By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
While community members wait for the Palisades Recreation Center to be activated as a temporary homeless shelter by the city, residents and local leaders continue to pose questions regarding safety issues.
On Monday, March 30, Palisadian Rebecca Malamed created an online petition addressed to Mayor Eric Garcetti against the plan to house homeless individuals at the center, as well as all other recreation centers in Los Angeles.
The petition had garnered more than 9,000 signatures as the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday evening.
“I want to emphasize that the homeless are an at-risk population and deserve to be protected during this pandemic,” Malamed said to the Palisadian-Post. “I started the petition because I was very concerned that the city’s homeless response to SARS-CoV-2 is completely inappropriate and even counterproductive.”
Malamed offered research to support her argument: She referred to a Japanese study that has demonstrated that the virus is far more transmissible indoors than outdoors, and a study published by Lydia Bourouiba, a researcher from MIT, that demonstrates droplets spreading beyond six feet.
“An indoor communal living situation might simply guarantee that everyone in these recreation centers will become infected by the virus, including any staff and LAPD officers, if even one person enters the facility with the infection,” Malamed said. “I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that the city is putting the homeless at risk, the LAPD and shelter staff at risk and the local communities at risk.”
On Tuesday, April 7, Palisadian Susie Gilman filed court papers in hopes of stopping the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County from using the Palisades Recreation Center, saying that it would “create an incubator of disease,” according to City News Service.
John Durrant is the lead attorney on the case.
According to City News Service, Gilman claimed “putting the homeless in the center … would create a nuisance, and that the city and county should be enjoined from going forward with the plan” in a still unofficial Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.
Gilman and Durrant did not immediately respond to requests for comment as the Post went to print Tuesday evening.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council sent a third letter to Mayor Garcetti, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Councilmember Mike Bonin regarding the issue on Saturday, April 4.
The Executive Committee expressed frustration over not receiving detailed or complete responses regarding the possible shelter, the uncertainty of receiving advance notice or the opportunity to offer their input.
“During this unprecedented public health crisis, the Palisades community needs and deserves assurances that there is a detailed plan, that it’s shared with the community, that it’s safe for residents of the shelter and residents of the community, and that the shelter really is temporary,” the letter states.
The committee also declared their planned opposition without clear responses: “Without complete and satisfactory answers by our public officials convincing us that the use will be safe and suitable, the PPCC Executive Committee would oppose the use of the PRC as a homeless shelter.”
On Tuesday, April 7, members of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness sent a similar letter to officials, concurring with PPCC’s letter and supporting its position.
Members of the community and local officials continue to suggest alternate solutions.
“There are thousands of empty motel and hotel rooms right now,” Malamed added. “These fit the criteria of being ‘individual housing units’ as recommended by the CDC … other cities are adopting this solution. Why is the city not adopting these other solutions?”
Representatives from the offices of Bonin and Garcetti did not respond to questions of if and when the Palisades Recreation Center would be activated as the Post went to print.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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