Top News

The Creek Comes Clean

By Woody Hastings

"Fogged in? Fogged in? You've got to be kidding!" was the response from most folks on what was, in Topanga, a brilliant cloudless morning with a crisp blue sky and barely a breeze on Saturday, September 9. The disappointment was palpable since this was the big day--the day that many Topangans, especially Topanga kids, had looked forward to for a long time--and what was fogged in was the Sikorsky S-58 sky-crane helicopter, based out in Corona, that was expected to whirl into the Canyon at 9 a.m. sharp. The mission? Hoist 20 wrecked vehicles, and nearly as many debris piles that had been loaded into cargo nets, from the most inaccessible section of Topanga Creek, below the S-bends. . .

 VOL.24 NO. 19
September 21 - October 4, 2000



Photos by Katie Dalsemer

. . .It didn't take long for the well-planned operation to hit a steady rhythm. Each time the chopper skillfully maneuvered itself into position, the ground crews carefully attached the cable to the wrecks, while communications between ground crew and helicopter were maintained via walkie-talkie. No sooner were the wrecks deposited at the drop zone along Topanga Canyon Boulevard, than a hauling crew would load them up and whisk them up-canyon to the Resource Conservation District lot for inspection by California Highway Patrol specialists who checked the vehicle ID numbers to determine whether vehicles had been stolen or had been involved in other crimes. What is known at this point is that two of the cars were indeed listed as stolen and were likely dumped by the joy-riders, two of the vehicles were involved in reported accidents, and three others are still under investigation. The rest were too old to still have legible Vehicle Identification Numbers numbers.

Ken Widen shovelin' it...

"The whole thing went great," said Dick Sherman of Topanga Underground, who donated trucks, crew, and expertise to the operation. "It was amazingly well orchestrated," agreed Margo Murman of the Resource Conservation District, who helped handle the television crews that showed up to cover the unusual news. "We lost power briefly in the office when the power pole was hit but that was about it," she explained, when asked if there were any problems.

A Good Day's Work Done.

As it turned out, the two biggest snafus of the day were when one heavy load became detached and dropped about eight feet to the ground shortly after being lifted from the stream bed. No one was injured, the load was lightened, reattached and that was that. The other, the one that caused the power problem, came near the end of the operation when a breeze came up and caused a load to swing into the guy-wire of a power pole. The power did go out briefly in some parts of the Canyon and Highway 27 was shut down for a while with a "sigalert. . ."

See the current newsstand edition of the Messenger for the full story

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Topangans Take Back Our Main Street

By Tony Morris

Organizers of the campaign to lower the speed limit through the heart of Topanga announced that they have received more than 1,500 signatures. Speaking for the ad hoc committee "Slow Down Thru Town," Arlette Morgan, owner of the Cafe Mimosa said that the committee has contacted the Topanga Town Council, TASC (Topanga Association for a Scenic Community) and the Topanga Chamber of Commerce. Morgan said, "There has been tremendous support from the community, and Caltrans has agreed to meet the committee to discuss our concerns."
Phyllis Persechini, a member of the ad hoc committee, reported that a statement of purpose and "manifesto" has been drafted which clarifies the committee's position on the critical need to reduce speed through the center of town. Persechini said the committee welcomes donations and assistance in getting the word out to residents. A bumper sticker, clearly stating the message of the committee (see headline for the real thing) has been designed and will soon be available.

Those interested in supporting the committee's work can send donations to: Slow Down Thru Town/Phyllis Persechini , P.O. Box 618, Topanga CA 90290. For further information call (310) 455-7876 and leave your name and number.


For more about the "Slow Down Thru Town" campaign, click here

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Helsley in at Regional Planning

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has appointed Calabasas area community leader Hal Helsley to the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission. "The protection of the Santa Monica Mountains, other County environmental resources and the integrity of Los Angeles County's planning process are among my highest priorities as Supervisor," Yaroslavsky said.

Helsley succeeds environmental consultant Esther Feldman who resigned to devote more time to her firm's various park-related projects in Los Angeles County. Helsley, a longtime public school science and technology teacher and counselor, is a 30-year resident of the unincorporated community of Cold Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains. He served on the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District Board of Directors for some 20 years, championing many environmental and conservation initiatives. Additionally, he chaired the Policy Committee for the Ventura Freeway Corridor Areawide Plan, which led to the Santa Monica Mountains North Area Plan. He also served as Vice Chair for the Los Angeles County Mulholland Scenic Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee.

He is married to Nancy Helsley, currently Board President of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM).

Duties of the five-member Regional Planning Commission include preparing and implementing the General Plan, hearing development applications and undertaking actions including the administration of specific plans and zoning and subdivision ordinances in the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County.

Helsley will be one of the five commissioners voting on whether to adopt, deny or postpone the controversial Woodland or Protected Tree Ordinance on September 27.

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Lost That Article? Just Log On

By Penny Taylor

"What do you think about what they said about the zoning ordinance?" He looked at my blank face. "In the Messenger," he prompted. "You do read the paper, don't you?"

Okay, I admit, at that point in time I'd been a LIT-tle busy. I was juggling four jobs, the dog and the carzzzz. It was time to catch up on life in Topanga; feel the pulse of the Canyon. Chances are your life is no different from mine, except you've got four kids, car pools, six meetings, a business trip and the septic tank has died. You do love living in the country, but you've discovered that roosters don't crow at dawn, they start at 2 a.m. So as a special favor to me--okay, they were going to do it anyway--the Messenger has started archiving its news stories on

No more going down to the Messenger office and searching through piles of old papers to find out what Dick Sherman and Rosi Dagit have to say about keeping up with our septic systems. You simply go online and check out past issues of the Messenger. The globe-shaped icon to look for is practically center on the index page and it says "Topanga Messenger News Archives." Click on the volumes on the left and a list of available articles from each issue will appear, or put in key words and Google will come up with articles in the paper that contain those words. (Don't ask--I have no idea what a "google" is.)

So if someone comes up and asks what you think of a pertinent issue you may be momentarily in the dark, but you don't have to stay that way. And now there's a way to ferret out specific subjects that interest you. The Messenger will also be adding sound clips to the website. And not to forget our animal friends, we'll soon be adding an online section so you can post pictures of missing pets. So keep up to date with We're evolving as fast as the world around us.

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Radio Waves Along PCH

By Tony Morris

Congressman Brad Sherman, members of the Malibu City Council, Caltrans officials, local law enforcement and fire department officers announced a plan by the City of Malibu and Caltrans to establish a radio station to broadcast messages with up-to-date traffic and emergency road information along Pacific Coast Highway.

The station will broadcast throughout western Los Angeles County, including the West San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica. Motorists outside the station's service area will be able to access the station's message by phone at (310) 456-9982. Information on road conditions along PCH will be updated periodically. The Topanga community will be able to access information on the radio by the summer of 2001.

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Another Link in the Chain of Trails

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky recently announced a $90,000 County grant to the non-profit Mountains Restoration Trust toward the purchase of a 3.14-acre parcel near Mulholland Highway and Las Virgenes Road for wildlife and oak woodland habitat conservation, and to retain a vital link in the County's Master Trail Plan.

"Acquiring this property will protect a vital east-west wildlife corridor between Topanga State Park and Malibu Creek State Park," Yaroslavsky said. "It will also help us preserve the Soka University Connector Trail on the parcel's eastern boundary, a key part of our trail system east of Las Virgenes," he added.

Mountains Restoration Trust President Steve Harris praised the Board action, saying, "When the public and private sectors join together in partnership, so much can be accomplished to protect and preserve natural resources."

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Rocco's Turns 20


Roccos' extended "family" celebrates 20 years of eating the best Italian food to Topanga.

From left to right, the adults: Eva, Frank, Frank's nephew Ryan Schweers, Marlene, Kristina Rocco Levy, Jed Levy, Eve Otaola (Marlene's sister) and the kids: Lorenzo Levy, Emiliano Zapata and Chaise Levy.

Talkin' Trash

By Yedvart Tchakerian

The adopt-a-highway program does not allow sponsoring parties to clean up the S-curves on the Boulevard, as they deem this area too dangerous. Caltrans is responsible for the cleanup in this kind of area, but they never seem to get around to it.

A caring Topanga citizen, Chryssa Lightheart at Coast and Canyon Realty, took it upon herself to solve this problem. She hired some folks to go out and pick up all the trash that had accumulated along this section of the road.
Thank you, Chryssa. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.



Off the Road, Again

By Tony Morris

A teenager motorcyclist riding through the Canyon on the evening of Wednesday, September 6, was involved in an accident near the intersection of Entrada and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

According to the California Highway Patrol, three motorcyclists from California City were seen passing a vehicle by the rug store, apparently exceeding the speed limit for the area. While braking to slow for traffic one motorcyclist lost control, went down and slid off the roadway. Three California Highway Patrol Units--Squad 68 from Calabasas, Engine 69 and Patrol 69--responded to the accident. The 18-year-old victim, Derek R. Bayne, was transported by ambulance to Northridge Medical Center for treatment of a suspected shoulder fracture.



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