Pacific Palisades Community Council Opposes Using the Recreation Center for Homeless

This homeless man on the left has a knife strapped to his thigh. The photo was taken in Councilman Mike Bonin’s district. Would he be eligible to stay at the Palisades Rec Center?

On April 5, the Pacific Palisades Community Council executive committee sent a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl opposing the proposed homeless shelter at the Palisades Recreation Center. The letter states that without “complete and satisfactory responses convincing us that the site would be safe and suitable, we would oppose the proposed shelter at our Recreation Center.” The PPCC has offered to share answers received.

The executive board included: “ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS,” stating that “Given the existing unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the inadequate Palisades Recreation Center, can you now rule out using the PRC for an emergency homeless shelter? If not, please respond to the following questions:

1. What is the status of existing/activated shelters at recreation centers in Los Angeles? How many are now open, what is the capacity [at each one], how many more are available, and what is the status of staffing?

2. Have written operating protocols been developed? If so, what are they? Do you know what the capacity is at the PRC? Is it less than the minimum capacity at other shelters that have been activated? Is that capacity based on 6’ cot separation or the CDC-recommended 12’ x 12’ space around cots?

3. Do you assign overall managers for each shelter? Do they take into account input from the community and/or relevant neighborhood or community council? If activated, will PRC have an assigned manager? Will you provide contact information for this individual to PPCC and the community and will he or she work with us to mitigate risks to public health, safety and security?

4. Will you provide sufficient advance notice of a plan to activate the PRC to PPCC and PPTFH? Will you receive input from our organizations on parameters and operations of the shelter?

5. Before activating the PRC for this use, will you make all necessary repairs to bathrooms and other unsafe or unsanitary conditions and provide showers? If not, what alternate hygiene facilities will be installed at the site?

6. Where will inhabitants of the shelter come from and how will they get to the PRC? What exact prescreening procedures will take place? Temperature and health history only? Criminal history? Will you require a negative test for COVID-19 for all potential inhabitants? If not, will you limit the inhabitants only to lower risk individuals?

7. Where will higher risk individuals be housed? Do you propose to install trailers for such individuals (such as the 41 trailers now installed at the Westwood Recreation Center)? Can you assure us that no such trailers will be installed in or near any residential neighborhoods in Pacific Palisades? Any such installation would be completely unacceptable, and we would be unequivocally opposed.

8. Will all inhabitants be required to wear face coverings or masks at all times (inside and/or outside of the facility)? What other protocols and restrictions will be in place to ensure that 1) shelter inhabitants will at least be required to abide by the same restrictions that Palisades residents must abide by, and 2) the safety and security of the Palisades community will be protected?

9. Why will shelter residents be free to come and go at will, increasing the risk of community spread? Aren’t we all ordered to shelter at home, including shelter homes? Have you considered restricting the shelter residents to the shelter building and adjacent grounds?

10. What is the status of using hotels/motels to house the homeless? We note Gov. Newsom’s recent announcement that the State has acquired 7,000 hotel/motel rooms for this purpose. How many will be opening in Los Angeles and will this affect future potential use of recreation centers as shelters, specifically including the PRC?

11. What is the status of using parking lots to house the homeless in individual tents? The Palisades has lots at its beaches, a high school and three state parks. We note that this alternative is in place elsewhere, including in Tampa Bay, Florida (as Councilmember Bonin has publicly noted). Is this alternative being actively explored and if not, why not?

12. What specific guidelines did the County Public Health Dept. provide to the City regarding the use of recreation centers for homeless shelters during this crisis? Why are the CDC guidelines not being recommended by the County or followed by the City? Can you refer us to a contact person at County Public Health for direct answers to our questions about why the County’s guidelines to the City are contrary to the CDC guidelines?

13. What is the “end game”? Where will the inhabitants of the shelters go when the crisis is over and how will they get there? Will services and housing be offered? What assurances can you give that the homeless individuals who were brought to the shelters will not remain or set up other encampments in the same or nearby areas?

(Editor’s note: Residents who want to weigh in with the L.A. Recreation and Parks board are invited to register—

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