Communication Tower Proposed Above Palisades Highlands

By Sarah Stockman
Palisades News Reporter

Palisades News has learned that a 120-ft. communications tower may be built on Green Peak, part of the Temescal Ridge Trailhead above the Highlands.

The proposed tower would be part of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS), a network of towers being built to enhance communications between emergency responders in the Los Angeles area.


“When the 2009 Station Fire first began, we had firefighters from different departments that weren’t able to communicate,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2012. “Sometimes it takes us at least a day, minimum, to bring in our radio communication experts to patch up frequencies among firefighters.”

This communication issue between emergency departments led to the founding of LA-RICS—a joint venture between the City and County of Los Angeles, 63 independent cities, two school districts and UCLA.

“LA-RICS will vastly improve radio and broadband communication for police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders in Los Angeles County,” the LA-RICS website says. “LA-RICS is replacing these [communication] systems with two state-of-the-art networks dedicated for use only by emergency responders.”

This spring, LA-RICS started building communications towers specifically for emergency responders while also revamping radio frequencies. The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded the project a $117 million grant.

One of these 180-ft. towers was supposed to be built on San Vicente Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains near the Nike Missile Site. However, the Brentwood Hills Homeowners Association (BHHA) opposed the tower.

“The huge tower would be an obvious eyesore for miles . . . [And] the tower—with its high-wattage blinking light, many microwave dishes and associated microwave radiation—would have significant environmental impacts not only on the view-sheds and surrounding scenic parklands, but also on wildlife, birds and the thousands of visitors that visit the park,” Michael Leslie, first VP of the BHHA, wrote in a September 14, 2015 letter to the LA-RICS board.

The Sierra Club also opposed the tower because of the feared environmental effects of the proposed high-wattage blinking light.

In July, LA-RICS decided not to build the tower on San Vicente Peak. Instead, it hopes to build a tower along the Temescal Ridge Trail above the Highlands.

A 60-ft. tower and support buildings used by the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments currently sit on the peak. The proposed 120-ft. tower would replace the current one.

Craig Sap, the Angeles District Superintendant of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, is currently reviewing the proposal.

“[LA-RICS] strategically place these [towers] based upon the terrain and what’s going to have the maximum benefit,” Sap said. “They feel this area would be a dark area if not for this site.”

The CA-DPR has not decided on whether or not it will approve the tower. It must consider how the tower would impact the environment, the surrounding neighborhoods and the potential rent that would be owed to the state.

“We haven’t determined if this is absolutely critical for the system being operational and functional for that area,” Sap said.

The Pacific Palisades Community Council is looking into the proposed tower and plans to work with Councilman Bonin’s office to make sure Palisadians stay informed and have a say in the issue.

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