By Sue Pascoe
The Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board held a special public meeting on Nov. 2 on a request to allow permit parking for 22 Seven Arrows teachers at the Palisades Recreation Center. There was no approval.
At the quarterly PAB meeting on Oct. 19, the board was asked to consider granting parking spaces for the teachers from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on school days. There are 95 public spaces at the park, eight handicapped spaces and three staff spaces.
Seven Arrows Elementary, located nearby on La Cruz, had leased 22 parking spaces in the 881 Alma Real building in prior years. But this option is no longer available. Athletic Director Frank Kirkwood told PAB that the school didn’t think it would be fair to residents to have teachers park in the neighborhood, so the teachers have been taking a shuttle bus between lower Temescal Canyon Road and La Cruz this fall.
The only other viable site—the large outdoor parking lot off Swarthmore—will soon be excavated to make way for Caruso’s Palisades Village parking structure. Seven Arrows spends between $12,000 to $17,000 annually on permits to use the Rec Center for physical education, said Kirkwood, who began noticing when he took classes to the park that its parking lot was mostly empty.“Generally only about only 25 percent full,” he said.
(In 2015, signs were posted that limit parking to two hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to discourage people who work in local buildings from parking in the lot.)
After making that observation, Kirkwood went to the Seven Arrows school board and then to park director Erich Haas with a proposal.
The school would pay the $2 permit fee per stall for 22 stalls—11 stalls on either side of the parking lot, nearest the library, and this money would go to the Department of Recreation and Parks. Additionally, the school would gift the park eight to 10 walkie talkies (valued at $3,000), and donate to the park. Permit money would go to the city; donation money would stay at the Rec Center.
“We would guarantee that all of the teachers would be out by 3:30,” Kirkwood said. “We’re looking to benefit the park and the teachers.”
In response to a question from the board, Kirkwood said the amount of the donation would be decided by the Seven Arrows board.
PAB members asked Haas if the city would approve the agreement.
“I went to Mike Harrison [Division Head for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks] first and he told me to go to PAB,” Haas said. If PAB approves the decision, it would then go to the City.
“This is a slippery, slippery slope, to approve parking for non-patrons,” said board member Bob Benton, who noted that he had visited the Rec Center that morning. “The parking lot was two-thirds full, but no one was at the park.”
Benton added, “Wells Fargo has 22 bank employees that used to park in the Caruso [Swarthmore] lot and they would love to take these spaces.”
Haas replied, “Do I think this could be slippery slope? Yes, but what could we get?” “We’re willing to help with this park,” Kirkwood said, looking around the gym. “We could repaint the gym, redo the floors.” PAB member Janet Anderson, who also heads AYSO Region 69, suggested that maybe a trial period could be employed. Before making a recommendation, the board will want to know: 1.) how the permit would be monitored; 2.) how much the donation would be; and 3.) that everyone is aware that once Potrero Canyon Park opens, permit parking in the lot will not be an option.
An audience member asked why Seven Arrows should be given consideration over Corpus Christi or Village School, for example. Kirkwood said those two schools have their own on-site parking.
Palisades Recreation Coordinator Bill Maniscalco told PAB that Windward School has adopted Mar Vista Park and in addition to paying permit fees, donates $25,000 to the park every year. Haas said he’d like to do something similar with the schools in the area, and for donations, the school names would go out on park flyers.
“We have constant issues trying to make money,” Haas said.