By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
The legacy of the winter storms, from tire-busting potholes and overgrown sidewalks to a rash of power failures, is prompting frustrated Palisadians to take matters into their own hands.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Works said it has been deluged with requests for emergency repairs from Pacific Palisades, where the number of potholes awaiting attention has tripled over the past three months.
They seek to fill the holes within three days, but in The Highlands, residents weary of waiting have patched holes with $30 tubs of asphalt purchased from Home Depot or Lowe’s.
“I filed a request through the MyLA311 app, as the city suggests, but nothing happened for 10 days. So I got together with a neighbor. We scraped out the broken bits and filled it with black stuff I got from Lowe’s, who told me how to do it,” said a resident on Michael Lane, who was unsure if this was legal.
This do-it-yourself spirit is applauded by Lou Kamer, Pacific Palisades Community Council representative at-large who, last week, told the council he was “going at it alone” with a parallel organization called PaliWork, which will take on tasks neglected by city engineers.
PaliWork’s brief is laid out in a new, 16-page report prepared for Mike Bonin, the recently reelected city councilmember for the Palisades and surrounding areas.
The discussion documents highlights hazards facing pedestrians, drivers and cyclists across the Palisades, from crumbling surfaces and poor signage on Chautauqua to the La Paz/Alma Real junction in the Village, for which it recommends a $100,000 “fix,” which could be funded privately.
Kamer said he is taking a two-pronged approach: to work with city officials and engineers and, where that fails—as it so often does—work with determined Palisadians to see if they can fix the problems themselves—maybe with paint brushes to brighten up road lines, maybe by raising private funds for bigger projects.
PaliWork will get down to work on Sunday, March 19, when Kamer and fellow volunteers will clear brush from the sidewalk up Chautauqua Boulevard.
He told the council it is so overgrown that pedestrians and runners are often forced into the street, one of the most unsafe roads in the Palisades.
Kamer is not the first Palisadian to take such a direct approach: long-time resident and rock-roadie Greg Willis has just set up his own nonprofit to dig out old tree roots from sidewalks—but Kamer, as a corporate businessman with household-name clients, is well connected to local politicians and fund raisers.
It’s not just the state of roads that is promoting growing local frustrations—it’s the sidewalks too, which are also being pushed up by new roots prompted by the rains.
Sue Kohl, who represents Alphabet Streets on the PPCC, said people have to constantly look down if they are not to trip on such roots.
“Using asphalt to fill in sidewalk gaps might temporarily reduce danger, but it does nothing in terms of problem solving. Those roots, unless cut and removed, will continue to erode the sidewalks,” she said last week.
“If the city wants to solve the problem, they should send a tree crew to deal with roots and follow that with a cement crew to pour new sidewalk slabs.”
But there is another side to the deluge.
The black market “lumber-based economy” of Temescal Canyon Boulevard, where storm-downed tree stumps have been dumped, only days later to be taken away by those seeking firewood, is flourishing.
And the Palisades have been promised a “super-bloom” in parks and the N/E/X/T Garden at 700 Temescal Canyon Boulevard maintained by volunteers such as Barbara Marinacci.
They, at least, will be rewarded with beauty.
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