second road out
A neighborhood board memberBy Jaymes K. Song
writes to the mayor asking the city
to study the situation
The Tanimotos. The Bingos. The Parenios.
Komo Mai Drive not only represents the sole thoroughfare to their Pacific Palisades homes, but also a large part of their lives.
Last week, gunman Wayman Kaua took away that access for 22 hours.
The three families were among hundreds who were kept from their homes and loved ones during last week's hostage standoff. Most families who did not make it home were forced to sleep in a church, a car or a recreation center.
"The best word to describe the situation they were in is 'quarantined,' " said Pearl City Neighborhood Board member Jerry Souza.
On Monday, Souza -- on behalf of numerous residents -- wrote to Mayor Jeremy Harris asking him to revisit a study to create a second road into the 2,000-home Pacific Palisades neighborhood.
"I was inundated at church, at Foodland, at Longs," Souza said.
Residents want either an official response that the project is too expensive and cannot be built, or that it can be constructed and what needs to be done to do so, Souza added.
The city said it has already started looking into the situation.
City spokeswoman Carol Costa said Managing Director Ben Lee ordered a review of options for the area from the Department of Transportation Services.
"We share the same concerns as the residents of a single-access road," Costa said.
"We asked Transportation Services to take a look at various options, and we'll certainly discuss (the results) with the community as soon as possible."
During the standoff, police evacuated dozens of people in the Pacific Palisades area, including many children, who were in emergency situations.
According to Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa, an infant with a high fever and an adult needing dialysis were among the evacuees.
Evacuees wore bulletproof vests and were transported by an armored Humvee in the dark. An M-88 tank retriever was brought in to transport people during the day, but the Humvee was used instead.
Residents said this was not the first time Komo Mai Drive was shut down.
The road was closed several years ago because of a fallen utility pole, and in 1988 when heavy rains flooded the street.
Souza said a second road would be urgently needed in a landslide, fire or similar event.
Closing down the existing road would be disastrous, as witnessed during the standoff, he said.
But he said the project would be very costly and might have a detrimental impact on the environment.
"There's no easy answer," he said. "I wish I had the knowledge of Solomon."
Neighborhood board member Albert Fukushima said the question of having a second access road also came up in the 1970s, when roads washed out.
The city gave residents an option to have a road constructed, but only if they paid for it, he said. The Pacific Palisades Community Association voted it down because of the cost.
"I feel sympathetic with the people, but based on past history I couldn't make any comment," Fukushima said. "They were given an opportunity way back."