By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Lurking in the Highlands is a health hazard hidden in plain sight.
On the northbound side of Palisades Drive, overgrown weeds, piles of bricks and an old computer monitor sit at the bottom of a city drainage ditch.
In past years the obstructions may have caused no issue other than unsightliness.
But after last winter’s heavy rains, the blockage has finally reached its apex.
With nowhere for the water to outlet, marshy swells have formed near the Palisades Highlands Plaza where residents regularly walk and ride their bikes up through the area’s only access road.
But to those just driving by, the stagnate swampland is almost entirely undetectable.
In June, Pacific Palisades Community Council Area 2 representative Peter Calhune attended a meeting with Dave Dwyer, chair of the Highlands President’s Council, Lisa Cahill of CD11 and Bruce Schwartz of PRIDE to address the growing local concern that the standing water swales could attract harmful bacteria and mosquitoes infected with the Zika virus.
Calhune told the Palisadian-Post that June’s meeting revealed that the drainage swales have sat neglected for decades due to their two-foot proximity from the LA Department of Recreation and Parks’ boundary line.
“Recs and Parks is responsible for maintaining up to 11 feet from the soft curb,” Calhune explained. “The swales are about 13 feet away from the curb and no agency seems willing to take responsibility for them.”
At June’s PPCC meeting, Cahill reported that Vector Control inspected the swales and initially found no mosquitoes, but agreed that the company will need to conduct a further inspection to determine if the marshland is contaminated.
At the meeting, CD11 also agreed that draining the swells should be a city priority, but were unsure of which agency would be held responsible for the task.
On Monday, August 14, city workers were seen clearing out some of the plant life and old refuse from the swales closest to the city drain.
Calhune told the Post that Cahill was to thank for her “dedication and continued effort made on behalf of the community.”
“These bottom of the swales haven’t seen daylight in decades,” he said. “We indeed have our work cut out for us.”
Although Monday’s efforts were a positive move forward, the long-neglected swells are just one symptom of an overloaded city bureaucracy.
On the other side of the road, an algae-stained retention pond has created an ecosystem of its own while a natural stream of fresh water fl
ows steadily through two boreholes drilled directly into the street’s shoulder.
The freshwater rivulet, which is believed to originate from a spring hidden up in the area’s mountainous terrain, crosses directly under Palisades Drive.
“Just like with those pole-top [electricity] distributors, this is just another Band-Aid fix by the city,” Culhane told the Post. “This street looks like a sinkhole just waiting to happen. Then what will we do?”
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