By Sue Pascoe
In a May 1996 Los Angeles Times story, “Activists Plan Fund-Raiser to Help Pay for Street Repairs,” the founding of Palisades PRIDE was described.
“An activist group called Palisades PRIDE has tried unsuccessfully for the last two years to convince Los Angeles officials to pay for repairs on sidewalks in Palisades Village [specifically, Swarthmore Avenue, north of Sunset—now the heart of Caruso’s Palisades Village development]. The sidewalks have been buckled by roots and pedestrians have tripped and fallen, said Jody Fine, a Palisades resident who is on the board of directors of Palisades PRIDE.
“She says the city responded by paving over the broken pavement instead of fixing the problem. So, Palisades PRIDE has taken matters into its own hands with its biggest fundraising event: a June 3 golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club. Members of the group hope to raise enough money to start repair work in August.
“In addition to the repairs, the project will include benches, light posts and plaques engraved with the names of donors.”
The idea for PRIDE originated with local businessman and Optimist Club member Wally Miller, and his fellow Optimists, Hal Maninger and Charles McGlothlin, who took charge of the campaign to raise money to beautify and upgrade Swarthmore (including the removal of damaging ficus trees and replacing them with Chinese flame trees).
Maninger and McGlothlin were later named Citizens of the Year in 1996 for their leadership efforts.
Local residents contributed to PRIDE by buying engraved sidewalk tiles for Swarthmore and dedicating them to loved ones. Others contributed money for benches in the business district. As money came in, a portion was set aside as an endowment for maintenance on Swarthmore and tile repair.
Swarthmore was revived as an attractive street, but as businesses began to close starting about 2005, the street had fewer and fewer stores. Developer Rick Caruso bought the property in 2012 and is now rebuilding the property between Monument, Swarthmore and Sunset. This necessitated removing the commemorative tiles that lined Swarthmore.
The current PRIDE board says it is working closely with Caruso to ensure that people who purchased tiles will be remembered in some way in the new development. Meanwhile, the town’s beautification committee (which has funded several landscaping projects over the years) has more than $122,000 in its endowment. In prior years, PRIDE would borrow from the endowment and send out flyers to residents, usually netting enough money to pay back the loan, pay for printing and mailing, and still have money remaining for other projects. Some members of PRIDE argued that if there will no longer be tile repair, perhaps that money could be reallocated. At a March 8 meeting, it was noted, the group had only $3,000 to work with and a new project/fundraiser was probably necessary. Additionally, PRIDE had secured some funds from local residents and organizations to install a vintage street clock on Swarthmore, but that will not be part of Palisades Village. PRIDE also received a donation for the failed parklet on La Cruz. Board members discussed asking the people and organizations that had originally donated to the clock and parklet to see if they wanted the money returned or if it could be reallocated.
Additionally, PRIDE has taken on the maintenance of several town street medians (including the triangle at Sunset and Marquez by the business district), but a former board member, who had been paying for that out of personal funds, no longer wants to be the sole contributor to that effort.
President Bruce Schwartz replanted the Sunset/Chautauqua median with pansies, but noted that the change was temporary. Board member John Padden has received three bids for planting that median, but wanted to know his budget. “What do we have to spend?” he asked. No one was able to give him an answer.
One board member wondered if they could have residents or realtors adopt a median. (At the March 23 Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting, Debbie Dyner Harris from Councilman Mike Bonin’s office said that the city’s lone median landscaper had “walked off the job.” But residents were to let her office know if any of the medians became a safety hazard.)
Can the PRIDE board use the money in its endowment? Board member Sam Rubin said, “The fund is sacred.”
Will maintenance of medians become a PRIDE project? Or will the group’s biggest project be unifying the Village on both sides of Sunset, after Caruso’s project is completed?
“We want to make sure the streetscape and pavers are cohesive,” Padden said. “We don’t want it to be Caruso and ‘the rest of us.’”
But first, they need to figure out the money.