The Mar Vista Community Council voted Tuesday, December 8th to support a motion regarding setbacks between high-voltage power lines and private residential property lines related to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (DWP) proposed Scattergood-Olympic Line 1 project.

Albert Olson, chair of the community council board of directors, said that the motion was approved because the council believes it is required to keep its stakeholders safe.

The public comment period for the proposed underground power cable project has been extended to Friday, January 15th after concerns about safety, health and traffic were expressed to Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the 11th District.

Rosendahl said he spoke with David Freeman, the interim general manager of DWP, and asked him to extend the public comment period until these concerns have been addressed by the department

“The rationale for asking the LADWP to keep its underground power line the same distance from residential property lines as it does from school property lines is simple — children spend more time at home than at school,” said Olson.

“The California Department of Education apparently believes there is enough evidence that high-voltage power lines pose a health risk to children to establish mandatory setbacks between school properties and high-voltage power lines, with setbacks from overhead power lines 50 kV (kilovolts) or greater specified in the California Code of Regulations,” the community council motion states.

The motion states that the education department has established setback guidelines between the “usable, unrestricted portions” of any California school site and underground transmission lines of 25 feet for 50 to 133 kV line; 37.5 feet for 220 to 230 kV line; and 87.5 feet for 500 to 550 kV line.

The MVCC motion asks that all underground power lines installed in Mar Vista’s borders meet those exact Department of Education specifications.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has adopted the above setbacks between underground transmission lines and school property lines and the DWP adheres to LAUSD setbacks at district schools, states the council’s motion.

Other power utility projects in California, such as Pacific Gas and Electric’s Jefferson-Martin 230 kV transmission project, in recognition of the health and safety concerns of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) exposure, have instituted EMF mitigation plans as part of their transmission line project, said Olson.

Olson said that the motion recognizes the unique character of residential streets such as Inglewood Boulevard, whose sidewalks are the main pedestrian walkways for the daily trips of Mar Vista elementary students to and from their classrooms.

The homes on these streets are full of young children who make full use of play areas in front yards and walk and play on the sidewalks on a daily basis, he said.

The width of these streets is at some points as small as 33 feet, and because of pre-existing underground installations on the streets, the power line will not be placed down the center of the street, thus placing it even closer to some residences, Olson said.

The Mar Vista Community Council also states in its motion that “LADWP cannot guarantee that the electrical surge which will occur when one or more of the cable(s) in the 230,000 volt circuit eventually fails, due to the thermal expansion and contraction from daily load fluctuations, will not cause an explosion and/or fire to occur in an adjacent crude oil and/or natural gas pipelines. The MVCC insists that LADWP not place high-voltage transmission lines on any residential street where such hazardous material pipelines exist, regardless of right-of-way width.”

Additionally, the council’s motion states that “the Mar Vista Hill section of Inglewood Boulevard has already experienced several property and infrastructure-damaging ground slippages.

“The LADWP cannot guarantee that additional ground movement will not be caused on the Mar Vista Hill section of Inglewood Boulevard by the trenching, placement or operation of the proposed line. The MVCC insists that LADWP not place high-voltage transmission lines on the Mar Vista Hill section of Inglewood Boulevard.”

The research leading to the council motion on required setbacks was done by Olson, Bill Pope and Chuck Ray of Mar Vista, and Bruce Chudacoff, David Knapp and Denny Schneider of Westchester-Playa del Rey.

Olson said that Rosendahl’s office has put together a small group of people consisting of DWP staff, two representatives from the general community and the councilman’s staff, which includes deputy Len Nguyen.

The proposed DWP Scattergood-Olympic Line I project is approximately 12 miles of underground cable connecting the Scattergood Generating Station in El Segundo at Vista del Mar and Grand Avenue, and Receiving Station K (RS-K) at Centinela Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. It would provide additional capacity to supplement the Scattergood-Olympic Line II, according to DWP.

The proposed project runs from RS-K in the north to Scattergood in the south, from Inglewood Boulevard in the east to Vista del Mar in the west, with commercial and residential areas directly adjacent on both sides of most of the alignment.

The underground circuit route begins at RS-K near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Centinela Avenue. The line is planned to end at the El Segundo Scattergood Generating Station.

The proposed 230,000-volt transmission project would be constructed from mid-April 2010 through mid-2012, according to underground transmission manager Vincent Curzi.

The Scattergood document is available online, file name “Scattergood-Olympic Line 1 project,” www.ladwp.com/cms/ladwp004156.jsp/.

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