Home Blog

Palisades-Malibu YMCA Tree Lot to Open for Holiday Season

Photo by Rich Schmitt

By LILY TINOCO | Assistant Editor

As the holiday season trickles into Pacific Palisades, so does a variety of fresh trees at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA annual Tree Lot at Simon Meadow, which opens December 1 at 3 p.m.—a tradition that dates back decades.

“Generations of kids, parents, neighbors and friends have come to buy a tree and celebrate the season,” according to a previous poster.

The sale of trees—just like the YMCA’s Pumpkin Patch each October—acts as a major fundraising event for YMCA, helping provide programs and financial assistance to families in need, and beyond.

The 2023 selection includes a variety of trees, like nobles, Nordmann and Silvertips, ranging from table-top size to 14 feet tall. Special decorative items will also be available for sale, including wreaths, wooden reindeer and garland by the foot.

The lot will be open Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A beloved community tradition for over 70 years, this year’s holiday HoHoHo! will return to the Tree Lot on Saturday, December 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Santa Claus and his team have visited Pacific Palisades each holiday season during HoHoHo! since December 1949. Organized by the YMCA FUN Committee, this year’s event will kick off with Santa riding down the streets of town aboard Los Angeles Fire Department Station 69’s fire truck, followed by a lineup of entertainment and performances, activities, local food offerings, and more.

“After decades, [HoHoHo!] remains one of the most heartwarming Palisades traditions—a free holiday family festival built for the community by the community,” Palisadian Lou Kamer said to the Palisadian-Post. “It exists to watch kids jump up and down when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on the Station 69 fire truck, or when proud parents watch their kids dance and sing on an outdoor stage amidst a Christmas tree forest.”

One Palisadian family will also have the opportunity to ride atop LAFD Station 69’s fire truck with Santa Claus and local firefighters during this year’s event. Event organizers invited the community to enter a raffle for the chance to win.

Raffle tickets, which are $40, can be purchased in person at Palisades Branch Library or the YMCA Tree Lot at Simon Meadow. They are on sale now through Thursday, December 7. All proceeds will directly benefit the YMCA Food Distribution Program.

Holiday Stroll to Return to Palisades Village

Photo courtesy of Caruso

By LILY TINOCO | Assistant Editor

‘Tis the season to be merry—and community members can look forward to a holiday experience at Palisades Village with the return of the annual Holiday Stroll on Saturday, December 2, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Transformed into a magical winter wonderland, Palisades Village’s spirited music and merrymaking will spill onto Swarthmore Avenue, creating a pedestrian-friendly town center,” according to a statement. “Join Palisades Village in celebrating the holiday season with a jolly community gathering that transforms the Village into a memory-making wonderland.”

The Holiday Stroll—which is free to attend—will feature live holiday performances, snowfalls, crafts for children, photo moments with Santa Claus and more. Guests can also enjoy in-store promotions and treats from some of Palisades Village’s retailers and restaurants, including Bottega Veneta, Jennifer Meyer, Isabel Marant, Alfred and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.

“Savor festive bites and sips at the Holiday Farmer’s Market and finish the day at our Champagne Chalet,” according to the Palisades Village website.

Guests can also look forward to the lighting of the 45-foot Christmas tree. The official Tree Lighting Ceremony will occur in The Park at 5:30 p.m.

To accompany the Holiday Stroll, Caruso’s snowfalls are headed to Palisades Village on December 2. There will be additional snowfalls at 6 p.m. on December 19 and December 20.

Via De La Paz Merchants Plan Holiday Party, Open House

Karin Reitinger
Photo courtesy of Karin Reitinger

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Several merchants on Via De La Paz will host a holiday party and open house on December 2 from 12 to 4 p.m.

Among those participating are Village Pilates, Vivian’s Boutique, Lena’s Skin Retreat, David Tishbi Jewelry, Bruce Lurie Gallery, BE ROSY and Loomey’s Toy Boutique. The event will feature “yummy treats” and giveaways.

Karin Reitinger, owner of Village Pilates, recently moved to a new “unique and intimate” studio on Via De La Paz after 20 years at her previous location.

“Our quiet and peaceful atmosphere helps our clients tune-in to their bodies so we can provide the deepest and most effective workouts possible,” Reitinger wrote. “We have also incorporated fascia release techniques and lymphatic drainage for a complete and holistic wellness experience.”

Clients at Village Pilates range from beginner to advanced, pre-natal, post-physical therapy and beyond. The studio offers private and duet sessions, “tailored to suit” each client’s needs.

Reitinger said that it has been “a complete joy” to watch her clients’ bodies “strengthen and transform.”

Rustic Canyon Recreation Center to Host Holiday Tree Lighting

Photo courtesy of Rustic Canyon Recreation Center/Instagram

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Rustic Canyon Recreation Center will host a Holiday Tree Lighting, Ballet Recital and Marionette Show on Wednesday, December 6, from 6 to 10 p.m.

“Join us for an evening of ballet with excerpts from ‘The Nutcracker,’ a marionette show, make-your-own ornament craft, snacks, hot cocoa and tree lighting,” read a flyer for the evening. “Don’t miss out on the holiday fun.”

Previous events the center hosted in 2023 include the annual Fiesta of Fright in October, Rustic Night Havana Nights, and a Spring Festival & Crafters Fair in April. The park celebrated its 100-year anniversary with an event on May 30 where a time capsule was opened.

The holiday event will take place at the rec center, which is located at 601 Latimer Road in Santa Monica Canyon.

For more information, call 310-454-5734 or email rusticcanyon.rc@lacity.org. Follow the park on Instagram at instagram.com/rusticcanyonreccenter.

PPDC Invites Community to Tour ‘Hidden Gem’ of the Palisades

Photo courtesy of Pacific Palisades Democratic Club

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Pacific Palisades Democratic Club will host a docent-led tour of Villa Aurora—a Palisades “hidden gem”—located at 520 Paseo Miramar on Thursday, December 7, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

“Support both the PaliDems and Villa Aurora by joining us for a tour of the historic arts and cultural center that you might have heard of but never seen—until now,” read an email about the event.

The tour is open to PPDC members and non-members, with a portion of ticket sales going to support the club and Villa Aurora.

“Villa Aurora is an artists’ residency and a venue for international cultural encounters in the former home of German-Jewish exiles Leon and Marta Feuchtwanger,” the email continued. “As an interdisciplinary residence, Villa Aurora carries the memories of the artists and intellectuals who found refuge in California during the Nazi era, and who at the time had significant influence on cultural life on the West Coast.”

The official tour will begin at 3 p.m. and run through 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for PPDC members and $35 for those who are not members.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit palisadesdemclub.org/event/tour-of-palisades-hidden-gem-historic-villa-aurora-2.

Letter to the Editor

‘A Bridge Too Far’

As some (but likely far too few) community members are aware, on December 5 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., our councilmember, Traci Park, will host an open Zoom meeting regarding the proposal to construct a bridge over Pacific Coast Highway connecting the beach near the Will Rogers lifeguard headquarters building to the coastal end of George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon Park.

In my opinion, the bridge is an unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of public funds, which will not benefit any discernable class of persons not already served under the existing Park plans.

The ostensible purpose of the proposed bridge is to allow for a safe crossing of PCH for individuals who wish to access the Park from the beach or vice versa. However, the approved plans for the Park already include safe access between the Park and PCH.

The current Coastal Development permit under which the Park has been created requires construction of a pathway (referred to as the “lateral trail”) from the coastal end of the Park to the traffic light at Temescal Canyon Road and PCH. The lateral trail will provide safe and easy access between the beach and Park for pedestrians and bicyclists, and will be ADA compliant.

The last estimated cost for creation of the lateral trail is in the range of $1.5 million. In 2021 the state allocated $11 million for the bridge, which will unquestionably cost more than that by the time any construction is actually commenced.

Given that the lateral trail is a required part of the Park project, why do we also need the bridge (at an additional likely eight to 10 times the cost)? Who is being served by the bridge who is not already served by the lateral trail?

There are two groups of people that will be served by a PCH crossing: those coming from the Park to the beach and those at the beach coming into the Park. Anyone coming from the Park will presumably travel back to the Park when their day is done. Those persons are at least equally well served by either the lateral trail or the bridge.

Persons coming from the beach into the Park will, likewise, return to the beach at the end of the day. Many people who visit the beach park for free on Temescal Canyon to avoid paying for beachfront parking. All those people will be better served by the lateral trail, which would allow direct access to the Park from Temescal Canyon. Likewise, anyone who parks at the beach north of the Temescal Canyon entrance will have easier access to the Park via the lateral trail than from a bridge near the main lifeguard station.

It is only those persons who pay to park near the lifeguard station that will be better served by the bridge than the lateral trail. Who are these people? How many of them are there? Is it the best, or even a reasonable use, of our hard-earned tax dollars to spend an additional $12 to 15 million for an unnecessary bridge when we have so many other problems in the city that need funds?

The proposed bridge raises additional important questions for the community, including: Does the bridge increase a risk of safety to the Palisades community in general and to the rim residents and adjacent neighborhoods in particular? Will it increase the likelihood of (a) fire risk in an area heavy in vegetation and without facilities to fight a fire, or (b) unhoused persons entering the Park and starting fires, or (c) an increase in crime, graffiti (already an issue in the Park) or other vandalism of public property (note the difficulty already being experienced in keeping the one set of bathrooms in the Park and Park gate entrances open and in working order)? Have any studies been done to assess the risks of any of these factors (I am not aware of any)?

These are just some of the issues and concerns that I hope will be addressed by Councilmember Park, Bureau of Engineering, Department of Recreation and Parks, and the community before committing the substantial assets that will be required to create this unnecessary bridge.

Jeffrey Spitz
32-Year Resident of the Via Bluffs

The Palisadian-Post accepts letters to the editor via email at mypost@palipost.com or online at palipost.com/letters-to-the-editor. To be considered for publication, letters must be signed, and are subject to editing for length and clarity. Opinions expressed in letters do not necessarily reflect the views of opinions of the Palisadian-Post.

New Records Set at Ninth Annual Turkey Trot

Runners sprint from the starting line at Stadium by the Sea in the ninth annual Pacific Palisades Turkey Trot.
Photos by Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Almost 1,500 runners woke up early Thanksgiving morning, November 23, to participate in the ninth annual Pacific Palisades Turkey Trot (Powered by Exela), which started on the track and ended on the football field at Palisades Charter High School.

The 5K field included 1,262 runners (604 male, 658 female) with an average time of 40 minutes, 49 seconds. An additional 200 runners (105 male, 95 female) registered for the 10K with an average time of 58:20.

After entertaining the runners and spectators alike last fall, lifelong Palisadian Sam Laganà was invited back as the emcee, and the 2023 Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee and LA Rams stadium voice introduced Annabelle Grandy to sing the national anthem. A freshman neuroscience major at Colgate College in Hamilton, New York, who went to Paul Revere Charter Middle School and graduated from Viewpoint in Calabasas, Grandy succeeded 2022 anthem singer Coco Kennedy, a Corpus Christi School and Marymount High alum who now attends the University of Texas.

Race founder David Houston wore his customary turkey outfit and rode ahead of the pack on his scooter to show the way to rookie runners unfamiliar with the route.

Luke Zanuck shattered the 5K record, completing the 3.1-mile course through El Medio Bluffs in 15:36. Brentwood resident Will Sheehy set the previous mark (16:27) last year, three seconds faster than the 16:30 run by Ramin Razavi in 2016 and tied three years later by repeat winner Thomas Fitzpatrick.

Luke Zanuck from Williams College shatters the men’s 5K record in 15:36.

Zanuck is a sophomore on the track team at Williams College in Massachusetts and achieved a season-best 25:56.2 in the 8K at the Little Three Championship September 16 in Connecticut. He ran cross country and track at Windward School in Mar Vista, and had run the Turkey Trot twice previously—in 2019 pre-COVID and last year when he finished fourth in 16:47.

“I wasn’t expecting to set the record, I really just wanted to do better than last year,” Zanuck said. “I dropped well over one minute from my time last year when I was 20 seconds behind the winner. I’d say anywhere from a mile to 5K is my ideal distance.”

The second time was the charm for Daniela Quintero, who was the women’s 5K winner in 19:14—a 35-second improvement over her time last fall when she was third among females behind Georgia McCorkle (19:07) and Christine Colby. She was 12th overall.

A Los Feliz resident and sophomore at Columbia University in New York City, where she is on the track team while majoring in computer science, Quintero was a three-sport star (cross country, soccer and track) at Harvard-Westlake High from 2018-22. As a freshman at Harvard-Westlake, Quintero won the Division 4 girls title at the CIF Southern Section Championships in Riverside to become the first Wolverines female since Palisadian Cami Chapus in 2011 to win a section crown.

Five-time champion Tania Fischer, a Jane’s Elite runner who coaches cross country and track at Santa Monica High School, set the Palisades Turkey Trot 5K women’s record in 2014 with a time of 18:47. Three years later she was not only first among women but beat all of the men too.

Coming in second was Ava Baak, who graduated from Pali High in the spring after winning the Post Cup Award as the school’s outstanding senior athlete. She is enjoying her freshman year at the University of Michigan and was also second at her other hometown holiday race, the Palisades Will Rogers 5K on the Fourth of July.

“I like seeing all my high school friends and former cross country teammates,” said Baak, who clocked 18:12 after an 18:51 effort in the Will Rogers Run four and a half months earlier. “I run club at Michigan and run with the team at 4 p.m. everyday. I’m taking five classes, so the workload is heavy.”

Columbia University sophomore Daniela Quintero is the women’s 5K winner in 19:14.

Thirteen-year-old Heleena Barnett, an eighth-grader at Paul Revere, was first in the female 13-15 age group in 21:56 after winning the 10-12 category in 21:32 last year.

The 10K champion Jonathan Wilson surprised even himself by finishing the 6.2-mile trek to the bottom of Temescal Canyon and back in 37:20, well off the record pace of 32:27 set by former Indiana University cyclist Craig Taylor of Redondo Beach in 2019, but much better than his sixth-place time in the 41:30 range last year.

A 2018 graduate of Stanford University who works in the engineering field and hails from Oklahoma, Wilson was in town to visit friends and family of his wife, who grew up locally and whose cousin, Alex, wrestles for the Pali High team.

“The 5K people pushed me, I was trying to keep up with them but when one of them said ‘one more mile to go,’ I knew there was something wrong because I wasn’t even at the halfway point [in the 10K],” said the 27-year-old from Sunnyvale, who said this was his third run this year but he is by no means a “career” runner. “I thought maybe I’d get top 10 but my time is better than I expected. It’s a good course and there are some beautiful views along the way.”

The women’s 10K champion in record time (38:01) was 43-year-old Lesley Paterson, a Scottish triathlete, author, screenwriter and film producer who three times won the XTERRA Triathlon World Championships (2011, 2012 and 2018) and won the World Triathlon Cross Championships in 2012 and 2018.

Paterson broke the previous 10K standard of 40:16 set in 2018 by Chloe Maleski, at the time a graduate student at Pepperdine and former distance runner at Duke.

Karla Khalifa of San Diego, was second in 38:49 and also bettered Maleski’s record. At age 39, Khalifa completed the Leprechaun Run in 17:39 to win her age group.

Paterson is also a triathlete coach and wrote a book titled “The Brave Athlete” with her husband that was published in June and focuses on training the athlete’s brain. She co-wrote a screenplay based on the 1928 World War I novel “All Quiet on the Western Front,” for which she took home the 2022 BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Other 10K runners included former Pali High cross country and track team member Sarah Bentley, now a student at MIT, and ex-Dolphin baseball brothers Jon and Jed Moscot. 

Pali High Boys Fourth at State Meet

Senior Max Fields was 28th in the Division 1 boys race in 15:32.1 at the CIF state finals in Fresno.
Photos by Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

One week after breaking the City Finals team time record at Pierce College, the Palisades Charter High School boys cross country squad traveled north to Fresno for the state championships. The Dolphins again showed they can compete at the highest level, taking fourth in the Division 1 race with a score of 128.

Only San Clemente (48 points), Temecula Great Oak (102) and Trabuco Hills (119) were collectively faster than the Dolphins, who have won three City titles in a row.

On Thanksgiving, senior Max Fields was a volunteer at the annual Pacific Palisades Turkey Trot. On Saturday, November 25, he clocked 15:32.1 to place 28th in a field of 128 runners on the three-mile course at Woodward Park. Jason Parra of Long Beach Millikan won in 14:56.8, just over two seconds ahead of runner-up Brett Ephraim from San Clemente.

Finishing four spots behind Fields was sophomore teammate Blake Sigworth, whose 15:33.8 was one-tenth of a second better than Luke Sanders of Buchanan in Clovis. The Dolphins’ third runner was Zachary Cohen (43rd in 15:43.7) and two spots behind him was Owen Lewicky (15:44.4). Rounding out the team scoring in 46th was Axel Mammen (15:44.4). Palisades’ sixth runner was Andrew Razo (147th in 16:43.1) and No. 7 in 19:17.9 was Lajus Collins.

In recording their highest finish yet at the state meet, the Dolphins had a five-man gap of 13 seconds and averaged 15:40 for a total time of 1:18:19. At City Finals they won with a total of 23 points and a team time of 1:17:21.1, lowering the 1:17:42.8 standard set by Belmont’s 1998 squad.

One hour after the boys took fourth, Palisades girls’ took 15th out of 21 schools in the Division 1 race with 362 points. Corona Santiago was first with a score of 57, followed by Buchanan (58) and Trabuco Hills (76).

Freshman Zoey Morris was 27th in the Division 1 girls race in 18:18.0 November 25 at Woodward Park.

As she did at City Finals, when she won in 17:41.00, freshman Zoey Morris paced the Dolphins with a clocking of 18:18.00 at Woodward Park, good enough for 27th overall. Rylee Blade of Corona Santiago won in 16:48.5, followed by Holly Barker of Trabuco Hills (17:05.0) in a field of 177 runners.

For a second straight race, Morris beat Granada Hills sophomore Samantha Pacheco, who was 39th in 18:38.1 Pacheco had been the top qualifier at City prelims and ran in the same heat as Morris.

Rounding out the Dolphins’ lineup were senior Kyra Morris, Zoey’s older sister, who moved up nine spots in the last mile to place 76th in 19:14.3; Lulu Mammen (104th place in 19:44,5); Virginia O’Neill (121st in 20:01.8); Gabriella Gilyard (148th in 20:41.7); Daila Harinck (150th in 20:43.8); and Vitalija Schafer (who beat two Granada Hills runners to place 170th in 21:28.3).

Last year, Palisades’ girls (who were second in the City behind Granada Hills) finished last out of 21 schools in Division 1 with 550 points while the City champion boys were 17th with 375 points and a team time of 1:22:57 at the state meet. Fields placed 15th individually in 15:29.8.

In 2021, Palisades’ girls were last in Division 1 with 614 points while the City champion boys were 19th with a score of 437 and a team time of 1:23:12. Fields was the team’s top placer (65th in 16:10.3).   

Janice Diane Kahn

Janice Diane Kahn, known to family as “Jano,” “Mom” and “Nana” and “Jan” to her friends, was born in Chicago on May 20, 1930, to Sam and Faye Horwitz. Jan peacefully passed away in her sleep on Tuesday, October 24, leaving behind a legacy of love, inspiration, adventure and a nurturing spirit.

Some walk through life … Jan danced.

She and her older sister, Rosie, had childhoods filled with dance lessons and recitals. When Jan entered the University of Miami, she took some moves with her, and quickly became a Hurricane Honey, capturing hearts on Saturdays as a spirited cheerleader.

She later returned to her hometown, Chicago, to complete her college education at Northwestern University … which was not known for its football team nor its cheerleading squad. That being said, Jan continued to “dance” through the windy city’s social scene, where her unique blend of energy and charm earned her the title of “Belle of Chicago.”

So many people play it safe … Jan took risks.

And what’s riskier than a blind date? It was a sunny day at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, when Jan entered, without the benefit of Googling the handsome young doctor in training, whom she was about to meet. Bob Kahn was completing his medical training at the renowned LA County General Hospital. It was a dice roll for the both of them … and they won.

What followed was a long-distance romance fueled by handwritten love letters, phone calls and an indescribable feeling that no distance would keep them apart. And no distance could. On April 10, 1960, Jan Horwitz became Jan Kahn. And the two became Doctor and Mrs. Robert M. Kahn.

It was not only the start of a marriage, it was the start of partnership that would see the young couple move to the quaint beach town of Pacific Palisades, where Bob would establish his medical practice, and Jan would help him build it.

Everyone has a mother … Not everyone had Jan.

Stepping into the role of her life, Jan delivered three beautiful sons into the world: Michael, Bobby and Jonathan. The boys passed through John Thomas Dye School, Harvard, Thacher and Pali High, eventually landing at prestigious institutions: USC, UCSB and Stanford, respectively. They didn’t get there on their own. They got there with a force of nature behind them … a force they knew was always there, whether it be on the sidelines of school sporting events, driving to tennis tournaments all over Los Angeles, a school play, a graduation or even a heartbreak. She was there. Always.

A city girl takes to the ocean.

Jan and her family had some of their most memorable moments on sailboats. Before they were married, the couple purchased their first sailboat, a modest 24-foot vessel, but as their family grew, so did the size of the boats.

Only one thing remained the same with each upgrade: the name JANO. It was one of those nicknames that when Bob spoke it, you knew there was love. So why wouldn’t that be the name of every boat the Kahns sailed to Catalina Island for unforgettable summer vacations?

But all the JANOs weren’t about leisure. Bob was an avid yacht racer whose adventures took him all over the world from Hawaii to Mexico to New Zealand to Tonga … and the city girl was always by his side, supporting him, positioning him and doing whatever she could to get him on the right boat in the right race.

This is what she did for the entire family. She would break the door down for them, and somehow do it in a way that was endearing to those who witnessed the splintered wood and the path she would create for anyone whom she loved.

Back to work.

Anyone who knew Jan knew her love of Laura Ashley dresses. Something about those dresses … the beauty, the class and the femininity. So, she waltzed into Laura Ashley in Bullocks, in Westwood village. She was older than every other sales person. In fact, she was twice the age of most of them.

After basically demanding a job, she went to work, showing those young sales people how it was done. She quickly became a record-breaking saleswoman where she was lauded by management, and adored by her young colleagues and every customer that walked in the store.

Those were some of her happiest days, and Jan created yet another family there at Laura Ashley … and as usual, she became a matriarch known for her passion, energy, wit and a sense of humor that manifested itself every time she told a story.

Passing the torch.

In the late ’90s she became a grandmother, and took on a new role as “Nana.” The first recipient of that new role was Madison (the first girl in the family) who became her new shopping partner around town.

Retailers rejoiced! The two of them could be spotted in all the high-end children clothing shops. But clothes were only a symbol of the bond they had. What was beneath it is what really sealed it. They were united by a sense of humor that only they shared. It was a look in the eyes or a slight smile that maybe only they could recognize.

Three more grandchildren would follow, all of whom became the complete focus of her life. And albeit it, not used as frequently as Supermom, Nana became “Super-Nana.”

This is what she did throughout her life. She took roles that many simply “do” and she “filled” them. She filled them in a way that made people want to be around her, made people want to love her and made people want to be like her.

A beloved wife. A super mom and nana. A friend to so many. She inspired everyone around her to be better than they thought they could be. She did this simply by being “her.”

Jan’s journey may have come to an end, but the spirit of adventure, love and unwavering support she shared with the world will continue to inspire and uplift those who were fortunate enough to know and love her.

She is survived by her beloved husband, Bob Kahn; her three cherished sons, Michael, Bobby, and Jonathan; her four grandchildren, Madi, James, Sammy and Benjy; her niece, Jennifer Doolas; and many friends who will forever treasure the love and joy she brought into their lives. A celebration of Jan’s life will be held early in the new year.

West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission Hosts Castellammare Project Hearing

Proposed project site
Photo courtesy of WLAAPC

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission hosted a five-hour hearing on Wednesday evening, November 15, regarding a proposed project along the 17500 blocks of Tramonto and Revello drives in the Castellammare area of Pacific Palisades—ultimately deciding to sustain previous determinations to conditionally approve the now-amended project.

The start of the meeting, which took place hybridly via Zoom and in person at Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library, was delayed when President Lisa Waltz Morocco asked some of the attendees—mainly residents of the neighborhood who attended to speak—to leave the room and attend virtually, at the request of the library, citing the potential for overcrowding.

The proposed project was originally approved on October 4, 2022, and then appealed by several entities. The hearing—split into seven case numbers all regarding the same project—was delayed from April and then again in September to allow additional time to gather details regarding the impacts of the project, earthwork and compatibility.

The proposed development, by Springhouse Hamilton Park LLC and Demos Development, is to span 12 existing lots, which make up four separate sites.

“The project consists of the construction of four single-family dwellings … one detached accessory dwelling unit, swimming pools, decks, retaining walls, grading necessary for the residential development, remedial grading and a 200-foot extension of Revello Drive with required grading,” according to the meeting agenda.

The total grading for the project would consist of approximately 29,148 cubic yards of earthwork, of which 28,314 would be remedial. The single-family residences would all be two stories, ranging from 2,619 square feet to 7,695 square feet (each with 2,428 to 6,292 square feet of basement space)—referred to in the document as SHP House 1 and 2, and JDR House 1 and 2.

Three appellants of the project—Castellammare resident and architect Ivo Venkov (on behalf of 24 neighbors), Castellammare Mesa Home Owners (represented by Kristina Kropp, an attorney with Luna & Glushon) and attorney Mir Saied Kashani—spoke first at the November 15 meeting, raising concerns about the project not addressing the landslide, which “will have a significant impact on the environment,” not complying with the Baseline Hillside Ordinance, and needs an Environmental Impact Report.

“We’re back before you today after about a six-month break with essentially, we believe, an insignificantly altered iteration of the same project,” Kropp said. “The project remains four sprawling estates of approximately 40,000 square feet of habitable basement and above-ground dwelling space, in addition to ADUs, decks, pools, spas in one of the most active landslides in the city. All of the issues we raised in April remain.”

Consulting geologist Don Micheal also spoke on behalf of the homeowners association, stating that, in his opinion, the “mitigated negative declaration is technically inappropriate.”

“Fundamentally, the problem is that the proposed method of slope [stabilization] for the project cannot be shown to correct the existing landslide condition,” Michael said. “Rather it is speculative and if undertaken at this time as now proposed, it could exacerbate the landslide condition.”

Following the appellants, Greg Demos of Demos Development and Tony Russo of Crest Real Estate spoke on behalf of the developer of the project, speaking on the concerns raised by the appellants and detailing updates the developer had made to the project, incorporating changes flagged by residents at previous meetings.

“Since the last hearing, the commission and the council office asked us to investigate some key additional items regarding compatibility and visual resources; the Tramonto driveway, access, walkway, and bulkhead; and safety, particularly as it pertains to landslide, Revello roadway and construction management,” Russo said. “We believe that the latest project adequately addresses all these items after extensive review with the city and appellants, and the resulting changes and commitments that we’ve made.”

Russo continued the presentation with a comment previously made by Commissioner Esther Margulies: “It’s in no one’s interest to do nothing,” as “a project is necessary to make these sites safe.” All of the sites, Russo explained, are located within the Tramonto landslide, and the city requires the project “must remediate the landslide per code to ensure the safety of the development in the area.”

“To be clear,” Russo said, “we cannot do nothing. The only way to address the geological hazard and address the orders to comply is to perform construction.”

In the late 1960s, Russo explained, Tramonto was restored to its pre-landslide condition through the construction of a bulkhead, which was later reinforced in 1981. In February 2021, city engineers concluded the bulkhead and tie-back system appear “structurally sound,” according to Russo.

“Ultimately, the project proposes the four residences on piles that will stabilize the landslide and achieve the required factors of safety,” Russo said.

More than 30 attendees signed up to speak on the project during public comment—almost entirely residents of the Castellammare area. Speakers, who each received one minute, detailed concerns regarding the “magnitude” of the project, the condition of the neighborhood while proposed construction would be underway, impacts on public safety and beyond.

“No development should be approved that has the potential to damage the existing homes and roadways,” said a resident in the neighborhood, “and this potential disruption to our community is so great.”

Several people spoke in support of the project during public comment, citing the benefits of having a turnaround that emergency vehicles can use and remediation work on the Tramonto landslide.

“Each time I go there on Revello Drive, in order for me to do a turnaround, I either am going to fall off the cliff or I hit the mountain,” another resident said, “so I’m looking forward to the turnaround that the applicant is going to provide … this turnaround is extremely important for public safety.”

Following public comments, Council District 11 Planning Deputy Jeff Khau spoke on behalf of Councilmember Traci Park, stating that their office has been monitoring the project since April.

“At that meeting, we expressed concerns about the safety of residents and the stability of the hillside,” Khau said. “Those concerns were distilled into three priorities: preventing obstructions in the public right of way, ensuring the projects are completed expeditiously and scaling the proposed homes to reflect Castellammare’s existing development pattern … while the project is far from perfect, it is our understanding that it will benefit the community by bringing in much-needed improvements, such as new sidewalks, roads and railings.”

After speaking with representatives from the city on the call—including geologists with the Bureau of Engineering, the Department of Building and Safety, Los Angeles Fire Department and beyond—the commissioners voted to approve the project and deny the appeal, to “sustain the planning director’s and zoning administrators’ joint determination” in support of the proposed project, through a grant part, deny part due to a technical modification (amended findings and an updated exhibit).

The project is “not further appealable per Los Angeles Municipal Code,” according to the appeal recommendation report, but residents in the area were considering further actions, at the time of print.

The next, and final, action of the WLAAPC regarding the project will be issuing a determination letter.

A full recording of the meeting, as well as the 1,100-plus-page appeal recommendation report, are available via planning.lacity.org.