By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
It is not just tourists who love Pacific Palisades. The town is also praised highly as “often friendly, usually safe” on a Yelp-type review site shared among the tech-literate homeless.
According to the list, there are some better towns to sleep when you are down and out, including Venice and Playa Vista, but the Palisades is in the “top 10” of LA cities.
This is especially in contrast to Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, which are “redlined” because homeless complain they are “rousted” by “authorities” 24/7.
The list, as seen by the Palisadian-Post, is rudimentary—a simple PDF document, viewed through a hacked version of an Bay Area app Link-SF, which lists where to find cheap food, and pro bono medical or dental care in San Francisco.
But as more than one-third of the young homeless population in Los Angeles has mobile phones, the local version of Link-SF has become extremely popular and is being constantly updated.
A young Santa Monica kitchen worker who spent most of last winter sleeping in his car on PCH below Via Bluffs, spoke to the Post and said that the Palisades was popular because it felt safer than many other areas of the city.
“Yes, we all know [LAPD officer] Rusty Redican. He is legendary,” said the Latino man called “Mijo.”
“You get hassled if you are there too often, or there are too many of us, including all those Uber and Lyft drivers. Then we become visible and make people feel uncomfortable, even, weirdly, angry. Threatened. But providing you are not starting fires or getting stoned on the beach after dark, it’s pretty cool,” he said.
“So many other places you will be robbed, lose your shoes, lose your teeth—but the Palisades is OK,” he said.
Mijo felt the biggest problem with the town, apart from rent, was the lack of minimum wage jobs—he wanted to work hard, get back into an apartment, maybe even reunited with his wife, and for that, he had to commute downtown at a time when the price of gas was rising.
“If gas prices continue to go up, you will see less of us in the Palisades. I mean, not the permanent ones you all know, they are stuck there, but us with cars and jobs. The Palisades is pretty remote from the rest of the city, you know.”
The 24-year-old “refugee” from Utah, who was kicked out of his Provo home by his father for excessive video gaming when he turned 16, is signing up for the experimental “safe parking” overnight refuge being set up at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Koreatown.
In the first for Los Angeles County, which has nearly 60,000 homeless and 400 people joining their ranks every day, a retired doctor, Scott Sale, last month negotiated 10 overnight spots in its parking lot.
This is where homeless men and woman can park safely, charge their devices which may help them get back into the community and wash up between dusk and dawn.
It is modeled on similar ventures in Santa Barbara and San Diego.
Sale recently met more would-be clients, who have to pass a 20-minute “attitude check” in return for an access pass for the secure space.
Sale said because so many of the mobile homeless have only recently fallen out of the “homed community”—company men who lost jobs, then benefits, then apartments, women fleeing domestic abuse—they know how to network and use the very active “homeless grapevine.”
“They connect with each other, they have phones, they know how to find safe places—like parking on Sunset or PCH in the Palisades,” said Sale, who recently addressed the Pacific Palisades Community Council on this issue.
Some are concerned that “the green streets” initiative, which lays out the few small areas where overnight parking is permitted, could lapse in June.
Legally, it is easier to sleep on the sidewalk than in a vehicle.
But Sale is hopeful the initiative will be saved, reformed and, with the help of burgeoning organizations such as his SafeParkingLA, help the city’s mobile homeless onto a more stable path—a road away from the Palisades.