Staging and Command
This letter was sent by the Pacific Palisades Community Council Executive Committee to City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo and Assistant CAO (overseeing the subject feasibility study) Yolanda Chavez, and has been reprinted here with permission. A full set of letters regarding Councilmember Mike Bonin’s proposal is available at pacpalicc.org.
Supplementing our letters to the CAO of June 10 and June 17, 2021, Pacific Palisades Community Council brings to your attention yet another wildfire that started in brush along PCH after midnight on July 9 and spread to the Tuna Canyon area of Malibu, near Pacific Palisades and other communities in the region of the Santa Monica Mountains.
As was the case with the catastrophic Woolsey fire in November 2018, the massive Palisades fire in May 2021 and the multi-jurisdictional hillside/encampment task force initiative in June 2021, we understand that the WRSB parking lot was used by fire agencies for staging and command during the recent Tuna Canyon fire.
Water-dropping helicopters could be heard by residents of Pacific Palisades, including some of the undersigned, throughout the incident. The entire region—including the communities of Malibu, Topanga Canyon and Pacific Palisades, the larger Las Virgenes area and extensive, sensitive state and federal parkland (within the MRCA and SMMNRA) in the Santa Monica Mountains—was under potential threat. The use of the WRSB lot was critical during all of these events and remains critical due to the continuous threat of devastating wildfires.
It is beyond question that the threat posed by these wildfires is imminent, grave and real. The threat affects not only tens of thousands of housed residents, but also the many unhoused individuals who are known to camp in the brush in hillside and canyon areas throughout this region. Retention of the WRSB parking lot for firefighting command and staging is essential to the safety of all who dwell in the region, housed and unhoused.
We also call your attention to the successful work of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, in particular as outlined in its recent July-August 2021 newsletter. We respectfully submit that any evaluation of this proposed use would be incomplete, misleading and ultimately not useful for the council’s consideration, if it does not take into account the work and direct experience of PPTFH or the actual conditions and impacts on the unhoused as well as the housed inhabitants of the region.
Having said this, we are fully aware based on documents received in response to our Public Records Act requests that the feasibility study for this proposed use had actually begun by the fall of 2020 and was substantially completed in January 2021, months before the above-referenced motion was brought in City Council and the council directed its preparation. PPCC is extremely concerned that unknown to the public or most city councilmembers, “feasibility” had apparently already been pre-determined, without consideration of all relevant facts and impacts, before a vote in council had even taken place.
However, assuming that the study has not in fact already been completed, we again invite you and your staff to visit onsite as soon as possible with PPCC, PPTFH and the LAPD beach detail assigned to this area, for an accurate assessment of the feasibility—or, as PPCC strongly contends, the infeasibility and danger to the public—of using WRSB as a site for homeless housing.
Executive Committee, Pacific Palisades Community Council
David Card, Chair
Christina Spitz, Secretary
David Kaplan, Vice-Chair
Richard G. Cohen, Treasurer
John Padden, Organization
Joanna Spak, Elected Representative (Area 1; Castellammare, Paseo Miramar)
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