My first husband, who liked to ski, took me, a novice on the slopes. As we waited to get on the chair lift, he reminded me to keep everything next to my body, because things could get caught on the lift bars. Dutifully I made sure mittens and ski poles were tucked in.
When we got to the top of the lift, I skied off, but then the entire chair lift shut down. I looked back and somehow; my husband was caught on the contraption. His gloves hooked him to the lift, which didn’t allow him to ski off.
After he was released and back on his skis, he looked at me and said, “I was right, and this proves my point.”
That thought came to mind after hearing the results of the West Los Angeles Planning Commission hearing on November 15.
The City approved four large houses with pools and basements that will be built on an active landslide between Tramonto and Revelo. The largest house is 9,051 sq. ft. with a 5, 887-sq.ft. basement and a pool and spa.
There was a large turnout of residents for the hearing. So many, that people were turned away from the room, which had a capacity of 70.
One resident wrote, “I believe that the decision was made before the hearing even began. My impression is that the Commissioners are concerned volunteers, but they rely totally on the City engineers, geologists, and building inspectors and those people are all in league with the developers.
“I don’t know enough to say whether this is out and out corruption. Rather, it seems like a kind of ‘old boys’ network.”
One resident said that those speaking against the project were treated as a bunch of NIMBY homeowners.
Maybe more disappointing to residents was the lack of support from Councilmember Traci Park.
A resident wrote that Park’s Planning and Transportation Deputy Jeff Khau “showed up and mouthed the platitudes about preventing obstructions in the public right-of-way, ensuring that projects are completed expeditiously, and scaling the proposed homes to reflect Castellammare’s existing development pattern. Another disappointment.”
During the hearing, one of the Commissioners asked if there was any history of successful building on active landslides in L.A. and was told by City officials there might be an example somewhere in Mt. Washington.
A 2010 Caltrans/L.A. City Bureau of Engineering/Department of Public Works report suggested ways to stabilize the Tramonto landslide, but when City engineers were asked about at the hearing, the comment was “that plan stabilized the streets but not the land and was never adopted, probably because it was too costly.” The cost at that time to remediate the hillside was given at $25 million.
Here’s what could happen, which might be even more costly. Tramonto the only through street in Castellammare, which is held up by a bulkhead and needs to be reinforced.
There is no street access to construct the proposed properties, which means roads will need to be constructed on the landslide to carry heavy vehicles hauling dirt.
The whole hill could tumble down onto Pacific Coast Highway, shutting down a major artery on the coast. Khau told residents in a May meeting when they voiced that concern that “the City will fix it.”
Maybe nothing will happen, but if it does, residents will be able to say, “We were right. Unfortunately.”