By Jason KUROSU
Though a development at the Verdugo Hills Golf Course has received near unanimous opposition from the community, architect Janek Dombrowa solicited opinions and suggestions from the community for his office’s latest proposal, a 221-unit complex with community-based amenities.
The Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council invited Dombrowa to present his alternative for a development at the council’s Monday night meeting.
The original proposal featured 229 units, but Dombrowa said his new 221-unit proposal would have around 200 fewer bedrooms than the original, which had “over 900” bedrooms. Dombrowa said the alternative would reduce the overall size of the project significantly, despite only eight fewer units.
But the core of the presentation was to explore ideas for various features that Dombrowa felt could benefit the community.
Dombrowa’s proposal featured more walkways, including a long path extending from the southwest to the northeast portion of the property, ending in a clearing which Dombrowa says could be used for a multitude of purposes.
His preference was for a place “where kids could play safely” but, like most of the night’s discussion, was something still open-ended and up for debate.
Other potential features of the development include a bike trail, an outdoor amphitheater outside of the complex’s walls for community performances and a mural wall along the eastern edge of the property, which he envisions would be similar to Van Nuys’ “Mural Mile” on Van Nuys Boulevard.
Dombrowa also said that the La Tuna Canyon Detention Center’s Historical Monument, slated to become a traveling exhibit in 2016, would not be affected by whatever alternative is selected. Any part of the project that affects the monument area must be reviewed by the L.A. County Office of Historic Resources. Dombrowa said his plan is to encircle the monument with oak trees in order to preserve the trees and offer additional aesthetics to the monument.
Monday’s meeting was the first of what will be several discussions regarding alternatives at the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. Dombrowa said that discussing what residents want and don’t want to see in a proposed development could affect the ultimate result, with a property that satisfies both developer Snowball West Investments, Inc. and the community at large.
Speaking specifically on the architecture style of the complex, Dombrowa said, “If I had a chance to go to the developer and say, ‘In exchange for modifying the traffic flow or in exchange for cutting down the number of units or providing a donation to help create seed money for the monument at a much greater scale,’ then I think I could lock in all kinds of things about the architecture as well.”
The architecture, like a number of other aspects regarding the property, is still in flux and Dombrowa said he was open to group sessions with the community in order to craft an ideal, mutually agreed-upon concept for the buildings.
Karen Zimmerman, STNC member and a member of VOICE (Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment), who is trying to preserve the golf course, said that county funds are still set aside for community purposes.
Like many residents at Monday’s meeting, additional traffic from an influx of people living at that property was an issue for her.
“Our concern is what happens to the rest of the community around that [area] if you have that many houses and vehicles,” said Zimmerman. “At some point, conceivably there could be over 800 vehicles added to that traffic corridor.”
Dombrowa said a more formal presentation will come with the release of the Environmental Impact Report, which he said would be recirculated in the near future.
Until then, the STNC will hold more meetings with Dombrowa, who said among upcoming meeting topics will be traffic concerns. A traffic engineer will be brought in to discuss potential impacts to traffic on La Tuna Canyon Road, Lowell Avenue, Tujunga Canyon Boulevard and other nearby roads.