LASD Denies Claims Project Was For Helicopter Landing SiteBy CBSLA Staff

LA HABRA HEIGHTS (CBSLA) — A helicopter landing pad appears to have been in the works on a piece of property right behind the La Habra Heights home of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

A helicopter landing pad appears to have been in the works on a piece of property right behind the La Habra Heights home of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (CBSLA)

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The problem is that the property owner said the department started work there without permission and, according to a $4,950 receipt provided to CBS Los Angeles by county attorneys reviewing the claim, Los Angeles County is paying for it.

“That’s not what we pay taxpayer dollars for,” Arnold Leos, a La Habra resident, said.

Not only does Leos think the helipad is unnecessary, SoCal Gas is attempting to put an end to the project. The utility owns the property and said it denied the request back in late August when deputies informally approached workers and asked about it.

The company has since sent L.A. County a cease and desist demand stating that “the area has been graded and fill dirt brought in to create a helipad,” sometime between Jan. 15 and Feb. 2.

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Even if SoCal Gas had approved the project, the city of La Habra Heights said anyone doing grading work would need to apply for a permit with the city before starting the project, something it said L.A. County has not yet done.

But the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department denies the report, issuing a statement Wednesday that said:

“As is standard with all Los Angeles County elected officials, a threat assessment was conducted at the Sheriff’s residence, due to numerous credible threats, doxing, and protests.  On Jan. 14, 2021, during the course of the threat assessment, LASD detectives met with SoCal Gas representatives and approval was obtained to clear a small area of land to use in the event of an emergency, which is appropriate given the remote location and absence of suitable landing areas.  Contrary to erroneous reports, the work performed consisted primarily of brush clearing; no dirt was ever brought in, no fencing was ever built, and there was never a plan to pour cement or build a helipad.”

However, video from Sky2/9 on Wednesday appeared to show that a lot of dirt had in fact been moved to clear an area that looks very much like a helicopter landing pad.

Residents said they understood the need for security, but said LASD should not be the sole entity making the decision.

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“Obviously he does need to be protected, he’s up there on the chain,” Fernando Castillo, a La Habra resident, said. “[But it] definitely needs to be a vote for the residents there.”