The meeting began with presentations and commendations to former Commissioners, Committee Members and Board Members, in recognition of their service to the Culver City Community. Those honored at this meeting were: Rich Hibbs, for his two terms on the Financial Advisory Committee; Kyle Jones, for his service on the Landlord/Tenant Mediation Board; Regina Klein, who served two terms on the Cultural Affairs Commission; Richard Ochoa, for his two terms on the Civil Service Commission; and Gayle Smashey, for her two terms on the Cultural Affairs Commission.
We here at Culver City Crossroads would also like to directly thank ALL the members of the Commissions, Committees and Boards who serve our community without pay, spending countless hours of their own time to make our city a better place to live and work. Thanks!
Next up was the Presentation of a Proclamation in honor of our beloved Fiesta La Ballona 2016. Which is coming this weekend, in case you haven’t been paying attention. Starting Friday night with the always fun “Fiestapalooza.” Curated by our local Music Maven and Fiesta La Ballona Committee member Ronnie Jayne, this part of the program features young local bands. Starts at six — stop by and find out what your neighbors’ children have been rehearsing in that garage…. My favorite part of the Fiesta, to be honest, and a great way to start a great weekend.
The presentation was led by Marcus Tiggs, Vice Chair of the Committee, in his traditionally magnificent sombrero. He announced that the festival had attracted 33 sponsors, including soccer’s Galaxy and hockey’s Kings. For a map, go to the Fiesta’s Facebook page. It’s worth noting that you can ride your bikes to the Fiesta (a bike valet will be available), or take advantage of Culver City’s Dial-a-Ride which will run from City Hall to Vet’s Park.
The committee also presented the design for this year’s Fiesta T-shirt. The committee held a competition for the design, and the competition was won by Isabella Bustanoby, a local high school student. Congratulations Isabella Bustanoby!
Next on the agenda was a report from the LAX Roundtable. Community Noise Roundtable, represented by June Lehrman and alternate representative Stephen Murray. For the public’s information, the Roundtable meets the second Wednesday of every odd numbered month. You can find out more information on the website www.lawa.org/LAXNoiseRoundTable.aspx or go to Facebook and look for our local activist group: Culver City for Quiet Skies at www.facebook.com/groups/culvercityforquietskies/?fref=nf.tps://
Ms. Lehrman and Mr. Murray went to great pains to emphasize that the problem is not local to Culver City — that cities as far away as Monterey Park are severely impacted by the new flight patterns — so affected that the city’s mayor and 100 residents arrived at the Roundtable meeting by bus to make their concerns known. In a familiar pattern of response, the FAA claimed that there is NO data showing any difference in flight patterns over the 5-6 years that we Culver City residents have been noticing a change. The FAA is promising an “assessment” with the data we are requesting. Ms. Lehrman reiterated her request that the City hire a consultant as soon as we know when the “assessment” is going to be released, so that we can stay “ahead of the curve.” She will alert the Council and the City as soon as she hears about the release date, and has also promised to alert Rep. Karen Bass.
Mr. Murray wanted all concerned residents to know that LAX has a new user complaint system, which is MUCH less user-friendly than the previous system. The nifty application he wrote doesn’t work anymore. But we all encourage you to continue (or start) using (or abusing) the complaint form, which you can find (and file) online at: www.planenoise.com/lawa/nR9k3pXb/lax/ You can also use the CulverCityConnect phone app (category: Overflights) but apparently Scott Morchower of Culver City for Quiet Skies is encouraging everyone to use the LAWA link (which can also be found on the CCQS website) so that data can be digested more quickly.
Finally, Ms. Lehrman alerted us to the news that the information about the VERTICAL position of overflights is to be released sometime in September, and the formal “assessment” can be expected in November.
Mayor Jim Clarke provided a brief synopsis of the City’s position on the LAX overflight problems. “We’ve hired consultants. We are ON this. We are requesting the additional data, our website has been updated to give direct link. [City] Staff met with LA Councilman Bonin’s committee. Still waiting for assessment. The City has been reaching out to Congressmember Karen Bass’ office. [The city is also] writing to house Aviation Subcommittee, to encourage joint efforts.”
A table of the city’s more significant actions on this issue can be found at: www.culvercity.org/home/showdocument?id=3589
Mayor Clarke also encouraged the public to CONTINUE to use the Culver City Connect application. That way the city has ammunition (data) to support the comments we’re submitting on ALL LAWA projects. Not just altitudes and flight paths, but the pending expiration of flight NUMBER limits in 2020.
A number of residents then commented on their frustrations with the FAA and their seeming immunity to our problems and complaints. While most of the people in the audience were there to hear about the fight noise issue, only a few spoke on comments, as it did sound as if the city was on the right path.
Resident Keiko Nakashima of Sunny Blue approached the council to request city sponsorship of the Taste of West Washington festival coming on October 15. Citing the success of the last festival, she was seeking city-sponsored signage, parking relief, etc. The request will be agendized.
George Chamchoum followed with a similar request for sponsorship for his Asian-Pacific Film Festival. This, too, will be agendized.
Culver City Poet Laureate Janet Hoult then read a poem she wrote in honor of the Culver City Seal’s 80th birthday.
Les and Paulette Greenberg then presented their on-going grievance over losing exclusive parking privileges on Farragut Ave. They accused various current and previous city employees and council members of potentially felonious behavior, and again demanded that the Council agendize their complaints. Their presentations were in the form of letters which have already been published here. Mayor Clarke promised that those letters “will become part of the record” at a meeting in September.
Ms. Lisa Schultz of Whole 9 Gallery then requested City Sponsorship for the “Sixth Affair of the Arts” in downtown Culver City.
Mike Harriel, the local representative of the Southern California Gas Company then rose to urge caution on the part of the Council regarding local regulations of natural gas. He said he was “pushing for a dependable source of gas” especially over the summer when gas is the primary fuel for producing the electricity that powers the millions of air conditioners across the Southland.
The Council then approved Consent Items C-1 through C-7, and items C-10, C-12 and C-13.
Regarding C-8, to set up a Bike Share Feasibility Study, Councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells congratulating the city on the “heat mapping” project for transit goals/bike project. The proposal currently includes advertising on shelters, which she opposes. She further requested that If study comes out before election, wants two scenarios — with and without measure R. She also feels as though there has not been enough robust public outreach. She suggested that further efforts go through advisory committee. C-8, with Ms. Sahli-Wells modifications, passed 5-0.
Regarding C-9, changes proposed by Mayor Clarke to the City Council Agenda Format and Procedures — Mayor Clarke rose to explain the reasoning behind the agenda item, which basically are intended to streamline the meetings, make it possible for people who have interest in specific agenda items to be heard or to hear the discussion before midnight; and to avoid having one item or one opinion monopolize the entire meeting though manipulation of the public comment period.
Former mayor Gary Silbiger rose to speak in opposition to the proposal. In his words, “we all agree that there’s nothing as important as public participation.” He spoke in favor of an amendment, and also to be able to have comments posted to the city website read in. He added that if anyone wants to make a comment to a council member, via post or via email, THAT should also be read into the record.
Council member Sahli-Wells suggested that even though it’s part of the public record, it’s NOT easily found on the website. She said “another idea a resident brought up to me,’ would be to have a total of 5 emails about item x, 10 about y — and further, useful to know what the comment total “for” and “against.” That could help her make up her mind. Not actually READ all the emails into the record, but just a total per subject, and “for” or “against” similar to the way the LA times notes the letters for the week on Saturdays by category. She then made a suggestion she said she had made before — that the Council consider setting up more subcommittees. And that, if an agenda item had NO public comments attached to it, it should go to the end of the agenda.
Sahli-Wells also brought up that we may need to add “translation” as a service for some agenda items when they’re read and/or commented on during the meetings. She suggested we should be able to do much of this “in-house” since we have so many bi-lingual employees. If the item is targeted at a population that needs it. Or if someone asks for it. We do it for hearing impaired, so…. The language, according to Jeremy, is there. Carol suggests that we may end up down a road to having an 50 translators. “Reasonable” accommodation needs to be carefully defined.
Council member Cooper noted that it was VERY rare, doesn’t want to set the city up for the 50 translator scenario.
Council member Small felt that “to offer is good, maybe not guarantee,” and watch out for “levels” of translation.Council member Eriksson stated that “Any committee, or whatever is set up, must be agendized individually,” not as a big generic blot. Otherwise, further confusion will result.
On Item C-12 (Intelligent bus system) A number of citizens rose to speak in opposition to moving a particular bus stop, at the corner of Elenda and Washington. They included:
Paul Fernandez, who worried about disturbed and/or homeless people sleeping on bus bench in front of his music school. He said he has had to (literally) wrestle with them at his Santa Monica location, to keep them away from his young music students.
Judy Wohl, who objected to the location. Eliminates parking spaces. Looking to solve a problem we don’t have.
Perry Badarfelt that moving teh bus stop will steal his parking in front of his business.
City Staff Gabe Garcia said “We must move the stops in order to automate the signals.” He will see if he can leave parking spaces — or make them shorter and gain a couple.
There was a long discussion of automating and linking with all the other systems in Southern California. NOT open source, evidently. More and more cities are going to REAL TIME monitoring.
A-3 — Allowing earlier start to construction. Four residents spoke in opposition.
David Hauptman, who worked in construction himself. “We haven’t done this in the past, and shouldn’t do it now.” “We don’t seem to have any shortage of buildings going up….” He moved his business OUT of town because he was too busy, said he. We don’t need this new schedule — “They’re gonna build anyway.”
Gary Silbiger, who felt that “Culver City is too favorable to developers already.”Objects that the agenda item contains too many independent parts, each of which should be agendized, notified, “community input” on and voted on separately. Policy should be based on what other cities do, noting that other cities are more restrictive than we are.
Stephen Murray, also a resident with construction in his professional background, The proposal does not lay out the specific items as well as it should. For example, it should exclude “internal construction.” The term “public interest must be served,” he believes should be clarified to categorically exclude commercial construction.
Daniel Freedman, who said he represents “Citizens for Responsible Development.” He stated that “The development occurring now is within arms reach of buildings going in, and NOW we are being asked to make it easier and earlier.”
Mayor Clarke had some questions of staff: rules in other cities don’t apply to commercial AND residential, but we are proposing that. Please explain. Why do we need to do this, if everyone else is harder than we are?
Todd Tipton, on city staff, replied that “construction can be inconvenient, and he’s trying to speed up the process so people are inconvenienced for a shorter time. It is NOT intended to apply to residential zones, and if so, we’d study the impacts and NOT approve the request. Trying to control the effects, particularly on residential.”
Council Member Sahli-Wells commented that “most comments we’ve received is because “things are not spelled out.” Asking for more precise definitions — the intersection between commercial and residential properties.
Tipton said that would like to go through a “trial” project/permit. Expand the “feedback” area. A pilot program.
At this point the City Attorney ventured her opinion that the city could NOT undertake a “trial” project that actually violated the city code. It would not be legal.
Councilmember Small then asked the City Attorney if staff created a full proposal, then brought to council (with public input, the actual numbers, the facts) The council could then look at that and say “Would we approve this?” If so, we could approve. The response from staff was yes, as long as the actual approval were never granted. Purely as an intellectual exercise. Motion by Thomas, seconded by (Goran) Meghan wants a roadmap of the truck routes, so they can be enforced. (concrete pours being time sensitive). Saul says emergencies can be accommodated. Meghan also wants to get rid of outdated language about music making machines (tape decks) AND we need more enforcement because people SEE that people are breaking the rules.
As amended, passed unanimously.
A-2 — Proposal to approve amended design for Culver Studios. One resident rose to speak.
Daniel Freedman “Citizens for Responsible Development,” says NO WAY. The studio project is going to ruin the lives of everyone in the neighborhood, and the studio and the city skirted the requirements for a new CEQA analysis.
Mayor Clarke commented that the item doesn’t approve anything new, only makes sure that all the language is consistent.
Motion by Thomas Small, seconded by Jeff Cooper, unanimous passage.
A-1 Vacancy on Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee. Discussion that a member of the Disability Advisory Committee had sought simultaneous appointment to this committee, which violates a long-standing tradition of not allowing one person to serve on multiple such bodies. But the council unanimously agreed that in this case, it’s not only worth an exception, but an actively GOOD idea, for obvious reasons.
Motion by Council member Eriksson, including note that it’s special, sitting on two commissions/committees. Seconded by Small. But it’s not a de facto position for a disabled person. Unanimous passage.
All the other Agenda items were approved by acclamation.
“[P]otentially felonious behavior”? What is Mr. Wyant smoking? Perhaps, he knows something we don’t. We accused, and provided the smoking-gun-email proof, that former City Council Member Andrew Weissman, City Engineer Herbertson, City Administrator Nachbar and City Attorney Schwab violated the Culver City Code of Ethics. My related letter was recently published on this website. “Mayor Clarke promised that those letters “will become part of the record” at a meeting in September.” The implication is that those accused will not admit, deny or discuss the allegations, but plan to stonewall pursuant to a code of silence.