Storm Warning: No Progress on Slow Down Thru
PHOTO BY TONY
Be prepared is
stuntman Brad Bovee's motto as he risks his life to cross Topanga
Canyon Boulevard by the video store after the storms.
By Tony Morris
Topanga Canyon Boulevard traffic issues,
a focus of the Town Hall meeting held on October 12th at Topanga
Elementary School remain unresolved. Three months after Topanga
residents met to discuss their concerns regarding traffic in
the canyon it appears that no decisions regarding traffic safety
in the center of Topanga have been made. Discussions are planned
by a committee composed of state and county agencies and local
Susan Nissman, Field Deputy for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said
that she and Laurie Newman, Senior Field Deputy for State Senator
Sheila Kuehl will serve as co-chairpersons coordinating the Topanga
Canyon Boulevard Committee's work. The committee will include
representatives from Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol,
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Traffic and Lighting
Division, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and representatives
of Topanga organizations. A letter was sent to state and county
agencies and Topanga organizations providing information on the
committee's objectives and setting the first organizational meeting
for January 31.
As traffic numbers along the Boulevard continue to grow and concerns
over speeding motorists become a daily reality, many residents
are calling for action. Arlette Parker, a member of the Slow
Down Thru Town effort, said, "We need action now, we have
had enough studies and discussions." Parker also said that
many of the 2,100 who signed a petition calling for a 25 mph
limit from School Road to the Lumber Yard have asked her why
there has been no progress .
Topanga Town Council president Dale Robinette said that he "had
high hopes after the October 12th meeting, but I am not surprised
by the lack of action." Robinette suggested that some steps
could be taken in advance of final decisions on traffic plans.
"At the very least Entering Topanga signs could be
installed north of School Road and south of Topanga Lumber alerting
motorists to slow down through the center of town." Robinette
said that signage would help to "educate" motorists
that they are driving through the main street of Topanga.
TASC's Roger Pugliese sees problems with decisions made regarding
traffic safety in Topanga. Pugliese said that Topangans should
"proceed with caution because what often happens when dealing
with bureaucracies is that the initial response is to do the
right thing but agencies have the additional concern of liability."
TASC's chairman also said that the emphasis on liability is not
"always conducive to the needs of the community."
With traffic safety decisions for the center of Topanga still
unresolved, community residents would be well advised to drive
with extra caution. Reports of drivers speeding along the Boulevard
at blind curves and crossing over the double yellow line are
a daily reality. For pedestrians crossing the Boulevard between
Topanga Center and Pine Tree Circle north of Abuelita's parking
lot there is no pedestrian crossing, so watch out for the other
here to Mouth off !
Homes in Summit Valley Viewshed on Hold
PHOTO BY HERB PETERMANN
TASC and VOICE are fighting
development of the land south of these water tanks, overlooking
By Susan Chasen
A developer's proposal to build three houses
along the ridgeline of Summit Valley-Ed Edelman Park has run
into several major obstacles, including denial of an essential
access road from Calabasas and passage of the county's new Santa
Monica Mountains North Area Plan which allows only one house
on the property.
Opponents of the project have argued that the three houses, which
would be located south of Topanga's two water tanks, would create
unacceptable visual impacts from the park and surrounding areas
and would block trails.
Most recently, the developer asked to pull the matter from the
county Regional Planning Commission agenda at a hearing December
13 rather than face a likely denial, according to Jose Caldit,
a senior planning assistant.
Caldit said the developer is currently researching his options
and is expected to respond shortly. A representative of the property
owner, Redondo-based Woodbridge Corporation, has not returned
phone calls to comment on any future plans.
At a previous hearing September 20, the Planning Commission continued
the hearing to December 13 to give the developer time to establish
the legality of proposed access from an extension of Le Mans
Drive in the Mulholland Heights development in Calabasas. Since
that time, however, the Calabasas City Council voted in November
to "vacate" the proposed extension of Le Mans Drive.
Also, in October, the county Board of Supervisors adopted the
Santa Monica Mountains North Area Plan which reduces the potential
number of houses on the 19.9-acre site from three to one.
NORTH AREA PLAN LIMITS BUILDING
Topangans attending the December hearing
said the owner's representative, Steve Taylor, indicated an intention
to buy two-tenths of an acre. That would put the property over
the acreage threshold for two houses. The new North Area Plan
allows no more than one house per 10 acres.
"Nothing is going to happen for the time being, but he may
try again for two houses," said Herb Petermann, who attended
the hearing as chair of VOICE, Viewridge Owners Involved in the
Community and the Environment. "We would prefer that the
[Santa Monica Mountains] Conservancy purchase this land and extend
the parkland because of the viewshed," said Petermann.
According to Petermann, the proposed houses would be on a ridgeline
visible from Summit Valley Park and would block the Henry Ridge
Trail just at the intersection with the central trail through
the park. If even one house is to be built, Petermann suggests
it need not block trails or be on the ridge given the size of
TASC board member David Totheroh, who also attended the hearing,
agrees. "It clearly would be a blight on the visual open
space aspects of hiking around in that park," said Totheroh.
"And it makes the trail access an entirely different beast-walking
along a ridgeline or walking along someone's gated front yard."
According to Totheroh, the proposal goes against provisions in
the North Area Plan intended to protect important "viewshed"
resources such as the ridgeline of Summit Valley Park. "To
invest $20 million of taxpayer money [for a park] and then put
a rim, a stockade, of homes around it is pretty absurd,"
said Totheroh. "Our reading of the North Area Plan is that
unless all other options are ruled out, ridgeline development
is a last resort for development of a property."
CONSERVANCY OUT TO BUY
Protection of the Summit Valley ridgeline
has been a goal of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy since
it acquired the adjacent 667-acre property-now Summit Valley
Ed Edelman Park-in 1994 for nearly $20 million after a 16-year
battle to block the proposed Canyon Oaks development. But so
far, the proposed selling price has been too high.
"It's so visible from so many places," said Paul Edelman,
planning chief for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. "It
is something that is pretty darn important to us.Hopefully, he'll
Edelman said he does not think the Conservancy is currently negotiating
with the property owner and no appraisal has been ordered. However,
he said there were discussions a year ago and the Conservancy
was approached again before the September hearing, but the price
of about $1 million-$50,000 an acre-is just too high.
Any appraisal, he said, should take into account factors such
as engineering costs for resolving access problems and possible
geologic stability problems that diminish the profitability of
development. Ultimately, the appraisal would probably come closer
to $400,000 than $1 million, according to Edelman.
The Conservancy is especially interested in projects with partners
to provide matching funds-such as Los Angeles County or Calabasas
in this instance, said Edelman. Also, he suggested that with
strong community support, state Senator Sheila Kuehl or Assemblywoman
Fran Pavley could make member requests seeking funds specifically
for the purchase.
It makes a big difference, he said, that it would complement
an existing park and protect an existing investment.
NO ROAD FROM CALABASAS
As for the site's access problems, officials
with the City of Calabasas have determined that extending a road
from Mulholland Heights development serves no useful purpose
for Calabasas residents.
here to Mouth off !
"That road is not needed by the City of Calabasas for either
current or future use," said Mark Persico, Planning and
Building Services Director for Calabasas.
Although the extension of Le Mans Drive appears as a "future
street" on maps, Persico explained that it pre-dated incorporation
of the City of Calabasas. As it turned out, Mulholland Heights
has all the access it needs and there's no need to go over a
ridgeline into Topanga. "There's no public purpose for that
street and that was why it was vacated."
Also, the proposed 60-foot-wide road would have extended through
dedicated open space owned by the Mulholland Heights Homeowners
Persico said the developer's representative indicated at the
December hearing that he intended to re-approach the City of
Calabasas about his loss of access, but so far he has not done
so. Without access from Calabasas, the only alternative access
would be from Topanga Canyon Boulevard next to the Quest Ranch.
Another issue for the proposed site, according to Petermann,
would be geologic instability which is generally associated with
ridgeline construction. During the 1994 earthquake, the two water
tanks adjacent to the property cracked and left Topanga without
its water supply.
Topanga Christian Fellowship Votes for Independence
Matthew and Stephanie Brayman, the reverend
and his wife, will stay, at least for now.
By Michele Johnson
On December 27, the votes were finally
in and counted, though some complain a few were lost in the mail.
No, this was not the Florida debacle, but the vote by the congregation
of Topanga Christian Fellowship Church, debating whether to retain
their independence or affiliate with Foursquare Church, a huge
here to Mouth off !
As with that other election, the vote was close and, believes
the pastor Matthew Brayman, "It wasn't a mandate to quit
the whole shooting match." The vote was 16 for independence,
14 for going Foursquare. Karen Wood-Moran, who voted for independence,
said the vote wasn't as close as it looks, because according
to Church bylaws, a 2/3 vote would have been necessary for any
such substantive change.
Ballots were sent out following an emotional meeting at the church
on December 3 at which many stood up to protest going Foursquare,
but some stood to support Matthew Brayman, who is an ordained
Foursquare minister, tied to that denomination. The referendum
took place sooner than expected because, said Karen Wood-Moran,
"We insisted after the meeting-it was so heated-we wanted
to bring it to a halt."
In the end, many believe, the vote was as close as it was because
some members did not want to lose Brayman. "He was a motivation
for many of the votes," said board member Mimi Sutherland.
As for the protesters, they were especially concerned about giving
up the paid-up deed to the Church, a Foursquare requirement for
joining that denomination. "For a good number," insisted
Brayman, "that was the only sticking point." Brayman
added that, contrary to reports, it is not Foursquare's policy
to also take over the bank account of its member churches, only
Over the protests of some members, for the time being the church
is still fellowshipping with Foursquare as it has for the past
year. A church can enter a fellowship with Foursquare for a period
no longer than two years, said Brayman. At the end of that time,
they must decide either to become a permanent member or halt
the relationship. During the fellowship, church members can send
their kids to Foursquare summer camps, attend retreats, and use
other services provided by Foursquare. Wood-Moran points out
that some of these same benefits could be received by joining
a group like American Missionary Fellowship, made up of independent
During fellowship with Foursquare, no tithing is required, but
Topanga Christian Fellowship had been voluntarily tithing Foursquare
for the last year. According to Brayman, due to protests, the
tithing will stop, but "It'll be a matter for the Board
to decide what if any value there is to a fellowshipping status
of any kind." As for the larger issue, Mimi Sutherland is
realistic. "People want to remain nondenominational for
She also says, "For now, Matthew is committed to stay."
Brayman said he is ready to stay on for the time being, and may
even continue with the Church with no Foursquare affiliation
at all. "We're not there yet. We may decide the Lord is
not concerned with affiliation." And when asked how he feels
about pastoring at Topanga Christian Fellowship, he replied,
"We're very happy." He and his wife Stephanie are expecting
a baby "any minute," said Mimi, and so it's understandable
that Matthew says of the controversy, "I'm looking forward
to a year without this sort of thing hanging over us."
Wood-Moran hopes that many more Topangans will decide to join
the church and "participate in the future of Topanga Fellowship."
Board member Patricia Moore-Joshi, who voted against going Foursquare,
believes "the fighting spirit of Topanga has been aroused,"
and that the controversy "is good for the Church and the
Mimi Sutherland summed up her feelings this way. "I truly
do hope that this will bring a measure of peace to the group.
I hope they'll feel they've been heard. The vote may have been
split, but there's not a split in the relationship."
Volunteers Chip In To Make Chipper Program
David Totheroh (front) trims
a Christmas tree as Thad Geer feeds trees to his chipper.
By Tony Morris
The Topanga Citizens Firesafe Committee
Christmas tree chipping was an unqualified success. The TCFC
sponsored the program to provide a service for the community
and raise funds for the Woman's Club emergency relief fund. Chipping
was completed at the Topanga Center parking lot and 25 trees
were chipped thanks to equipment supplied at cost by Thad Geer.
Mulch produced by the chipper was used by some participants for
here to Mouth off !
As a result of this year's successful chipping program, it will
be offered next year. Thanks for the effort and organization
go to David Totheroh, Anne-Christine von Wetter, Joe Gerson and
CHIC Survey: The Results Are In!
By Michele Johnson
The final results of the Community House
Improvement Committee (CHIC) survey are in. The survey was sent
to every home in the Woman's Club newsletter in November and
available over the web. Its intent was to identify Topanga's
priorities for new uses for the Community House and the property
it stands on.
here to Mouth off !
Of about 2,500 households that received the survey-223 individuals
and/or households responded. They were asked to rank the options
on a scale of one to five-one being least desirable and five
being most desirable.
Using percentages, top marks, about 75% of possible points, went
to building a new EOC. After an EOC came-in order-a pool, a senior
center, a teen center, ball field improvements, stage improvements,
a library, a shade structure, a picnic area, additional parking,
a basketball court, a gym, an art center, an outdoor eco center,
a tennis court, garden plots, classrooms, a museum, a computer
center and, last and apparently least, a horseshoe court.
Committee leaders warn that all of these are just ideas, contingent
upon feasibility and fund-raising. A swimming pool, for example,
as desirable as Topangans feel it would be, would probably present
problems of geology, on-going fund-raising and insurance.
Some improvements, like shade structures and baseball field improvements,
which are less costly and complicated, could begin as soon as
some funds are raised and volunteers organized. Obviously, a
new building would be costly and take a lot of planning and time
to achieve. But if a new building were completed, it could double
as EOC, senior center, teen center, etc., offering many of the
options favored by Topangans.
At the December meeting of CHIC, subcommittees were formed to
research feasibility and fund-raising options for items on the
survey. They will gather information and report back to the community.
Sirens in the Night
By Penny Taylor
When Lennie Appelquist started for work
at 4:30 a.m., Monday the 8th, the last thing he expected was
to run into a high-speed chase on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
David Lester Van Deventer was wanted by police for attempted
murder. The Santa Clarita Sheriff's Department began pursuit
about 2:50 a.m. The California Highway Patrol took over when
Van Deventer's van got on the Golden State Freeway.
Lennie's first indication that something was going on was when
he crested Top of Topanga, heading for the valley. He noticed
a helicopter with a search light overhead near Reseda and Oxnard.
"It was kind of foggy and the beam from the helicopter made
it look really surreal."
He came in direct contact with the pursuit as he approached Mulholland.
The white van was coming south, being pursued by the CHP. Afraid
of being hit, Lennie pulled to the curb.
"I was tired and it caught me by surprise and I pulled right
over. I saw at least 10 patrol cars, at least 5 with their lights
and sirens going, coming up from the direction of Ventura Boulevard."
Lennie says they were only going about 35 - 40 mph.
Stephen Nimmer heard the sirens from his home on Robinson. He
got up and looked down on Topanga Canyon Boulevard by Froggy's.
He saw the van come southbound around the corner by the restaurant,
but only saw three patrol cars with lights and sirens following
the van. He also indicated that he didn't think they were going
more than 35 - 45 mph.
The chase ended with Van Deventer's arrest in Ventura Country
four hours after it began.
here to Mouth off !
Santa Monica Mountains Park Plan Released
here to Mouth off !
Arthur E. Eck, Superintendent of the Santa
Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, announced on December
19, 2000, that the National Park Service has released the draft
General Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement. It is
the product of a cooperative effort among the National Park Service,
the California State Parks and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
After three years of study, public involvement, consultations
with local governments and public agencies, this plan describes
and analyzes five possible alternatives that might serve as an
outline for the protection and enjoyment of the Santa Monica
Mountains National Recreation Area.
The plan will be available through the Internet at: http.//www.nps.gov/
planning/samo/gmp. Copies may also be obtained by calling (805)
Five public workshops will be held the week of February 5 to
provide interested members of the public with the opportunity
to discuss the plan options. Workshop locations, directions,
and times will be posted on the Internet site identified above,
or obtained by calling the National Park Service Visitor Center
at (805) 370-2301. The nearest meeting to Topanga will be held
Monday, February 5 from 6-9 p.m. at the Calabasas/Agoura Community
Center, 2470 Malibu Hills Road. Take the Lost Hills exit.
Comments submittal deadline is February 28, 2001. Letters and
postcards should be mailed to Superintendent, Santa Monica Mountains
National Recreation Area, 401 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks,
Tree Trimming Underway
A project is underway to trim 4,973 trees
along various county streets in the Topanga area.
The work will be performed under a $178,967 contract awarded
to TruGreen LandCare of Monrovia, one of four bidders with the
highest being $283,005.
Public Works schedules the trimming work based on a five-year
maintenance cycle that coincides with growth rates of trees in
this area. Experts select trees for trimming to ensure safe and
adequate clearance for vehicles and pedestrians, to prevent damage
to private property, and to remove dead wood, weak, diseased
or broken limbs. The contractor will also remove 103 dead or
irreversibly dying trees. Public Works crews will mark all trees
involved, and the contractor will make the trimmed wood available
to homeowners for firewood before removing it. The contractor
will also recycle tree waste.
The project is expected to begin in January and finish by March
15, in time for the nesting cycle, and will not disrupt traffic
and local access.
Dean Lehman, District Engineer with the Road Maintenance Division
of DPW requested that residents with questions contact County
Senior Inspector Bennie Henderson who will be on scene in Topanga
during the course of tree trimming work. Henderson can be reached
by calling his pager: (626) 245-0139. Lehman also said that the
contractor will be working seven days a week. On weekends they
expect to get underway after 8:00 a.m.
When trimming work at each location is completed, pavement marking
dots, designating the type of work, will be painted over as well
as marking for the corresponding trees. Rosi Dagit of the Resource
Conservation District requested that the contractor's crews be
particularly careful should they encounter any bird nests. Owl,
red-tailed hawk and black-tail kites nests are located in Topanga.
With some of Topanga's narrow streets, minor traffic delays are
inevitable as tree trimming trucks and equipment are moved into
position. All crews have experienced traffic monitors prepared
to keep traffic moving when it is safe to do so.
here to Mouth off !
By Penny Taylor
The Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness
(T-CEP) had a board meeting Wednesday, January 10th. Team heads
attended along with members of the California Highway Patrol
Community Help Team and the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station.
here to Mouth off !
Everyone was encouraged that the December benefit at the Mermaid
was successful in getting much needed funds.
The new satellite paging system, trailers and team updates was
covered. Susan Alice Clark, head of the Small Animal Team is
in search of carriers to be disbursed around the canyon for emergency
evacuations and is also in need of medical supplies, such as
bandages and other first aid items. Susan can be reached at (310)
The CHP mentioned that they had been maintaining a higher profile
in the canyon in response to residents' requests and petitions
to slow down traffic in town. Unfortunately they pointed out
that almost 90% of the speeders stopped were locals.
The big ticket item was discussion of the next T-CEP drill. Residents
can look forward to a major disaster drill on January 27th. Just
what the disaster is going to be is under wraps at the moment,
but I think it's safe to say that hurricanes and tornadoes can
be eliminated. So if you see emergency service vehicles en mass
on the 27th it is (most likely) just part of the drill.
For those newcomers to the canyon, the T-CEP Hotline, activated
at the Emergency Operations Center in times of fire, flood or
earthquake, is (310) 455-3000.
Citizen, Business of Year
Every year for the past half-century
The Topanga Chamber of Commerce has been recognizing a citizen,
and more recently a business and a notable community contributor,
that have made a difference to our town. This year's gala 2001
Citizen and Business of the Year Banquet will be held at the
Topanga Community House, on Saturday night, January 27 beginning
at 7p.m. A full-course, catered dinner with wine and entertainment
is planned. Honorees will be hosted, toasted and roasted. This
year's awards are being hand crafted from crystal and generously
donated by internationally renowned Topanga glass artist Steven
V. Correia. Correia has made awards for the president of Argentina
and Tiger Woods.
Representatives from the office of Supervisor Yaroslavsky, Fran
Pavley, Brad Sherman and Sheila Kuehl will speak and, or attend
Reservations at $20 per person are being taken by phone on a
first come, first served basis. Call 310-455-0790. Your tickets
will be held at the door.
here to Mouth off !
Historical Center Opens
Beginning February 4th the Topanga Historical
Society Center will be open each Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to
1:00 p.m. and each Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located
in Pine Tree Circle Center unit 206, the Topanga Historical Society
Center contains an archive library of Topanga historical materials
and a display of 14 Topanga photographs. Arranged chronologically
and accompanied with descriptive captions, the photographic display
spans 60 years beginning with portraits of Topanga's first three
homestead families and ending with a 1949 view taken from Top
of Topanga after the snow of January 12, 1949. Copies of The
Topanga Story and Southern California's Prettiest Drive
can be purchased at the Center. For more information or to make
a special appointment, call Ami Kirby at 455-1969.
here to Mouth off !
Topanga Underground Moves to Agoura
Sherman will move his business--lock, stock and cat Muffett--to
new site in Agoura.
By Tony Morris
Dick Sherman came to Topanga in 1963 when
he worked at Rocketdyne.
In Topanga he joined forces with Carl Ingram who did grading
work and earth removal. Sherman started his first business in
1970 with Topanga Unlimited and remembers his first jobs were
"catch as catch can." One job at K-Mart involved changing
all the lights in the facility after hours.
Sherman recalls Simi Dabah who bought 46 acres from the Catholic
Church-a portion of which became the location for Topanga Unlimited.
When Dabah was cited by the L.A. County Fire Department for failure
to complete brush clearance on the property, he made a deal with
Topangan John Nordine to clear the brush. In exchange for the
work, he leased part of the property to Nordine for his grading
operation. Sherman moved his company to Nordine's yard in 1971.
Nordine died in 1975. Over the years Sherman has rented space
to Topanga Lumber, Rhodes Electric, Jim Ditzell and others.
In 1991 he changed the name of his company to Topanga Underground
and currently specializes in designing and installing septic
systems, water mains and underground utilities. With 15 employees
in the field, Sherman's operation is one of the most respected
in area. He maintains extensive computer records of all Topanga
Underground's projects with site photographs and detailed plans,
so that owners and municipal agencies have access to the data
should maintenance or repair work be required in the future.
Sherman has always been the source of information regarding the
County's requirements for septic systems and has shared his expertise
with the community whenever new code regulations are issued.
With the recent sale of the yard leased
by Topanga Underground, Sherman will be moving the operation
to Agoura Road west of Kanan Road in a few weeks. Muffett the
cat who lived at the company office on her own heated bed for
11 years, will be moving too.
To contact Dick Sherman at Topanga Underground call: (310)
455-2189. Dick has had the same number for 30 years!
Going Underground: History and Practices
The first in a series to offer the poop
on septic systems
By Richard Sherman of Topanga Underground
Septic tanks came into common use in the
late 1800s. Prior to that, some areas used cesspools (what we
call a seepage/leach pit with no septic tank), outhouses were
everywhere and some areas simply piped the sewage to the nearest
stream or other body of water. My mother tells of the drainage
ditch that ran behind all the houses on her street in a suburb
of Saint Louis. All the houses discharged their sewage directly
into the ditch. Occasionally it rained, washed it away. Then
in 1915, septic tanks were installed and only the tank discharge
(effluent) was sent to the ditch. Sewers were not installed until
the late 1920s.
Growing awareness of the causes of disease and attitudes about
public health prompted the development of public sewer systems
and treatment plants. The City of Akron, Ohio's first treatment
system consisted of a 1-million gallon septic tank which discharged
effluent directly into the Cuyahoga Rover and on into Lake Erie.
In areas where sewers were not economical to construct, septic
tanks and underground disposal of the septic tank discharge (effluent)
became the normal method of waste disposal.
In some rural areas there is so little development that there
are few building codes and few enforcement personnel. I remember
Bruce Sunkees telling us that in a small county in Montana he
built a 1,000 square foot cabin with a two-page 8 1/2" x
11" sketch and it was inspected once when it was done. The
inspector did not even look at the sewage disposal system.
In more populated areas where local wells
are the primary source of drinking water (Oregon, Washington,
Wisconsin, some counties in California and others) the codes
are far more restrictive than they are here.
here to Mouth off !
There are even areas of major cities that are still on septic
systems. There are several thousand systems in the San Fernando
Valley South of Ventura Boulevard, between Woodland Hills and
Studio City and in the Pacific Palisades. I inspected one in
Hollywood. There are even new houses being built in Woodland
Hills on septic systems today.
Calabasas rarely approves seepage pits and next door, the city
of L.A. does not allow leach fields. In states where each jurisdictions
does its own thing there is no consistency in the rules. Some
jurisdiction have the same departments both approve and inspect
the system and some are approved and inspected by different sections.
Some agencies require that any contractor installing systems
has taken a series of classes and passed a test. A special license
is then issued. This is in addition to their Contractor's license.
Other areas let any contractor, regardless of license class,
install systems. In Los Angeles County almost anyone (including
the homeowner) may install the system. This leads to a substantial
difference in how well the systems are constructed.
Oregon has a septic training center at a state college campus.
This center is a 4-acre site where all types of septic tanks
have been installed, at grade, and these are operational, with
water. All types are represented. There are several one and two
compartment conventional tanks, there are four or five secondary
treatment type systems. There are example leach trenches and
drain fields. Oregon does not use leach pits, as we do, as the
ground water levels are not deep enough to provide the required
separation between the bottom of the pit and the water table.
Current data reflects that about 1/3 of the residences in the
U.S. are on individual septic systems.