By the time this is published it will be after the deadline for filing to run for the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. The election is scheduled for April 2 so Sunland-Tujunga stakeholders have a couple of months to learn about the candidates and figure out who will represent them the best. Check on stnc.org for information about the candidates and details on the election. Please help everyone you know in the Sunland-Tujunga area to understand how important it is to vote. This local election is the first in a big election year but considering the effect on everyday life it may be even more important than the national elections in June and November.
The deadline to submit comments on the recirculated portions of the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the possible development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course property will also have passed. We don’t know how long it will take the City of Los Angeles to review the comments and develop the final EIR. It took them over six years to consider what the community said about the first draft back in 2009. That was so long ago many in the community have been assuming the VHGC has already been saved. Newcomers to the area may not even know 221 homes are proposed for the property. That would be in addition to the 220-plus home Canyon Hills development a little further west. That project was approved in 2005 but construction has not yet started.
Sadly, VHGC is in more jeopardy than ever due to the improving economy and the election of Felipe Fuentes as the L.A. Councilmember representing the area. In 2008 when Mr. Fuentes was in the California Assembly he proposed a bill that would have forced the City of L.A. to grant a zoning change even though it was not in compliance with the City’s general plan. The L.A. Councilmember representing the area at the time, Wendy Greuel, launched a vigorous lobbying effort on behalf of the City and Fuentes was forced to withdraw the bill before it went to a vote.
Mr. Fuentes has announced he will not run for reelection when his term is up in 2017. It is unlikely he will support the community’s efforts to create a regional park. A park would not only keep the recreational assets, it could include recognition of the historic Tuna Camp internment facility that was on the site during WWII. It was used to house U.S. citizens and resident legal aliens of Japanese, Italian and German descent. The property is in a great location to also become part of a wildlife corridor over or under the 210 Freeway to allow mountain lions and bears and other wildlife to travel between the Verdugo Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. It could be a companion to the proposed Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor overpass crossing the 101 Freeway and connecting the Santa Monica Mountains on the south with the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains.
A regional park could also contain features to store storm water for subsequent use in irrigation. In the recent film “The Big Short” a key character anticipated the burst of the housing bubble and was able to profit greatly from it. The real life individual is now investing only in water. Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for L.A. city and/or county to make a similar investment? How much better would that be than allowing the public to be held hostage to water speculators?
Public opinion will be critical in achieving all these goals. Please help spread the word. The V.O.I.C.E. website, gcvoice.org, remains the best source of information on this issue.
The L.A. County Dept. of Parks and Recreation is in the process of collecting information from the public about what residents are looking for in their local parks. The county isn’t making any promises to build any specific parks or new features in existing parks; they are gathering data for future consideration. If you weren’t able to attend the meetings on Jan. 30, one focused on the needs of unincorporated La Crescenta/Montrose and the other on north Glendale, there is another meeting Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon at Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave. It will focus on Glendale parks south of the 134 Freeway. Several other meetings are scheduled all over the county plus you can make comments on the website dedicated to the effort, lacountyparkneeds.org.
Although this planning effort is quite comprehensive I think it needs to be even more so. Land controlled by L.A. County Flood Control and other public agencies should be considered for shared use. For example, at one of the Jan. 30 meetings it was suggested that property adjacent to debris basins be used for hiking or walking paths.
The other missing piece is public transportation to existing or proposed park facilities. Regional parks serve a wide area and those without private vehicles are likely to be those in most need of public open space and amenities. I think questions about how less affluent people will access county parks should be asked of those vying to succeed Supervisor Mike Antonovich when he terms out this year.
The next Crescenta Valley Community Association meeting will be Feb. 25 starting at 7 p.m. in the community room at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd. Park in the upper lot accessed from La Crescenta Avenue. The agenda will include updates on the 28-condominium project at 4201 Pennsylvania. Our meetings are free and open to the public.