Connect with us

Environment

Investigations Continuing into DWP Destruction of Endangered Plants

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Crews for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently bulldozed hundreds of federally endangered plants in Topanga State Park, and both state and city authorities have launched investigations into DWP’s actions, part of a wildfire prevention project aimed at replacing wooden power poles with steel ones, it was reported today.

Published

on

By City News Service

Crews for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently bulldozed hundreds of federally endangered plants in Topanga State Park, and both state and city authorities have launched investigations into DWP’s actions, part of a wildfire prevention project aimed at replacing wooden power poles with steel ones, it was reported today.

“In response to recent community concerns about protected plants in the construction area, the LADWP has halted construction and is working with biologists and other experts to conduct an investigation and assessment of the site,” Stephanie Spicer, a spokeswoman for the city water and power agency, said late Wednesday in response to inquiries from the Los Angeles Times.

In a separate incident this year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works apparently encased federally threatened red-legged frogs in cement while making emergency repairs to a culvert in a portion of nearby Leo Carrillo State Park, which is vulnerable to heavy debris flows because of last year’s Woolsey fire.

Both events, not previously published by the agencies involved, have recharged debate over balancing wildfire safety and protecting fragile ecological resources following big blazes, including last year’s deadly Camp and Woolsey fires, and the Tubbs fire the year before that, The Times reported.

“We’re in the middle of an investigation into a lot of troubling questions,” said Andrew Willis, enforcement supervisor for the California Coastal Commission, according to the newspaper. “We’re contacting all appropriate state and federal wildlife agencies because they are going to want to look into them closely.”

Sometime in July, DWP crews used bulldozers to construct a graded road as part of a wildfire prevention project in the Pacific Palisades highlands. The project was aimed at protecting the area — some of the most expensive coastal real estate in Southern California — by installing steel power poles more resistant to high winds and fire.

But in so doing, say state authorities, the crews potentially destroyed hundreds of Braunton’s milk vetch plants, an endangered species whose remaining numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000 in the wild, The Times reported.

The city utility had been alerted to the presence of the endangered plants on July 7 via an email sent by David Pluenneke, an amateur botanist and avid hiker. It thanked him for calling the issue to their attention, according to documents obtained by The Times.

Eight days later, Pluenneke visited the site and discovered that crews had removed all vegetation across several acres for a new dirt fire road, 24 feet wide. He was livid, and remains angry.

“It’s hard not to think that if there had been blue whales and panda bears up there, they would have bulldozed them, too,” Pluenneke said.

In its statement, the DWP said the agency needs to replace more than 200 deteriorating wooden power poles in an area stretching from Pacific Palisades to Lake Encino.

“This project will help ensure power reliability and safety, while helping reduce wildfire threats,” according to DWP. “These wooden poles were installed between 1933-1955 and are no past their useful service life. Due to their locations, these poles have been identified as potential fire hazards and will be replaced with steel poles. LADWP also plans to install raptor protectors on the new steel poles in order to protect birds from incidental contact.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the California Coastal Commission are trying to determine if any laws were broken. They are also trying to determine the extent of the damage to the overall plant population, which consists of just a dozen colonies, all in the mountains surrounding the Los Angeles Basin.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Activism

COMMENTARY: City Councilmember Thao Announces $2 Million Investment to Revitalize Parks in East Oakland

This is about getting Oakland back to basics. This is about clean and functional parks for our children, youth, and families to enjoy. This is about building stronger communities through activating safe public spaces we can all be proud of. This is about a cleaner, greener Oakland that is dedicated to healing communities impacted by environmental racism.

Published

on

Oakland City Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao joins California Assemblymember Mia Bonta, Pastor Billy Dixon Jr., Louie Butler, Jr. President, Oakland Babe Ruth Cal Ripken Baseball League, and other community members who were invited to hear the announcement. Photo by Brandon Harami Policy Director for Councilmember Sheng Thao.
Oakland City Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao joins California Assemblymember Mia Bonta, Pastor Billy Dixon Jr., Louie Butler, Jr. President, Oakland Babe Ruth Cal Ripken Baseball League, and other community members who were invited to hear the announcement. Photo by Brandon Harami Policy Director for Councilmember Sheng Thao.

By Sheng Thao, Oakland City Council President Pro Tempore

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of joining Assemblymember Mia Bonta, Pastor Billy Dixon Jr., and community and faith leaders gathered at Arroyo Viejo Park to announce a $2 million investment into East Oakland parks that I secured in recent state budget allocations signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

This $2 million investment will help revitalize and celebrate parks serving some of Oakland’s most marginalized communities, including Arroyo Viejo Park, Tassafaronga Park, and Verdese Carter Park.

I know that East Oakland has experienced decades of systemic and environmental racism, and it is important that we invest equitably into our neighborhoods including our parks. As someone who lived in public housing and apartments my entire life, I know that parks are our front yard and backyard and a place for us to build community and find time in nature.

For years the city has promised renovations and investments into these parks, including several unfunded capital improvement projects, so I did what Oakland leaders are expected to do: find the money we need to fulfill these promises to East Oakland.

This is about getting Oakland back to basics. This is about clean and functional parks for our children, youth, and families to enjoy. This is about building stronger communities through activating safe public spaces we can all be proud of. This is about a cleaner, greener Oakland that is dedicated to healing communities impacted by environmental racism.

I know that many East Oakland residents have felt that their voices have not been heard, as if they have not been seen, but I am here to tell you that I see you and I hear you and this is just the beginning.

I am determined to bring more investments into parks, open space, clean air and water, good schools, job programs, affordable housing, safe streets and more to our communities most impacted by decades of underinvestment. This is about providing basic services to every Oakland neighborhood.

These investments will go toward many unfunded projects and needs in these parks and I look forward to working with the community to identify key areas of investment once the City accepts the grant awards. I am very thankful for the partnership of so many East Oaklanders who helped identify these needs with me and for Assemblymembers Mia Bonta and Buffy Wicks for being such strong partners in these efforts.

We can and will build an Oakland that works for everyone and this is just the beginning of that work.

Continue Reading

Activism

Marin County and Nine Local Jurisdictions File Suit Against Monsanto to Recover Costs Related to Cleanup of Toxic PCBs

Monsanto produced nearly 99% of all PCBs used in the United States since the 1930s and continued until its manufacture was banned by the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. According to Monsanto’s own internal documents, company officials knew and were warned about the dangers to human health and the environment from PCBs, but Monsanto wrongfully promoted the product and failed to warn customers about its dangers.

Published

on

Brian Washington (right) is the Marin County Counsel.
Brian Washington (right) is the Marin County Counsel.

Courtesy of Marin County

The County of Marin, along with nine local jurisdictions, has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto and two other companies to hold them accountable for PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination in their communities and in San Francisco Bay, and for the enormous costs they will incur to remove those contaminants.

The suit was filed Sept. 8 in Marin County Superior Court with plaintiffs listed as the County of Marin, the cities of Belvedere, Mill Valley, Novato, San Rafael and Sausalito, and the towns of Corte Madera, Ross, San Anselmo and Tiburon. It also names Solutia, Inc., and Pharmacia LLC as defendants in the case.

Marin’s joint lawsuit adds to a growing list of similar lawsuits filed around the U.S. alleging that Monsanto has known about the public health and environmental threats caused by PCBs for more than 50 years. Similar suits have been filed nationwide, with plaintiff agencies alleging that Monsanto deliberately misled the public, environmental regulators, and its own customers so it could reap massive profits from PCB sales.

Brian Washington, Marin County Counsel, said Marin and the other participating jurisdictions opted out of a proposed national class-action settlement because it failed to sufficiently cover the anticipated costs to comply with regulations and prevent further damage.

“PCBs have left a long toxic legacy,” said Washington. “The companies responsible need to contribute to the solution so that the taxpayers do not have to carry the entire burden.”

PCBs, banned from production in the late 1970s, are known or suspected to cause a wide range of cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer, liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, pancreatic cancer and skin cancer. They are implicated in non-cancer health problems such as cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hepatic (liver), immune, neonatal, neurological, ocular, and reproductive harm.

PCB contamination resulting from Defendants’ actions is already widespread across the Bay Area. The entire Bay is classified as “impaired” by PCBs under the federal Clean Water Act. This impairment endangers natural resources and human health. For example, the Bay’s PCB contamination has required state agencies to issue stringent consumption advisories for fish caught in the Bay.

Water and sediment containing PCBs end up in wastewater and stormwater systems, which eventually make their way to the Bay. PCB contamination has been so severe in the bay that the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has advised some people not to eat certain types of fish caught in the bay.  For example, children and women ages 18 to 49 are advised not to eat striped bass, sharks and white sturgeon caught in the bay. Everyone is also advised not to eat the skin and fatty tissue of any fish caught in the bay.

When regulations are in full effect, it is anticipated that communities will have to use significant taxpayer dollars to pay for testing and monitoring, develop infrastructure to capture PCBs in runoff, conduct more frequent street sweeping, and deploy other measures to comply with those regulations.

Monsanto produced nearly 99% of all PCBs used in the United States since the 1930s and continued until its manufacture was banned by the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. According to Monsanto’s own internal documents, company officials knew and were warned about the dangers to human health and the environment from PCBs, but Monsanto wrongfully promoted the product and failed to warn customers about its dangers. For example, in the 1950s, the U.S. Navy refused to buy one of Monsanto’s PCB products, Pydraul 150, for use in its submarines after the Navy conducted its own tests that showed that Pydraul 150 killed all 100 rabbits exposed to its vapors. Monsanto concealed that information from the public and its customers.

The County of Marin and other towns and cities involved in the suit are represented by their own staff with support from outside counsel Sher Edling LLP of San Francisco. The complaint includes claims of public nuisance, private nuisance and trespass.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Parking Restriction Proposed for Bayside Park

While the previously proposed Point San Pedro Road Roadway Modification Pilot Project will not be moving forward at this time, the County of Marin remains committed to bicyclist and pedestrian safety. As new potential projects are identified, DPW will collaborate with the City of San Rafael, community members, and stakeholders on roadway improvement projects.

Published

on

Courtesy of Marin County

At its Aug 23 public session, the Marin County Board of Supervisors plan to consider a no-parking restriction along Bayside Park on Point San Pedro Road in unincorporated eastern San Rafael. The restriction has been recommended by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) following the completion of a parking survey of the area.

Based on the results of the survey, which indicated minimal use of on-street parking along the park and adjacent residential frontage, prohibiting parking along Bayside Park will not negatively impact park access or the residences south of the park along the eastbound side of Point San Pedro Road.

The proposed parking restriction will allow for a bike lane to be implemented along the entirety of the Bayside Park frontage, which is a requirement of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) permit. The permit that stipulates the bike lane requirement was renewed during the recent Bayside Park accessibility improvement project.

The no-parking zone will create enough room for a buffered bike lane, which provides extra space for bicycle safety, beginning at the southwest end of the park and connecting to the existing bike lane beginning near Main Drive. The only parking that would remain along the park frontage is an accessible parking spot to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The spot was created during the park improvement project as a paved indentation into the curb line of the park.

The recent parking study used automated video cameras to monitor weekday and weekend parking usage day and night. Both the 314-foot stretch of Bayside Park frontage and the 454-foot residential section of the road were monitored.

The data showed that parking usage is light along both sections of the roadway within the surveyed area. The park frontage theoretically has space for 14 standard-sized vehicles, but at any given time there were at most three parked vehicles during weekdays and four on weekends. The residential frontage south of the park along the eastbound side of Point San Pedro Road, which has capacity for up to 20 standard-sized vehicles, was recorded as having peak weekday usage of four vehicles at any one time and three on weekends.

With space for 20 vehicles along the residential section of the street, and the highest combined demand between Bayside Park usage and residential usage being seven vehicles at any given time, there is ample capacity for park users to use the residential stretch of the roadway without impact to residents.

Pending the Board of Supervisors’ decision on Aug. 23, the parking restrictions would go into effect once signage is posted, which may take a few weeks. Implementation of the bike lane would occur when the parking restriction signage is installed. Members of the public interested in viewing or attending the Supervisors session can find the instructions online.

While the previously proposed Point San Pedro Road Roadway Modification Pilot Project will not be moving forward at this time, the County of Marin remains committed to bicyclist and pedestrian safety. As new potential projects are identified, DPW will collaborate with the City of San Rafael, community members, and stakeholders on roadway improvement projects.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending