Despite allowing other pathways to cross over buried power lines, Southern California Edison will not allow a pathway at Hope for the Hills Park, the same park named after the grass-roots group that battled the utility giant.
Hope for the Hills members are crying foul, stating that Edison is exacting revenge on the community group that played a vital role in bringing down the 200-foot towers installed for the Tehachapi energy project.
The city has vowed to take the matter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and even the courts--if it has to.
Southern California Edison spokesman David Song said the company has been consistent in its approach for securing the project corridor, including the portion that bisects the park.
Mr. Song said he would not comment further because of an on-going legal proceeding regarding right-of-way donations from the city and its pending lawsuit.
The lawsuit to which Mr. Song referred is a draft complaint that has not yet been filed by the city.
City attorney Mark Hensley announced during Tuesdays council meeting that Edisons refusal to allow a pathway across the underground easement will split the park in two by cutting off access to the tennis courts.
Residents would have to walk on Avenida Cabrillo fronting the park to reach the tennis courts.
Mr. Hensley said Edison has allowed a number of easements and pathways over the entire underground portion of the project, extending from the eastern transition station on Pipeline to the western station in Carbon Canyon but has refused such a path for Hope for the Hills Park.
The city has been working with Edison on property transfers and logistical issues since their right-of-entry agreement was established in 2014 to allow the utility to construct the corridor underground.
We have worked through most of the issues but on this issue they are telling us its not safe, Mr. Hensley said.
The attorney said the city will take its concerns next week to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
We have the ability to potentially challenge this in front of the CPUC and the court system, Mr. Hensley said.
Hope for the Hills leader Bob Goodwin described Edison as a major bully on the block. How can it be safe to cross Avenida Cabrillo but not safe to cross the easement? Its the same undergrounding, he said. Joanne Genis, also of Hope for the Hills, described the move as a right hook by Edison because the park is named after Hope for the Hills.
Assistant city attorney Elizabeth Calciano said Thursday that Edison did not inform the city of a particular: safety concern regarding the pathway but did state that because the underground is a new technology, the company has a generalized safety concern and would prefer to limit the number of cross-over points.
Edison indicated that it would consider allowing a path in a couple of years, once the utility has more experience operating the corridor, Ms. Calciano said.
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