(Editor’s note: the following letter was sent on June 10 from the Pacific Palisades Community Council to Richard H. Lewellyn, Jr., City Administrative Officer (CAO) and to Matt Szabo, CAO appointee (effective 7/4/21), who is current Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Garcetti.)
For more than 75 years, our community has been privileged to welcome countless visitors from all walks of life throughout Los Angeles and beyond, who regularly use the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot in order to access the beach and ocean for recreation and enjoyment.
The WRSB lot is also routinely used by City, County and State first responders for critical command, staging and evacuation during frequent local and regional wildfire emergencies.
The WRSB lot is one of the sites that the City Council has now directed the CAO to evaluate as a homeless housing site. For many compelling reasons – including the overriding Coastal Act public access mandate, legal and jurisdictional obstacles, homeless safety and service issues, and substantial environmental and public safety concerns such as the potential loss of the lot for fire emergency use – PPCC maintains that the WRSB parking lot is entirely infeasible and strongly opposes its use for homeless housing of any kind.
PPCC agrees that homeless housing and services are urgently needed in Los Angeles. However, we disagree that a sudden, new emergency or extreme crisis exists that would justify use of clearly unsuitable public recreational sites, such as State Park or State Beach parking lots reserved by law for other purposes, for housing for any length of time.
Simply put: As demonstrated in the Attachment, using the WRSB parking lot and/or obtaining the required multijurisdictional review for its use as homeless housing cannot be easily or quickly done, nor is it practicable or feasible, whether based on a claim of urgent need or emergency, or otherwise.
Even more importantly, should homeless housing be placed in the WRSB lot, its effective removal from use by first responders for vital wildfire fighting and protection efforts would have severe regional/multi-jurisdictional impacts. Its loss would pose a grave risk of harm to the public, not only in Pacific Palisades, but also in the wider region of Los Angeles County subject to devastating wildfires, including the communities of Calabasas, Malibu and Topanga Canyon as well as extensive federal and State parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Such action would violate public safety protections guaranteed to citizens, both housed and unhoused, by the California Constitution (see Attachment, Sec. V below).
We invite you and CAO staff to meet at WRSB for a site visit with PPCC representatives, Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) volunteers and our LAPD beach detail officers. It is imperative that the CAO see first-hand the conditions at WRSB and the surrounding area – and to obtain input from individuals who interact daily with the homeless at WRSB and in our nearby bluffs and canyon areas – in order to better understand why the proposal to use this lot is infeasible and dangerous. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a visit.
(The factors demonstrating infeasiblity and the people to whom the 16-page letter was cc’d can be found here PPCC Letter to CAO)