“Don’t Move Trash Bins to Temescal!”
The message to the Palisades Park Advisory Board (PAB) on Wednesday (April 17) at its quarterly meeting was clear, “If you have problems with the trash bins at the Rec Center, moving it to Temescal doesn’t solve the problem.”
The small gym at the Palisades Recreation Center was packed with residents who opposed moving the maintenance bins from their long-established location at the park to Temescal Canyon Road, below Palisades High School.
In October, the PAB voted to approve to move the large City trash containers from the maintenance yard to an area adjacent to the lower tennis courts. An outcry from tennis players and residents south of Frontera Road stopped the move.
In January, the PAB listened as Rec and Parks official Raul Leon said he had been asked to study other locations and found that Temescal Canyon (just below the alternative high school) would work because it would allow for egress and ingress by large trucks.
At that meeting Jimmy Dunne (co-chair of the nonprofit group that is building Veterans’ Park next to the maintenance area) asked Leon, “What is the best way to deal with this? You have come up with the best solution. This is best for the community.”
A vote on the move was halted when Palisades Rec Director Erich Haas said, “I don’t think that the people along Temescal got the message that this would be on the agenda. And I don’t think they know about it. I just found out today that Raul would be attending this meeting.”
At Wednesday night’s meeting, resident Dan Coleman summed up the situation. “Right now, it’s wetlands [at the Temescal Canyon location]. There’s a stream that goes down Temescal. If you say you’ll pour cement and bring in dumpsters, we’ll be fighting this from here on–until this recommendation is taken away.”
People wanted to know if the area, which lies within the Coastal Zone, had undergone an environmental or noise study or a traffic analysis. The answer was ‘no.’
What reason was given to move the maintenance bins, given that Leon had said, “Funding would have to be found,” in order to relocate them?
According to Leon, “There were concerns and issues about the trash at the park and people wondered if there were options to relocate it.”
PAB member Bob Harter, who was honored as a co-Community Council Citizen of the Year (with Dunne) for his role in planning and financing Veterans’ Park and accompanying bocce courts, explained: “We would be expanding the green space, and we would be eliminating asphalt and we wouldn’t have [garbage] trucks here when there are children.”
The audience was told that a sanitation truck empties the bins between 7 and 11 a.m. once a week.
Moira Tenzer pointed out, “You say you want more green space and less cement, and then you want to take out wetlands and lay cement in Temescal?”
Tammy Poulos said, “People come from everywhere to use Temescal. It is the gateway to our community. This is the only natural wetlands that still exists here.”
“I can’t think of a more environmental injustice,” Michael Terry said.
“Aside from noise, smell and rodent concerns, I really want to hammer home that the proposed relocation is in the middle of a common walking route from our bluffs to the beach,” Laurie Haller said. “The Temescal Canyon walk is a popular exercise route down to the ocean. I walked it today. I cannot imagine walking by dumpsters with a week’s load of garbage as often as our community does, with the smell. [Not to mention how unsightly it will be!].
“The land you propose to use is designated as an open space zone,” Haller continued. “One of the purposes of the zone is to ‘enhance environmental quality.’ The trash area proposed does not belong in the OS zone.”
Katheryn Blondell said, “We know what the traffic is with the school, and the beach—it’s pretty devastating. You’re talking about a lot of money to move a problem.”
Leon responded, “There’s no money to do anything.”
Don Parcell, Palisades High School Director of Operations, spoke against the proposed relocation for four reasons: 1) traffic, 2) safety 3) noise and 4) ground water.
“Between 7 and 8 a.m., there are about 2,200 students who are driven to school,” he said, noting that the road to school is heavily impacted by traffic.
A garbage truck traveling north on Temescal Canyon Road would have to make a left-hand turn to reach the maintenance bins. If the truck was coming southbound, it would have to come up Chautauqua and through town in order to make a right-hand turn.
If the trucks would arrive after 9 a.m., students and residents would be impacted by the noise, which echoes off canyon walls.
“PaliHi has a ground water problem,” Parcell added. “The school is not in favor of moving the bins to this location.”
Joey Plager noted that besides the garbage site being visually unattractive, “We live directly across from the proposed site. We hate the traffic on Temescal, particularly the trucks. We lived two years listening to the Caruso trucks.”
Those who live along Temescal have complained often about the trucks that haul and dump dirt for various construction projects in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, but park on Temescal in the early morning hours, often leave their engines idling.
Residents who live along Temescal Canyon often have coyotes in their back yard, along with racoons, skunks, ground squirrels and rats, wondered what would keep the animals out of the proposed Temescal garbage yard. The answer: a high chain-link fence with a green screen (to make it visually more attractive) and trash bin lids that are kept closed.
Several residents had visited the Rec Center maintenance area before the meeting and found that the bin lids were not always shut, and that trash was overflowing.
Karen Ridgley said, “I’ve visited several times and four times in the past three weeks the bins have been open.”
Tenzer visited the maintenance yard last Sunday and reported, “The dumpsters were open and overflowing when I was there.”
Residents provided several suggestions for improving the current maintenance yard: 1) pick up the trash more than once a week; 2) make sure the bins are closed; and 3) practice rat abatement.
If the real reason for the move was because the organizers promoting the Veterans’ Park and bocce courts did not want to be next to a maintenance yard, residents suggested sprucing up the area with landscaping and a decorated fence.
Another resident pointed to an environmental solution: whatever trash people bring in the park, they take it home with them. She addressed PAB member Bob Benton, who serves as the PPBA commissioner at the park, and said,
“Bob, have your teams pick up their trash and take it home with them.”
On Monday afternoon, this reporter walked the perimeter of the baseball fields and found that the trash barrels were packed to overflowing, mostly with recyclables.
One suggested solution that a lot of people thought was helpful was put forth by Temescal Canyon Association president Gil Dembo, who asked “Have you investigated the county’s Will Rogers Beach service yard?”
He noted that there’s already an established maintenance yard at the beach, which is accessed at Temescal Canyon. “In two years, you will have a 50-acre park here and that trash will have to go somewhere.” He referenced the long-delayed opening of Potrero Canyon Park below the Recreation Center.