Many of us in the community who hike, ride horses, and bike in Sullivan Canyon in Brentwood know that this canyon is a unique natural resource, with its huge oak and sycamore trees, pretty stream and wildlife. Because of its beauty, shady paths and easy access, Sullivan Canyon gets regular and constant use by kids, adults and senior citizens from all over West Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and beyond.
Yet, without any meaningful CEQA review or public notice to the community, the Southern California Gas Company plans a major five year long pipeline project starting September 1, 2009. This project will have the following irreversible environmental impacts:
Cut, prune and otherwise impact 185 protected trees, including the removal of 31 sycamore trees “up to 50 inches in diameter and 95 feet in height”;
Grade a 12 foot wide road with wider turn-outs all the way up Sullivan Canyon from Queensferry to Mulholland;
Import 3100 cubic yards of fill and use 2100 cubic yards of in-situ cut material for the road bed;
Use articulated concrete mats and ungrouted rip-rap on 22 pipeline exposures and “backfill” 15 eroded sections on the road where it intersects the main stream and intermittent side streams;
Involve at least three excavations of 40 feet long by 15 feet wide at various depths;
Involve extensive brush cutting and vegetation removal, including the application of herbicides, all along the road construction and pipelines;
The road construction, brush clearance and tree cutting will be done first, starting September 1, 2009.
There was no meaningful review of this project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Gas Company claims it is entitled to a categorical exemption from CEQA review because the project is only a repair and maintenance project, with negligible or no expansion of use. Yet the many admitted irreversible environmental impacts make clear this exemption is inapplicable. Furthermore, the Gas Company did not notify our local homeowners’ groups or the Brentwood Community Council that it was seeking permits to conduct this project, despite the fact that many of us either live immediately adjacent to Sullivan Canyon or frequently hike, bike and ride there.
Please read the attached excerpts of the various project documents. We were only able to obtain these documents after making Public Records Act Requests to the various agencies. By the time we were able to obtain these documents, the Gas Company contended that it already has the requisite permits for the work. Their plan was to notify the community only after all permits were issued and the work is ready to be commenced.
Our only hope to have any time to review and understand this project before the bulldozers and chainsaws are unleashed in Sullivan Canyon–and our only chance to have any meaningful input into mitigating the serious environmental impacts of this project–is for all of us to immediately write, email and call the offices of Councilman Bill Rosendahl, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, Senator Fran Pavley, the California Department of Fish & Game, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Gas Company.
We are including contact information and email addresses below for your convenience.
Nobody opposes the Gas Company’s efforts to properly maintain and ensure their pipelines are safe, but we are very frustrated that they just ignored the community and only planned to notify us only after the permits were issued and the project was underway.
The Gas Company should welcome reasoned community input, not be afraid of it. They should agree to pause the project, hold a community meeting, and take advantage of the opportunity to educate and involve the many smart and committed people in the community, including the Brentwood Community Council, the many homeowner associations whose members will be affected, and interested environmental groups.
Please ask the Gas Company and your public officials to suspend the project and meaningfully consult with the community BEFORE they start work. Once they start work, the trees will be gone and it will be too late.
Here is the contact information:
Councilman Bill Rosendahl
1645 Corinth Avenue
West L.A., CA 90025
Fax: (310) 575-8305
California Department of Fish & Game
Jamie Jackson, Staff Environmental Scientist
Streambed Alteration Team
4949 Viewridge Ave.
San Diego, CA 92123
California Regional Water Quality Control Board
320 W. 4th Street, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA
Fax: (213) 576-6640
Southern California Gas Company
9400 Oakdale Avenue, SC9314
Chatsworth, CA 91311-6511
OTHER IMPORTANT PUBLIC OFFICALS TO CONTACT:
Assemblyman Mike Feuer
9200 Sunset Boulevard, PH 15
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Tel: (310) 285-5490
Fax: (310) 285-5499
Senator Fran Pavley
2716 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Fax: (310) 314-5263
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
821 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625-7360 fax
Thanks for your prompt action!
–Michael R. Leslie, Director, Brentwood Hills Homeowners Association