Photo by Annemarie Donkin
Topanga Town Council Board members Alisa Land Hill, Carrie Carrier, and former president Stacy Sledge facilitate a meeting pre-pandemic in October 2019.
When the Topanga Canyon Town Council met via Zoom on December 9, Council President Carrie Carrier invited representatives from the West Valley CHP, L.A. County Fire and the Lost Hills Sheriffâs Department to address long-standing issues by residents, mainly speeding and fires.
CHP Traffic Report. Weston Haver, Public Information Officer, California Highway Patrol, West Valley Area, reported that the top complaints he receives center around traffic, speeding and street racing.
"In October, there were four collisions from the two-mile bridge north to the city limits,â he said. âIt was all property damage, no injuries. The primary cause was unsafe turning and one DUI. In Oct. 2020, there were three collisions. From the two-mile bridge to PCH, there were two collisions due to unsafe driving and one accident involving something other than the driver, there were no injuries. In October, 2019, there was one collision with no injuries.â
To report unsafe driving behaviors in Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains, please call CHP dispatch at (323) 259-3200.
Los Angeles County Fire Report. Acting Assistant Chief Andrew Smith for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said they have been busy with Red Flag days.
âOver the last two months the Department has had aircraft readiness drills at 69 Bravo where they tested a helitanker to get 3,000 gallons in less than two minutes,â Chief Smith said. âThis helitanker can go from Los Alamitos to Topanga in 15 minutes; we have [access to] four helicopters, two fixed-wings from the state of itâs really needed.â
For October, Chief Smith reported a total of six fires, 30 medical calls and a series of small brush fires in Topanga started by people experiencing homelessness.
âThe fires were all electrical in nature,â he said. âJust remember that we live in a man-made fire regime, human and mechanical interaction.â
Chief Smith reported that the house fire in Old Canyon was caused by a power surge on a multi-strip. âIt was an extension cord, which is temporary use only, we call it creative wiring due to faulty wiring that was in the house,â he said. âIn response to rumors, no electrical poles were involved; it was people using extension cords.â
Chief Smith also replied to a question about installing speed bumps on Topanga Canyon Boulevard. âSpeed Bumps cause delays to our fire response, it slows trucks,â he said. âWe have a 40,000-pound truck come to a complete stop at each bump; it tears up our equipment.â
Los Angeles County Sheriffâs Report. Sheriffâs Deputy Michael Cerveny reported the crime statistics for October and November. âIn October there were four reported crimes; two residential burglaries, one petty theft and one domestic violence,â he said. âIn November, there were two crimesâtheft from locked and unlocked vehicles.
Deputy Cerveny said that crime in Topanga primarily consists of property crimes. âIn November, there were thefts from vehicles and burglaries from homes and two from garages,â he said. âThere has been a slight uptick in petty theft and shoplifting including 11 incidents of shoplifting in November. Also, theft from vehicles; people leaving items in plain view and one incident of domestic violence in Old Canyon.â
Arson Watch Update. Will Carey of Arson Watch said that Topanga has 29 volunteers with five to seven volunteers who are active in the Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains.
âMalibu has more than 50 active Arson Watch volunteers,â Carey said. âWe could use more volunteers.â Carey said they are always working to improve training and radio communications.
âOne of the main things we have done is replace [radio] repeaters to penetrate Old Canyon,â he said. âWe have a repeater in Catalina that ties into the Lost Hills Sheriffâs Station. The other thing is homeless encampments. We keep track of where they areâŠto monitor people sleeping in cars and make sure they are not doing campfires, or hibachis.â
According to the website, the average Arson Watch volunteer patrols on Red Flag days and has a minimum requirement of only 30 hours per year. A typical year will have up to a dozen Red Flag days. Patrols are on designated routes and take anywhere from 2-4 hours.
If you enjoy driving beautiful mountain roads and have some time to support your community, contact Arson Watch for application details at: email@example.com.