The political battle over growth in Westchester began modestly four years ago, when electronics engineer Ray Liccini arrived at a board meeting of the Kentwood Home Guardians, a group representing bluff-top homeowners near Loyola Marymount University.
Liccini was chosen to study increasing traffic near the tree-lined neighborhood.
"They figured that with an engineering background, I could understand numbers and traffic," he recalled.
The selection led to the birth of the Coalition of Concerned Communities, a group that has spearheaded the fight to scale down the Howard Hughes Center, Playa Vista and other projects planned for Westchester. The organization represents 14 neighborhood groups and anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 homeowners in the area, based on the coalition's own estimates of those who support the anti-growth efforts.
Homeowners Were Startled
Liccini, 54, a TRW employee who has lived in Westchester since 1961, said homeowners were startled to learn of the growth planned for their community. He said he founded the coalition when it became apparent that the magnitude of development could be "overwhelming for the area" because of its effects on traffic and open land.
Unlike most urban areas, Westchester now has large open fields where sea breezes roll in from the ocean, Liccini said. On clear days, bluff-top residents can see across them to Hollywood or Mt. Baldy.