May 23, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Koretz Introduces Motion to Put Power Lines Underground in Wake of Getty Fire

Homeowners take legal action against LADWP

By Sam Catanzaro

Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Century City and Westwood, is proposing burying LADWP power lines underground in the wake of the Getty Fire, which was sparked by a tree falling on a power line.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) the fire, which burned more than 700 acres in late October, was caused by a tree branch falling on a city-owned power line in the Sepulveda Pass. The fire, which burned for over a week, forced widespread evacuations in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.

According to city officials, less than 10 percent of wildfires in California are ignited in some form by power lines. Of these fires started by power utilities, 38 percent are the result of downed or impacted power lines (including by mylar balloons), 18 percent are due to failed hardware and 16 percent are attributed to vegetation contact. The remainder are due to line slapping and animal contact.

Because power lines have recently sparked several of the large-scale wildfires in California in addition to the Getty Fire, Koretz has introduced a motion asking the LADWP to report back on the feasibility, including costs, to underground electric distribution facilities in LAFD designated Very High Fire Severity Zones.

According to Koretz, the portion of fires caused by vegetation contact with electrical facilities may decrease if power distribution facilities such as poles and wires are underground rather than overhead.

“Our climate is not going to get better, it’s going to get worse and likely much worse, depending on how successful we are in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. Which means these horrific fires will continue to persist in their size and scope and relentlessness,” Koretz said. “If re-engineering our power system in an affordable manner will help cut down on fire ignition points, we should look into it. This motion will at least start that conversation.”

Last week, Brentwood homeowners took legal action against the LADWP, seeking monetary damages for the fire.

As reported by Bloomberg News, the plaintiffs are owners of a multimillion-dollar, 1,540-square foot home in Brentwood that was one of 27 homes destroyed or damaged in the fire.

According to the claim LADWP was aware for years about the hazardous state of its electrical system infrastructure and the department could have prevented the blaze with better brush and vegetation control.

“LADWP has been acutely aware of these risks and their catastrophic results for a significant period of time,” reads the complaint per Bloomberg News.

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