A consortium of oil companies wants to reroute a proposed crude oil pipeline so that it avoids Griffith Park and the Los Feliz area but runs under heavily traveled streets in Silver Lake and Glendale, including a stretch of Central Avenue near the Glendale Galleria.
The changes came at the urging of environmentalists and Los Feliz residents who opposed routing the pipeline through a city park and along Los Feliz Boulevard, one of the area's main thoroughfares. The new route is also expected to generate controversy.
Glendale officials have responded with caution, declining comment until they receive a staff report outlining how the proposed Angeles Pipeline Project would affect the city. The latest route, however, has drawn sharp fire from a group of area residents who say the pipeline should be routed through unpopulated areas to minimize safety and environmental hazards.
"There are a number of schools and hospitals and convalescent homes along the Glendale route. Why can't they put it out in the desert . . . where there are no people," said Virginia Adams, a community activist from Elysian Valley.
In an attempt to rally public interest, about 30 placard-carrying people picketed Wednesday in front of the Safeway store on Los Feliz Boulevard and Central Avenue. The store is next to the pipeline's proposed path.
"We are trying to pressure the City Council and the mayor of Glendale to take a stand against the pipeline," said Roberta Merette of Los Feliz, a county social worker whose office is located along the pipeline route.
The group is also gearing up for a series of public hearings April 28-30 organized by Caltrans and the U.S. Forest Service, the two governmental agencies charged with preparing environmental impact reports on the pipeline.
The 30-inch pipeline, which would run from the coast of Santa Barbara County to refineries in southern Los Angeles County, is designed to carry 330,000 barrels of oil a day and would be buried three to four feet deep for most of its length in urban areas.
Backers of the $225-million project, a consortium of four oil companies operating under the name of the Southern California Pipeline System, have run into persistent opposition from homeowner groups. As a result, the primary and alternate routes have been revised at least twice in the past year. Each time, the changes prompted new waves of protests as affected communities rallied to fight the pipeline.
Katherine Tyrrell, a principal planner for the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is coordinating environmental impact research on the pipeline, said another route change is unlikely.
Under the newly revised route, the pipeline would enter Glendale from Burbank at Sonora Avenue, running east to San Fernando Road. It would then run south, turning east at Colorado Boulevard and south again at Central Avenue.
The Colorado-Central stretch of the proposed pipeline would run along the southern border of the Glendale Galleria, but a Galleria official this week said she does not think the pipeline poses an inherent danger.
"We quite honestly feel there's no danger once the pipeline is in. Our greatest concern is during the time of installation what it will do to the traffic around the area," said Vicki Conrad, the Galleria's general manager.
After skirting the Galleria, the pipeline would travel down Central to San Fernando Road, turn south again on San Fernando Road until it hit Fletcher Drive. It would then turn southwest, run to Rowena Avenue and head northwest to Hyperion Avenue, where it would head southwest to Fountain Avenue. From there, it would continue west to Virgil Avenue, south on Virgil, west on Melrose Avenue and south on Western Avenue.
Opponents of the pipeline, including the Silver Lake Residents' Assn., said the proposed route lies along earthquake fault lines that could increase the risk of fires or explosion. They also said refining the oil from the pipeline will worsen air pollution in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.
Pipeline executives said the main inconvenience for residences and businesses along the pipeline will come from traffic disruption during construction, when the pipeline trench will be dug into the street, the pipe laid and the streets repaved. They dismiss the threat of explosions as improbable.
Two alternate pipeline routes have also drawn controversy. One would traverse the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains. The second would cross Riverside Drive at Los Feliz Boulevard and travel east along Riverside, Fletcher Drive, San Fernando Road, Cypress Avenue, Figueroa Street, back to San Fernando Road and then downtown on North Main Street.
The first hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters on 111 N. Hope St.