County Supervisor Barger’s Office: Sediment Removal at Devil’s Gate Dam Scheduled to Start in October
Supervisor’s office makes statement after formal discussions with Pasadena City Council Wednesday morning
|March 29, 2018 - A meeting between County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Mayor Tornek and members of the Pasadena City Council in the basement of City Hall yesterday clarified the status of the massive sediment excavation program that the County Flood Control District has planned for Hahamongna Watershed Park.|
|EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor with DAVID CROSS, N|
|Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger (second from left, wearing leather jacket) met with members of the Pasadena City Council in formal discussions about several issues regarding the relationship between the City and the County on Wednesday, March 28, 2018|
Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office said Wednesday that “Devil’s Gate is scheduled to start in October 2018″ following formal discussions between Barger and members of the Pasadena City Council at City Hall yesterday morning.
However, Barger said complete agreement on key details about the controversial large-scale sediment removal effort has not yet been reached between the County and a conservation group which went to court to block the project.
“Conversations with the Mayor and the Arroyo Seco Foundation continue to hone in on the size of the footprint to be cleared and maintained,” Barger said. “The County Department of Public Works, County Counsel, Audubon Society and Arroyo Seco Foundation continue to work towards a settlement on this matter.”
Members of the Arroyo Seco Foundation brought a lawsuit against the LA County Flood Control District in 2016, when the District sought approval to dig out millions of cubic yards of sediment behind the dam to remove a threat that heavy rainstorms could inundate the dam and flood homes along the Arroyo Seco Channel.
The project has been on hold since being halted by Superior Court Judge James Chalfant in March of last year when Chalfant decertified segments of the County’s final Environmental Impact Report covering the project.
Planning seemed to be moving forward again last November, when a surprise compromise amendment by Supervisor Barger was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Barger’s amendment would reduce the amount of sediment removed from 2.4 million cubic yards down to 1.7 million cubic yards and put a cap on the number of total truck trips through residential neighborhoods involved in the project, which is estimated to eventually cost $100 million.
“This modified approach prioritizes safety, addresses environmental concerns and mitigates disruption for our local residents,” Barger said in a statement last year following the vote on the compromise.
The compromise produced cautiously optimistic reactions from opponents to the so-called “Big Dig” project.
But since then, there has been no conclusive resolution to the issues between the County and the Foundation.
“It seems to me that they were very close to resolution. There is still litigation pending that’s keeping them from starting the project,” said Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek after the Councilmembers’ discussions with Barger on Wednesday morning.
“I was hopeful that if they could be a little bit more spirit of compromise (on the part of) the County Engineer that we might be able to handle litigation and start the settlement removal,” added Tornek. “[Barger] is going to continue to meet with both sides and try to bring this to a resolution.”
Meanwhile Tim Brick, Managing Director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, said Wednesday, “We’ve been trying to work with County Flood Control District for eight years now to get a sustainable sediment management program for Hahamongna. Back then, they said it was an emergency. We thought we had scored a big victory last November when the County Supervisors reduced the amount of soil and habitat to be excavated and trucked away by 30%.”
“So,” he continued, “[the Arroyo Seco Foundation] and Pasadena Audubon offered to settle our lawsuit with the Flood Control District, if they would minimize the impacts on Hahamongna and the local neighborhoods accordingly.”
Brick also told Pasadena Now that representatives of L.A. County came to a Hahamongna Watershed Park advisory committee Tuesday evening and said that they hoped that they would begin some elements of the project particularly the removal of vegetation and habitat as early as this October, but that they may have to wait until October of next year.”
Brick explained that “Nothing’s going to be done immediately. [The County] is restricted from operating, because this is the mating season for some endangered birds that they have to be very careful about. They can’t really do much until June or so, and then they still have to get their permits.”
Brick continued, “They don’t have the permits that they need to get from the various regulatory agencies. So those are still the kinds of unresolved matters that the county flood control district needs to deal with.”
Arroyo Seco Foundation, 570 W. Avenue 26 #450, Los Angeles, CA 90065-1011
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