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.
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'
"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
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
here to Mouth off !
Topangans Take Back Our
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
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 to Mouth off about this
Helsley in at Regional
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,"
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
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.
here to Mouth off!
Lost That Article? Just
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,
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 topangamessenger.com.
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 topangamessenger.com We're evolving
as fast as the world around us.
here to Mouth off!
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.
here to Mouth off!
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
here to Mouth off!
Rocco's Turns 20
| PHOTOS BY KATIE DALSEMER
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.
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
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