LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Highlands Falsehoods

Some Palisadians and Angelenos apparently do not appreciate the truly unique environment of The Highlands—its mountains, canyons, trails, rock outcroppings, wildlife and serenity.

Preservation of that environment is the main reason a vast majority of our residents so ardently oppose the proposed eldercare project.

Here’s a brief summary for those whose minds are not made up already:

The proposed site is not in a “highly urbanized” area, as the developer falsely claims. It is an environmentally sensitive hillside lot sitting on a bluff surrounded by the city’s Santa Ynez Park and Topanga State Park.

The dense project will tower over four stories high above the scenic-designated Palisades Drive and excavate two floors of underground parking.

It will create an eyesore, ruining protected views for residents and visitors. Its 24/7/365 intensive operations will dramatically increase noise and light pollution.

It will cause soul-crushing traffic congestion, add to parking nightmares and require new traffic lights to slow drivers coming up and down Palisades Drive.

In spite of the obvious impacts, the preliminary city approval of the project does not require any environmental review. In fact, the project violates numerous key provisions of state environmental law, including the Coastal Act mandate that new developments be “designed to protect views to and along the ocean and scenic coastal areas, to minimize the alteration of natural land forms, and to be visually compatible with the character of surrounding area.”

No Highlands building is remotely this massive or tall.

The site is a state-designated “Very High Severity Fire Hazard Zone,” posing extreme risk to its residents and employees. The facility can easily be cut off from the rest of the city by an earthquake, mud or rock slide, or wildfire.

Placing the facility on this remote site ignores the city’s own planning guidelines for the Palisades that require eldercare facilities to be in close proximity to vital services, doctors, hospitals and public transport—none of which the Highlands offers.

In short, the facility will isolate seniors and pose extraordinary, avoidable risks to its vulnerable residents.

It is truly unimaginable that, after any objective review of the evidence, anyone would consider this ill-conceived project to be “appropriate.”

We are confident that when you know all the facts and come up to visit the site, you will join in opposing this project.

Veronique Jackson | Highlands resident and volunteer for HUGpali.org

Mayors United

Honorary Co-Mayors Janice and Billy Crystal and the effective mayor of Pacific Palisades should get together …

All joking aside, we have something similar to a city council and a mayor right here in the Palisades. The Pacific Palisades Community Council is a volunteer board, made up of elected representatives from all Palisadian neighborhoods (Castellammare, The Highlands, Marquez Knolls, El Medio Bluffs, Alphabet Streets, The Huntington and Via Bluffs, Rustic Canyon/Santa Monica Canyon, The Riviera, plus an “at-large”).

PPCC bylaws require that the board be comprised of equal parts elected and appointed representatives, so we also have volunteer members of local organizations (nonprofits like the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club, American Legion, Pacific Palisades Civic League, Historical Society and more) who have been appointed to our board.

In total, we have a 23-member board voting at any given meeting, and a number of “alternate” board members that bring our total board membership to 41.

We meet every second and fourth Thursday of the month at the Palisades Branch Library meeting room and discuss the issues that impact this community.

Some of the issues we’ve considered and weighed in on with city, county and state officials include the Palisades Village Project, the elder care facility planned in The Highlands, the Shell gas station application for alcohol sales and extended operating hours, the impact of short-term rentals on our neighborhoods, the impact of legalized cannabis, safe parking zones on our streets, bus routes, street vendors, granny flats, cell towers, a local dog park and more.

We took up homelessness and created the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness to address it. We took up Ruthless Ryderz and engaged LAPD as well as our City Council office to give us more traffic task forces to address the growing ridership that was disturbing the quality of life in the Palisades, which, ultimately, PPCC is tasked with preserving.

So next time someone talks about how cool it is that we have some of the most famous honorary mayors in LA, tell them we also have some of the most hard-working volunteer city councilmembers and pseudo mayor in any community across the city. In fact, PPCC was the model that Los Angeles used when they created the modern Neighborhood Council system.

To reach PPCC, email info@pacpalicc.org, and to learn more about our work or to contact your neighborhood representative, visit our site at pacpalicc.org.

Maryam Zar | PPCC Chair

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Bentons

After almost 35 years in the Palisades, I have decided that BENTONS will not reopen and will not be a part of Caruso’s Palisades Village. This has been a very difficult decision, one that I have agonized over for more than two years. I love this town, and I loved being part of the Palisades retail community and owning one of the last family-owned sporting goods stores on the planet.

That said, “every dog has his day” and mine has come and gone. This is a very emotional letter for me because I know it’s over, it’s in print.

It has been so hard to say no for two reasons:

1. Caruso and his staff have been so accommodating to me. For two years they gave me total respect and have been more than fair in all the lease negotiations. They really wanted me back, and I’m thankful for that, but I’m more appreciative of the fact that in the long run, they only wanted what was good for my family and me. I am a huge supporter of the Palisades Village, and I wish them well and will be shopping and eating there like most of the Palisades.

2. And the most important: I will miss being in the sporting goods business and the everyday interaction with all the Palisades, especially the boys and girls who we helped with their sports and summer needs. For the past two years this community, on so many occasions I can’t count, has been so positive about BENTONS coming back. Thank you, thank you. I am sorry.

I have never written a letter to the editor, but after 35 years, I’m due. I really hope that everyone understands that this very tough decision was mine alone.

I again want to thank all my customers, my past employees and most of all, I want to thank my manager, Dottie Henkle, who was my sidekick for more than 30 years in this wild ride. Thanks, Dottie.

Thanks again Palisades, see you in town or at the Field of Dreams.

Bob Benton | Alphabet Streets


Canyon Park News

It was full house at Franklin Canyon Park meeting to address fire safety risks, emergency preparedness and homelessness. The forum was organized by Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, a WRAC member.

The mayor’s field rep, Daniel Tamm, was there to briefly address the crowd and advocate community support for ending homelessness. Panelists included Veronica de la Cruz Robles of the City Attorney’s office, Assistant LAFD Fire Chief Armando Hogan, City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David Ryu, as well as representatives from the City Emergency Management Department, Park Rangers, LAHSA, Safe Parking LA, St. Joseph’s Center and more.

The most unique of the panelists was Albert “Bert” Mutto who spoke about transitioning out of homelessness and drew applause when he said his road to recovery started with just one Palisadian who cared enough to ask him how he was doing. That person was Brian Shea. The rest is history.

Shea introduced him to me on fire service day when I was being named LAFD honorary fire chief at Station 69. That was where Mutto met Chief Hogan, who was sitting at the table among the panelists with him tonight.

Neighborhood Prosecutor Veronica de la Cruz Robles gave a specific nod to the Palisades effort to protect our bluffs through the fire hazard signs that the community worked to develop with LAFD, paid for with private donations.

After two hours of Q&A, with a focus on law enforcement and safety, the night ended with Ryu reminding everyone that housing is the key to ending homelessness. No amount of safety preparedness, he said, will eliminate encampments in hillsides or the threat of fire, until we come together as a city and fund more affordable housing units.

Maryam Zar | Marquez Knolls


The Highlands

Per the Post’s forecast (“City Poised to Approve Highlands Project Without Changes,” Jan. 25) the Zoning Authority has ruled on the developer’s applications.

I was disappointed in the ruling, which approved the developer’s applications for Site Plan Review Approval, Coastal Development Permit and categorical exemption from CEQA (environmental) review.

The hundreds of Palisadians who sent letters and signed petitions opposing the project undoubtedly share my disappointment

Although the project might pass muster under the city’s zoning ordinance that is only part of the equation.

The ZA’s approval ignored the dozens of neighborhood and regional protections contained in the California Coastal Act, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Community Plan. Accordingly, I plan to appeal, and I understand that many others intend to do so as well.

The deadline for appeals to the West LA Area Planning Commission, the first level of administrative appeal, is Feb. 12. Other layers of appeal then follow, including possible litigation, so this matter is far from over.

Given the egregiously inappropriate nature of the project and the layers of protection contained in numerous applicable California laws, I am confident that at some point in the appellate process, justice will prevail and this project will be denied.

Robert T. Flick | The Highlands


Highlands Appeal

“City is Poised to Approve Highlands Project Without Changes” in the Jan. 25 edition suggests that the senior living facility then approved by City Planning meets the requirements of Los Angeles Municipal Code and objections to the project are futile. This is incorrect.

The project requires a Coastal Development Permit that certifies the project is in compliance with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act and is appealable to the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, established by the city to adjudicate appeals of decisions of the Planning Department, to the Coastal Commission and as a last resort, by seeking judicial relief.

The Highlands area of Pacific Palisades is in the Coastal Zone, including the commercially zoned area under discussion. The development would require a Coastal Development Permit and would need to be in conformance with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act.

The project may be in accordance with the Los Angeles Municipal Code. However, the Coastal Act and the Coastal Commission Interpretive Guidelines supersede the code in the Coastal Zone. This has been sustained in a recent State Appeals Court decision. Such conflict exists in the visual compatibility between a four-story structure and nearby residential condominiums.

The proposed development is located in a highly scenic area. It would not be subordinate to the natural character of this setting, as required, and would significantly degrade the area.

The Regional Interpretive Guidelines specific to the Palisades instruct that commercial establishments should be public recreation or recreation supportive, or otherwise, a coastally related facility in the Coastal Zone. A senior living facility would not be in keeping with this instruction. The restaurant adjacent to the proposed project is an example of an appropriate use of that site.

The project calls for the excavation and grading of 19,308 cubic yards of earth material for two stories of underground parking. The Regional Interpretive Guidelines prohibits grading; cutting or filling that will alter landforms such as bluffs or cliffs. In permitted development areas in all cases, grading should be minimized. This excavation would equate to the 1,930 truckloads of 10 cubic yard trucks or 3,860 hauling trips on Palisades Drive.

In summery, a Coastal Development Permit should not be issued as the development is not in conformity to the Chapter 3 and will prejudice the ability of local government to prepare a local coastal program in conformity the Coastal Act.

Joe Halper | Former Member of West LA Planning Commission

(Editor’s note: We did not use the word “futile” but instead predicted appeals.)

The Battle of Pacific Palisades

It has been many years since I lived in Pacific Palisades, but the recent wildfires brought a recollection from the 1961 Bel-Air fire.

This fire raged for many days, consuming more than 400 homes. Palisades High School was shut down, reportedly not for fear of the fire, but so high school traffic would not interfere with all the emergency vehicles on Sunset Boulevard.

While my parents stayed home and picked up many years’ worth of pine needles, which they had considered mulch but was now a fire hazard, a friend and I decided to investigate what was happening with the fire. The smoke was coming from all along the Santa Monica Mountains just north of the Palisades. We spotted a fire truck stationed on McKendree Avenue, just west of Monument Street. We decided to talk to the fireman as to what was going on. They indicated they were stationed there to see if any sparks came flying their way.

Just then, one of the firemen pointed to a chimney of white smoke in a canyon area behind a distant hill. He said that if that hotspot wasn’t put out, the fire would come racing into Pacific Palisades. Then three or four airplanes showed up and started circling the plume of smoke.

One aircraft came down and “bombed” the plume, and then another, and soon it had disappeared. I have always considered that incident the battle that saved Pacific Palisades.

George Peairs | San Diego

Dire Housing Threat

Following up on the Post’s reporting in the Jan. 11 edition, “2018 State Laws that Could Shake Up Home Building—and the New Housing Bill that Could Reshape the Palisades,” I want to alert the community to the dangerous bill SB-827 (Wiener-San Francisco), sponsored by a YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard) organization (cayimby.org).

It is ostensibly to address the state’s housing deficit.

The stated goal of the YIMBY movement is to “reverse” long-standing zoning distinctions (particularly single-family/R1 and other low-density zones, which it regards as exclusionary, antiquated relics) in order to achieve denser housing statewide.

SB-827 is the nose in the camel’s tent. It would completely override local land use controls in areas near major transit hubs in all California cities.

In large swaths of Los Angeles, permission without review for buildings as high as 85 feet would be required, and R1 zoning, community plans, and height, density, design and parking requirements would be erased (within a quarter- to half-mile radius of major transit corridors and rail/bus stops). Local initiatives to address affordable housing, such as Measure JJJ, would also be made meaningless.

But don’t take my word for it. As one of the bill’s YIMBY supporters enthuses: “Yes, you read that right. SB-827 preempts a city’s restrictions on parking minimums, floor area ratio and residential density” (eastbayforeveryone.org).

The bill is causing great concern regionally.

The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils’ leadership has recommended a motion opposing SB-827 to its 13 member-councils (including PPCC); Brentwood Community Council, among others, has already voted to oppose.

City Councilmember Paul Koretz has called the bill “devastating” and “the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”

As of this writing, our City Councilmember Mike Bonin is still studying it, but indicates he has concerns.

Why should Palisadians care?

After all, the bill may not directly impact us, since we don’t seem to have major transit hubs—yet. (I’m told that the city has been influenced to increase bus trip frequency and add stops on streets elsewhere in Los Angeles; it could happen here on Sunset.)

Even so, most of us regularly travel outside the Palisades and would certainly be affected by the bill’s impacts on Brentwood, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and beyond.

Ultimately, the bill is a slippery slope toward an even greater “top down” takeover of local control—with potential extinguishment of community and specific plans and single-family zones. Reasonable citizens want to solve the affordable housing crisis, but SB-827—a blatant power grab that imposes statewide zoning—is not the answer.

Christina Spitz

For identification only: PPCC Chair/President Emeritus

Whoops!

I think it is very nice that you are having a Spelling Bee, but we just wanted you to know that you may have made a little mistake. We want you to know that you spelled “receive” incorrectly in your advertisement for the Pali Bee. There is a rule that really helps: “I before E except after C.”

Clarisse Grusky, age 7
Pacific Palisades

(Editor’s note: Please, Clarisse, sign up for the Pali Bee—and when can we offer you a job on the paper?)

Catching Up at PPWC

In April, I completed a two-year term as president of the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club and the successful restoration of the 5,000-square-foot clubhouse. I am looking back with gentle pride and a feeling of achievement at what had seemed an impossibility two years earlier: The “Grand Old Dame” built in 1950 needed a serious face lift aesthetically, and the main ballroom had to be stripped down to the studs and rafters for health and safety reasons.

Lighting and engineering choices had to be made and ultimately the décor such as color and lighting fixture needed decisions. The costs seemed prohibitive and the Capital Campaign fundraising had not met expectations.

As true Palisadians, the powerful women of the PPWC let their opinions be known and they were not always in agreement. But all were committed toward one goal: to save the clubhouse in support of the community.

A little known fact is that over 1,000 people from various service, charitable and self-help organizations use the facility weekly (some confidentially), most of them with no other affordable place to go. The impact of the PPWC Clubhouse on the lives of Palisadians is enormous!

Contractors reduced their cost or donated time or material, Sue Beazley took over financial management, a construction committee steered the final efforts of ceiling and lighting decisions, and President Elect Cathi Ruddy ultimately solved the lighting problem and purchase decisions. It truly took a village to come together, coordinate, cooperate and “make it happen!”

Cathi took over as president on April 1 and is lending a calm and gentle hand to the continued leadership of the Woman’s Club, with a truly successful charitable Home Tour and Boutique event this year, netting almost $40,000 to be given away via Grant Fund Request to over 20 local organizations, and an additional $12,000 allocated toward continued clubhouse improvements.

2018 is looking bright. I will enjoy visiting the Woman’s Club for fun events, watching smiling renters come and go; many of them will be unaware of the struggles to keep the clubhouse alive, and that is the way we want it to be.

I have also made a commitment to start a self-help group for caregivers in Pacific Palisades as I have found others who have gone through the same struggles at home and lack of information as I have. We will meet at the Woman’s Club. The circle closes mysteriously.

Haldis Toppel | Past President PPWC

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Westside Coalition’s Response

The People Concern (formerly OPCC) is a founding member of the Westside Coalition. We are 47 social service agencies, governmental agencies, faith organizations and businesses, addressing issues of housing, hunger and health in the communities on the Westside.

We stand in solidarity to proudly support our colleagues and friends at The People Concern in the face of slanderous and unfounded accusations.

A letter containing numerous lies, including “physical and sexual assault,” “altering official records,” “disability discrimination” and patient dumping, was printed in the Palisadian-Post on Dec. 14.

These are serious charges and unfounded claims. The charges are so ridiculous and almost laughable to anyone that knows and works with The People Concern.

We know and care about the staff and clients at The People Concern; we know their leaders, we know their doctors, we know their frontline staff and we know their clients.

Over the years, staff of our member organizations have made many hundreds of unannounced visits to the programs of OPCC/The People Concern without finding any evidence to corroborate these wild assertions. It is an outrage for such absurd charges to be made toward an organization that does so much good for people with great needs on the Westside.

The People Concern is an organization that meets and exceeds the necessary governing oversight and is broadly recognized for its standard of excellence. That sentiment is repeated time and time again, as witnessed by the many responses to the contemptible letter to the editor on Dec. 14. Those responses are made by people that truly know the staff and policies of our partner agency.

We stand wholeheartedly with The People Concern against these slanderous lies and attacks. And we are overjoyed that the hateful comments of two uninformed people have generated such positive attention and support of our friends and colleagues.

Darci Niva | The Westside Coalition


The People Concern

We would like to address the Letter to the Editor that was published in the Dec. 14 issue regarding The People Concern (formerly OPCC).

The claims made in that letter are simply unfounded and not at all reflective of the experiences we have had with OPCC/The People Concern. We know the people there to be compassionate, committed social servants who act with integrity and always put the needs of those they serve ahead of all else.

As members of the Pacific Palisades community, we have had nothing but positive experiences with The People Concern. The People Concern are our neighbors that help neighbors. The have been here to assist the Westside and address the issue of homelessness for over 50 years.

It is because of their values and practices that we have entrusted The People Concern with the responsibility of ensuring that our homeless neighbors are, like its motto states, housed, healthy and safe.

As our service partners of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, they have worked tirelessly in our community in pursuit of our shared goal to reach individuals experiencing homelessness. In just the first year, the results they accomplished in partnership with the Palisades community are dramatic.

The rate of homelessness in Pacific Palisades has reduced by 50 percent because of The People Concern placing these individuals into housing. This has been clearly visible and a massive feat. We are grateful for what they have achieved with us.

Without them treating people with respect and kindness, all this would not have been possible. Without them being well trained in what they do, all this would not have been possible. They have truly made in a difference in our community.

Members of the Pacific Palisades Community & Supporters of OPCC/The People Concern:

Beth Abrams, Chuck Adams, Board Member of The People Concern, Rae Archibald, Board Member of The People Concern, The Rev. Kristin Barberia, Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Terry Bird, Glenn and Tracy Bunting, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Courtney and Martin Caverly, John and Kathy Choi, Leslie and Larry Clark, Helen Cooksey, M.D., Jocelyn Cortese, Phil Darrow, Gina Deutsch-Zakarin, Hunter Doble, Chris Dunkel Schetter, Eric and Debora Edmunds, Jackie Ehlers, Troy Elander, Michael Freehling, The Rev. Bruce A. Freeman, Bill Garland, Sheri Green, Ivy Greene, Dave Higley, Heather Hildebrand and Tim Marble, Rachel Jeffer, Billy Jones, Steaven Jones, Board Member of The People Concern, Mary Ellen and Chris Kanoff, Steven Lewis, Suzanne and Rob Lowe, Nicole and John Mack, Pete Mann Jr., Lucinda and Greg Mariscal, Lawry and Charlie Meister, Tracy Metzger, The Rev. David Walton Miller, Angela and Mark Milstein, Sarah Peterson, The Rev. Christine Purcell, Melissa Rawlins, Carolyn and Michael Rodeno, Luisa and Gary Romoff, Michelle Ross, Marcia and Kacy Rozelle, Merrie Mac and Bleecker Seaman, Eitan Shacham, Shawn Silletti, Charlie Smith, Board Member of The People Concern, Gustaf and Melinda Soderbergh, Brian Temple, Board Member of The People Concern, Amanda and Rick Toland, Peter and Suzanne Trepp, Claudia Vallon, Dede Vlietstra, Carole White, and Daniela Winter

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

On Dec. 14 the Palisadian-Post published a reader’s letter criticizing The People Concern, the Santa-Monica agency that works with the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness.  The response has been equally vigorous. We published a first selection here: more letters may follow.


People Concern-1

I found it heartbreaking and maddening that you printed the fact-less article about OPCC/The People Concern without any counterpoint from the organization. What kind of journalism is that? I’ve been a regular volunteer with OPCC/The People Concern for over 20 years.

I began by delivering clothes to the Access Center in the mid-’90s and then making sack lunches for the Access Center clients. After that, I got involved with Turning Point Transitional Shelter, Samoshel Shelter, and Daybreak Shelter.

During my many years with various projects, I’ve seen firsthand the incredible dedication, skill and care of the staff, and the fine leadership of the management team. I’ve known the homeless people whose lives have been changed. Many of these people have lost hope because their mental and physical health is so frail, and their spirits have been broken.

It takes special training, and a special kind of dedication to lift folks out of their despair and return their hope and dignity. There are so many barriers for social services agencies like OPCC/The People Concern, and I am inspired by the staff’s tenacity, resilience, and determination to change lives for the better.

OPCC/The People Concern is an incredible organization and they deserve our thanks.  We are lucky they are participating with the PPTFH to help us take care of the homeless people in our community.  I would encourage the Palisadian-Post to do some research before they print letters with false claims.

Jocelyn Cortese


People Concern-2

We have been subscribers to the Palisadian-Post since 1976, back to when the Post printed the Pali High Tideline in your offices. The December 14th Letter to the Editor by a “concerned citizen” regarding the People Concern (formerly OPCC) set a new low for malicious disinformation and false accusations.

I am surprised you printed it.

I am pleased to be a major supporter of the Access Center, the main entry point for The People Concern’s services providing our homeless neighbors with immediate access to showers, lockers, meals, medical treatment, therapy, and, ultimately, permanent housing supported by highly skilled and trained multi-disciplinary teams who keep those they serve housed, healthy, and safe.

This is the initial entry point for the homeless from Pacific Palisades, Malibu and Santa Monica.

 I am also a major supporter of the Housing First program at The People Concern that successfully takes individuals off the streets and guides them into a program in which 95% of those housed are never homeless again.  This program is nationally recognized for its efficacy.

The bottom line is whether you work, live, dine, shop or visit Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades or Malibu, you have benefitted from the services of The People Concern.

They have reduced the local homeless population by 1/3 and they deserve our support.  At this holiday season, all of us should be grateful for their work.

  James Montgomery 


People Concern-3

The claims being made in the Palisadian-Post about The People Concern are not only untrue and unsubstantiated, but counter to the culture of our organization and what we stand for as an agency. It’s extremely unfortunate that false statements are being circulated by individuals who represent themselves as “concerned citizens,” instead of the angry, vindictive people they are, promoting a personal agenda and using homeless people and our agency as a way to get attention.

The People Concern is absolutely committed to serving those in need. That encompasses the well being of our program participants who have physical and mental disabilities, and our commitment to care includes providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and adhering to Fair Housing laws.

The safety and welfare of all of our program participants is of the utmost importance to us. As such, we would never allow or initiate any actions that would jeopardize or threaten the well being of program participants. We would never allow or initiate any practices that would violate the rights of or discriminate against program participants, including those with disabilities. And, we would never turn a blind eye to any reports of misconduct or mistreatment.

The work that we do in our community is service oriented and, by necessity, it is highly individualized, based around building trust and strong relationships with our most vulnerable in neighborhoods across Los Angeles County.

We make an investment in hiring qualified staff members trained to provide the highest level of service to our potential and current program participants. From the outreach workers in the field, personally connecting with those currently experiencing homelessness, to the case managers assigned to each of our program participants, our goal is to ensure the best care, support and outcomes for the people we serve.

A clear and accessible grievance policy exists and is followed; all complaints are and have been investigated and addressed appropriately; and a director of training was hired earlier this year to help coordinate and increase regular training for staff that the agency already provides for working with people who have experienced severe trauma.

The agency is subjected to rigorous oversight from multiple government bodies. We are audited from both a fiscal and programmatic standpoint multiple times a year. These audits include visits to our facilities, and interviews with our staff and program participants.

We are proud that we not only meet or exceed the standards expected by the many regulators to which we answer, but we are often used as the standard of excellence. Many of our programs and services have been replicated as best practices locally and nationally.

Our mission as an agency, for over 50 years, has been rooted in helping our community’s most vulnerable neighbors rebuild their lives. Through coordination with the Palisades community, we have worked in pursuit of our shared goal to reach out to individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the first year we partnered together to provide outreach and services, the rate of homelessness in Pacific Palisades was reduced by 50 percent. This achievement was made possible through the strong partnership we have with the Palisades community.

It is unfortunate that because of the claims being made, our energy must shift to refuting falsehoods—energy that could be better spent working on our mission to ensure everyone is housed, healthy and safe.

However, we will continue our commitment to the community to provide the highest level of service, care and support to those in need, and to continue striving for a day when homelessness is a thing of the past.

John Maceri | The People Concern


People Concern-4

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) we write in response to the “Community Call” letter published by the Palisadian-Post on December 14, 2017. We have extensive experience with and knowledge about The People Concern (formerly known as OPCC) which we want to share with the Post and our community.

Throughout 2015 PPTFH researched best practices and comprehensive service providers in order to determine our approach to address the destructive consequences of homelessness in the Palisades. Our research found that The People Concern was one of the highest rated agencies for successfully assisting homeless people into permanent housing (with a 95% retention rate) and one of the most highly regarded of the comprehensive service providers in our region and state.

After conducting an RFP process, we selected and contracted with The People Concern to provide Pacific Palisades with a full time, professional outreach team to work with our community to address homelessness. Since January 2016 we have worked closely with all levels of The People Concern, often on a daily basis.  We have achieved a 50% reduction in the number of homeless individuals in our community and 73% of our resident homeless individuals are in transitional or permanent supportive housing. We have reduced the number of occupied homeless encampments from 57 to 5. These remarkable accomplishments are due to The People Concern’s diligent, skilled, professional and compassionate commitment to helping persons that are physically and/or mentally vulnerable.

Our outreach team has consistently demonstrated thoughtful kindness, respect, compassion and professional, caring services and behavior as they work with the homeless people in our community. We have a PPTFH oversight committee that meets with The People Concern monthly to evaluate the status of work of our outreach team and the homeless individuals they are working with from the Palisades. We admire and respect The People Concern organization and particularly their staff for their personal sacrifices in serving our homeless individuals and our Pacific Palisades community.

We understand that The People Concern is constrained by the Health Information Patient Privacy Act (HIPPA) in publically responding to the statements made about them and admire the integrity that they maintain while dealing with these current circumstances.

PPTFH remains committed to serving and protecting the Palisades community and partnering with The People Concern to provide our homeless persons with professional and compassionate services. Our continued work depends upon the continued informed support of our entire community.

PPTFH Executive Committee

Doug Mc Cormick, President

Sharon Browning, Vice President

David Morena, Secretary-Treasurer


People Concern-4

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) we write in response to the “Community Call” letter published by the Palisadian-Post on December 14, 2017. We have extensive experience with and knowledge about The People Concern (formerly known as OPCC) which we want to share with the Post and our community.

Throughout 2015 PPTFH researched best practices and comprehensive service providers in order to determine our approach to address the destructive consequences of homelessness in the Palisades. Our research found that The People Concern was one of the highest rated agencies for successfully assisting homeless people into permanent housing (with a 95% retention rate) and one of the most highly regarded of the comprehensive service providers in our region and state.

After conducting an RFP process, we selected and contracted with The People Concern to provide Pacific Palisades with a full time, professional outreach team to work with our community to address homelessness. Since January 2016 we have worked closely with all levels of The People Concern, often on a daily basis.  We have achieved a 50% reduction in the number of homeless individuals in our community and 73% of our resident homeless individuals are in transitional or permanent supportive housing. We have reduced the number of occupied homeless encampments from 57 to 5. These remarkable accomplishments are due to The People Concern’s diligent, skilled, professional and compassionate commitment to helping persons that are physically and/or mentally vulnerable.

Our outreach team has consistently demonstrated thoughtful kindness, respect, compassion and professional, caring services and behavior as they work with the homeless people in our community. We have a PPTFH oversight committee that meets with The People Concern monthly to evaluate the status of work of our outreach team and the homeless individuals they are working with from the Palisades. We admire and respect The People Concern organization and particularly their staff for their personal sacrifices in serving our homeless individuals and our Pacific Palisades community.

We understand that The People Concern is constrained by the Health Information Patient Privacy Act (HIPPA) in publically responding to the statements made about them and admire the integrity that they maintain while dealing with these current circumstances.

PPTFH remains committed to serving and protecting the Palisades community and partnering with The People Concern to provide our homeless persons with professional and compassionate services. Our continued work depends upon the continued informed support of our entire community.

PPTFH Executive Committee,

Doug Mc Cormick, President

Sharon Browning, Vice President

David Morena, Secretary-Treasurer 


Fake News

Your editor’s praise of the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg movie “The Post” (about 1971 newspaper revelations that US governments knew they would lose the Vietnam war) misses one danger to today’s newspapers: The phrase “fake news’ legitimized by our president to undermine the legitimacy of media outlets he does not like is now parroted by governments in Russia, Venezuela, China and Syria and The Philippines – which might tell you something about the club that squirms under newspaper scrutiny. And why we need all newspapers, from the Washington Post to our own Palisadian-Post. Long may they irritate.

John Axelson | Alphabet Streets

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Community Call

We write to you as fellow citizens concerned about the quality of life for all in our local communities.

Our principal goal has been to raise awareness and introduce measures of accountability for an issue that the public is largely unaware of: the questionable competence and caliber of homeless services offered by OPCC, the nonprofit agency that the Palisades’ community has contracted out to assist with the local issue of homelessness.

Visit the OPCC website and you will see its noble mission statement. One would be hard pressed to conclude OPCC does not provide needed services to the Santa Monica, LA and Palisades communities.

However, in its internal operations, too often there is a gap between policy and practice. Upon entering OPCC’s transitional housing facility, most individuals familiar with Santa Monica’s culture and values expect to be entering a progressive, well-informed, harm-reductive, client-centered system of care. However, not long after walking through the doors, many enter a state of shock and disbelief.

We are aware that what we discuss below will likely be difficult or uncomfortable for many readers to digest. But when the truth and critical contextual details are intentionally hidden from the stakeholders, taxpayers and contracting entities, the only solution is bring it out into the light. We have spoken in front of the Santa Monica City Council, to several authoritative bodies and public officials about these issues.

Any reasonable, rational, fair-minded citizen would see the current status quo as unacceptable.

Some examples include the following:

  • Clients in residential facilities are too often physically or sexually assaulted, as staff is neither interested in nor adequately trained in crisis intervention; and residents complain of no operative cameras inside and at the entrances of residential facilities.
  • Non-functioning grievance procedures: whitewashing, throwing out, altering of credible client grievances and official records is routine, as is gaslighting and brazen lying about the events that led to them.
  • The staff is untrained about and hostile to reasonable accommodation requests. For example, a wheelchair-bound client asking for his bed to be lowered so that he can climb into bed had to sleep in his wheelchair for months because of the program director’s inaction.
  • Temporary and permanent eviction of disabled people into the streets, without due process in violation of fair housing and ADA reasonable accommodation laws is the norm.

The power differential left in the hands of untrained and inadequately supervised staff has led to a culture of intimidation, retaliation and disability discrimination. Various forms of emotional abuse are employed to exert social control rather than provide social services.

The threats used by the staff are so effective, the general public has heard nothing of this internal culture. The unhoused community is extremely aware of these abuses and tends to be resistant to obtaining “services” for that very reason.

Unfortunately, any official oversight that does exist, itself needs credible oversight. It is largely kangaroo oversight.

A senior attorney at Legal Aid has recently confirmed that their office has received these sorts of complaints about OPCC over the years and has expressed an interest in pursuing reform.

We urge the forward-thinking Pacific Palisades community to support the establishment of a countywide ordinance to assure operating standards for homeless services providers, like the one functioning in San Francisco. As an integral part of this effort we seek your support to create a temporary housing and shelter monitoring committee.

Speaking for all citizens of conscience, we believe that the degrading, dehumanizing and discriminatory treatment of too many OPCC clients—most of whom have disabilities—must end immediately.

Micheal Louis | Olga Zurawska