Neighborhood Council Roundup: DONE Thwarts Central SP Neighborhood’s Council’s Attempt to Oust Three Officers

  • 12/20/2019
  • Reporters Desk

By Hunter Chase, Reporter

 The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council was set to remove three of its officers at the Dec. 10 meeting, including the president, the vice president and the outreach chair. But then the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment intervened.

Council president, Maria Couch, had resigned in the middle of the November stakeholder meeting. But at the Dec. 10 meeting, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment general manager Raquel Beltrán informed the board that Couch was rescinding her resignation, which wasn’t submitted in writing in the first place.

Beltrán reported that Couch and apparently others had filed a harassment complaint with the Labor Relations Division of the city attorney’s office, but she only admitted this much after arguing with one of the board members over her refusal to divulge which officers filed the complaints.

Beltrán told the council not to remove any officers from their positions, saying this would alter the Labor Relations Division’s investigation going forward. DONE sent a notice of pre-exhaustive efforts to the board, meaning that DONE might take complete control of the board, including running their meetings, if the board went through with the removal of the officers. Beltrán said this was her decision, so that the board would know how serious the allegations were.

Beltrán explained that the harassment allegations stemmed from board members pressuring complainants. Beltrán never explained the nature of the pressure.

Couch had frequently come into conflict with other members of the board since her elevation as president in July. One of the chief sources of conflict was the redesign of the council’s website. Board secretary Louis Caravella told RLn that during the redesign, Moore Business Results only gave Couch, Vice President Jane Castillo and Outreach and Communications Officer Khixaan Obioma-Sakhu access to the website. Due to divisions on the board, the three officers refused to post agendas to the website —Brown Act violations to be sure.

Board treasurer Linda Nutile said that Couch also authorized Moore Business Results to provide outreach services to which the board did not agree. The conflict over this led to Couch’s resignation at the November meeting.

Prior to this kerfuffle, Couch unilaterally cancelled the board’s August stakeholder meeting. She defended the move by saying she didn’t believe the board would reach quorum, since she and a few others announced they couldn’t go to the scheduled meeting. The remaining board members, not wanting to deprive stakeholders as a chance to be heard, held two special meetings that month. Neither of these meetings were able to reach quorum. Couch did not attend or acknowledge either.

Caravella told RLn that prior to the Dec. 10 meeting, the board was already aware that Couch had not formally resigned in writing due to an email sent to all board members by DONE representative Thomas Soong. However, Soong did not make it clear if Couch was rescinding her resignation from the board or just rescinding her resignation as board president, Caravella said.

The reason that the motion to remove Couch from the board was on the agenda was both to make official her public resignation from a month prior and because the board was ready for new leadership, Caravella said.

The other officers whose removal from office was on the agenda had not been to several of the prior meetings and had not been running meetings for committees they were chairing. Castillo had last attended the board’s September meeting. Obioma-Sakhu, the outreach and communications officer, last attended the July meeting, meaning he had been absent from the board’s meetings for six months.

The council ultimately decided to postpone the motion to remove the officers in question until the Jan. 14 stakeholder meeting. Board member Linda Alexander expressed doubt the investigation would be completed by that time.

 

Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council

At the Nov. 18 meeting of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the council unanimously voted to oppose a proposed apartment development on 2111 Pacific Avenue because of a lack of parking spaces. The building will only have 61 parking spaces for 101 units. The project has a density bonus that allows one space for every two bedrooms. The council ruled that it would support the project on several conditions:

  • The building provide one parking space for each bedroom
  • The building be limited to three stories not exceeding 30 feet
  • The amount of affordable housing be increased from 11 units to 24
  • The building be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified
  • The project incorporate native plants into the landscape of the building
  • The building be redesigned to be more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood

This project joins another apartment development at the site of the old La Rue Pharmacy and the former Dancing Waters venue on 14th Street and Pacific Avenue.

Board secretary Kathleen Martin reported that the San Pedro United Methodist Church would be hosting mobile showers for the indigent once a month. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office is funding the mobile showers. They were available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Senior Lead Officer Paul Winters of the Los Angeles Police Department reported that crime in the coastal San Pedro region went up by 18 percent in Oct. 2019 over Oct. 2018. Since crime is already low, it will eventually increase, Winters said. During Oct. 2019 there were 14 cases of grand theft auto, seven aggravated assaults, one robbery and no homicides or rapes.

Winters also told the council of an assault that took place on Nov. 10 at around 10:40 p.m. on 33nd Street and Carolina Street. A man around 28 to 30-years-old dressed all in black and wearing a bandana attacked a young woman who was walking her dog. He pushed her against a wall and attempted to stab her with a pair of scissors. The woman screamed and grabbed the man’s hand, making him drop the scissors. The man fled.

 

Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council

At the Dec. 9 meeting of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the council voted 10-0 to support the extension of the beer and wine permit of Chipotle at 920 N. Western Ave. However, they voted to not support Chipotle’s request for a full liquor permit. When Chipotle previously received its beer and wine permit from the city, the permits had expiration dates, but they do not any longer, said Diana Nave, chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee. Once they renew their permit they will not need to do so again. Chipotle asked for a permit that will allow them to serve a full line of alcohol. However, if it is approved, that means the permit is approved for the property and any business that operates on that property in the future will be authorized to serve a full line of alcohol. The board supported Chipotle’s bid to extend its hours of operation by two-and-a-half hours to 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Its current hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

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