Civic League Reviews Local Building Plans
Perhaps one of the most mysterious bodies in the Pacific Palisades is not a former A-list Hollywood star, but rather the Civic League.
This organization reviews and approves plans for homes and the surrounding commercial Village in Tract 9300, which includes the Alphabet Streets, portions of Marquez, and the homes south of Sunset from Potrero Canyon to Las Casas.
Why go before the Pacific Palisades Civic League?
“The Coastal Commission and the L.A. City Coastal Reviews want to hear from the CL, in an advisory manner,” said board member Don Treiman. “If a property being reviewed is in the Coastal Zone and if the CL sends a notice to the hearing officer, they will take our comments into account.”
Treiman explained that Title Companies (and one must have title insurance when purchasing a property) will often look at the Grant Deed and find that construction needs to be approved by the Civic League. “We have had instances where an escrow was held up until the owner came before the CL for review,” he said.
Initially, The Palisades Corporation was responsible for the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of Pacific Palisades as it was developing. In 1943, the corporation deeded that responsibility to the Civic League, which has been meeting for more than 75 years.
The PPCL states its duties as “dedicated to preserving and improving the residential character in Tract 9300 Community (4,000 lots).”
Circling the News received an email from a resident who had numerous questions about the Civic League’s validity, how it receives its income and where that money is spent.
We reached out to Treiman, an architect, who has volunteered on the Civic League board since 1990. (He was recruited to the board when his house came under PPCL review.)
Treiman said, “We would greatly appreciate coverage of how the CL works – the heritage, how the Guidelines came into being, and the importance of coming to the CL for review. This allows the community the opportunity to comment.”
If you live in Tract 9300 and you want to remodel or construct a new home, you must submit plans to the Civic League and pay a reasonable fee (based on the amount of construction to be done).
The Civic League is a California and Federal tax-exempt organization, which files every year with both government entities.
The 11-member Board of Governors meet monthly (except in December) and consists of volunteers who receive no compensation. They include Treiman, Richard Blumenberg, Winston Chappell, Thomas Farnham, Carl Mellinger, Kristi Schoelkropf, Jim Stewart, Ken Tanaka, Peter Cohen, Eva Sobesky and Donna Vaccarino.
The members examine submitted plans to ensure that the proposed construction and landscaping follows Tract 9300’s CC&R’s.
The organization’s expenses for 2017 included 1) legal; 2) a secretarial service (phones, emails, correspondence, minutes and filing); 3) storage rent (archives of approved plans are commercially stored remotely); 4) rent (for meeting and for mailbox); 5) telephone; 6) tax/accounting/filing; 7) charity (miscellaneous donations to other organizations in town); 8) website maintenance; and 9) postage.
Civic League income comes from plan review fees and some membership fees, which are $25 a year.
“We are carrying on what was established long before any of us were on board,” Treiman said. “And for 2017, we had a loss due to higher-than-normal legal fees.” Most years the group breaks even.
He said that unexpected legal fees were $10,417 because the Civic League was dragged into a neighbor vs. neighbor dispute.
The PPCL holds public meetings on the fourth Monday of every month (except December) in Tauxe Hall at the Methodist Church on Via de la Paz. The meetings are open to the public.
Processing fees range from $250 for a minor modification for a single-family review to $1,000 for a multi-family review. (Specific fees can be found on the website: PPCL9300.org).
When a person is proposing new construction, there’s a neighborhood impact page on the PPCL application that asks questions such as 1) Will this project lead to a reduction in privacy for neighbors? 2) Will this project be over 22 feet high? 3) Will this project result in a change of existing regulation? And 4) If trees are removed, will there be replacements? Please specify trees size and species.
The applicant must send postage, a reduced set of plans and the addresses of adjacent neighbors, so that the PPCL can alert immediate neighbors.
If a home is being constructed in Tract 9300, a resident can inquire if the party has come before the Civic League, and if not, can alert the builder that this a necessary step.
Circling the News received the following email from Treiman: “We’d love to have you help us find new blood, new volunteers, and for more people to know what the CL does,” he wrote. “Usually the only time people pay attention is when they have an issue.”
Civic League Review Agenda for October 22
725 Almar: Two-story residence.
1126 Monument: Two-story residence with roof deck.
510 Lombard: Two-story residence