PPCC Message to the Community and Public Officials
The following message was sent by Pacific Palisades Community Council to all relevant public officials and has been reprinted here with permission.
On April 29, Pacific Palisades Community Council asked Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mike Bonin to promptly and unequivocally answer this question: Will you reject or withdraw any proposal to use the public state beach parking lots for homeless housing?
PPCC has not received a direct response from any of these officials, apart from only a generic, equivocal message from the office of Supervisor Kuehl, apparently written before PPCC’s April 29 letter was sent, which did not directly answer our question.
The fact that elected officials would equivocate is not surprising. Given the importance of this matter and the legitimate concerns expressed by constituents, the failure to acknowledge our concerns or respond at all is disturbing.
It appears that some of our officials may be taking the disingenuous position that a study or other exploration of “feasibility”—proposed to be conducted by the city of Los Angeles, an entity which neither owns nor operates the state beach parking lots—is somehow needed before they can answer PPCC’s simple question.
This is nonsense. A study, whether conducted by the city, county or state, is clearly not required to understand that it should be out of the question to use state beaches and their appurtenant facilities for homeless housing. State beaches are our crown jewel public resource, where dwelling or habitation is expressly prohibited by LA County law.
The state beaches in Los Angeles are our Central Park. Frederick Law Olmsted, the country’s first landscape architect, created that early public park in New York in a space where a city dump had existed. Workers had no access to public open space for recreation and peace of mind in the midst of the urban grit of the Industrial Revolution. Although our state beaches were naturally created, they serve the same purpose here. The public beaches are a magnificent natural resource for all people of greater Los Angeles to escape the heat, play with family and friends, and peacefully use and enjoy.
We haven’t been able to find a single other instance in California where a homeless encampment or shelter of any kind has been allowed to be located at a public beach. The reasons for this are obvious. As Judge Carter recognized, these treasured public spaces must be reserved for use by all citizens as they were intended to be used: for public access and recreation, not as dwelling spaces for the homeless.
On April 30, the day after our last letter was sent to public officials, LA County officials distributed a press release about a grant program for the “LA County Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Measure” (Measure A). County Supervisors stressed the importance of providing access to recreational open space:
- “access to quality parks and recreational facilities are essential for an equitable, healthy and vibrant LA County” (Supervisor Mitchell);
- the Measure A funding will “ensure that all residents have access to recreational spaces that allow them to live, learn and play” (Supervisor Solis);
- “our Board of Supervisors is committed to providing fair and convenient access to these resources for all our residents to enhance both physical health and mental health” (Supervisor Barger);
- the grants will ensure that “all of our neighborhoods have access to beautiful, quality open space” (Supervisor Hahn); and funding for these recreational resources will make “the biggest difference in the health and well-being of local residents” (Supervisor Kuehl).
The public beaches are some of the largest and most-frequented recreational areas in the entire county, enjoyed equally by countless residents of all income levels and from all neighborhoods of Los Angeles. They are iconic areas of “unsurpassed beauty and diversity,” as noted by the Coastal Commission Coastal Access Guide. Although closed for a brief period at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the state beaches are now wide open and their parking lots are packed on hot days with visitors from far and wide taking pleasure in everything that the beaches offer.
We agree with County Supervisors that access to these beautiful, unique and important recreational spaces is critical not only to residents’ health and well-being, but to the vibrancy of LA County as a whole.
PPCC calls on all our elected officials to put a stop now to the bad, unprecedented and unthinkable idea of using the public state beach parking lots for homeless housing.
David Card, Chair
David Kaplan, Vice-Chair
Richard G. Cohen, Treasurer
Christina Spitz, Secretary
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