Hiking with Elected Officials

Hiking with a City Councilman, a State Senator and an LAUSD Board Member

(Left to right) State Senator Ben Allen, LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin and L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin went on a hike with constituents in Will Rogers State Park.


A local social media site posted that L.A. Councilmember Mike Bonin, State Senator Ben Allen and LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin would participate in a “Hike with Mike” event at Will Rogers State Historic Park on July 21.

And to sweeten the deal, they would provide free parking, waiving the customary $12 fee. Often my email queries to Bonin (our City Council representative) have gone unanswered, so I figured this would be a perfect way to get a face-to-face meeting.

I don’t want to say the Councilman has been avoiding me, but I figured if that was the case, I could see how fast he could sprint up the hill when he saw me.

About 50 people showed up and I found myself agreeing with 84-year-old Barbara Marinacci, who said Pacific Palisades should keep its street-tree tradition—every street in the Palisades, in the parkway, has a specific tree designation. She alerted me that the idea was coming under fire inside city government and that many people new to the Palisades were unaware of it.

Hiking up a hill, we caught up with Melvoin, who was able to explain why Elon Musk had used the Palisades High School swimming pool to test a miniature submarine (a pod) that was sent to Thailand as an alternative in case the stranded soccer players couldn’t be rescued through traditional methods.

A friend of Melvoin’s, who works as an assistant to Musk, bemoaned that Musk didn’t have a pool to test the pod. Melvoin told his friend, “We [LAUSD] have pools.”

Melvoin’s Senior Advisor Allison Holdorff Pohill, a Palisades resident, was able to contact the Palisades High School facility operations director on a Saturday night and the next day, July 8, the pod was being tested in the pool.

Allison’s son, Carter Pohill, a 2016 PaliHi grad, who specializes in underwater photography and attends the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, took the photos that Musk used in his social media. (Visit: carterpolhillstudios.com.)

Marinacci asked Melvoin about the “swamp” below Pali Academy, the alternative high school located in Temescal Canyon. Years ago, as a reporter, I wrote that LAUSD planned to turn that land into a parking lot. But even though a homeless sex offender had been living in that area, a local woman called television and radio stations and public officials about keeping it a natural area. LAUSD loaded up its bulldozer and the area hasn’t been touched in close to a decade.

At the July 24 Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness meeting, resident Lawry Meister, president of Flyaway Homes, suggested that the area be purchased from LAUSD and used for affordable housing.

Senator Allen is working on environmental issues and I offered this blog as a way to help educate the public about bills he’s working on. He jokingly said he would offer his counterpart of a “Hike with Mike”–“Yoga with Ben.”

For those of us who chatted nonstop during the hike, comments and questions while practicing yoga could present a challenge.

Bonin listened as I asked him if his staff could tell me just how many people had called or e-mailed his office in support of the controversial Highlands eldercare facility.

I had heard from the other side and knew many residents had signed a petition against the proposed facility. He said he would do that—and then told me a funny story about when he attended a Sunday service at St. Monica Catholic Church and was poked in the rear with a cane belonging to a little old lady.

When he turned around, she said, “You better pass the Caruso project.”

Special thanks to Bonin for organizing informal opportunities for constituents to meet and chat with elected officials.


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