Prep work for 4-year dig at Devil’s Gate Dam set for this fall, county says

Locals could begin seeing evidence of the county’s plan to remove 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from Devil’s Gate Dam sometime this fall, as officials anticipate vegetation clearance and access road construction could begin sometime in November.

A 2014 lawsuit filed by Pasadena environmentalists over the size and scope of the original proposal, which called for removing 2.4 million cubic yards of sediment, halted the project for years and succeeded in getting the removal load reduced by nearly 30%.

Sterling Klippel, a civil engineer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, updated the La Cañada Flintridge City Council during its regular meeting Tuesday. He said digging could begin as soon as April and continue for the next four years.

“This project is really to restore the [reservoir’s] capacity, so for many years to come it will continue to provide important flood protection to the communities downstream,” the engineer said, adding the department was still pulling permits for the work.

Access roads off Oak Grove Drive will allow trucks to enter and exit the dam from Altadena’s Windsor Avenue on the east side and La Cañada’s Berkshire Avenue. Hauler trucks will shift to Windsor on school days from 7 to 10 a.m. and then leave via Berkshire from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. When school is out for summer, traffic will shift mainly toward Berkshire.

County officials estimate 250 round-trip truck trips will take place each day. A 50-acre excavation field will afterward become a permanent maintenance area, with plans for roughly 77 acres of habitat and trail restoration planned for surrounding areas and side slopes.

“We think that will be a good balance between flood protection and keeping the area native and natural,” Klippel said.

Council members verified a supervisor would be around during work hours, efforts to minimize dust upheaval would be employed and a phone number made available for people to share comments. City Manager Mark Alexander said he met with the county’s public works director to express La Cañada’s concerns.

“We feel very comfortable they’ve taken our suggestions and implemented them in the plan,” he said.

Temporary ban on multifamily units in CPD zone

Also Tuesday, the City Council issued a 45-day urgency ordinance preventing the issuance of permits related to the development of multifamily housing projects in the city’s Community Planned Development (CPD) zone.

Areas with that zoning designation comprise parcels mainly fronting Foothill Boulevard west of Memorial Park to Hillard Avenue and then west of Castle Road. Community Development Director Susan Koleda explained the zone currently allows for apartments and condominiums with 15 units or fewer with a conditional use permit and no additional standards beyond setbacks and height restrictions.

It wasn’t until two potential applicants came forward with inquiries about such projects — one on the north side of Foothill’s 1400 block and another west of Ocean View Boulevard on Foothill’s south side — that officials realized further regulations regarding traffic, noise, parking and general plan consistency for the area needed to be addressed.

“We have not looked at the development standards in the CPD to make sure those development policies are implemented. We need an opportunity to do that,” Koleda said.

The Council voted 4-0 to adopt an urgency ordinance (Councilman Mike Davitt was absent) with the understanding a request for an extension beyond the 45 days, to one full year, might come back in July.

“I don’t look at this as a ruse to get rid of condos,” Mayor Terry Walker clarified. “It’s an opportunity to study the standards we have for them.”

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