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Anti-Growth Sentiments Are Borne on the Breeze

May 15, 1986|DAVID FERRELL | Times Staff Writer

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.

"That's what people enjoy most, the openness and the good air--the ocean breeze," he said.

Liccini, whose wife Emilia also is an engineer, said he likes to jog near the open fields. He said he moved to the Kentwood community because he could walk to work at the Hughes Aircraft plant in Culver City, where he began his engineering career after leaving Washington, D. C.

"The walk to work took me five or six minutes," he said.

The Kentwood neighborhood is characterized by modest stucco homes built in the late 1940s. One of the first efforts of the homeowners group was to plant tulip poplar trees, which now flourish along the hilly streets, he said.

Control of Area

Liccini, who now serves as vice president of the coalition, said the goal of the group is to return control of the area to residents who live there. The coalition has helped support Not Yet New York, a Westside organization that is working to fight heavy commercial growth throughout Los Angeles.

In Westchester, he said, "you have the spirit of a real community. That's what has impressed me the most: This area consists of a real solid brand of people who are the backbone of the aerospace industries. It's a very stable community."

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