Who Will Step Up to Meet the Challenge?
For years, former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Arnie Wishnick sent out a mailer to residents asking for donations to help fund Chrysalis, a back-to-work nonprofit that the Chamber paid to pick up trash at different locations, including in front of the library, the trash cans on the Palisades High School perimeter, the Village Green and the Marquez Business District.
Although trash collection is the City’s responsibility, the City was emptying trash cans only once a week, and various trash cans were overflowing between collection dates. As residents know, uncollected trash tends to end up in the ocean.
The Chamber’s low-key campaign yielded about $30,000 a year, including a $7,500 donation from realtor Michael Edlen.
Last May at a Business Improvement District meeting, Chamber of Commerce board member Rick Lemmo, a senior VP with Caruso, announced that the Chamber was out of the trash business. It would no longer fund or orchestrate trash pickup because the organization was devoting itself to promoting local business. This argument ignored the fact that maintaining a trash-free business district is good PR for Chamber members.
Chamber leaders were adamant and donated the group’s remaining “trash” funds to BID to help fund Chrysalis workers the rest of 2018.
Small problem: the BID, which is financed entirely through assessments paid by every property owner in the Village area, cannot legally pick up or pay for trash collection outside its district, which meant that the library, El Medio and the Marquez Business District were no longer covered.
In a letter to residents last fall, the BID board wrote” “Unfortunately, because of the laws governing BIDs, our BID is not allowed to offer services outside its specific defined area (Visit: palisadesbid.org). Therefore, the BID must cease collecting trash in areas that are not within its perimeter.”
On January 1, Chrysalis trash cleanup stopped and on March 9, resident John Wilson wrote to P.R.I.D.E. President John Padden. “Just to recap our discussions, P.R.I.D.E. has claimed responsibility for the placing and maintaining of the four trash tans and two recycling containers on Marquez Ave. in front of the Marquez shopping center.
“We also discussed that the Palisades Chamber of Commerce, for several years, had collected donations and paid Chrysalis Co. to collect trash and clean the streets in and around the Marquez property. As of February 1, 2019, the Chamber failed, neglected, and refused to provide this service.
“Since that time trash has accumulated, both from the stores and from residents on the hills above the stores. This trash now poses a health and safety threat both to the neighbors and to the downstream residents. Rats, coyotes, domestic animals, and raccoons have been recorded feeding off the garbage. Additionally, domestic animals regularly use these trash cans as a urination station which helps the rotting condition of the receptacles, not to mention the smell.
“In our conversation, I have asked that P.R.I.D.E. either collect the trash on a regular basis or remove the trash cans. I continue to make this request.”
Wilson told Padden he had contacted Lisa Cahill in City Councilman’s Mike Bonin’s office, who told Wilson that it would take some time to arrange having the City collect the trash.
Circling the News stopped by Marquez on March 18 and the trash cans had been emptied.
Wilson told CTN that “P.R.I.D.E. took responsibility to clean the cans on Tuesdays and Fridays. P.R.I.D.E. is talking with the City to take over this job in the future.”
On March 31, CTN received a text from Bruce Schwartz, noting that he was emptying the trash cans at El Medio and Sunset. He wrote: “I’m earning my Citizen of the Year  appointment. Those two cans have been that way [overflowing] for two weeks, so as a private citizen I emptied them.”
A resident wrote CTN on April 1, “Is there any way the problem of two overflowing trash cans at the corners of El Medio and Sunset can be taken care of? I believe that P.R.I.D.E. installed them and the Chamber through Chrysalis serviced them. That ended in January and they are now an eyesore.”
Hopefully, someone will use Wishnick’s problem-solving skills and find a way to help keep the community environmentally healthy, since the Chamber is “no longer in the trash business.”