Hillside Task Force Patrols Parkland

Officers and volunteers gathered to search for illegal encampments.

Palisades Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin organized a Hillside Task Force, which met at Will Rogers State Beach by Lifeguard Headquarters at 7 a.m. on June 12.

The purpose is for volunteers and officers to visit hillsides and parkland, to ensure there is no illegal camping in the “Restricted, Very High Fire Zone” that encompasses much of Pacific Palisades.

West L.A. Police Captain III Rich Gabaldon, who knows the importance of the beach detail and the issues with brush fires in this community, was onsite and urged everyone to make safety a priority as they went to their assigned areas.

When the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness was formed in October 2014, not only was the village inundated with homeless, so were the hillsides.

There were numerous brush fires, started by warming/cooking fires before the signs were approved as legal and posted.

The first task force took place after several fires were set by an arsonist in the hills above the Highlands in May 2021, the jurisdictions included City (the Highlands), the County (Topanga) and State Parks (Will Rogers and Topanga).

After the fire was put out and a person arrested, LAPD Captain Jonathan Tom, who was then the commanding officer of the West Los Angeles Area, realized how valuable it would be for officials to work together: the first task force was assembled. The mission was not only to check out parks and the lands surrounding parks, but also to introduce the different agencies across the jurisdictions.

Today, there were about 30 people who included rangers from L.A. City Park, California State Park and MRCA. The LAPD Valley Off-Road unit joined LAPD, and members of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness. Also, present were Councilwoman Traci Park’s Field Deputy Michael Amster, and members of the People Concern.

The areas explored were behind the wall along PCH below the Huntington Palisades, Potrero, the Via de las Olas bluffs, Temescal Canyon Park, Temescal Canyon Gateway Park, Asilomar, Castellammare area, Sunset at PCH, Palisades Drive and Los Leones.

“If you find anyone interested in services bring them down to the People Concern,” Espin said. Members of the nonprofit were at picnic tables at the base of Temescal waiting to offer services to anyone who might want them.

After the three-hour operation concluded, two abandoned campsites had been found, but no people.

This editor accompanied the group that went behind the wall along PCH between Chautauqua and Potrero.

Thanks to Task Force volunteer Carlos Rodriquez, who also works with the Huntington Homeowners Association, that area was in great shape. In the past there were abandoned encampments, propane and needles behind the wall, but today it was clean – and the hillside above it devoid of trash.

A group hired by Los Angeles was doing brush clearance along Temescal Canyon Road, which made it easier to see if someone was illegally camping.

When the City told people of Pacific Palisades, they couldn’t do anything about the homeless or the fires, residents stepped up and found a way. With the help of the Los Angeles Police Beach Detail, this area remains relatively safe, compared to other areas of the city.

For people who have moved here in the last 10 years, consider donating or volunteering with the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness click here.

Motor officers were able to travel in more difficult areas, such as below the Via de las Olas bluffs.


This entry was posted in City Councilmember Park, Crime/Police, Parks. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hillside Task Force Patrols Parkland

  1. Sandy says:

    Who does one contact to sign up to participate in this task force?

  2. Bruce Schwartz says:

    PPTFH , LAPD, and all involved in the exercise are happy we could cover for our fearless leader Sharon Kilbrite, who is on a well deserved vacation !!

  3. Sue says:

    You can go to their website and sign up to volunteer. Please do.

  4. Michael says:

    Amazing that they can do this in regards to the homeless in the hills, but only pay the community lip service in regards to the teens that have been terrorizing so many of our community members.

  5. Sue says:


    The Task Force is volunteer run and has worked with law enforcement as partners. Maybe we need a task force of volunteers to do with the youth.


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