Park Board Approves Moving Trash Cans Next to Tennis Courts
Large City trash containers formerly housed in the Palisades Recreation Center maintenance yard will be moved next to tennis courts 5 and 6, off the parking lot off Frontera Road.
At the quarterly meeting of the Rec Center’s Park Advisory Board (PAB) on October 17, board members approved the move after a half-dozen Huntington Palisades neighbors complained about the rats in the maintenance yard, and one man complained that a garbage truck comes at 5:15 a.m.
PAB Vice President Robert Harter said that Jimmy Dunne (who is spearheading the Veterans’ Garden/bocce courts project at the park) initially suggested moving the trash cans, which would provide more “green” space adjacent to the bocce courts.
The maintenance yard is located north of the tennis courts and just south of the proposed new picnic area. The yard has an incinerator, a small brick building, six large garbage containers and several smaller trash cans. There is also room for Rec Center personnel to park in the area.
Seven residents, whose homes along Alma Real back up to the Rec Center, complained that rats have gone unchecked in the maintenance area and have invaded their yards and homes. The resident who complained about the early-arriving garbage truck said the once-a-week truck wakes his kids.
“Jimmy [Dunne] talked about re-managing the maintenance yard,” Harter said. This would include moving the garbage bins out of the maintenance yard.
Recreation Center Director Erich Haas said they had investigated moving the trash bins to Temescal Canyon Park (along Temescal Canyon Road), but access for a garbage truck would be difficult there. They looked at Rustic Canyon Recreation Center, but Haas said that wouldn’t work because they don’t have a maintenance yard.
Then someone noticed the 6-ft. space of dirt next to the tennis court fence and determined that would be the best location. “This is the only place it can be,” Harter said.
He was asked if the people who live next to the park on Alma Real at Frontera had been included in the conversation. The answer was “No.”
One man in the audience shouted out that those people would be further away from the cans than his family is now, and his family had priority.
Harter was asked if any of the tennis people had been asked. The answer was “No,” but Haas said, “We asked Mike Tomas and Mike said there was no place to put them.”
Tomas, who was at the PAB meeting, was not happy about the proposed move and said, “I told Erich that there was an almost 100 percent chance that the tennis players would complain.”
One of the board members wondered if moving the trash cans to the tennis court area would take away parking spaces, but was assured that the garbage truck comes early, before players arrive.
The one factor PAB didn’t examine was the fact that Pali Rec Center and Temescal Park workers place trash in the large containers, generally mid-morning.
This reporter asked the board about the possible smell of garbage for tennis players.
At that point a man in the audience, who stated that he and his neighbors live in multi-million-dollar homes, and that people, like this reporter, who have no stake in the game, should not have a voice.
One PAB board member told him he was being rude.
Haas suggested that maybe a concrete retaining wall/structure to house the trash bins would work to keep any odor from the players.
The neighbor, who had shouted at this reporter, then offered to pay for the concrete structure that would be located next to the tennis courts.
Somebody stated that by moving the garbage to a concrete enclosure, this would keep the rat population down.
Before calling for a vote, Harter said: “Let’s assume that people on the tennis courts won’t want this. And second, let’s assume the houses nearest [on Frontera] won’t want it. Considering this, that it’s not perfect, let’s vote to accept it.”
And they did, with nine people voting yes, and one person abstaining.
Late this summer, when Harter first proposed moving the garbage cans to Temescal, Ramon Barajas, assistant general manager for planning, maintenance and construction for L.A. Recreation and Parks, was contacted to see which other parks might be donating to the trash.
Circling the News was told that trash was also picked up from Temescal trash cans and emptied into the large containers at Palisades Rec Center. Rustic has its own trash collection, according to Barajas.
We were told to look at the maintenance yard and did so around noon on September 7. There were six large garbage containers, none of which were closed, even though they had lids. About half were partially filled with trash. When this reporter stepped back to take a photo, a squirrel went into one of the bins and crows were diving into another.
There were also seven round smaller trash cans. Nothing was in any of them and none had lids. There were about 15 Ralph shopping carts in the maintenance yard.
Stopping by the Rec Center office, this reporter was told that trash is collected every day from around the Rec Center and brought to the maintenance yard bins. The office staff thought trash was picked up from the yard two or three times a week. When asked why the lids were not put on the trash bins, a person in the office said, “That’s a qood question.”
At the October 17 PAB meeting, board member Janet Anderson zeroed in on the one thing the board was not focusing on: “Rats are the real issue.”
During the conversation about moving the garbage bins, no one was addressing the rat problem. Haas had said that they are rife in the park incinerator, which is no longer used.
Haas was asked if he would follow up with Rec and Parks to get an exterminator to the maintenance yard. He said he would.
If a person would like to voice an opinion to the Park about the proposal to move the garbage bins next to the tennis courts, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rats Enjoy the Palisades Lifestyle
There are complaints about rats in the Palisades Recreation Center maintenance yard. No surprise. Rats are a major problem in Pacific Palisades, but one that people don’t like to talk about.
The infamous “rat” house on Fiske Street, in which two elderly sisters fed dog food to hundreds of rats, causing a public nuisance, made city-wide news in 2008 (visit: laweekly.com/news/palisades-rathouse-rats-even-ate-the-furniture-2385434) and possibly added as many as 500,000 rats to the town.
When Palisades High remodeled Mercer Hall and Gilbert Hall, the number of rats in the building, the feces, urine and dead rats, was covered up by school authorities, according to an anonymous source.
When the Swathmore/Sunset buildings were knocked down to make way for Caruso’s Palisades Village, rats became more abundant in the Alphabet Streets.
As older houses are continually knocked down for new construction, rats that are living in attics, walls, and along pipes seek new living quarters.
People near Temescal Canyon have been dealing with rats for some time. One can see rat traps in the alley by the Methodist Church.
There are two kinds of rats in Pacific Palisades, according to Choice Pest Control exterminator Art Megdaleno.
The roof rat (or black rat) is the carrier of the plague; it’s also the rat that attacks citrus trees, making a dime-sized hole in an orange and then hollowing it, leaving only the rind hanging on the tree.
The larger rats, brown or Norway rats, are typically twice as large as the black rat and are 4 to 10 inches in length. Rats thrive in thick vegetation and easy access to water, as well as food left out for squirrels and birds. And as everyone knows, rats breed voraciously.
The Palisades Recreation Center needs to have an exterminator examine its buildings and the maintenance yard, set traps—and keep its garbage in sealed containers.