By Mary O’KEEFE
Every seat was filled at the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee meeting on Monday. Community members were there to hear from the new owner of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The tone may have changed but residents’ trepidation was still evident as Attorney Fred Gaines from Snowball West Investments began his PowerPoint presentation on the company’s development plan.
“People ask where Snowball came from. Some say its because we don’t have a snowball’s chance in ……. of getting this project approved by you,” Gaines said. “But it is this.”
A picture of an adorable little dog popped up on the screen.
“This is who the company was named after,” Gaines said.
There was some light laughter and a few “ooos” and “ahhs” but not for long. There was no doubt about it – this was a tough room.
Gaines continued with a straightforward appraisal of what the owner, Michael Hoberman, was hoping to do with the golf course location.
The presentation covered the legalese of what was allowed. Gaines told the audience the property at 6433 La Tuna Canyon was zoned for residential multi-family homes.
“You don’t have to like it but [that is the] way it was zoned,” Gaines said.
The company’s plan is to designate low to medium multiple family residential homes for the project. They will use less than half of the 58 acres of the property, primarily because most of the land is not suitable to build on because of steep terrain.
“Thirty three of the 58 acres are left for open space,” he added.
Hoberman addressed the
audience as well. He gave a
brief background history of who he was, a family man married for many years. He told the audience that he does want to work with them – a happy change from the previous owner who was not as willing to take the community concerns into consideration.
Hoberman and Gaines presented what they see as their three options: The first, no project. That does not mean that the golf course would continue or even be open for business. The second alternative is for a 339 residential townhouse project that would keep at least part of the golf course and the third is a mixed-use residential/retail center.
Both Hoberman and Gaines added that another alternative is to sell the property to a conservancy or private owner who would like to keep it open space and a golf course.
“If you have a willing seller but not one that we wait on for 15 years. It has already been four years since Wendy Greuel said, ‘I will find you the money,’” Gaines said.
He referred to then Los Angeles Supervisor Greuel who told the residents she would search and find someone to buy the golf course. The L.A. Board of Supervisors has ponied up $1.5 million, far short of Gaines’ estimated $15 million price tag for the property.
The meeting continued with audience members and the committee arguing their points, voicing their concerns and asking questions. Hoberman and Gaines answered their questions. In the end the audience seemed to be less contentious then when they walked in, but that may have been more from the willingness of the owner to talk to them then the answers they received.
The plans are still in review. The story will continue next week.