(Editor’s note: this April 7 letter from the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness was sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl about the proposal to house homeless at the Palisades Recreation Center. The Pacific Palisades Community Council had sent a April 4 letter, raising numerous questions about the policy being implemented at City Rec Centers.)
We support the positions taken by the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) in its April 4, 2020 letter to you. We believe the questions raised are in the best interests of the community and our homeless individuals and that they must be satisfactorily answered, and opportunities provided for community feedback, before the City acts.
Until PPCC and PPTFH receive direct communication and information from the City, the PPTFH Board has no choice but to oppose the use of the Palisades Recreation Center as an emergency homeless shelter.
Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) is an all-volunteer organization formed in 2014 to address the consequences of homelessness in the Palisades so that the community remains safe and protected and our homeless individuals receive respectful, compassionate, effective services.
We serve both the community as a whole and people experiencing homelessness rather than one or the other constituency.
We partner with The People Concern to make available a full-time outreach team to assist us in serving our homeless people and community. Because our volunteers work in close partnership with The People Concern outreach workers and our LAPD beach patrols, we have personal knowledge of our local homeless individuals and have helped 116 to move from the streets, with 78 in permanent supportive housing. We have established consistent and productive dialogue with our community members through regular community meetings.
Until the recent coronavirus crisis, we have worked in effective collaboration with Supervisor Kuehl and Councilmember Bonin’s offices. We are deeply grateful for this collaboration and we understand that these are extraordinarily difficult times for our elected officials.
However, given our vested interest in the subject and prior collaboration, we were quite surprised not to be given advance notice regarding the City’s decision to use the Palisades Recreation Center as a homeless shelter during this virus pandemic. Despite repeated requests for direct information and communication about the decision, we have received minimal response to date.
Open flow of information between government and the people it represents is fundamental to preventing precipitous actions taken with incomplete information, actions that may result in irreparable unintended consequences.
PPTFH, our community, and the homeless people we serve ask only to be authentically engaged in a discussion about the proposed use of the Palisades Recreation Center for this purpose, so that we are provided the opportunity to thoughtfully prevent irreparable consequences for all concerned.
PPTFH is currently attempting to work with the County’s Beaches and Harbors to provide bathrooms and hand washing stations along our beaches, to replace the beach restrooms (now closed) that our local homeless population regularly use. We believe this is a significant health and safety issue for both our homeless individuals and for our community.
Our outreach workers are on the streets engaging and supplying our homeless people with hygiene items, cell phones, sleeping bags, clothing and lunches, as well as distributing information on COVID-19. Each individual is informed about available shelters, but none have been willing to move to an open shelter, preferring to stay in place along the coastline. We remain active and committed to helping them, even throughout this COVID-19 crisis.
We are aware that there is some organized community response against the proposal to use the PRC as a temporary shelter. However, as a community organization, we prefer to interact directly with you, our elected leaders, to facilitate good process and communication within the Palisades community.
Again, we respectfully ask for a timely response to this letter, thorough responses to the legitimate questions posed by the PPCC, and on-going, direct communication with a designated person having authority over the decision about the use of the recreation center for an emergency shelter.
Sharon Browning and Sharon Kilbride
Board Members: Doug McCormick, President, Kim Clary, Chris Eastland, Helga Jessen, Lou Kamer, Pamela McGranahan, David Peterson, Sr., Carol Sanborn, Bruce Schwartz and Dede Vlietstra