History & Moving Forward: Public Engagement

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Beach Access: Your Elected Reps Want Your Feedback

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Traci Park will be hosting a meeting to go over where the City is with respect to the planning for a pedestrian bridge over PCH on December 5, 2023.
From that point forward, a contractor to the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works will calendar public engagement meetings and notify community organizations, and (we presume) a direct email list to which any member of the public may sign up for notifications. We intend to also post each meeting notification on this site, so please stay tuned.
Below, a brief chronology with respect to how this bridge was originally conceived and the public process up to now.

Pre-1985: Landslides consume houses; city acquires properties

  • 1933: Severe erosion was first detected.  
  • 1930s-1985: Over a dozen homes plunged into the canyon and others lost their back yards or garages. Plans were laid at least three times (in the 1950s, 1972 and 1984) to buttress the hillsides. 
  • 1964: Potrero Canyon is acquired by the Department of Recreation and Parks to provide a connection between the Palisades Recreation Center and the coastline.
  • 1980: Eleven property owners blame the city for the erosion and sue, prompting the city to acquire at least twenty-three (23) damaged properties along the canyon rim with an intention to further the 1964 plan to add the canyon to the city's park system. 
Civil Engineering Aug 1934 Vol 8 No 8

1985-91: The park is planned with a specific intention to bridge Pacific Palisades to the beach via Potrero Canyon Park - EIR and broad reporting. 

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  • June 1985: Final Environmental Impact Report for Potrero Canyon Park Development Project explicitly includes plans for linkage, describing the park itself as “a scenic pedestrian accessway between the Palisades Recreation Center and the Will Rogers State Beach Park” (in sentence two of the introduction), to include what is described further on as both “a pedestrian overpass” and a “a permanent pedestrian bridge over PCH.”
  • July 1985: Following the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners' certification of the Final EIR for the fill project, Councilman Marvin Braude tells the L.A. Times the park would "provide a gateway to the ocean (from the Palisades Recreation Center). . . . It will include a bridge across the Pacific Coast Highway so that there will be direct pedestrian access to the beaches without crossing a public street."
  • Jun 87, Jan 89, Aug 89, Sept 91: L.A. Times articles describe plans for a bridge connecting Potrero Canyon to the beach. 

1995-2004: Issues identified & moves for greater public engagement

House on Friends Street slipping into Potrero Canyon, 1958.
Initially, it was thought the project would be completed by 1995. Elsewhere on this site we describe the multiagency issues and considerations for the overall park design, not the least of which is the park's extraordinary engineering and functionality as a riparian habitat.

2004-2008: Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee (PCCAC)

Beginning in 2004, the new PCCAC engaged in a three-year effort to solicit community input. Dozens of meetings were held. Appointees to the PCCAC estimate that more than 1000 voices were heard. There was significant coverage of the proceedings by the media, most pointedly the community papers. The #1 recommendation of that committee was construction of a bridge across PCH. This recommendation was qualified only by a statement that “the Committee is not opposed to a further neutral assessment of the feasibility, safety and efficacy of an over- crossing as compared with other possible alternatives.”

2016-Present: Park Built - Where's Our Bridge?

  • 2016: Feasability study examines all options to meet the Coastal Commission's requirement for beach access and concludes that a bridge is the most feasible and effective means of enabling people to cross PCH.
  • 2019: It was becoming clear that there would not be enough money left in the Potrero Canyon trust fund (which had been funded to the tune of $40 million via the sale of lots on the canyon rim) to finance a pedestrian crossing. George Wolfberg penned a letter to State Senator Ben Allen and Assemblyman Richard Bloom, asking if the State might be able to help provide some funding. (Wolfberg passed in February of 2020, following which a broadly supported proposal was enacted to name the park in his honor).
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  • 2020-2021: Senator Allen and Assemblymember Bloom toured Potrero Canyon Park as it was under construction, returned to Sacramento and secured $11 million in State funding for construction of the bridge. This was announced in the Palisadian Post, Circling the News, in the Pacific Palisades Community Council public meetings and appeared in an email sent to area constituents by the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti. 
If you have made it this far, we congratulate you on your fortitude. Since the bridge was funded, the matter of the bridge, whether there should be a bridge, whether there has been proper notice about the plan for a bridge, what the bridge's design and purpose should be, and commentary on whether the park should even exist has been discussed at great length particularly by residents and owners of homes surrounding the park in regularly noticed and special meetings of the Pacific Palisades Community Council. Discussions included the realization that city agencies are now advising the entire community that in the event of a wildfire, it would be best if they prepare to "shelter in place" whereas the Beach Access Bridge might serve the entire community (as access to the ocean recently saved a number of lives during the tragic fires in Maui).
The bridge was also the subject of a casual poll conducted by an online micro-publication focused on matters of interest in Pacific Palisades which concluded that the community had been heard from “loud and clear” in support of the bridge. There continue to be voices opposing its construction and proclaiming that the public engagement process has been inadequate; however, the very next steps now are another formalized round of public engagement for the -design- of the bridge. It's future as a safe route to the beach, however, is no longer in question.