Residents from various Pacific Palisades neighborhoods learned the final site recommendations last week from a task force charged to best locate a second distribution station for the Department of Water and Power, as also outlined in this video.
But on Thursday night at the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting in the recreation center gym, many residents pushed back.
Specifically, residents residing near the final four suggested substation sites for DS 104, such as the Paseo Miramar and Bel Air Bay Club neighborhoods, questioned what criteria the task force used to determine the final sites, which none are now near the originally controversial DWP-owned site proposed near Marquez Elementary School. Some threatened legal action.
"I'd like an answer from Water and Power," said Donnal Poppe, an attorney representing several property owners in Paseo Miramar. "Is there due process to notify the homeowner that a property could be considered?"
More than 50 people attended Thursday's hearing, including concerned resident and comedian Michael Richards, who wondered why the original site on DWP-owned land near the elementary school was not a proper fit for the substation. Many residents came to the microphone to speak, echoing similar concerns, all concluding they would not like see their properties - and its values - they worked hard to attain to be affected by a utility company's choice to locate a new distribution station. Some questioned the influence Marquez Knolls residents have on the DS 104 Task Force.
Ira Tenenbaum, an architect who lives off Sunset near one of the Tier 1 sites, asked why a task force comprised of mostly Marquez residents designate his site as Tier 1, while lowering their DWP-owned site to Tier 3.
"Did they use the same criteria?" he asked, saying he, like his neighbors, entered into lease agreements without any caveat that DWP would come in later to install a substation. He has two children, one who still attends Marquez Elementary.
"I've heard the opinions of the community, some who are now task force members," he said. "I was in opposition to the station being built. Little did I know the same people I supported are now attempting to place it in my front yard."
Randy Young, former community council president from the 1990s, called the site selection process "upside down."
"Why isn't the land next to Marquez being used for a substation?" he asked, saying the geography at the school is more suitable than one of the Tier 1 sites, near the slopes of the Bernheimer residences.
Resident Laura Mack said when DWP put out a press release 10 days before the first task force meeting, it stated energy reduction alternatives would be considered, and then it was taken off the table without any discussion.
LADWP, task force and council respond
Erik Hartman, manager at LADWP, reiterated the process of finding the final substation site is nowhere near complete and the Board of Water and Power Commissioners will make the ultimate decision. Several public meetings will commence prior to that decision.
Answering Mack's question, he said LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols spoke directly to the task force at its first meeting about energy reduction alternatives, concluding they would have to hire someone to provide a study.
"Would you pay for it?" he asked the audience. "The short answer is 'no.'"
Hartman added the task force chose the final sites based around the efficiency to stay near the load center at DS 29 in the Village.
"It's a question of reliability," he said. "That's probably the biggest keypoint, trying to maintain reliability of service to homes and businesses."
Task force member Jim Rea said that the NIMBY mentality (also known as "not in my backyard") applies to everyone on the Pacific Palisades grid. He said they are still collecting and reading responses from comment cards from last week's forum at Palisades Charter High School.
"We tried my criteria, which is to do the least amount of harm to the community," he said. "As we parsed out the sites, it was these sites. That's what our conclusion came to. We all know this is a very diffuclt, heart-wrenching system, especially for those near the site."
Rea added that the Los Angeles Unified School District presented major concerns with the proximity of the electromagnetic field from the DWP-owned site being near one of its elementary schools.
"No one asked us to be scientifically valid," Rea said. "I used personal judgments."
Community Council President Barbara Kohn said she is still curious about the criteria used by the task force to determine the Tier 1 selections, and said the task force meetings should be open to the public.
DWP and task force organizers have countered that large groups of residents showing up to preliminary meetings, with high emotions, would be counterproductive for the group to get to work before bringing it to the public process.
"The most dangerous thing in Palisades is where a community is divided," she said. "That's what's happened in this process."
- Final Four Sites Selected for Palisades DWP Substation [POLL]
- LADWP Asks Pali Task Force to Narrow Down Substation Site List
- Divide Grows Over Task Force Charged With Finding Palisades Substation Site