Letter: Edison bulldozes open space

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All Lagunans should be concerned about the Southern California Edison unpermitted grading bulldozing paths in the open space. We appreciate the updates we have received from Interim City Manager Sean Joyce, but hopefully, new City Manager Dave Kiff will insist on better compliance from Edison.

In January, the city stopped the unpermitted grading and told us that Edison agreed to use helicopters to replace wires and five utility poles in the open space west of Alta Laguna Boulevard and north of Park Avenue. However, Mr. Joyce emailed us on Wednesday, which included:

On Monday, March 18, SCE resumed work to replace five utility poles in the open space.

Using a helicopter to replace the poles was not viable due to the tall dense brush surrounding the poles. Edison plans to clear a small buffer area around each pole that will allow future pole maintenance to occur via helicopter.

– After the work is complete, SCE has agreed to obtain a full Coastal Development Permit.

“After the work is complete!” Is this any way to protect the “protected” open space?”

Mr. Joyce also emailed us, stating, “The Planning Commission will consider approving the Design Review and Coastal Development Permit at a notice public hearing, likely in the summer of 2024.”

The Summer 2024 Planning Commission meeting should be important for restoring the damage to the TOW open space, but it will obviously be too late to protect and minimize the damage.

The City Manager and City Engineer answered questions from the Top of the World Neighborhood Association (TOWNA) which included:

Q: Did the fire department know about the fire risk?   

A: No.

Q: Have erosion control measures been monitored, and has the City deemed them effective?

A: The erosion control measures have been minimally effective.

Q: Can the City fence off or otherwise discourage the public from using the Edison-graded paths as new trails in the open space?

A: Signs could be placed, although they may likely be ignored. A concern we have is that fencing may result in additional trails being created outside of the graded ones.

Q: We have yet to see a helicopter working; is that what SCE has agreed to do?

A: Use of helicopters is no longer being considered for pole replacement.

Hopefully, the new City Manager, Dave Kiff, will ensure that Edison’s work minimizes the damage to the open space before the work is complete and before the summer Planning Commission meeting.

Gene Felder, Laguna Beach

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1 COMMENT

  1. Gene, thanks for sharing this with the public. And other instances in the past, Edison has been forced to cooperate in mitigation efforts and pay for these environmental mitigation efforts. For example, on a Catalina Island they had to pay over $50,000 towards a coastal marine fauna replantation due to their desalination plant rip wrap facility.

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