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Palisades Fire Burns in The Highlands

Photo courtesy of Dina Humphreys
Mandatory evacuations for the Palisades fire have been lifted. Residents are now allowed to return home.
“Please drive slowly and watch out for fire and police vehicles,” LAFD said. “Everyone in high fire danger areas should be cautious and ready to quickly evacuate, since fire danger weather conditions will continue to be dangerously dry and windy over the next several days.”

A brush fire that first broke out in The Highlands area this morning at approximately 10:40 a.m. has reached approximately 40 acres, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A perimeter has been established and multiple agencies are working to make sure the fire does not burn out of the containment area.
“Our concern is that we will be expecting more fire weather as the week progresses, because of that, we are not going to leave any stone unturned in this community,” LAFD officials said during a media briefing this afternoon.
One civilian and one fire fighter have sustained injuries. No structures have been damaged or destroyed.

Courtesy of LAFD

A Mandatory Evacuation Order is in place for residents near a 30-acre fire burning in The Highlands area.

“There is a Mandatory Evacuation Order for all residents within the area bordered by Charmel Lane on the west, Bienveneda Avenue on the east, the end of Lachman Lane on the north and Merivale Lane on the south,” LAFD reported.
An evacuation center has been established at Palisades Recreation Center, located at 851 Alma Real Drive.
The evacuation was ordered due to potential fire and smoke behavior as well as the arrival of a large, fixed-wing retardant dropping aircraft.
“Evacuating residents are asked to notify their neighbors of this Mandatory Evacuation Order, and to offer what evacuation assistance they can to neighbors who have mobility or functional needs,” LAFD said.

A brush fire burning in The Highlands has reached approximately 30 acres as of 11:45 a.m. on Monday, October 21.

“Now, one hour into the firefight, this wildfire is believed to have consumed 30-plus acres of brush, and threatened several homes along Vista Grande Drive and Charmel Lane,” LAFD reported.

As of 11:30 a.m., LAFD reported that no structures have yet been damaged and no injuries reported.

“Some homeowners could be seen using garden hoses in an effort to beat back flames nearing their backyards, but they were clearly outmatched by the towering fire, which threatened homes along Vista Grande Drive and Charmel Lane,” City News Service reported. “As the flames advanced rapidly, some residents were seen running down their driveways, giving way to arriving structure-protection fire crews.”

Photo courtesy of @tanyabarcessat on Instagram

Floating embers set off at least one fire in the shrubs separating pair of homes, and firefighters were able to rush to the area to douse the flames before any structures were damaged, City News Service said.

The fire was first reported at 10:39 a.m. this morning, near the 500 block of N Palisades Drive. Later the address was updated to 800 N Palisades Drive.

“LAFD and LACoFD ground and air response to a terrain-driven (no wind) one-acre brush fire running uphill and possibly threatening homes near this location,” LAFD said.

“Don’t try and come home right now, you just won’t get in,” ABC7 directed to those who reside at the top of Palisades Drive. “Your home is OK.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated. City News Service contributed to this report.

Community Council Urges Better Disaster Preparedness

New disaster readiness programs were introduced during a Pacific Palisades Community Council board meeting on Thursday, October 10.

Initiatives like the Ready Your Los Angeles Neighborhood and the Red Cross’ Map Your Neighborhood programs encourage neighborhoods to organize and hold meetings on disaster preparedness and communications strategies for any situation.

“RYLAN is essentially the same thing as Map Your Neighborhood program, so we’re about a year ahead of the rest of the city of Los Angeles because we started talking about [this] last year,” said Cathi Ruddy, PPCC’s emergency preparedness liaison, at Thursday’s meeting.

Ruddy has spent the last year presenting these programs to different local homeowners associations in hopes of best preparing a community that recently had wildfire scares in the northern and southern parts of The Highlands neighborhood.

“We’ve got a long way to go to cover the Palisades,” she said. “The businesses, the Community Council and all of our neighborhoods are being asked [by the city of Los Angeles] to organize and to be prepared to deal with an emergency.”

Ruddy invited members of the audience to sign up on the spot to host these meetings where community members can get to know each other and identify any medical skills or special equipment they might have that can come in handy when disaster strikes.

“Either Red Cross or RYLAN will give you materials to organize,” she said. “I am happy to help [members of the community] organize it, too.”

Ruddy also urged Palisadians to sign up for NotifyLA, a system that sends out emergency alerts.

Other neighborhoods around the Palisades have also prioritized disaster preparedness efforts, like the North Topanga Fire Safe Council and a recently practiced evacuation route in Mandeville Canyon.

Lululemon Opens Palisades Village Doors

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Nearly three months after the signs first went up, lululemon has opened its doors to customers in Palisades Village.

For those unfamiliar with the brand, which operates more than 400 stores around the world, lululemon offers clothes for yoga, running, working out and “most other sweaty pursuits,” the Palisades Village website reports.

“We are excited for our grand opening of the new 2,800-square-foot space that will be a hub for the community, as well as provide technical apparel for both men and women,” a lululemon representative shared with the Palisadian-Post days before the store opened on Friday, October 11.

Lululemon celebrated its opening with three days of events, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce, specialty drinks from Alfred, Sweet Laurel brownie bites and a family happy hour, complete with a braid bar.

The athletic clothing store moved into the vacant space between Amazon Books and Erewhon Market—originally designated to be occupied by Al Forte by Madeo and later Tocaya Organica, both of which did not move forward with plans to open.

Permits from June of this year show the space, which was the last remaining location designated for a restaurant, was converted from restaurant to retail space.

It also marks the third athletic wear store to open in the development, joining Carbon38 and Alo Yoga.

“Alo loves healthy competition,” a representative told the Post when lululemon first revealed plans to open at Palisades Village. “The Palisades is in our backyard and being a Los Angeles-based brand, our community naturally thrives there and will continue should others move into the space.”

Changes in Voting Process Coming in 2020

Photo by Jennika Ingram


The presidential primary on March 3, 2020, will be the first run for big changes coming to LA County’s voting process as the city debuts a new system, “Voting Solutions for All People.”

“The way we vote in LA County is changing,” Zachary Gaidzik, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s West/Metro LA field deputy, said during a presentation at the Pacific Palisades Community Council board meeting on Thursday, October 10. “Hopefully in a way that will make it easier to vote.”

Palisadians will be able to vote over the course of 11 days leading up to and including election day. Voting for the presidential primary opens on February 22, 2020.

Traditionally, Los Angeles’ 5.4 million registered voters have only had one day to vote in-person. The system has been deliberately set up to cover two consecutive weekends so that people who work weekdays will have more opportunities to vote. 

“You don’t find out how the results have gone until 8 p.m. on election day, same as always,” Gaidzik continued. 

Another big change is that the new voting centers will offer the in-person voter more options to vote at any of 1,000 voting stations throughout the county. The new centers will all have parking available and comply with the American with Disabilities Act.

The number of voting stations is actually going down, Gaidzik explained. There used to be 5,000 precincts but people could only go to one. This means that registered voters may need to adjust to voting at a new voting center if their former location no longer exists. 

Voting centers in Pacific Palisades have not been confirmed. Possible locations include Palisades Branch Library, Palisades Charter High School, American Legion Post 283, Bel-Air Bay Club, Marquez Charter Elementary School and Palisades Lutheran Church.

Voting by mail will be more accessible with over 150 drop-offs throughout the county. 

Another change is that voters registered for permanent vote-by-mail will have the option to go into a vote center, cancel their mail-in ballot and vote in-person without having to bring in their ballot. 

In the new system, a person will also be able to register for the very first time on election day and submit what will be called a conditional vote.

“The final thing that’s changing that I think is really, really exciting,” Gaidzik said, “ … is the actual ballot-marking device itself.”

A new ballot-marking device will swap out the ink dot system that has been in place since the 1970s.

“I want to clarify, we have an electronic ballot marking device,” Gaidzik explained. “It is effectively a super fancy printer and that’s it. We still have paper ballots.”

Once a voter makes their choice and their ballot is submitted, it slides into a sealed box. 

“We believe the integrity of elections is dependent on our ability to audit, and so paper ballots are critical to that,” Gaidzik said. He cited increasing security as one of the reasons for the new changes, but shared that LA County has never been successfully hacked up to this point.

The motivation for the new ballot device is accessibility, according to Gaidzik’s presentation. Some of the changes include larger, easier-to-read ballots, along with considerations for the hard of hearing, the blind and people with physical challenges. 

There are options to increase the font size, choose braille or use headphones with a choice of 14 different languages to align with LA’s diverse population.

To find out more information about the changes, visit lavote.net.

Celebrating 100 Years

Photo courtesy of Anne Leonard Thrower

Palisadian Maps Out a Century of His Life


Longtime Palisadian professor Norman J. W. Thrower is celebrating his 100th birthday this week—a milestone in a life that has been filled with love, luck and cartography.

As a British subject, part of his birthday celebration on October 23 will be receiving a letter of congratulations from the Queen of England, his daughter, Anne Leonard Thrower, explained.

Norman’s illustrious life began in Crowthorne, Berkshire, UK, in 1919 and led him to America, where he became an author and a distinguished professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

“His first job as a geography professor was at UCLA, which he dearly loved,” Anne explained. He worked in the geography department from 1957 to 1990, specializing in cartography, remote sensing and Europe.

He’s also one of the foremost scholars in cartography, according to his longtime friend, Judith Collas, in a letter to the Post: “Professor Thrower is perhaps best known for his book entitled ‘Maps and Civilization’”—a survey of the history of mapmaking.

The book, entering its fourth edition, has been translated into multiple languages, including German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.

But, despite his hard work, when reflecting on his life, Norman emphasizes his extraordinary good luck, a sentiment Anne and Collas shared. 

Norman began his life with a pleasant childhood in Berkshire, excelling in art and apprenticing as a sign painter after secondary school, Collas explained. He “would have probably pursued that career, except that in 1940, he was conscripted into the British Army and assigned to an anti-tank artillery unit.”

Stationed in India on the way to Burma, Norman passed an examination, thanks in part to his talent and training in art, to join a Survey of India. He then contracted amoebic dysentery, but his luck turned around when a doctor took an interest in him and persuaded his commanding officer to release him to the survey for medical reasons. 

“What might have been bad luck—eventually his unit was decimated in the jungles of Burma—turned out to be good luck for Norman,” Collas said. “He spent nine wonderful months in Simla, vacation spot of the Raj, training as a mapmaker.

“He spent the remainder of the war as a cartographer and traveled the entire subcontinent of India, practicing the art, skills and science that became the foundation of his scholarly career—and avoiding almost sure death in the jungles of Burma.

“Cartography literally saved his life.”

Norman with family at Christ’s Hospital in West Sussex in 1961

After the war, Norman became the Directorate of Overseas Surveys in London. He may have stayed, except in “another stroke of luck,” he met his future wife, Elizabeth McPherson, always known as “Betty.” 

“They were drawn to each other by a shared interest in India, where Betty had grown up as the daughter of a medical missionary,” Collas said.

The couple married in London in 1947 and then took off for America. 

“Norman’s good luck compounded in the United States,” Collas continued. “Betty’s family, now settled in Ohio where her father had a medical practice, were very welcoming and generous with their moral and financial support.”

Norman soon found employment as a cartographer at the University of Virginia. He was offered a full scholarship to complete his undergraduate education while continuing to work.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with an honors degree in 1954, he received a four-year, all-expenses-paid scholarship to pursue graduate training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1958.

In 1957, Norman chose UCLA partly because Betty preferred the warmer climate to Wisconsin and also he thought Los Angeles would be close to her “fond memories of India.”

It turned out to be another stroke of good fortune because UCLA was a growing university, and its geography department “flourished” while other departments he could have chosen declined.

A turning point came in Norman’s life when he recognized the importance of the work of Edmond Halley, a contemporary of Isaac Newton. His interest and research led him to be awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1962 and the opportunity to do eight months of research year in Europe, Anne explained.

“Research and directing were his forte,” Anne shared.

This opportunity allowed Norman and Betty to save his sabbatical salary and pay for a down payment for a house on Swarthmore a few years later in 1965.

“Betty was a founding member of Palisades Beautiful, the initial mission of which was to beautify public spaces, especially by planting street trees,” Collas said.

During the 1970s, Norman served on the Board of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association and offered professional expertise on mapping and environmental questions.

“He took special pleasure in a sequence of opportunities that came his way toward the end of his career,” Collas said.

In 1975, he was appointed president of the California Sir Francis Drake Commission by Governor and Palisadian Ronald Reagan.

“He was actually introduced to the Queen of England in that position,” Anne shared. 

From 1980-88, Thrower became the director of the Clark Library, an exquisite collection of rare books on UCLA’s campus—one of the highlights of his career, Anne shared.

“In this role, he was able to invite and collaborate with many distinguished English scholars,” Collas said.

Around 1990, Thrower retired from the university.

“In those days, forced retirement was 70 years old,” explained Anne, but that did not stop him from writing extensively. He published several books, more than 200 scholarly articles and continued to serve on commissions.

He continued to share his life with Betty until her passing from cancer in 1997—a few months shy of their 50th wedding anniversary.

“Norman says that the only real stroke of bad luck in his life was losing Betty,” Collas said.

When Betty died, Thrower funded a memorial bench in her honor in the Native Plant Garden on Temescal Canyon.

Following his retirement, Norman continued to collect awards for his work, including the Helen Wallis Award by the International Map Collectors Society and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of America Geographers.

In 1999, after “retiring,” he became the Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award winner for being the most productive emeritus professor at UCLA.

In the more recent years, Norman continued to edit and add to his book, “Maps and Civilization,” improving the book to adapt to the computerization of cartography—all from his home in the Village.

Your Two Cents’ Worth

Solar Panels

A couple of builders in the Riviera Palisades have told me the reason most new homes around us are not installing solar panels is because the homeowners and/or architects think they are an eye sore. Hmm. I’d say the sixth mass extinction we are experiencing due to climate change where energy use is a leading cause is the real eye sore.


Why is an employee at Chipotle talking on her cell phone while cutting steak and flipping chicken? Not a quick emergency phone call, but a full-blown conversation the whole time. Was she checking with corporate about safe cooking temperatures?

Chipotle II

Why do people pick on Chipotle? I eat it when I need to grab something quick and I have no complaints.

Leaf Blowers

The best way for locals to take action against leaf blowers is to persuade their gardeners to switch from gas powered blowers to battery powered blowers. SCAQMD has a subsidy program that significantly lowers the cost of commercial grade battery powered machines for gardeners who turn in their gas-powered blowers. Battery powered machines make less noise, pollute significantly less, and greatly reduce the health risks to the gardeners. Trying for enforcement of the LA ordinance that bans the use of gas powered blowers within 500’ of residences is a non-starter.


Thanks for the household tips for environmentally-friendly measures, and for clarification of what’s recyclable. Some surprises there!

Stop Signs

I’ve noticed several cars in the Palisades appear to have permission to speed thru stop signs and disregard the law of pedestrians or other cars. I am curious if anyone can direct me to the office so that I can apply for the same permissions as I’m often in quite a rush myself to get where I am going. Does anyone know the cost for these special passes or what the basic criteria are for admission to the club?


I saw a woman who posted about a scam where they call and pretend to be your child in distress. They are getting creative and scary!


I appreciate the letter that ran in last week’s paper about the dangers fake spider webs pose to animals. I’m guessing many Palisadians are not aware of the issue!

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.

Longtime Local Veterinarian Retires

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer


On November 1, longtime veterinarian John Condello DVM will retire after taking care of local pets for more than 30 years at Palisades Animal Clinic in Marquez Knolls. 

At age 71, while in good health, Condello has chosen to retire and focus on being a good support system to his wife of 50 years, who has some mobility issues, he told the Palisadian-Post.

“I love my job,” Condello shared. “I love my folks in the Palisades, but my wife really needs me at home so that’s the major reason I’m leaving.”

He said he used to joke they would have to take him out on a stretcher, but it turns out he’s leaving of his own accord.

He found the solution he was looking for when his friends, Dr. Dean and Dr. Dana Graulich, who run the Malibu Coast Animal Hospital practice, surprised him with an offer to take over his clinic. 

“One of the major reasons that I continued on was that I could not find someone to continue the practice with the care and compassion you deserve,” Condello shared in a retirement letter to the community. “Many of you have already used their clinic in the past, and clients have frequently told me how much they love the care their pets have received from these doctors.” 

The Palisades Animal Clinic will close for a brief time to upgrade equipment (including a new X-ray machine) and undergo a cosmetic refresh. During this time, there will be someone available to take calls, refill medications and give continuing medical care. 

“The great news is that now X-rays and other in-depth diagnostics and care will be available without the need to go elsewhere,” Condello wrote.

“While this will be a positive change for all, rest assured that I will deeply miss all of you.” 

Both Condello and his wife are Southern California natives. Condello graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1978 and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1980.

Neighborhood News

PPWC Events | Pacific Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club is hosting two upcoming events: a Wine Tasting & Art Show Fundraiser and Flu Clinic.

The wine tasting event, a fundraiser to support PPWC and its philanthropic efforts, will take place on Saturday, October 19, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Clubhouse, located at 901 Haverford Ave. A variety of wines will be available to sample from Scheid Family Wines, VieVite Rose, LA Wine Project and Quench and Temper.

Local artists will also be on hand to showcase their work, including Louise Marler, Phyllis Nelson, Katie O’Neil, Annette Alexakis, Susan Barry, Julia VanHerwerden, Gabrille Gottleib and Tom Hofer. Jazz music provided by the Palisades High School Jazz Ensemble.

The following Wednesday, October 23, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., PPWC will host its annual Flu Clinic, providing flu shots free of charge to all adults in the community, at the Clubhouse.


Resilient Neighborhoods | The Village

The next meeting for the Palisades Alliance for Seniors takes place on October 21 and the topic is “Resilient Neighborhoods”—addressing how coming together before a disaster ensures care for all.

The meeting will host two guest speakers, K.C. Soll, the head of the Palisades Community Emergency Response Team, and Stephanie Benjamin, a public safety expert.

“The speakers will discuss what you can do to prepare for emergencies, what supplies you should have on hand in your home and how you can get involved in the CERT program,” according to a Palisades Alliance for Seniors representative ahead of the meeting.

The meeting will take place at Palisades Branch Library from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Line Dancing | The Village

Palisades Recreation Center is hosting Thursday morning line dancing classes on October 17, 24 and 31 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Classes will take place at the center, located at 851 Alma
Real Drive.              


California Red-Legged Frogs Survive Woolsey Fire and MudslidesSanta Monica Mountains

In a limited victory, 28 adult California red-legged frogs were found alive after the Woolsey fire and subsequent mudslides.

“I still don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s a big deal that these frogs survived the fire and the mudslides,” said Katy Delaney, a National Park Service ecologist. “I think that the fact that they survived all of that is extraordinary.”

In 2014, the federally threatened species was reintroduced to the Santa Monica Mountain from Simi Hills. Prior to that, they had not been in the area since the 1970s.

Before the fires, the rare breed was flourishing and reproducing on their own. Now, almost a year later, the important aquatic habitat and vegetation needed to successfully breed have been replaced with silt, mud and debris. The streams no longer exist.


‘Shelter Us’

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Inaugural Palisades Reads Addresses Homelessness in Two-Part Discussion

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The inaugural Palisades Reads—designed by Pacific Palisades Library Association to “foster connections, spark conversations and celebrate the power of books to cultivate empathy”—kicks off this month with a two-night event.

“The idea came about a couple of years ago,” said Laura Nicole Diamond—a resident of The Huntington and the author of the book PPLA selected to be the first focus, “Shelter Us.”

The literary event, modeled after similar programs around the country, encourages community members to read one featured book and participate in conversations around the themes of the book. Other cities with similar programs include Seattle and Santa Monica.

Diamond recalled first talking about the idea with friends and neighbors walking to and from school to drop their kids off. 

“We were talking about it and talking about how my book would be a nice way to begin it,” shared Diamond, adding that it would be a good fit because it is set in Pacific Palisades and addresses local issues, including homelessness.

“Shelter Us,” published in 2015, follows the story of a mother who is struggling with grief following a tragic accident who becomes obsessed with helping a young mother, Josie, experiencing homelessness get back on her feet.

Josie is an amalgam of people Diamond encountered volunteering at the Beyond Shelter, which is now a part of the PATH program, focusing on helping homeless families transition back into housing.

“Many of the families that we helped were young, single mothers, many of who grew up in the foster care system and didn’t have any sort of familial infrastructure to fall back on,” Diamond explained.

Diamond recalled one woman she met who left a lasting impression. While they were helping move the woman into housing, she shared that she did not have any baby photos of herself so it was important that she take a lot of photos of her then-1-year-old daughter so that she would have them when she grew up.

“My heart was touched by her experience,” Diamond shared. “I was so moved … people don’t really see the face of homelessness in a complete picture, so often we see people who are struggling with mental illness or addiction,” but Diamond wanted to shed light on families who have struggled with finding affordable housing. 

On Wednesday, October 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Palisades Branch Library, a panel will meet to discuss the idea of “Save One Life, Save the World?” with participation from community organizations, including Safe Place for Youth, griefHaven and the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness. Diamond will moderate the discussion.

Those who wish to promote a similar “helping” organization will have a chance to do so following the panel and are invited to bring information to share. 

Anyone who attends the conversation and makes a donation of any amount will be gifted a copy of “Shelter Us,” with enough time to read it ahead of the second part of Palisades Reads, a Community Book Club Night on November 13 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“I think we could all use some unifying … activity to do as a community,” Diamond shared. “In these times, the arts can be very soothing and restorative, in an age when we need more empathy … reading is one of the most profound ways to build empathy.”

Those interested in obtaining a copy can attend the panel on October 23 or purchase one wherever books are sold. Palisades Branch Library will also have copies available.

New Book on Palisadian-Founded Kinsey Collection Rethinks America’s Past

Chamber Music Palisades is returning for its 23rd season starting on October 23 at St. Matthew’s Church.

Beginning at 8 p.m., four concerts have been scheduled through 2020, according to its website, and will move to Wednesday nights.

The ensembles will include musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Opera and the LA Chamber Orchestra.

“We hire the best people in town,” Susan Greenberg said in an interview with the Palisadian-Post. “A lot of the musicians are studio musicians, so it’s the best of the best.”

Greenberg is a co-artistic director along with Dolores Stevens, a concert pianist. Members of Chamber Music Palisades include Greenberg, a flutist, oboist Jennifer Cullinan, Sergio Coelho on clarinet, Judith Farmer on bassoon, Amy Jo Rhine on horn and Stevens on piano.

Alan Chapman, a radio host on KUSC-FM radio, will emcee the four Wednesday night concerts on October 23, January 15, March 4 and May 6.

Founded in 1997 by four Palisadians, Chamber Music Palisades is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation “dedicated to the promotion and support of classical music.”

The shows will consist of everything from Mozart to newer contemporary pieces, along with different instrumentation for each. The shows are designed to be audience friendly and inviting to those who might not be familiar with the classical genre.

“We’re trying to give this gift to the community,” Greenberg said. “It’s just been so gratifying over the years that we’ve had such a loyal and supportive audience.”

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door with both cash and credit card, and will start at $35 per person, free for students. A season of four concerts can be purchased for $120.

Concertgoers can call 310-463-4388 with any questions.