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Developer Asked to Keep Distance From Theater

September 24, 1989|TINA DAUNT | Times Staff Writer

LA MIRADA — A group of angry residents is trying to stop a developer from building the back of a shopping center 62 feet away from the front of the La Mirada Civic Theatre, because they fear the center will ruin the aesthetics of the theater, often called the jewel of the city.

"I don't know if you've seen the back-end of stores, but they're not beautiful," said Sherill Moses, a former mayor and vocal opponent of the shopping center's design.

"When people walk out of the theater what (will) they see? They look right at the delivery end of the shopping center and see trash dumpsters and delivery trucks," he said.

For several weeks, Moses and a group of about a dozen other residents have been trying to persuade city officials to require Hopkins Development Co. to build the shopping center farther away from the theater, located on La Mirada Boulevard near Rosecrans Avenue.

According to Don White, the city's director of economic development, Hopkins Development Co. is trying to find ways to redesign the shopping center, scheduled to begin construction in March. White said the shopping center may be pushed back about 100 feet, a distance critics said is acceptable.

Planners Had Problems

Richard Mount, the construction project manager for Hopkins Development Co., said planners had problems designing the shopping center because they had to fit the project around about eight other structures already on the 34.8-acre site. As a result, the center was planned closer to the theater than residents wanted.

Nevertheless, Mount said designers are doing everything possible to address the concerns of the unhappy residents.

"When this is finally resolved we will meet the needs of both the residents and the developer," Mount said. "We will have a plan that will be mutually acceptable."

White said: "The theater is the pride of La Mirada and no one wants to do anything to damage it."

City Council members are scheduled to vote on the issue at their Tuesday night meeting. Two weeks ago about 150 concerned residents packed the City Council chamber to hear a discussion of the proposed shopping center.

"We felt that there were some ways that the developer has done a very fine job," said Ralph Evans, one of the residents who is fighting to change the shopping center plans. "But there were some needs in relation to the theater that we felt could be met."

In addition to causing aesthetic problems, the new shopping center also could cause parking problems, Moses said.

So far, about sixteen business sites, including a movie theater and a grocery store, are scheduled to be built at the site.

At 8 p.m., moviegoers, theater patrons and shoppers will be looking for parking spots. "There is going to be a colossal traffic and parking problem," Moses said.

And in the end, theater patrons may be driven away, and that is a major concern of the theater's board of directors, according to Cathy Moses, Sherill Moses' wife and a member of the theater board.

Cathy Moses said it is important that the theater remain "as attractive as possible" if the city wants to compete with other theaters in the surrounding communities, especially with Cerritos' $40-million Community Arts Center, scheduled for completion in 1992.

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