Friday, June 28, 2013

Hot Fun in The ST This Weekend!

Here is your Sunland-Tujunga prescription for fun on a hot summer weekend.

1- EMERGENCY KARAOKE at Olde Towne's Comfort & Joy Cafe with amazing food and lots of frolic tonight (Friday).

2 - Saturday - Enjoy an evening round of golf or hit a bucket of balls at the driving range at Verdugo Hills Golf Course followed by a delicious burger (served with Mom's homemade secret sauce) and the COLDEST beer (literally) in town at Tee's On The Green

3 - Join us as we say GOODBYE to Mayor Villaraigosa after eigth years in office and welcome new Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday from 4pm to 7pm at Joselito's Mexican Food Tujunga with LA's best margaritas and muy delicioso Mexican food. A portion of your check benefits Children's Hospital LA and Ahead with Horses.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Historic Status May Speed Up Development of Verdugo Hills

Local writer Joseph Mailander shared the following with us today. We're publishing it here for your review and consideration.

I have seen a few people ask--and even a journalist asked me this morning--how does making an acre on the golf course a monument SPEED UP development?

The question almost answers itself, but I'll answer it anyway. Once you draw specific boundaries on a lot or on acreage, to designate one specific corner of a property for a specific use, you are ceding to the owner the right to avail the rest of the property to other uses. Their own uses.

Once you hand an owner boundaries, in short, the owner can stop just dreaming about development, and start submitting real plans to real City Departments.

Once the boundaries are drawn, the developer can say, "OK, I now know precisely where I can lay my streets and build my homes, and it's up to the city to respond to me, rather than me responding to the city about whether I can or can't build there."

I also hear, "Oh, we still have building and safety/planning/an EIR that we can use to block." Even GC Voice--which is disappointed in the deal--is saying that. Well, you didn't even have any of that on the table a month ago--and now, you do and have to hope for the best.

The other thing that's specific to this case: now that the city has 1) already walked away from a potential deal (which they did nine years ago), and 2) is working (by Council fiat) to draw real boundaries, the developer can make a far more bold case for any subsequent obstruction to plans. Should the city take any action to inhibit the developer's plans in the future, the developer can now challenge any obstruction as an attempt to devalue the property, constituting a taking. (There is even one such lawsuit transpiring presently in San Antonio). The developer can say to a court, "Why didn't they tell me that when they were drawing up the one-acre boundary? No, it's implicit I get to develop the rest of the site, if they decided to lay aside a single acre!" Pretty good case for the developer, I would think.

You're most definitely closer to development, not further away from it, because of the action Alarcon sped through Council between Friday and yesterday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Saving the Golf Course and Recognizing Tuna Canyon Detention Station

We here at The Foothills Observed believe that preventing the development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course into over 225 homes is mission critical; as is recognizing that the property was once the site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, during the Japanese Internment of World War II; a horrific chapter in America's history.

We also believe that the two are separate issues, while related. Building the homes does not mean that the site can not be recognized; recognizing the important historic nature of the property does not mean homes won't be built.

Because we want to see both happen, we feel it's important all of us are informed as to what is happening with this movement and that you have the information you need so that you may act accordingly. Many people are doing a lot of great work around this effort and it's incumbent the community supports, in order to prevent the community crippling development from being built, as well as recognize our local history, good and bad.

Tomorrow, Friday the 21st, the City Council will meet and will consider recent actions around the historic designation that have occurred at both the City's Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) and the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM).

In a nutshell, the Cultural Heritage Commission denied a request by Councilman Richard Alarcon to designate the property as a historic landmark. One of the concerns some members of the Commission had was that this effort was merely a strategy to block development.

Following that, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee met to determine if the Council could overrule the CHC and make the historic designation. PLUM opted to not take this action and to defer decisions until July 23, pending the results of a "working group."

In the instance of both the CHC and PLUM meetings, there was fantastic representation and participation from residents of Sunland-Tujunga and other Foothills communities, local historians and experts and members of the Japanese Community and others who had historic, personal connections to Tuna Canyon Detention Station. The demonstration of the community's feelings around this matter was surely clear to City officials.

Here's what the City Council will consider tomorrow, according to the agenda posted on their website. The Planning and Laud Use Management Committee recommends the following actions:

1. INSTRUCT the Department of City Planning (DCP) to report on how many times the City  Council has initiated a historical designation by Council action, without findings and conditions; the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) declines the designation; and Council overturns the CHC's determination without the consent of the property owner.

2. REQUEST the City Attorney to report on if there are any legal vulnerabilities if the City Council overturns the CHC's determination to decline a historical designation.

3. ESTABLISH a working group, consisting of the property owner and representative, experts or historians from the Japanese community (no more than five people), and DCP staff, to report to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee prior to July 31, 2013 to develop ideas on how to recognize the historical and cultural significance of the site.

4. EXTEND, for good cause, the 90 day time limit for Council to act for a maximum of 15 days, pursuant to the Los Angeles Administrative Code Section 22.171.10(f).

5. REFER the matter to the PLUM Committee for consideration on July 23, 2013

Each of which are important steps to resolving the matter; however no one should expect that the Council will extend historic status to TCDC at tomorrow's meeting. We here feel it's important to level set expectations, should confusion exist elsewhere.

It is important that ST residents participate and engage on this matter; so that we may ultimately stop the development and achieve the historic recognition. One would surmise that with a matter this complex, there will be several possible avenues for resolution.

To read the City documentation on the matter further (which should give anyone a good history and has viewpoints from all involved), click here.