Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Michael Gage was just supposed to have a cup of coffee and an informative chat when he met Saturday with leaders of prominent San Fernando Valley homeowner and hillside groups about their concerns on development.
However, Gage found himself on the receiving end of harsh words from some homeowners who attacked Mayor Tom Bradley and city planners for what they called poor leadership, favoritism toward developers and indifference toward residents.
As a result, the homeowners charged, their neighborhoods suffer from overdevelopment and Valley residents face a diminished standard of living.
The meeting, held at the Sherman Oaks home of attorney Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., was one in a series of community meetings that Gage has staged throughout the city to gather information from residents about their neighborhoods.
Dan Shapiro, president of the Studio City Homeowners Assn., said Valley residents were feeling a "tremendous sense of a lack of direction" because of what he called a paucity of leadership from Bradley and city officials.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 16, 1987 Valley Edition Metro Part 2 Page 7 Column 1 Zones Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
An article Sept. 12 about a homeowners' meeting mistakenly identified Dan Shapiro as president of the Studio City Residents Assn. Polly Ward is president of the association.
"Bradley has spent most of the last six years running for governor and has not paid attention to what's happening in the city and the Valley," Shapiro said.
Gage criticized Shapiro for making a "political statement," and said his remarks did not represent the majority of residents who believe that Bradley is doing a good job.
The most heated exchange came when Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino, said the homeowners are struggling "during an era when city planners are working against residents. They are unresponsive to the users of all this development, which is the residents who have to live in the community."
Gage, whose tie was loosened and shirt sleeves rolled up for the meeting, defended the planners and denied that the city ignores the needs of residents.
"I just can't sit back and let you berate the government like that," said Gage, who has been deputy mayor for a little more than three months. "I didn't come here to listen to a lot of pap."
More Meetings Offered
When Gage offered to hold further meetings with the residents, Silver protested, saying that Bradley should meet with them rather than Gage.
Meanwhile, Close made frequent attempts to quiet the exchanges, telling the homeowners that Gage is just beginning to learn about the Valley. "This is just hors d'oeuvres today," he said. "The real solutions come later."
About 12 representatives from such groups as the North Hollywood Residents Assn. and the Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and Valley Village Homeowners associations, staged the meeting.
Among the concerns raised by the homeowners were expansion and noise from Burbank Airport, high-rise development at Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards, proposed recreational facilities in the Sepulveda Basin, transportation on major Valley thoroughfares and the formation of community planning groups that would help determine development in specific neighborhoods.
Gage said he wanted to study the issues presented at the meeting and would report back to the residents. "We're still developing answers on specific proposals, but I find forums like this really helpful," he said.