PASADENA – Southern California Edison has abandoned its policy of encouraging commercial development, including permanent buildings, on rights of way beneath high-voltage power lines. The decision was welcomed by civic activists and open space advocates in the city who have waged a lengthy battle against Edison’s plans to put self-storage units on the rights of way used by two long-established nurseries in East Pasadena. In a statement, Edison officials said: “Our updated policy dictates that any new secondary land uses will be low-intensity in nature, such as greenbelts or trails, and will not include permanent structures.” Buildings “impair our ability to safely maintain and inspect the existing grid infrastructure” and would impede the “massive ongoing infrastructure replacement and expansion effort,” the statement said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “We’re very happy to hear Edison has changed its policy 180 degrees and now at last appears to be endorsing or supporting green uses for the land under high-voltage lines – it’s what we’ve been pushing for all along,” said Bob Kneisel of Open Space Now, a group formed about a year ago to lobby for more open land in Pasadena. “But we’d like to know if it’s real by hearing more details and seeing some official documents,” he said. Edison spokesman Steve Conroy said Monday that he could not comment on specific right-of-way projects, planned or underway, or how they would be affected. “We will continue to look at secondary land use on rights of way, but the focus will be on low-intensity-use type of projects, which would include nurseries,” Conroy said. Originally, power companies leased rights of way for agricultural uses such as nurseries, strawberry or tree farms to help keep down weeds and brush. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said the city will “explore the full extent of the policy announcement so that we at City Hall are sure we understand it.” But based on what he knows, Bogaard said, he is confident there will be no new construction in the Edison corridor. “There has been no project entitled, indeed no application has been filed,” Bogaard said, referring to Tustin-based RHC Communities’ initial proposal to build self-storage units at the Persson’s Nursery site on East Sierra Madre Boulevard. Bogaard said RHC’s application was filed and then withdrawn, no application is pending and no project was previously approved. “And in light of the increasing recognition of fire danger, it seems imprudent for the city to consider new construction under power lines,” Bogaard said. Councilman Steve Haderlein, whose district includes the rights of way used by Persson’s and Present Perfect Nursery on Kinneloa Avenue, said the policy change was “wonderful news” that clears the way for the city to create more parks and usable open space. Opposition to building on open land is “regional, not just in Pasadena,” Haderlein said. “And perhaps Edison was also seeing there wouldn’t be buckets and buckets of money in it, or at least enough to make a meaningful difference to rate-payers,” Haderlein said, referring to the California Public Utilities Commission’s demand that Edison used its land assets to generate more income and reduce user rates. “I’ll be asking city staff to follow up with Edison, and get clarification of what it means to the parcels in East Pasadena,” Haderlein said. Persson’s and Present Perfect both negotiated lease extensions with Edison earlier this year. Gary Butters, whose wife Linda owns Persson’s, credited the months-long series of community rallies and protests – and Bogaard’s negotiations – for helping them fight off Edison’s efforts to move the couple’s 36-year-old business across the street. “We went through quite a bit of heck for four years,” Butters said. “I think the community is one of the biggest reasons we’re still here.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4482160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!