Pacific Palisades Hillside Task Force Surveys Encampments and Fire Hazards

By Dolores Quintana

On May 18, The Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness met with other local enforcement agencies at Will Rogers State Beach to search the Palisades hillsides for encampments and the unhouse people living in them as reported by the Palisadian Post.

Other agencies that joined the search include the California State Rangers, Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Rangers and The People’s Concern. 

Captain Jonathan Tom, commanding officer of LAPD’s West LA division, said, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “This is our second hillside task force, last year was our first one. This is really about collaborating. The reality is we all put this together, all of us are really limited in our resources, so it’s ideal for us to come together, and to recommit that we are here to help and [are] here for each other.” at the event. 

Co-President Sharon Kilbride, Carmen Kallberg, Lou Kamer, Bruce Schwartz and Cindi Young were the leaders of the PPTFH team of volunteers. The People Concern’s outreach team was comprised of Jessi Cortez, Supervisor Jason Flores and Glanda Sherman.

Kilbride said, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “Since 2016, we’ve been removing camps from hillsides and getting people housed. There’s been over 160 camps. We did all the work, and now we’re just maintaining the hillside to make sure that nobody [is] living there … we have our task force with my volunteers, who are out daily engaging and looking for new encampments.

She added, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “Hopefully we won’t find anything today. Our partnership with LAPD is a fabulous thing and that’s why we’ve been so successful.”

The group’s of volunteers searched Castellammare, Corona Del Mar bluffs, Los Liones Trail, Marquez Canyon, Palisades Drive into the Highlands, Temescal Gateway Park to the El Medio Trail and Via de las Olas bluffs which are all areas where encampments have been found previously. 

The groups searched all over the area keeping an eye out for encampments, any potential fire threats and unhoused people. 

Veronica de la Cruz, LA City Deputy City Attorney, was on the scene to help the task force and said, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “I think it’s important to highlight the partnerships between the community and law enforcement. This is an area they’ve had a long-standing relationship [with] due to the safety reasons. It’s important to enforce our hillsides and our fire safety zones. It’s nice to see people rallying around the cause of public safety and especially at a time when we are heading into fire season. Graffiti and debris were found behind the Pacific Coast Highway wall, indicative of recent activity. PPTFH cleared and removed items like shovels and trash.”

PPTFH was launched in October 2014 and has led the Pacific Palisades in its attempts to  address the issue of homelessness. Captain Tom had praise for PPTFH noting their dedication and success in ensuring the safety of the unhoused population of the Palisades and the community itself. 

Kilbride said, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “This is a good collaboration of all agencies to ensure the fire safety of our hillsides and the safety of our homeless population because they are also subjected to danger because of fire and because of rattlesnakes and wild animals. We need more people to volunteer on the Volunteer Response Team that I lead, as we need more sets of eyes on the ground and the community. If they are hiking on trails and they see a camp, they need to let us know … if they see an actual camp, they need to call 911 and report it.”

Finally, Kilbride noted, as quoted by the Palisadian Post, “The entire Palisades is surrounded by hillsides, so everyone needs to have that in the back of their head, that it’s not safe to live in the hillside. If you see something, say something.”

in News
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