BREAKING: Bonin Announces Restoration of LAFD Engine Company 69

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin today announced a major victory for public safety in Pacific Palisades—the restoration of Engine Company 69.

Bonin made the announcement at Station 69, which was hosting an open house as part of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s annual Fire Service Day.

The engine restoration has been one of Bonin’s top priorities for the Palisades community and was an issue he pledged to address during his 2013 campaign.

“Pacific Palisades has narrow roads, only two routes in and out and an extremely high risk of brush fires in the hillsides and canyons. Engine 69 will be a necessary and invaluable resource to protect people and property in Pacific Palisades,” Bonin said. “I am incredibly excited to deliver on the promise I made to this community to restore this engine company. This would not be possible without phenomenal partners like Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and Mayor Eric Garcetti, and I am very proud that we were able to work together to put neighborhood safety first and get this done.”

Engine 69 was established in 1929 to provide fire protection to the small but growing community of Pacific Palisades, and the engine company protected the neighborhood for 80 years before budget cuts forced rotating closures and periodic redeployment of first responders to other fire stations in 2009.

The engine closure was made permanent in 2011, diminishing the effectiveness and operational capability of the single remaining fire suppression resource at Fire Station 69.

“The restoration of Engine 69 is critical to ensuring that the residents of Pacific Palisades are adequately protected from a wide variety of hazards—most significantly brush fires, structure fires and serious traffic accidents,” Chief Terrazas said. “Engine 69 also serves as a vital component of the LAFD’s effective response force in the surrounding hillside and canyon neighborhoods of the Palisades Highlands, Brentwood and Mandeville Canyon. This is a big win for this community.”

Importantly, the restoration of Engine 69 will increase the number of firefighters at the station on Sunset Blvd. from six to 10 per shift. The two fire companies assigned to Fire Station 69 will allow first responders to accomplish crucial emergency tasks simultaneously.

“Restoring Engine 69 will help first responders reduce the spread of fire, increase the speed of rescues, further limit property damage and most importantly, save lives,” Bonin said.

Engine 69 is only the fourth fire engine to be restored in Los Angeles since the 2011 budget cutbacks, and Bonin fought for the restoration as a member of both the City Council’s Budget and Finance and Public Safety committees.

In addition to working with LAFD leaders like Chief Terrazas and Chief Pat Butler, Bonin partnered with the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (UFLAC) to champion the issue of improving emergency service in the Palisades.

“Councilmember Bonin never gave up the fight for this engine to be restored,” said UFLAC President Frank Lima, who also served as a Captain at Fire Station 69 during the budget cuts. “This engine restoration is a sign that our city leaders continue to realize the critical importance of restoring the LAFD and making it a top budget priority. On behalf of the men and women of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, I would like to thank Councilmember Bonin, Mayor Garcetti and Chief Terrazas for their support.”

Bonin, Terrazas and Lima were joined at a Saturday morning news conference announcing the engine restoration by local leaders, including Pacific Palisades Community Council Chair Chris Spitz.

“We can’t thank Councilmember Bonin, Chief Terrazas and everyone who fought for Engine 69 to be restored to our community enough,” Spitz said. “This is a big, big deal for our neighborhood. Lives are going to be saved because we have local leaders who are putting neighborhoods first.”

BREAKING: LAPD Opens Criminal Investigation into Denton Jewelers Owner Saad Mazboudi

LAPD detectives with the financial crimes and elder abuse division have opened a criminal investigation into Saad Mazboudi, the owner of Denton Jewelers in Pacific Palisades.

This comes in the wake of a Palisadian-Post investigation, which found that Mazboudi and/or Denton Jewelers had been the subject of 27 lawsuits and several unpaid legal judgments.

Saad Mazboudi of Denton Jewelers Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Saad Mazboudi of Denton Jewelers
Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Since the story ran, several additional people have come forward to the Post with allegations similar to those described in the story.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact West LAPD detectives at 310-444-1567.

Read the Post’s full investigative story on Denton Jewelers here.

Traffic Advisory for Presidential Visit

In an effort to assist the public in avoiding possible traffic congestion during the visit of the President of the United States, April 7 & April 8, 2016, LAPD has provided the following advisory. The following areas of the City should be avoided when possible to prevent travel delays for community members:

 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The area around S. Centinela Avenue between Ocean Park Boulevard & W. Pico Boulevard 7:15p.m. – 8:15p.m.

 

The area around Sunset Boulevard between S. Sepulveda Boulevard & S. Beverly Glen Boulevard  7:15p.m. – 8:30p.m.

 

The area around St. Pierre Road and St. Cloud Road between Bel Air Road & N. Beverly Glen Boulevard 7:30p.m. – 9:45p.m.

 

The area around Sunset Boulevard between S. Beverly Glen Boulevard & Royce Drive 

9:00p.m. – 10:30p.m.

 

The area around Hilgard Avenue between Sunset Boulevard & Weyburn Avenue

9:00p.m. – 10:30p.m.

 

The area around Tiverton Avenue between Le Conte Avenue & Weyburn Avenue

9:00p.m. – 10:30p.m.

 

 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The area around Hilgard Avenue between Weyburn Avenue & Sunset Boulevard

9:30a.m. – 11:00a.m.

 

The area around Sunset Boulevard between Loring Avenue west to Burlingame Avenue

9:30a.m. – 11:00a.m.

The area around Bristol Avenue between Sunset Boulevard & Westboro Street

9:30a.m. – 11:00a.m.

 

The area around N. Cliffwood Avenue between Westboro Street & Highwood Street

10:30a.m. – 12:00p.m.

 

The area around Sunset Boulevard between Bristol Avenue & N. Sepulveda Boulevard

11:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.

 

The area around S. Centinela Avenue between Ocean Park Boulevard & W. Pico Boulevard

11:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.

 

**HARD CLOSURES (no bus routes impacted by the hard closures)**

 

St Cloud Road – closed April 7 from 7:00p.m. – 10:00p.m.

 

Hilgard Avenue – street will be closed April 7 at 4:00p.m. and will re-open on April 8 at 1:00p.m.

 

Malcolm Avenue – street will be closed April 7 at 7:00p.m. and will re-open on April 8 at 1:00p.m.

 

Cliffwood Avenue – closed April 8 from 10:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.

Bill Rosendahl, Former 11th District City Councilmember, Dies at 70

By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer

Bill Rosendahl, former Los Angeles City Councilmember for CD 11, which includes Pacific Palisades, has died. Rosendahl, who had been battling cancer since 2012, was 70.

 

Bill Rosendahl in 2015 Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Bill Rosendahl in 2015
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

“Heaven is alive with more life and energy than ever today, freshly blessed with the exuberant, positive, loving spirit of Bill Rosendahl,” said his protégé and successor on the council, Mike Bonin via Facebook.

The beloved City Council member had been under hospice care at his Mar Vista home, according Bonin.

On Feb. 15, City Councilmember Bonin made the news of Rosendahl’s impending death public on Facebook with the following statement, which read in part:

“With a very heavy heart, I must report that Bill is gravely ill. After several hospital visits and a brief stay in a convalescent home, Bill returned to his Mar Vista home last week, where he is receiving round-the-clock hospice care.

His medical team and his family both feel that he is in his twilight days, and his transition from this world to the next has begun. He is comfortable and happy, surrounded by family and friends, at home in the house he adores, with the sounds of his chickens and the fresh breeze he loves so much…Bill has given so much throughout his lifetime to everyone he has touched. It is time for us to shine that love back at him. Thanks so much.”

As an 11th district representative, the popular Rosendahl represented a huge swath of the Westside, covering a diverse socio-economic strata from the affluent residents of tony Pacific Palisades and neighboring Brentwood, to the beachside community of Venice.

Under his watch, these areas had seen much tension and strain due to a variety of chronic issues, including homelessness and crime.

Rosendahl, who came out in the 1970s as gay, had a lengthy career at the forefront of various civil rights battles.

Rosendahl told the Palisadian-Post in 2013 that he cried tears of joy when President Obama recognized the rights of gays and lesbians to be married.

On a personal level, Rosendahl appeared savvy when it came to real estate. In 1986, Rosendahl paid $160,000 for a small fixer-upper in Venice just blocks from the ocean that he re-sold in 1991 for $300,000 after installing skylights, converting the garage into a guest room and creating a new kitchen.

“[It] gave me the down payment I needed to buy a house with more land, which was very important to me,” he told the Post.

That money went toward his $600,000 Mar Vista home, which sat on a double lot with an ocean view.

It was at his Mar Vista home—a short drive from Adelphia, where he had worked for 22 years and had left in March 2003—where Rosendahl made his decision to enter local politics.

“I thought that instead of just talking about the issues that maybe I could help do something about them,” he told the Post.

As Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski served two terms and with only one serious opponent in the Los Angeles Times-endorsed Flora Gil Krisiloff, Rosendahl launched his political campaign in the Palisades, with a fundraiser at Bill and Cindy Simon’s home in the Huntington.

In May 2005, Rosendahl won his seat and was sworn in on July 1 of that year to serve under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. At 60, Rosendahl, with the help of then-campaign manager Mike Bonin, had defeated Krisiloff with a victory of 26,613 votes (56.6 percent) to Krisiloff’s 20,439 (43.4 percent).

Upon taking office in 2005, Rosendahl immediately focused on favoring regional airports as opposed to expanding LAX, improving public safety and establishing his Empowerment Congress to give his neighborhoods a greater say in municipal decision-making. He also promoted mass transit, and his goal of extending the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica was ultimately realized just weeks ago by the end of 2015.

Among Rosendahl’s many local victories in the Palisades: fighting to keep Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Station 69 fully staffed and saving the Portrero Canyon project by creating a fund to keep it going.

Rosendahl was always quick to credit the merits and accomplishments of his diverse, 22-person staff, which included Palisadians Norman Kulla, his district director and senior counsel (who had quit his role as president of the Pacific Palisades Community Council to work on Rosendahl’s re-election campaign); cultural deputy Laurie Sale; and constituent advocate Reza Akef.

“I’m only as good as my staff, and hopefully my staff is better than me so we will have a smooth-functioning District,” Rosendahl said in 2005. “My number-one job is constituent services.”

That year, he also spoke at Pacific Palisades Residents Association’s annual meeting, addressing some residents’ desire to create a dog-friendly park. In March 2006, he attended PRIDE’s Marquez Avenue ceremony, joining community leaders Kurt Toppel and Bob Jeffers for a street beautification ceremony. And he subsequently appeared at Marquez business block parties throughout his terms.

In May 2007, Rosendahl approved a $13.8-million budget expanding key police and city services in his district and, in January 2008, he honored firefighters who squashed a blaze destroying three townhomes on Michael Lane in the Highlands.

Rosendahl proved a ubiquitous presence at local fundraisers and was a frequent guest at Palisades council meetings and community-minded gatherings, such as the Del Rey-based Argonaut newspaper’s annual Best of the Westside celebration of West L.A. merchants and individual achievers.

No stranger to health issues, Rosendahl was also a champion of medical marijuana and blasted the hypocrisy of various politicians and movers and shakers who created obstacles or politically motivated shakedowns of dispensaries.

In July 2012 as Rosendahl began to contemplate running for a third term, he had been diagnosed with stage-four ureter cancer. At the time, doctors believed Rosendahl had mere months to live. The councilmember endorsed his chief of staff at the time, Bonin, to succeed him.

However, after a battery of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Rosendahl told the Post in February 2013 that his cancer was in remission.

Rosendahl’s Mar Vista residence famously had a bohemian air to it. Cats such as Rocky and Black Lady lived indoors alongside his finches, while hens (from which he harvested his breakfast eggs) occupied his backyard next to a statue of St. Jude, patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. Other pets included his German shepherd Lulu.

Rosendahl, who loved to cook, could make a mean turkey leg and stuffing, but, as a diabetic, he avoided sweets.

Rosendahl was often a contradiction. He was close friends with many of L.A.’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens while befriending some of the most desperate and downtrodden denizens in his own home, even sheltering them in his own house.

For years, Rosendahl opened his home to those in need, including groups of homeless teens and individuals suffering from drug addiction.

Several years ago, he took in a young heroin addict disowned by his family and 15 years ago, he took in an ailing person known as Swami X, who lived with Rosendahl and received care under his roof for more than 15 years.

Rosendahl will be remembered as an upbeat, energetic people person who truly cared about his constituents and who exhibited much kindness, wisdom and a beyond-average generosity of heart, spirit and compassion.

As Rosendahl told the Post in 2013, “I live by the general philosophy that if you love yourself and your neighbor as yourself, and you don’t judge, then you pretty much encompass all of human kind.”

 

BREAKING: Palisades Design Review Board Members Violate City Rules; Will Have No Say on Caruso Project

The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board will not have a say in the design of Caruso Affiliated’s Palisades Village project due to improper communications on the part of four board members, according to Councilmember Mike Bonin.

The DRB was scheduled to hold a final design review with Caruso on Wednesday, March 2, but the meeting was canceled.

“Due to City laws specific to the Design Review Board, DRB members are subject to very strict rules regarding how they can discuss a project, and with whom,” Bonin said in a statement.

“Four members of the DRB had ex parte communications regarding the project, which was scheduled for the DRB’s March 2nd agenda,” the Councilmember continued. “The City Attorney advised that those ex parte communications were in conflict with these rules, requiring the members’ recusal from considering the project. As a result, the seven-member body could not achieve a quorum, and the Planning Department cancelled the meeting. The DRB will not be able to hear and act on this matter.”

According to the Municipal Code, when the DRB cannot act, the Director of Planning will make the determination regarding project design, Bonin added.

Read the full story in the March 10 issue of the Palisadian-Post.

Barbara Kohn, chair of the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board. Photo: Rich Schmitt

Barbara Kohn, chair of the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board. Photo: Rich Schmitt

BREAKING: Police Pursuit Ends in Palisades

An assault with a deadly weapon suspect driving a Mercedes was taken into custody at about 3 p.m. in Pacific Palisades today after leading police on a pursuit that started in Venice at 2:42 p.m., according to LAPD media relations officer Matthew Ludwig.
Police surround a Mercedes in Pacific Palisades after chasing it from Venice. Photo: Al Alicea

Police surround a Mercedes in Pacific Palisades after chasing it from Venice. Photo: Al Alicea

The luxury vehicle came to a stop in the 14900 block of Corona del Mar in the Huntington neighborhood of the Palisades, where it was surrounded by law enforcement.
Officers on the scene told the Palisadian-Post they had no further details, but at least five police vehicles remained on the scene at 3:15 p.m.

BREAKING: Caruso’s Palisades Village Project’s Mitigated Negative Declaration Released

The Mitigated Negative Declaration for developer Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village Project has been released by LA City Planning.

“We are excited to share a very detailed, comprehensive plan that sets the highest standards in responsible and community-based redevelopment,” Caruso told the Palisadian-Post. “We thank the community for all of their input over the past couple of years and we look forward to creating a wonderful project for this special community.”

Rick Caruso presents his plans to the Pacific Palisades DRB in January 2016. Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Rick Caruso presents his plans to the Pacific Palisades DRB in January 2016. Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Caruso will appear before the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board (DRB) for a Final Design Review on Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in Gilbert Hall at Pali High. The public is invited to attend.

On March 24, the Deputy Advisory Agency and the City Planning Commission will conduct a joint public hearing on the Palisades Village project beginning at 9 a.m. at City Hall, Public Works Boardroom Room 350.

Look for more information in the Feb. 25 issue of the Palisadian-Post.

To view the 472-page document plus eight appendices, visit cityplanning.lacity.org and click on “Environmental Review” then click on “Negative Declaration Public Notices” then hover the pointer over Feb. 18, 2016 and click on ENV-2015-2715.

 

CARUSO UPDATE: Final Design Review Meeting with DRB to be Rescheduled

Rick Caruso Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Rick Caruso
Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board’s final design review meeting on developer Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village project—originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10 in Gilbert Hall at Palisades Charter High School—is being rescheduled.

“We learned that Palisades residents did not receive proper notification from the city regarding the upcoming February 10th DRB meeting. Due to noticing requirements not being met, the DRB is not allowed to take action February 10th. We want to be respectful of everyone’s time and don’t want to waste the DRB members’ time or the community’s time, as that would not be fair. We look forward to rescheduling a new hearing date in which the DRB can take action, as soon as possible,” said Rick Caruso in a statement.

The Post will publish the new date for the meeting when it becomes available.

Caruso Updates Palisades Village Plans Based on Community Input

Developer to Present Plans to DRB Jan. 13

By FRANCES SHARPE | Editor-in-Chief

Rick Caruso is listening to the Palisades community.

The developer has announced that in response to community input, he has updated the plans for his Palisades Village project.

Rick Caruso (top left) listens to input from the community at a special PPCC meeting in November 2015. Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Rick Caruso (top left) listens to input from the community at a special PPCC meeting in November 2015. Photo: Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Since submitting the application for the project to the City of Los Angeles, Caruso and his team have been meeting with Pacific Palisades residents, business owners and community organizations in a variety of settings to listen to suggestions and address concerns.

“There is a tremendous amount of community support for this project, and I personally take the community outreach very seriously. It has been my pleasure to work closely with thousands of residents at town hall meetings, living room meetings, individual coffees, and setting up a booth at the weekly farmers market where I get to listen to their ideas,” Caruso told the Palisadian-Post.

“After we submitted our application, my team and I continued the outreach and listened to input, and after many conversations with residents, I have decided to update the application in response to community input,” he said.

The updates to Caruso Affiliated’s application are in four key areas.

Setbacks: After various meetings with residents, Caruso Affiliated has decided to adhere to the Pacific Palisades Commercial Village and Neighborhoods Specific Plan’s requirement for two-foot setbacks from the sidewalks. Caruso Affiliated has removed its request for zero setbacks from its application to the city.

Height: Caruso Affiliated is amending its definition in terms of the way it measures building height. This update comes in response to community feedback as it will reduce the height of some buildings and will clarify how building heights will be measured.

Caruso’s proposed definition will limit the height of all building facades to 30′ 0″ or less as measured from adjacent grade. It will allow for architectural features and/or the high point of sloped roof elements for all building facades to be limited to 34′-0″ or less.

Program: The developer is updating the program of uses in response to community concerns. For example, Caruso Affiliated has eliminated the exercise use (this means there will be no gym, yoga or Pilates in the project) and reduced the restaurant floor area. The developer is replacing that floor area with retail and office.

An analysis of this revised program by Caruso Affiliated’s traffic engineer shows that it results in a 30 percent reduction in vehicle trips and has no traffic impacts at any of the studied intersections.

Additionally, Caruso indicated that these revised plans still meet with all parking requirements according to LA City Code.

Parking: The developer is removing a request for a Shared Parking Demand Study. According to Caruso, the plan fully complies with code parking requirements.

Caruso will present his updated plans to the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board (DRB) on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. in Mercer Hall at Palisades Charter High School. The public is invited.

At this meeting, the DRB will review and offer recommendations on the proposed design and take public comments.

Caruso emphasized that he is looking forward to the opportunity to present to the DRB and the community at large.

“I want to thank the community for its support and input,” Caruso said.

‘Star Wars’ Character Based on Late Pali High English Teacher, Abrams Tells Palisadian-Post

By FRANCES SHARPE

Editor-in-Chief

Director J.J. Abrams, a Pacific Palisades resident and graduate of Palisades Charter High School, revealed to his hometown newspaper the Palisadian-Post that he based one of the characters in his box-office record-breaking “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on his late high school English teacher.

Photo collage courtesy of Karyn Newbill-Helmig/Photo of Rose Gilbert courtesy of Jeanette Mills Photo caption: Maz (left) and Rose Gilbert (right)

Photo collage courtesy of Karyn Newbill-Helmig/Photo of Rose Gilbert courtesy of Jeanette Mills
Photo caption: Maz (left) and Rose Gilbert (right)

“Yes, the character of Maz was originally based on the great Rose Gilbert,” Abrams told the Post. “We really wanted the story to feel authentic, despite being a wild fantasy. I mentioned Rose in an early story meeting as a sort of timeless, wise figure that I’d actually known in my life.”

Photo of J.J. Abrams from Pali High yearbook

Photo of J.J. Abrams from Pali High yearbook

Gilbert, who was known to her students as ‘”Mama G,” taught at Pali High since it opened in 1961. When she announced her retirement in 2013 at the age of 94, Gilbert was the oldest full-time teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and one of the oldest in the country.

At the time, she was still teaching three AP English classes in the same classroom she had for 51 years.

Abrams wasn’t the only one working on the blockbuster film who had taken English classes with Gilbert.

“Turns out the production designer, Rick Carter had also been a student of Ms. Gilbert, 15 years before me,” Abrams said.

“While we experimented with many looks and styles before settling on the character’s final design, Rose was always at the center of the inspiration for Maz,” Abrams said. “Rick and I had hoped to contact Rose and show her what we were doing, but she sadly passed away while we were in prep on the film. Rick and I attended her service and sat together, once again amazed by her life force and infinite spirit.”

Gilbert was 95 when she died at a local hospital on Dec. 16, 2013. At a service at Pali High in January 2014, Principal Pam Magee called Gilbert their “most treasured teacher.”

Thanks to Abrams, Gilbert’s legacy will live on as will the Palisades connection to what could turn out to be the biggest film in history.

Chuck Larsen and Jacqueline Primo contributed to this article.