The following are excerpts from the Letter to the Editor of the Palisadian-Post published on February 2, 2023, in response to DWP’s public information Zoom meeting with the Palisades. DWP announced plans to again consider the Marquez site for construction of a new Power Distribution station (DS104). Nearly 30 people spoke for over one hour declaring opposition, not one voice of support. DWP has since cancelled future presentations of DS104 and is reevaluating its plan.
DWP Power Distribution Station DS104
I am a member of the Pacific Palisades Community and a resident of Marquez Knolls for over 50 years. Never has the community been so divided over an issue as the location of DS104, the Power Distribution Station proposed by DWP. In 2012, much energy was spent in both city staff time and taxpayer money as well as local volunteer involvement to find a proper site. Councilman Bill Rosendahl formed the DS104 Task Force in cooperation with DWP and eventually 18 local community leaders analyzed 18 sites proposed by either DWP engineers or Task Force members. In the end, the site evaluations and recommendations were surprisingly unanimous. The Marquez site was ranked last and given an “F.” DWP failed to accept alternate sites and began to build Pole Top Transformers, ugly as they may be.
The Marquez Site, owned by DWP, was never its first choice. That was the land behind Firestation 23. Marquez has always had the strongest objecting voices from hundreds of community members. DWP’s consultant concluded that the site next door to Marquez school was fatally flawed with “Grade F” for geology, for being on an “existing landslide” and “regarded as likely unstable,” resulting in “a likely significant and unavoidable [environmental] impact.” Only two years after that statement LAUSD demolished an adjacent school building with ten classrooms, which had become damaged by geologic instability on that same canyon. LAUSD also upheld its position that prohibits construction of a distribution station next to any of its schools.
What is a Power Distribution Station?
It does not produce power.
It does not in itself fix chronic power failures in Pacific Palisades.
It is a “forest” of transformers, each similar to what we see at the corner of Sunset and Temescal Canyon. These transformers are the first step to reduce (or transform) the incoming voltage of the 56,000 Volt (56 KV) from the main power line that runs under Sunset Blvd. The power that eventually reaches your homes is at a safe 120V.
What will DS104 Look Like?
DWP has never provided specifications or drawings of the proposed facility, not 10 years ago and not now. During early discussions around 2010 DWP said that the facility on Marquez would be 17 ft below grade (street level), and 17 ft above grade. A DWP engineer stated then that “water and power don’t mix” and with a smile added that there was too much water in the Marquez Canyon to place the facility low and down into the canyon. During later Task Force Meetings DWP stated that they would need at least 1 acre of land on a flat surface, and 1.5 acres on hillsides with minimal slope. To give a visual reference: Two DWP proposed sites, which the Task Force rejected, were the entire business district on Marquez Ave. plus the alley and four adjacent homes, or 90% of the level property of the business district on lower Palisades Drive. DS104 will be massive.
On Christmas Day 2022, several DS sites in Tacoma, Washington were vandalized causing severe damage and a fire. CNN reported that hundreds of DS sites suffer explosions annually and are subject to extremist threats. This makes DS104 vulnerable. The Marquez site is located in the “Highest Fire Hazard Severity Zone” as designated by the Fire Department. Any fire in Marquez Canyon not only endangers Marquez Knolls and surrounding areas, but the entire Palisades. Furthermore, a site subject to “extremist threats” is surely worrisome to parents of Marquez student.
The list of sites evaluated by the DS 104 Task Force
Marquez Avenue between Sunset Boulevard and Bollinger Drive with five parcels on a 0.75-acre site.
Marquez Avenue between Sunset Boulevard and Bollinger Drive with seven parcels on a 1.14-acre site.
Sunset Boulevard south of Marquez Avenue with eight parcels on a 0.97-acre site.
16931 Pacific Coast Highway on a 1.10-acre residential estate.
16970 and 16948 Sunset Boulevard and 125 North Marquez Place on a 4.04-acre residential estate.
16970 Sunset Boulevard on a 2.31-acre multi-family residential site.
16970 and 16948 Sunset Boulevard on a 0.53-acre single family lot.
16990 Sunset Boulevard on a 0.95-acres multi-family residential lot.
Sunset Boulevard, west of Marquez Avenue on a 0.98-acre multi-family residential.
17060 Sunset Boulevard on a 1.11-acre multi-family residential lot.
17311-17317 Sunset Boulevard on a 2.19-acres commercial and residential lot
17315 and 17311 Sunset Boulevard on a 0.66-acre commercial site.
A 5.36-acre residential and open space site that's part of Topanga State Park.
Part of 383 North Via Maria on a 1.22-acre open space lot.
300 Via Nicholas on a 0.99-acre residential estate.
514 Palisades Drive on a 4.18-acre commercial strip mall site.
16931 Marquez Avenue on a 1.88-acre residential estate on LADWP-owned property.
A dead end on Via Santa Ynez on a 19.39-acre residential estate.
DS104 Task Force Members
Peter Duke, media and technology consultant
Christy Dennis, former communications professional and current president of the Marquez Knolls Property Owners Association
Joyce Wong Kup, land use and environmental law attorney, founding member of the Coalition of Palisadians to Keep Marquez Charter Safe
Danielle Samulon, attorney and legal affairs professional
Christine Abraham, attorney and environmental policy & planning consultant
Jim Rea, realtor and member of the Pacific Palisades Community Council and Marquez Knolls Property Owners Association Board
Marc Zussman, attorney and member of the Coalition of Palisadians to Keep Marquez Charter Safe
Haldis Toppel, information technology professional (City of Los Angeles) and member of the Palisades Park Advisory Board
Jeff Beal, artist, publisher, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the and Chairman of the Board for Project X Foundation for Art and Criticism
Hank Wright, information technology professional
Kelly Comras, landscape architect
At the request of PPCC, the following members were added to the Task Force
Amy Kalp, special advisor - Traffic
Paul Glasgall, Electrical Engineer, Local Realtor
Joyce Brunelle, solar energy business owner
Gil Dembo, Temescal Canyon Assoc. member
According to LADWP, the group was responsible for:
- reviewing the need for a new distributing station,
- exploring ways to reduce customer energy use - including the limits such efforts have on reducing overall energy demand,
- identifying potential alternate locations for siting the distribution station,
- serving as a clearinghouse for information sharing, and
- to build understanding.