K-rails on their way out

All but one neighborhood in La Cañada Flintridge will see the mud-blocking barriers known as k-rails disappear from their streets.

The City Council voted on Monday night to remove the barriers that were installed on streets that interfaced with the 2009 Station fire burn area. The barriers were put in place to reduce damage to hillside properties in the event of extensive rain-driven debris flows, such as the ones that struck the foothills the winter following the fire.

An April 16 assessment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service showed that the neighborhoods that still had k-rails in place no longer needed the extra protection. Residents in some neighborhoods, mainly on Big Briar Way, have since pressed the city to remove the barriers.

But residents who live in the Paradise Valley area of the city at the top of Ocean View Boulevard, haunted by memories of evacuating or losing their homes in 2010, urged the council to keep their barriers in place.

"My home was one that was destroyed during the mudflow event and the experts are warning us that the next rainy season is supposed to be equal to that of 2010," said Pat Anderson. "I, for one, hope they're wrong, but I'm not one to gamble on that."

Anderson, president of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, asked the city to keep the k-rails in place and revaluate the area in one year. A county project to install a relief drain in the Mullally debris basin near her home has been delayed due to unforeseen costs, and residents of Paradise Valley want to see the relief drain in place before k-rails are removed.

"I believe our entire neighborhood is in a high risk," said Anderson.

The City Council decided to keep the k-rails in place in the Paradise Valley area.

"I fully agree that we need to keep the protection there," said Councilman Dave Spence. "It's not pretty, but it's better than losing a house again."

But residents in other neighborhoods, who said the mud-blocking barriers hurt property values and added blight, were happy to hear that the k-rails in the neighborhoods would be removed within a couple of months.

The city voted to remove the barriers on Haskell Street, Big Briar Way, Los Amigos Street, Rock Castle Drive, Fairhurst Drive and Harter Lane. They also moved to remove some k-rails on La Forest Drive.

Residents on Big Briar Way and Haskell Street, who formed the Haskell Highlands neighborhood group, said they were pleased with the council's decision. They had argued that their neighborhood is vastly different from areas like Paradise Valley. Council members agreed.

"If you look at that area, it is a very different area," said Councilman Jon Curtis. "Both with the amount of growth that has occurred there as well as you have fire roads that act as a little bit of a buffer."

"We're happy with it," said Eldon Horst, who lives on Big Briar Way. "Finally, we have a reasonable decision."


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World