The largest annexation to the City of Los Angeles in 22 years was approved by voters by a 112-77 margin Tuesday.
In an election so small that it took only about an hour to hand-tally the results, voters approved a measure to annex 1,011 acres of rugged, visually striking county land west of Chatsworth to the city.
City Councilman Hal Bernson said, "I feel very happy that we won and very happy for the tenants of the park because I think this is a victory for them also," referring to the Indian Hills Mobile Home Park, where about 170 of the area's 221 registered voters live.
Bernson led the move to annex the land and will represent the area. He said he sought the annexation to prevent high-density development that he feared would be permitted by the county.
A group of tenants living in the park Tuesday raised glasses of champagne after the vote and toasted the city.
Because the election was so small, officials used paper ballots. Those ballots were counted by hand at a precinct in the mobile home park's recreation room. Absentee ballots were brought from downtown and were counted at the same location.
The city will certify the results today and file them with the Local Agency Formation Commission, a county agency that oversees local government boundaries. The annexation will take effect when LAFCO approves it.
The election, which sparked accusations of vandalism at the mobile home park, had caused sharp divisions.
"It's been a long, hard fight and we're glad to be part of the city," said Pat A. Lowery, president of the park's mobile home association and leader of the pro-annexation forces. "I feel like we just got freed from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century."
Peter J. Nouguier, who owns the mobile home park with other family members and who fiercely opposed the annexation, along with a group of tenants, refused to comment on the election's outcome.
The annexed land, bounded by the Simi Valley Freeway, Canoga Avenue, Santa Susana Pass Road and the Ventura County line, is the largest parcel to be annexed since 1965, when the city acquired 3,017 acres of what is now Chatsworth.
South of Freeway
The new chunk of city territory is mostly vacant and is privately owned except for about 400 acres of state parkland. The mobile home park is on Topanga Canyon Boulevard just south of the freeway. Slightly more than a dozen other voters live in homes scattered along Santa Susana and Iverson Ranch roads.
Residents of the area will now receive police, fire, paramedic and other services from the city instead of the county. The city will also take over land-use decisions from the county, which is considered to be more favorable to development. There will be no change in utility services, officials said.
Proponents of annexation said it would bring many of the mobile home park's tenants under city rent-control laws. The county abolished rent control in 1986. In addition, the annexation will lead to better police, fire and paramedic services, since facilities providing those services are closer to the park, supporters said.
Foes said annexation would increase costs for the park's owner and tenants. Police, fire and paramedic services are adequate now, they contended. Several landowners outside the park opposed annexation, fearing their properties would lose value under the city's stricter development policies.
Both sides claimed that the opposition secretly planned to close the mobile park and develop the choice 17-acre site when the park's conditional-use permit from the county lapses in 1991.
Nouguier was accused by Lowery and some city officials of trying to use the threat of evictions and drastic rent increases to force tenants to vote to remain in the county or to sign leases exempting them from city rent-control laws. Nouguier denied the accusations.
City officials say two-thirds of the park's residents will qualify for protection under rent control.