At Pacific Palisades Community Council Meeting
The Pacific Palisades Community Council met on June 27 in the Palisades Library community room.
Before Councilman Mike Bonin spoke, there were two important announcements.
1) Howard Robinson, chair of the PPCC Land Use Committee, said his group met earlier in the day regarding the five-story, 60-ft.-high, mixed-use project proposed at the site of the former Jack-in-the-Box on Sunset near Pacific Coast Highway. The project, as presented, was opposed by the LUC and will be brought to the PPCC’s July 25 meeting for a motion and discussion.
2) Council President George Wolfberg reported that future PPCC meetings will start at 6 p.m. (instead of 7 p.m.) and must be finished by 8 p.m. to accommodate the library’s new closing schedule.
Circling the News asked Wolfberg on June 28 if any other venues such as the Woman’s Club and the American Legion had been pursued for meetings, since an early start time will make it harder for commuters and parents with children to attend.
He said that the executive committee (comprised of Wolfberg, Richard Cohen, Chris Spitz, David Card and chair emeritus Maryam Zar) agreed that council meetings generally require two hours, and that other venues would pose their own challenges.
“They were virtually unanimous in choosing 6 to 8 p.m. and I am going with that,” Wolfberg said.
Zar added, “We thought the library venue was perfect for meetings and that members have such diverse lives that any time would inconvenient/convenient for some.”
The new time was presented as a fait accompli and the remaining members of the PPCC board were not polled as to their opinion.
Councilman Mike Bonin answered numerous questions submitted by council members and residents, while also hearing various concerns.
CTN highlights some of Bonin’s answers (below) and will address his comments about the proposed dog park on Temescal Canyon Road, recycling at the Recreation Center, proposed fencing around Potrero Canyon Park and enhanced strategies for fighting and responding to future brush fires approaching Pacific Palisades in future articles.
1. Verbal Racial Attack.
Regarding the incident at Ralphs grocery store when a woman shouted racists remarks and threats at former Palisades Lutheran Pastor Kenneth Davis and his daughter, Davis left the ministry after 30 years. His last sermon was June 23. “I was touched to see the outpouring the community gave him,” said Bonin, who added that he’s looking forward to working with Davis, in whatever capacity he can, regarding race relations. Davis and his twin daughters now live in West L.A. The woman who verbally assaulted and threatened the Davis family has not been found. Allegedly the same person assaulted a second person in the same Ralphs.
2. Renaming a Street.
Bonin said that if the community wants to name a street after the late Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Arnie Wishnick, he could facilitate the campaign. The block under consideration is Antioch, between Via de la Paz and Swarthmore, where the Chamber office is located.
3. SB 50 in Sacramento.
Someone asked why the City doesn’t “stand up” to state legislators regarding “home rule,” more specifically Senate Bill 50. (An April article in Curbed L.A. cited a report stating that “SB 50 would create new incentives for developers to build apartments and condos near train and bus stations, even in areas zoned strictly for single-family homes—and the report finds it has the potential to reshape 43 percent of developable land in the city. Nearly half of all developable land citywide is currently reserved for single-family homes.”)
Bonin explained that we all need to understand that there is a tremendous housing crisis in California and that state legislators will continue to pursue legislation that would take away local control in an effort to build more multi-family housing, unless the L.A. City Council acts.
“We need to require affordable housing in anything over six units,” Bonin said, noting that he has proposed a vacancy tax, which means that if a homeowner has an empty house and is not renting it out, he could be fined.
Bonin said he supported the upcoming Martin Expo Town Center (at Olympic and Bundy), which will provide more housing on the Westside, close to the Expo line.
4. Residential Sidewalk Repair.
Bonin was asked who’s responsible for residential sidewalk repair and who’s liable if someone trips and falls on a raised sidewalk and decides to sue.
“Whose fault depends on the lawyer, the judge and the jury,” Bonin quipped. “They tend to go after the City first.”
He explained that most cities require homeowners to repair the sidewalk in front of their homes. In the 1970s when the City was flush with revenue, it took responsibility for residential sidewalks, but after a few years, City officials realized they couldn’t afford the repair costs.
In the 1990s, the unofficial policy adopted by the City was to settle lawsuits because it was cheaper than repairing sidewalks. Then a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2010 on behalf of those with disabilities. In the 2015 Willits settlement, Los Angeles agreed to spend $33 million every year for 30 years to repair sidewalks.
A January 2018 Curbed L.A. story (“Los Angeles Isn’t Keeping Up with a Flood of Requests to Fix Broken Sidewalks”) reported that the City receives about 700 requests monthly for repairs. “The city is inundated—and it can’t keep up. In the last fiscal year, which ended in July, the bureau repaired 482 sites. In other words: The city receives more requests for sidewalk repairs in one month than the number of sites it was able to mend in 12 months.”
In April, a CBS News report revealed that nearly 40 percent of L.A.’s sidewalks have a D or F rating and more than 8,700 miles need fixing.
“We will fix the sidewalk and then the liability reverts back to the homeowner,” Bonin said at the PPCC meeting. “If you have called in something and if a person in the family has a disability, make sure the City knows.”
In May, longtime Pacific Palisades resident Dick Littlestone reported that someone in a wheelchair could not navigate the north side of Antioch (between Via de la Paz and Swarthmore) because the sidewalk has curbs at the alley. He reported this to the City, but nothing has been fixed, yet.
5. Vacated Streets.
There are 39 streets in Pacific Palisades that were “abandoned” or pulled out of use, starting in 1936, because they were deemed too expensive to repair.
City Councilman Bob Blumenfield (District 3, in the Valley) brought “street vacation” to the City’s attention in March 2018 when his constituents sought help in getting streets repaved—some had not been touched in 80 years.
In a May L.A.Times story (“Some L.A. Streets Aren’t Being Repaved Because of a Law Dating from the Depression”), Blumenfield said, “Many residents have no idea that their street is withdrawn until they try to get it fixed. The reality is, whether we like it or not, we’re liable for these streets anyway.”
“These streets are back on the roster,” Bonin said, but that doesn’t mean they are being fixed or are on the list for repairs, yet.
6. Dockless Scooters.
After Corpus Christi Monsignor Liam Kidney was hit by a dockless scooter on Toyopa and sent to the emergency room, the scooter company refused to release the name of the person operating the scooter to law enforcement. The person ran off, saying “I’m out of here!”
PPCC members Steve Boyers and Chris Spitz wrote a resolution regarding the operation of scooters in Los Angeles. It was approved by the Community Council and sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council.
The resolution asked the City to deny, suspend or revoke business licenses to companies that refuse to cooperate with law enforcement. (Visit: pacpalicc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/PPCC-re-dockless-scooters.pdf.)
“We spoke to the city attorney,” Bonin said. “Police officers said they couldn’t reach the company.” He explained that the standard for dockless scooters would be the same as for a rental car company.
7. Highlands Eldercare Facility.
Bonin was asked why he approved a controversial eldercare facility in the Highlands, when so many residents opposed it and even filed a lawsuit to stop the project. “Seniors need a place to live in a residential area,” he said. There was no further discussion.
8. Library Bookstore.
Inside the Palisades Library is a patio bookstore that sells used books and earns about $800 a month. The nonprofit Friends of the Library operates the store with volunteers and donates all proceeds to the library to purchase books and CDs.
In July 2015, the Friends received a substantial bequest that would enable the group to pursue building an enclosed bookstore at the library, utilizing unused land. An architect drew up plans and the City approved these plans last November, but the final contract has yet to signed, despite persistent inquiries by the Friends.
Friends representative Bill Bruns asked Bonin, “Can you help us resolve this issue? We’ve had the money to build this little store for nearly four years.” Bonin replied, “I’m happy to jump in. I’m always eager to see any bookstore, used or new.” He promised to work on getting the contract signed so that construction can begin.