Viewpoint: Treat Our Town Like Your Home

By Lou Kramer
Special to the Palisades News

The mansionization and commercialization of Pacific Palisades is a polarizing issue in town. Attitudes run from “who cares” to “we are losing our soul.”

The combination of high real estate prices, low interest rates has intensified the pace of construction nationwide and, specifically, on spec homes in our town.

A single construction project puts stresses on the immediate neighbors and streets. There is no way around it. There is hammering and cutting and noise and beeping, lots of beeping.

The new hot trend in 2,000-sq.-ft. basements means more trucks and digging. How much stress is felt by neighbors depends directly on how professional and respectful the owner, contractor and his construction crew and/or subcontractors act.

Contractors who are hired by residents truly understand the beauty of our neighborhoods are generally more courteous. For interim owners, the neighborhood is just a place to put their product, get paid, get out and on to the next one.

Disrespectful and unprofessional contractors and crews do things like block streets, destroy the sidewalk, leave trash everywhere, go off the haul routes, work late, place dumpsters in obstructive spots (without warning signs), play loud music and idle their equipment for hours.

Imagine one site like this and then multiply it by the number of construction projects you see in your neighborhood, and you get an idea of the level of disruption we have come to expect. This week, I saw a construction subcontractor peeing on a neighbor’s wall because the porta-potty was being cleaned. 

In the past, a friendly conversation with the contractor or foreman resulted in apologies and the problems being solved. No longer. Some of the crews in town ignore complaints, and see us as entitled, rich people getting in the way of their getting to a beer at the end of the day. They fly through stop signs, throw trash on medians, and don’t really care what you think.

Our options for relief include complaining to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety and other City agencies. They are sometimes effective, but they are also so overworked that they can’t effectively manage the number of projects they police.

I was once a licensed specialty contractor. One of the main mandates when getting the license is to always act professional and do your job in a way that does not significantly disrupt others. It seems like some contractors and work crews have forgotten this.

We need a system to monitor those people working on construction projects who are not only discourteous but also flout the established rules.

Paliworks, a Pacific Palisades Residents Association project, is forming a group of community members and building professionals to define acceptable, fair (and legal) expectations, and a system to track complaints to city officials—and resolutions by these officials. If we can understand it, we can fix it.

Moving forward, we deserve the same peaceful quality of life we have enjoyed for years. With the urbanization in 90272, our quality of life is no longer a given, but something we need to fight for to protect.

(Kamer, the at-large representative on the Pacific Palisades Community Council, lives with his family in the Alphabet Streets neighborhood.)

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