December 13, 2017

Topanga’s New Emergency Access Card — Don’t Leave Home Without It

 

We all know the drill: there is a fire raging nearby but it hasn’t hit the canyon yet; or the Boulevard is flooded; or there’s a terrible accident; or an earthquake has just rattled the area. For safety reasons, the Fire Department, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Sheriffs Department may have decided to close Topanga Canyon for commuters and may or may not allow residents access to get home. Where will you be when this happens? What if you aren’t allowed back in?



For years, the Topanga Town Council (TTC) has promoted the Emergency Access Sticker, an identification program that allows Canyon residents re-entry at roadblocks. Lately, however, the sticker has not been as effective. Due to an increase in looting and identity theft when neighborhoods are closed after a disaster, the CHP and Sheriffs Department requested a more secure resident re-entry program.

As a result, the TTC met with local officials to create a new system—the Topanga Emergency Access Card—a photo ID whose design changes every year, displaying the holder’s photo, the current year and the Zone where they live (refer to Topanga Survival Guide to identify your Zone).



PHOTOS COURTESY OF STACY SLEDGE

Topanga’s New Emergency Access Card — Don’t Leave Home Without It

Cars are backed up for miles on Topanga Canyon Boulevard during a road closure in 2007. Officers stop passenger cars (inset) going into the canyon to verify identification during another “residents only” roadblock.



Benefits of the Topanga Emergency Access Card are:

• It will not show a physical address (to prevent identity theft).

• Children, the elderly and disabled residents with Access Cards will be able to gain entry into the canyon with a non-resident driver.

• The Access Card will display each resident’s LA County-established Zone number, invaluable when a Zone is open only to its residents. Roadblock officers will expedite access to residents based on the printed Zone number on the Access Card. (Currently, officers must look up each street, thus creating a traffic delay).

• The Topanga Town Council will work with the captains at CHP and Sheriffs to train the officers at the roadblocks to recognize the Access Cards.

• In the case of mandatory evacuation or other events where the canyon is closed to everyone including residents, the Access Card will not apply.

To register, people must show proof of residency with a Topanga address, such as a California driver’s license, utility bill, auto insurance bill, mortgage or bank statement. The TTC will take each resident’s photo to display on the Access Card. For adults, a new photo will be required every five years; children under 16 will need a new photo every year. All cards will be verified annually by the TTC.

Topanga’s New Emergency Access Card — Don’t Leave Home Without It

Topanga Town Council will implement the new Emergency Access Card program beginning in January, 2009.



For convenience and to expedite issuance, the TTC will offer several dates at different locations where they will take your picture, verify residency and issue the cards. Those who pre-register by mailing their registration forms with a check will be eligible for express processing of their Access Card. (Refer to the advertisement on page 35 to see the new card and registration form.)

This is an important part of each resident’s emergency preparedness plan. The first opportunities to get your card will be at the Town Council meeting on Thursday, January 15 from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and at the Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, January 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Community House.

The cost is $12 per card for the first three cards; each additional card is $10. Funds collected from the Access Card program support the work of the TTC and its many projects, among them the Topanga Emergency Task Force, Graffiti patrol, Topanga Elementary School’s Essay Contest, the Do Gooders’ Awards, the Red Flag Campaign, the Community Calendar, Fire Station 69’s Annual Dinner, Special Programs for Seniors, the Adopt-A-Highway Campaign, the Topanga Creek Cleanup and many more.

For more information about the Topanga Town Council and any of its projects, including the Topanga Emergency Access Card program, please visit the organization’s website, www.topangatowncouncil.org, or email topangatowncouncil@yahoo.com.