The City Council voted 13-1 on a motion by Councilman Mike Bonin and Mark Ridley-Thomas to study the feasibility of using Will Rogers State Beach, Dockweiler Beach, LAX land and two city parks, Mar Vista and Westchester, as sites to house the homeless on May 26.
Before he voted, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell specifically asked if he was voting for the feasibility study, only. He was told yes.
An argument was made “How could anyone be against voting for a feasibility study?”
What was not made clear to Councilmembers is that a feasibility study had already been underway, since August 2020, eight months prior to the vote.
Not only were the City and County working together, but the utility plans had been developed for each of the three beach lots by January 2021 (See below).
In emails obtained through the public records act, CTN learned that an August 26 mail from Molly Rysman (L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s housing and homeless deputy) was sent to Kerry Silverstrom (Chief Deputy Director L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbor), Nicole Englund (Beaches and Harbors) and Krista Kline (Bonin’s Deputy Chief of Staff). “I would like to find time for CD11 and SD3 to meet with Beaches and Harbors staff at Will Rogers to discuss if we could carve out a piece of the parking lot for a pallet shelter pilot.”
Silverstom responded “Is it time sensitive in terms of simply making a decision or in implementing the program? There is going to be quite some time involved, I’m presuming, in securing Coastal Commission approval for program implementation.
Rysman responded, “This is a bit time sensitive. . . could we do a walk through on Tuesday, September 8? Both CD11 and I are wide open that morning.”
After the September 8 meeting at Will Rogers, county official Erick Rangel [L.A. County summer camp operator, filming and special events permits] wrote in an email to his boss, “I am not sure if anyone has updated executive management about this morning’s meeting. Those in attendance were Krystle Diaz (beach maintenance), Matt Cooney (enforcement and parking), Stephen Nguyen (permits), Michael Tripp (Coastal Commission Issues), Rysman [Kuehl’s deputy], Kline [Bonin’s Staff] and Amy Perkins (LAHSA).
“The preliminary plan for the parking lot is to install 20 – 50 of the pallet shelters in the parking lot. Each shelter is roughly 10 ft. x 10 ft. and will utilize two parking spaces to (side by side). A parking space will be left empty in between each shelter. Electricity will need to be provided, so some infrastructure will need to be installed.
“The participants will (or can) remain on the lot throughout the day and night. Security would be provided around the clock. Plumbing will not be necessary, but showers will need to be either brought in or set up near a water access (for participant use). A temporary chain link fence was also discussed, to fence in the shelters from public parking. They are seeking to utilize a parking lot for an extended period of time, more than a year (from what it sounded like). A second meeting is to be scheduled to measure the lot and check for electrical and water.”
Kline responds on September 29, “I want to apologize for the incredibly slow response from the city in following up with you all on the issues your raised (in your Sept. 15 email). To that end, I’m going to reinsert myself as the city point person.
OCTOBER and NOVEMBER 2020: proposed locations for the pallet programs now include Dockweiler and the Marina del Rey parking lots and are drawn up by the county with aerial views of each of the three sites and the number of public parking spaces that would be taken up in each lot.
Beaches and Harbor’s Silverstrom asks for sewer and water plans to give to the City.
Ismael Lopez, planning division for L.A. County Beaches and Harbor, sends the files for the lots to the City.
Silverstrom wrote BH staff that the City of Los Angeles would be reaching out to them up about the pallet shelter programs at Will Rogers and Dockweiler State Beaches and in the Marina del Rey launch ramp. “Do you think any of us can help the City, or would it be someone at Public Works? . . .I have a meeting with Kuehl’s new homelessness and housing Deputy next week, and I’ll want to have all the information ready for her.”
A December 28 email from Tripp to consultants notes that “The attached email shows where L.A. City would like to put the structures.”
City’s BOE Senior Architect Marina Quinonez wanted to know the utilities that would need to be installed at the three sites and wrote the County on December 28: “We at BOE are in the process of completing a cost estimate for the three sites.”
Quinonez notes that LAFD would like to see a hydrant at each site. David Thomas (Beaches and Harbors) responds “There are not any hydrants nearby. Your projects should include a standpipe for fire. I’d like to also request a power pedestal (with a sub-meter). My thinking is we can locate the utilizes in such a way to leave them permanently for future needs.”
L.A. City’s Bureau of Engineering Architect Erik Villanueva wrote on January 5 “Attached are the three preliminary layouts we presented today. . . .Let me know if you have any questions.”
Marina Quinonez wrote on January 11. I wanted to follow up regarding the three beach sites, we would like to complete the estimates for CAO this week.”
APRIL 3: Bonin announces in his newsletter that he’s identified “safe-camping” at the three beach locations and also in Westchester and Mar Vista Park. He writes “Each of these locations will require a feasibility analysis from city agencies and will be subject to public hearings as they move forward.”
L.A. City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved a feasibility study on May 13 and the City Council approved the study on May 26.
CTN reached out to Supervisor Kuehl’s and Hahn’s office, asking if they supported taking public space away from children and families, since the County had been working with the City since August 2020.
Spokesperson for Kuehl, Barbara Osborn wrote in a July 2, 2021, email, ““Our office neither supports nor opposes the proposal at Will Rogers. We are open to discussing the feasibility of any site, but of course, very few sites turn out to be feasible. That’s one of the many reasons that make resolving our housing crisis so difficult.”
Spokesperson for Hahn, Liz Odendahl was contacted on June 30 and again on July 7 and asked “Is it acceptable to take public space away from children and families? Especially the working poor, who use beaches and parks as their “front yard.”
Odendahl replied on July 7 and apologized for the delay. She said “We do not have a comment.”
An April 29 letter from Hahn to the Marina del Rey Association was shared with CTN. In that letter Hahn writes,” Please know that I understand your concerns and will not support any project that will impede public access to the launch ramp.”
CTN asked Hahn’s office on July 7, if anything had changed. “No, that has not changed,” Odendahl replied.
Engineering Demands for Three Sites Submitted January 2021:
Will Rogers State Beach
38 pallets, 74 beds (one hygiene trailer, one admin/laundry structure, hose bibs)
Electrical: site will require an overhead 480/277V, 3 Phase, 400A Electrical Service.
The site transformer pole will need to be perpendicular to the existing overhead electric service pole.
The site transformer pole will need a 15-feet radial clearance.
Domestic Water Fixture Count: 75 FU
Sewer water fixture count 60 FU
50 pallets, 97 beds (two hygiene trailers, one admin/laundry structure, hose bibs)
Electric: a 480/277V, three phase, 400A Electric Service
Domestic Water Fixture count: 120 FU
Sewer water fixture count 90 U
Marina del Rey
50 pallets, 97 beds (two hygiene trailer, one admin/laundry structure, hose bibs)
Electric: a 480/277V, three phase, 400A underground electric service.
Domestic Water Fixture count: 120 FU
Sewer water fixture count 90 FU