There are no bathrooms at the Palisades Recreation Center nor at George Wolfberg Park at Potrero that are accessible for the handicapped, or for seniors who might have a walker or be in a wheelchair.
The two-stall bathroom at the Rec Center were built in the 1950s and cannot accommodate those with special needs. When CTN brought the lack of bathrooms to the attention of Rec and Parks in August of 2022, this editor was told that the new self-cleaning bathrooms at George Wolfberg Park, which were handicapped accessible, were close enough to the bocce courts and the playground to serve the purpose.
Now, the bathrooms at Wolfberg Park have been out-of-order for several weeks. CTN sent a note to Pacific Palisades Community Council President Maryam Zar about the lack of bathrooms and wrote, “The PPCC has always said it wants to stay a Community Council (CC) so it can sue the City–here’s the perfect case: no ADA accessible bathrooms at the Rec Center or Potrero.”
Zar responded in a July 16 email. “The PPCC has many reasons for remaining a Community Council. One of them is the right to be able to sue the city, if need be. Others include the ability to opine, speak on, advocate for or influence issues that stem from policies put in place by all our law makers and elected officials, not just our city leaders/agencies.
“Another is to be able to raise and spend money without city permission (think of candidate forums, safety meetings or perhaps evacuation drills). Even more reasons include the independence to write and amend our bylaws to suit the community and craft a board that allows us to best serve the interests of this unique community. I’ve said to you before (as have others who once in a while inform me that they’ve written to you or sent you examples of the dis-function of city Neighborhood Councils), the Neighborhood Council (NC) system is wrought with peril, and while other communities can’t muster the resources to create a well-functioning system outside the structure the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment/DONE (currently rudderless without a leader) offers them, we are lucky enough to preside over the longest running Community Council in LA, and the one which served as the blueprint for the current NC system.
“Yes, that also means that we do not have a cap on how much money we raise, and we can spend it on causes of action we deem appropriate, in exceptional cases where we believe the interests of the entire community are in jeopardy. That does not mean that we are an irresponsible body with litigious aims or that we take litigation lightly, use it as a threat or embark upon it with any regularity — it means we are a sober board, fully mindful of our responsibility, with fairness at our core and a tradition of taking positions only after community discussion and board approval.”
Zar continued, “The PAB, on the other hand, is a Brown Act board that follows the rules laid out for it by the City and manages the Pali Rec Center (and other parks). The PAB board is made of long-standing members who have been committed to the betterment of our parks for generations — with a pretty impressive track record of getting things done, even with LA City as a partner. Today, the board is led by one of its most brilliant members. I have no doubt the PAB will find a way to press the City for improvements at the park, including upgrades to the bathrooms and playground.”
She concluded with this admonishment to the CTN editor, “I’ve suggested to you before and will again here, to go to some NC meetings or attend BONC meetings to see the functioning of NCs. Perhaps you’ll talk to members or get a sense of the processes, challenges, triumphs and perils. Only then can you fairly compare your thoughts on the value of CCs versus NCs.”
This editor responded to Zar that the suggestion of possibly suing the City was not about a NC versus a CC, but about getting handicapped bathrooms in Pacific Palisades.
CTN wrote Zar on July 16, “I truly don’t care if the Palisades has a Community Council or a Neighborhood Council, as long as it’s effective.”
CTN added, “Having ADA-accessible bathrooms at the Rec Center and for George Wolfberg Park at Potrero does not seem like it should be a controversial issue. It also seems like this is something the Community Council would or should support with legal action. But maybe bathrooms for the handicapped (and seniors, who might be with a walker or in a wheelchair) are not high on the list of priorities for the PPCC.”
CTN then sent a July 16 email to Rec and Parks General Manager Jimmy Kim, to the new board of RAP Commissioners, and to RAP public spokesperson Rose Watson about the lack of handicapped-accessible bathrooms at Pacific Palisades. When they respond, CTN will update the story.