Beverly Hills News – Truck Driver Files Claim Against Beverly Hills for Loma Vista Collision
Posted Wednesday, Aug. 13 – 8 PM
By Victoria Talbot
Truck driver Brandon Cascio, who was severely injured in the accident May 9 on Loma Vista Dr. that killed off-duty LAPD Detective Ernest Allen, has filed a claim against the City of Beverly Hills.
The claim alleges that even though the City of Beverly Hills knew that the roadway was unsafe for such vehicles, they continued to issue building permits that approved heavy haul trucks traveling on Loma Vista Dr.
Cascio is described as a 15-year veteran cement truck operator with a Class A license to operate a tank truck and hazardous materials. He lost control of his brakes “on a downhill slope of roadway, causing him to crash into a tree. His cement truck overturned and slid down the roadway.” The claim alleges that the City of Beverly Hills “knew of the dangerous condition of this roadway.”
According to the claim, Cascio “remains in a vegetative state in a long-term care facility.” He is the 42-year-old father of two, said the claim.
It also states that between 2009 and 2014, “there have been 40 serious collisions on that roadway,” including the collision on March 7 that killed LAPD Officer Nicholas Lee when his vehicle was struck by a runaway truck, and an accident on May 2 when a cement truck struck several parked cars when its brakes failed, “on a dangerous section of this roadway, resulting in serious, catastrophic injuries to the driver.”
“Despite the fact that this crash history was known to the City of Beverly Hills it continued to issue building permits in the neighborhood that approved heavy trucks to travel on Loma Vista. The City knew that such trucks could not be safely operated on such a winding, narrow and steep roadway.”
Ironically, the claim acknowledges the City’s mitigation efforts; including contracting with Fehrs and Peers Traffic Engineering firm, third party inspections and requiring secondary brakes for heavy haul vehicles in the area.
Cascio was a driver for the Over & Over Ready Mix cement company, which, along with Cascio and the cities of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, has been named in a lawsuit filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the survivors of Detective Allen, including his mother, Sarah Allen, and children Ernest Allen Jr. and Latrice Allen-Richard. That suit was filed on Aug. 6.
Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Weiner said that the City has not yet received either the claim or the suit.
The City of Beverly Hills continues to make efforts to mitigate safety in the Trousdale area, where excavations for “basements” require hundreds of heavy haul truck trips daily.
The City’s Hillside Ordinance height restrictions, combined with unrestricted excavation that requires limited permit approvals, encourages development to proceed below ground. This results in dump trucks hauling soil away from the project and cement trucks to shore up the excavations. In this way, developers add hundreds, even thousands of square feet to the properties, not counted in the overall square footage.
The City has made huge strides in safety requirements for heavy haul vehicles over 26,000 pounds and/or having three or more axles, including limiting trucks to a maximum weight of 50,400 pounds, requiring regular and frequent inspections, specified haul routes, project site parking restrictions and secondary brake requirements. Other efforts include offsite parking on project sites, a limit of to two parking-permitted vehicles per site, new signage, CHP presence, limited hours of truck travel and 24-hour notice for large truck deliveries greater than 26,000 pounds.
The City has yet to put forth a plan that would limit excavation.
In Bel Air, where runaway construction has produced mega-mansions that are sometimes as much as two-thirds underground, the Bel Air Homeowners Alliance is keeping a watchful eye on Beverly Hills as Ground Zero for mitigating unsafe development standards in the hillside areas. Frederic Rosen, CEO/President of the Bel Air Homeowners Alliance feels this tragedy “ is a preview of coming attractions for the City of Los Angeles. They continue to grant hauling routes in the hills–which are inherently dangerous and unsafe. No amount of mitigations can prevent a hauling or cement truck from blowing their brakes–as happened on Loma Vista. There are too many trucks in the hills now. The fact is that retaining walls are a much more sensible solution in Bel Air than removing tens of thousands of cu. yards from individual projects. Its safer–and when homes are being sold for more than $50,000,000, the walls will not be eyesores as they will be covered by expensive landscaping. There are too many departments with different mission statements–the City needs to create one department which can coordinate these projects. We need a fresh look at the existing situation so we can bring about a rational and sensible solution.”
On July 30, at the urging of homeowners, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz has filed two motions in the City aimed at preparing a report on recommendations for the following: limiting hauling hours, requiring a hillside safety fee for increasing inspections and infrastructure work, withholding Certificates of Occupancy for outstanding violations, modifications to the exemption process for hillside grading, including cement trucks into the haul route hearing process, requiring a full completion bond on hillside projects and best practices, increasing notification of haul route hearings to a wider margin, and a street bond increase for haul routes.