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Towers upset neighbors

Several rally against lines

Posted: August 26, 2008 8:03 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Residents of the Valencia neighborhood Northbridge gather Tuesday to protest Southern California Edison's 150-foot electric line towers.

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A monster stands 200-feet tall in the north end of Valencia, towering over the gray-haired men and women who look up at it in wonder and anger.

“It upsets me every time I drive home, or every time I sit in my backyard to see these on the landscape,” Belcaro resident Brian Smith told a group more than 60 of his neighbors Tuesday at a rally against a series of giant hydro-electric towers being constructed near their homes.

“They overpower everything else,” she said.

The residents of this gated 55-and-up community west of McBean Parkway near Copper Hill Road met at the end of a cul-de-sac on the edge of the hydro right-of-way, to express their displeasure.

“I thought (Southern California) Edison was going to be a good neighbor,” Smith said. “Instead, they put these monsters that dominate our environment.”

The residents showed up with their lawyer.

“I have been retained by some residents to deal with this travesty that Southern California Edison has constructed,” lawyer Hunt C. Braly told a crush of reporters invited to the rally.

“When the residents were notified in April that they were going to put in new poles they provided no notification about the changes to those poles,” he explained.

He said Edison came in secretly, without any public meeting or public discussion and added that the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Edison, approved the changes.

“And while the commission informed the city (of Santa Clarita) none of the residents were informed,” Braly said.

According to Braly and the handful of residents who spoke emotionally about the towers, had they been notified that the streamline tubular hydro poles would be replaced with 200-foot black scaffolding lattice structures, they never would have allowed Edison to proceed.

Representatives of both the utility and the commission, when contacted by The Signal Monday, refuted claims made by the residents that the two agencies rushed to have the lattice towers put in place.
That’s not how the residents see things.

All they see is a string of giant steel structures of latticework that fractures their view of the western sky.
Sunsets viewed in Belcaro now come with a net of lines and metal latticework.

Residents expected Edison to replace the outdated steel-colored lattice hydro towers with the sleek new T-shaped tubular steel poles instead of the lattice poles.

In a 10-page report filed with the commission in January, Edison makes its case to show that using the steel poles would not be feasible to accommodate an increased power load.

Braly said putting in the steel poles is feasible, noting the utility always has the option of raising its rates to offset any extra costs.

“They decided not to do it for one reason and one reason only and that is the (steel poles) would cost them money,” he said.

Sherrie Dickinson is one of four residents who retained Braly to fight for their cause.

“I am appalled by this,” she told the crowd. “I feel I’ve been stolen from, I feel assaulted.

“Our life savings were socked right into this place, now no one would buy this house,” she said. “This is a loss of my quality of life. It’s fallen like a huge tree on my head.”

Sid Jurman, a retired educator, said he moved into Belcaro about four years ago and said he’s embarrassed to have visitors over to his home because of the towers.

“Edison decided to decorate my home in a way I do not approve of,” he said.

Resident Teresita Garner said, “I am old. I wanted to spend my last days here and this has made me very sad.

“Why would you do that to me?”

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