Continuing Issues with Caruso Palisades Village

The Bad, the Ugly and the Uglier:

Palisades Village Not a Good Neighbor

 Caruso Closes Streets Illegally

Los Angeles has rules about street closures. First you must obtain a permit from Street Services to close the street. Than you must post in advance about the lanes that will be closed and the time that the street (or portion of the street) will be closed.

On October 20, construction started before 8 a.m. on Saturday which is illegal. A lane of Sunset Boulevard was also closed off with no prior warning.

Unless you are Rick Caruso, in which case you simply close the street without regard for the protocol.

On Friday, October 5, Swarthmore Avenue, a public thoroughfare, was closed off for a special private Caruso function. Tables and a stage were placed on the street from late morning into the afternoon. L.A. City Street Services Investigator Andrea Garcia said that no permit had been pulled.

On October 17, the parking lane on Monument Street was closed, so that it could be used for VIP drop-off and pickup for a private event hosted by a Caruso tenant, jeweler Jennifer Meyer.

Circling the News contacted the City, and L.A. City Street Services Investigator Joy Bryant wrote in an October 22 email, “I do not see a permit in our system for that date at that location.”

According to the Street Services website, applicants should begin the processing to close a street 45 days in advance, and if an application is received less than 21 days prior, a $312 application late fee should be accessed. Applicants must also submit proof of general liability insurance to the City.

“The applicant must notify all residents, property owner, managers or lessees in the closure area of the date time, location and purpose of the closure. This notification may be accomplished by distributing flyers, door hangers or by circulating the petition. Notification shall be completed at least 10 days prior to the event for local streets.”

Street Services told Circling the News in an October 22 email that “Temporary ‘No Parking’ signs that are permitted are usually posted 72 hours prior to the closure date.

The parking lane was closed on Monument, except for a Caruso worker. There was no City permit issued for the lane closure,  which later was used as a VIP drop-off and pickup site for a Jennifer Meyer special-invitation party.

Caruso Trash Examined

A resident complained that Caruso workers (primarily restaurant and construction workers) were taking cigarette and lunch breaks on Albright Street and then leaving the butts and trash behind.

This resident alerted maintenance people at Caruso’s Palisades Village and was told, “Technically, it’s not our problem.”

Albright runs directly behind the project, facing onto residential properties.

The resident stated in an October 20 email to Circling the News that they have lived in the neighborhood for decades and walk the street daily.

“There has never been such an accumulation of trash and cigarette butts,” the local wrote. “Since the stores and restaurants have opened, it has gotten worse and has become an ashtray and trash can for employees at the expense of the neighbors.”

Sunil Watumull, the general manager for Caruso’s Palisades Village, was contacted by the resident and responded on October 20 in a return email, “I have asked our housekeeping team to monitor the area on Albright for cleanliness and reminded them again earlier this afternoon. We will also address this concern with our tenants.”

Circling the News walked by the area around noon on October 22 and there were three workers outside smoking, but we did not stay to see what they did with the butts. It appeared that there was no trash in the gutter.

Residents complained about cigarette butts and trash that was being throw in the gutter on Albright.

Village Green Update: Not Our Problem

After Caruso’s Palisades Village opened on September 22, trash began overwhelming the Village Green, a small triangular community park across Sunset at Swarthmore.

The Village Green board alerted Caruso’s staff to the large amount of garbage spilling over from the stores on the weekends. Garbage cans, which are normally emptied three times a week, were overflowing by Sunday morning.

Members of the Village Green board emailed Caruso to ask for help in trash abatement. There was no response.

The Village Green board then went to the Pacific Palisades Community Council’s Caruso Village’s liaison group.

These board members were told that it wasn’t Caruso’s problem (as announced publicly at the October 11 Community Council meeting).

The Village Green, which operates on a $14,000 annual budget and depends on donations and grants, had to hire a company (at $150 a month) to bag up the trash. This means an additional $1,800 will have to be raised annually to take care of someone else’s trash.

Then, one piece of really good news: a true neighbor stepped forward. Vintage Grocer’s store director Adrian Casso said that once the trash was bagged it could be brought to the store (directly across from the park) and the staff would take care of it. The Village Green board was told that trash couldn’t be brought to the alleyway behind the store, because the alley belongs to Caruso.

Before Vintage Grocers opened, the store donated pies for the inaugural pie-eating contest on the Fourth of July and has since donated food to Woman’s Club events.

Village Green was overrun with trash on weekends after the opening of Caruso’s Palisades Village.

More Early Construction on Caruso’s Project

Circling the News received an email from a reader on Saturday morning reporting, “Caruso construction started on Saturday (October 21) at 6:50 a.m.”

The approved L.A. City starting time for construction on Saturday and holidays is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no construction allowed on Sunday. (Hours Monday through Friday are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

According to the resident, “Cement trucks were driving on Monument Street, there were generators on Sunset Boulevard. The entire neighborhood was buzzing with noise, literally.”

I asked if the resident had reported this to the City (by calling 877-ASK-LAPD).

The resident responded, “I am so frustrated, people have called and called, but the City and [Councilman] Bonin don’t do anything about it. Why doesn’t our Community Council step up?”


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4 Responses to Continuing Issues with Caruso Palisades Village

  1. John Schwartz says:

    As usual, terrific reporting! Thanks, Sue.

  2. Rena Repetti says:

    Thanks for excellent reporting on some of the negative impacts that the new mall is having on people who live in the surrounding neighborhood.

  3. Susan levin says:

    Are all these issues reaching the ears of Rick Caruso directly? Perhaps he is unaware of these issues. Trash on streets abutting the mall is or should be an image problem for him. Callous disregard for the laws should not be tolerated by elected officials and our representatives, as well as the city of LA and the police. It’s clear a personal meeting with him is necessary. Did you or someone send him a copy of this article? If again there is no response perhaps we should picket the mall with signs -I think that’s still allowed in our country.

  4. Sue says:

    Before I write a story, I reach out to all parties involved. For example, on the case of the people who live in the condo’s adjacent to the movie theater (and have had so many issues with the construction), I have sent that information to Caruso’s people first, with a plea to deal with it. I would prefer a favorable outcome for residents rather than writing a story about a power pole that was put in front of their windows and was never removed, delivery trucks loading and unloading in that alleyway, Caruso’s refusal to repair that alley, even though it was a main thoroughfare because Swarthmore (north of Sunset) was closed during construction and of a concrete truck using water from the condo.

    I have emailed Michael Gazzano and Caruso’s spokesperson Mary Fontamillas on several issues, including the most recent one, which I haven’t reported on yet, about one-lane of the alley (by the parking) being illegally closed, even though City records say it’s supposed to be two lanes. I tell Caruso’s people I’m writing a story. I tell them my deadline, I ask for a response, but I never hear back.

    If Caruso has political ambitions, it seems strange to me that neither he nor his people respond to these issues.


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