Palisadian Organizations Seek, Secure Counsel
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on Wednesday, May 26, to move forward with a feasibility study, proposed by Councilmember Mike Bonin, of temporarily housing people experiencing homelessness in single-occupancy tiny homes, safe camping or safe parking sites at locations across the Westside, including the county-operated Will Rogers State Beach parking lot in Pacific Palisades.
“We are asking for an evaluation and to figure out what is feasible and what is affordable,” Bonin shared during the meeting when given time to speak on the motion, noting the opposition he has received. “God willing, the money from the governor and the federal government will allow us to do enough Homekey and enough master leasing and enough rapid rehousing that we never have to do any of this.”
Bonin added that due to the circumstances throughout the city and Judge Carter’s recent ruling, it is “imperative” the city have a “full menu of solutions in every part of town.”
“I know that this battle is going to be hard, but to address this crisis we need to do, as Mr. Ridley-Thomas said in committee, leave no stone unturned,” Bonin continued, “and that is what I am asking us to do with this motion, is do a feasibility study and make sure that no stone is unturned.”
The motion, first submitted March 31, instructs the office of the City Administrative Officer to evaluate and identify funding for potential temporary projects at proposed locations, including a site for single-occupancy tiny homes or safe camping at the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot; a site at the county-operated Parking Lot #3 at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey; a site at the county-operated RV park at Dockweiler Beach; and a site at the parking lot at Lot 2 in Marina Del Rey.
City Council heard the motion after the Homelessness and Poverty Committee voted 4-1 to move it forward during a May 13 meeting. Councilmember Joe Buscaino was the sole dissenting vote at both meetings.
“We should be looking at … vacant lots, vacant buildings,” he shared on May 13. “Not some of the most popular, most crowded parks and famous beaches in the world. I can tell you these locations are not feasible … I’m voting no on this item.”
During the May 26 meeting, City Council President Nury Martinez reported that her office received more than 500 calls and 100 voicemails about the proposal the day before the hearing.
City Council was originally not going to hear public comment on the motion, but later allowed it after pushback from community members and officials.
“We want to remind you that your number one job is public safety and this motion will put our community’s safety at stake,” Palisadian Krishna Thangavelu stated during public comment. “You have received thousands of emails and calls, and neighborhood council advisories tell you to vote no on this motion.”
Pacific Palisades Community Council Secretary Chris Spitz reported that she was waiting to speak on behalf of the council during public comment, but for the second time, she was not called on.
Martinez added a friendly amendment to the motion prior to public comment to instruct Recreation and Parks to report on the impact on the city park systems and the surrounding communities if park locations are identified for homelessness use.
During the discussion, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, before stating that he would not oppose a feasibility study, commented on how “park poor” Los Angeles is and to be mindful of the consequences, even related to temporary uses.
“The overwhelming majority of beach visitors go to places like Will Rogers [State] Beach and Dockweiler Beach,” O’Farrell continued. “They can only access these sites by motor vehicle … people across Los Angeles, often families with modest means, will pile into their cars every summer to escape the heat, many of them families who live in our park poor communities and need a break to go to the beach and pay a modest fee to park for the entire day.”
The motion also instructs LAX to work with the City Administrative Office to “identify and fund an airport-owned site the city can use” for safe camping, safe parking or tiny homes—pending Federal Aviation Administration approval. The motion also calls for investigating the use of vacant space adjacent to Bonin’s West LA District office in the LA Municipal Building for a temporary shelter for women experiencing homelessness.
Options would also be explored at a privately owned parcel on Beethoven Avenue in Del Rey and at a property owned by Culver City.
Community Organizations Seek, Secure Counsel
Two community organizations, Pacific Palisades Community Council and Pacific Palisades Residents Association, have provided updates on securing counsel as the motion moves forward.
During its May 27 board meeting, PPCC unanimously passed a motion giving authorization to the Executive Committee to begin fundraising and to retain counsel.
“Going forward, the Executive Committee will take steps to retain an attorney to advise and represent us as soon as possible,” PPCC reported following the meeting. “We’ll continue to seek donations toward the PPCC legal fund, and we will take all available and appropriate actions to ensure that homeless housing will not become a sanctioned use at Will Rogers State Beach.”
PPCC Area 3 1st Alternate Nancy Niles commented during discussion that PPRA has gained counsel, and asked if there was a reason the two organizations would overlap or coordinate, “so we’re not stepping on each other’s toes and we’re being more efficient” with fundraising.
“We are hiring our own counsel to advise us as to what the law is and how we can structure our communications to the government officials and others,” PPCC Chair David Card replied. “It’s not just for litigation. This is to advise this body on how best to proceed. The other organization, PPRA, has their own counsel to advise them in the same way.”
PPRA, which has been active since 1958 and “played a critical role in preventing and downsizing projects and developments” in the Palisades, according to its website, is also seeking funds to support its efforts in opposing the motion.
“Please help us keep our beaches safe, clean and accessible this summer,” the PPRA website reads. “Sign the petition and/or help us fight by donating through PayPal. It is up to each one of us to protect that which we value.”
PPRA President Jessica Rogers confirmed that the organization had secured counsel
“PPRA is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) whose mission is to protect and preserve the neighborhoods and the coastal and mountain environment of Pacific Palisades and surrounding areas,” Rogers shared. “We have actively represented the community for over 60 years in defending against dangerous developments and projects that negatively impact the quality of life of the community.
“Our commitment to our mission has been rewarding and created a long-lasting impact in preserving the best of the Palisades. We are determined to continue to unite, represent and protect the residents of the Pacific Palisades.”
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