Portions of Pacific Palisades Have Suffered Increasing Brownouts: Council Office Halts DWP’s Latest Plans

The Pacific Palisades DWP building was built in the 1930s.
Photo: Palisades Historical Society

 

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 LADWP.

No one disputes a distribution station is needed. Today, Councilmember Traci Park announced that plans to build a distribution center next to Marquez Elementary School in Pacific Palisades have been halted temporarily.

“I listened to the community and took their concerns seriously, which is why I asked the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to halt plans for this project until we have assessed every location,” Park said.

DWP is now looking at options in city-owned land Pacific Palisades. The city owns the park land immediately below the Via bluffs and several empty lots in Castellammare. There is also a lot off Paseo Miramar, and there is city land between the upper Bel-Air Bay Club and Malibu Village.

HISTORY:

In 2010, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, realizing that the original station was approaching capacity started evaluating sites, include a property it had acquired in the Marquez Area in 1970s.

(In 1969, the Los Angeles Times reported that plans for a new distribution center to be located on the Marquez lot were outlined for directors of the Pacific Palisades Homeowners’ Association by H.L. Holland, DWP distribution center manager.

The L.A. Planning Department held a public hearing on the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) sought by DWP in May 1971. Although opponents cited concerns in regard to safety and design, a CUP for the Marquez site, which was one of three sites studied, was approved in June that year.)

Fast forward to 2012 and DWP’s plan to go forward on that site. Marquez residents protested. A committee was formed to evaluate alternate sites. Interestingly, the majority of the committee was from the Marquez area and that committee voted that the land that DWP owned and wanted to build on was the worst choice.

They selected a site by Fire Station 23 owned by the State of California. DWP asked and was told by the state the land was not for sale.

POLE-TOP DISTRIBUTION STATIONS:

If a new distributing station is built, DWP the poles will be removed from Sunset, a scenic highway.

The inability to find a site to build a station, led to the placement of two pole-top stations as a “band-aid” until a station could be built. At the time, DWP said the poles were temporary. They warned if a site was not found, they would have to continue adding pole-tops to the streets of this community.

One pole-top was proposed for Ida and Marquez, but Marquez residents didn’t want it in their neighborhood, which is why it is on Sunset, next to an apartment building.

DWP also planned a second pole-top on El Medio, but those residents banded together to oppose it, which is why it was placed next to Palisades High School.

SAFETY:

This distribution center (DS-29) is surrounded by about 900 residents and is adjacent to the only east-west thoroughfare in Pacific Palisades.

It is now 2023, and Marquez residents, and parents whose children attend Marquez Elementary, do not want a distribution station on the DWP site. They say it’s a matter of safety for the children.

If safety is being considered, what about the children at Palisades Elementary that are actually closer to a station than those students will be at Marquez? Or what about the safety of the nearly 900 people who live within 600 feet of the primary station, which is also located on Sunset, and is the only east-west thoroughfare in Pacific Palisades?

High school students at Palisades High School are impacted every day by the pole-top at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Temescal Canyon Drive.

One of the people who called in to the DWP scoping meeting on January 18, suggested that in lieu of a station more pole-tops be put up because “no one minds them.”

FIRE DANGER:

Those who oppose the station at Marquez say there is a fire danger. The entire Pacific Palisades is in a very high fire  hazard severity zone. If it is fire residents are worried about, there should not be a pole-top at the high school directly across the street from Temescal Gateway Park, which abuts the vast parkland that surrounds the Santa Monica Mountain.

GEOLOGICAL INSTABILITY:

Land below the Via bluffs is owned by the City, but is unstable.

Much of Pacific Palisades has slide issues or is near earthquake faults. The area of Marquez that suffered the most slide damage was at the top of the Canyon, where there was infill. Any plans for a station, which would be built closer to Sunset, would still need a geological survey. But that would be true for any area in Pacific Palisades.

“I appreciate DWP’s willingness to work with our office and the community to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our neighborhoods,” Park said. “We are committed to finding a solution that benefits everyone.”

Where does the Palisades Community Council stand on this project? There has been no position taken yet, but in the January 26 highlights: “We also passed motions to protect our Scenic Highways and roadways from the City’s experimental digital advertising on kiosks program (IKE); protect our Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (almost all of the Palisades) from smoking on film sets.”

The industrial-looking pole-top stations located on Sunset, a scenic highway, are for some, far more intrusive than a kiosk sign.

DWP was working on the power lines at Sunset Boulevard and Temescal on October 27, the day before the Getty Fire broke out.. This pole is located across from Temescal Gateway Park.

Since Park wants to hear from the Palisades community, CTN assumes she wants to hear not only from Marquez residents, but from those who have experienced outages in Castellammare, the Alphabet Streets, the Via bluffs areas, the Huntingtons, The Highlands, Santa Monica Canyon, Rustic Canyon and the Riviera. Is there an area that the City should investigate? Email councilmember.park@lacity.org or call (213) 473-7011 or (310) 568-8772.

 

 

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2 Responses to Portions of Pacific Palisades Have Suffered Increasing Brownouts: Council Office Halts DWP’s Latest Plans

  1. K.C. Soll says:

    Great reporting.

  2. Judi Freed says:

    It seems we need more electricity yet no one wants a station in their neighborhood. Just like everyone wants better cell phone service but protests are huge for having more cell towers added. It is ridiculous especially re the electricity. There are more people living here and using more electrical devices yet we have the same station that existed when I moved here in 1976. If we are going to embrace modern technology then we have to have the “stuff” that goes with that.

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