By MARYAM ZAR | Contributing Writer
Six generations ago, the Marquez family came to these environs—first under the Spanish flag, then the Mexican flag, and now under the American flag—with an enduringly proud Palisadian, Sharon Kilbride.
In 1839, Kilbride’s family received a Mexican land grant for Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. The land grant was for 6,656 acres for a parcel of land whose boundaries were from the mouth of Topanga through all of the Palisades to Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The family still retains part of that ancestral land, and Kilbride, our Palisades Podcast guest for the month of April, still resides on the last residential parcel of that land.
Her Uncle Ernie turned 97 this year. He has received too many awards and accolades to mention, but among them are the Monomania USC award for his historic photo collection, the Southern California booksellers award for his Santa Monica beach book, the State Conservation Award for his work preserving the Marquez family cemetery, recognition from the Pacific Palisades Historical Society and, most recently, Congressional recognition from the office of Congressman Ted Lieu.
While an activist and historian in her own right, Kilbride’s most notable contribution to the Palisades is her unyielding commitment to help eliminate homelessness by finding people a way to transition out of homelessness, with their dignity intact.
“I was really distraught about the conditions of the tunnels back in 2014,” she said. “They were filthy and unpleasant to pass through on the way to the beach. So, I decided to start cleaning them myself weekly and enlisted a neighbor to help.”
After a time, Kilbride noticed that there were eager people experiencing homelessness nearby who wanted to help, so she approached her local HOAs, the SMCCA and BOCA, to pay these individuals to clean both pedestrian tunnels. That became a successful effort, and just last year, the 101 Ocean Towers HOA approached her to fund an additional day of cleaning for the tunnels.
Kilbride is now the co-president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness and spearheads their interface with people experiencing homelessness, along with the LAPD Beach Detail she fought to secure for the community. She’s recruited a homeless individual named Stanley, who is working on housing with PPTFH, to clean both tunnels twice per week.
“He loves this job and has never been absent,” Kilbride said.
The most rewarding part of her Palisadian life, she shared, is engaging with local homeless people “and building relationships to get them motivated to succeed in getting off the streets.”
“The Palisades LAPD Beach Detail is part of our team,” she explained. “Our officers know our homeless by name and work side by side to encourage them to engage in services and obey the laws.”
Kilbride said living in the Palisades gives her the benefit of “magical views and unspoiled nature that surrounds me.”
Among this remarkable Palisadian’s hobbies are a love of traveling, hiking, being in nature and biking.
“Much of it I can do right here in the Palisades,” she said.
She has spent the past 11 years cleaning up messes on beaches, bluffs and parks. She’s spent a lifetime helping preserve the Marquez family historic cemetery here in Santa Monica Canyon, and pulls a lot of weeds to beautify the neighborhood with the help of a few homeless neighbors in need of work.
“I want to preserve the beauty of this magical place and have the benefit of passing it down to more generations,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation for all.”
Tune in to hear from Kilbride this month on the Palisades Podcast at palipost.com/palipodcast.
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