Concerned about the gradual disappearance of stables and trails in neighborhoods near Griffith Park, hundreds of residents of Glendale, Burbank and Northeast Los Angeles have formed a group to try to stave off development of areas 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 or variances needed to replace trails and stables with houses, apartment buildings or shopping centers.
At the association's first meeting last week, group spokesman Alexander Haagen III told more than 200 gathered at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park that several area stables are in danger of closing in the near future.
'We Have to Stop This'
"We have to stop this from happening. If you take away the stables and the trails . . . there's really no way to replace them," Haagen said.
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 an application for a use variance by a Glendale stable owner who wanted to sell his land to an apartment builder.
In addition, owners of a Burbank stable have applied for permission to convert their property to a public rental storage facility.
The association's drive to preserve stable land comes just two weeks after the closure of another nearby horse property--Los Feliz Stables in Atwater, just across the Los Angeles River from Griffith Park. Park View Apartments, the property's owner, wants to sell the property.
Park View and the stable's former manager, Jane Shaw, have sued one another in Los Angeles Superior Court, each claiming breach of contract.
Wants to Build 80 Condos
Shaw said she reached an agreement to buy the property in April, shortly after her rent was doubled to $5,000 a month. An attorney for Park View said the two parties never agreed on a price.
Last year, Park View applied for a zone change that would have allowed construction of 80 condominiums on the site, but withdrew the application after nearby residents and horse owners voiced fierce opposition to the project.
"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."
The equestrian neighborhoods encompass roughly two miles, stretching east and west in the area north of Griffith Park, and are situated 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.