North Westwood Neighborhood Council recap – Feb. 7
By Justin Jung
Feb. 14, 2022 3:40 p.m.
The North Westwood Neighborhood Council is the official neighborhood council representing UCLA, Westwood Village and the North Village to the Los Angeles City Council. Council meetings are held each month and open to the public via Zoom.
Furkan Yalcin, the NWWNC president, presided over the Feb. 7 special board meeting. It was the first meeting controlled by Yalcin, an at-large stakeholder, since October, when the council was placed into Exhaustive Efforts, a probationary status, by the city of Los Angeles.
On Oct. 7, the NWWNC was placed in Exhaustive Efforts for a tentative three-month period because of noncompliance with an agenda posting policy. As of the Feb. 7 board meeting, one month after the end of the initial period, the council remained in Exhaustive Efforts.
Prior to Feb. 7, council meetings were controlled by Mario Hernandez, a neighborhood empowerment advocate from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment of the city of Los Angeles.
Comments by public officials:
- Janet Turner, a spokesperson for Representative Ted Lieu’s office, said the congressional art contest for high school students is accepting entries until Friday. Turner also said Lieu’s office is accepting reservations for a seminar on Saturday for high school students interested in attending a military service postsecondary institution, such as the U.S. Military Academy. Turner added that President Joe Biden approved $1.24 billion in grants to the Los Angeles Metro to cover ridership costs, and the U.S. Department of Transportation allocated $5.8 million to repair infrastructure damaged during the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
- Michelle Persoff, a spokesperson for California Assemblymember Isaac Bryan’s office, said the office is holding a town hall Feb. 24 on his legislative package, which will include bills on alternatives to incarceration, parking fine waivers for people experiencing homelessness, and campaign disclosure rules for advertisements.
- Carmen Zambrano, a spokesperson for UCLA Government and Community Relations, said UCLA is considering a plan to host candidate forums for upcoming local political races. Zambrano added that, in response to a mass shooting threat on Jan. 31 by former UCLA philosophy lecturer Matthew Harris, Chancellor Gene Block created a task force to review how campus threats are evaluated by UCPD and communicated to other departments,.
There were no board announcements.
Department of Neighborhood Empowerment announcements:
- The department assigned Erica Gatica, a neighborhood empowerment advocate, to the NWWNC. Gatica replaced Hernandez, who is being reassigned.
- Hernandez said the Feb. 7 special board meeting was the beginning of the council’s transition out of Exhaustive Efforts.
- Steve Sann said he was pleased the Feb. 7 meeting’s Zoom settings allowed all attendees to view all other attendees’ names, to verify which council members were in attendance. Sann had previously raised concerns that this was not possible at prior meetings controlled by Hernandez. Sann added that he thinks the NWWNC should allow for public comment on each agenda item, rather than requiring members of the public to make all of their comments at the beginning of each meeting. The council offered public comment during each subsequent agenda item.
- The council approved the meeting minutes from its Nov. 1, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 special board meetings.
- The council approved its October and November expenditure reports. The council spent $0 in both months.
- The council approved a motion to support a conditional use permit for the Whole Foods Market in Westwood to change its alcohol sale license from a beer and wine license to a beer, wine and distilled spirits license.
- Stephen Jamieson, a lawyer for Whole Foods Market, said the store is seeking a conditional use permit renewal that would allow it to sell distilled spirits in addition to its currently approved inventory of beer and wine. Jamieson added that the total amount of alcohol varieties sold would not substantially increase. Jamieson also said they had received a letter of nonopposition from LAPD and that LA City District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office had not expressed concerns.
- The council approved a resolution calling for a Metro station located directly on the UCLA campus to be a part of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project.
- Evan Farrar, the chair of the NWWNC Transportation and Safety Committee, said he supports the project’s proposals using heavy rail because they include a Metro station on campus. Farrar, an organizational stakeholder, added that UCLA has a daytime population of 80,000 and needs easy access to transit.
- Nolan Gray, the NWWNC secretary and an at-large stakeholder, speaking in favor of a UCLA Metro station, said Westwood is a major job center and one of LA’s largest communities of people without cars – prime Metro customers.
- Kevin Crummy, a business stakeholder, said the Metro should eliminate its fourth proposal, which includes aboveground heavy rail around Sherman Oaks and would deteriorate property values and quality of life because of noise and light pollution. Crummy disclosed a potential conflict of interest due to his business owning property in the Sherman Oaks area that may be affected by the project. Crummy added that the project is an infrastructure investment into the next century and Metro must get it done right the first time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase ridership.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement supporting proposed amendments to the Westwood Village Specific Plan, a master planning document setting zoning requirements in the Village.
- Andrew Thomas, the executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said the proposed amendments on parking requirements, food-use rules and signage requirements have been in discussion since 2018.
- The council appointed Sachi Cooper, an undergraduate student member, as its representative to the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance.
- The council appointed Yalcin as its alternate to the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement opposing a LA City Council motion that would expand the city’s Fire District 1 designation to Westwood and other areas. The expansion would change building requirements for fire risk and potentially make new developments more difficult.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement calling for about $18 million in investments into unarmed crisis response teams fielded by the LAPD.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement calling for the formation of an independent redistricting commission for LA City Council and Los Angeles Unified School District zones.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement calling for updates to the city’s transportation demand management. The proposed updates would change parking requirements and seek to reduce single-occupancy driving.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement calling for rent increases in rent-stabilized housing units to be set to 60% of the consumer price index, a measure of inflation. The Community Impact Statement also called for the abolition of a rule that allows rents to rise by at least 3% annually, even if the inflation metric is less than 3%.
- The council approved a Community Impact Statement supporting the creation of a plan for expediting the approval process for certain affordable housing projects.