Project to bring Increased Traffic, Say Residents

By Michael J. ARVIZU

A proposed construction project by Canyon Park Homes in the 12400 block of Big Tujunga Canyon Road in Tujunga has already raised eyebrows among residents concerned with the area’s fragile infrastructure and narrow roadway.

The project is being billed as similar to one already taking place on Sister Elsie Drive in Tujunga. It has received heavy opposition from residents, who are going as far as the Los Angeles City Council to appeal their case. They fear that the project will bring additional traffic to the neighborhood and risk destabilizing an already fragile hillside, among other concerns.

The proposed build on Big Tujunga Canyon Road was discussed Monday evening at the first of two August meetings of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee.

Residents living along the Big Tujunga Canyon Road project have similar concerns as the Sister Elsie project, mainly revolving around increased traffic.

Robin Dorfman, a Big Tujunga Canyon Road resident, said the project will only increase the amount of traffic on the road. The road is particularly busy, she said, due to the number of schools, churches and sports organizations that use it to get around.

And Dorfman said she has had plenty of close calls while driving on the road.

“They are two-lane roads either way,” she said. “There’s no place for this traffic to go. To me, it is just inconceivable. In the last week, I narrowly missed two accidents on those roads just in normal traffic, people shooting down Tujunga Canyon.”

Residents were made aware of the project when they received letters written by the property owner, Ben Salisbury.

Efforts to reach Salisbury for comment via email were unsuccessful as of deadline Wednesday.

In his letter obtained by the Crescenta Valley Weekly, Salisbury asked his future neighbors what amenities they feel are appropriate to include on the new property, as well as their thoughts on any existing facilities they feel might need to be improved upon.

“It is my goal to work with the community as I plan this new neighborhood, to be as transparent as possible, and to listen carefully to your thoughts and concerns,” Salisbury wrote.

The number of homes that would be built is unknown, but they would be built on 110 acres on property located on the east side of Big Tujunga Canyon Road, between the Tujunga Little League fields to the south, and Camp Louis Routh to the north, a juvenile probation camp.

Although no formal plans, variances or zoning changes have been filed with the city of Los Angeles or Land Use Committee, residents who received the letters are concerned that, like the project on Sister Elsie Drive, this build will be a detriment to residents living nearby.

“Here we go with another developer trying to take our zonings apart,” said Sun Valley resident Frank Buchanan. “I am kind of bothered that he would write letters to the community before he comes to the neighborhood council first.”

Addressing Buchanan’s concerns, Land Use Committee member Cindy Cleghorn attributed the developer’s actions as a trend among developers who intend to invest a large amount of money to develop their properties.

“You’re seeing those who put together projects … want to reach out to the community and hear what the community’s concerns are before they put a lot of investing into planning,” she said. “That’s the stage where this is at. What are all your concerns?”

But like the project on Sister Elsie Drive, Big Tujunga Canyon Road residents are weary that any build in their neighborhoods will increase traffic and destabilize a fragile hillside that is subject to rockslides during wet weather.

“The rains actually washed out that street,” said Liliana Sanchez, a Tujunga resident living on Big Tujunga Canyon Road. “The traffic that would be going through that area … I think it wouldn’t hold that many people.”

Meanwhile, Sunland resident Tomi Bowling formally filed a one-year Sunland-Tujunga development moratorium with the LUC on Monday evening to prevent such builds.

Bowling sits on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and is its first vice president.

The moratorium was filed as California continues to suffer from one its worst droughts in state history. The moratorium would pause construction of new projects that could potentially increase water usage. It would also allow for the community to “review and revise regulations regarding additional housing being built before any new construction is approved or allowed.”

The LUC decided not to make a final decision Monday and to table the issue for a future meeting.

“I was surprised they were not more welcoming to the idea than I thought they would be,” Bowling said.