Quick Action Stops Homeless Fire at Palisades Bowl, Just Below Asilomar Bluffs

A fire was set at night by a homeless couple in the Palisades Bowl community in Pacific Palisades.

Residents in Palisades Bowl were awakened to a fire Tuesday night. A homeless couple is believed to have set a fire in the park’s fire pit and then intentionally fanned the flames with chemicals from the pool house.

According to a report sent to Circling the News Thursday morning, “Residents who saw the 8-ft. high flames that were close to the clubhouse called security, police and the fire department.” The person said the couple were passed out on top of a table and were arrested once the police arrived and the fire extinguished.

The Bowl is one of three low-to-moderate income areas in the Palisades and the fire could have destroyed 176 affordable units. Just south is Tahitian Terrace, which also provides 156 units of affordable housing.

The two mobile home sites are located just north of Temescal Canyon across PCH from Will Rogers Beach. They back up to the Asilomar Bluffs and with a wind, the fire would have gone straight up the bluffs to the homes along Asilomar.

A Palisades Bowl resident Jon Brown told a CBS2 News reporter,  “These houses are so close together. The way that they’re built is different, so one of these houses catches on fire and we’re looking at devastation here.”

Pacific Palisades, framed by mountains on one side and the ocean on another, has some of the highest real estate prices in California. But, thanks to the two mobile home parks and Casa Gateway, at the base of the Highlands, retirees, artists and teachers can afford to live here, too.

The people living in the Bowl have had to fight to keep their homes. Periodically, owners or developers see the beauty of living across from the beach, and try to find ways to maximize their income, which means taking out the units and replacing them.

In an earlier CTN story, it was noted that Eddie Biggs, the owner of the Bowl, was sued by residents, when he tried to convert the mobile  home court into condo conversions. We wrote that Biggs , “conceded during his testimony that he made multiple misrepresentations to his former residents and made misrepresentations in order to get them to remove their homes so that he could build a new, luxurious Pacific Palisades Resort Homes development in Pacific Palisades and reap revenues of $170 million,” attorney Brown wrote in a summary on behalf of the plaintiffs. “His plans for the new resort community included replacing older homes and residents with mostly two-story luxury cottages valued at $1 million each in the 170-home community.”

A court ruling in August 2010 said that the Mello Act, enacted in 1981, should keep the Bowl as it was envisioned—to preserve availability of low-income housing in the coastal Zone.

The land is owned by a private owner, the residents own their homes and pay rent on the land, which is under rent-control. The Board of Rent Stabilization determines, annually, if there is to be a rent increase, which is generally about three percent, keeping it affordable.

The CBS News report said that “According to a recent investigation, 54% of the fires the Los Angeles Fire Department responds to are started by people experiencing homelessness.”

The irony is that this homeless fire could have put nearly 300 people in the adjoining mobile home parks on the street, too.

Circling the News contacted Palisades Temporary Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin and West L.A. Division Captain Jonathan Tom to find out if the couple starting the fire were arrested, and if they were released or being held on bail.

Espin responded in a June 18 email, “Officers advised suspects of trespassing and after discussing with LAFD, determined it was not arson. Suspects were question and released. No arrests were made.”

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