Time to rethink debris basin tactics

I have to agree with Eleanor Wacker's letter about the questions of public safety surrounding the huge sediment placement site at Deukmejian Wilderness Park ("Serious concerns about the sediment site," Dec. 25).

Certainly, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has done a fantastic job of expanding our debris basins and keeping the flood-control channels clear. But its choice of locations to put the excavated sediment seems off track.

It's troubled me for some time that this gigantic pile of dirt may, given the wrong conditions, pose a grave threat to the neighborhoods below. What public works officials have done is to take a bunch of sediment and rocks that have washed down the mountain, haul it back up the hill, and pile it across the mouth of a canyon that historically has generated massive floods. It's counterintuitive on a very basic level.

In essence, we have created a danger where none existed before. I'm very aware that public works officials have assured the community that the site is well engineered and up to the highest safety standards, but I'm also aware that we have heard such assurances in the past before other engineering disasters.

Common sense would say that the county Department of Public Works should work to stabilize the site, replant it with trees to hold the soil, and find another, more sensible place to put the sediment. But they are piling the dirt ever higher, and plan to for many more years.

Possibly it's time for an outside review of the safety of the Dunsmuir Sediment Placement Site, something that to my knowledge has never been done. Given the historically unstable nature of the geology of our valley, and that there are lives potentially at stake, it would be the right thing to do.

Mike Lawler

La Crescenta

ADI case shows the need to pay attention

For many years, few residents have attended the Housing Authority and Redevelopment Agency meetings at the City Council chambers.

Now, with the story about Advanced Development & Investment Inc. ("Builder got millions from Glendale despite concerns about project," Dec. 29), we find how alleged elements of fraud and illegal conduct cost taxpayers millions of dollars in waste and abuse. Public participation and public awareness are essential expressions of good government that these agencies have rarely encouraged.

The rest of the story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times allows us to follow the cookie crumbs. Quoted expressions of surprise, shock and denial from current and former City Council members are as laughable as the expressions of denial from a chocolate-smeared child after raiding the pantry.

Herbert Molano


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