Neighborhood Council Round Up — CeSP Neighborhood Council President Resigns

  • 11/22/2019
  • RL Intern

By Hunter Chase, Reporter

Board President Maria Couch resigned in the middle of the Nov. 12 meeting of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

“I’m just going to remove myself to stop all of this nonsense,” Couch said. “To me, my character means a lot, especially in my public service.” Couch said she had held her tongue as she listened to the other board members insult her and that it was obvious she was not wanted.

Her resignation came on the heel of a conflict that had stretched out for months over the issue of the council employing Moore Business Results to redesign their website. Moore Business Results locked the council’s website vendor, The Mailroom, out of the website, preventing the Mailroom from posting up the agendas. It appeared this conflict was in the past, as the council had control of the website once more, and the council paid Moore Business Results $1,500 at the previous meeting, half of what was requested for services.

However, the conflict on the board returned at the November meeting because of an item on the agenda to pay Moore Business Results $828.12 for outreach services. Earlier in the year, the board decided not to pay Moore Business Results for these services, said Linda Nutile, treasurer of the board. The board chose to only pay for redesign of the website. Couch authorized the outreach services for July, August and September, Nutile said. Nutile said she hoped they could pay the bill and move on.

She would have no such luck.

Board members Matt Garland and Jeffrey McBurney openly opposed paying the bill. Garland said the will of the board was absolutely ignored and disregarded when these services were authorized.

Board secretary Lou Caravella said it was an abuse of public funds. The council still did not have full access to the website and Moore Business Results was holding it hostage over money, Caravella said.

Nutile said the second half payment of the payment for Moore Business Results’ redesign of the website would only be given to Moore Business Results after it reset the password for the website and gave it to The Mailroom. However, the board lost quorum when Garland left and the board was not able to vote to pay The Mailroom the second half.

Couch said she was cc’d on emails from The Mailroom on losing access to the website but was not involved with taking access away from The Mailroom. Couch asked The Mailroom to send her a list of services The Mailroom provides, but she did not receive such a list.

Board member Linda Alexander called the behavior by the board members opposing Couch “vicious” after the meeting finished. She said that Couch’s resignation was pending an official resignation letter.

Coastal SP Neighborhood Council

At the Oct. 21 meeting of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the board voted 8-1 to oppose a motion by the Los Angeles City Council asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency on homelessness in the state of California. The city should instead focus on the Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin’s suggestions in his latest audit of Proposition HHH, said 11th District Councilman Robin Rudisill. This includes large-scale emergency shelters and addressing the homelessness crisis more quickly and efficiently. The council also asked that the city provide access to more hygienic facilities, the council’s motion said.

Amber Sheikh Ginsberg, chair of the Homelessness committee, said that Proposition HHH and the declaration of a state of emergency are two separate things, and that a comparison between the two was illogical. She said this during the council’s discussion of the motion to better explain the differences between the two. The point of the declaration of a state of emergency is to use emergency funds and bypass red tape to provide shelters and other services faster.

Harbor Division’s senior lead officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, Paul Winter, reported that burglaries in the coastal San Pedro area went up in September 2019. They were down during the summer. The biggest targets were on 18th Street, Walker and Gaffey. Six or seven houses were burglarized in that area by a group of professional burglars. In 80 percent of the burglaries, the burglars entered through open or unlocked windows or doors. The burglaries were pulled off by teams of three or four between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.

The council unanimously approved a statement supporting the investigation of a natural gas storage facility in Playa Del Rey owned by the Southern California Gas Co. There was no environmental impact report prior to the facility being built in the 1970s, said board member Richard Havenick. Mike Bonin, the councilman who represents Playa Del Rey, submitted a motion to the Los Angeles City Council asking for an investigation into the facility to ensure it is compliant with current regulations and not a danger to surrounding residents.

Northwest SP Neighborhood Council

At the Nov. 11 meeting of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the board unanimously approved letters supporting two developments in San Pedro. The first was a proposed three-story self-storage facility at 2215 North Gaffey Street. It will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and all the storage will be indoors, and it will be temperature controlled, said Diana Nave, chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee. The second one was an apartment building at 448 W. 5th St. It will include 99 units, eight of which will be for low-income residents. It will include two ground-floor retail spaces, both facing 5th Street. It will have 124 resident parking spaces and five commercial parking spaces. On the roof it will have a garden, a pool, and a jacuzzi. It will also include a recreation center and a gym. The lot will run from 4th to 5th streets. The developers requested augmented bonuses, one was to increase the height from the required 75 feet to 86 feet, and the other was reduced setbacks, which means the restriction on how close to the curb the building can be.

The board also approved 11-1 a letter of support of the construction of an apartment building at 336 W. 7th St.. It was already entitled, because it was an override project, so it did not need to have a hearing, Nave said. It will have a restaurant on the first floor. It will not have as much parking as the Planning and Land Use Committee would like, but they cannot change it as the city has already approved it, Nave said. The project received a Transit Oriented Community approval, allowing it to have one parking spot for every two units.

Wilmington Waterfront Development Update

Planning and Land Use committee member, Russell Mohberg, gave an update on the Wilmington waterfront project explaining that the project does not currently have a developer. The project will be built at Banning’s Landing. Initially, the plan was to shut down Avalon to prevent access to the waterfront. The council requested for controlled access, meaning that the community will be able to reopen it on special occasions. The port did not agree to this, but the council will continue asking.

The port wanted to add a sundial to the focal point at the entry of the plaza, but they are open to suggestions for something else. Mohberg said they are looking for suggestions from the community, and suggested a statue of a plane, or potentially an anchor or a statue of a horse pulling a stagecoach.

The port approved putting up a gateway monument sign welcoming people to the Wilmington waterfront, but as part of the second phase of development. Mohberg said this did not make sense and compared it to opening a store but not putting up a sign for the store until later.

The plan also includes a working lavender farm or some other type of micro working farm, and a grand pavilion.

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