House Expansion Sought
By Michele Johnson
Does Topanga need a senior center, a teen
center? How about an enlarged home for T-CEP or a community
workout space? Could we use an arts center, a Topanga museum,
perhaps even a swimming pool? These ideas and more have floated
around Topanga for years, but always seemed pie-in-the-sky.
But tack your wish list to the wall, because the time may
soon come when some of these items could be checked off.
Spurred by a chance to tap into government funds, the Topanga
Woman's Club and T-CEP (Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness)
have initiated an effort to apply for money for a Community
House expansion. The organizations came together, joined by
representatives of the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce,
Topanga Elementary's Leadership Council, Topanga Youth Services,
the Topanga Historical Society, Topanga Online and the Messenger
to form CHIC (the Community House Improvement Committee).
If the money comes through and the feasibility studies work
out-two big "ifs"--some major changes could take
place on the 12-acre Community House property.
One objective would be to make improvements to
the existing House and grounds, but planners would like to find out
whether it is feasible to build a completely new structure that could
house space for priorities identified by the community at large.
In typical Topanga fashion, the huge ideas are only matched by the
energy of the people involved. Already, a press release is ready to
be sent out, a flyer announcing the formation of CHIC will soon circulate
the canyon, and a survey is being finalized that will be sent to every
resident of Topanga in the Woman's Club's October issue of Topanga
Thymes. Everyone will be asked to fill out the survey and return
it before November 1 so that CHIC can have a clear gauge of what the
community wants. Meanwhile, a "nitty-gritty subcommittee"
has been formed to explore the nuts and bolts of applying and to start
If things seem to be happening quickly, it's because CHIC is on a
deadline. They have until March to apply for the funds that might
be available. The precedent for receiving a governmental helping hand
is as close as Calabasas. That community received millions, which
they combined with millions more in corporate funds, to build a new
Community Center there. A field trip to the Community Center to meet
with people who made the Calabasas sites happen was made. Fred Feer
reports that their huge effort was almost 20 years in the making.
No one was saying, though, that we should duplicate the Calabasas
effort. Planners here are thinking small, just trying to put one step
in front of the other, until all the research, grant writing and polling
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON
It won't be easy. No one knows that more than
the old-timers behind the building of the Community House. The Community
House that now stands was begun in 1955 after a massive 6-year effort.
The non-profit Topanga Woman's Club was specifically formed in 1949
for the task of finding property and creating a space on it for
meetings and social functions in Topanga.
According to The Topanga Story, The Club held bake sales,
card parties and dances to raise down-payment money for the property,
then owned by Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Julian. For the Club, those solid
citizens cut the price of the property in two, asking only $6,000
for the 12-acre parcel. Then with initial donations from organizations
and many private citizens, money was raised to begin building the
facility. Thousands of volunteer man-hours later, the community
finally had its home. In July, 1958, the mortgage was paid off,
and the Topanga Woman's Club became the official keeper of the keys.
The Community House became the heart of Topanga. The Topanga Co-op
Preschool makes its home there, and the Topanga Symphony, the Nutcracker
ballet and many other events are held in the space. Soccer and baseball
enthusiasts share the ballfield. The Woman's Club fund-raisers--Topanga
Days in May and the Swap Meet and Chili Cook-off coming soon in
November--have become must-see community events. But today, our
population has tripled, and more groups than ever are clamoring
for space. The Woman's Club is under a mandate to make the House
pay for itself. This means that many nights and weekends the House
is rented out and unavailable for community needs. The teens almost
lost their after-school center at Topanga Elementary this year and
are operating there now on borrowed time. The Woman's Club generously
supports TYS (Topanga Youth Services) events and holds senior gatherings,
but there is no space at the Community House for either a permanent
Senior Citizen Center or Teen Center. The EOC is bursting at the
seams, too. Anyone who has been inside that cramped trailer knows
that something's got to give if that organization is to continue
to operate and expand.
But these are just a sample of uses for a new facility. CHIC invites
all Topangans to participate in this great venture. Committee members
want your ideas and support. Once the priorities have been identified,
the feasibility studies can start. When you receive the survey,
return it promptly if you want your ideas to go into the mix. Call
the Woman's Club at (310) 455-1980 for more information or to volunteer.
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Water System a Problem
By Tony Morris
A neighborhood meeting was held on September
14th at the home of Dieter Bruehl to discuss residents' concerns
regarding the supply of water for firefighting in the area after
a Thanksgiving 1999 fire at 21420 Summit Road. Firefighters responding
to a 911 call arrived at the scene to find that sufficient water
was not available to fight the fire effectively and the structure
could not be saved. During the meeting, county officials revealed
that water pressure in other areas of the canyon is not up to the
standard set by the county fire code.
Residents of Hillside Drive and Summit Road met with representatives
of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Waterworks District #29
and Susan Nissman, Senior Field Deputy for County Supervisor Zev
Following an investigation by the County Fire Department and Waterworks
District 29, it was determined that a section of six-inch water
main serving Summit Road had been destroyed in a 1980 landslide
when portions of the hillside dropped 60 feet. A two-inch water
line was used to connect the ends of the missing six-inch main.
Information regarding this condition was not available to Station
69 firefighters responding to the call. Firefighters had to draft
water from a hydrant on lower Hillside Drive and then pump water
uphill to the fire's location, losing critical time in the process.
According to Mark Carney, Regional Superintendent for the County
Waterworks, there are eight different pressure zones in Topanga,
each served by separate pump stations and storage tanks. There are
areas on Topanga Canyon Boulevard where water flow is 2,000 gallons
per minute more than the 1,250 required. But there are other areas
in Topanga where water pressure does not measure up to the requirement.
There are approximately 400 fire hydrants in Topanga and pressure
varies the closer the hydrants are to the pump stations and storage
Following the Summit Road fire, a new hydrant was installed on Hillside
adjacent to an existing 50,000 gallon storage tank. This hydrant
provides firefighters with a water source to fight structure fires
in the area.
The September 14th meeting provided residents an opportunity to
voice their continuing concerns regarding adequate water for fire
protection in all of Topanga. Susan Nissman provided an overview
of the history of Topanga's water system saying that Waterworks
District 29 had inherited more than 13 separate water companies
serving Topanga. To upgrade the system to meet current fire code
regulations and provide better service for Topanga it would cost
the County Waterworks $40 million dollars over the next 10 years.
With a current annual system upgrade budget of $700,000, the County
is actively seeking grant funding from other sources. Mark Carney,
Regional Superintendent of the Waterworks and Sewer Maintenance
Division for the County's Department of Public Works said that work
to upgrade the water system in Topanga involves a series of inter-connecting
water lines which serve different parts of the Canyon. Some areas
of the canyon are served by six-inch mains where eighteen-inch mains
are needed. Currently it costs $125 per linear foot to install pipe
and $1 per gallon for storage tanks, excluding land costs. Carney
says that engineers are now designing water main sections which
will eliminate existing restrictions on water flow serving Topanga.
Installation of the larger diameter pipe will commence during this
Residents at the Summit Drive meeting asked if there were any quick
"fixes" for Topanga's water system deficiencies, such
as additional water storage in the area or the rental of a pump
system which residents could operate.
County Waterworks representatives expressed doubt that such a system
would work without proper maintenance and a system operator. Susan
Nissman remarked that "re-prioritizing expenditures from a
$700,000 budget would not be easy in a public-private partnership-contracting
with an individual and a neighborhood to pump public water with
a private pump system." Nissman, a 25-year resident of the
Canyon, said that Topanga residents assume a certain degree of responsibility
living in the Canyon. "This is not Santa Monica or the Valley,"
said Nissman, who provided an overview of the issues to be discussed.
Acting Assistant Fire Chief Mike Dyer said that the County Fire
Department also has a 3,000-gallon water truck which can be dispatched
to a fire. Dyer added that the Fire Department plans to demonstrate
the use of a rigid connection to draft water from the 50,000 gallon
storage tank on Hillside. Dyer explained that this connection will
allow fire fighters to draft up to 1,000 gallons per minute.
In answer to a resident's question regarding hydrants in the Canyon
which are only used to "flush" the system, Dyer stated
that such hydrants are painted with a distinctive green color enabling
fire fighters to easily identify them in an emergency. Flush hydrants
provide 125 to 150 gallons per minute and cannot be used as a primary
water source in a structure fire. Regarding the 1993 fire in Malibu,
Susan Nissman remarked that Malibu residents in the La Costa area
agreed to the creation of an assessment district to pay for an upgrade
of water mains, from six-inch to twelve-inch. Each household was
assessed $4,000 which provided 40 percent of the system upgrade.
| Fire hydrants serving
Topanga vary in flow rate and pressure depending upon their
proximity to pump stations and storage tanks. Specific locations
in the Canyon are maintained by Station 69. Station 69 inspects
hydrants throughout the Canyon but does not test for pressure
and flow rates. Under existing fire code regulations, fire hydrants
are required to deliver 1,250 gallons per minute for two hours.
All new construction is required to meet this standard for fire
protection. Currently fire sprinklers are to be installed in
new construction in Topanga as a requirement of the Fire Prevention
Bureau of the County Fire Department.
Waterworks District 29
Pump Station Locations Serving Topanga
· Entrada at Encina
· Topanga Oaks-Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Hillside
· Topanga Forks-Inn of the Seventh Ray
· Topanga Park-Old Topanga Road at Jando
· Alpine Trail-Alpine Trail off Fernwood Pacific Drive
· Owen Pumping Station-Tuna Canyon and Saddle Peak
· Girard Pump Station-San Feliciano Road & Mulholland-Woodland
· Topanga Beach-Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Pacific
With all new construction, owners are also required to obtain a pressure
and flow test for all fire hydrants within 300 feet of their property.
Waterworks District 29 performs such tests and the information is
provided to the Fire Prevention Bureau.
While District 29 water system upgrades continue, Topangans prepare
for the inevitable emergencies of flood, earthquake and fire.
With Topanga's beauty and tranquility comes a degree of responsibility
not shared by those who live in the "flatlands." In providing
for emergency preparedness, Topangans can look to the work of T-CEP,
DRT and the Arson Watch. But in the end, responsibility for fire preparedness--whether
clearing our brush or pushing our representatives to continue their
efforts to make us firesafe--rests with each of us.
Click here to Mouth off !
Kuehl Comes to the Canyon
By Michele Johnson
Sheila Kuehl, our representative to the California
State Assembly since 1994, will make a rare visit to Topanga to
host a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, October 12, from 6:30 to 9:30
p.m. at Topanga Elementary School. Kuehl, now running for the California
State Senate seat being vacated by Tom Hayden, has been an extremely
active legislator. She served as California's first woman Speaker
Pro-Tem and has had over 50 bills signed into legislation. Among
other causes, she's pushed for laws to preserve the Santa Monica
Mountains, enact a Patient's Bill of Rights, protect students from
discrimination, reform the state's child support system and combat
She'll come ready to tackle any and all of the subjects that are
important to our community. The first part of the meeting will be
open to all topics. During the latter half, Kuehl will join with
Caltrans and CHP officials to tackle the controversial subject of
safety on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Tops on the agenda for some will be the push being made by businesses
and private citizens to enact a 25-m.p.h. speed limit for the area
of Topanga Canyon Boulevard extending from the top of the S-curves
to Topanga Elementary. Also, when are left turns the right thing
to do? Does the new Pine Tree Circle call for new traffic remedies,
including a traffic light? Kuehl was involved last year in a study
delving into what the future holds for PCH. What conclusions were
Will new state regulations on septic systems soon make it impossible
for the average person to afford to live in Topanga? Can we look
to state-backed subsidies of new septic technologies to help?
What about state funding for new Santa Monica Mountains parkland
acquisitions, including the L. A. Athletic Club land at the mouth
of the Canyon? And can we hope that Topanga State Park could receive
an operating budget that will permit expanded services and upkeep
and provide money to clear brush from parkland near homes?
What larger-ranging issues are important to us? Do we want handguns
licensed, or not? What are our educational priorities?
All are invited to bring their questions and comments to Sheila
Kuehl on October 12. Turn out, Topanga, and take a part in the democratic
here to Mouth off!
Woodland Ordinance Tabled
By Michele Johnson
Under tremendous pressure from homeowners and
developers, at a September 27th meeting, the Regional Planning Commission
voted to take the Woodland or Protected Tree Ordinance off its calendar
until it could be reviewed and revised.
The motion was made by Hal Helsley, recently appointed to the Commission
by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to the seat vacated by Esther Feldman.
The vote was unanimous, with three of the five commissioners present
and voting. The plan now, said Annie Lin, acting senior Regional
Planning assistant, is to spend the next eight or nine months holding
public workshops and exploring all options to revise the ordinance.
Lin reported that the commissioners said, though they are in theory
"generally supportive of the idea of protecting native vegetation,"
they believe the ordinance is too complex and "placed too much
of a burden on single family homeowners."
According to Lin, in rewriting the ordinance, the goal will be to
simplify it, and "perhaps focus on specific areasLet's review
whether one size fits all for the whole county." The current
ordinance, too, she said, has been criticized as unenforceable because
of its complexity and unnecessarily harsh punitive measures for
individual homeowners. She said one solution may be to adopt "a
more incremental approach," which would place the burden more
fairly on those who plan the most destruction of habitat.
"Everyone seems very open to the idea of revisiting the ordinance,"
she concluded. When asked when and where meetings would be held,
she replied, "I don't know exactly how many or when, but obviously,
it's a huge issue in the Santa Monica Mountains."
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Unlicensed Teen Driver Injures Topanga Couple
By Tony Morris
The California Highway Patrol reported the details
of a two car collision in the 600 block of Fernwood Pacific Drive
on Sunday, September 24th. According to the CHP, an unlicensed 15-year-old
female driver was traveling up Fernwood, lost control of a 1998
Jeep Cherokee, crossed the center line and struck a 1997 Ford F150
pickup traveling down Fernwood. The Ford was forced off the road
and down an embankment where the vehicle was stopped by a tree before
striking the side of the residence at 632 Fernwood. The owner of
the residence said that this was the third major vehicle accident
at the location. Once a car ended up in her bedroom, she reported.
The location, a sharp curve on a steep hillside, has no guardrail
to prevent vehicles from leaving the roadway.
Topanga resident Logan Riese, his wife Elizabeth, who is 25 weeks
pregnant, and the 15-year-old driver were transported by AMR ambulance
to Santa Monica Hospital. All of the accident victims have since
been released. Elizabeth Riese will continue to be monitored until
the birth of her baby.
According to the CHP, the unlicensed driver over-reacted while rounding
a sharp curve on Fernwood and lost control of the vehicle.
Fernwood residents continue to report motorists speeding through
the area and with speed comes the probability of serious accidents.
Valerie Kirkegaard reported that her three-year-old Labrador retriever
was struck and seriously injured on Fernwood the same day as the
two-car collision. Kirkegaard has contacted the Department of Public
Works about the feasibility of lowering the speed limit on Fernwood.
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Puck Passes On
By Bonnie McCourt
It is with deep sadness that we report the passing
of Puck-our intrepid three-legged puppy-dog reporter-of massive
heart failure on Thursday, September 28. He was 5 years old.
Puck was well known throughout the Canyon for
his indomitable spirit, and even after being immortalized in the
book, SAFE HAVEN, published last year, he retained his common touch,
frequently visiting the Messenger offices with his beloved
human, Penny Taylor. He will be sorely missed.
Please submit reminiscences to the Messenger.
here to Mouth off!
By Michele Johnson
T-CEP (Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness)
is on the move once again. The T-CEP board met on September 13,
flush with almost universal praise for the pamphlet "Evacuating
Topanga: Risks, Choices and Responsibilities," written by Fred
Feer and mailed to everyone's home in July. Now the group is embarking
on exciting new challenges.
T-CEP is seeking a new home for its EOC (Emergency Operations Center)
on the grounds of the Community House. In conjunction with the Topanga
Woman's Club they will go after public money to expand the facilities
there. [See article this issue on CHIC (Community House Improvement
SCHOOL SAFETY AT ISSUE
Pat Mac Neil reported that T-CEP leaders met
with Topanga Elementary principal Eileen Goodman to promote emergency
preparedness at Topanga Elementary. Parents have long been concerned
that the school has been holding an insufficient number of fire
drills and does not have a comprehensive emergency plan.
Fred Feer, Pat Mac Neil, Allen Emerson, and Sabina Stork went over
use of the radios donated to the school for interoffice communication,
and stressed the importance of drills and the general preparedness
of the school with Goodman. An ongoing preparedness committee was
set up, chaired by Sabina Stork. Mac Neil seemed concerned by the
lack of readiness. "I stressed that parents have to be involved
and they really need to have drills," said Mac Neil. She also
recommended that teachers take CPR and first aid. Goodman agreed
to step up efforts to get out the word to parents on emergency preparedness
and to hold the necessary drills.
In related news, Fred Feer is continuing to look into developing
a wildfire curriculum multi-media CD-ROM for use in K-5 elementary
school classrooms-not just in Topanga, but wherever wildfires are
a threat. First question to be answered: Is there really a need
for such a tool? Feer will meet with representatives from the national
park service, the Resource Conservation District and L. A. Unified
to resolve that question.
PUTTING THE "FUN" IN FUNDRAISER
T-CEP will hold a fundraiser this fall, but
it won't be a concert as originally planned. Instead, T-CEP will
host a dance at the Community House on November 4. So spit shine
on those dancing shoes and that wallet.
NEW PET PERSON
That Veterinarian Medical Assistant with the
charming Scottish brogue, Susan Clark, is T-CEP's newest Chair of
PET, (Pet Emergency Team). She wants to form an Animal Disaster
Committee and create teams in transportation, equipment, shelter,
recovery sites and education. Clark also plans to give animal first
aid training. Anyone interested in volunteering for PET can call
T-CEP at (310) 455-3000.
RED CROSS NEEDS CPR
The Los Angeles chapter of the American Red
Cross has been going through big changes that has left it in disarray.
Thirteen people, including three from the Disaster Services area,
were let go recently. This resulted in serious morale problems that
have caused other highly valued workers to move on. "There
is a huge void in Disaster Services in Los Angeles," reported
Mac Neil, who also works as a Red Cross volunteer herself.
SPRAY YOUR WAY TO SAFETY
Manfred Schlosser reported that, spurred on
by Feer's evacuation study, the Architects and Engineers committee
has looked into products that homeowners can spray or roll on their
wood decks to act as fire retardants. They have found three, Flamort,
Vitricon and Vesticolor, that have been advertised as having an
"A" fireproof rating by the National Fire Protection Association.
EXPANDING RADIO WAVES
Fred Feer said the community should push Caltrans
to expand the new radio service that reports on traffic and road
closures on PCH to cover Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Malibu Canyon
Road and Kanan Dune Road. The problem is, Feer says, "Caltrans
has no enthusiasm for expanding to north-south roads." Feer
said he is writing "a very strong letter to [Congressman Brad]
Sherman to say it's idiotic not to do this." He believes Old
Topanga Road should be included in the radio transmittal area, too.
The city of Malibu is putting up $40,000 to make it happen on their
north-south roads, and so, Feer said, "We need to find out
more and we need to weigh in as Topanga noisemakers."
MERLIN A MAGICAL MASCOT
Pat Mac Neil also reported that Merlin, a whimsical
owl designed by local artist Stu Moscowitz and based on a real-life
screech owl, will be T-CEP's new mascot. He will be seen in each
of the T-CEP newsletters, which will be mailed throughout the canyon
several times a year, spouting words of wisdom.
here to Mouth off!
Slow Down Thru Town on
By Tony Morris
The organizers of an ad hoc citizens
group , Slow Down Thru Town, met with representatives of Caltrans,
the California Highway Patrol and Topanga business owners at Café
Mimosa on September 20th to discuss the group's major concerns for
Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Ned Landin, Phyllis Persechini and Arlette Morgan, organizers of
the effort to provide a main street safe for all, invited Caltrans
Senior Transportation Engineer, Sheik Moinuddin and Testsuo Kohama,
Caltrans Transportation Engineer, to hear the group's priorities
and discuss Caltrans' proposed traffic improvements for the Boulevard.
Laurie Newman, Senior Field Deputy for Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl,
Susan Nissman, Senior Field Deputy for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky,
Deputy Kevin Pack and Sergeant Gil Torres of the California Highway
Patrol, participated in the well attended meeting and discussion.
Caltrans' Sheik Moinuddin reviewed proposed traffic improvements
saying that Caltrans' had a responsibility to provide safe driving
conditions. Moinuddin emphasized that the Boulevard has too many
entrances and exits which distract drivers going through the center
As for a final decision regarding Caltrans' proposed improvements
Moinuddin said, "It is a matter of what you can buy and what
we can buy." A town meeting to be held at Topanga Elementary
School on October 12th will provide an opportunity for the Topanga
community to discuss Caltrans proposals, ask questions and learn
about the effort to lower the speed limit to 25 in the heart of
Deputy Kevin Pack, a member of the CHP's newly appointed C.O.P.S
(Community Oriented Policing) team said that he will serve as the
liaison between the CHP and Topanga. Pack went on to describe how
his hometown, Angel's Camp, was successful in having the speed limit
lowered through the center of town. Pack stressed that designating
a "business district" along a portion of the Boulevard
would aid in securing a lower speed limit. Pack also explained the
85th percentile method by which Caltrans determines the speed limit
on state highways. Following a traffic speed survey, Caltrans sets
the speed limit to reflect the speed of 85 percent of all motorists
using the highway. Caltrans , however, also bases speed limits on
statistics which include accidents and "mileage death rates."
Topanga's accident and death rates for the past three years are
low in comparison to other state routes.
Meeting participants discussed the necessity for left turns in and
out of businesses along the Boulevard. Susan Nissman stressed that
Caltrans' proposal to limit left turns from Fernwood Pacific onto
Lookout Trail would not be accepted by the community, as it would
create a traffic problem on Fernwood and would prevent residents
from entering the Boulevard to go north. Business owners present
at the meeting voiced strong opposition to limiting left turns,
saying, "This would put us out of business."
When asked what the timetable for implementation of the proposed
improvements would be meeting participants were told by Caltrans'
Moinuddin that there are safety issues along the Boulevard which
cannot be ignored. Moinuddin stressed, "We can't wait forever
for community input."
On Monday September 25th Slow Down Thru Town organizers met with
Phyllis Persechini informed those at the meeting that the Topanga
Chamber of Commerce has agreed to pay for "Welcome To Topanga"
signs should Caltrans lower the speed limit to 25. "My impression
is that he [Moinuddin] is really reconciled to the 25," she
Ned Landin said that Caltrans Moinuddin would visit Topanga prior
to the October 12th Town Meeting in order to inspect locations of
Caltrans proposed traffic improvements.
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Kudos, Criticism Mark Watershed
By Susan Chasen
The Topanga Watershed Committee's September
14 meeting was a study in contrasts that perhaps shows how wide-ranging
and influential the two-year old committee has become.
On the one hand was the news of unprecedented success with the committee's
student-initiated, creek clean-up effort that culminated a few weeks
ago in the spectacular helicopter airlift of 20 wrecked cars.
And on the other was bitter criticism of the Watershed Committee
over its involvement or lack of open involvement in the controversial
Woodlands Protection Ordinance.
"The Watershed Committee seems to be doing good things for
this canyon," said Dorothy Reik, who strongly defended the
committee and its coordinator Rosi Dagit.
"I see crisis looming here," said Reik. "I think
we should all be very grateful to Rosi."
Dagit, an arborist and a conservation biologist with the Resource
Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, has been a
driving force behind a host of inspiring environmental protection
and education efforts in the canyon, but has faced criticism lately
over her role as technical advisor on the draft Woodlands Protection
Ordinance which some believe is overly burdensome for individual
"It's not a personality issue. It's a procedural issue,"
said David Totheroh of the Topanga Firesafe Committee, who explained
why he believed the Woodlands Ordinance should have been reviewed
openly by the committee.
According to Totheroh, the fact that Dagit was
so involved gave her a "moral" responsibility of sorts
to inform the committee regarding the ordinance whether or not it
should have been considered specifically as a watershed issue and
whether or not it might have generated opposition. "There is
a concern that the structure of this committee and the purpose of
this committee is veering from its initial purpose," said Totheroh.
The big question, according to Totheroh, is whether it is proper
for the committee to be involved in regulatory issues.
Others among the 20 who attended the meeting countered that they
didn't view the Woodlands Ordinance as a watershed issue. At most
it would be a peripheral issue, said Phil Chandler.
Marti Witter defended the openness of the committee as a place where
any issue can be raised if it is a concern to members of the community.
At one point Dagit read the committee's mission statement to see
if it shed any light on the questions regarding involvement in regulatory
concerns. The statement focuses on the development of a voluntary
watershed management plan with the implication that it provide an
alternative to a regulatory approach.
"The Watershed Committee has never made a stand on any ordinance
at any time," said Dagit.
So the question remained whether the "voluntary" wording
should suggest opposition by the committee to new regulations or
suggest participation in order to make them reward voluntary effort
and avoid new hardships for individual property owners. Similarly
the question of whether issues not expressly related to the watershed
are suitable for discussion or possible action.
Ultimately, it was decided to put the matter of involvement in regulatory
efforts and review of the mission statement on the agenda for the
next committee meeting November 18.
Also, the structure of the committee will be reviewed at the next
meeting. Other items will include the Woodlands Ordinance and a
report on the September 30 Topanga Tomorrow workshop.
Currently, the Woodlands Ordinance which had been slated for a consent
vote September 27 is expected to be pulled from the Regional Planning
Commission calendar to allow review by the commission's two new
Dagit advised that concerned Topangans write letters urging that
public comment be re-opened on the measure.
As for the structure of the Watershed Committee, Reik suggested
that a steering committee was needed to take some of the burden
off of Dagit.
At that, Dagit acknowledged, "It's been quite a bit of work."
BASKING IN THE AFTERGLOW
Despite the simmering controversy, the afterglow
of the Topanga Creek car removals endured. Dagit is calling for
Topangans who remember stories about these cars, such as one involving
a rescue from the Checker cab found among the wrecks, to call her.
According to Dagit, two of the cars had been in accidents and two
were stolen. With the stolen cars, she said insurance companies
are technically responsible for retrieval costs and so might be
happy to make donations to the Watershed Committee instead.
The airlift was the result of a $13,200 grant from the Urban Streams
Restoration Project which ultimately attracted more than 125 volunteers
over several weekends.
"It was incredible," said Dagit. "And we didn't give
out one band-aid."
Also, Dagit noted the spotting of a third steelhead trout, 16"
long and witnessed by many, including a surprised representative
of the Fish and Game Department.
"The wildlife down there is particularly abundant," reported
Dagit. Unfortunately, so is graffiti, she added.
For volunteer Dennis King, getting the job done in a truly cooperative
spirit without any "bosses" made all the difference.
"Everybody just pitched in and did what was necessary. That's
what we want," said King.
Several inquired about creating a trail down from the S-curves to
the creek, but practical considerations make it unlikely. Parks,
highway patrol officials and others pointed out that the access
point is actually a no-parking area and that such a trail would
inevitably wash out during rains.
Other items covered at the meeting included concern about a section
of lower Topanga Canyon Boulevard which is likely to be undermined
in heavy rains if Caltrans doesn't repair rip-rap reinforcements,
and anticipated legal action by residents of Lower Topanga Canyon
over threatened relocations and the proposed acquisition of the
area for parkland.
Dagit also reported on the status of several grants relating to
the Topanga watershed including two totaling nearly $250,000 that
examine hydrology and sediment factors affecting prospects for a
future restoration of the lagoon at Topanga Beach.
The question, according to Dagit, is: "What kind of restored
lagoon is appropriate now?"
She explained that with possible involvement of the two-to-four-acre
Topanga beach parking area and an eventual renovation of the Pacific
Coast Highway bridge across Topanga Creek, these studies will be
"We better have some seriously defendable plans," said
Dagit said she will know in January if funding for a steelhead trout
habitat study will be awarded.
After the meeting, Dagit responded to criticisms of the Watershed
Committee with confidence that there is widespread support for the
committee and that its educational and volunteer-based approach
"People are paying attention to what they're doing because
they don't want to pollute the creek," said Dagit. "People
are really clear about this.
"The 129 volunteers for the creek cleanup tells you a lot about
what they want. It speaks volumes."
here to Mouth off!
Are You Ready for Haunted
By Chryssa Lightheart
You need a shot of inspiration and enthusiasm?
Then Thursday mornings at Pat's Topanga Grill is where you will
find a circle of buzzing mothers and occasional fathers describing
the week's new developments in organizing one of the children's
most anticipated event. Another dynamic planning committee is in
place for the Topanga Elementary's annual Halloween Carnival.
Recurring faces and fresh talent will guarantee a new friend by
carnival night. Pat Lester and Cynthia Scott are heading the decorating
committee for the auditorium. Pat's commitment and enthusiasm had
this year's theme in the works the day after last year's carnival--Haunted
Topanga. Be looking for "Ghost & Canyon." Linda Hinrichs
and Randy Just's untiring love of this community and its children
provide the many fun games. Christine Rocco is heading up the food.
Gee, I wonder what we will be having for dinner? Yes, the best pizza
in the whole wide world. Roccos will be there as well as hot dogs,
corn on the cob, and Caesar salad. Sandy Savas, Nancy Rosenfeld,
TEP Prez Jo Barry, Virginia, Kim, Lucy, Lauren, Alexa grace the
meeting table with their willingness to serve our community and
offer wonderful suggestions to make this year's carnival the best
yet. Jodi Marcil's graphics set the tone with her artwork and Stu
Moskowitz will be adding to our collection of signs you will find
along the Boulevard.
We are continuing with the winning ingredients of last year. Allen
Boiven's band will be playing on stage atop Topanga Hauling's truck
to keep up 'rockin' into the night. There will be a guest appearance
of the teen band Eraserhead who was such a hit at Topanga Days.
All members are alumni of the school. Melanie Kareem's dance troupe
will perform alluring dances of the 'far and away.' The new Game
House on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills will be found on stage
in the auditorium, bringing the card game Magic and War Hammer 40,000.
Karen Dannenbaum is planning the Cake Walk. And the jail, always
a big hit, will be available for all those who want to lock up their
favorite ... ?
After years of the eerie Black Hole, this memorable attraction will
be put to rest. But no fear, in its place will be two new attractions,
an Obstacle Course and a Racing Slide. The Rock Climber and Bouncer
will also be making their comeback.
The staffing of this year's carnival will change from previous years.
Every classroom will be assigned a booth to setup, staff, tear down
and put away. What an opportunity for Mom and Dad to work side by
side with the parents of their kid's classmates. And kids will know
where you will be hanging out. Other areas of service, for example,
food and drink table, prizes, ticket booth will also be scheduled
so that each classroom will be responsible for a certain time frame.
Your kids love seeing you involved and take great pride in your
There is so much excitement planned we can't keep it all to ourselves.
Please, please, please, invite all your friends and family from
outside the canyon to help us celebrate this wild and crazy night.
Have them experience one of the reasons we all love Topanga so much,
the outpouring of community spirit. It is good clean, safe, affordable
fun for everyone. So party on.
And talking about community spirit, we are pleased to announce the
Topanga Real Estate Broker's Coop is sponsoring this year's event.
Coast & Canyon, Coldwell Banker, Fred Sands, Malibu Realty,
Prudential, John Aaroe and Topanga Properties have each contributed
to offset the expenses of the carnival. Local realtors know a healthy
school system makes the job of selling your property easier. The
proceeds of the event go to Topanga Enrichment Programs which pay
for our PE program, art, computers, needed supplies and more.
With four weeks of planning left there will be plenty of surprises.
But you will have to come to our meetings to find out more. Please
call me, Chryssa Lightheart at (310) 455-0300 and/or come to our
meetings right after drop-off on Thursday mornings for a cuppa coffee.
The Halloween Carnival is Saturday 4-9 p.m. on October 28 at the
Upper Playground. The cost is $3.00 per person. Kids 2 and under
are free. Remember to invite your family and friends out of the
canyon to join us. See you there.
here to Mouth off!
Scary Night Planned by
By Paulette Messenheimer
Twenty-two teens are jamming in music, art,
and sketch comedy workshops after school in the Club Room for teenagers
6th grade through 16 years old. Noel Rhodes has been gearing them
up for Mothrocity, a fundraising performance variety show on Friday,
November 7 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. There will also be contests and games.
Stop by and see the new arrangements in Bungalow 22 at the Elementary
School upper yard. Linda Rodde is also working there on Thursdays
with art, games and discussion groups. The Yoga for High School
Girls meets on Thursdays at 5-5:45 p.m. with instructor, Karen Shields.
We also have a new computer donated by Toyota Sales. Thanks Donna
Falcon! But First, all are invited to a Scary Nite at the Community
House, in October on Friday the 13th! The space there is donated
by the hard-working Community House members. Bring a pillow, firewood
and scary stories, and be ready to watch a video-"Young Frankenstein"
anyone? Scooters and skateboards outside, weather permitting from
6:30-7:15 p.m., and the rest of the evening will be inside! A $2.00
donation and money for snacks gets you in for a night of fun with
here to Mouth off!