Pacific Palisades 2020 Year in Review

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JANUARY:

Potrero Canyon seen from above.
Photo: Billy Marrone Visit: dji

WISHNICK WAY: Councilman Mike Bonin officially designated Antioch Street from Via de la Paz to Swarthmore Avenue as Arnie Wishnick Way. Arnie was executive director of the Palisades Chamber of Commerce (which is located on Antioch). He passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2019.

POTRERO COMPLETION PLANS: At the Park Advisory Board meeting, Pedro Garcia, the Bureau of Engineering’s Potrero Park Manager, said, “The design phase for landscaping is close to completion. Potrero Canyon Park is now projected to open to the public in April 2021.” (Editor’s note: The landscaping bid has still not gone out, so the park won’t be opening in April. Bonin has also suggested that the park be called George Wolfberg Park, but that still has to be approved by the L.A. City Recreation and Park Commissioners.)

MARGULEAS DONATION:

Amalfi Estates owner Anthony Marguleas donated $5,000 (once again) to the Village Green Committee to help the nonprofit maintain the small triangular park at Sunset, Antioch and Swarthmore.

 

FEBRUARY:

Rosie Maravilla is in charge of the new Palisades Anawalt Store.

ANAWALT:

The Ford family, which owns the property that encompasses Ralphs, Palisades Car Wash, Pharmaca and the former Norris Hardware, jointly announced with the Anawalt Lumber Company that Anawalt will go into part of the Norris space.

GEORGE WOLFBERG:

George Wolfberg, a longtime member of the Pacific Palisades Community Council board, president of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, Community Service Award winner (2008), Citizen of the Year (2011) and Pride of the Palisades honoree (2019) died of cancer.

GENESIS WINNER:

Australian Adam Scott won the PGA Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club, earning $1,674,000, a Genesis SUV EV80 and a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

MARCH:

ELDERCARE FACILITY:

The Highlands Eldercare Facility hearing was held at L.A. Superior Court. The hearing pitted the Pacific Palisades Residents Association against the City of Los Angeles, the California Coastal Commission and developer Rony Shram, representing Palisades Drive LP.

L.A. Times Film Critic Kenny Turan

TURAN RETIRES:

Pacific Palisades resident Kenneth Turan, longtime senior film critic for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted: “After close to 30 years in the most exciting and rewarding of jobs, I am stepping away from being a daily film critic for the Los Angeles Times.” Turan is now researching another of his Hollywood-related books.

FIRST COVID-19 CASES:

Pacific Palisades residents Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were among the first Americans to test positive for Covid 19, while filming in Australia.

CHAUTAUQUA CROSSWALK:

The City threatened to remove the pedestrian crosswalk at Corona del Mar and Chautauqua. Resident Lou Kamer worked with Councilman Mike Bonin’s Field Deputy Lisa Cahill and the crosswalk was saved.

BASKETBALL CHAMPS:

The Palisades High girls and boys basketball teams both reached the CIF State Regional finals. The girls won and earned a berth in the State finals in Sacramento—but all state contests were cancelled because of Covid-19. NBA Lakers star LaBron James came to PaliHi to watch one of the boys’ playoff games.

PaliHi’s Jane Nwaba tries for two, while teammate Fanellyl Portillo waits for a rebound.

QUARANTINE BEGINS:

Businesses and schools closed on March 13. Stay-at-home orders were issued by the L.A. County Department of Public Health in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

 

APRIL:

Sharon Kilbride had a nice crop of pumpkins, which she grew in the family cemetery.

PLANT PUMPKINS!:

Former Citizen of the Year Bruce Schwartz offered pumpkin plants to any resident who wanted to grow them in their yards. Several residents take him up on the offer.

HOMELESS AT THE REC CENTER:

Playgrounds and parks were closed because of Covid-19. The City announced that thousands of homeless people would be taken off the streets and housed in various recreation centers. Pacific Palisades was on the list and residents objected to the idea. Eventually the City never filled all the gyms and trailers they had commissioned for the effort. Then it was determined that putting the homeless in close quarters was worse for Covid contagion, and they were allowed to remain outside.

MASKS:

Citizens were strongly encouraged to wear masks whenever they left home to walk, shop or eat at restaurants, in order to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of Covid to other people. Social distancing and hand washing were also recommended by the CDC.

ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES:

Liquor and pot stores were deemed essential businesses and stayed open. Churches were closed and residents celebrated Easter at their homes.

 

MAY:

Photo: Shelby Pascoe

NEON TIDE:

In spite of the mandate not to leave home, the beaches at Will Rogers were full of people because of the “red tide.” At night, it displayed as a neon blue light. Dr. Alexis Fischer, a research associate and surfer at Santa Cruz, said: “This particular type of phytoplankton produces bioluminescence when it’s agitated. These flashes cause a startle response in their predators, and so is thought to be a predator avoidance behavior. However, any sort of mechanical stress, like waves, can also trigger luminescence.”

COVID-19 STATS:

Through May 26, 2,143 people had died from Covid-19 in L.A. County. Of these, 93 percent (1,993) had underlying conditions and 47 percent (1,007) were in nursing facilities.

JUNIOR LIFEGUARD:

The popular Junior Lifeguard Program was cancelled. Held annually at the beach for kids ages 9 to 17, and conducted by the L.A. County Fire Department, the program teaches ocean safety, employs physical conditioning, teaches First Aid, CPR and rescue techniques.

BUSINESSES REOPEN:

Restaurants could reopen at 60 percent of capacity and apply for outdoor dining. Barbershops and salons could reopen with social distancing guidelines.

JUNE:

Protestors walked up Swarthmore before turning on Monument and going back on Sunset Boulevard.

TOWN’S FOURTH OF JULY:

PAPA organizers announced that for the first time since the founding of the town’s parade 72 years ago by American Legion Post 283, and since the beginning of the Will Rogers 5K/10K Run 43 years ago, the Run, Parade, Concert and Fireworks had to be cancelled because the City would not issue permits.

LAFD HONORED:

In an attempt at normalcy, the firefighters/paramedics from Station 23 and 69 were announced as this year’s honorary parade marshals. Since these individuals are generally on call and serving during the parade, this was the perfect year to honor them – virtually of course!

NATIONAL GUARD:

When rioting and looting broke out citywide during the Black Lives Matter protests, members of the National Guard began patrolling Caruso’s Palisades Village. The Sons of the American Legion and the Palisades Rotary supplied food to troops.

LOCAL PROTEST:

About 500 people gathered at the El Medio bluffs and then marched down Sunset to the Village Green. There they held an eight-minute, 46-second moment of silence to signify the time the police officer kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

YMCA OPENS:

After being closed since March, the Palisades-Malibut YMCA was allowed to reopen on June 29. Unfortunately, it had to close a week later and has remained closed because of Covid concerns.

JULY:

FIREWORKS:

Local beaches were closed, and although fireworks were not approved by the County, there were large-scale fireworks set off every night along the coast, prompting worries about fire.

DESIGN REVIEW BOARD:

The Palisades Design Review Board met to discuss the proposed new paint colors and awnings for the historic Business Block Building. The building is bright pink with green awnings. Originally the building’s owner wanted to repaint the building white, with black and white awnings. In December the DRB compromised by approving a light pink and taupe color for the building.

CITY COUNCIL CUTS POLICE BUDGET:

The L.A. City Council, including Mike Bonin, voted on July 1 to cut the LAPD budget by $150 million and lower staffing to 9,757 by the summer of 2021.

Erich Haas, the Palisades Rec Center Director, is enjoying the renovated office space, which includes windows that open.

RECREATION CENTER:

After 13 years of lobbying, Palisades Rec Center Director Erich Haas was able to get new windows (that open), a new ceiling and flooring in the office space that hadn’t been upgraded since 1958. (Later in the year, on December 9, he announced that he would be taking early retirement and that Rec Center Coordinator Chris Wilson will now be in charge of day-to-day operations.)

HIGHLANDS APPEAL FILED:

An appeal was filed, requesting that the California Court of Appeals overturn the City approval of the controversial eldercare facility in the Highlands.

SEVEN ARROWS:

The kindergarten-6th grade private school on La Cruz started the process of reopening the school for in-person instruction.

AUGUST:

The farmers market reopened in Pacific Palisades.

PUBLIC SAFETY:

Councilman Mike Bonin hosted a virtual town hall on “Reimagining Public Safety” and one of the participants concluded, “Some of these questions indicate the problem is much bigger than reimagining public safety. We need to talk about dismantling white supremacy. It’s a lot for black people to be responding to questions that white folk don’t see as racist but are.”

NURSERY OPENS:

The Standard Design Group, which has a landscaping store in Studio City, opened its second shop in Pacific Palisades at 810 Temescal Canyon Road (across from Palisades High). In addition to trees, shrubs, outdoor and indoor plants, the store offers design, irrigation, landscaping and water features.

FARMERS MARKET:

After being closed since March in its old location at Palisades High School, the town’s farmers market reopened in a new location on Swarthmore and Antioch with masks and social distancing required.

JACK-IN-THE-BOX:

L.A. City Planning Commission approved a controversial on the former Jack-in-the-Box location on Sunset near PCH. The five-story, 60-ft.-high, 32,225-sq.ft. mixed-use building with 39 dwelling units had been opposed by every major group in the Palisades for its lack of adherence to the town’s Specific Plan. Commissioners were told that this would be the first low-income housing in Pacific Palisades, which was not true. (In December the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee approved the project, although the hearing had not followed the Brown Act. Bonin’s office did not take a position on the project.

SEPTEMBER:

The side of the Postal Box had been sliced opened and the contents taken.

EDD LETTERS:

Several Palisades residents received letters from the state’s Employment Development Department, addressed to people who did not live at the address. CTN reached out to the EDD office and a spokesperson responded in a September 14 email, “EDD is aggressively fighting fraud in the wake of unscrupulous attacks on the unemployment program here in California and across the country.” (In December, Bank of America contracted EDD and said that 640,000 suspicious accounts had been identified and estimated the amount of fraud could total $2 billion.)

PARKING METER MONEY:

Back in 2018, residents were told that Pacific Palisades would receive a portion of the town’s parking meter revenue (upwards of $50,000) for streetscape improvements in the business district. Later, residents were told the town wouldn’t receive the money because of a staffing problem. Now, the program has been terminated because of the City’s budget crisis.

P.O. BOX VANDALIZED:

The U.S. Mailbox on the Village Green was vandalized and the mail stolen. The box was replaced with a new one.

RESILIENT PALISADES:

Resilient Palisades is formed with the group’s goal to address climate change and environmental degradation by working together as neighbors.

OCTOBER:

Olivia Ciani carrues a new line of lingerie Clo Intimo.

BELLEZZA OPENS:

Olivia Ciani opened a new lingerie store, Bellezza, at 857 Via de la Paz, featuring bras, panties, lounge wear, pajama sets, robes and bodysuits.

ELECTION VOTING:

Voting began early for the November County/State/National Election. Voting in person was available as early as October 24. A ballot drop box was placed by the library on October 5 – the same day that ballots were mailed to L.A. County voters.

YMCA PUMPKIN PATCH:

The YMCA’s Pumpkin Patch opened at the beginning of October, with proceeds supporting various Y programs and scholarships. The last week of the month, several male teenagers did $500 worth of damage, destroying pumpkins.

COMMUNITY COUNCIL:

At the Community Council meeting on October 22, Tim Fremaux, an LADOT senior transportation engineer, discussed changes under consideration for the Chautauqua/PCH intersection. Other than signage and bollads, Fremaux said there didn’t seem to be many alternatives to improve an intersection that was built in 1929.

 

NOVEMBER:

Seven Arrows Elementary, which always has unique celebrations and teaching styles opened.

HOMELESS FIRE:

A homeless fire in Temescal Gateway Park near the historic dining hall was extinguished in about two hours. Firefighters said the lack of wind helped them contain the fire to about a quarter of an acre.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS:

Using safety protocols, private schools in Pacific Palisades started reopening and included Seven Arrows, Calvary Christian, Corpus Christi, Village and Westside Waldorf.

Public schools did not reopen because LAUSD officials felt the Covid-19 situation was too dangerous.

Outdoor dining was again banned, starting on November 25. On December 8, a judge sided with restaurants that there was no science that supported the L.A. County closure. The ban remained in place because of a state order, but a lawsuit has now been filed against the state.

L.A. County enacted a new stay-at-home order on November 27, which was to remain in place until December 20.

INTERFAITH CELEBRATION:

One of the most inspirational events in Pacific Palisades, the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, was hosted on Zoom by the town’s clergy.

PCH FATALITY:

Three vehicles were involved in an early-morning traffic collision on November 21 along Pacific Coast Highway, north of Sunset, which resulted in a fatality and injuries to five others.

Around 4:10 a.m., between Coastline Drive and Porto Marina, the driver of a vehicle going southbound on PCH rear-ended a vehicle that was parked on the south curb by the beach.

The second car, on impact, went off the road and onto the beach. The two people in the car were ejected from the vehicle onto the sand.

DECEMBER:

HO!HO!HO!

The 69th annual Ho!Ho!Ho! tradition continued when Santa, an essential worker, came to town. Parents (and grandparents) were able to drive a loop through Temescal Canyon Park, allowing children to wave at Mr. and Mrs. Claus. More than 100 families participated. A pet contest was also held and more than 300 people entered their pet’s photo on Nextdoor Palisades.

NATIONAL AWARD:

Long-time resident Pam Bruns, the founder and Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF), received national recognition — the 2020 O’Brien Award for Individual Achievement from the Human Rights Educators USA. The award honors outstanding contributions to human rights education in the United States.

CHARLIE BROWN TREE:

When the lights were vandalized on the pine tree in the Village Green in 2018, the nonprofit’s board didn’t have enough enough to replace them. It would have cost nearly $1,000 to fix the line and nearly $2,000 to restring it.

Since the park, a nonprofit, is open to residents and is funded entirely by donations from residents, members of the Village Green Committee decided not to decorate it.

So, for the second year in a row, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree has marked the location.

 

 

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