The preferred site for the first dedicated off-leash dog park in Pacific Palisades is noisy and filled with debris, but that didn’t deter the nine PaliDog members who toured the area for the second time on Tuesday afternoon with their pets in tow. Never mind that the group could not find the exact location of the proposed site or that they could barely hear each other over the roar of traffic along Pacific Coast Highway. Neither could curb their enthusiasm. “I think it’s perfect,” said Palisadian Linda Rosetti, who walked the site (located on the north side of PCH between Potrero Canyon and Temescal Canyon Road) with her Labrador retriever, Pearl. So does Judith Collas, the proud owner of two rescues from the pound, Penny and Tess. “But I recognize it’s going to be a long haul,” she said. The two-acre site, where proposed drilling by Occidental Petroleum was defeated by a No Oil coalition in the late 1980s, is owned by L.A.’s Department of Recreation and Parks which already supports seven off-leash dog parks elsewhere in the city. However, it is landlocked on three sides by property under state jurisdiction, including Caltrans which apparently controls access to the site. Joining PaliDog members on the tour was Laurie Newman, senior deputy to state Senator Sheila Kuehl, who has dealt with Caltrans in the past. The group has enlisted Newman’s help to negotiate the use of what has come to be known as “the former Oxy site.” Palisades Community Council representative Norm Kulla, a Highlands resident who led the tour, told Newman that his group is seeking the use of less than four acres from Caltrans, which currently uses the site for storage (including industrial sewer pipes, concrete road barriers, and cement sand). “We are not asking Caltrans to vacate the site,” Kulla told the Palisadian-Post. “We are merely asking them to share it. What we need, actually, is three acres for large dogs and three-quarters of an acre for smaller dogs. Ideally, people would be able to access the site on foot from Temescal Canyon, the top of Potrero Canyon and the bluffs at Via de las Olas. There would also be car access from PCH. Right now, this area is an eyesore.” Collas, who has done research on the site for PaliDog, agreed. “In 1991, when Occidental offered the land to the City of L.A., it was to be put to the best possible use for the enjoyment of the citizens,” Collas said. “But since then nothing has been done and it’s been used as a dump.” While there was apparently a request in 1993 by Rec and Parks to Caltrans to provide access to the property, Collas said she found no further documents related to the issue when she researched city records. However, Monique Ford, a deputy in Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski’s office who was on the field trip, informed the group that there is indeed a land swap in the works between Caltrans and Rec and Parks, although she could not provide any details. Ford’s news stopped the group in its tracks. “It gets complicated when you’re talking about land swaps and easements,” Newman said. “Caltrans is not going to give up land adjacent to PCH very easily, but that doesn’t mean they won’t agree to some kind of long-term lease or something.” The group agreed that the next step is to have a land survey done to pinpoint the proposed site. “I think it’s a great use of the land,” Newman said. “It’s just a question of access and available resources.” She promised to make some phone calls and get back to the group. Wil Sharpe, who went on the field trip with Itza, his 4-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, felt encouraged by Newman’s involvement. “Anytime we can get a government representative to support our cause, I think it brings us a step closer to actually making it happen,” he said. Sharpe’s sentiment was shared by Joseph Beauchamp, who went on the outing with his four standard poodles. Having lived in the Palisades for 11 years, he wants a local dog park because he now has to travel several times a day from his home in Castellammare to Sullivan Canyon to walk his dogs. Bill Kravitz, who lives on Lachman Lane, walks his dog Greasy on the Asilomar bluffs and in Rustic Canyon. Rosetti admits to currently walking her dog, off-leash, in Potrero Canyon. As she watched her dog frolic in a pond on the Oxy site, she said: “I don’t see why we can’t start using it now. All we need is to install a chain-link fence to protect the dogs. The noise [from PCH] doesn’t seem to bother them.” Following the field trip, the Post contacted local historian Randy Young about the prospects of the former Oxy site and negotiating access from Caltrans. He did not see this as a problem. “That’s their job, to provide public access,” he said, “and through their mitigation fund to make it possible for just this kind of project. Caltrans provided almost 90 percent of the funds to build Los Liones Gateway park so I don’t see why they wouldn’t support this project.” Young sees any development on the site as a “wonderful opportunity for both the state and the city to work together to come up with a larger plan for the whole area instead of leaving it as a dump site, which it is now.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.