By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
When Board of Public Works Commissioner President Kevin James took the podium inside of Palisades Branch Library at the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, September 26, his intent was to update the community on certain citywide initiatives aimed at bettering neighborhoods.
But the creation of an Office of the Climate Emergency Mobilization, street tree inventory plans and the sidewalk repair program drew little reaction from the board and took a back seat.
Tempers flared when PPCC Vice Chair David Card (presiding officer in the absence of George Wolfberg), who is also on the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee, asked the city representative about a disturbing report that the project had incurred a $4 million overrun, requiring further approval.
Card invited his fellow PCCAC member Robert Weber to give James a run down of the park’s history that has been over 30 years in the making after a disastrous landslide.
“Every time we meet with them, it’s been, ‘OK, the plan is it will be done in two years,’ but there’s been three groundbreakings with different council people,” said Weber, urging the city to place a priority on the park.
But talking about the unlisted agenda item didn’t sit well with Area 8 Representative Reza Akef, who interjected the impromptu lobbying effort with a point of order, much to the chagrin of Card.
“This is out of order, this is a personal staging that you two are doing,” Akef said. “You have access to Pedro Garcia [from the City of LA Bureau of Engineering] who will always answer his phone and you’re taking it out on a commissioner.
“You have a problem? Show up to the committee and talk to them directly. Point of order, this is not appropriate.”
“You’ve made your point,” Card responded, before inviting Weber to proceed.
“Two hours before the meeting, we learned, ‘Oh, there’s a $4 million overrun, we need a change order,’ with no explanation,” Weber said. “We think that the problem is it hasn’t gotten priority—we ask you to please talk to the people at the Bureau of Engineering.”
James gave no response to the plea, simply saying “thanks.”
Offering a different perspective, Area 6 Alternate David Peterson invited the commissioner to prioritize bigger problems.
“If you don’t have the money, I must tell you that if you’re setting priorities, we’ve got a homeless problem, we’ve got so many problems in this city,” Peterson said. “To me, it is the height of, I don’t know what, that we’re yelling or talking about a park in Pacific Palisades that we’ve lived nicely without for a long time.”