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Councilmember Bonin Answers Community Questions During PPCC Virtual Meeting

The councilmember addresses the meeting.
Photo courtesy of PPCC

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

As the Pacific Palisades Community Council returns to a regular schedule of meetings held via Zoom, Councilmember Mike Bonin was invited as the guest speaker for a virtual meeting on July 23.

The councilmember began with brief updates about what is going on across the city, including the fact that City Council meetings, which are also being conducted virtually, have increased participation from residents who may not be able to attend an in-person meeting but can join in online.

“I have missed having the human contact that is such a big part of this job, although I’ve been grateful for Zoom,” Bonin began. “In a weird a way, it has actually, at least at the City Council level, it has stepped up and enhanced civic engagement to a great degree.”

This sentiment is reflected in PPCC meeting attendance—with close to 70 people checking in at one point.

After his introduction, Bonin took questions from the board and audience members during a near hour-long discussion, with many attending to ask questions and hear answers about the Highlands eldercare facility.

“What do you say to people who say that, ‘I shouldn’t have to wear a face covering and I shouldn’t have to stay six feet away from people’ and so on and so forth?” PPCC Chair David Card asked first. “How do you promote safe habits of people who may not want to be quite that safe?”

Bonin responded that he appeals to both science and to common sense.

“Even if you feel that you are hale and hearty and tough and you’re going to live forever, please … don’t think about it in terms of you,” Bonin said. “Think about it in terms of your grandmother or think about it in terms of someone who is working to provide you a service.”

The second question related to the city budget and whether it would affect the existing level of LAPD and LAFD service in the Palisades, which includes one patrol car, one senior lead officer, the beach patrol and two fire stations.

“I am pretty confident, today in particular, that we are going to be able to do that,” Bonin replied, explaining that LAPD is planning to focus on patrols and community outreach rather than specialized units and other police functions.

Around halfway through Bonin’s time, the discussion turned to the eldercare facility, following nudging in the Zoom chat from Area 2 Representative Steve Cron reporting there were many Highlands residents in the meeting with questions and to “please make sure that they have the opportunity to be heard tonight.”

“I’ve been a supporter of yours for a long time but one position of yours I still don’t understand, you have repeatedly spoken out against putting housing in high fire areas and yet you have been a supporter of the eldercare facility,” Cron began. “I bet if we could do a show of hands, the vast majority of the people here who are Highlands residents that are on this meeting tonight are against it. I still don’t understand why you would want to put that many people in a high fire area.”

Bonin responded that it’s “no secret” that he’s been a supporter of the project for a while, acknowledging that it’s been a controversial decision and that he generally does not like putting housing in high fire areas.

“We also have an urgent need to be providing places for seniors to age close to their relatives and have a safe place to be taken care of, and that’s an important and a competing public objective,” Bonin said. “I know it’s been a controversial decision, but it is one that has been upheld, even recently by the courts, as being a legal and a sensible one.”

He continued on, explaining that the city needs places where it can take care of its seniors.

“Even taking care of them in a situation like this, where they could be surrounded by fire and dependent on fire officials to get them out in an emergency situation?” Cron asked.

“It’s not like we’re getting proposals to build eldercare facilities left and right,” Bonin said. “If we had a plethora of them and we had too many of them, it would be a different calculation, but we need places to take care of people.”

Bonin took other questions from audience members, including his rebuttal that he does not have a close relationship with project developer Rony Shram and that this meeting was the first time he heard of a retaining wall, which he said he will have his staff look into.

The next PPCC meeting is scheduled for August 13 and will feature LAPD Captain Jonathan Tom, West Division Commanding Officer, as a special guest.

Reformation Opens Palisades Village Doors

The store in early July
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

On the heels of two store closures in the development, Reformation was slated to open its Palisades Village doors to customers for in-store shopping and curbside pickup starting Wednesday, July 29, a representative from the brand confirmed to the Palisadian-Post.

Reformation is a “revolutionary lifestyle brand that proves fast fashion and sustainability can coexist,” the Palisades Village website reads. “Reformation combines stylish, vintage-inspired designs with sustainable practices, releasing limited-edition collections for women who want to look beautiful and live sustainably.”

It is a 100% carbon, water and waste neutral company, infusing “green measures into every aspect of business,” according to the brand.

“From running a sustainable factory in Los Angeles to using deadstock and eco fabrics to tracking the environmental impact of every product, Reformation is committed to pushing the industry forward,” a representative explained in February.

According to the Reformation website, the main range of clothing is fit on multiple women between 5’6” and 5’10”, as well as a petites collection designed for those 5’2” and under and an extended sizes collection with items up to size 22.

Signage revealing that the store, which is located near the Bay Theatre by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas and Hank’s, would be coming soon first went up in February.

With the idea of prioritizing the health and safety of store associates and customers, the brand shared new protocols that were put in place to increase cleaning and maintain social distancing.

“We’re wearing face masks and require that you wear one too—for your own health and safety, as well as that of everyone else,” according to a set of safety measures listed on Reformation’s website. “We’ll have hand sanitizer available at the entrance of each store. We’re limiting store capacity. Due to recent regulations and to ensure enough space for social distancing, we’re only letting a certain number of people in each store at one time.”

This marks the fifth Reformation store in Los Angeles, which operates locations in Culver City and Santa Monica, as well as two stores on Melrose Avenue.

The opening follows the closure of children’s clothing store mini mioche and wellness and beauty shop Botanica Bazaar, which both shuttered in June, with Botanica Bazaar citing “unforeseen circumstances.”

“We unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to close our shop in Palisades Village,” mini mioche Founder and President Alyssa Kerbel explained to the Post following the closure. “As a small, independently owned Canadian business, there have been many challenges associated with running a retail operation in another country, however the challenges that the pandemic unexpectedly brought upon us simply made it too difficult for us to carry on.”

Other openings that are listed as coming soon to Palisades Village include WILLIAM B + friends, which will offer “a well-curated selection of women’s clothing, accessories, handbags, shoes, jewelry, home decor and gifts,” according to the development’s website.

Signs boasting that Ombra Ristorante & Bar, which were placed in February, will be opening soon remain up.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Ombra Ristorante & Bar, a new concept from local restaurateur Tancredi Deluca of Amici Brentwood, to Palisades Village,” Julie Jauregui, senior vice president, retail operations and leasing for Caruso, shared with the Post earlier this year.

Deluca also operates Trattoria Amici at the Americana at Brand and Ombra—a walk-in-only wine bar and craft cocktails spot that offers lunch, dinner and small bite menus.

“Ombra Wine Bar at The Americana offers cocktails and small bites in the evenings,” a representative from Caruso explained in February. “Ombra Ristorante & Bar at Palisades Village will be a full-service dining experience with a large menu for lunch and dinner alongside many of the same hand-crafted cocktails found at Ombra Wine Bar and more.”

Caruso did not comment on when WILLIAM B + friends or Ombra Ristorante & Bar would open as the Post went to print Tuesday.

Additional LAPD Officers Patrol the Palisades Throughout Summer

Tyler Yi and Adam Margin
Photo courtesy of Sharon Kilbride


Pacific Palisades welcomed additional law enforcement this summer: Officer Tyler Yi and his partner Adam Margin began duty in the Pacific Palisades area on June 15 and will continue until the end of August—or longer, if the position is extended.

“We are looking forward to the possibility of it being extended,” Yi shared with the Palisadian-Post.

Captain Jonathan Tom, LAPD West Division Commanding Officer, originally added the two additional officers for the Palisades beach patrol, but the officers have found themselves working all over the community.

Local officers Rusty Redican and Jimmy Soliman have already done a lot of the work over the past four years cleaning up the beach area, Yi explained.

“Their strong point right now is finding fire danger in these old abandoned campsites because in the Palisades, we are a ticking time bomb when it comes to fire,” Sharon Kilbride with the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness shared. “It’s important they do this for safety reasons.”

“They find a lot of butane canisters and lighter fluid in these canyons,” Kilbride continued. “The Palisades is a very dry bushy area, and it only takes one campfire and we’re in trouble. That’s why it’s very important for our beach patrol to assist.”

“During our time here, we have witnessed one mini fire, and that was on the bluffs on PCH and Will Rogers,” Yi said.

Yi and Margin have also been working up in the hills, looking out for small encampments and cleaning up the area.

“We have found several encampments,” Yi said. Members of the homeless population are usually not there, Yi shared, but if they are, the officers give them a warning and offer the services of the Pacific Palisades outreach program.

“Every time we do, we reach out to Sharon and their team,” Yi explained. “We see if they are interested in permanent housing, see if they have an ID.”

Yi explained they need an ID to get into housing.

Yi, originally from Hawaii, has lived in Los Angeles for almost two decades and Margin is an LA native. The partners have worked together for more than a year.

Before working in the Palisades, the officers were on duty in the Pacific Division and West Los Angeles over the past few years.

Yi and Margin have found the Palisades community welcoming.

“The community has been very supportive, [even] with all the negative things going on right now, and that’s something good to hear,” Yi shared. “They come up to us and say ‘hi’ and tell us they appreciate us.”

Alphabet Streets Teenager Brings Survivor to the Palisades

Emmett Whitaker with a contestant

Emmett Whitaker Delivers the Third Season This Summer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Palisadian Emmett Whitaker is the mastermind behind “Survivor Palisades,” a parody of the CBS reality competition television series “Survivor,” where contestants compete at an exotic location for a cash prize.

“It is a game of ‘Survivor,’ but for kids in Pacific Palisades to partake in,” Palisadian-Post Junior Reporter Vanessa Masterson explained. “‘Survivor Palisades’ reveals how tough kids can be. The mental and physical challenges are difficult.”

Whitaker, who is starting ninth grade at Palisades Charter High School next month, has been working on the show since 2017. The first episode aired on YouTube in 2019.

Masterson explained the kids form alliances with the “tribes” and compete in physical challenges, which have included swimming and obstacle courses.

“The kids are resilient and strong,” Masterson shared. “They have to be clever, tricky and sneaky with their friends when forming fake alliances, and they have to work together and learn to trust each other.”

She added that they have to be “very brave when making important choices and facing difficult decisions”—all of which will lead to them becoming the show’s sole survivor.

“It is so suspenseful to see who will get voted out next and who will go forward,” Masterson concluded. “I watched the first episode and was hooked. It was inspiring to see kids in a show that was made by kids, it made me think I could create my own show one day.”

Whitaker, a big fan of “Survivor,” was 11 years old when he decided to make a backyard version of the show featuring members of the community.

“I started doing that with my friends and family, and we filmed it,” Whitaker said to the Post.

Casting votes

Whitaker said that producing the show is no easy feat. One season can take between six to seven months of preparation, from raising funds, obtaining props, casting, location scouting and more.

And he pulls the ropes to make sure the show comes together: From planning, casting and editing—he does it all.

“I do it all myself,” he said about the process, “but I’m going to try to hopefully get some people to work with me the next time we do it.”

Whitaker said that he raises the funds for the show by babysitting, hosting neighborhood lemonade stands and doing extra chores. He uses the money for props.

Whitaker’s mother, Christine, said the show can also be a family affair. Both his parents have assisted moving props, setting up some of the game challenges and helping with filming on the day of shooting.

Emmett’s older sister, Becca, a rising senior at Pali High, has also been an on-camera participant, as well as a camera person for the show.

When it comes to casting the show, Whitaker said his goal is to make sure that the contestants don’t all know each other.

“So I usually recruit some people who I think would be good,” Whitaker said about casting. “Or people will ask me to be in [the show] and by the end of it, I try to have the best fit that works for the team.”

Days of filming can go on for 11 hours and editing takes almost a whole year.

Episodes of the third season, filmed before the coronavirus pandemic prompted Safer at Home orders, are being rolled out this summer. The season features a total of 12 contestants—six fan-favorites and the rest are brand new faces who are faced with “a twist … that could forever change how the game is played.”

The fourth season would have been filmed during this time, but plans have been indefinitely postponed. Filming was scheduled to begin the second week of March—the same week the city shut down.

“It’s been a lot of work and I’ve had to do a lot of preparation for it,” Whitaker said, “but it’s really fun when you get to do it and see that people are watching it.”

Anyone interested in tuning in to this season or catching up on past episodes can do so on YouTube at youtube.com/channel/UCGWmcsg3FpivGlZNRJr8MTA.

Junior Reporter Vanessa Masterson interviews Chloe Smigla, a season three contestant of “Survivor Palisades.”

Chloe Smigla

Vanessa: What was the most exciting thing you did?

Chloe: Starting out was exciting, I wanted to try my best and win. Also meeting the other contestants was really fun and exciting.

Vanessa: How did you get on the show?

Chloe: They reached out to me, but now people apply to the show.

Vanessa: Were any parts scary or hard?

Chloe: Some of the challenges were hard because some of the other kids were more athletically fit than I was. So it was physically challenging, and also mentally challenging as well.

Vanessa: What was the hardest challenge for you?

Chloe: There was one challenge where we had to do planks on brick blocks and I could not last very long.

Vanessa: What was mentally challenging?

Chloe: It was very challenging to figure out alliances and who you could trust. It was a challenge because I had never met the other survivors before. It was definitely challenging trying to figure out who I could make alliances with—who I could trust and who would keep our discussions private. I really had to challenge myself to rely on my social skills to form alliances and keep them strong throughout the game.

Vanessa: Did you trick anyone?

Chloe: You’ll have to wait and find out … let’s just say, I employed a lot of strategies to help advance my game!

Vanessa: Have you watched “Survivor” and if you have, is “Survivor Palisades” like the real show?

Chloe: I watched “Survivor” after I was on “Survivor Palisades” and I got very addicted to it! And it is so similar, everything down to the words that Emmett says while he is describing the challenges, the Tribal Council—everything is so similar to the real “Survivor,” it’s actually incredible.

Vanessa: What was your favorite part about being on “Survivor Palisades”?

Chloe: My favorite part about being on “Survivor” was getting to test my social skills and to see if I could make strong alliances. And, if I could, could I keep them throughout the game long enough to help me survive and be the sole survivor.

Vanessa: Is it very professional? Is there a big crew with a lot of cameras and everything, or is it just Emmett with his phone?

Chloe: No no, there are a bunch of people in the crew who are filming, around 10 people with cameras and helping orchestrate everything. Which is a lot for a show pretty much run by a kid. And Emmett was directing everyone, telling us when to go and what was going to come next, directing the other camera people and telling them what angles to shoot.

Every aspect of the show is run by Emmett. And last year for season two, they had a premiere and Emmett was completely running everything. It was amazing. Emmett was really on top of it and running everything, which was awesome.

Vanessa: So was the whole crew kids?

Chloe: Mostly yes, there were maybe one or two adults there, but mostly it was kids.

Vanessa: Wow!

Chloe: Yes, it was really awesome!

Vanessa: Thank you Chloe for taking the time for this interview!


Eldercare Facility

Urgency is required. The hillside is already being scraped.

I encourage all Palisadians and nearby communities to learn about the eldercare facility planned for Palisades Drive. There are many troubling aspects to this development. The following will impact most of us.

1. The facility is in a designated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, with one main road for ingress/egress. It is located at the gateway of our highest fire risk neighborhood, putting eldercare residents and our firefighters at greater risk during hands-on evacuations.

2. The project as approved is in direct violation of the City’s Planning and Zoning Code and the California Coastal Act, and required judicial intervention. A judicial appeal is now the required remedy.

3. The eldercare industry is highly regulated. We can expect industry regulations to become more stringent post-COVID, including requirements of more square footage per resident. This project does not contemplate new regulations, nor, to the best of my knowledge, does it have a professional and experienced eldercare operator to run it after completion.

Without certainty about changes in the industry, the project may quickly become uneconomic. As a result, the developer might then apply for an alternate use accommodation from the City of LA.

Our Councilman, Mike Bonin, stated clearly and emphatically during last week’s PPCC meeting (July 23) that he would not allow an alternate use. That was indeed good to hear. But we cannot rely on the good intentions of one person to ensure a positive outcome. We need to oppose the project as presented and go back to square one in the process.

4. A 280-foot-long retaining wall was revealed on a city website at the very last moment and just prior to the approval of building permits. No such wall appears in the drawings available to the public, but such a wall, or worse, a stacking of shorter walls, will be a blight on the landscape impacting our beloved hiking trails. A football field length of concrete is not in keeping with good environmental stewardship.

I welcome development of eldercare facilities that focus on resident safety and comply with LA zoning codes. This project does not meet minimum standards. Please join me in opposition to this ill-conceived development by writing to Councilman Mike Bonin and spreading the word among your friends and neighbors.

Post on Nextdoor. Write to the LA Times. Talk to your friends in other coastal communities who care about the environment and the potential of setting a precedent for future coastal development. Thank you!

Joann Barry

‘Progress Is Passing the H.R.4’

On July 17 we lost a hero. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), aka “the conscience of Congress” and a civil rights icon, passed from pancreatic cancer.

A young teenager in the midst of revolution, he chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington and bravely walked the frontlines of the Selma to Montgomery March. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, eliminating discriminatory voting practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests that have historically barred African-American people from voting. His activism is a testament to the political power of young people.

However, 2013 Shelby County v. Holder stripped the Voting Rights Act of several provisions that protected minority voters against discriminatory voting practices. It was declared that the process of choosing which states should be subjected to preclearance was unconstitutional. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, when preclearance was gutted from the VRA, the median purge rates in counties previously covered increased by 40%.

I recently learned about this supreme court decision while doing research for my school club, Human Rights Watch Student Task Force, which is preparing to launch a young voter registration campaign for the upcoming November election.

I had never heard of voter suppression before, and I especially never knew that young people were specifically targeted. As a young person who is on the cusp of voting, I care to see this change.

Modern-day voter suppression efforts exist as strict voter ID laws, voter registration restrictions, voter roll purges, felony disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. Moreover, these tactics are proven to disproportionately affect people of color, particularly African-Americans.

For example, Georgia’s exact-match voter registration law in 2018 stipulated that voter’s names on registration records must exactly match those on the approved forms of ID, an unnecessary and obstructive requirement. This disenfranchised many voters, 80% of which were POC.

In addition, according to a 2013 study co-authored by Cathy J. Cohen of University of Chicago and Jon C. Rogowski of Harvard University, 66.5% of Black youth were asked for photo ID in states that do not require ID at all by law.

Many of these seemingly innocent but discriminatory practices masquerade as preventing voter impersonation, however, time and time again, studies have debunked this myth. The truth is that eligible voters are being disenfranchised which is why we need the H.R.4. or Voting Rights Advancement Act to be passed.

The H.R.4, sponsored by Representative Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), restores the preclearance requirement in the VRA, requiring any changes made to a state or political subdivision’s voting process to be pre-approved by the Department of Justice. This requirement would only apply to state or political subdivisions who have had voting rights violations occur in the past 25 years.

While the implementation of this law would be undoubtedly transformative, it has not even been given a chance due to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) reluctance to open progressive bills such as H.R.4 onto the Senate floor (H.R.4 was passed by the House on December 6, 2019).

In a statement on Congressman John Lewis’ passing, McConnell stated, “But progress is not automatic. Our great nation’s history has only bent toward justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon themselves to help bend it.” I find this statement confusing considering that he’s been postponing the resolution of voting inequity for over seven months, an issue Lewis deeply cared about and risked his life for.

The way to truly honor Congressman John Lewis and the work of countless others who sacrificed their lives in the fight for justice is to pass the H.R.4. As House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) put it, “It should be called the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020.”

Is progress automatic? Absolutely not. We can’t sit idly by expecting progress to happen on its own accord. Progress is passing the H.R.4. We owe it to John Lewis to continue bending the arc.

Serena Broome
Rising Senior, Palisades Charter High School

Your Two Cents’ Worth


Illegal fireworks activities at both Asilomar & Via Bluffs, nearly every night. This is happening next to dry brush and family homes. We reported to both Police & Fire Departments. Local Patrols are also aware. Lives are in danger, but no one has taken any action. Why? When? After?


I was very disappointed to see the recent camp pictures from July 23. Although I support children enjoying the summer with outdoor activities, of all the individuals pictured, only 3 out of 10 people are wearing masks correctly or at all. In a city that is currently experiencing a significant surge in cases, masks over the nose and mouth are critical. If the camps cannot ensure proper use of PPE for all staff and participants, they shouldn’t be hosting camp.

Mail Delivery

We live in the Marquez Knolls and have experienced very erratic mail service for a number of months.  Delivery times vary from early afternoon to very late night to not at all.  We wonder whether this is happening only in our area, throughout the Palisades, or all over the Westside.


I like that Newsom is putting the ability to eventually reopen school campuses essentially in our hands. If we do our part, stay home, social distance, all of that, then spikes will go down and our schools can reopen. If we cannot do that, they will remain closed. It’s more important than ever for us to work together and hold each other accountable with gentle reminders of what is and is not allowed under current orders.


I hope everybody is still doing everything in their capacity to keep themselves and others safe with numbers rising in LA county.


Please everyone, help out our local businesses if you can. As far as I know, there are 3 that have closed permanently. It would be such a sad thing to see another close their doors…


Amidst everything going on, it’s always uplifting to see the community stories in the Post about all the great services our neighbors are offering or ways they have gotten involved to help others. Just know your generosity goes very far and never goes unnoticed!!

Got something to say? Call (310) 454-1321 or email 2cents@palipost.com and get those kudos or concerns off your chest. Names will not be used.

Neighborhood News

Cafe Vida Temporarily Closes Following Employee COVID-19 Case | The Village

Cafe Vida received notice on July 20 that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, prompting a temporary closure of the Antioch Street eatery.

“As a precaution we have made the decision to close for the next 24 hours to ensure we have sufficient time to conduct deep cleaning and sanitation to the entire premises,” a note on the restaurant’s door read. “All employees who worked the same shift as the employee who tested positive have been directed to self-quarantine and get tested before returning to work.”

Cafe Vida used the time that it was closed to bring in a special service for cleaning, Owner Luis Castaneda explained. As of Tuesday, July 28, all of the employees who had worked with the person who tested positive have tested negative for COVID-19.

The restaurant reopened on Wednesday, July 22, implementing temporary hours of operation from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a plan to return to longer hours on Friday. Monday through Thursday, Cafe Vida will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We need to ensure that all employees and our customers are protected against the spread of COVID-19,” the note continued.

The restaurant is opting to keep its patio closed for dining for now, with the goal of opening when the spike in cases decreases.


PPCC Elections | Pacific Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Community Council is inviting interested and eligible persons to run for area and at-large representative.

“Incumbents are not running in Area 6 (Via Mesa/Bluffs and Huntington) and Area 7 (Santa Monica, Rustic and Rivas Canyons, and Will Rogers State Park area),” PPCC Secretary Chris Spitz explained. “All seats are open, whether or not the incumbent is running.”

Details are available in the Notice of Election Nominations, which is available on the PPCC website at pacpalicc.org. Candidate statements are due by Thursday, August 13, at 4:30 p.m.

By acclamation, the PPCC board unanimously elected David Card as chair, David Kaplan as vice-chair, Richard Cohen as treasurer and Spitz as secretary for the 2020-21 term during a virtual meeting held on Zoom on July 23.          


Teen Talent Contest | Pacific Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Teen Talent Contest has a 16th contestant: Diya Prakash, a singer who attends Palisades Charter High School.

Diya Prakash
Photo courtesy of Diya Prakash

Prakash does concert choir at Pali High and the Colburn Music Conservatory. She has traveled with choirs to other countries to perform.

Through the choirs Prakash has been in, she has gotten to attend what she described as many incredible charity fundraisers, travel the world, and perform at and with many different schools.

“I’ve helped set up several performances as well as performed in a benefit concert on Christmas,” Prakash shared. “I’ve also worked with a church over Thanksgiving to box 700 boxes for families without food.”

The Post would also like to introduce this year’s judges: Marissa Hermer, Ted McGinley and Bill Skinner—whose bios are available via a link on the contestants’ page.

For more about Prakash and the other contestants, visit palipost.com to read their bios, watch their video submissions and vote for your picks through July 31.            


Problem Solving from the Alphabet Streets

Photos courtesy of Holly Wertman

Holly Wertman Pilots Recently Launched Downtown Women’s Center Program as a Problem Solving Specialist

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Growing up in Pacific Palisades, Holly Wertman learned at a young age the value of giving back and serving her community—her dad ran Chrysalis and her mom raised millions writing grants for different nonprofits around Los Angeles.

“I think because of my parents being who they are and doing the work that they do, from such a young age, I had a very intense sense of social responsibility and just a knowledge that whatever work I do in some way needs to be serving communities,” Wertman explained to the Palisadian-Post. “Then I’ve tried to gravitate toward communities that I have things in common with, like female-centric programs or LGBT communities.”

After attending Berkeley and spending a couple of years around the world doing international humanitarian aid work, Wertman is back home in LA, working as a problem solving specialist for the Downtown Women’s Center—which, due to the pandemic, means she is working remotely out of her childhood bedroom in the Alphabet Streets.

Problem solving is a new program that, since the start of this year, Wertman has been helping pilot for the center.

“Basically what problem solving does is it’s trying to reach the people who are kind of always teetering on the edge of homelessness, which is a huge population in LA,” Wertman explained. “I think it’s around 600,000 people in Los Angeles are spending more than 90% of their income on housing, meaning that if they run into any kind of problem—even if it’s a leak that they need to fix in their house or a hospital bill, anything—you can start falling into a situation that’s really hard to get yourself out of.”

Through problem solving, the center is able to assist recipients with a single cost that will fix their homelessness or keep them from falling into it—whether it be purchasing a plane ticket to get a woman out of a domestic violence situation, which is something Wertman has helped coordinate, to covering a security deposit.

The program was launched in mid-2019 and reached the end of its budget within four months, so now it has been sustained on individual donor funds from those who have heard about the program and thought it was worthwhile.

One woman committed to $2,500 per month for one year, hoping that her contribution would help alleviate case manager burnout.

“It was the sweetest thing in the world,” Wertman said. “She came in and really connected to the problem solving program … and was even talking to me about the idea that problem solving was great because it gave the case mangers the ability to say yes and to have funds that helped people.”

Wertman shared a story about a woman she was able to help that she said shocked her grandmother: This person had been living in her car in Santa Monica for two years. Even though she was able to get and sustain a new job, the only thing that was keeping her out of a home was a $1,200 security deposit.

“To think that there’s someone in Santa Monica who’s going to work every single day, who’s making money, who is contributing back to her community and everything but just hasn’t been able to put together the money for a security deposit because of all of the setbacks and all the costs associated with homelessness,” Wertman said. “It was really just as simple as providing the money, providing the $1,200 that covered her security deposit, and she’s one of those clients where I’m very confident that she’s going to remain in housing for good.”

Wertman explained that from a policy perspective, providing this funding could save the city thousands of dollars in service costs each year.

“Hearing stories like this, seeing people like that—it’s a good reminder that people who are unhoused are not necessarily what the media has always portrayed them to be,” Wertman shared. “I feel like we’ve been conditioned from a young age to dehumanize people who don’t have homes and especially during this pandemic, during the homelessness rise after the eviction moratorium is lifted, I think programs like this are going to be extra necessary in order to catch all of the people.”

Since the pandemic began, Downtown Women’s Center has had to shift some of its programming, serving 800 meals per day.

“Even though a lot of our services were taken offline and offsite, we’ve served more meals in 2020 already than we did in all of 2019 and we’re only halfway through the year,” Wertman said.

Wertman acknowledged that being interviewed during a period of time where Black Lives Matter is a focus of conversation, she wanted to note how racialized homelessness is.

“I think that the work being done to alleviate homelessness and to increase resources for people who are unhoused is inherently racial justice work and in a way that people can get connected to it,” she shared. “I think it’s an easy entry point for people to look at the different places that are doing homelessness work and kind of try to plug in there as they’re learning about the city’s history and the United States’ systematic racism —I know a lot of people are doing a lot of learning right and I think that’s really beautiful.”

And, she said that when people are ready to serve the community, the Downtown Women’s Center is a great place to start.

“DWC accepts donations and that money can go straight toward problem solving if this is something that people are interested in donating to and it’s, right now, the most flexible stream of funding that we have that can go toward any cost that’s keeping people from stabilizing their housing,” Wertman said. “I think it’s a worthwhile thing to donate to.”

For more information or to donate funds, visit downtownwomenscenter.org.

Pali High Students, Faculty Respond to Anonymous Instagram Account

The school campus
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

An anonymous user took to Instagram on Wednesday, July 8, to create a grid-piece of anonymous submissions from Palisades Charter High School students, which has amassed dozens of submissions and hundreds of followers.

The account, which has the handle DearPCHS, is part of a movement across the country, with spaces being created on social media for students to voice their experiences in different schools and districts.

Account moderators described it as an anonymous platform for students at Pali High to share their experiences.

“This is a completely safe space, and your identity will be anonymous,” according to the submission page. “By sharing your story, you’re providing a time for growth, healing, acceptance, and a place to be heard and listened to.”

The submission page also states that every story posted will remain anonymous and all names included will be removed.

Rising senior Dayzee Betton said the page has been an outlet for students to feel less alone, that social media is not only a space for teenagers to share their daily lives and adventures, but to vent and find others who have gone or are going through similar situations.

“As they speak of their own experiences in which they have been failed,” Betton said, “they see that it wasn’t their fault, and that it has happened many times before and many times after.”

Recent Pali High graduate and former president of the school’s Black Student Union Kalkidan Alemayehu shared her thoughts on the account and its relation to the school.

“I think it’s really telling about how … severed the trust is between students and administration,” Alemayehu said to the Palisadian-Post. “Where they feel the school isn’t going to do anything, so they take it upon themselves to expose … on social media.”

Another Pali High student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that this account has helped expose a toxic school culture. All three students pointed out that this isn’t solely an issue at Pali High—but shared hope that the school should work proactively toward significant changes they feel need to be made.

“Reading through every one of these stories is a heartbreaking experience that shows the prejudices that students on campus experience on a day to day basis,” a Pali High senior said. “We need to change the narrative to help students, teachers and school faculty realize that rather than being agents of a broken system, we can reevaluate the current flawed methods of tackling problems to instead create a better culture that truly benefits and uplifts students, as is the intended purpose of school in the first place.”

Principal Pamela Magee said the school is aware of the account, but cannot comment on any personnel or student discipline matters based on individual privacy rights.

“We have reached out to students involved in creating the account to facilitate obtaining more information, and will be addressing the issues and concerns related to students and staff within the bounds of our authority, and to the extent we can, given the anonymity of the reports,” Magee said to the Post.

On Monday, June 29, the school sent an email sharing “anti-racism resources for teachers and for parents and families.” The school said it is taking steps to address racism, including listening groups, reviewing and revising school policies with clear consequences, and implementing anti-bias and anti-racism training for staff and students.

“Our vision is to become a cohesive and constructive community for students to learn who they want to be. As staff members, we are fully committed to our mission statement … we will not tolerate and we will stand against any form of hate or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, abilities, sexual orientation, citizenship or socioeconomic status,” according to the email.

“Our goal is for all students to know that they are safe, valued and respected.”

Palisades-Raised Madi Rindge Releases Single

Photo courtesy of Madi Rindge

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Pacific Palisades native Madi Rindge, a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, dropped her latest single, “Lucky,” on Thursday, July 30.

In the song, Rindge highlights the struggles of social distancing while trying to ignite a new romance.

“‘Lucky’ is one of the first songs I wrote during the pandemic,” Rindge explained. “I’m especially excited about this song because it feels like a time stamp in my history. Although while I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than trying to understand what was happening in this budding ‘quarantine’ relationship and how to go about not physically being with this person.”

Rindge explained that she has been watching to see how social distance measures have shifted the way that people interact with each other, relying heavily on the internet to connect.

“Still, I think we can all agree that hugs are so underrated,” she shared.

When the Palisadian-Post last checked in with Rindge, it was April 2019 and she was debuting her self-produced single titled “7.13,” mastered by Capitol Records.

“Since April 2019, I’ve been doing a lot of live performing, about four to five nights per week, around LA—up until the pandemic shut everything down, of course,” Rindge shared. “Most of my time was filled with preparing for and traveling to and from gigs, which is something I miss a lot, especially now.”

In addition to performing, Rindge explained that she has been writing and producing new material, as well as finishing up songs that are going to be released on an EP this fall called “Island.”

“With the pandemic completely wiping out all live performance opportunities it has definitely been a strange and tough adjustment, but I have shifted how I spend my time creating,” she shared. “At first I was a little lost in how to allocate my time but as soon as I found a rhythm for myself, I started creating more than I had been in a long time.”

She explained that it felt like she had “all the time in the world” to write, play music, produce, read, meditate, catch up with friends via FaceTime and to be in nature.

“The pandemic has allowed me to enjoy my time differently and I’m very grateful for that,” she said.

Rindge was born into the world of music: Her father, Charlie Bisharat, a Grammy Award-winning violinist, introduced her to the whirlwind world of tours, studio recording sessions and awards ceremonies. She was classically trained in piano since the age of 3, writing and performing original songs by the time she was in middle school.

Rindge graduated from Palisades Charter High School in 2011 and enrolled at New York University where she studied music business, simultaneously refining her personal song writing.

For more information, visit madirindgemusic.com.