Information must get out to the public must faster. He suggested that the PCH taskforce meetings bring all agencies together – can we have LADOT and CalTrans get information to us as fast as possible so we can report to the community both incidents and clearance times.

9.   Reports from PPCC Committees.

9.1.   Bylaws Committee.

Committee Chair Andrew Wolfberg and Vice-Chair Haldis Toppel walked the board through the 1st distribution of Bylaws amendments impacting certification for returning organizational members who transition from the Alternate to the Primary role, in their respective categories (not applicable to categories with a sole member). The Committee also proposes correcting the formal name of an organization in Appendix A to the Bylaws. There were no questions. The vote will be reserved for the next meeting, to follow the second distribution. (See also item 11.2 below.)

10.   Old Business – There was no old business.

11.   New Business.

11.1.   LUC recommended motion re Proposed Affordable Housing Streamlining Ordinance (AHSO) / CF 22-0623; CPC-2023-5273-CA – Request VHFHSZ Exemption. The board voted to support the motion and the letter attached below was unanimously approved.

11.2.    First distribution of Bylaws Committee recommended motions. Discussion only.

See suggested motion language here:  content/uploads/2023/10/09-26a-2023-Draft-Revisions.pdf

Summary of proposed changes:

1.   The Bylaws Committee presented the first distribution for proposed bylaws changes to impact the current requirement for Member Organizations and Alternate Member Organizations to provide a written certification of various information regarding their organization. The proposed change removes the obligation that the Alternate Member Organization comply with the annual certification requirement. These changes will make sure that any Member Organization (the organization in a category that will be the voting organization in a Category for the term) has provided the required written certification. If an organization will be serving a consecutive term or terms (including the Historical Society and PPRA), then those Member Organizations will be required to submit an updated written certification if any of the information has changed since the organization’s last written certification or if the organization has not submitted a written certification within the last three years.

There was no discussion.

2.   The Bylaws committee also recommended the updating of Appendix A to reflect the correct name for the Friends of the Library, which is now formally named the Pacific Palisades Library Association (PPLA). There was no discussion.

12.   Adjournment.

12.1.   The meeting was adjourned at 8:10pm.

ATTACHMENT – Item 11.1; letter re AHSO:

Proposed PPCC letter – recommended to the PPCC board by the PPCC LUC

October __, 2023

Department of City Planning (via email):
Vincent P. Bertoni, Director of Planning                                 
Cally Hardy, City Planner, Housing Policy                            

Re:  Proposed Affordable Housing Streamlining Ordinance (AHSO) / CF 22-0623; CPC-2023-5273-CA – Request VHFHSZ Exemption

Dear Department of City Planning:

For fifty years, Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) has been the voice of the community and the most broad-based organization in Pacific Palisades.  Our entire community is located within the sensitive Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ).

The proposed AHSO contains limited exemptions for certain sensitive areas (in single-family and Coastal zones), but does not include a VHFHSZ exemption.  Several areas of Pacific Palisades (and other Los Angeles communities in the VHFHSZ) are not located in either of these two exempt zones, and thus would be subject to a streamlined approval process for affordable housing projects, with no review of public safety impacts in sensitive VHFHSZ areas.

Elimination of environmental and discretionary review in designated VHFHSZ areas is dangerous and unacceptable.  Both PPCC and the Los Angeles City Council have recognized this fact by calling for an unconditional VHFHSZ exemption in proposed state housing legislation that would streamline approvals for housing development projects.  In addition, the City’s own approved Housing Element protects environmentally sensitive areas such as the VHFHSZ by excluding them from the Rezoning Program needed to meet RHNA numbers. Consistent with these positions and City policy, an unconditional exemption for the VHFHSZ should also be included in the proposed AHSO.

Los Angeles City Actions/Policy

The City Council has expressly recognized the danger to all of the City’s VHFHSZ areas if adequate discretionary  review is eliminated in the housing approval process.  The Council recently called for an unconditional exemption for the VHFHSZ in proposed state legislation (SB 423) that would streamline certain affordable housing projects statewide (see Council File 23-0002-S71 – unanimously passed on 9/25/23 to include this position in the City’s 2023-24 State Legislative program).

As explained in the CLA’s report in CF 23-0002-S71, an unconditional VHFHSZ exemption is necessary to allow for adequate environmental review and scrutiny for public safety concerns of proposed housing development in these sensitive areas. Without a VHFHSZ exemption, the proposed AHSO is contrary to the CLA’s conclusion and the City Council’s express position on SB 423.

Moreover, the approved 2021-2029 Housing Element (HE) expressly protects VHFHSZ properties by excluding them from the inventory of sites available for rezoning.  As the HE explains: “Key elements of the rezoning strategy have been informed by public input and City Council direction. . . . In general, the program emphasizes increasing access to Higher Opportunity areas of the city, . . . while protecting environmentally sensitive areas such as fire zones . . . .”  HE, Chapter 4 (emphasis added).  Failure to exempt the VHFHSZ from the proposed AHSO would be clearly inconsistent with the HE’s protections.


Page Two
October __, 2023
Dept. of City Planning

Substantial Risk to Public Safety

Failure to exempt the VHFHSZ would compromise public safety in Pacific Palisades and in other hillside communities in the VHFHSZ.  Like many of our counterpart communities in the City, the Palisades is at constant risk of wildfires and required emergency evacuations.  We have extremely limited means of egress and ingress (only two main roadways lead in and out of Pacific Palisades) and thousands of our residents reside on narrow hillside streets as well as substandard “flat” streets, where evacuation is already challenged.  See: We have decades-long experience with destructive wildfires and frightening evacuations, including the massive 1978 Mandeville Fire, the 2018 Woolsey Fire, the 2019 Getty and Palisades Fires and the 2021 Palisades Fire.

These conditions result in serious risk to lives and public safety from crowded roadways during required emergency evacuations – which would be made even worse with additional density. Our community’s significant and legitimate concerns and considerations must be addressed with an adequate environmental  review of any proposed affordable housing projects in the VHFHSZ.


PPCC recognizes the need for affordable housing and does not seek to prevent affordable housing in appropriate areas of Pacific Palisades or in any other areas of the City.  However, in the interest of public safety, it is imperative that any such proposed housing in the sensitive VHFHSZ must not be streamlined and must be subject to adequate environmental and discretionary review.

Consistent with the City Council’s position in CF 23-002-S71 and its request for an unconditional VHFHSZ exemption in SB 423, as well as with the protections afforded sites in the VHFHSZ by the HE, we urge the Planning Dept. to include an unconditional VHFHSZ exemption in the draft of the proposed AHSO.

This letter was recommended by the PPCC Land Use Committee and approved [unanimously?] by the PPCC Board of Directors at the regularly-scheduled public PPCC meeting on October __, 2023.

Thank you for your consideration.


Maryam Zar
President, Pacific Palisades Community Council
Steve Cron and Christina Spitz
Co-Chairs, PPCC Land Use Committee

cc (via email):
Hon. Karen Bass, Mayor, City of Los Angeles

Hon. Traci Park, Councilwoman, CD 11

Hon. Paul Krekorian, L.A. City Council President; Councilmember, CD 2

Hon. Katy Yaroslavsky, Councilwoman, CD 5

Hon. Nithya Raman, Councilmember, CD 4

Lisa Webber, Deputy Director of Project Planning

Arthi Varma, Deputy Director of Citywide Policy Planning 

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