LOS ANGELES – Mayor Karen Bass today sent the following letter regarding the dangerous condition of hundreds of LADWP utility poles. The letter calls on LADWP to act swiftly to ensure public awareness about remaining poles in need of repair and to urgently address necessary repairs. The Mayor also called for LADWP to ensure that the safety of the public and of LADWP workers is the Department’s highest priority.
The letter reads as follows:
April 27, 2023
Cynthia McClain-Hill, President
Board of Water and Power Commissioners
Martin L. Adams
General Manager and Chief Engineer
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 N. Hope St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dear President McClain-Hill and Mr. Adams:
The January 2021 equipment failure was a tragedy for the Tejada family. This was not a mere failure of a power pole, but a failure of management and leadership.
The report that the Board of Water and Power Commissioners received on Tuesday, April 25 revealed that a contractor identified more than 1600 poles as “priority one” poles requiring immediate repairs in 2021, but it was not until 2023 that work on them accelerated. To date, more than 700 utility poles are still in need of immediate repairs to mitigate the risk of other pole failures. The report also showed that many thousands more utility poles also require attention and non-emergency maintenance as “priority two” poles. 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.
I am calling on the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and LADWP to act swiftly to ensure public awareness, to address necessary repairs and make changes to ensure this does not happen again. LADWP must create a strong safety culture to ensure that the safety of the public and of LADWP workers is the Department’s highest priority. Therefore I am urging the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and the Department to immediately:
Commit to complete repairs to the utility poles in need of immediate repairs (Priority One) by May 16.
Bring additional resources to complete the Priority One work by May 16 including necessary overtime and use of contractors.
Notify residents in the locations of Priority One poles in need of repairs by more than one method and then notify residents when repairs are completed.
Commit to and make public a schedule to complete the Priority Two pole repairs per the California Public Utilities Commission regulations and orders.
Institute regular reporting of pole inspections and repairs.
Report weekly to the Mayor’s Office on progress.
In addition, LADWP must improve accountability, its safety culture and risk management practices and I expect the Department to make this a high priority. Therefore I am urging the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and LADWP to:
Retain outside experts to advise on necessary reforms within LADWP to achieve these goals;
Expand and elevate its risk management functions with a focus on safety of the public and workers.
Create a truly independent Inspector General.
Report to the Mayor’s Office on these plans no later than June 1, 2023, provide monthly updates and complete these initiatives no later than December 1, 2023.
I expect the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and LADWP to fulfill these requests in the interests of all Angelenos. Please direct reports and any questions to Nancy Sutley, Deputy Mayor of Energy and Sustainability.