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Spurred by Influx : Homeowner Turns Activist

July 03, 1988

WHITTIER — Billie Ryan is sick of apartments.

The Dorland Street homeowner thought things were bad before the Oct. 1 earthquake, when renters from nearby apartments parked bumper to bumper in front of her house and stayed up until all hours of the night.

"It's a race track here," she said disgustedly.

But worse was yet to come.

Earlier this year, a developer built a two-story apartment on the lot behind the house her family has owned for 22 years, providing her with a view of powder-blue stucco and square air-conditioning units.

"I can't walk out in the back yard without thinking about it," said Ryan, 57, who lives with two sons and a daughter-in-law. "I'm trying to think of what I can put up for camouflage."

Ryan started attending City Council meetings around the time of the earthquake, but started lobbying for a halt to apartment building earlier this year.

In the morning before leaving for work at a bank in Brea and in the evenings, she would tuck flyers in mailboxes and knock on doors to alert homeowners that the City Council would be considering zoning affecting Dorland Street. One of the older residential areas in town, Dorland Street is made up primarily of single-family homes. But over the years developers took advantage of high-denisty zoning and now the neighborhood is 48% apartments and 52% single-family homes.

Ryan thought her efforts had paid off when the city planning staff recommended the zoning be changed to allow a maximum of two apartments per lot instead of four.

But the City Council rejected that recommendation, and Ryan remains disillusioned, despite the council's recent move to restrict apartment development.

"I do not feel they have any intention of doing anything for us. I feel their only concern is the Uptown Village," said Ryan, who has made $30,000 worth of home repairs and improvements since the earthquake. "I think Dorland Street is going to end up being totally apartments."

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