Bishop water line extension could open DWP land for release

By Deb Murphy

While the process still has red tape to unravel, the City of Bishop anticipates putting in a water line to the Bishop Veterinarian Hospital on North Sierra Highway as early as this spring, three years ahead of schedule.

Why is this news, and good news at that? The water line is key to future land releases by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The big caveat in any land release is LADWP’s requirement that the land be supplied with a domestic water source—in this case, the City of Bishop.

Public Works Director Dave Grah told the City Council at Monday’s meeting, “DWP is receptive.”

Work on the water line will require an easement from the department, Grah said. The plan is to combine the water line easement with the long-awaited bike path from See Vee Lane.

The City would pay the construction cost, Grah stated, with Bishop Vet paying to connect to the line. The hospital sits on the highway, the western edge of a 150-acre parcel that runs between See Vee Lane on the east, and Sierra Street on the west. The land is zoned residential.

“We’d like to get something in place so, if significant development happened in the area in the future, development would reimburse the City for its share of the construction costs,” Grah said.

The significance of the water line plan wasn’t lost on Councilmember Jim Ellis. “This could open the door” to future land releases, he said.

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12 Responses to Bishop water line extension could open DWP land for release

  1. philip anaya December 7, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

    Thank You Nick for your comments. I am not aware of the specific acreage releases in Bishop. I was aware of the DWP 2008 auction event and the resulting issues of high minimum pricing and parcels not being sold. I will educate myself further on the subject and will share results

  2. Allen Berrey December 7, 2018 at 11:01 am #

    Well said and explained Nick, thank you.

    It seems to me three public needs – for a new county administrative building, for a new courthouse, and maintaining a vibrant downtown – could be met if a new building was constructed on the site of the existing courthouse and city office building on West Line Street.

    That building could house a new courthouse as well as the administrative offices of Inyo County and the City of Bishop.

    This would be an efficient use of public funds, avoid sprawl and exodus to the Wye area, and keep county/city/courthouse business near downtown.

    To accomplish this, Inyo County and the City of Bishop should form a joint powers agreement to partner with the State of California’s Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to acquire land (if needed) and construct such a consolidated/multi-purpose building.


  3. philip anaya December 5, 2018 at 3:25 pm #

    Along with squeezing the Owens Valley dry we all know that DWP exercises considerable power over our local government. Advancements achieved for local self determination have come mostly in the form of court orders and decisions. The Long Term Water Agreement one of those advancements in Section XV details the release of City (LA) lands and is available at: under governing documents LTWA

    A. details the release of 75 acres in County
    B. details the release of 25 Acres in the City of Bishop
    C. details the general sale of surplus property

    All have the component of the requirement of any parcels sold must be hooked up to a public water system. Not certain how many acres have been released to date but Section XV requirements are not yet completed.
    Looks like Bishop is doing their job and maybe the DWP is reacting to the public domain issues currently being litigated by Inyo County over the Landfills.

    • Nick December 6, 2018 at 1:40 pm #


      Land releases have been discussed and completed over the past 20 years. DWP was responsive in the past – the landfill issue wasn’t necessarily conflated with the releases in 1997 – but left the details (parcel selection) up to the County and City.

      I believe that the 26 acres released in the City of Bishop is the Vons and Kmart shopping center. That has been open for about 19 years and has had (in my mind) unfortunately consequences. Kmart’s old building has been vacant that entire time. Traffic in the Wye Road area is more congested and development there is leading to more sprawl such as the Grocery Outlet and proposed County building. The Court annex was also proposed for that area.

      My understanding is that the City of Bishop wanted more sales tax within their boundaries. So, the old Vons near me – now the Mountain Rambler and medical offices – and the Vons at the Rite Aid shopping center closed. The latter has been vacant for years since Value Sports moved. More empty storefronts. Vacant buildings in and around Bishop have been a hot topic for many years.

      Around 20 years ago there was a Bishop Area Land and Water Advisory Committee. There were committees in Big Pine, Independence and Lone Pine as well. They looked at the land release maps in the Long Term Water Agreement (Exhibit B) and held public meetings to discuss divestitures/acquisitions within the 75 acre limit subject to the LTWA requirements.

      Several parcels were sold in Big Pine more than 10 years ago. I imagine they have houses on them now. DWP advertised a series of small parcels in Independence on the east side of 395 between Park Street and Mazourka Canyon. That was in 2008 at the height of the market and just before the crash. As I recall, they wanted something like $100k for 5,000+ sf lots. None sold; there is bare dirt there to this day.

      Meetings in Bishop initially discussed the large parcel south of E. South Street west of the canal. As you can imagine, the property owners opposite the vacant land were opposed to any acquisition and sale. They were eloquent in their opposition and I enjoy walking along the canal. It was still a potential lost opportunity for more housing.

      There was some talk of the 16 acres east of Hanby between E. Pine and E. Yaney that is bounded by the canal. In that case, the property was outside of the City limits – not available per the LTWA – although there is water service. The City expanded its boundaries to incorporate that parcel. Later, when the committees met to recommend parcels this was one that was put forward – prior to the limit change, however. Those who lease the parcel from DWP for their horses are also likely opposed to any divestiture. As you might guess, that parcel was not acquired.

      Whether true or not, I had heard that there was some disagreement in the other communities about Bishop acquiring a large parcel or parcels prior to them getting more land. After all, we got 26 acres right away. So, the opposition of neighbors, distractions, jealousy, markets and the passage of time have resulted in very few releases. I may have my disagreements with DWP but as far as I can tell they didn’t cause the delays.

      Let’s see what happens in the next 20 years.

  4. stoopid December 4, 2018 at 1:26 am #

    Why would Bishop Vet pay for anything? Whats in it for them? We are not getting the full story here.

  5. Stan December 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    Good news. The new courthouse going up at the Y looks good.

  6. Daris December 3, 2018 at 10:10 am #

    Since this is DWP property the City of Bishop pays for the water lines then DWP sells lots for $$$$. It looks like Bishop and Inyo County are being one uped by DWP again.

  7. Steven Tiede December 2, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    A map of this land area would be helpful, the description you give with the streets as boundries is vague.

  8. Almost Native December 1, 2018 at 7:57 am #

    Isnt that nice of DWP? Sorry, but I don’t trust them and rightfully so ,in my opinion. What’s the catch?

    • sugarmags December 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm #

      What’s nice about it? DWP agreed to allow the City to buy an easement and install a water line to serve property owned by DWP…so that they can sell the land for a huge profit. I’m not sure what favor you think they’re doing.

      • Almost Native December 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm #

        Sugar, I was asking a question???? And being sarcastic. Be nice!

        • sugarmags December 4, 2018 at 8:52 am #

          do i need to add a smiley face?


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