A couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power delivered notices to the businesses and residences on Colorado Blvd between Eagle Rock Blvd and Townsend that construction would begin that day on replacing water mains along the street and that the occupants along the way could expect limited parking, access and water for the next few months.
The business owners and residents were understandably upset by the cavalier treatment they were given. They called the City Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office and within a short time, the work schedule was suspended and a public meeting was called to discuss the issues involved.
I was at the meeting and I saw that the behavior of some of the DWP staff was a bit unsettling (as in, if we don’t replace these pipes now, they could burst and then we’d have a real problem) and let’s just say inconsiderate of many issues like parking, cleanliness, the Farmer’s Market, restaurants, the Music Festival, Ren-Arts school, repaving the street, effects on holiday business, etc. Luckily, the DWP staff included a very astute gentleman who could see the potential for disaster and encouraged everyone to state their concerns without criticism, all would be heard and we would meet again after some thought and research had taken place.
Tonight was the night for the followup meeting and I believe the DWP and the 14th District City Council office staff had done some good work on the issues as well as possibly some training on how to promote good public relations within the community. The general tone was collegial and positive. And Plan B was well received by all. It was a 180 degree change from the previous meeting.
Since Plan B is slated to begin in March, 2011, the Music Festival in October and the holiday season will not be affected.
The permits that LADWP currently have allow construction only between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. DWP asked if they could begin setting up cones, etc. at 8 am so they could begin actual work by 9 would help move the project forward more quickly. There was general agreement in favor of that and perhaps even broader hours.
Some of the ideas that were not incorporated into the plan were explained:
- Placing the utilities underground while the street is open for the water mains is not feasible because another cut is required for utilities and the cost is prohibitive, especially considering the city budget crisis.
- Resurfacing the Blvd instead of just patching the cut is not financially feasible at this time.
Here is Plan B:
On August 9, work will begin at Loleta Avenue and head east to Genevieve where the onramp to the 134 freeway begins. This work is expected to be finished by December 3. If it is completed earlier, the section between Vincent and Loleta will be done. During this time, the community can see how well the parking, traffic, dust and debris, etc. issues are handled. Suggestions, concerns and problems will be addressed both through the 1-800-DIAL DWP number and through a special hotline that will go to a DWP supervisor. Both these lines will be answered by a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another community meeting will be held sometime in November or December to assess how things are going.
Beginning sometime probably in March, the Eagle Rock Blvd. to Vincent or Loleta stretch will commence. The longest any one business will be without water will be 4 to 8 hours in one day and then 1 to 2 hours when the water is switched from the old main to the new main. These shutoffs will have somewhere between 48 hours and 7 days notice. The longest a business will have construction in front of their location will be about 3 days.
What would have happened if no one had spoken up about this work? We would have construction on Colorado Blvd right now with no real planning done for the parking issues, the water shutoffs, the safety of the Renaissance Art school students to name a few concerns. DWP would have done their job without much consideration of the impact on the struggling businesses in this fragile economy. After all, they were responding to requests from the Council office to replace these pipes before they burst like the ones on Townsend did. Hm. Everyone involved was doing their part to solve a problem, but without a community meeting, each department was unaware of the whole picture.
Moral of the story: If you live in a community, you need to pay attention to what is going on around you and speak up when you see something wrong. We have a responsibility to do our part and attend meetings like this. The government and the large corporations and the developers need to see that the citizens are watching. Over the 27 years that I have lived in Eagle Rock, I have seen and heard of several issues that the community spoke up about and because they did, changes were made. Did you know that someone tried to put a pornographic movie theater into the old Eagle Rock Theater on the corner of Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd? Quite a lot of people turned out to protest that. Another issue was when the Mobil station on the corner of Eagle Rock Blvd and Colorado petitioned to sell alcohol at their convenience store. The citizens didn’t believe that selling alcohol at a place that sold gasoline was the right thing to do. And let me tell you, the big guy from Mobil Corporation thought his company’s need for a profit justified the encouragement of drinking and driving. That was stopped. There are many more, including TERA’s fight to stop a MacDonald’s from going in to the old Security Pacific Bank Building (now the BlockBusters).
We don’t all agree on all the issues, but that is why we need to speak up. There might be a solution that will be more palatable to a greater number if only ideas were exchanged in an open forum. I am proud to live in Eagle Rock, where people take a stand when they disagree with what is going on. Our community is better for it.