Chamber Scales Back, Loses Members
Circling the News has received emails from several Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce members about their disappointment with the “new” Chamber and who are considering not renewing their membership.
Rick Mills, who’s in the real estate business, received the following invoice from the Chamber:
Amount Due: $350.00
Dear Mr. Mills:
Your invoice appears below. Please remit payment at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your business—we appreciate it very much.
Mills sent the following reply to Marilyn Crawford, the Chamber’s long-time administrative assistant:
With regret, I have decided to not renew my membership in the Chamber. I am very disappointed in the Chamber’s willful disengagement from many of the events and activities which helped make the Palisades a special, locally focused, family-oriented community. If this changes for the better in the future, I will revisit my decision.
Rick Mills, Realtor, Homes USA, Ltd.
Circling the News visited the Chamber of Commerce website and the only event listed for 2019, so far, is the annual Installation dinner, set for January 17 at the Riviera County Club. Tickets are $125.
At one time, the Chamber was a vibrant presence in Pacific Palisades, hosting numerous community gatherings, such as Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho!, the Village Fair, the Community Expo & Classic Auto Display, the Polo Tournament, the Teen Contest, a Sidewalk Sale and monthly mixers.
The Chamber also helped the Village and surrounding areas stay trash free, by requesting donations from residents, which paid for Chrysalis workers to keep the streets clean and trash picked up.
When the Palisades Business District came into existence, it hired two additional Chrysalis workers. Alas, at the May BID meeting, Caruso VP Rick Lemmo, who is also the VP of Unification at the Palisades Chamber, announced that the Chamber would no longer raise money to hire Chrysalis personnel, which it had done since 2002. He noted that “The mission statement of the Chamber is for business only.”
At that meeting, a BID member asked, “But doesn’t having the Palisades trash-free promote business?”
The revamped Chamber board (following the retirement of executive director Arnie Wishnick) did away with the traditional Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho! this year, ending a 69-year tradition of welcoming Santa Claus to festivities on Swarthmore. Local residents stepped up and created a replacement event, Holiday Hullabaloo, at the Recreation Center.
Meanwhile, the Chamber instituted a Holiday Stroll on a Friday evening, which cost participating members $250. Residents were encouraged to visit participating stores to receive a California lottery ticket.
The Chamber annually hosted and then co-hosted the teen pageant, selecting two local youths to ride in the Fourth of July parade, atop the fire truck for the Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho! and participating at various mixers. This event has been taken over by a local newspaper.
The annual Polo Tournament allowed residents a chance to experience polo at Will Rogers without having to buy an expensive ticket. Gone.
The Community Expo, focusing on healthy living vendors plus a wide selection of antique autos, is no longer on the schedule. Breakfast networking events, which were organized by former Chamber president Adam Glazer, have disappeared.
Will the Chamber community directory, which is mailed to every household, continue?
Under the history tab on the Chamber website, it is noted that the Chamber’s original intention was to “develop a series of events that would attract attention to businesses in the Palisades.”
Founded in October 1949, members wasted no time:
“With the holiday season fast approaching, the Chamber had a packed agenda. By November 15, 1949, they had a game plan that included a Yuletide affair to delight Palisadian families.
“On the afternoon and evening of Friday, December 2, 1949, the Chamber presented a community-wide square dance in the parking lot at Palisades Patio, and hosted a film showing at the Bay Theater. Plus, the organization offered two grand prizes-complete food baskets for a full Christmas dinner-and awarded 40 hams and turkeys to those lucky participants shopping at local shops.
“The holiday event was a success, and the Chamber’s Holiday Ho! Ho! Ho! has become a Palisades tradition, with children young and old waiting for Santa to appear.”
The site also notes that “Over the past six decades many other Chamber events have become time-honored traditions such as the Village Fair; Community Expo & Classic Auto Display; Polo Tournament, Sidewalk Sale, General Membership Meetings, Teen Contest, Mixers and the selection of the town’s honorary mayor. All 28 honorary mayors have been wonderful ambassadors.”