DWP Distribution Substation 104: Safe or NIMBYISM?

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Distributing Station 99 is located in a residential area in the Palisades Highlands.

The sole electrical station in Pacific Palisades, built in 1936, was originally intended to service 300 to 500 homes. With an increasing population and electrical needs (larger homes and electrical vehicles), many areas of this community have suffered brownouts, which are well documented by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

When DWP announced plans in December 2022 to put a distributing station (DS 104) on land it owns on Marquez Avenue, residents of Marquez and many who have children at Marquez Elementary School, were upset. At a public meeting some threatened to litigate if DWP went through with this location.

Other Marquez residents pointed to a 11-member committee, formed in 2012, that had investigated possible sites in Pacific Palisades and told DWP to listen to the committee’s findings.

That committee, made up largely of Marquez residents, selected land adjacent to the L.A. City Fire Station 23 of Los Liones as its first choice. That land is park land owned by the State of California. DWP contacted the state, who denied the request.

DWP then put up two pole-top distribution stations (PTDS) on Sunset Boulevard, a scenic highway. One is located on the corner of Palisades High School baseball field and Temescal Gateway Park, and a second adjacent to apartment buildings (Marquez Avenue and Sunset).

The current electrical station (DS 29) is located less than .2 of a mile from Palisades Elementary, surrounded by condominiums that house about 400 people and less than .1 of a mile from an assisted living facility.

The proposed site for DS-104 is about .1 of a mile from classrooms at Marquez Elementary.

Yesterday, CTN received a note from two readers that the Palisades Highlands has a distributing station on a residential street.

One wrote: “There is a center on Monte Grande, it’s been there for almost 30 years. It abuts a home and is closer to many homes than any of the formerly proposed locations [for DS 104]. Obviously, no one knows, nor cares. More ado about nothing.”

A second reader wrote about the Highlands DWP facility that it “is located in a cul-de-sac, looks like a single-story house, and is located immediately next door to a single-family home and across the cul-de-sac from other single-family homes.

“I wonder if the owner of the house next door to the substation knew what was located in the house next door?” the reader asked.

CTN drove to the Highlands and indeed there is a DWP facility DS 99 on the Monte Grande. It is next door to a house and on a block with many homes.

Distribution Station 99 is located on Monte Grande.

Many who opposed the DS 104 Marquez site, cited fire safety as a concern. That is a concern in most of Pacific Palisades, including the Highlands, which have seen numerous fires in the last five years.

To prevent fires caused by wires above the ground, including the pole-tops, it appears that DWP in addition to a site, should also concentrate on placing electrical wires underground.

DS-99 is the building on the right.


Distributing Station 104 was supposed to be built in 1970-71 on DWP-owned land off Marquez Avenue. But after the Sylmar earthquake in February 1971, the focus shifted from construction to repairs citywide.

Construction was further postponed when the Palisades did not see much growth through the 1980s. By 2012, however, the DWP knew that a new distribution station was sorely needed to supplement DS 29 (on Sunset at Via de la Paz).

“DS 29 is working at its designed capacity and will exceed its capacity within the next six years due to increasing electricity demand in the surrounding community,” the DWP warned residents.

In a November 21 [2016] letter to a lawyer opposing a PTDS on Sunset, spokesperson Carol Tucker wrote: “LADWP has stated that the PTDS is a temporary measure and will be removed once the permanent distribution station is constructed and placed into service.

“LADWP remains committed to working with the Council office and the community in finding a suitable location for the permanent Distributing Station 104 facility, and additional temporary PTDS’s will be required until a permanent DS is built, so that we can remove the temporary PTDS and achieve long-term reliable electrical service for Pacific Palisades,” Tucker said.

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