The following statement was released by The Friends of the Library:
The board of directors of the Pacific Palisades Library Association (The Friends of the Library) devoted its August 9 quarterly board meeting and a subsequent follow-up meeting on August 23 to discuss the concerns raised by community members regarding homelessness and library patron safety.
At its August 9 meeting, the board heard in person and through written statements from community members about concerns regarding unhoused individuals who live outside the library.
Barbara Kohn (Pacific Palisades Community Council), Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin (Los Angeles Police Department) and Sharon Kilbride and Nancy Klopper (Pacific Palisades Taskforce on Homelessness – PPTFH provided informational background for the board.
Espin spoke on the enforcement of existing ordinances related to loitering and the recently passed amendment to Municipal Code 41.18, which will ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and takes effect September 18.
The board was informed of the limits of its ability to force actions by either LAPD or to hire private security guards to patrol library property.
Espin indicated LAPD is awaiting direction from its legal counsel about the enforcement of the ordinance, which may be amended further to include library property. In any case, enforcement will be the responsibility of the LAPD and not the library staff or Friends of the Library.
The presentations also included details on the work of PPTFH, which provides resources to address homelessness in Pacific Palisades so that the community is protected and remains safe while homeless people receive compassionate, effective services as well as access to permanent supportive housing.
At its August 23 meeting, the board voted to take the following action:
Contribute $10,000 to the PPTFH to support a new Clinical Case Worker position that the PPTFH is in the process of recruiting. This experienced clinician will focus on providing services to the homeless in Pacific Palisades, particularly those who are service resistant.
The $10,000 pledge is contingent upon the hiring of the new Clinical Case Worker and will be funded from unrestricted gifts to The Friends, not from membership dues or book-sale proceeds.
This funding commitment is intended to signal The Friends’ desire to be part of the solution to our local homeless crisis while also affirming the distinct and proper roles of our local community organizations. The pledge is also intended to fulfill The Friends’ mission of fostering good will and understanding between the library and the community.
The Friends will increase efforts to keep the Palisades Library and its grounds clear of trash, debris and other waste. A local professional landscaping company has agreed to regularly report any incidence of hazardous waste so that library staff can have it promptly and properly removed.
The board also discussed additional environmental and landscaping options to keep the entry to the library as welcoming and safe as possible. These efforts are in keeping with The Friends’ mission of enhancing development and operation of the library facilities.
Encourage community members to report any health and safety issues related to the Palisades Library to the proper authorities. Library patrons should report concerns to the library staff. If illegal activity is observed or suspected, it should also be reported to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The board also re-committed The Friends to funding programs and resources that will maintain the Palisades Library as a vibrant hub of community activity.
Since the library’s reopening earlier this year, The Friends reopened its patio bookstore, organized a Community Open House in May, and supported numerous programs, including the Children’s Writing Contest, which is open for entries until September 6. The group also funds the Palisades Reads program, which will return for its fourth year this fall.
“As an all-volunteer organization, we rely on the community’s continued support and good will,” said Friends President Laura Schneider. “We have sincerely appreciated the community’s input as we have worked to address the complex issue of homelessness. While solving this problem is well outside the scope of the Friends’ mission, we do hope our actions as an organization will be a step in the direction of uniting the Palisades as a thoughtful and compassionate community.”