The Los Angeles Times Poll revealed (Sept. 3) that the residents of the 12th District oppose by 63% to 27% Nathan Shapell and Hal Bernson's plan to urbanize the north Valley.
Feeling this public pressure, Shapell's Porter Ranch Development company is again attempting to discredit its critics. Their latest target is the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
SCAG popularized the concept of jobs/housing balance (locating jobs and housing close together in order to encourage shorter commute times). Shapell borrowed SCAG's concept in order to promote his plan. However he arbitrarily chose a West Valley jobs/housing study area and conveniently chopped it off at Victory Boulevard. By excluding all the thousands of jobs in Warner Center and the Ventura Boulevard corridor, Shapell tried to convince us that we were "housing rich." Thus we would be impoverished without the additional 26,000 jobs he hopes to create in his foothill city.
SCAG officially criticized Shapell's plan for having a jobs/housing ratio seven times greater than its standard. So instead of shortening commutes, it would create enough traffic to fill an eight-lane freeway to full capacity for 11 hours a day!
Shapell's response was an attempt to again redefine the study area. He is now clamoring that the Valley should solve the jobs/housing imbalances in eastern Ventura County and Santa Clarita. This importing and exporting of traffic is exactly what jobs/housing balance is supposed to prevent. Shapell's high-rise regional center would route commuter traffic right through the residential neighborhoods of Granada Hills, Northridge and Chatsworth. That's what the great public outcry is all about. And that's why the vast majority of residents don't want this plan.
Outlying areas should be encouraged to improve their own internal jobs/housing balance, not to increase their commuting into the city. But that wouldn't put money in the city tax coffers or line the pockets of Mr. Shapell, would it? Don't be fooled. Jobs/housing is a good concept. But it will never be properly served by the irresponsible dreams of Bernson and Shapell.
Chipello is director of the neighborhood organization PRIDE.