Appeal Filed over LADWP Poles in Pacific Palisades

The City of Los Angeles sent out a notice on Dec. 5 that the L.A. DWP’s temporary pole-top distribution station at 16980 Sunset (near the western terminus of Marquez Avenue) was given a Coastal Development Permit with conditions.

The notice stated: “The proposed project is found to be in conformity with Chapter 3 of the California Coastal Act.”

Steven Somers is one of the leading opponents of the 61-ft.-high poles, which were placed on the parkway of his recently acquired property before the city approved the Coastal Development Permit. He said he was unaware of the proposed pole-top distribution station when he purchased the property, located on the former Bernheimer Gardens site. He hopes to build three ocean-view homes.

Pole-top distribution station is proposed.

Pole-top distribution station is proposed.

After Somers heard the city’s decision, he told the Palisades News via email that same day, “An appeal will be filed.”

On Dec. 19, the DWP sent out a notice that the Coastal Development Permit decision had been appealed. “A hearing before the Board of Public Works will be scheduled in the near future,” the letter stated.

Since January 2015, DWP officials have sought locations to place two 61-ft. pole-top distribution stations in Pacific Palisades, in order to help alleviate electrical-power issues. One station was initially planned for DWP property adjacent to the Marquez Elementary School’s lower playground, the other on El Medio at Sunset. When residents near both locations objected, a public meeting was held in March, and Councilman Mike Bonin audience members to come up with alternate sites, which they did—at Temescal/Sunset and at 16980 Sunset.

No further hearings were held and the poles were installed, but further construction stopped. DWP officials admitted they had not realized that both stations were in the Coastal Zone, which needed Coastal Development permits.

Only three residents showed on Oct. 18 at the Palisades Library for the mid-afternoon Coastal hearing for the Temescal station. The Bernheimer hearing on Nov. 9 had about 30 people in the audience.

At that meeting, a resident from Edgewater Towers, which is below and just west of the DWP site, told DWP officials, “We had no idea it [the PTDS] was happening until the day it went up. You just stick poles in the ground and say we can do this.”

Sarah Conner, president of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association, reminded hearing examiner Catalina Hernandez, “Councilman Bonin made a promise at the Marquez meeting [in March] that we would all be happy, no matter the cost.

“These poles destroy the views from the scenic highway. They should be placed in a way that they don’t violate the Coastal Act. 

This will be pursued to the highest levels of the law,” Conner promised.

According to the City’s Dec. 19 letter, “Community members expressed concerns regarding impacts to scenic and visual qualities, notification process, compatibility with the city’s General Plan and the Brentwood-Pacific Community Plan regarding placing new utilities underground and the adequacy of the California Environmental Act.”

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