The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday agreed to close a two-block section of chronically congested Ventura Boulevard on Oct. 20 for a street fair that Sherman Oaks merchants hope will become an annual event.
The council unanimously approved a plan to close Ventura between Van Nuys Boulevard and Cedros Avenue from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the Sherman Oaks Street Faire and Carnival, which is expected to draw 15,000 people. The closure will mark the first time in memory that the San Fernando Valley's "Main Street" is intentionally closed for so long a period.
The street fair will feature a petting zoo, musical performances and crafts and food booths. Proceeds will be split between the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce and five elementary schools.
Some Sherman Oaks homeowners have raised protests over the effect of the closure on traffic and parking in the area. But Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky eased those qualms by obtaining assurances from the chamber, the fair's sponsor, that such concerns will be taken care of.
Yaroslavsky spokeswoman Katharine Macdonald said the chamber has provided written guarantees that adequate parking, traffic control, toilets and security will be provided.
Under the plan, traffic will be diverted around the closure area to Moorpark and Dickens streets, which run parallel to Ventura.
Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. President Richard Close said Tuesday that his group is relying on Yaroslavsky's assurances that the fair won't be a fiasco.
"We are optimistic but concerned," Close said. "The carnival is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and they are closing down a major road in the Valley. We have been assured by Councilman Yaroslavsky that there will only be minor inconveniences.
"It should be a festive time. Hopefully, it will be a benefit for the community and not a black eye."
Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Brain could not be reached Tuesday, but he previously said businesses in the fair area have offered to open parking lots with more than 1,100 spaces.
Merchants will also make 20 restrooms available. The chamber is renting 10 portable toilets.
The plan approved by the council will also allow the chamber to use a city parking lot located behind stores facing the closed area for the three-day carnival that begins Oct. 18, culminating in the street fair.