June 4, 2020

Topanga Canyon Boulevard Roadside Committee Wins Caltrans Award



Topanga Canyon Boulevard Roadside Committee Wins Caltrans Award

Formed in 2013, members of the Topanga Canyon Boulevard Roadside Committee (TCBRC) include (front row, l-r) Rosi Dagit, Sr. Biologist, Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains; Tim Pershing, Deputy to Assemblymember Richard Bloom; Beth Burnam, North Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council; Joseph Rosendo, Topanga Chamber of Commerce and Lauren Wonder, Public Affairs, Caltrans. (Back row, l-r) Kevin Johnson, Los Angeles County Fire Department; Rudy Camacho, Maintenance, Caltrans; Ed Siribohdi, Landscape Architect, Caltrans; Roger Pugliese, Topanga Association for a Scenic Community; Ben Allanoff, Topanga Creek Watershed Committee (TCWC); Carrie Lovelace Carrier, TCWC; Timothy Lippman, Senior Deputy to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Susan Nissman, Co-chair TCBRC and former Senior Deputy to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Patrick Chandler, Caltrans; and Fiona Nagle, Environmental Planner, Caltrans.

The Topanga Canyon Boulevard Roadside Committee (TCBRC) has won a statewide 2015 Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Award in the category of Maintenance—Operations or Equipment.

To celebrate, Caltrans held an awards ceremony on January 13 at the Topanga Library where TCBRC members received individual citations.

According to Lauren Wonder, spokeswoman for Caltrans, the committee developed best management practices and a work plan for road maintenance on Topanga Canyon Boulevard (SR-27) that are sustainable, innovative, environmentally sound and sensitive to community needs.

In 2012, Caltrans Maintenance was found using herbicides along SR-27 in contrast to its previous practice of manual-only clearing. Topanga residents discovered the practice and protested to Caltrans and elected officials.

At the request of Maintenance's Deputy Director, a roundtable was formed in 2013 to find alternative methods for vegetation management that could be implemented in a public/private partnership with Caltrans, community groups, other agencies and elected officials.

Thus, the ad-hoc Topanga Canyon Boulevard Roadside Committee was formed to address the issue.

According to the Caltrans awards committee, the resulting Topanga Canyon Boulevard (SR-27) Vegetation Management Plan exemplifies Caltrans’ core values of integrity, commitment, teamwork and innovation.

“This award is an enormous acknowledgement from Caltrans of how local communities and their local government can collaborate and produce pro-active solutions that benefit all, without sacrificing fire safety or the natural environment,” said Susan Nissman, former Senior Deputy to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “I want to specifically call out Daniel Friedman of Caltrans, who has retired (like me!), for taking the chance and believing we could work together, as well as all those at Caltrans who have continued to carry the mission forward!”

The management plan involved several agencies including Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning; the Office of Senator Fran Pavley; Caltrans District 7, Division of Public Affairs and Caltrans District 7, Division of Maintenance.

“What started out as an adversarial relationship three years ago to where we are today is quite amazing,” said Roger Pugliese,Chair of the Topanga Association for a Scenic Community (TASC). “I am proud of the work we have done and how we as a community came together with Caltrans for the good of all. Over the time we worked together, [we found] compromise and agreement and developed a trust. TASC was proud to receive the award and be a part of the process.”

Other Topanga members of the TCBRC weighed in, demonstrating their firm commitment to keeping Topanga free of herbicides, rodenticides and pesticides.

“Caltrans has demonstrated a strong commitment to the mission of the TCBRC for a long time now through their continued participation at all levels from the leadership of District 7 to the folks working on the road,” said Ben Allanoff of the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee. “This award is important because it draws attention to this constructive partnership between the community, our elected officials and the agency. We hope this will make it easier for others to replicate both the cooperative process and the important result—the reduction of the use of toxic chemicals.”

For more information on the award: http://www.dot.ca.gov/awards/winners/15winners.htm. ­­­­­