There was a three-car accident around 1:15 p.m. today (Wednesday) at Palisades Drive and Vereda de la Montura in the Palisades Highlands, adjacent to the construction site for the eldercare facility. Two people were transported to the hospital.
Residents who were standing on the sidewalk near the crash site told CTN that they were not surprised because construction has made this dangerous corner even more perilous.
It is easy to build up speed going downhill on Palisades Drive and the construction vehicles, which residents say have been illegally parked on both sides of Palisades Drive, make it difficult to see if cars are coming (when one is turning left from Palisades Drive onto Vereda de la Montura or pulling out from the condominium driveway).
Residents said the situation has become particularly dangerous because cement trucks go north on Palisades Drive, turn left on Vereda de la Montura and then park on the downhill side of Palisades Drive.
When cement is needed, the trucks back up on Palisades Drive and onto Vereda de la Montura.
(Editor’s note: At least three cement trucks were parked on the downhill side of Palisades Drive, waiting to make a U-turn and go back up the hill, when CTN arrived at the accident site. An additional three cement trucks were on the site.)
The construction crew has three people working traffic, but only about a block from the intersection in question.
One resident said more warning for motorists is needed. “Those flag guys don’t know what they are doing. There should be warnings much further up and down on Palisades Drive to slow down. People go down the hill fast and can’t stop.”
According to a member of the construction grounds crew, a flag man had stepped out to slow the downhill traffic, so that a cement truck could back up on Palisades Drive.
A pickup truck and a white car had slowed, but a third car traveling down the hill was unable to stop in time and smashed into the other two. The impact from the accident sent the small white car across the median into uphill traffic.
Residents in the condominiums, whose driveway entrance/exit faces Vereda de la Montura, told CTN, “It’s been a nightmare.”
“It’s almost impossible for anyone in the complex to get out,” one person said. “You can’t see the oncoming traffic because trucks park in the red zone.”
“I’m so afraid to pull out because I’m afraid I’ll get hit,” another resident said. “The cement trucks back up and block Palisades Drive and that’s what happened here.”
One person said that Councilman Mike Bonin should do something, but “that’s not going to happen because he received money from the developer.”
In a July 23, 2020, story, CTN reported about a Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Zoom with Bonin.
“I’ve met Rony Shram at three or four functions and we sat together at the Chamber of Commerce installation [dinner],” said Bonin, who denied any more than a passing acquaintance with the eldercare building developer. “I’ve never taken money from him.”
Highlands resident Harris Levin responded, “You’ve taken money from his lobbyists and lawyers.” At this point, Council Chair David Card stopped the interchange before it could continue.
Circling the News had learned from City records that Rony Shram had paid City lobbyist firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell nearly $500,000 to push this project through various City departments.
In the second quarter of 2018, Palisades Drive, L.P. (1525 Palisades Dr., owned by Rony Shram) paid $85,449 to Jeffer Mangels and in the third quarter, Shram paid the firm $121,9388.
In early 2016, Ben Reznick, a partner at Jeffer Mangels, donated nearly $40,000 to Bonin’s 2017 City Council campaign. The first amount was given on February 6, 2016 ($20,848) and the second donation was April 21 ($18,048 plus $700 for Bonin’s office account. An officeholder account is used by City Council members to pay for discretionary items.)
CTN sent a July 14 email to Bonin’s transportation deputy Eric Bruins and also to PPCC President Card and asked if the City could aid Highlands residents with traffic safety in this construction zone.
Bruins responded almost immediately, “Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. Len Nguyen, our Senior Planning Deputy, will talk to the City inspector for this project to ensure that the developer is complying with safety requirements, including staging of construction vehicles.”