Letter to the Editor: Plea to LA’s Mayor

IFMayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

Dear Mayor Garcetti,

I am a resident of the town of Independence in the Owens Valley. Along with many other residents of Owens Valley, I am deeply concerned about the proposal by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to construct a 1200-acre industrial solar installation known as the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch (SOVSR) in an area rich in cultural resources and in the viewshed of the Manzanar Historical Site. Our concerns include 1) a precedent-setting change in LADWP land management focus in Owens Valley from watershed management to industrial development, 2) the approval process for this development, 3) the destruction of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, and 4) degradation of the visitor experience and integrity of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

One hundred years ago, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed and water was delivered to the city. LADWP had acquired land and water rights, mostly in the southern part of Owens Valley, prior to construction of the Aqueduct.  During the 1920s and 30s, LADWP acquired land and water rights in the northern part of the valley and now it owns about 90% of the taxable land in Owens Valley.  Since 1913, LADWP has managed its land as a watershed which has been a mixed blessing.  An agricultural-based economy gave way to one based on tourism and recreation. Unfortunately, the new economy has not provided the economic opportunities to prevent young families, particularly in the south County, from moving away.

On the other hand, there are small towns separated by open land that is spectacular and pristine.  This is what Los Angeles and the Bay Area lost when they urbanized. Solar installations, once they are constructed, do not provide significant employment so the long-term benefit to the local economy is, at best, questionable.  This development, along with those sure to follow if it is approved, will compromise the attractiveness of Owens Valley for tourists and recreationists and will damage our fragile economy.

The decision-making process for SOVSR is flawed.  LADWP claims it is exempt from Inyo County ordinances and zoning as provided by the California Government Code and is the lead agency under CEQA. Thus, the developer is the lead agency which is an obvious conflict of interest.  On October 1, 2010, LADWP released a Notification of Preparation for an EIR for two potential solar sites in southern Inyo County, one near Owens Lake called the Southern Site and the Northern Site at Owenyo, and held the required scoping meeting in Lone Pine on October 28, 2010. In August 2013 LADWP released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) that proposed a new site on the east side of Owens Valley directly across from the Manzanar National Historic Site, surprising everyone.

LADWP should have issued a new NOP when it was decided to propose a new site. If LADWP had done so, it would have learned at the scoping meeting required by CEQA that the new site is far more sensitive than the Southern Site. Now we hear from LADWP Director of Systems Planning and Development Randy Howard that he is “personally surprised at the level of their comments” after hearing of the criticisms of the new site from the Los Angeles based Manzanar Committee. It is not surprising that the flawed process produced a flawed DEIR. Instead of an objective analysis of the environmental impacts of the development, it is a shoddy, contrived document intended to justify a decision already made by LADWP management.

On page 2-6 of the DEIR it is stated that field surveys have determined this site has a lower density of cultural resources than the alternative sites.  A letter to LADWP regarding the DEIR from the State Historical Preservation Officer Carol Roland-Nawi, stated, “Overall the DEIR for the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch fails to properly address the identification and treatment of historical resources.” She concluded, “I strongly urge LADWP to appoint a third party to review the Cultural Resources section in the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch DEIR and supporting technical documentation.” Hopefully the third party would be an independent one. Comments on the deficiencies of the DEIR by qualified experts, too voluminous to discuss here, have been sent to LADWP and clearly show significant prehistoric and historic archaeological resources will be destroyed if the project is allowed to proceed.

The aesthetics analysis asserts that the view of the site is intermittently obscured by vegetation. This is simply not true. There is an unobstructed view of the site from almost everywhere in southern Owens Valley and the surrounding mountains. LADWP says the view of the site from Manzanar and Highway 395 will not be significantly impacted by this development. Former Manzanar internees and their families, as well as those of us who live here and look across the valley at that site every day will tell you that this, also, is simply not true.

This proposal by LADWP is a display of cultural insensitivity to the Japanese-American community that is astonishing for a city as diverse as Los Angeles. Thirty-one people, many of them former internees or descendents of internees spoke in opposition to this project at a public meeting on a Saturday morning in November at the LADWP headquarters in Los Angeles. No one spoke in favor of it. They told what visiting Manzanar meant to them and how vital the desert views are to their experiencing what is was like for family members who were incarcerated. They pleaded eloquently and emotionally with the LADWP officials to leave the viewshed as it is. I hope the message will be heard.

I urge you to do whatever you can to encourage LADWP to withdraw this proposal.


David L. Wagner

Independence, CA

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50 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Plea to LA’s Mayor

  1. Daris December 21, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I just saw a notice in the Inyo Register of an environmental impact notice for Munro Valley Solar south of Olancha near Walker Creek Road. More solor means more transmission lines. When will it end?

  2. Ted December 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Nice to see some intelligent conversation going on…its refreshing.

  3. Wayne Deja December 19, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Here is a funny one…..A while back,I was talking with a long-time LADWP employee,and during the conversation,he said DWP employees are actually official,trained Government workers,and “authorities”…..is that true ?…..am I missing something,or is that true ?….maybe it is,based on something I witnessed during a structure fire here in my town a few years back,when some of them were trying to take control of the situation,telling us “regular people” what to do,where to go,and where we could be,and what to do…..and another time,while I was trying to help our local animal-control officer catch a runaway dog on HWY.395,one of them stopping and telling me to get back in my truck and go home(which I kinda ignored his “order”)..I always thought of Government workers as those such as Law Enforcement,the court system,and the like……not members of a multi-billion dollar enterprise such as LADWP……please,someone enlighten me,so I know to slow down on the highway if I happen to see one of those white DWP trucks coming up behind me or ahead of me….thank you….

    • Benett Kessler December 19, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      DWP workers, per se, have no law enforcement authority. Although I have been told that there may be a few such workers somewhere. DWP has been very helpful in times of disastrous fires. Not sure of the situations you are referencing, but overall DWP has no authority to tell you what to do unless, possibly, if it involves their land or their buildings.

      • Wayne Deja December 19, 2013 at 10:00 am #

        Benett….thank you….now I know……The fire I was mentioning,it was actually kind of disturbing how many “agencies” and “authorities” were thinking they were in charge….with a fire that,for a while,was getting out of hand and jumping from one house…then two,and almost a third….Kind of figured the Fire Department,ICSO,and maybe CHP were enough to direct traffic,fight the fire,maybe warn near-by home-owners of the situation going on….but soon,there was USFS,BLM,Cal-Trans,USFG,and LADWP barking out orders,and nothing to do with power-lines… rubbing some people the wrong way by doing so.

        • Benett Kessler December 19, 2013 at 11:28 am #

          I remember that fire. It was frightening. Certainly too many managers is not what is needed in such cases.

    • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      LADWP is a department of LA City government. It is not a business. They are municipal employees of the City of LA, but they have no law enforcement powers. You can tell anyone in DWP to pound sand and there is absolutely nothing they can do to you.

      As an Edison customer I can only wsh I had the low electric rates LADWP customers enjoy.

  4. Russ Monroe December 19, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Apologies Ken, I failed to address all of your questions.
    Posting a link to most of the information that I post here is not possible, as most of what I write about is my first hand observation. I go to DW&P public meetings and listen.
    If you need a link, try: http://www.powersystemsdesign.com/
    This link is to a trade publication that I read. It won’t have any prepackaged answers for you, but if you read it for a few years, it will bring you up to speed.

    • Ken Warner December 19, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      No problem. It’s a complicated topic that can look different from different angles. I don’t know enough about power generation and transmission to discuss it with any substance. I only know that we will need more and more electricity to match the needs of our growing population.

      • Russ Monroe December 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        Yup Ken and the you ” know that we will need more and more electricity to match the needs of our growing population.” is where we disagree. I do not think that is the case, and my home is proof that it does not have to be the case.

        • Ken Warner December 20, 2013 at 10:12 am #

          If you’ve figured out a way to live off the grid, my compliments. But what you did for yourself can’t be done by everybody. Many people don’t own their own homes or have the capital for what is needed. Many sites here in Mammoth Lakes don’t get Sun for very many hours even in the Summer.

          Your solution is just one of many solutions that can and should be done. But it’s going to be a long, long time before everybody can live off the grid.

  5. Russ Monroe December 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    For an instant? While the sun is shinning, for a hour or two on either side of noon, is the only time a fixed solar panel will put out full, or rated, power. The sun does not shine on Manzanar for more than 12 hours a day, at most, and as little as 8 hours a day.

    So; if a plant is rated to put out 200mega-watts it may put out 200mega-watts for four hours a day in winter, less the rest of the day. Even if you calculate that the plant can produce most of it’s rated power for eight hours a day…. that total is one third of the rated of the rated power per 24 hour period.

    How many homes it will power depends on the home. Using your Wiki numbers; that would be 66,000+ homes for the 24 hours, using our home as a standard it would be 660,000+ homes.

    The question is: What relevance are those numbers if no transmission lines are available to take the power out of this valley? Do you know of plans to put 66k homes or 660k homes around Independence? Then building a plant to supply them, while not building new lines is helping who? Why?

    • Steve December 19, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      What relevance are those numbers if no transmission lines are available to take the power out of this valley?

      Russ have you been out to the site, There are two transmission lines that run right past the site. One is a 500kv AC line and the other is a 200kv DC line. Power from the proposed installation would be connected to those existing lines. That power is not sent to any one place but is used by anyone that is connected to the grids that are connected to that line.

      • Russ Monroe December 19, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        Yes Steve, the lines are there. The issue is: are they full? In the EIR, DW&P claims to have just enough empty space to absorb the new source, but a few years ago they said that there wasn’t enough capacity left for even a small solar project. Which DW&P to believe? My experience has taught me: neither one.
        DW&P’s own power people have stood in Lone Pine and said: “we don’t have offset power in the valley to take on any more intermittent sources”
        My interpretation of that is; we have no fossil fuel power plant in our local grid to throttle up and down to compensate for sun or wind power starting and stopping. A grid runs on balance and mandates don’t recognize that the balance in a grid has to be adjusted in milliseconds. Turning on and off our hydro driven plants isn’t practical or even possible in the instant that the sun is blocked by a cloud.

        • Eastside Dweller December 20, 2013 at 2:25 am #

          Russ, Hydro and gas combustion turbines are quick ramp and are often used to balance solar and wind power fluctuations. Nuclear and fossil fuel steam plants are slower, most efficient at full load, and best used for continuous baseline load.

          • Russ Monroe December 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

            Eastside, I agree that some hydro can, as well as the gas turbines, that we do not have here. Many improvements need to be made to integrate several intermittent sources locally. I am very much in favor of many forms of alternative energy, but the uncontrolled expansion of private grid inputs is already causing serious issues for DW&P. Thus far, they have been allowing hook up, case by case, and many people have already been financially burned by “evolving” strategies for this. One of my biggest objections to this project is the DW&P publicly stating that they have no long term planning for any alternative energy hookups. Solar panels are being erected all over this valley at a quickly advancing pace. I wouldn’t doubt that before the DW&P can get this plant through the construction process, there will already be close to, if not over 200mega watts of private hook ups connected locally. If so…. where is the line capacity for this plant?

          • Eastside Dweller December 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

            Russ, agree local solar hookup policy is more than flawed, especially when compared to programs for LA ratepayers. Ratepayer Advocate and others actually criticized feed in credit as too generous.
            Isn’t the Barren Ridge upgrade project tied to opening up Owens Valley capacity by upgrading grid south of here? I was under the impression the bottleneck is not here, but in southern half of line.

          • Russ Monroe December 21, 2013 at 9:51 am #

            DW&P says that one of the reasons for the Manzanar location of the project is that they can tie into the Inyo-Rinaldi 230kv line which runs through the site. At the last meeting in Lone Pine they said that 200 mega-watts would fill that line to capacity. Of course, the year before, the “power” people said that there was no where near enough capacity left in that line for even a small test project, so ….? They said nothing about Barren Ridge effecting the situation.
            As far as feed-in credit, the policy flip flops have devastated some home owner projects. I know of a family who invested in a seven kilo-watt array and changing over to all electric appliances only to have DW&P change the rules after the fact and now will not pay for “on-peak” input at all. They define “on-peak” as between sunrise and sunset so they get zero for the power that they put into the grid and have a electric bill much larger than they had before, because they work and are not home to use the power they produce. Theft would be my definition of DW&P rate policies.

          • Eastside Dweller December 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

            Interesting, if they don’t need on peak power, why do they need a solar plant at all? Probably just to meet “green” mandates whether they make environmental or business sense or not, as I have complained about here before.

            I’d be more than angry if I invested in solar electric and DWP backed out. That’s one reason I favor solar for direct heating of water and buildings first and power second. At least one can store hot water and thermal energy overnight and further distance oneself from the grid as you have. Sounds like they are being used to cover the cost of paying LA homeowners too much credit. They might try screaming at Ratepayer Advocate. I would be looking for any way to sever from DWP service and go entirely off grid, but they are probably tapped by conversion already. Hopefully they can find a way to use their power and not be robbed.Maybe a hot water storage tank, or a PA system to bombard DWP with bad music.

            Page 2 of WECC doc. states increase to OV transmission from BRRTP (Barren Ridge Project) to 1600MW. Don’t know current load.



        • Steve December 20, 2013 at 8:42 am #

          Hay Russ check this out. Looks like the work of making the old lines capable of handling the new power is already being done. This is America after all and as Americans we always solve problems.

          The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) and eight of its member transmission owners are deploying synchrophasor devices throughout the U.S. portion of the Western Interconnection. The project aims to improve electric system reliability and restoration procedures and prevent the spread of local outages to neighboring regions. The project also could improve the grid integration of renewable resources. Phasor measurement units, phasor data concentrators, communication systems, information technology infrastructure and advanced transmission software applications are being deployed in the project. These systems increase grid operators’ visibility of bulk power system conditions in near real-time, enable earlier detection of problems that threaten grid stability or cause outages, and facilitate sharing of information with neighboring control areas. Having access to better system operating information allows WECC staff to improve power system models and analysis tools, thus improving the reliability and operating efficiency of the bulk power system.

          – See more at: http://www.smartgrid.gov/project/western_electricity_coordinating_council_western_interconnection_synchrophasor_program#sthash.jNHBPDwV.dpuf

          • Russ Monroe December 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

            Yes, Steve, I am well aware of the possibilities. Improving controls is fine.
            Still does not address the issue here, of; offset power. I’m sure that the grid will improve. I’m also certain that it will have many sources to balance.
            In my opinion; paving the desert with silicon panels is still the wrong thing to do.

        • Philip Anaya December 21, 2013 at 11:59 am #

          The Inyo -Rinaldi Transmission Line that DWP would use for the SOVSR would be the 500 Kv AC Line. I’ve been told that there is a current available capacity on that Line of 240 mega-watts. (There is a lot of information In the 2011 and 2012 DWP Resource Plan. It’s available online but do not know the link off the top of my head. I’ve googled it in the past to find it) The Barren Ridge to Haskell canyon section of this line is being upgraded to a 3000 mega-watt capacity. The plan is to send the renewable PV and Wind Turbine energy to Castaic lake where theenergy will be for pumping waters back up to Pyramid Lake. The Castic Power plant is fed by the 30 foot diameter Angeles Tunnel and generates electricity for distribution to Los Angeles sub stations.
          This system was installed in the early 1970’s and they have been pumping water back up to Pyramid Lake at night when there was a cheaper excess energy generation from the grid and then they would release water from Pyramid back to theCasaic Power Plant to generate and sell electricity at a higher rate in the day time hours.
          With the renewable energy they will be able to pump water to Pyranid during the day with the PV and whenever the wind is blowing .
          As for capacities of the Transmission Line that would effect the Owens Valley, I do not see that a upgrade of the 240 mega -watt capacity makes much sense as there are already are proposed projects on the Queue List that are intended to connect into the upgraded Barren Ridge section and the total generation of these projects in the application process exceed the capacity of that Barren Ridge upgrade by over 600 plus mega-watts . Check out the link to the Queue list at: http://www.oatioasis.com/ldwp under the link Interconnection Generation Queue List.
          As far as the SOVSR Project and it’s Interconnection Application process (LGIP) this project is number 09 on the queue list. I have finally been granted access to the Docs under the CPRA process and I intend to make this information public. The date on this 09 Queue List Priority is in 2009 and according to the LGIP (Large Generation Interconnection Procedures) the studies have to be site specific as they have to have complete engineered plans for the specific project Interconnection to the Transmission Line. The LGIP clearly states that the Interconnection can not be relocated and if it is, it is necessary to to begin the LGIP process from the beginning which would result of a new Project Site being at the bottom of the Queue. In other words an examination of the DWP’s 09 priority postion may reveal that there is only a priortity postion to the initial two projects sites and not for the Manzanar Rewards Site as this site was not proposed until 2012-13. DWP has done dumber things than this, so we’ll see. Northland Powers adjacent project just to the north of the SOVSR Manzanar Rewards Site is reported proceeding with the EIR process. They are 23 on the queue list. There is not room in the capacity of the Transmission Line so I wonder why they are spending big bucks with INyo County planning for the EIR.
          It is good to see some discussion about transmission Lines . It is a fairly complicated subject complete with it’s own language and acronyms, highly technical and wires going everywhere. The County needs to invest in some expert consultant advice and then maybe we will get information and knowledge that can be understood and trusted far more than anything than someone like me,a carpenter can provide . We are talking about the future of this Valley and the threat of wholesale Industrial Development . We need expert knowledge ,education and information about all of this and we best not rely on the LADWP for anything resembling our best interests.

          • Russ Monroe December 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

            Philip your quote; “The Inyo -Rinaldi Transmission Line that DWP would use for the SOVSR would be the 500 Kv AC Line.” contradicts both what was said by DW&P at the last meeting in Lone Pine and the EIR from DW&P.
            That’s where my is my information came from.
            SOVSRP draft EIR, Aug 2013, Chapter 2, page 55, second paragraph.
            Perhaps you should consider sources other than Wiki before you write, what you present as fact.

          • Philip Anaya December 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

            You are correct Russ . Section 3.4 of the DEIR, page 3-25 “The facility would utilize LADWP’s existing 230 kV Inyo-Rinaldi transmission line to convey energy to load centers.” This is exactly why we need some expert consultants educating and informing everyone , not to say that there is no expertise coming from commenters . If anyone is or knows of a LGIP expert I’d certainly want to have a discussion with that person. Most of these folks are advocates and are employed by the Power Generation Industry.
            Is the information regarding the Castaic Power Plant on Wikipedia incorrect? This was a followup Google search from a discussion that I had with the DWP head engineer for the Barren Ridge Transmission upgrade, at the Bishop Public comment meeting. I have not always been 100% accurate in posting comments in the past and this discussion and this threat to the Valley warrants the best and most accurate information. Thanks for the callout Russ.

          • Russ Monroe December 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

            Your welcome Philip.
            Quoting Wikipedia is not something I would recommend.

          • Eastside Dweller December 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

            PA, You have confused some of the information about Barren Ridge. I also posted some links above.


            Castaic pumped hydro balances baseline steam generation and intermittent solar and wind. Stores excess energy and uses it at peak demand or when a cloud stops PV or wind dies. Mostly used to supply DWP customers, but excess can be sold to support other parts of grid. DWP avoided Enron gouging and blackouts by having enough generation to cover peak use. Castaic originally was built to store energy in times of excess generation from DWP’s unbuilt nuclear plant and now fits in with solar and wind plans.

          • Eastside Dweller December 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

            PA, my links seem to be failing. Use ladwp.com to about us to power to projects to Barren Ridge Renewables Transmission Project to EIR.

          • Philip Anaya December 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

            Eastside D.
            Your link is working correctly. I had seen this link previously. The broad description on Wikipedia of the Castaic Power Plant Pyramid dynamic I thought would be adequete to describe the infrastructure of that portion of the grid that supplies Los Angeles. Thanks for suppling the link to the Barren Ridge Final Eir . I bet that there is information in that document that the County of Inyo should be aware of, way beyond my paygrade. I am still on the hunt for a LGIP expert with regards to the Queue List Priority Issues for the Manzanar Site when the review is done of those LGIP documents. By the way Northland Powers project is #20 on the Queue List , not #23 as I previously posted

  6. Russ Monroe December 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Two hundred thousand homes? During a sunny day? According to: Wiki?
    No F minus for you here Ken; you can’t even turn that paper in for a grade.
    Your math is off by two thirds, if you use Wiki criteria, which no one should.

    My home has never been connected to “the grid” Ken. It has all of the ‘household’ appliances, lots of lights, oodles of computers and power tools. But, we run on one tenth of the power that your statement claims we need, and have been doing that comfortably for over three decades, Ken.

    Yes, I am willing to run without the power from this proposed plant, Ken, but I don’t need to be without electricity or swear to not have any more children to accomplish it, Ken, because I already live just fine without it the 200 mega watt plant. But don’t fear Ken, the last thing I expect is that your stated paranoid delusions will be effected by facts, truth, or logic.

    The “Grid” is a dinosaur that cannot attract investment any longer, because we won’t need it in the future. The DW&P has publicly stated, many times, that they are not planning any new transmission lines. DW&P says; it already has too many “intermittent” power sources connected to it’s grid. Argue with that Ken….. got anything to say about that Ken?

    I think that you do have one thing correct in your diatribe Ken; the view-scape argument is a looser. Basing opposition to this project solely on the view-scape argument is a great way to see it get built.

    • Ken Warner December 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      So tell us all what are the correct figures? The Solar Ranch is a 200 MW plant. Wiki.answers says: One megawatt is equal to one million watts, so for one instant, one megawatt can power 1000 homes. 200 times 1000 is two hundred thousand.

      What are your calculations? And what do you base those calculations on? Please post a link to your source of information. I’d really like to know since LADWP has said the Solar Ranch will power 230,000 homes.

      • Eastside Dweller December 19, 2013 at 12:39 am #

        Ken, you forgot hours of generation.
        200 Megawatts divided by 200,000 homes equals 1000 watts or 1 Kilowatt per home.
        1KW times 10 hrs of sun equals 10 KWH per home. 30 days times 10 KWH equals 300 KWH per month. Average California residential monthly bill is 573 KWH, about 1000KWH for US average according to eia.gov.

        So, cut half or two thirds off that 200,000 as Russ says. Or, as he points out we can just become more efficient in usage and technology since it is coming already.

        Russ, don’t underestimate the power of tax structure in attracting current investment in white elephants.

        • Russ Monroe December 19, 2013 at 11:24 am #

          Point taken Eastside. Ignorance times stupidity makes for all kinds of disaster and we have no shortage of either one do we?

      • Ken Warner December 19, 2013 at 9:18 am #

        Now I understand what your point is. You two are talking about killowatt hours which is a different way to look at the capacity of a power source than the instantaneous killowatts. That’s a different — but valid — argument but not my argument.

        As for your concerns about the grid — that’s not my concern and I have no interest in discussing that because I know nothing about power transmission engineering.

        Good luck to all of you and I hope each and everyone of you gets exactly what you want.

  7. quack December 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Highway 395 existed at the same time Manzanar did, though it was called something else. Manzanar extended all the way to the proposed site of the solar farm; internees worked over there at the dump and the sewage plant.

    Besides Manzanar, there are extensive archaeological resources on the proposed site . . . plus those just up the slopes of the Inyos, like the Reward Mine and the Pat Keyes Trail, both popular recreational destinations; if nothing else, the solar site would impede access to these. And of course if you walk uphill anyplace on either side of the valley, which of course requires getting out of your car, the 2 square miles of solar panels will be a blight on the view.

    And yes, solar power is a good thing, although many of the technologies touted today will be obsolete before they wear out. Plenty of true waste land, like mine tailings and other demolished areas, not to mention parking lots, are far better sites for solar installations which can be built far closer to the end-users.

    The Manzanar site, like the experience of the internees and those who worked there, is not just the smallpatch of land where the monument was land-swapped with the DWP; not only does the site extend past the old fenceline, the views from behind the wire were a major part of the lives of those wrested from their homes and locked behind guard towers. Similarly, the lives of the local Paiute rounded up at Ft Independence and herded to Ft Tejon are part of the story, just as George Chaffee’s apple orchards are, and those of the ranchers who lost their dreams to the city of Los Angeles. The story is about colonization and desertification and the disposal of human beings to suit some misguided ideals of people in power.

    That the DWP sees the solar ranch site as just more wasteland to dispose of for political purposes is just anther part of the same narrative. Manzanar is about injustice and ideals, which include sacrifice and patriotism, and these don’t end at some arbitrary distance from the guard tower.

  8. Ken Warner December 18, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Manzanar is not going to be touched in any way by the Solar Ranch which is 4 miles away an will be practically invisible. A million cars, trucks, RV’s and motorcycles drive by Manzanar on 395 yards away. Nobody seems to care about that.

    37 people spoke out against the Solar Ranch. The Solar Ranch can provide electricity to 200,000 homes. Is the viewpoint of 37 people more important than the people who live in the 200,000 homes the Solar Ranch will provide power for.


    There seems to be confusion between fighting LADWP — which I like — and fighting a useful source of energy for the ever increasing population. And all because, “…I can see it…”. That’s called shooting oneself in the foot.

    But those same people are willing to use these to power their homes without even mentioning them. Are you willing to go without electricity and swear not to have children so the Solar Ranch doesn’t need to be built?


  9. sugar magnolia December 18, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    I’d like to hear more about their claim of being exempt from Inyo County ordinances. What is that claim based on? In Inyo County, LADWP is not a municipality, they are simply another landowner with no municipal jurisdiction. And as a utility company, they are not exempt from Inyo County ordinances either. I’m sure SCE is working with Inyo County on their proposed development on Hwy 168.

    How would that be different then if the Town of Mammoth Lakes purchased a house in Bishop then said that Bishop and Inyo Counties ordinances don’t apply because we are a municipality?

    Is there a govt. code they are citing?

    As far as the Lead Agency thing, if they aren’t a govt entity in Inyo County, but just another land owner, then you’re right, they can’t be the lead agency.

    • Desert Tortoise December 18, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      LADWP is not an investor owned utility company. The are a municipal department of a charter city. As a result they do not answer to the PUC and being a charter city, much of the government code that applies to general law cities does not apply to charter cities. Since the department answers to an elected city council, they are exempt from regulation by state or other local agencies. Unfortunately the land DWP owns belongs to the City of LA, not a private firm that the county can regulate.

      • Ben Holgate December 19, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        Desert Tortoise does mental gymnastics everyone!

      • Deseert Tortoise December 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

        There are no mental gymnastics. When a city buys land in another county, called “going extraterrestrial” in the parlance of government agencies, the city is exempt from the regulation by the county in which it bought land. That is the California Government Code. You might want to familiarize yourself with state law before making such uninformed comments. This is why neither Inyo or Mono County governments can enforce any regulations on Los Angeles. That fact I am certain does not make you happy, but it is how our state laws are written. All the land “owned” by DWP is really land owned by the City of Los Angeles.

        • Benett Kessler December 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

          DT, You may be certain, but lawyers in Inyo County are not. The County Counsel used careful language in the matter of LA abiding by local codes – saying something to the effect that this issue was up for question. Remember, courts do set precedence when issues are challenged. Depends on how much you’re willing to file lawsuits. Self-determination remains a hope for many.
          Benett Kessler

          • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

            We had a discussion of that just last night at a city council meeting with those Kern County officials. The way the CGC is written, cities with facilites outside their city limits are basically exempt from regulation by counties on those properties. The county can try to fight an EIR, but a city can go to another agency to certify their EIR (assuming an EIR is ever required and you would be surprised how often they are not, things like water banking and some solar installations have been deliberately exempted) and tell the county to stuff it. Even in LA proper, LA County cannot tell the city how to govern itself inside it’s city limits and county laws do not apply. The bottom line is not what some county council thinks, but what is written in the California Governmetn Code.

          • Benett Kessler December 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

            And what courts have to say about it.

        • Ben Holgate December 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

          Your position is ridiculous on its face. As if a municipality has the right to engage in any enterprise within any other municipality without any regard to zoning or other processes. I don’t think you even believe it but we won’t know that because you won’t put your name to it.

        • Mary Roper December 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

          Agreed. But, the City of Los Angeles does operate under its own General Plan. In fact there is a whole section concerning the Owens Valley, and on page 56 of the 85 page “Conservation Element of the City of Los Angeles General Plan”, there is this statement:
          “The city is responsible, in whole or in part, for management of facilities and properties it owns or operates outside its borders. Its stewardship includes consideration of potential impacts on and management of natural areas and scenic resources.”

          • sugarmagnolia December 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

            one cannot give themselves jurisdiction. They can say whatever they want in their general plan, it doesn’t make it fact.

        • sugarmagnolia December 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

          DT – so you are saying that the town of mammoth lakes could purchase property in Inyo County, possibly even in the city of Bishop and completely ignore set backs, zoning, general plan…and build whatever and however they wanted to?

          That just makes no sense. Cities and Counties would be taking advantage of that all the time…to the detriment of others.

          Can you provide a code citation?

          Agreed that it is owned by the City of Los Angeles, but I don’t see how that makes it LA’s jurisdiction

          • Desert Tortoise December 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

            no. Mammoth Lakes is a General Law city subject to the California Government Code. Los Angeles is a Charter City, and is defined by the State Constitution Article 11. Read this pamphlet:


            Because LA is a charter city, LAs laws supersede all laws that conflict with it’s own unless the state specifically legislates against the city or a court rules that some ordinance of the city interferes with a state wide concern. The wording of Article 11, Section 5 of the Constitution:

            “It shall be competent in any city charter to provide that the city governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to restrictions and limitations provided in their several charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. City charters adopted pursuant to
            this Constitution shall supersede any existing charter, and with respect to municipal affairs shall supersede all laws inconsistent therewith.”

            That last sentence grants a charter city the power to ignore a county charter and some state laws. An example, charter cities are exempt from state zoning laws (CGC 65803) except for one provision regarding procedure (CGC 65804).

            From the pamphlet:

            “Except as otherwise provided, the provisions of Government
            Code title 7, div. 1, ch. 4 (Government Code § 65800 et seq.) do not apply to a charter city, except to the extent that the same may be adopted by charter or ordinance of the city.”

            Charter cities like LA write their own rules.

          • sugarmagnolia December 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

            Thanks for code citation DT….as Benett says, we’ll see what the courts rule, as that seems very subject to interpretation. I would read that as applying to LA lands within the county that the city resides in…ie.where the City has jurisdiction, its law may supercede the Counties or even the State’s.

            I don’t see it saying they can leave their jurisiction and expect their law to supercede those of a county where LA is not a municipality.

            In fact, I’d say its pretty clear.

  10. Mongo The Idiot December 18, 2013 at 7:42 am #


    The Utility of Modern Conflict.

  11. Philip Anaya December 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your excellent letter . This is exactly what Mayor Garcetti and the people of Los Angeles need to hear, an accurate and precisely written presentation of the past and present history of DWP in the Owens Valley . You sir are a great communicator


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