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Bass wants more action on utility pole maintenance


Hundreds in immediate need of repair

Mayor Karen Bass has sent a letter to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, urging the agency to take swift action to address the condition of hundreds of electrical poles in need of urgent repair, and to inform the public of the locations of the potentially dangerous poles that need attention.

The mayor’s letter comes on the heels of a $38 million settlement between the LADWP and a Panorama City family that lost a father and daughter in a fatal electrocution caused by a downed power line in 2021.

Bass said in her letter that the tragedy was not a “mere failure” of a power pole, but a “failure of management and leadership.”

The Board of Water and Power Commissioners received a report on April 25  that revealed that an outsourced contractor identified more than 1,600 poles as “priority one” poles requiring immediate repairs in 2021–but that it was not until 2023 that those poles were addressed.

More than 700 utility poles are still in need of immediate repairs to mitigate the risk of other pole failures, the report said. In addition, it showed that many thousands of poles were classified as “priority two,” requiring non-emergency attention.

“Tuesday’s presentation highlighted a lack of attention to the state of potentially dangerous electrical equipment throughout the city of Los Angeles, putting the public and LADWP workers at risk,” Bass wrote.

She urged Board of Water and Power commissioners and the LADWP to prioritize the safety of the public and of LADWP workers while addressing “priority one” poles.

In her letter, she called for:

—The LADWP to complete repairs to “‘priority one” poles by May 16;

— Bringing additional resources to complete “‘priority one” repairs by the deadline, including necessary overtime and use of contractors;

— Notifying residents of the locations of “‘priority one” poles by more than one method, and again when repairs are completed;

— Committing to and making public a schedule to complete “priority two” pole repairs per the California Public Utilities Commission regulations and orders;

— Instituting regular reporting of pole inspections and repairs, and

— Reporting weekly to the mayor’s office on progress.

The mayor called on the department and leadership to improve accountability and risk management practices by retaining outside experts to advise on necessary reforms, create a position for an inspector general, and report back to the mayor’s office on these plans no later than June 1 with the goal of implementing these initiatives by December.