By Laurie Rosenthal
Donna Vaccarino makes some valid points in her recent Viewpoint (“Palisades Needs a Master Plan,” Nov. 16) about the Caruso development. Ever since Palisades Village was approved, and even before it was, friends confessed to me about how worried they were that the Palisades was going to turn into a Grove-type of destination, and that people would be flocking here from all over the city.
That is not going to happen. And I’ll tell you why. But first, a little personal back story to set the scene.
After living in Pacific Palisades for nearly 13 years, I moved back to Santa Monica 3-1/2 years ago. Let’s just say I’m more connected to the Palisades than your average Santa Monica resident. I still have friends and family here, I write for this paper, my son is at PaliHi, and so on.
That said, I rarely shop here any more. And it’s worth noting that my house in Santa Monica is pretty much equidistant to the center of town as my old house on the Castellammare mesa. I thought I would stay loyal to Gelson’s—well, there is now a Gelson’s in Santa Monica that, even though it is technically farther from my house than the one on Via de la Paz, feels closer. Plus, there are several Whole Foods (including one walking distance from my house), and plenty of other choices. I eat locally, I shop locally and go to the movies locally.
Whatever Rick Caruso will be offering will be nice, I’m sure. It has to be better than the ghost street Swarthmore became, a far cry from the once-bustling block it was. Remember when the firemen from Station 69 would eat lunch at Mort’s, or the staff at Village Books personally knew their customers? Or Baskin- Robbins on a Saturday night? That was great, real small-town living, but was largely lost as one store after another closed down.
When the “new” Village opens, as spectacular as it may be, I can almost guarantee none of my Santa Monica neighbors will be heading there for dinner and a movie. It’s just not going to happen. They have the Third Street Promenade. Neighbors to the east in Brentwood have Westside Pavilion, people in Venice and the Marina have many choices, and on and on the farther away from the Palisades you get. Maybe some people from Malibu will come, but it’s doubtful that will be on a regular basis.
And in the summer? Fugetaboutit! People are not going to tackle PCH on a Saturday in July to go to a restaurant or store or movie in the Palisades. No way, no how. As we all know, the Palisades is not easy to get to, and leaving town can be a nightmare at certain times of the day. I always have to take into consideration the traffic in Santa Monica Canyon, and plan my time in the Palisades accordingly.
So relax, Palisadians. Your little paradise isn’t in danger. It may not be the remote outpost it once was, but it’s not going to turn into the latest trendy must-see destination. Remember, you’re super lucky to live in the 90272 zip code, and the “peasants” who do venture here won’t stay long.