City Bans Wood Dumping on Temescal Canyon Road

By Sue Pascoe

The tipping point for resident Reza Pazirandeh came when a mattress, a broken dresser and large tree branches were left on the sidewalk along Temescal Canyon Road below Palisades High School, making it impassable for hikers and bikers.

Now, thanks to Pazirandeh’s prodding, L.A. Municipal Code (Ord. No. 77,000, Sec. 66.25) will be enforced: No person shall deposit any non-combustible rubbish or any refuse of any kind whatsoever upon or in any street, sidewalk, parkway or upon any lot or private premises (including wood). The penalty is a $1,000 fine or six months in jail or both.

Leaving cut wood on the sidewalk along the west side of Temescal has been a Palisades tradition for years. In a 2015 News story, one man said he used the wood for his wood-burning pizza oven, and knew that larger pieces were being used by furniture makers. Others stopped by to pick up wood for fireplaces.

But then, tree trimmers began leaving more and larger pieces of wood, and dumping also started.

Large tree branches deposited on the Temescal Canyon Road sidewalk made passage for hikers and those pushing strollers hazardous, forcing many into the street.
Large tree branches deposited on the Temescal Canyon Road sidewalk made passage for hikers and those pushing strollers hazardous, forcing many into the street.

“I have seen this going on for many years. But it has gotten increasing hazardous,” Pazirandeh told the News in a July 8 email. “My wife and I regularly walk down to the beach. In February, the amount of dumped wood was so huge with big pieces beyond anybody’s capability to lift, that it forced us and other walkers to the street. It had gotten out of control.”

Pazirandeh contacted Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and asked who would be liable if someone became injured trying to avoid all the wood on the sidewalk. The answer? The City.

When Field Deputy Lisa Cahill, who had formerly worked with the TreePeople, connected with Pazirandeh, she agreed that the sidewalk along Temescal was not the place to leave cut wood.

In an email to Pazirandeh, she wrote: “The fact is that it is a safety issue on multiple levels, which is why I agree it is important to address regardless of the tradition/free firewood aspects.”

Barbara Marinacci, who has led a campaign to revitalize the Native Plant Garden along Temescal across from the wooddumping site, told the News: “I’ve observed with fascination from across the street all the dumping and pickups during the past seven years. And yes, one way or another that wood was surely getting ‘recycled.’”

Marinacci, a Pacific Palisades Community Council organizational representative for Palisades Beautiful, told Council President Maryam Zar and board member Chris Spitz about the new enforcement, and it may be addressed at a future meeting.

A new issue facing trees and dumping is the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB), a type of ambrosia beetle that is killing trees in large numbers.

In a Home and Garden supplement article in May, the News quoted Akif Eskalen, a plant pathologist, who said, “The beetle can produce thousands and thousands of beetles in one infected plant. Infested plants must be removed properly or they will infect nearby plants. We don’t want that beetle to move from one location to another location.”

Cahill told the News, “Luckily that pest is not currently west of the 405, but the threat is real. People who pick up wood to bring home need to know it’s shot hole borer free [so it doesn’t spread].

“It is important to note that most larger and/or reputable companies already process their cuttings correctly as they are concerned about the PSHB among other issues,” Cahill said. “To process mulch or firewood and guard against the PSHB, the wood has to be kept at a warm temperature, under heavy plastic tarps for six months.”

Cahill announced on July 12 that over the next few months, any wood left on Temescal Canyon Road will be removed by the city. Signs will be posted in English and Spanish warning that dumping (including wood) is not allowed, and those found breaking the law will be cited. Meanwhile, a long-term solution for where wood can be left will be crafted by multiple parties, including community members.

“Enforcement is going to be difficult,” Cahill admitted. “What will be helpful is to have multiple people looking for who’s dumping and when. I’ve talked to Public Works and Rec and Parks. Without company names and/or license plates it will mean that people will have to be caught while dumping.”

Marinacci hopes that part of the long-term solution is finding a local site that would be a suitable and legitimate place for wood to be set down, with regular inspections going on to spot infestations and serious diseases that could be transmitted elsewhere. She also hopes the wood can still be recycled locally.

“Finding a place for a local site may prove to be difficult, but it is something we’re happy to help with if there’s community interest in doing so,” Cahill said, noting that people can help by hiring companies that are ISA certified, and not providing full payment for work done until they receive a dumping slip.

Residents can also help by getting firewood from a reputable source. For more information, visit

Cahill said there are facilities for processing wood through the Bureau of Sanitation. “What we’d like to do in this office is to work with city departments and the community to find a site that we could use for landscape companies to safely process the wood more locally.”

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