George Wolfberg – Pacific Palisades Civic Leader
George Wolfberg, a longtime Pacific Palisades civic leader who helped secure the 1984 Olympics in L.A., died of cancer in February 2020.
One of his biggest contributions was working to make sure everyone in the community had access to our beaches and oceanfront property. He also oversaw Los Angeles’ successful divestment from South Africa under apartheid, for which Nelson Mandela flew out to thank him.
Early Life and Education
Born and raised in Los Angeles, george wolfberg received a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s in public administration from USC. He was also a longtime member of the Pacific Palisades Community Council.
He was a pioneer in implementing new systems and policies to improve the lives of people living in poverty, including creating a homeless shelter that eventually led to a permanent home for a man who needed it. He also pushed for improvements in public access, such as creating the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon to serve as a gathering space for both pedestrians and cyclists.
He also championed the creation of a new urban forest plan that has resulted in 90,000 trees being planted around Los Angeles. He worked with residents of Santa Monica Canyon and Rustic Canyon to restore the historic Uplifters Ranch eucalyptus grove and hand-watered new trees there to nurture them for many years.
George Wolfberg had a long and distinguished career in Los Angeles, beginning as a lifeguard at the public pool and eventually becoming a Chief Administrative Analyst in the City’s Administration Office. He also served on the City Charter Commission, resulting in a unified City charter.
As a community leader, Wolfberg led local efforts to obtain infrastructure improvements, secure sensible land-use issues, preserve public parklands, create new systems to support those living without homes and bring about improved safety and sustainability. He was known for his ability to give both sides of a controversy equal opportunity to express their opinions in open forums, which led him to serve as chairman of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee for decades.
He also worked with Santa Monica Canyon and Rustic Canyon residents to restore the historic Uplifters Ranch eucalyptus grove and hand-watered new trees there for many years. These efforts helped him win long overdue Citizen of the Year honors in Pacific Palisades.
Achievements and Honors
Throughout his career George Wolfberg was dedicated to public service. He was a well-informed, optimistic leader in local efforts to obtain infrastructure improvements, secure sensible land use issues, preserve public parklands and create new systems to support those living without homes.
His accomplishments included preparing the City’s bid to host the 1984 Olympics and contributing hundreds of volunteer hours in preparation. He also worked with Santa Monica Canyon and Rustic Canyon residents to restore the historic Uplifters Ranch eucalyptus grove and hand-watered new trees there for years.
Among his other achievements was oversight of Los Angeles’ successful divestment policy from South Africa under apartheid, for which Nelson Mandela came to Los Angeles specifically to thank the City. He was also part of the committee that secured the 1994 World Cup Soccer for Los Angeles and traveled to Italy in 1990 to research facility needs.
George Wolfberg was a tireless and committed public servant, dedicated to serving the people of his community for more than 40 years. He was known for his un-flagging enthusiasm, optimism, tenacity, humility, guidance and friendship.
He served on the boards of both the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) (16 years, including three terms as president) and the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association (20 years as president). In his leadership roles he led the communities where he lived with improvements in infrastructure and guiding land use issues, preserving public parklands, creating new systems to support those living without homes and bringing about changes in safety, aircraft noise pollution and sustainability.
He helped prepare the City’s bid to win the 1984 Olympics, contributing hundreds of volunteer hours and ensuring many infrastructure upgrades were in place before and during the Games. He also helped create women’s Olympic cycling, writing into the bidding language that Los Angeles would present the women’s road race as an exhibition sport during the Games.
As a community leader, Wolfberg had a great influence on many issues. He led efforts to preserve public parklands, improve infrastructure and safety, and help families who were homeless. He helped raise awareness of health problems at Will Rodgers State Beach and fought to get a bad sewage pipe replaced, all of which made life better for those who lived in the area.
He had a net worth of $2.5 million (including his primary residence) and was an investor in lilliputian hedge funds, which accept as little as $25,000 to invest in currency options or agricultural commodities. These funds are often operated by young investors who have a lot of capital but lack experience in the field. They pay operators 20% of their gains, so if you are lucky enough to make a big bet you can turn a small fortune.