Daily Breeze - Gardena says jet-fuel pipeline firm misled city
Our friendly neighborhood pipeline company.
Today is Monday, April 30, 2007
Originally published Friday, April 27, 2007
Updated Friday, April 27, 2007
Gardena says jet-fuel pipeline firm misled city
Mayor charges that the company that wants to lay a 24-mile link to LAX
falsely claimed it has eminent domain-like powers.
By Sandy Mazza
Gardena officials and residents are slamming the company proposing to
lay a jet fuel pipeline under Rosecrans Avenue for falsely claiming it
had "common-carrier" status, like a public utility, which would give
it the power to dig up streets and push through its project regardless
WesPac Energy Group of Huntington Beach, unlike such companies as
Verizon and Southern California Gas Co., has not been granted such
power, according to Public Utilities Commission records, although it
has applied for it.
"We might not be dealing with everything on the up and up," Mayor Paul
Tanaka said. "One of the representations made by WesPac is that they
have PUC approval. They're banking on not having opposition to their
PUC application. In Gardena we are strenuously objecting to the route
proposed by WesPac."
The proposed 24-mile underground pipeline would connect fuel-storage
facilities in Wilmington and Carson with 61 airlines at LAX. It will
run mostly through Los Angeles, but will also cross Hawthorne, Carson,
Wilmington, El Segundo, Carson and Gardena on Rosecrans Avenue between
Vermont Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.
City officials and residents said the company deceived them in recent
community meetings, making them believe it has eminent domain-like
authority despite city objections to the project.
"They said they were a public utility," said Holly Park Homeowners
Association President Tasha Cerda, who hosted an April 5 meeting with
WesPac officials at Rowley Memorial Park. "It's very upsetting because
they're giving out false information to make themselves look better,
and to go forward with their project."
On Tuesday, company spokesman Rick Taylor told the Daily Breeze the
company already had PUC common-carrier status ("The reality is that
we're a common carrier and we can do eminent domain to get access to
the center or side of a street."), and moments later after he was
confronted with PUC records showing only an application has been
filed, denied that he ever said it.
"Do you have a quote of me saying that?" he said. "I never said that.
... We don't expect any problems. There's no question in my mind that
they will give us common-carrier status. ... I think there's a
In its application to the PUC, obtained by the Daily Breeze, WesPac
states that it anticipates "no protests to the application will be
filed and that no evidentiary hearings are necessary."
Gardena City Attorney Edward Lee said that statement is presumptuous,
and Gardena plans to file a protest to WesPac's application in May.
"I think they want to give everyone the impression this is a done
deal," Lee said. "I think (WesPac's misrepresentation about its
utility status) should call into question the credibility of
everything they say. If you lie about having PUC approval, what else
are you lying about?"
PUC information officer Terrie Prosper said the agency received
WesPac's application on April 3, and is currently reviewing it.
Prosper said the review process could take as long as 18 months, but
Taylor, WesPac's spokesman, said he expects it to be approved in early
Prosper said the commission will vote on whether the project will
benefit the public, and will base its decision on that.
"The hallmark of a common carrier is that it holds itself out as
offering the use of its facilities or services to all prospective
customers," Prosper wrote in an e-mailed statement. "Its facilities
are therefore said to be dedicated to public use."
Gardena has put up the most resistance to the pipeline project coming
through the city, Taylor said. City officials and residents who oppose
the project say it will hurt the city, and offer no benefit.
The jet-fuel pipeline would not only provide no benefit to the city of
Gardena, but it also would disrupt the daily business of an elementary
school, a convalescent hospital and residential areas along Rosecrans
between Vermont and Crenshaw, where the construction is proposed to
take place in 2008, said Gardena City Manager Mitch Lansdell.
WesPac officials said the pipeline will benefit the general public
because it will help keep airline ticket prices down. Fuel prices are
currently set by oil companies that own four jet-fuel pipelines to Los
Angeles International Airport. Taylor said the proposed pipeline would
provide fuel at market prices. Also, the current pipelines are 40 to
50 years old. The new one would be safer and more modern, Taylor said.
Whether the application is approved is still unclear, Tanaka said.
"There was some talk about the power of eminent domain. There are a
number of hurdles before WesPac gets to that point," Tanaka said. "We
are not in a panic mode, but we are definitely in a state of concern."
What: WesPac Energy Group informational community meetings in cities
that may be affected by the jet-fuel pipeline, including Hawthorne, El
Segundo, Carson, Compton, Wilmington and Los Angeles.
When: The next meeting will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
WesPac officials will be present, along with representatives from the
city of Hawthorne.
Where: The Venus Room at Hawthorne Memorial Center, 3901 El Segundo
More information: Contact the office of Hawthorne Mayor Larry Guidi at