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Variety of Organizations Claim Community Loyalty


Who represents Sawtelle?

Several groups have laid claim to the area that is bounded by Olympic and Santa Monica boulevards, Barrington Avenue and the San Diego Freeway.

Two groups representing different interests were formed in the early 1980s as the street faced increasing development pressures.

The 150-member Sawtelle Community Assn. (SCA) opposed height limits. The now-defunct Sawtelle Community Survival Committee (SCSC), representing the street's tenants, supported height limits.

Last year, the newly formed Westside Residents Assn. renewed the debate over who represents the area. The group was created to oppose a 12-story building on Olympic Boulevard proposed by Tishman Federal Limited Partnership.

It protested a letter sent by Kenneth H. Naramura and Donn F. Morey, the president and vice president of the SCA, to the Los Angeles Planning Commission.

In the letter, Naramura and Morey stated that the SCA represented the "community between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevard, San Diego Freeway and Santa Monica city limits" and supported a zone change for the Tishman building.

"The applicant . . . has been in contact with our association and has designed the proposed 12-story office building and parking structure to accommodate the needs of our community," Naramura and Morey wrote.

But members of the Westside Residents Assn. wrote a letter to the Planning Commission protesting "the false and misleading representations of the entity known as the Sawtelle Community Assn."

They also have copies of the applications that Naramura and his parents submitted for a zone change for 12-story, 262,000-square-foot office building on property just one block east of the Tishman site.

Naramura declined comment on all questions related to the Tishman development.

"As residents of the areas directly affected by the proposed developments, we protest the use of what should be a community organization by individuals with vested interests," the residents stated.

In an interview, Naramura said that the SCA represents "the property owners along Sawtelle Boulevard. We have many other residential memberships in the community. We also have members of the Buddhist church, the Community Council (and) . . . the Methodist Church. It's not all Japanese. We have Caucasians, we have Mexicans. We have basically all the property owners."

But Councilman Marvin Braude said that the SCA was "deeply involved in preventing the city from imposing a moratorium and (thereby) allowing a six-story building to go in. They have to take the responsibility for that. They represented that the whole community was opposed to the three-story limit. . . . It's not surprising. Every . . . developer's group always says that they represent everyone."

The SCA says it has been planning for the future of Sawtelle Boulevard. The group has conducted studies for the street and has tried to lease land from Caltrans for parking, Naramura said.

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