(Editor’s note: The March 22 letter to City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Commissioner Joe Halper, regarding the use of Palisades Recreation Center as a homeless shelter, was shared with Circling the News. The letter was also sent to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin and U.S. Representative Ted Lieu.)
Dear Commissioner Halper:
I write in my capacity as President of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association (“PPRA”), a 62-year-old, non-profit, all-volunteer community-wide organization that is involved with land use planning and the protection of coastal and mountain resources in and around Pacific Palisades. At the request of many community and PPRA board members, I am writing to request further information regarding the announcement that the City of Los Angeles is planning to use the Palisades Recreation Center as a homeless shelter in response to the novel coronavirus situation.
PPRA appreciates the unprecedented nature of the current viral outbreak and understands the urgent need to provide shelter for the City’s vulnerable homeless population. However, it is important for community members to understand the steps the City will be taking to ensure the health and safety of both the persons living and working in the shelters and the residents of the surrounding communities. Community members are entitled to know what health, safety and security protocols will govern the operations of the shelters, how the City plans to enforce those protocols, and what City’s plan is for the eventual termination of the use of recreation centers as homeless shelters.
Therefore, PPRA respectfully requests that the City respond to the following questions:
- Will the individuals to be sheltered be screened and/or tested for the coronavirus prior to being transported to or entering each recreation center, and if so, how does the City plan to isolate those who are symptomatic or test positive?
- Once sheltered in the recreation centers, what steps will be taken to test and isolate residents who become symptomatic?
- Will individuals be required to shelter in place (indoors and outdoors on the Rec Center premises) or be free to circulate in the community?
- What assurance can the City give Palisades residents that the transportation to and housing of homeless individuals in the Palisades Recreation Center does not increase the risk of community spread of the coronavirus in our community?
- Who will be working in the shelters and how will their health and security be protected?
- Who will enforce the health, safety and security protocols at the Recreation Center, including the risks of theft, public intoxication, disorderliness and littering?
- Will the homeless shelter activities at the Palisades Rec Center comply with all existing regulations regarding permitted hours of operation?
- Will individuals transported to the shelter be required to waive any rights to sue the City in the event they contract COVID-19, and if not, how does the City assess the extent its potential legal liability to such persons?
- What is the plan for the return of the recreation centers to their current use — what is the standard the City will use for terminating their use as homeless shelters, and what steps will the City take to ensure that the premises are returned to their normal use in a safe condition?
- What is the City’s plan for the individuals sheltered at each recreation center when the use of the centers as homeless shelters is terminated, especially if other housing is not available at that time? Will they be transported to other locations for supportive services? If not, where will they go?
Thank you for your consideration of these issues. PPRA respectfully requests that the City distribute a plan to our community that addresses these concerns along with others that are raised by the decision to use community recreation centers as homeless shelters during the coronavirus crisis.
Sarah Conner, President, Pacific Palisades Residents Association