Home Blog Page 3

Real Estate Q&A: Cindy Ambuehl

Photos courtesy of Cindy Ambuehl

A familiar face who spent 20 years in the entertainment industry as a prominent actress and model, Cindy Ambuel now leverages her natural ability to connect with people as a full-time agent helping clients buy and sell the most luxurious properties the greater Los Angeles area has to offer.

Tell us a bit about your childhood—where did you grow up? Any hobbies or interests?

Ambuehl: I grew up in Orange County and had an amazing childhood with my parents and my sister. We were a very close-knit family. I was a super tomboy, and used to barrel race horses and play football in the streets with the neighbor boys. I was involved with every club in high school. Cheerleading, songleading, etc. I volunteered a lot of time reading to underprivileged children and tutoring them in math.

What was your first job?

Ambuehl: Mr. T’s! It was our local version of Tastee Freeze. I started working when I was 14 years old. I was so tall that they didn’t even ask me what my age was, they just gave me the job. Best part was eating as much ice cream as I wanted.

What inspired you to enter the world of real estate?

Ambuehl: I always had a love for real estate and did it as a hobby throughout my 22-year acting career. I used to take my studio bonuses and buy duplexes and apartment buildings in Orange County. I also bought a couple properties in Yorba Linda. I always enjoyed it.

How has your time in the entertainment industry helped you in real estate?

Ambuehl: “You’re only as good as your next job.” I hate to say that, but in the entertainment industry, you have to stay relevant and keep auditioning for that next role. You also have to be okay with the ups and downs. In both industries (entertainment and real estate), there are times when you are working around the clock, day in and day out, and there are other times when things have slowed down, and you are waiting for the next big season. The entertainment industry taught me to ride out those lows. Like a plane, we are built to withstand the turbulence …

Do you represent homes in all neighborhoods of the Palisades?

Ambuehl: Yes, every neighborhood has something special to offer and I enjoy sharing it.

Tell us about one of your favorite current listings.

Ambuehl: How can I only choose one?! I have so many favorites right now. 12760 S Bristol Circle: A serene and sensational new build. 2383 Mandeville Canyon: a truly magical compound.  701 Rochedale Way: an incredible home with even more incredible views.

808 San Vicente Blvd.: an entertainer’s dream home in prime Santa Monica. 159 Fraser Ave.: a wonderfully charming craftsman beach home.

What advice do you have for first-time home buyers?

Ambuehl: The same advice I give any buyer: Be smart, don’t be house poor, but definitely extend if you plan to be there for a long time. Really think about your plan and the location fitting your lifestyle. Is this a long term or short term home for you? All of that makes a difference in your purchase, because we truly believe in selling a lifestyle and experience. First time home buyers are usually younger, and I always ask them where they see themselves in five years. Sometimes having that long term vision in mind can change the direction of their decisions.

What are some of the current trends in real estate?

Ambuehl: People are steering away from the McMansions with little yards and looking more toward a home with modest square footage and extensive outdoor space. I think quarantine taught us that outdoor space in your home is extremely important.

What do you do for fun when you are not working?

Ambuehl: When I’m not working, 99.9% of my time is spent with my husband and our six boys. That’s my happy place and that’s when I feel like all the hard work is worth it. It’s always for them. We have a lot of fun, and we all really enjoy our time together. We laugh so much. My family is everything to me. Happy squad!

A Look at Real Estate in the Palisades After Three Months of COVID

By Michael Edlen | Special to the Palisadian-Post

I continue to be surprised at the underlying strength of the Palisades real estate market. Many people I talk with have assumed that real estate has been completely inactive since March. On the contrary, considering that we have just gone through 14 weeks of semi-quarantine conditions, the rate of recovery has been remarkable. Here are some examples.

Despite the market impact of the COVID situation since the beginning of 2020, the median average price that homes have been selling for is about 10% higher this year. This reflects the tremendous strength of the market during the first quarter of the year as well as the continuing underlying strength of demand that appears to be propelling the market to even higher levels.

Although the inventory of Palisades homes and condos available is 20% lower than mid-year 2019, the inventory of homes for lease here is 19% higher than last year at this time. This appears to indicate that we have a relatively stable number of people wanting to move, which is interesting to note.

One of the more unexpected observations is that in June there were 50% more new escrows opened (41) than experienced in June 2019 and nearly three times greater than in May of this year. We have not had this many new escrows open in a June since 2015. Another unexpected observation is that the number of escrows closed in June this year (19) was not that much less than last June (22).

Additional indicators of a growing strength underlying the market have been seen online and in showing activity. We track the number of visitors to each of our listings online as well as the number of clicks into the listing information. There has been a steady increase in both of these metrics since the beginning of May.

More people are taking our virtual and 3D tours each week, and I have been receiving more inquiries from agents and prospective home buyers. Moreover, during the last two weeks, we have had more showings requested and more offers submitted than we have seen since mid-March.

If someone is interested in more detailed perspectives, the local market can be analyzed based on specific neighborhoods or different price ranges.  Our review of the 12 Palisades sub-markets in an accompanying chart clearly shows significant differences.

Likewise, we do a monthly analysis of Palisades sales statistics in different price ranges, as we have discovered that various price ranges have different patterns in terms of how long it may take to sell a home as well as the strength in that price bracket. For example, as of mid-year, at the current rate of sales below the $6 million level, there is now an inventory that would take less than five months to sell assuming no new listings were to come on the market at that level. However, there are so many homes for sale above $6 million now that it could take nearly a year to sell all of them at the current rate of sales.

While most people have been predicting a housing market that suffers badly from the COVID environment, many of us have anticipated a second half of the year with recovery nearly as quickly as the spring period was impacted negatively. Time will tell, but the mid-year indications could be a sign of a market already well on the way back toward where it was in early March.

Michael Edlen has been tracking local real estate statistics since 1987, and counsels many people each month about timing and alternatives of selling and/or buying homes. He can be reached at michael@edlenteam.com or 310-230-7373.

Keeping Summer Fun

Steve Morris has run Coast Sports Camp for 20 years and his new book “What Size Balls Do I Need?” is scheduled to come out in August.

Coast Sports Founder and Author Steve Morris Takes His Youth Camp Online

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

For two decades, Steve Morris has kept a thriving youth sports community alive with his unflagging enthusiasm and innovative ideas. This summer was supposed to mark the 20th anniversary of his popular Coast Sports Camp at Brentwood Magnet—that is, until the coronavirus outbreak led to the closure of all school campuses, jeopardizing all sports activities in the Palisades and adjacent communities for months.

Morris was in a bind, knowing his coaches and kids were counting on the camp. So he decided to take it online at coastsports.com. He has come up with a virtual concept with several rooms for kids to visit, each with a different activity. It’s called  “Summer of Fun LIVE” and the mission is to empower children by providing a nurturing, creative and fun-filled setting where they get to choose what activities they want to  participate in.

“We ask the question ‘If we were kids what would we want to do?’ and go from there,” Morris says. “During these difficult days it’s even more important for kids to feel connected, be with their friends and be engaged and entertained in an environment that’s safe. In fulfilling those needs we provide continuity and optimism while helping our campers become the best versions of themselves. Our motto is ‘Why Not’ which is our emphatic response to any suggestion for a new activity or diversion at camp. It goes a long way towards explaining the singular, child-centered quirkiness of what we do and how we’re different from everybody else.”

Born of a little boy’s desire to play soccer with Coach Dad, Coast Sports began on a patch of Barrington Park grass with a bag of half-inflated balls and a set of cranky PVC goals. It grew from one class to a weekly slate. “Summer of Fun” began in 2001. It’s a community wherein each child is the most important child on the field. Each family is an integral part of a larger one. Such is the program Morris has cultivated. 

Morris described his passion to keep his camp going in a blog post titled “Kids Need Camp.”

The cover of Steve Morris’ new book “What Size Balls Do I Need?”

The post reads: “From the middle of March when the cancellation of sports big and small confirmed with a disorienting finality that the Twilight Zone was a real place I nursed the hope that by June life would be back to normal, or least a workable version of it. The possibility we wouldn’t be on campus to celebrate our 20th anniversary was too remote and too grim to contemplate. A few weeks later, even as LAUSD was canceling the remainder of the physical school year I clung to a belief that campuses across the city would reopen for the summer. The coup de grace came shortly after. Schools would remain shuttered until, virus-willing, mid-August. But kids need camp! They need to unplug their brains and power up their primal selves. They need to run, jump, dance, draw, play, kick, shout, splash and laugh. Camp is life’s laboratory, where kids get to experiment and experience and make new friends. Kids need to be around other kids, which is why, after watching camps all around surrender to the COVID menace, I made the decision to go virtual.”

Though Morris lives in Santa Monica with his wife Marcy, an entertainment attorney, and their family, his heart is in the Palisades. AYSO Region 69 has been his home for 23 years. He coached 30 league and All-Star teams for his kids, Evan, Dori and Griffie when they were in the program and he served as Coach Administrator (head coach) for 16 years, currently enjoying emeritus status. He still teaches the coaches every summer and his cache of emails, admonitions and pep talks are still utilized by the region.

Technically, Morris is not a Palisadian but he has spent more time on the fields there than any where else. Coast Sports, which for years offered little kids sports classes, had a standing permit at the Palisades Recreation Center. Half of the kids that have come through his camp, as well as his staff, which populates the high school, are Palisades denizens. His kids, in their athletic primes, were soccer and lacrosse players. All played AYSO through U12, then went to the Galaxy Alliance (since renamed FC Los Angeles and then reborn as LA Breakers FC) for club. All three played varsity soccer at Brentwood School before before Evan headed to Union College in New York while Dori (now a third year at Fordham Law) and Griffie (a rising senior) went off to Penn.

“I founded Coast Sports in 1997 because my 4-year-old son was taking soccer lessons with a coach who made the kids cry and the parents squirm,” Morris says.  “Based on my enthusiastic if undistinguished soccer career at Baldwin High School back on Long Island, I felt I could at least teach the kids something and offer them a tear-free good time. It worked. I’d been a terminally-aspiring screenwriter, but over the next few years the percentage of time I spent writing versus time spent on a field flipped and I gave up writing, except for emails, and dove into coaching.”

Coast Sports continued flourishing and in 2001 Morris started a summer camp: “The surroundings weren’t lush, a small field and lots of blacktop, so we exploited what we had­—boundless creativity and an imagination that wouldn’t quit. We had all the traditional sports but added food fights, mudwrestling, a human car wash (set the kids on scooters and roll them down a ramp while the coaches hose them down), flour pinatas, homemade go-carts, all-day water wars, burping and lip sync contests, Bubble Wrap Day, Human Foosball, graffiti art, “Dirt and Worm” eating (pudding and gummies), Color Dunk Tank…and so much more. Our staff is 100 percent homegrown. Every one of them has come through camp. We were going to celebrate our 20th year of Coach Steve’s Summer of Fun with a giant party and massive celebrations each day. Then Corona hit, and LAUSD closed schools for the year. I held out hope that they’d reopen for the summer, but on April 22 they sent a notice that, in fact, their facilities would remain shuttered. I was on the fence about doing a virtual program as I heard nightmarish stories from parents whose kids were hating Zoom school. Then I got an email from a former camper and coach who has become a teacher and she said she wasn’t sure if I’d be doing anything but if there were some form of camp she’d love to help out. That triggered an epiphany. What if I could put together a greatest hits staff, bringing back together some of the Hall of Fame coaches from our past, and combine them with fan favorites from the last couple of years? I started to get excited but I wanted online camp to resemble what we do on-site, which is present a smorgasbord of activities that the kids can dip in and out of as they like. I latched onto the music festival model, Coachella specifically, where there are multiple stages running simultaneously and the motivated music fan can see a ton of performances. I felt that if we could create an analogous platform, multiple rooms in which different activities would be offered in continuous 45-minute segments through the morning and if campers could easily navigate between them, then with my all-star staff we could recreate the spirit and connection, if not the physical presence, of camp. We’ve wildly exceeded all my hopes.  The technology has proved seamless, the coaches have been spectacular, and the kids have laughed their way through the first two weeks.”

Steve Morris is always looking for new ways to keep his camps fun.

“Summer of Fun” has five rooms: Arts & Crafts, Rookies (for 4- and 5-year-olds), the Game Room (where we play soccer, basketball and do Olympic events), the Why Not? Room (scavenger hunts, tick-tock video making, cartoon voices and more), and the Coach Steve Room, where we’ve done ‘Name That Tune,’ ‘Zoom Yoga’ and ‘Wacky History’ as well as being a place the kids can just hang out and be together— something they’ve missed the past 3 1/2 months. We make the point that this isn’t school. We’re not teaching, preaching or lecturing.  We’re not muting their screens.  We want them to interact, to feel empowered and engaged and to have a summer that’s safe and secure, one that’s a diversion from everything they’ve experienced since this abrupt change in their world began.  The camp is virtual, but the fun is 100 percent real.”

Since his plate is never full, Morris has also seized this opportunity to finish a book he’s been working on for a long time, called “What Size Balls Do I Need?”  It’s a memoir, a road map and a warning to parents not to mess with the 10-year window they get to enjoy youth sports with their kids.

“Those 10 years, give or take, can be a most wonderful blessing for the entire family so we parents should relax and let them have a good time,” Morris says. “For 99 percent of youth players, no matter how hard their parents prod, push or dream, it ends the same way–experiencing sports as a fan  or, if they’re lucky, a recreational adult player. In a very real sense, the book is a love letter to my kids, the players I coached, the families I shared sidelines, weekends and memories with and the culture and community of Region 69. The day I hopped onto the end of the registration line at Paul Revere Middle School, my life changed forever and I couldn’t be happier.”

To register for “Summer of Fun LIVE,” log on to coastsports.com/ and click ‘Register.’ The camp runs 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through August 14 for kids ages 4-15 with additional pre-recorded content throughout the afternoon. For information, email Morris at coachstevela@gmail.com or call 310-913-3224.

Front of the Line

Pali High senior-to-be Nick Calcaterra (facing) pass blocks in the “Sunset Showdown” against Brentwood last season.
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Nick Calcaterra Has Established Himself  as One of the Top Offensive Linemen in the City Section

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

When it comes to the pancake block, no one on the Palisades High football team has accumlated more over the last two seasons than big No. 76 Nick Calcaterra. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman has twice been an All-Western League first team  pick and has twice been named to the All-City second team. The senior-to-be was chosen Palisades’ Lineman of the Year in 2018. He made the Cal-Hi Sports All-State team as a sophomore and as a junior and was a straight ‘A’ student as an 11th-grader. He led the varsity squad with 66 pancake blocks his sophomore season and added 44 last fall for a two-year total of 110. In his two seasons on varsity the Dolphins have won nine of 10 league games. They tied Fairfax for the league crown in 2018 and took first place outright last fall for their first undisputed league championship since 1987. He also qualified for the City track and field finals in the shot put as a sophomore. Although he has been hard at work preparing for his last year in the blue and white Calcaterra recently took time out for an interview with Sports Editor Steve Galluzzo about his workout regimen, college recruiting, effects of COVID on his offseason training and his expectations for 2020:    

PP: How big of a change was it switching from guard to tackle last season? Which position do you prefer?

NC: There was an adjustment but not much so it was easy to get used to. The main adjustment was needing to be able to get set faster than while playing guard because the defensive ends are much faster than a defensive lineman. This just took some practice. It was nothing major. I like both spots  but I think I like guard a bit better because you get to pull and be more physical. I think I’m going to be playing tackle this year but that could change depending on a lot of things.

PP: You have made the All-City team two years in a row but what accomplishment are you most proud of? 

NC: I’m most proud of my 66 pancake blocks as a sophomore. If I’m not mistaken Ari Sallus (who was voted City Division I Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior at Palisades and is now entering his sophomore season at UC Davis) had that same number his sophomore year and being able to relate myself to someone like him makes me extremely proud.

PP: What was the most important thing you learned as a freshman on JV that prepared you for varsity?

NC: The most important thing I learned during my freshman year was how to be tough. Going into high school I’d never played a contact sport like football, so that was a huge change from anything before. I wanted to quit so many times during the conditioning, but luckily I stuck through it. Comparing those workouts that almost made me quit back then to the workout I do on varsity regularly now shows the insane progress I’ve made and it’s all because I learned how to be tough.

PP: What college offers have you received so far? What factors are you considering in deciding where to go?

NC: So far I’ve received two official offers, from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology [in Terre Haute, Indiana] and Macalester College [in Lake Forest, Illinois]. I’ve been talking to many other colleges. I’m especially interested in the Ivy League schools and many are saying they’d offer me right now if they could, but they just aren’t able to due to the weird circumstances with COVID and their admissions office.

PP: What are you working on most to prepare for the coming season?

NC: I’m most focused on my agility, core strength, and flexibility. I’ve been regularly seeing a sports trainer/physical therapist who helps me with those things. I can already feel the difference it’s made; it’s just easier moving around and I generally feel better.

PP: What effect has COVID had on your training? Where do you go to work out?

NC: COVID has had a huge impact on how I train compared to last year when I’d regularly work out in groups at the beach or at a park or at someone’s house. Obviously working out in groups like that now isn’t allowed so I’ve been working out by myself with the weights and bench that I have in my garage.

PP: Do you have any brothers or sisters and do they play any sports?

NC: I have one sister [Sophie] who is 18 and just graduated from Pali. She used to play volleyball but no longer does. My mom [Jill] was a swimmer in high school.

Offensive lineman Nick Calcaterra has led the Dolphins’ football team with 110 pancake blocks over the last two varsity seasons and has twice earned All-City Open Division honors.

PP: When did you start to play football? Did you play other sports growing up?

NC: My first year playing football was my freshman year at Pali. Before that I had played a variety of sports: lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball and flag football, but I didn’t enjoy any of them much because I was so much bigger and slower than everyone else. When I joined the football team, I instantly knew I wanted to be a lineman because I was almost as big and strong as the seniors. I was actually benching more than Syr Riley, the best senior lineman on the team, by the end of the year.

PP: What coach has had the biggest influence on you or has taught you the most technique?

NC: [Offensive Line Coach] Johnny Garcia has by far helped me the most. I train with him after practice and go over film and technique. During practice he definitely helps the most with technique, while other coaches go over plays.

PP: What game last year do you remember most and why? What was your best game?      

NC: I remember the game against Reseda the most last year. The reason is that their linemen and especially their linebackers had the worst sportsmanship of any team we played. They’d consistently talk so much trash but couldn’t back it up. They threw so many cheap shots at me in that game even though we consistently dominated them. Even on film  it’s easy to see how many cheap shots they had on all of our players. I’m not sure what my best game was. I really only remember specific big moments in the games. If the play went just as expected I’m not going to remember that for anything special. I like to think I’m pretty consistent one game to the next and those big memorable plays only happen when they need to. My best game would be my most consistently good game. 

PP: Do you still plan to throw the shot put or discus in track season? Have you practiced them since the spring? 

NC: I’m not sure yet what track sports I’ll do this year. I’d like to throw the shot again but it might conflict with things, especially if football gets pushed back or times get changed. I’m just not sure what this year’s schedule is looking like, but I’d definitely like to throw shot again if it works out.

PP: Is there anyone in college or the NFL who you aspire to be like? Who has been your closest teammate at Palisades?

NC: There wasn’t one specific professional or college player that I looked up to growing up. However, there are many amazing linemen I look up to now, a few being Mitchell Schwartz (a Pali High alum who helped the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV in February), [former Dallas Cowboys guard] Larry Allen, [former Cincinnari Bengals tackle] Anthony Munoz, [former Baltimore Ravens tackle] Jonathan Ogden and even though he wasn’t a lineman, [Hall of Famer] Lawrence Taylor. As for teammates, I hang out with Forrest [Brock] the most off the field. I often work out with [fellow lineman] Nick Raddon too.

PP: If you stepped on the scale right now, what would you weigh? Where do you want to be when the season starts? How much can you bench press?

NC: Right now I’m about 290 pounds. I’d like to be down to say around 280 for the season which is a huge change compared to last season when I was at 330 or so. I can max a bench press at 325, but I admit I haven’t maxed in quite a long while.

PP: What are Coach Hyde’s strengths? Is he good at having the team prepared for the upcoming opponent?

NC: Coach Hyde is excellent at getting his players ready for an upcoming opponent. No matter what team it is, Coach Hyde will hype them up and make sure we are still giving it 100 percent. Players tend to become lazy if they know they are playing a bad team. Coach Hyde also prepares us all by sending us opponents’ scout films to watch. Also, we run the other team’s offense and defense in practice to get a feel for what playing them might be like.

PP: What schools did you attend before coming to coming to Palisades? Do you live nearby?

NC: I went to Kenter Canyon Elementary and then to Paul Revere Middle School. I played a variety of sports while I was there. I live in Brentwood, off of Mandeville Canyon.

PP: What are your expectations this season? Do you hope to be City Lineman of the Year? Will Palisades repeat as Western League champion?

NC: My expectations are extremely high, both for myself and the team. Individually, I’d love to be City Lineman of the Year and I’m going to try my absolute hardest to do so, but obviously I can’t guarantee I’ll get it. As for the team, I think we’re pretty well off. Our line should be very strong since four of our five starting linemen are returning. Our quarterback [Forrest brock] is also going to be a senior, so we’re solid there. We have a lot of fast guys that don’t have a set position yet because we had many seniors there last year, but I’m not worried about that. I think everyone will find his spot and our team will be overall good.

County Orders Closure of Beaches July 4th Weekend

Sign noting a beach closure in April
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Community Members Prepare to Celebrate With Amended Set of Traditions

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The Palisades Americanism Parade Association’s 2020 theme rings true: “Celebrating a Different Kind of 4th.”

With beloved traditions already canceled and amended, the community received word on Monday, June 29, that beaches would be closed over the Fourth of July weekend.

Days after Los Angeles was ordered to close bars down again, the Department of Public Health issued a modified Health Officer Order that included a temporary closure of beaches countywide from Friday, July 3, at 12:01 a.m. through Monday, July 6, at 5 a.m.

“Parking lots, the beach bike path and beach accessways will also be closed,” a representative from the County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches & Harbors said.

“The County of Los Angeles and its Department of Public Health have recently observed a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” the order reports. “Los Angeles County during the previous week has averaged well-over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.”

As of June 28, according to the order, there were 1,717 people hospitalized with COVID-19—a number that is “significantly higher than the previously steady rates” of 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations during May and early June. The cumulative COVID-19 testing positivity rate has increased in the county from 8% to 9%, with the seven-day average of the daily positivity rate increasing during the previous two weeks from 5.8% to 8.7%.

“These unfortunate statistics show the reality of increased community transmission of COVID-19,” the order states. “The upsurge in these COVID-19 indicators require actions to limit the level of person-to-person contacts, in order to avert an overwhelming of hospitals within the county.”

As the Palisadian-Post went to print on Tuesday, the number of positive cases in the Palisades had reached 71, with nine additional in the Palisades Highlands. Across the county, there were 103,529 cases with 3,369 deaths.

The June 29 order also prohibits all firework shows—defined here as displays that are intended for viewing by more than one household of persons—until further notice.

Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore reported that he has “received several emails regarding illegal fireworks being used in the Palisades.” He offered a link (complaint.lacity.org/Complaint/fireworks) that accepts complaints within the city limits of Los Angeles.

Though many beloved Fourth of July traditions—including the Palisades Will Rogers 5 & 10K Run, parade and fireworks—have been canceled, the community is preparing to celebrate 2020 with a mixture of new and old events, all retooled to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The complete schedule includes an expanded Home Decorating Contest, Condor Squadron Flyover, Kids on Bikes Best Decorated Bike/Scooter Contest and virtual edition of the Palisades Rocks the Fourth concert.

A projected highlight of this year’s concert will be at 9 p.m. when the entire community is invited to go outside for a sing-along of “This Land is Your Land,” featuring the cast of Palisades Rocks the Fourth performers.

“On behalf of the Palisades Americanism Parade Association and the Palisades-Will Rogers 5K/10K Run Foundation, we wish you and your family the very best,” Matthew Rodman, Parade (PAPA) president, and Brian Shea, Will Rogers 5/10K Race president, shared in a letter to the community ahead of the Fourth of July. “Palisadians have a history of sticking together, helping our neighbors and always persevering. This year, let us redouble our efforts to support each other.”

Departing Pali High Board of Trustees Members Share Farewell Messages

Members of the board
Photo courtesy of Pali High


The Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees announced next year’s board members and said farewell to those whose terms were ending at the June 25 meeting.

Among those saying farewell are Parent Board Member Reeve Chudd, Faculty Board Member Rick Steil, Parent Board Member Dara Williams and Larry Wiener in a teacher seat.

Faculty Board Member Paula Anderson gave an Election Committee update, explaining how it was a limited election this year because many of the seats ran unopposed with the board approving positions as of the May 19 meeting: Brenda Clarke is taking over for Wiener’s position as a teacher board member, Brooke King is staying in the management seat and Ellen Unt is taking over for Steil’s faculty seat in the student-elected position.

Jim Wells is taking on the traveling parent position as Williams exits, and Leslie Woolley is continuing in the community seat.

Up for confirmation and approved unanimously by the board during the June 25 meeting, Jewlz Fahn joined the board replacing Chudd after being part of the only election that took place this year in a virtual fashion.

During the June 25 meeting, Sara Margiotta took over from Williams as interim board secretary, with board members thanking Williams for her “tremendous” effort in that capacity while on the board.

Community Chair Woolley gave departing board members honorary medals through Zoom and offered members an opportunity to share some parting words if they chose to.

Williams said she feels passionate about Pali High and helping in whatever way to make Pali the best Pali that it can be.

“I strongly feel that all of the board members and the administration share that goal with me …” Williams said, finishing with a comment that they have an “amazing” administration. “Whether we sometimes agree or disagree, I think that there’s just no doubt of the dedication of our administration, not only to the student’s education but to things like equity and really important issues that are at the forefront right now.”

Williams gave a shout out to Assistant Principal Monica Iannessa, who was not in attendance, about what an amazing job she does and what a dedicated advocate for education she is.

Wiener said briefly: “I would just want to thank you guys for giving me the opportunity. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with all of you. I feel I’ve learned a lot and I hope I’ve helped.”

Chudd wowed the board by delivering a thorough speech, outlining the details of his learning experience on the board.

“For lack of a better word to describe the past two years, it’s been a real education,” Chudd began as he continued through the many complexities and challenges faced by a public charter high school. Chudd thanked his fellow board members who he said have nurtured his learning with patience and camaraderie.

“Our most precious commodity, something my father always told me, is time,” Chudd continued. “Only now do I recognize the sacrifice each of you makes in order to participate in this work. There’s really only one thing you can give to a volunteer and that’s appreciation, so I salute those remaining in this important work.”

PPCC Hosts First Virtual Meeting

PPCC Chair David Card leads the meeting.
Photos courtesy of PPCC

Lisa Cahill Announces Departure from Councilmember Bonin’s Office

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Following a few months of board meeting hiatus, the Pacific Palisades Community Council returned virtually on Thursday, June 25.

The meeting, with roughly 30 people in attendance, ratified the Executive Committee’s authorization to hold Special Zoom Meetings on June 25 and 30 in order to properly distribute and vote on amendments to bylaws that would allow virtual meetings when circumstances—like the coronavirus pandemic—arise going forward.

The June 25 meeting served as the first distribution of the proposed bylaws amendments recommended by the Bylaws Committee, which were explained by Committee Chair and PPCC Treasurer Richard Cohen.

“Our regulators have given special dispensation to registered charities, and we are one of those, and they’ve given us permission to have other than in-person meetings during the COVID crisis,” Cohen said. “We’re going to have this meeting and our next meeting under that authority, and we’re going to use that authority to conduct our normal business and we’re going to do our business of changing the bylaws so that even if it isn’t a crisis, we can have meetings other than in-person.”

The change requires that the Executive Committee determine that there are exigent circumstances and under those circumstances, PPCC will be allowed to have meetings that are not held in-person.

The process will be repeated and a vote by the PPCC board was scheduled for June 30. Though the meeting and voting took place after the Palisadian-Post went to print, a passing vote was anticipated. A follow up story will appear in the July 9 edition.

Lisa Cahill addresses the meeting.

Lisa Cahill

After a little more than three years working in the community, Brentwood-Palisades Deputy-Environmental Liaison for Councilmember Mike Bonin Lisa Cahill shared at the PPCC meeting that she would be vacating her position, effective June 30.

Cahill reported that she accepted an offer as deputy executive at a nonprofit focused on supporting children and families. Though she could not yet reveal what organization she would be joining, Cahill detailed that her new position would be to lead the vision, supervise their team and build out a board of directors.

“Public service has always been very important to me and as such, I have always tried to do my very best as a deputy for Councilmember Bonin,” Cahill wrote to the Palisadian-Post. “I have really enjoyed working with so many smart, civically minded Palisadians—it’s been a true honor.”

Cahill went on to say that she is “incredibly grateful” for the opportunity Bonin has given her and that she hopes her work has demonstrated his dedication to the Palisades community.

“I am deeply appreciative of those who have shown me kindness and am happy to call many of them my friends,” Cahill shared. “The beauty of the Palisades is not in its lovely homes or breath-taking ocean views, but in the smiles and hearts of those who call it home, and I will miss everyone so very much.”

Cahill explained that she has prepared a detailed overview for the new deputy to facilitate a smooth transition. She has also asked that the office set up an email account for all Palisades and Brentwood matters.

This email address, which will be intermittently monitored by Constituent Advocate Durrah Wagner, Deputy District Director Matt Tecle and District Director Arianne Garcia, is c11.palibrentwood@lacity.org.

Annual ‘Yarn Bomb’ Returns to Palisades Village Green With Fourth of July Display

Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

You might have noticed the small park in the heart of the Village adorned with bright and colorful knitted decorations this week—that is because the Palisades Village Green has been “yarn bombed” by local mom Michelle Villemaire, DIY and content creator, who has taken on the project each year since 2015.

Villemaire usually does the yarn bomb for National Women’s History Month in March, but this year is different because the display features patriotic adornments in honor of the Fourth of July.

“I hope by having [Michelle’s] colorful display up over the Fourth, we can give a feeling of normalcy to the community and put a smile on people’s faces,” said Marge Gold, president of the Palisades Village Green.

Villemaire shared that in years past, she would gather an “army of yarnies” from across the country to assign different pieces and sizes for tree trunks, light posts and benches.

But this year, Villemaire said she called upon local friend Karyn Newbill Helmig, who teaches knitting at Palisades Charter High School, for help. She and her students made around 100 pom pom “sparklers,” while Villemaire made the knitted bikes and placed red, white and blue pieces from her stash to fill out the grassy bit along what, in a typical year, marks the parade route.

Palisadians would have been gearing up for what is known as the biggest community event of the year at this time—the annual parade, concert and fireworks. Due to COVID-19, the line-up of events have been retooled to limit large social gatherings.

“Since the parade was canceled this year, I knew I wanted to yarn bomb some folding chairs—the ones we put out days in advance to secure a prime spot along the route—but we’re a very different America now,” Villemaire said to the Palisadian-Post. “We’re living through a deadly pandemic and the greatest civil rights movement of my lifetime. The conversations are different.

“The empty chairs represent us, our community, and the beauty and complexity of us all. They also symbolize hope that we will again sit side by side along Sunset Boulevard and celebrate our country together.”

Villemaire said this year is more of a drive-by yarn bomb, not intended for interaction.

“I think it’s important for our community to have some colorful eye candy right now,” she said. “The yarn bomb is uplifting and somehow brings us together, even when we’re not.”

This year’s event is sponsored by the Palisades-Malibu YMCA and the Palisades Village Green. At the end of the installation, the blankets will be donated to the West Los Angeles VA Hospital.

The pieces will remain on display through July 5.

Off Their Plate

Palisadian Christine Kanoff Helped Launch a Meal-Providing Initiative

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Palisadian Christine Kanoff recently helped launch the Off Their Plate initiative—which has partnered with local restaurants to both provide nearly 70,000 meals per week to food insecure healthcare staff.

The initiative, which began in Boston and San Francisco, is now serving a total of nine cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“Just as frontline healthcare workers appear to turn a corner during this harrowing time,” the Off Their Plate website says, “our country is facing an urgent community hunger crisis, astronomical in scale.”

To date, the volunteer-led organization has raised a total of $5.7 million, with every $100 donated providing 10 meals to healthcare workers or those in need of a meal. This week, Off Their Plate has set a fundraising goal of $750,000 “to serve as many meals to food insecure populations” as they can during this time.

“A lot of us are involved in healthcare in different ways … and one of the things we learned through talking to people who are in the ER is that they’re working these extremely long shifts and they don’t even have meals,” Kanoff said to the Palisadian-Post. “That’s what really inspired it, this feeling of really wanting to help.”

Kanoff shared that she typically volunteers at a free clinic, but due to the pandemic, she could not do that anymore. She thought of the ways that she could help given the circumstances and considered the ways local restaurants were suffering also.

“We figured out a way to support two frontlines: the healthcare workers and the restaurant workers,” Kanoff said. “We’ve partnered with a small number of local restaurants and allowed those restaurants to bring back some of their staff that they unfortunately had to lay off and they create these meals and deliver them to hospitals, clinics or centers.”

Photos courtesy of Christine Kanoff

In LA, Off Their Plate has partnered with restaurants like Malibu Farms, serving meals to over 14 hospitals and healthcare facilities, including UCLA, USC Medical Center, Sherman Oaks Hospital and Centinela Hospital Medical Center.

Kanoff said the organization’s mission is currently expanding and they are working on serving meals to local communities, partnering with community organizers and shelters.

Palisadians are invited to get involved by becoming a healthcare partner, restaurant partner or volunteer.

For more information or to get involved, visit offtheirplate.org or email christine@offtheirplate.org.

‘Behind the Front Porch’

Pacific Palisades Front Porch Project Photographer Robin Aronson Kicks Off Series in Partnership with the Palisadian-Post

Robin Aronson
Photos courtesy of Robin Aronson

By ROBIN ARONSON | Contributing Writer

Our lives as we knew it have been put on pause because of COVID-19. As I first navigated my new “normal,” I knew I wanted to keep taking pictures, and I wanted to give back.

I began the Pacific Palisades Front Porch Photography Project to capture the community during these challenging times and shared values of gratitude, perseverance and hope.

The project was 100% donation based. Forty-four days, 160 families and over $17,000 raised for the Westside Food Bank.

As I reviewed the photos, I noticed that all the families looked perfect. But we all know that our lives have changed in some way, and that everything is not perfect.

So, I went back to each family and asked them to write a small summary about their experience during this time.

In the coming weeks, these honest glimpses of life “Behind the Front Porch” will provide more context and meaning to my Front Porch Project photographs.

I am so grateful that I was able to help those in need through the use of my skills and passion. And while doing so, I have met so many amazing, generous families in our community—and have helped people smile.

It has been exhausting and rewarding at the same time. By taking initiative, I have learned that it is possible to make a difference.

Thank you to all the families who donated and warmly welcomed me from six feet away.

The Rodman Family

Matthew, Alisa, Delancey, Reese and Gus the dog

Before COVID-19 made landfall in Los Angeles, my family and I thrived on the routine nature of our busy lives. Like most people, I’d never envisioned a scenario in which we’d be confined to our home for an extended period of time.

It never occurred to me that a pandemic would mean we wouldn’t be able to see people that mean the most to us, or that the simple act of buying a gallon of milk would entail Clorox wipes, a mask and gloves.

After 50 or so days of going au natural, knowing that Robin was coming to take our photos gave me just the boost I needed to revive some of my old routines. I actually used my curling iron, blush and eyeliner and put real clothes on!

We look fairly put together, but behind our dark brown front door, there’s a constant circus on display—crying, whining, dancing, running through sprinklers, crafting, writing, Zooming, conference calling, cooking, baking and home improvements are just a few of the ways we’re coping with quarantine.

It’s not all pretty—one of us has suffered a mild concussion—but it’s certainly never dull; one of us is operating an “underground” bike shop in exchange for beer, one of us learned how to ride a two-wheeler and one of us (the dog) has never been happier to have everyone home for a prolonged period of time.

We’re grateful to have a photo from this time that shows the only thing we really need is each other.

—Alisa Rodman

The Taffler Family

Sean, Dawn, Aurora and Orion

Our family motto is “Be kind, be honest, listen … and TRY HARD.” Our weekends are filled with sport and social activities. We rarely have or need down time. Then COVID-19.

We are lucky in so many ways. We have our jobs and a spacious home with a big yard in an area surrounded by trails and beauty. We are healthy and not considered high risk for the virus. We love to cook.

Homeschool … well, that’s a mixed bag. With our busy work schedules, it’s more like assigning than teaching. There has been yelling, tears, iPad bans and more.

There has also been lots of cuddles, nighttime walks, 10-mile bike rides around the neighborhood and social distancing with a few families in our Palisades bubble.

This photo will remind us of these long days at home together; with the kids in their PJs half the day, when recess entailed riding in circles in the yard, and happy hour was a nearly daily occurrence.

I think my kids will look back and remember the good stuff, and laugh about how we were the worst school teachers and appreciate the freedoms that will come back when quarantine is over.

—Dawn Taffler

The Finck Family

Scot, Pam, Chris and Griffin

When the rain came down in March, it set the mood as the world hit pause out of real fear of what novel coronavirus pandemic might bring to our local community.

The first sign that this new virus would have an impact on our lives was when I was having difficulty in January sourcing sustainable stretch lace from China and then Europe.

And then, for the first time in 22 years, Scot wasn’t commuting to and from Burbank. He also switched from his daily treadmill workout to taking walks in the neighborhood with me, and he fell in love with where we lived!

I started a podcast and checked in with all our family across the country. What brought us together was comfort food and baked goods. That led to my quarantine 15, but I’m back to intermittent fasting, yoga and running.

Chris, who works in tech, is now telecommuting from his apartment in the Palisades. Griffin graduated with a degree in journalism, and we look forward to celebrating his accomplishment along with his peers together in person.

We are all thankful to not have been personally impacted from the pandemic so far. All four of us have friends who have been laid off or furloughed and this is heartbreaking.

Our hope is we can all (our family and the world at large) recover from this and return to the lives we were living, even if it’s with a face mask!

—Pam Finck

Robin Aronson can be found at robinaronsonphotography.com or Instagram @RobinAronsonPhotography.