Remembering Arnie Wishnick, Palisades Rattled by Two Fires: The Top Palisades Stories of 2019

From the passing of community treasure Arnie Wishnick to residents persevering back to back wildfires, the 2019 news cycle in Pacific Palisades was at times quite somber. As the year comes to a close, here are the top stories in 2019 in Pacific Palisades.

Teachers Return to Palisades Schools as Strike Ends

By Keldine Hull

January 23, 2019
On January 14, they took to the picket lines in the first strike to affect LA schools in 30 years. Over a week later, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents over 30,000 educators, and LAUSD reached a historic agreement that not only benefits educators but also 50,000 students throughout Los Angeles. Full article here.

Death of Pali Surfer Wake-Up Call

By Sam Catanzaro

April 1, 2019
On December 20, 2018, 48-year-old Damon Michael Geller of Pacific Palisades drowned while surfing at Topanga beach, and a recently released autopsy reveals more information about this tragic incident.

The evening of the tragedy, Damon and his brother Michael were enjoying a night surfing session at Topanga beach in Pacific Palisades under a nearly full moon. The two had become separated before Damon was found face down in the water by his brother, who attempted to perform CPR on Damon, but was pronounced dead on the scene. Full article here

L.A.’s Most Dangerous Intersection?

By Sam Catanzaro and Keldine Hull

April 25, 2019
Compared to much of Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades is a safe place to live. With low crime rates and ample private security, the Palisades is the type of community where many parents may feel safe letting their kids walk to school alone. There is one aspect of the area, however, where the Palisades ranks among the most hazardous parts of Los Angeles: dangerous intersections. Full article here.

Second Hate Speech Victim Comes Forward

By Sam Catanzaro

June 25, 2019
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) last week released a photo of a woman suspected of yelling racial slurs at a pastor in Pacific Palisades and since then another victim of hate speech has come forward, saying they were verbally and physically assaulted by potentially the same suspect. Full article here

Low Vaccination Rates at Westside Kindergartens

By Sam Catanzaro 

July 31, 2019
California law requires all children to receive certain immunizations in order to attend both public and private schools, but in the past year, the vaccination rate among many kindergarten students in and near Pacific Palisades are declining. 

Under California Health and Safety Code, Sections 120325-120375 children in California are required to receive certain immunizations in order to attend public and private schools while schools and pre-kindergarten facilities are required to enforce immunization requirements, maintain immunization records of all children enrolled and submit reports. Full article here.

Great White Shark Breachings at Popular Palisades Surf Spot

By Keldine Hull

August 26, 2019
While shark attacks in California are rare, breachings, particularly towards the end of summer, are not. 

Several shark sightings have been reported in Santa Monica Bay so far this summer, including two caught on camera on July 5 and August 7 at the popular Sunset surf spot in Pacific Palisades. Just this past weekend on August 25 Shacked Magazine reported that another shark was spotted breaching at Sunset. Full article here.

Remembering Arnie Wishnick

By Keldine Hull 

May 10, 2019
Arnie Wishnick was an integral part of Pacific Palisades community for over 35 years. He served as Executive Director of the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce from 1993 to 2018. He was a recipient of the Mort Farberow Award and Pride of the Palisades Award as well as 1984’s Pacific Palisades Lions Club Citizen of the Year. He also served on the Teen Contest Committee and Village Green Committee for over 30 years. He dedicated his life to the Palisades community and the people who lived there. Arnie Wishnick passed away on April 27 leaving behind a legacy of service to his community and a genuine compassion for the people who live there. Full article here

City Council Unanimously Approves Creation of Arnie Wishnick Way

By Sam Catanzaro

October 1, 2019
Last week Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved renaming a segment of Antioch Street after Pacific Palisades community treasure Arnie Wishnick who passed away earlier this year.

On September 25, City Council voted 12-0 in favor of a Councilmember Mike Bonin motion to change the name of Antioch Street from Via De La Paz to Swarthmore Avenue to “Arnie Wishnick Way.” Full article here.

Man Who Threatened Palisades Students Arrested

By Sam Catanzaro

October 20, 2019
Aaron Meyer, a man accused of threatening students near Marquez and Palisades elementary schools, has been arrested say law enforcement officials.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Meyer was arrested on Friday, October 18, 2019 at 9:10 p.m., booked on Saturday afternoon and is being held on a $50,000 bail. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West Los Angeles Division say that Meyer was arrested for burglary after breaking into a family member’s house and attempting to steal possessions. Full article here

Palisades and Getty Fires Rock Residents

By Sam Catanzaro

November 8, 2019
The Palisades and Getty Fire burned nearly 800 acres combined and destroyed 10 homes while forcing widespread evacuations for many Palisades and Brentwood residents but the damage could have been greater if not for the hard work of the fire responders. In the wake of this disaster, residents and city officials will come together for a town hall to debrief on recent fires and show appreciation for those who risked their lives. Full article here

Pali Beach Club to Pay Woman Over $10M After Son Dies From Heat Exhaustion

By Sam Catanzaro

November 29, 2019
A Santa Monica woman will receive over $10 million from a Pacific Palisades beach club after her 48-year-old son died from heat exhaustion during a 2017 paddle tennis tournament. 

On Monday, November 25 a Santa Monica jury rendered a $12 million verdict to Katherine “Kitty” Keck of Santa Monica, the mother of 48-year-old William M. Keck III of Marina Del Rey, who suffered from fatal heat exhaustion at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades. Full article here

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