(Editor’s note: On May 26 Councilman Mike Bonin co-proposed using parking lots at two popular beaches — Will Rogers State Beach and Dockweiler — a parking lot at the Marina del Rey Boat Ramps and two Recreation Centers to house homeless individuals in temporary shelters. His argument was that every Council District has to house the homeless, and this was his solution for CD11. Bonin told fellow council members that by voting for his motion, it would only be for a feasibility study. He failed to tell his peers that a study had already been underway for almost nine months.
The response from constituents has been angry and sustained, with residents reminding Councilman Bonin that parks and beaches should remain open for everybody – children, family, veterans, and yes, even the homeless. If one were to take the parks and beaches away and turn them over to one group, it would be unfair to others. The Pacific Palisades Community Council has written numerous letters to City, the County and State representatives. On August 3, they sent the following letter to the City and other government officials.)
“PPCC reminds all public officials: Will Rogers State Beach (WRSB) is not CD 11’s beach; it is not Pacific Palisades’ beach; and it is not the City Council’s beach. It is a State Park, owned by the State and held in trust for all Californians, including all people of the City and County.
“WRSB must be preserved for families and children. It is beyond dispute that millions of people of all ethnicities & income-levels from throughout the Southland – including families with children – regularly visit WRSB for recreation and enjoyment.”
In an August 1 L.A. Times Best of the Southland survey, “Angelenos regard WRSB as one of the seven top ‘family friendly’ attractions in all Los Angeles – along with such iconic venues as the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center and the LA Zoo.
“WRSB was the only recreational open space (or beach) in the entire City to be so-recognized. No responsible public official would ever consider placing homeless housing at the now-open Natural History Museum, the California Science Center or the LA Zoo. Despite rhetoric from some officials and commentators that ‘all options’ must be on the table. . . .WRSB should never have been proposed in the first place and should be rejected now.”
In conclusion, the PPCC wrote: “Former Governor Jerry Brown was unquestionably right – placing housing for the unhoused at WRSB would be ‘crazy.’ PPCC implores all Councilmembers: For the benefit of families, children and all beachgoers – and in the interest of the safety of the unhoused – please reject this ill-conceived and dangerous idea.”
In a July 30 PPCC letter to governmental officials, the PPCC noted that John Maceri, CEO of The People Concern, HAD said that placing housing for the unhoused at WRSB is “not a good idea.”
Maceri spoke at the July 26 Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness community meeting, and said that the beach is a “really valuable asset” and “access to public space has been constrained for so long,” people have been “cooped up for 15 months,” the temperature in the San Fernando Valley has been in “triple digits for several weeks,” and many Angelenos want to get “relief from the heat” by enjoying the beach.
Maceri asked: “Why would you take a County-wide asset and limit its use for something that is going to have a pretty significant impact on thousands and thousands of other people in the County? It just doesn’t make any sense for me. There are alternative locations that can be looked at.”
The PPCC pointed out that the LA Times in a June 28 editorial (“Venice Beach Needs to Stop Being a Campground for Homeless People, So Let’s Get Campers Housed”) wrote: “What is certain is that no one should be camping in city parks, including the beaches.”
And U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter made clear in his preliminary injunction ruling in the Alliance case that it is “pivotal” that access to public spaces such as beaches and parks, which enhance the quality of life for all citizens, be maintained for the public.
(To read the PPCC letters in entirety, visit pacpalicc.org.)