Los Angeles

Pacific Palisades Woman Says Using Center as Homeless Shelter Will Increase Virus Threat

The still-unofficial lawsuit argues that COVID-19 transmission threats from having the homeless in one building "will create an incubator of disease."

A Pacific Palisades woman filed court papers Tuesday seeking to stop the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County from using the Pacific Palisades Recreation Center as a homeless shelter, saying the decision could increase the number of COVID-19 infections.

Susie Forte Gilman maintains in her still-unofficial Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that putting the homeless in the center, located on Alma Real Drive just three doors from her home, would create a nuisance and that the city and county should be enjoined from going forward with the plan.

A representative for the City Attorney's Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

According to Gilman, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on March 18 announced a "dangerously misguided policy" when he said the center would be among various locations citywide where the homeless would be housed.

Placing the homeless in the building would be contrary to current scientific guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19, and the risk of more virus transmissions would be escalated because no plans are in place to keep the residents from "traveling through or loitering in the neighborhood surrounding the Palisades RC," according to the plaintiff.

County officials have been involved in recommending that recreation centers be used to house the homeless during the pandemic, Gilman says. But she maintains that COVID-19 transmission threats from having the homeless in one building "will create an incubator of disease" that would be worse than what occurred on cruise ships and at nursing homes because those who lived there could come and go as they please.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, spoke on Tuesday about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the African American community in the United States, stating the White House coronavirus task force is "very concerned" about the community due to long-documented preexisting conditions rooted in disproportionate health care.

While well-intentioned, the plan threatens to harm not just Gilman and her neighbors, but also the homeless themselves, the plaintiff argues.

City Councilman Mike Bonin, whose 11th district includes Pacific Palisades, has acknowledged that hotels and dormitories are other possible options to house the homeless, both of which would make it less likely to increase coronavirus transmissions because they do not require potentially affected and unaffected people to stay in the same room, Gilman says.

The city and county also have provided no assurance there will be compliance with Megan's Law, which requires that residents be notified that a registered sex offender has moved into their community, according to Gilman.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us