The Los Angeles Police Department Beach Detail is essential in keeping homeless fires from burning the bluffs and hillsides in which Pacific Palisades is nestled.
In previous years, during the summer, additional police had been assigned to this area to ensure illegal camping was not taking place in the very high fire severity zone.
In June, the West Los Angeles Area Commanding Officer Captain JonathanTom learned that funding would be cut to his department and suggested that residents reach out to Councilman Mike Bonin and see if some of the council district’s discretionary funds could be used for that purpose.
Bonin’s spokesperson responded that no money would go for LAPD, but rather “For the remainder of Councilmember Bonin’s time in office, he is focusing use of his discretionary dollars on efforts to address the homelessness crisis and on strategies to prevent homelessness. He is funding shared housing programs and organizations doing outreach and providing casework to unhoused individuals, and he is providing money to groups working to prevent homelessness and support people at risk of homelessness, such as tenants, foster youth, and survivors of domestic violence.”
But no discretionary funding went to the nonprofit Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH), either.
Tom, was on site, when firefighters were battling the May 2021 Highland Fires, which was started by a homeless transient. The past two years, the Captain has set up a task force with various agencies so officials are on the same page.
He understands the importance of keeping fire out of the nearby brush, by ensuring illegal camping, is caught. Tom has now managed to secure funding to add two additional officers, bringing the total to four. That means that LAPD is on site seven days a week through September.
This morning, the two officers assigned to the detail, Margin and Bermudez, were accompanied by Fletes and Carbajal, for a 3 a.m. patrol of the beaches (people are not allowed to sleep on the beach).
In addition to heavy equipment that cleans the sand early in the a.m., there are also several youth summer camps that set up on the beach.
Sharon Kilbride, the PPTFH co-president, went over the five patrol areas with officers – from Chautauqua to Porto Marino, to Palisades Drive, to the Village. She asked for them to let her know how many people are engaged, and what area they are located in. She asked them to provide any evidence of fire or illegal campsites.
“You’re doing a great job,” she said, and asked them to report all campsites, so they can be cleaned out.
She also warned that the area, behind the Starbucks in the Palisades Drive, that some meth objects had been found.
Officers shared that about once a week, someone is discovered who has a probation violation, and they said they also cited people for camping in a high fire severity zone (a misdemeanor release).
They reported the fence around the City property in Porto Marino had still not been fixed and provided a site for illegal camping.
DUTY: ABOVE AND BEYOND
While Kilbride was speaking with LAPD officers at Lifeguard headquarters on Monday morning, a resident came up and wanted to thank Officer Margin for his exceptional duty.
Last month, it was Officer Margin, who first found a tent in Temescal Canyon Park, just below the xeriscape garden. At first, he assumed it was just a family, who had set up for the day to enjoy the park.
When he stopped by later the tent was still there and he looked inside and saw a bed. He spoke to the family, who had small children, and learned they were indeed homeless.
The father, a dishwasher, had come out several weeks before the family arrived and now they found themselves camping illegally in Pacific Palisades.
“We can’t have this,” Margin said. “It’s not good at all.”
He called the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness. St. Joseph’s, which is a nonprofit dedicated to helping families, was called.
St. Joseph’s is L.A. County’s Coordinated Entry System service provider for the Westside, which includes Pacific Palisades. Bonin recently gave $2.5 million to St. Joseph’s, which went to salaries.
“They gave us the runaround,” Margin said. The group was told by St. Joseph’s that there was nothing they could give the family that night. “That was the hardest part, they couldn’t help them like they needed to.”
Margin paid for a Motel 6 for the family out of his own pocket that first night.
There continued to be no openings for the family and others helped pay for a motel room. The family has since received $1,000 voucher and Margin said they are going back to New Mexico.
If you see Margin, thank him for helping a family, by paying for their motel room.
He was later reimbursed by PPTFH, which paid for an additional day.
Sharon Kilbride said that Margin didn’t want the task force to pay him back, but “I insisted.”