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LCF pledges to act as intermediary between county, citizens during Devil’s Gate dig

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Local parent Dr. Liz Krider asks City Council members Tuesday to advocate for residents’ health as the Los Angeles County Public Works Department prepares to begin a four-year sediment removal project at Devil’s Gate Dam near La Cañada High School.
(Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

The city of La Cañada Flintridge will serve as an intermediary between the County Public Works department and residents concerned about the imminent Devil’s Gate Dam Sediment Removal project, after citizens urged the City Council Tuesday to act on their behalf.

Members of community group LCF 4 Healthy Air — who’d come to an April 16 meeting to ask the council to discuss creating a community safety action plan before the project’s mid-May start — returned Tuesday with an update on concessions the county has made to minimize the health impacts of the project.

In addition to assuring sediment hauler trucks meet 2010 emission standards and placing air quality monitors at La Cañada High School and surrounding Hahamongna Watershed Park, the county has pledged to work closely with environmental consultants throughout the project’s four-year timeline.

LCF 4 Healthy Air co-founder Liz Krider said while much has been accomplished through partnerships, there is still no mechanism in place to establish a pollution threshold and ensure the county will respond efficiently and openly if that threshold is exceeded.

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READ MORE: Full coverage: Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project »

“That’s why we came back to you again to make that request [of the county] — please articulate a plan for when A happens, B happens,” Krider said. “And have these kinds of action limits founded in best practices so you can adapt the project and maintain safety, instead of just hoping for the best.”

Public Works deputy director Steve Burger said his department is working with an independent environmental consultant and representatives from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and California Air Resources Board to develop community safety response plan.

“Once we get the monitoring in place, it’s really going to inform us what those limits are,” Burger said. “We’re really going into uncharted territory — this is something never been done in a project really anywhere in California before.”

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La Cañada parents urged city officials to hold the county accountable for keeping its promises and advocate for the use of compressed natural gas hauler trucks by 2020, which would reduce levels of nitrous oxygen (NOx) and particulate matter.

“We need your help because you’re the voice that can communicate to the county for us,” said LCUSD parent Octavia Thuss. “Your partnership and influence is critical at this time.”

La Cañada city officials compiled a list of questions posed by speakers and promised to follow up.

“Tonight’s point is not that we’re answering the questions but that we are on top of [the county] to make sure the answers are forthcoming,” said Councilwoman Terry Walker.

Also Tuesday, council members:

Introduced an ordinance that would impose penalties on those who use city-maintained fields during off-hours and periods of closure. Staffer Arabo Parseghian said repeat offenders have been known to wreak havoc on grass fields during their unpermitted use of the area, and an ordinance would give the city a means to prevent such violations by imposing a series of fines. A first offense would incur a $100 penalty, while a second and third offense in the same 12-month period would result in fines of $200 and $500, respectively, and a fourth offense would be treated as a misdemeanor. The ordinance would be enforced by the sheriff’s department, Parseghian said.

After the recent repair of a 24-inch water pipe operated by Foothill Municipal Water district, which
After an April 21 break in a 24-inch water pipe operated by Foothill Municipal Water district, an eastbound portion of Foothill Boulevard has visibly sagged and will require immediate structural work, city officials confirmed.
(Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

Heard an update on the recent sinking of an eastbound portion of Foothill Boulevard near Alta Canyada Road, which occurred as the result of an April 21 break in a water main operated by Foothill Municipal Water District. Public Works Director Pat DeChellis said the utility is conducting surveys of the damage and should soon submit plans for raising the roadway to its original grade. Meanwhile, an unrelated pavement repair on Alta Canyada could be completed by the end of the week, weather permitting, DeChellis told council members.

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