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Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commission Eyes Reservoir for Future Park

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

November 20, 2013 -- Santa Monica’s Recreation and Parks Commission will discuss the future of more than an acre of unused grassland that covers Mt. Olivet Reservoir on the eastern edge of the city’s Wilmont Neighborhood Thursday.

Looking westward from atop Mt. Olivet Reservoir (photo courtesy of Recreation and Parks Chair Phil Brock)

Recreation and Parks Chair Phil Brock has called for the City to look at the possibility of opening up about 1.2 acres of the grassy knoll, currently closed to the public for security reasons, to be used as a “passive” public park.

"The views are spectacular,” said Brock. And, since much of the city’s 8.3 square miles has already been developed, “the ability to have it as a passive, serene piece of green (space) in that neighborhood" is very valuable.

The elevated piece of land, Brock said, provides views of the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and, on a clear day, Catalina Island.

But, since beneath the swath of land lies a half-century old reservoir of drinking water, City Hall will have to look closely at the idea before any decisions are made.

The chain link fence around Mt. Olivet Reservoir

"As the operators of the site, we'd take a look at what the security considerations might be," said Santa Monica’s Director of Public Works Martin Pastucha.

"The integrity of the system has to be protected,” he said.

Currently, the site is bounded with a chain-link fence which prohibits general access to the land except by authorized personnel.

While Pastucha said it is certainly possible to consider opening at least part of the parcel, it is much too early to discuss the feasibility of any such plans.

"Because we don't know what they want to do, we don't know what it means," he said. "It's not a matter of saying yes or no."

Brock said that his idea would be simply to use fences to restrict access to the important pieces of infrastructure on the site and create a simple, passive space.

He mentioned the possibility of placing a few chairs in the grass.

“The reason to open this is number one, it increases our inventory of park space, which is sorely lacking in Santa Monica," said Brock. "Number two, it provides more park space in that part of town."

He said it would also improve the experience along the street since there would no longer be a chain-link fence separating the pedestrians from the grassy land.

Thursday’s meeting is a preliminary one, said Brock. If the Commission decides to, it will have the issue placed on its December agenda as an action item. The Commission can then recommend the idea to the City Council for consideration.

Brock is hopeful that it Mt. Olivet Reservoir could become Santa Monica’s newest park.

"I want it to be for the community," he said.

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