Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…
The California Coastal Commission is expected to approve a drainage and erosion control project for Topanga State Park. The item is scheduled to be heard on September 8, after Topanga New Times goes to press, but is expected to be approved without controversy.
The project area includes East Topanga Fire Road, Dead Horse Trail, and the main public parking lot, where erosion caused by runoff from paved surfaces runs into storm drains that concentrate rather than dissipate the flow, creating a firehose effect that has blasted soil away, gouging ravines and destroying a section of riparian habitat along Topanga Creek.
The plan involves reconstructing eroded slopes; constructing earthen berms and drainage swales; and importing rock riprap to reduce the destructive flow of runoff. The project also includes culvert and detention basin improvements and revegetation with native plants, as well as a reconfiguration of the existing public parking lot and a portion of the road to increase accessibility and improve drainage and infiltration, a report for the project states.
The plan is complicated because construction involves temporary and permanent impacts to ESHA—Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. That impact includes removing several oak trees. To offset the damage, Coastal staff have recommended eleven special conditions that include oak tree mitigation and monitoring, a riparian and oak woodland restoration and enhancement plan, and sensitive species surveys and monitoring.
Residents of the Entrada neighborhood, where the parking lot and main entrance are located, can expect an increase in truck traffic once construction is underway. Park users may encounter limited parking and some trail closures or detours. The proposed project will permanently reconfigure the parking lot and ultimately reduce the number of parking spaces from 72 spaces, including two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible spaces, to 65 parking spaces, including three ADA spaces, but the report finds that the change will not have a significant impact on park access. A requirement to install four electric vehicle charging stations was derailed by an inadequate power supply at the remote and rustic park—welcome to life in Topanga. State Parks has instead agreed to place infrastructure under the parking lot that can be hooked up if/when the power supply for the area is upgraded.
For more information, read the report at: https://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/agenda/#/2021/9
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