Topanga New Times, September 11, 2020

Our cover photo this issue was provided by Genevieve Pruddock, picturing her rabbit, Lavendar, checking out one of our earlier issues.

We are celebrating arts and artists in this issue of Topanga New Times, with the theme #SavetheArts. Meet Sophie Kipner, who uses blind contouring to create compelling portraits (page 8), and Moises Mendoza, who draws inspiration from Topanga’s dramatic environment to create vivid abstract landscapes (page 12). Join us for a look at the historic Malibu Potteries (page 6), and a visit with contemporary tile artists and longtime Topangans Matt and Paul Doolin, who are keeping those traditions alive at Topanga Art Tile (page 10). We also take a look at resources for artists and how local artists are weathering the coronavirus crisis and continuing to create (page 16). 

We invite our readers of all ages to participate. Just post a current create project—visual art in all media, music, dance, or written word projects—on social media with the tags #topanganewtimes and #SavetheArts.

September 8 was almost the day that Topanga burned. The community had a close call, when a reckless driver involved in a police pursuit reportedly started multiple fires when his trailer, which lost the wheels on one side, creating sparks. The suspect was taken into custody after a stand-off on Pacific Coast Highway at Carbon Beach. The fires his vehicle allegedly ignited burned nearly ten acres below Grandview before fire crews were able to stop the forward progress. 

The incident is a good reminder for all Canyon residents to review emergency plans, especially in a year when an estimated  two million acres have already burned throughout the state. Visit here for Fire Resources and links to the Topanga Survival Guide. TCEP—Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness—can help. For emergency status updates that include up-to-the-minute information on local emergencies, like the September 8 fire www.t-cep.org.

On Sunday, September 13, at 8 p.m., TCEP will test its new, more capable, Top-of-the-Hour (TOTH) report transmitter on FRS radio channel 15. Topanga residents are encouraged to take part in the test. Read more on page 15.

Extreme heat, red flag warnings, air quality issues caused by smoke from multiple wildfires, and the looming threat of rolling blackouts made this Labor Day weekend feel more like an endurance test than a holiday. 

The temperature soared to a record 121 degrees in the Santa Monica Mountains over the weekend. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area trails were closed, after numerous heat related rescues and the tragic death of a 41-year-old hiker in Malibu Creek State Park on September 5. Summer isn’t officially over yet—the equinox arrives September 22—and hot weather is still in the forecast, but not at the extreme Death Valley levels experienced over Labor Day.

It wasn’t all dire news this week. The California Conservation Agency  announced it will award  $5 million toward construction of the Liberty Canyon wildlife bridge in Agoura Hills. The project is currently on track to break ground next year.

Advocates for a pair of innovative wildlife connectivity ordinances in Ventura County won an important court victory this week. A judge granted permission to four conservation organizations to help defend the landmark ordinances from challenges brought by development and industry interests. The two ordinances designate wildlife corridors that connect the Los Padres National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, and are described as critically important for the survival of the local mountain lion population, as well as other wildlife species.

Local wildlife also received help from the state legislation. Assembly Bill 1788, a ban on deadly second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, was approved by the state Senate and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom later this month. Assemblymember Richard Bloom and State Senator Henry Stern have expressed optimism that the governor will sign the bill into law.

AB 1788 can’t come soon enough for the new generation of mountain lions in the local mountains. The National Park Service recently described this season as “the summer of kittens.”  A total of 18 mountain lion kittens have been identified in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills this season, as part of the NPS’ ongoing mountain lion study.

Studies show many Americans are experiencing “COVID fatigue,” but the disease continues to be a threat. Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Agoura Hills, and Unincorporated Los Angeles County—including Topanga, have all recorded more than 100 cases. Calabasas remains a local COVID hotspot, with 241 cases and 12 fatalities. Woodland Hills, with a much larger population than the other mountain communities, has had 823 cases to date, and 29 fatalities. Face masks and social distancing continue to be essential.

Stay safe, be well!