Haul Routes Approved for Caruso Project

Sue Pascoe

Drivers heading down Chautauqua and onto PCH can expect even longer waits at the traffic signal when trucks begin hauling dirt from Caruso Affiliated’s Palisades Village construction site in November–if that option is chosen.

The hearing for the proposed haul route was held in front of the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners downtown on Tuesday morning, Oct. 4.

The board voted to approve the hauling hours from, Mondays through Saturdays (excepting city holidays). Haul vehicles may not arrive at the Swarthmore site before the designated start time. Approved haul vehicles are end-and-bottom dump trucks.

Palisades Village project manager Michael Gazzano told commissioners that if Caruso Affiliated could keep full hours, the hauling process would take about two and a half months. If the company went with reduced hours, it would take six months.

Caruso Affiliated's Michael Gazanno appeared before the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners.
Caruso Affiliated’s Michael Gazanno appeared before the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners.

About 122,000 cubic yards of soil will be exported from the south side of Swarthmore (to make way for the three-story-deep parking structure) to Potrero Canyon, where the future Potrero Canyon Park is being constructed.

Haul route Option 1 would involve turning right onto Sunset from the construction site, then left onto Temescal Canyon Road, left onto PCH and then left into Potrero. (That would require a temporary traffic light on PCH and Caltrans approval. This option would also double the number of trucks passing by Palisades High School.)

Option 2: Loaded trucks will leave Swathmore and turn left on Sunset, turn right on Chautauqua, turn right onto PCH and then right into Potrero. This option would lessen the impact on PaliHi but would threaten an already deteriorating roadway on lower Chautauqua while increasing the traffic congestion at PCH.

Option 3: From Swarthmore, turn right on Sunset, left on Temescal, left on PCH and continue onto the eastbound 10 Freeway, then exit on Lincoln Boulevard and return to the westbound 10 Freeway. Continue on PCH to Potrero.

The proposed return route for empty trucks is the same for all three options: exit Potrero Canyon, travel north on PCH, turn right on Temescal Canyon Road, then right again on Sunset to Swarthmore and the export site.

The News asked Caruso Affilitated spokesperson Liz Jaeger which option will be chosen. “We are still exploring and studying all options and we will let you know when a decision is made,” Jaeger said Wednesday, noting that hauling is expected to begin in November.

The News asked if the community would be consulted (e.g, the Community Council), but she has not yet responded.

At Tuesday’s public hearing, Tricia Keane from Councilman Bonin’s office told the commissioners that one of the most common comments to their office was that “People wanted this project as fast as possible.” She said the plan had Bonin’s full support.

“Councilman Bonin has made pedestrian safety a priority,” Keane said, noting that his office was asking that the commissioners approve three crossing guards on Sunset (at Via de la Paz, Swarthmore and Monument) and one at Bowdoin and Temescal Canyon (by the high school) during school hours.

Paul Bowinkle, longtime owner of two buildings adjacent to the Caruso project, said: “Heavy equipment hurt one of my buildings, but more importantly the signage at the project makes it look like my [Swarthmore] tenants cannot service their customers. There is no place [on the street] for customers to park. People can’t drive down there, because it looks like the street is closed.”

Erica Simpson, owner of P2 Skate, told the commissioners: “I have a business on Swarthmore, but all the street parking is taken away. I have had a 98 percent decrease in business since the project began.”

Simpson said that signs around town state “Swarthmore is closed north of Sunset,” and added that construction vehicles parked in front of her store have hurt business.

One of the commissioners asked Keane if the Councilman had discussed any of the issues that had been presented about the businesses P2 Skate, Solis Salon, Get Dressed, Carly K and U.S. Bank.

“We’ve heard something about that,” Keane said.

“What could be done?” the commissioner asked Gazzano.

“We have put notices in the newspapers about businesses being open,” Gazzano said. [Caruso has not yet placed an ad like this in the News, since construction resumed in July.] “And there have been street signs that the businesses are open.”

During a break, the board secretary showed this reporter the mailing notification list, in order to determine why Palisades High School, which is along the haul route, had not received any notification about the hearing.

The mailing labels provided by Caruso Affiliated showed the letter went to LAUSD on Grand Avenue.

LAUSD owns the PaliHi property, but the school itself is a fiscally independent charter and determines its own calendar and operations. Since Rick Caruso has held several information/promotion events at the high school, PaliHi director of operations David Riccardi wonders why he was not notified personally.

The day of the hearing, Riccardi was contacted by the News at about to see if anyone from Caruso’s office or the City had contacted him. “I have not spoken to anyone from Caruso personally,” he wrote in an email. “If they can send notification to me that would be appreciated.”

The decision of the board shall not be effective until 10 calendar days have elapsed from the date of the board’s decision (October 4).

Any person dissatisfied with the decision may file an appeal with the city clerk to the City Council. The Council shall hear and make its determination on the appeal not later than the 30th day after the appeal has been filed.

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