Top News

Community 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.

 VOL.24 NO. 20
October 5 - 18 2000


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 feasibility studies.

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 is done.


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 for Firefighters

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 Yaroslavsky.

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 tanks.

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 fiscal year.

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 Drive
· 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 Road
· Girard Pump Station-San Feliciano Road & Mulholland-Woodland Hills
· Topanga Beach-Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Pacific Coast Highway

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.

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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 domestic violence.

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 made?

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 process.

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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.

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T-CEP Plans

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 Committee)].


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.

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Slow Down Thru Town on Fast Track

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 of town.

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 town.

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 business owners.
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 reported.

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 Meeting

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 homeowners.

"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 members.

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."


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 critical.

"We better have some seriously defendable plans," said Dagit.

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 is working.

"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."

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Are You Ready for Haunted Topanga?

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 participation.

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.

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Scary Night Planned by Teens

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 friends.

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