Where Does CTN Stand on a Pedestrian Bridge?

A pedestrian bridge is proposed at the base of George Wolfberg Park that would allow access to Will Rogers State Historic Beach.

At the pedestrian bridge outreach meeting held via zoom on March 14, Jason Jackson (outreach) ran an informative meeting about the reasons for a bridge and the possible timeline. Afterwards, an hour was spent answering questions, both written and online.

Jackson handled with aplomb everything from comments like those from Richard Ross, “This is totally unnecessary bridge and a misuse of public funds,” to Chris Spitz demanding to know where it was written a bridge had to be built, to rim resident Harlan Hogue who said, “We’re excited about the bridge” and pointed out in case of a fire in the mesa, going through Potrero would provide an extra escape route.

Jackson thanked everyone for their comments and remarked that everyone was helpful in raising issues and that all concerns would be addressed as the project progressed.

Several Pacific Palisades Community Council members told Jackson that they represented areas and were representing concerns with constituents. (According to the PPCC, they are not allowed to do that. They can identify themselves, but then must state the opinion is their own.)

Here are some facts:

The estimated cost to complete the park, since its inception in the late 1960s, is probably close to $50 million. The City did not have money to pay for stabilizing the sides of the canyon, grading and landscaping. An agreement was worked out with the Coastal Commission.

The Coastal Commission, in a 2007 document, noted that if rim lots were sold and funds generated to complete the park, it would need coastal access. In that document, the Coastal Commission included the idea to put a restroom and parking lot at the base of Potrero in the old “Sunspot” location. To avoid that possibility, residents again suggested a crossing at Potrero that would allow people to park in the beach parking lot and use the restrooms at Will Rogers Historical Park.

After spending that much money on a park, it seemed likely there would be a requirement by the Coastal Commission for public access and not just for Palisades residents.

This week, City workers were clearing trash and debris from a hillside in Wolfberg Park.

The City has completed a study to look at ways to fulfill that coastal requirement. The ways include: a tunnel, a flashing light crossing and a pedestrian bridge.

The tunnels in Santa Monica Canyon are often homes for the homeless and it is only with Pacific Palisades Task Force Member Sharon Kilbride’s help, that tunnels remain accessible to pedestrians. People from Santa Monica Canyon routinely sweep the tunnels out—neither the City, the County, nor the State provide funding for maintenance.

Caltrans would likely not allow a flashing light pedestrian crossing at that location.

That leaves a pedestrian/bicycle bridge, like those in Santa Monica and at Castellammare. Of the three options, one that could have a gate and fence and be closed for access after sunset, seems like it would make the most sense to this editor.

If pressed, a trail at the base of PCH, which anyone could hop off and make their way into the Via de las Olas Bluffs, would be this editor’s last choice. A wire fence could be put up, but easily cut. If one put up a large cinderblock wall, it would take away from the scenic view, and invite graffiti.

The Via las Olas Bluffs used to be known as “meth mountain” in the early 2000’s.

Before the ‘No Camping, Very High Fire Severity Zone” signs went up, there were numerous homeless fires. One woman gave birth on the hillside, and this is where the “pretty” blonde lived.

This editor, while working at another newspaper tramped the hillside repeatedly, generally with the former, Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore. It truly was not a safe location to go alone.

Once the LAPD beach detail was in place, the encampments were gradually cleared—but if that trail becomes an accessible trail for people who seek out the brush – this editor worries.

Below is a 2018 story about the Via de las Olas encampments being cleaned.

 

Homeless Encampments Cleared by Teens

LA Youth Corp came to the Via de las Olas Bluffs to help clean up former homeless encampments.

By SUE PASCOE

Editor

“I want to live here with these beautiful views of the ocean,” an observer said, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. “I can understand why the homeless want to live here.”

The view from L.A. City-owned property below Via las Olas down to Pacific Coast Highway is indeed spectacular. But that’s not why about 40 people assembled on the hillside on April 17-18; they were there to clean out abandoned homeless encampments.

The area below the Las Olas bluffs once served as an illegal campground for numerous homeless people. But after two brush fires broke out at encampments (one below Via las Olas, the other below Corona del Mar) and raced up the hillside toward Pacific Palisades homes, warning signs were posted in 2015: “Restricted Entry, Very High Fire Severity Zone.”

Those signs made it possible for L.A. Police Department officers to tell the homeless they could not stay.

“With the signs, I could ask them to move on,” Officer John Redican told the News. “I would then ask them if they had help or if they wanted it.” He could connect the person with the two social workers hired by the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness.

As people were cleared from the area, about 30 abandoned campsites remained—with tons of accumulated garbage.

At cleanups last fall, local residents cleared about 14 camps, but 16 remained hidden in steep terrain.

Money had been raised to clear these remaining sites, but L.A.  Recreation and Parks officials said the group needed to use a City-approved contractor to finish the task. After PPTFH members met with one contractor, he came back to the group and said he couldn’t find a crew.

PPTFH members contacted Councilman Mike Bonin’s office for suggestions, and his field deputy, Lisa Cahill, said to try the L.A. Conservation Corps.

The Task Force’s Sharon Kilbride spoke to LACC Program Manager Lorena Umana, who agreed to bring 25 youth, between the ages of 16-19, to the Palisades.

Prior to their arrival, Kilbride had identified two large encampments for the youth to clean the first day.

Upon arriving at 9 a.m., they were given instructions: “Look for needles and glass. If you come across human feces and urine, put it aside, we don’t deal with that.”

The teenagers then split into two groups, armed with rakes, shovels and gloves, and started bagging the garbage that was fouling the environment.

The News asked one youth if he had cleaned up encampments before. “My first one was in Watts, this is my second one,” he said, noting that this was different because it had more trash in a smaller space.

NBC Channel 4 News came to document the process and the segment was shown on the 11 a.m. and 4, 5 and 6 p.m. news programs the same day.

Within an hour, the Corps had completed cleaning both abandoned campsites, much to the amazement of Kilbride, who thought it might take two days to do both sites.

She then had Redican show the youth additional campsites.

In about six hours over two days, the youth cleared all 16 targeted encampments. By contrast, local volunteers, many of whom were in their 50s and 60s, took an entire morning to clean one site.

“Us old folks are slower than these youths,” Kilbride wrote in an April 18 email to the News. “The good news is that Lorena [program coordinator] will be happy to have the Corps clean up the remaining camps along Palisades Drive and the Castellammare slide area.”

Trash, leftover from homeless encampments was carted out from park land below Via de las Olas.

 

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2 Responses to Where Does CTN Stand on a Pedestrian Bridge?

  1. sarah says:

    Gotta love the strength and enthusiasm of youth! Can this program continue, or have all camps now been cleared?

  2. Sue says:

    They were cleaned–Via de las Olas was returned to a natural environment-the kids were great!

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