By Sue Pascoe
Tom Creed will receive a Golden Sparkplug Award for his efforts to restore local hillsides and bluffs back to their natural state by cleaning out the trash left at homeless encampments.
His motivation to join the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness and then become active in clearing abandoned campsites was inspired by last November’s presidential election outcome.
“I was involved with the Elect Hillary Clinton campaign,” Creed said. “After the election I was downtrodden. But as President Obama was leaving office, he said he was opening up his office of citizen, and that we should throw ourselves into that work.”
Obama said, “If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.”
Creed took that message to heart. In mid-January he participated in his first countywide homeless count, and he attended a Palisades Task Force meeting.
When Nancy Klopper asked him to join the enforcement committee, headed by Sharon Kilbride, he agreed.
“They assigned me to go to the bluffs,” said Creed, who met Scott Beal at the corner of PCH and Temescal Canyon Road.
The first person the men encountered was Bobby Davis and his dog, who were illegally camped in an area that was posted with “Very High Fire Severity Zone” signs. “We spoke to him and he left.” (Davis has since agreed to assistance and was placed in housing.)
For the next hour and a half, Creed and Beal tramped the land below the Via las Olas bluffs. “Everywhere we went we saw debris,” Creed said, and here members asking, “Why doesn’t this get cleaned up?”
Creed told the enforcement committee in February, “We should do something,” and project CLEANup was initiated.
He started by mapping the 45 encampments below the bluffs for a May cleanup. A week before the first cleanup, he went to different sites and cut back some of the brush, to make it easier to haul out garbage. He rounded up volunteers (including Beal, Bruce Schwartz and Lou Kamer) and also got help from L.A. Recreation and Parks.
The first site had a 70” television screen, two sofas, beds and clothing. “There were layers and layers of garbage,” Creed said.
At another site, someone had built a brick house into the hillside. “There was a beautiful view from there,” Creed said.
“We must have bagged about 70 bags of garbage,” he said, but at the end of the day they had finished only 10 sites, so another work day was scheduled in August. Twelve more sites were cleaned out with help from Recreation and Parks, which brought in a bulldozer and three trucks. “It was a great group,” Creed said.
There are still 23 sites left in the brush below Via las Olas, but they are located on extremely steep terrain. The feeling is that they should be cleared by city workers, rather than volunteers.
Next, Creed orchestrated a cleanup in October along Temescal Canyon Road with 29 volunteers. The 18 campsites along the east side were so deep in garbage that the group filled a 40-cubic-yard dumpster.
The six sites on the west side of Temescal are scheduled to be cleaned on December 9 and other cleanups are planned along Palisades Drive and in the Castellammare area.
Creed praised the many Palisades residents who have supported the Task Force with their donations and their sweat. “The people you meet in this community are amazing,” he said.
Creed grew up in Toronto, Canada, and graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in finance. When his wife, Shari, landed a job with The Limited in Columbus, Ohio, they moved with their four children in 1994.
“I was Mr. Mom,” Creed said. But after growing up with large extended families, the couple missed that in Ohio and in 1998 moved to California, where two sisters lived. Shari developed two million-dollar business: Creed Strategic Imaging (helping companies create a logo and build their brand) and SweetSpot Labs (feminine care products sold in Target and Walmart).
“I work for my wife,” said Creed, who has served in various executive roles for her businesses. He’s currently the business strategist/general manager for Creed Strategic Imaging.
The father of four adult children (Branden, Emily, Jesse, Matthew), Creed said that in addition to playing bridge, biking, yoga and swimming at Palisades High School, “My hobby is being with my four grandkids.”