Potrero Pedestrian Bridge Satisfies California Coastal Commission Requirements

The trail from Friends Street provides a nice view of the Pacific Ocean but the California Coastal Commission requires coastal access from the George Wolfberg Park.

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has required that there be coastal access for George Wolfberg Park at Potrero.

The CCC also had two other requirements for the new park: parking spaces and a restroom. Initially it was proposed that a parking lot be placed at the base of the Canyon, off Pacific Coast Highway, with a restroom in that same location.

As late as July 2022, in California Coastal Commission report wrote: “The City shall work with Caltrans to prepare revised park plans that shall provide for public parking of not fewer than 10 and no more than 30 spaces on City or Caltrans property at the southern end of the canyon to serve the park. Restroom facilities shall be provided accessible to recreation areas and located on park or adjacent public property. The parking lot and restrooms shall be constructed as part of the final park improvements. Future concessions development may relocate or incorporate such parking and other facilities, but the parking and bathroom facilities shall be provided free of charge, shall be identifiable as public facilities, and their identifying signs shall remain visible from Pacific Coast Highway and the park. If access for parking and construction of a restroom at the south (PCH) end of the canyon is not feasible, the City will submit plans for these facilities at an alternate location for the review and approval of the Commission.”

A pedestrian bridge, which provides coastal access, also provides parking in Will Rogers State Beach parking lot and those beach restrooms satisfies the CCC requirement.

A pedestrian bridge, which can be locked at sunset, limiting night access, would prevent the need to build a parking lot and restroom below the Via de las Olas bluffs.

A special Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting, after its regular meeting was called by President Maryam Zar with less than 24 hours’ notice to discuss going forth with the pedestrian bridge, which has now been funded with $11 million by the state.

During the meeting some residents said they had never been consulted about a bridge, and still others said was never discussed.

There are other residents who don’t want a bridge because they feel it will encourage the homeless crossing into George Wolfberg Park at Potrero.

Area 8 Representative Reza Akef, has built three properties on the rim. He has cameras at the construction site. He said there have been no homeless in Potrero, rather his cameras have caught youth smoking and setting off fireworks.

Another person complained that residents were letting dogs run off-leash in the park that was opened in December 2022. This editor reported in April 2006 (“Potrero Parking Plans Draw Fire”) there were complaints about residents walking dogs off-leash and kids setting off fireworks.

Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin also said at the special PPCC meeting that the LAPD Beach Task Force have not found homeless in Potrero. The same cannot be said for Temescal Canyon Park, which is not fenced. There have been numerous citations for camping in the very high fire severity zone and numerous encampment cleanups.

For people who have not followed the development of the park, the California Coastal Commission has been instrumental in the completion of the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero.

Properties around the rim of the Potrero started slipping into the Canyon in the 1960s and the City acquired them. There was no money to stabilize the canyon, and it looked like houses would continue to “fall in.”  Through former Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski, a deal was made with the Coastal Commission. The city could sell the properties and use the money to stabilize the canyon, with the idea it would be turned into a park.

This was Friends Street before the infill and stabilizing of Potrero Canyon.

This editor started reporting on Potrero in 2006 and most of those pieces can be found in the Palisadian-Post archives. (My name has been taken off the stories replaced with the name dev.)

An October 2007 story (“Rec and Parks: Frontera Drive Will Stay Open), reported that “The Coastal Commission permit for Potrero, granted in 1996, mandated certain requirements, which include no fewer than 10 and no more than 30 parking spaces, as well as restroom facilities. Rec and Parks West Region Superintendent Debby Rolland is hopeful that if additional parking is found near the Rec Center, the condition will be met and there will be no need to provide for parking at PCH.

“If that is not the case, two PCH parking options were presented. The first was parking and a restroom at the old Occidental site adjacent to Potrero Canyon. Rolland nixed that option because of public safety and the maintenance cost of the required restroom. Rolland approved the option of using existing Will Rogers State Beach parking and restrooms if a bridge could be built across PCH.

Then Rolland said. ‘ . . .we have to look at the bigger picture. The park is for all the residents, not just the residents who live next to it, but also for those that live a half-mile away, a mile away or further. ‘

A Palisadian-Post January 2008 story (“Committee to Vote on Key Potrero Park Issues”) quoted the current area At-large PPCC representative Chris Spitz, who lives on the West Rim, “I have concerns about cost, funding, security, maintenance, environmental impact, feasibility of alternatives, and extent of public support. Current community opinion about the bridge should be ascertained to the extent possible. I also note that Pam Emerson of the Coastal Commission recently indicated that the Commission has no position on the bridge at this time and is not opposed to alternatives as long as its goal of beach access is achieved.”

According to a July 14, 2022 report, the CC does have a position  click here.

In 2022, it was guessed that at least $50 million has now been spent on the George Wolfberg park with infill, stabilizing, grading and landscaping. The only real question that needs to be answered is: why did the PPCC spend two and a half hours when all the information exists about how and why a pedestrian bridge is required.

This was the motion that the Pacific Palisades Community Council passed on October 12 with 13 ayes, 3 opposed and one abstaining: “The PPCC should…allow the contractor hired by BOE to conduct meaningful outreach in order to garner the community’s feedback through the process of the predesign phase, and implement the results of the feedback in a substantive way that will address the items of common concern and incorporate community sentiment into the final bridge design, including its public safety elements. These may include, but will not be limited to, hours of operation/open to the public, fences, gates, lock mechanisms, monitoring, law enforcement resources, patrolling, cameras etc…”

The Sunspot Hotel was located at the base of Potrero Canyon. This would be the proposed site for parking and for restrooms for George Wolfberg Park,  unless a alternative such as the pedestrian bridge was found.

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3 Responses to Potrero Pedestrian Bridge Satisfies California Coastal Commission Requirements

  1. Brooke Klein says:

    A lateral trail to Temescal also satisfies the Coastal Commission requirements and is currently REQUIRED, even if a bridge is built. Shouldn’t the $11 million be spent in park poor communities that don’t already have 2 ways to get down to the beach? Imagine if 11 CA parks each received $1m to improve conditions and added youth programs? That could change lives. With all that is going on in CA now, how can Palisadians feel good about taking another $11 million so they have a 3rd way down to the beach instead of walking an extra .2 miles to the light at Temescal?

  2. Sue says:

    Brooke,

    With all due respect, you miss the point. The $50 million that was spent on the park was done with the promise of coastal access. Additionally, after spending hours helping the homeless task force clean up below the Via Bluffs, I feel the lateral trail will be a gateway back into the bluffs for the homeless.

    Sue

  3. Brooke Klein says:

    I agree with you about coastal access…the City was supposed to provide it, and I’m surprised they were allowed to open without it. The CCC currently requires the lateral trail, even if a bridge is constructed. We will have 3 ways down to the beach. Doesn’t it seem absurd that we would ask for an additional $11m for a 4th way down to the beach when many parks in this state don’t have basketball hoops or youth programs? That $11m used in park poor communities could change lives.

    But to your point, with any coastal access, we need security/park ranger to make sure no one is in the canyon when it closes at sunset. The rec center and Potrero already have security issues, so to open up the canyon at PCH without addressing these issues first is premature.

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