(Editor’s note: On March 20, Councilman Mike Bonin announced via email to residents that the Palisades Recreation Center would be used to house homeless during the coronavirus crisis. Circling the News reported on that news as well as raising questions and running a letter from a concerned resident about the proposal. On March 21, the Pacific Palisades Community Council sent the following letter to Councilman Mike Bonin, Recreation and Parks General Manager Michael Shull and LAUSD Representative Nick Melvoin.)
Dear Honorable Sirs:
The Executive Committee of the Pacific Palisades Community Council has heard that Mayor Garcetti has decided to open shelters for homeless people in Los Angeles, including Pacific Palisades.
The decision to quickly house and provide services for homeless people in a grave public health crisis is reasonable and necessary for public health and safety. We support such prudent action.
The Executive Committee does not take a position on any particular site in Pacific Palisades. In this emergency we can’t meet as a full Community Council Board, hear from all interested parties, and inform decision-makers of a community consensus. What we can do is provide local information and ask questions to shape government decisions.
* Take strong measures to minimize the community spread of the virus.
* Protect the safety (health and security) of both those living and working in the shelters, as well as the residents of the surrounding community.
* Act in the best interest of the local community and greater Los Angeles in this emergency, weighing competing interests, demands and legal constraints.
* What’s the end game? Where do the homeless go after the crisis is over?
Questions and Considerations:
1. How will this impact the schedules of programs (present and future) at the site? Think long term. We don’t know how long the virus will remain a public health emergency (weeks, months or years).
2. What limits on movement in and out of the shelter will there be? Lock down or free to come and go? This is a public health and safety issue.
3. Will there be public health services for the shelter: medical treatment, testing, and strict quarantining those who test positive or who show symptoms of the virus?
4. Who will provide food, clothing, and medicines?
5. Who will staff the shelter? City or County? Red Cross? United Way? Hospital?
6. Who will be coming to use the shelter? Local homeless, or from greater L.A. or beyond? How many?
7. Who will enforce the health and safety protocols? City health staff, LAPD, RAP or local site staff? Will LAPD provide 24-hour security?
8. What are the protocols? Social distancing? Separation or partition by gender, age (youth), mental health, drug dependency, danger to themselves and others? Will alcohol, illegal drugs and paraphernalia be confiscated and prohibited? What will be done with shelter user’s personal belongings? Cleaning and disinfecting?
9. Transportation in and out of homeless people, staff and supplies? Will parking be cordoned off from public use?
10. Will the whole site be shut down for the shelter’s use? No concurrent uses?
11. Will community volunteers be allowed to help, and be properly trained? Can people make or donate supplies?
12. How will you determine when the crisis is over? Where will the homeless people go? Will they just walk out, or will they be transported to some place where they have shelter and services? Who will do the transporting and shelter?
The Palisades community needs assurances that there is a detailed plan, that it’s shared with the community, that it’s safe for all, and that it really is a temporary shelter.
Executive Committee, PPCC:
David Card, Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Spitz, Secretary, email@example.com
David Kaplan, Vice Chair
Richard Cohen, Treasurer
Maryam Zar, Chair Emeritus
John Padden, Organization Representative (PRIDE)
Joanna Spak, Area Representative (Area 1, Castellammare, Paseo Miramar)