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Horse Lovers Organize to Preserve Equestrian Areas

September 26, 1986|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

Concerned about the gradual disappearance of stables and trails in the neighborhoods near Griffith Park, hundreds of residents of Burbank, Glendale and northeast Los Angeles are forming a group to try to stave off development of areas now used for horseback riding.

A leader of the new group, called Rancho Equestrian Protection Assn., said the organization plans to lobby city officials to designate the neighborhoods as "historical equestrian areas." That would make it harder for developers to get the zoning changes needed to replace trails and stables with houses, apartment buildings or shopping centers.

"We want to have a designation which would transcend the transitory wishes or desires of any political body in the future," said Alexander Haagen III. "It's critically important that we keep this area from disappearing."

Haagen, 42, is a Beverly Hills-based real estate developer who learned to ride in the Griffith Park area and now boards horses there. He said the formation of the equestrian protection group was prompted by the application for a zoning change of a Glendale stable owner who wanted to sell his land to an apartment builder.

That application is just one of several examples of vanishing equestrian facilities, he said. Owners of a stable in Burbank have applied for permission to convert their property to a public storage facility.

"Quite a bit of stabling has vanished in the last 20 years," Haagen said. "Except for the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, we've had nothing that's added any significant horse-related activity to the area."

Haagen referred to the City of Los Angeles' center in Griffith Park, which is scheduled to be expanded.

The equestrian neighborhoods encompass roughly two miles, stretching east and west north of Griffith Park, and are centered along Riverside Drive. The primarily residential area is dotted with riding and rental stables as well as feed stores and related businesses. Horse owners board their animals in privately owned stables or at the city-owned equestrian center and ride them on designated trails in and around Griffith Park.

The organization met for the first time Thursday night for a goals and strategy session.

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