Oak Creek Land Sale Raises Concerns

LADWP has confirmed that the agency received an offer to buy more than 100 acres of land along Oak Creek north of Independence. Some citizens have already launched a petition effort to oppose this purchase.

DWP’s Chris Plakos said that “DWP is not in the mode of buying land, but it is our duty to look at it and see if it makes sense for us.” Plakos said DWP has started an appraisal of the land, which is reportedly owned by Robert and Alan Bell. DWP staff will then review the appraisal and make a recommendation to the general manager.

Any land purchase would also go before the Water and Power Commission. Plakos added that the City owns a lot of land as protection for its water. “The City,” said Plakos, “is not in a position to acquire more land unless it makes sense.”

The citizen objection to more DWP land ownership – the stranglehold on Inyo County towns where virtually no growth has taken place in the last 30 years. The petition written by Scott Palamar of Southern Inyo says that while most residents and visitors like the open space of the area, the lack of economic sustainability and growth has left central and Southern Inyo in a state of decay.

The Inyo-LA Water Agreement included the release of a paltry 75 acres divided among four towns. Bureaucratic delays kept the land from going to auction for 10 years. When the land did go up for sale last year, the economy had taken such a bad turn that only 3 of 17 parcels sold.

So, where does Inyo County government stand on the Oak Creek acreage and land ownership in general? County Administrator Kevin Carunchio did remind us that Inyo has a General Plan policy that says essentially there shall be no net loss of private property.

Planning Director Pat Cecil is checking on the significance of that policy and how it might apply in the Oak Creek case.

DWP General Manager David Nahai had said at a Standing Committee meeting that LA would look at better ways to market the land releases to help get the acres into private ownership.

According to Plakos, after land spelled out in the Water Agreement goes up for sale, DWP would entertain additional land release requests from Inyo or the City of Bishop

 
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