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MINUTES FROM MARCH 7th 2024

1.   Call to Order and Reading of Community Council’s Mission.  PPCC Secretary, Beth Holden-Garland read the Community Council mission: http://pacpalicc.org/index.php/councilbylaws/.   

2.   Roll-call of Board members and Certification of Quorum.
The President called roll and certified that we had quorum. 

Voting members present: Maryam Zar, Sue Kohl, Jenny Li, Beth Holden-Garland, Dave Card, Murray levy, Diana Daniele, Haldis Toppel, Karen Ridgley, Betsy Handler, Cindy Simon, Julie Silliman, Andrew Wolfberg, Chris Spitz, John Padden, Barbara Kohn, Ryan Craig, Genevieve Bostic, Aileen Haugh, Kevin Niles, Gabrielle Gotlieb, Courtney Macker. 

Non-voting members present: Nancy Niles, Leeanne Sanderson, Quentin Fleming, Harlan Hogue, Cathy Russell, Daliah Setareh, James Alexakis, Cindi Young, Joanna Spak, Hagop Tchakerian, Jessica Rogers, Alan Goldsmith. 

3.   Introduction of attendees.
The President introduced guests: Matt Negrete - Jacobs Engineering Project Manager for the Potrero Canyon Bridge Project, Erin DeMarco – Jacobs Engineering, Deputy Project Manager, Jose Beristain – BOE Engineer & Interim Project Manager, and Jason Jackson, Arellano Consultants (the outreach contractor) Project Manager.

Matt Negrete began the presentation by welcoming the community to the process to unfold. He said tonight they would address project background, current approach, stakeholders (private and public), environmental issues (why no EIR) and the community outreach process. He said he will serve as the Project Manager from Jacobs Engineering and that he has been doing Transportation projects for the last 25 years. He understands the outreach and the technical side of the project and is familiar with technical challenges as well as stakeholder challenges.  He is excited to tackle this.  

He introduced Jose Beristain with the bridge improvement division of BOE, who has been on the project for many years. He’s been familiar with this project since 2009, in the initial grading and landscaping phase and now for the bridge project. He said Jacobs is “an A team,” especially matched with Arellano and the outreach team. He explained that there are two open coastal development projects that are simultaneously in the works: the trail and the bridge. He explained that in 2016 BOE completed a feasibility study evaluating a tunnel versus a bridge for coastal access, and it was determined that the bridge would be the better option. So that’s why we are here. In 2021, he explained that an $11M grant from Sen Allen’s office made the bridge possible. 

In terms of where we are today, he said they are working alongside Caltrans in the PID (infancy of the project life) phase. They are getting together project initiation documents, going through environmental phase and looking at some preliminary alternatives at this time. 

Matt said the big picture is that over the next two years, Jacobs will work in partnership with the City and with Arellano to reach out to the community. They will be going through environmental documentation, and preliminary engineering including surveying in the field and mapping as well as geo tech and the environmental impact and some engineering work to figure out crossing alternatives. They will be working with SPF Architects on design (later phase which will also entail multiple outreach meetings for community engagement). Jacobs is on board for two years to make environmental clearance and will be coming to the community more than once. He made clear that the lateral trail project is also being worked on by a  separate set of people as a separate project.

He spoke about community stakeholders (as well as public stakeholders). He was on the December call and understands the concerns that community members have raised over public safety aspects of this project. He pledged that sensitivity to the safety of the bridge is a real concern for them, and they plan to make sure anything they do here improves safety in the area, and does not detract from it. They plan to listen and implement feedback. They’re here to listen and not just to talk. 

Public stakeholders, he explained, are the CA Coastal Commission, Caltrans, the Council Office and LA County Beaches and Harbors as well as the City Dept. of Public Works. He said they’d be doing an environmental study on this project (not an EIR), although going through the CA Enviro Quality Act (CEQA) as well as the Fed Enviro Protection Act (NEPA). They expect a categorical exclusion to be issued. Caltrans will determine how much environmental impact clearance they will need, but it will be something.  

Jason Jackson from Arellano introduced himself and said he was looking forward to the project for both outreach and design. He explained the communications tool kit and working with the CO and Sen Allen’s office to leverage their communication outreach in order to engage the community to take part in the outreach to unfold. Snail mail and flyers posted will also be part of the outreach. There is a website with a fact sheet as well as contact details. Social media and messaging will be consistent and meet with approval to communicate the right message to the public in order to involve as many and as broad a part of the community as possible. Next week’s meeting is to build project awareness to answer baseline questions and bring everybody up to speed. They will be looking to engage new people who may not know about the bridge and want to learn more, and share their ideas.  

The second meeting will be in Sept and will bring back the initial draft of concept, presenting that to the public, getting input as well as workshop feedback. This meeting will determine any gaps in thinking (of planner v. community members). The third outreach meeting for this phase will be to bring the final project look – the “preferred alternative”, to the community for approval and ultimately Council Office approval.  The next meeting is Thursday, March 14 by Zoom. People will be able to comment in the chat or in the meeting. He encouraged everyone to go to potrerocanyonpedbridgesurvey.org and take the survey to answer questions about habits and intended use for the bridge, as well as locational questions. This is all useful information that will be helpful to them.  

The President asked for an email for project feedback and said some of this info has been distributed last week and will be again. Jason said: www.potrerocanyonpedbridge.org is the website. Email: potrerocanyonpedbridge@lacity.org  

The President asked if outreach will include the roughly 50 local organizations that PPCC had introduced for outreach. She was told there is an approved tool kit that they will use. She also reminded everyone that while the bridge is desired by the City of LA as a gateway into the City from this western edge, and that communities beyond the Palisades may welcome it, the impact of the bridge will be felt by this community for generations to come, and she asked the outreach team to put that feedback into perspective when they receive it. We will host this bridge for a long time to come and the impact of the bridge is important to our community because it’s not a short-term impact – we will be dealing with the impact of this bridge for generations to come. 

The President said she thought there would be more than three outreach meetings planned. Jason explained that we are in the Enviro phase right now and there will be three meetings in this phase, to emerge with a “preferred alternative”.  Other two phases will entail three more meetings each. 

Chris Spitz asked if a coastal development permit will be obtained for this bridge. Response: There is an existing coastal development permit for the park and they’re not sure if they’ll have to amend that or seek a new permit for the bridge. She asked whether there will an assessment of need for this bridge during the outreach meetings, where people will be able to express their concerns as to the need for this bridge. Response:  The 14th will be an introduction to the project to gather feedback from the community. There will be opportunities for people to express their thoughts. However, the project is planned to move forward with implementation of the elements of safety that the community expresses.  

Jose said for the past 10 years he’s seen the community sentiment waiver from wanting the bridge to not wanting the bridge back to wanting the bridge. He said the City delayed the Jacobs Task order for the project in order to determine community consensus, but that they are moving forward based on the guidance of the Council Office, which advises that “everybody wants the bridge.” The President clarified that no one has ever been able to determine whether everybody wants the bridge, but that the most recent consensus was to move ahead to the outreach phase so that people could learn about the bridge and its elements (not conceptually but practically) in order to determine whether or not we “want” the bridge. Everyone will have issues and concerns and there are many questions surrounding the project, so the sooner we get into this phase and outreach comes to the community, we’ll better be able to gauge what the project reception looks like, as will the Council Office. Jose reiterated that the Council Office is driving this project. The President encouraged everyone to engage with the outreach phase. Jose said many concerns will be addressed in this phase, but not every issue will be addressed in this preliminary phase. He encouraged engagement. Jason informed everyone that Juan Fregoso was the lead on the project for the Council Office (Councilwoman Traci Park). 

The President thanked the team and bid them farewell until March 14th, for the first outreach meeting planned at 6PM. See the video of the Bridge Project presentation here: https://youtu.be/sU3JrqTVuLU  

4.   Approval of Minutes:  The draft February 22, 2024, minutes were approved. 

5.   Consideration of Agenda & Upcoming Meetings.
The agenda was considered as distributed. The President noted that the next meeting will be virtual only, on March 28, with VP Sue Kohl presiding 

6.   Treasurer’s Report.  
The Treasurer reported that our balance is $51,567.52, with no substantial transactions recorded. 

7.   General Public CommentThere was no general public comment. 

8.   Reports, Announcements and Concerns.  

8.1.   From the Chair/Presiding Officer. 

8.1.1.   The President reported on her meeting with CD11 Dist. Dir. Juan Fregoso in Pacific Palisades on Feb. 29, alongside Dave Card, Sue Kohl, Julie Silliman, Harlan Hogue and others, as well as Michael Amster, who accompanied Juan. 

She said Juan had been a pleasure to host through the park and Potrero Canyon and that he had been very interested in learning about our Pali Rec Center needs and priorities, as well as pressing Potrero Canyon matters. She said he noted that our bathrooms needed the planned upgrades that CD11 has already set into motion. He also saw the state of our playground (with sandy pit) and acknowledged that the park desperately needed money to be spent on upgrades.  She noted that he is often sympathetic to our issues and “asks,” but that he has an entire district to preside over and sometimes may forget wat he’s seen or acknowledged were. She said the trajectory of our camera discussions was shared with him and he understood that we were asking for a handful (five) cameras to be mounted in strategic spots on existing building and infrastructure to help us keep eyes on the park in order to help LAPD and the community address issues of vandalism and youth pranks, including fireworks, that have not subsided. She noted that Juan seemed to think we had asked for a substantive electric infrastructure upgrade at the park, but both Sue and Maryam made it clear (both at the meeting and later in communications) that this was not the case – that an infrastructure upgrade had been suggested by RAP tech (Jim Newsome) but that we had asked (again and again) for the existing infrastructure (both at the Rec Center and in the Canyon)  to be considered and camera options be suggested based on existing electric systems that can support the placement of cameras, in the immediate term. 

The President later concurred with Sue Kohl and Dave Card who mentioned the city road that acts as a driveway to the Rec Center, which desperately needs repaving. This road serves many parking spaces for the park and has been left unfinished after the improvements of Potrero Canyon, which created 30 new parking spots around the front circle, which is now, by comparison, new and pristine while the city (non-RAP) road remains pockmarked and sub-par. 

8.1.2.   The President said she would defer to the Jacobs/Arellano team present to talk about the information they shared with her in a recent call. 

8.1.3.    The President reported on a letter that was written ahead of the LA Rec & Parks Commission meeting in Pacific Palisades on March 21: https://pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Commissioners-letter-PPCC-Fin.pdf. 

8.1.4.   The President reported on Pali Rec Center talks ongoing for cameras and foot patrols saying she continues to work toward bringing a full proposal for cameras and foot patrols. 

8.1.5.   The President deferred to Chris Spitz, At-large Rep regarding the Will Rogers Beach undercount from the PIT Homeless Count. 

8.1.6.   The President that she would invite the joint Palisades/Malibu Chamber, which has increased its Palisades activity, members, and board participation, to present to PPCC in the months to come, after the legal merger of the two chambers is complete.  

8.1.7.   The President reminded Area Reps that they had received an email from her regarding fiber optic lines replacing land lines in Pacific Palisades and that was a cause for concern among some. She had spoken to Ham Radio operators in the Palisades and asked them to present their operations to us in a field trip of sorts. This would prepare us for discussion at the board. 

8.2.    From Officers and Chair Emeritus. 

8.2.1.   Sue Kohl, Vice President: Sue Kohl reported that she met with Juan Fregoso on the 29th and pointed out to him the need for paving on the road leading up to the Recreation Center. Juan agreed and said he would talk to General Services to see if they can spare the resources to pave this segment of city road that leads into the park, where new parking spots and road have already been laid. 

She also reflected on her meeting with Jimmy Newsome of RAP technology, reiterating that it was his suggestion to upgrade the electric system at the park, and that we has asked for him to study the existing electric structure and advise what could be done by way of cameras, immediately.  

8.2.2.   Jenny Li, Treasurer:  Treasurer’s Report (Item 6) only. 

8.2.3.   Beth Holden-Garland, Secretary – None. 

8.2.4.   Dave Card, Chair Emeritus – None.  

8.3.   From At-Large and Area Representatives. 

8.3.1.   Chris Spitz, At-Large rep, reported on additional landslide activity on Via de las Olas (area near Friends St.) and on the PIT Homeless Count and the beach undercount.  She reiterated that PPTFH was told by LAHSA not to count the beach areas (Will Rogers and the area along PCH) and that the count would be done, respectively, by Rec and Parks and Caltrans.  She and others (including Maryam, Sue Pascoe and Kim Clary, PPTFH Count Coordinator) had many communications with LAHSA over whether and by whom beaches in Los Angeles, including Will Rogers, were officially counted, and why PPTFH was told not to count the beach areas here.  LAHSA has now stated that Caltrans did count the PCH area and that Venice Beach and Will Rogers Beach inexplicably were never officially counted (although PPTFH had done an informal count of the beach as well as the PCH area and their numbers were recently relayed to LAHSA).  The PPTFH numbers will not be included in the official PIT Count numbers that are eventually released to the public.  We will attempt to obtain further clarification. 

8.4.   From Organizational Representatives. [None]

8.5.   From Government Offices / Representatives. 

8.5.1.   Brian Espin, Senior Lead Officer (SLO), Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) – presented after the meeting was formally adjourned. 

8.5.2.   Michael Amster, CD11 Field Deputy, Pacific Palisades & Brentwood – presented after the meeting was formally adjourned. 

8.5.3.   Allison Holdorff, LAUSD Dist. 4 board Member, Nick Melvoin, Senior Advisor – not present. 

8.5.4.   Radmehr Nowroozi, SD 24, Field Representative, Palisades, Brentwood, Westwood and Westside – not present. 

8.5.5.   Skylar Payab, AD 42, Field Deputy, Pacific Palisades & Brentwood – not present. 

8.5.4.   Marian Ensley, West Area Representative, Mayor Karen Bass – not present. 

8.5.5.   Zac Gaidzik, Coastal and Westside Field Deputy, County Supervisor, Lindsey Horvath – not present. 

8.6.   From PPCC Advisors and WRAC Representatives. 

8.6.1.   Chris Spitz, WRAC Vice-Chair, report on recent WRAC motions/developments – deferred.  

9.   Reports from PPCC Committees – None. 

10.   Old Business – None. 

11.   New Business. 

11.1.   Replacement trees for Pali Rec Center Playground. EC sponsored motion (no second necessary as motion was made by a committee of more than one voting member). 

The board unanimously approved a $500 expenditure for replacement trees at the Palisades Recreation Center, per the details presented below. 

Approved purchase of: Three 15-gallon Quercus Tomentella / Island Oaks (for the playground area) at the wholesale price is $75.99 each, for a total of $227.97 + $195 delivery + sales tax = approximately $475.  The wholesale nursery/grower says they’ll be ready for sale around June.  Price may vary slightly by then. For description and photos see: https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/1484. 

12.   Adjournment.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:12PM. 

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