Decades of planning finally over.
By Sam Catanzaro
Don’t be alarmed by the giant Caterpillar earth-mover tractors at the bottom of the Palisades Recreation Center. They are going to move a lot of earth as part of the process to bring a new park to the Palisades.
“We are going to move around 763,000 cubic yards of soil,” said Gary Lee More, City Engineer for the City of Los Angeles.
Moore was speaking alongside local lawmakers, neighbors and city engineers at the groundbreaking for Potrero Canyon Park, a 46-acre recreation area that will connect the Palisades Recreation Center and Palisades neighborhoods with the PCH overlook near the beach with an ADA-accessible pathway through a lush riparian area.
“Finally! After decades of delays, Potrero Canyon Park is moving forward!” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin who represents Pacific Palisades. “This project was first discussed in the 1960s and has been hobbled by landslides, funding issues, and soil contamination. We are finally moving forward, and I can’t wait to help cut the ribbon on Potrero Canyon Park next spring!”
Potrero Canyon Park was purchased in 1964 by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks to provide coastal access to and from Palisades Park. Potrero Canyon historically included a natural watercourse through which run-off from the Santa Monica Mountains the Palisades community was carried to the Pacific Ocean. Abnormally high runoff from intense storms in 1978 and 1980 caused extensive erosion, landslides and slippages that led the City of Los Angeles to acquire 22 damaged private properties along the canyon rim.
For decades, the planning process dragged on, hampered by lack of funding and at the whim of various bureaucracies for required permits. In particular, the city’s plan to build part of the park near PCH required a permit from Caltrans, which the city was forced to submit three times before approval.
The park is currently in its grading process, which began in 2018 and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2019. The L.A. Department of Public Works has awarded a $13,526,579 contract for the grading to OHL USA INC. Components included in the grading process involve clearing the land, demolition and disposal of excess concrete, construction of a riparian zone and installation of drain terraces.
The funding for the grading comes from money the city collected selling city-owned properties along of the rim of the canyon in 2017.
Once the grading is complete, the landscaping of the park will begin. The ribbon cutting is expected to commence in spring of 2020.
Despite all the heavy machinery, legislative hurdles and money that will go into building into this park, at the groundbreaking ceremony, Palisadian and Recreation and Parks Commissioner Joe Halper touched on the most crucial factor in Potrero Canyon Park’s path to fruition.
“A lot of happened and it has all happened because of local citizens,” Halper said.