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L.A. OKs Plan to Revitalize Businesses : Granada Hills: The proposal seeks to preserve the shopping core's 1950s style in a bid to compete with large malls.


A blueprint for revitalizing the homey, 1950s-vintage business strip of Granada Hills so that it can survive competition from regional malls was approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

Adopted unanimously, the Granada Hills Specific Plan seeks to preserve the small-town style of Granada Hills' original shopping core along Chatsworth Street. The plan was endorsed by Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area.

The district stretches 11 blocks along Chatsworth Street from Lindley Avenue to Balboa Boulevard, and for six blocks on Balboa south from Chatsworth. In addition, four small business nodes surrounding nearby intersections are protected.

According to a city Planning Department report, worried Granada Hills residents in recent years have noticed "a stagnation and under-utilization of these commercial areas" that they blamed on "growing competition from regional shopping centers."

To reverse this trend, the Specific Plan prohibits certain "degrading" businesses--such as bail bond offices, auto repair shops and secondhand stores--from operating within its boundaries, sets height limits, and requires new construction and major remodeling projects to incorporate a Spanish colonial motif.

The plan establishes a citizen board to review the design of new projects to ensure that they comply with the plan's mandate for bringing uniformity to the architectural facades of buildings along the strip.

"It attempts to promote small businesses," said Phyllis Winger, Bernson's chief planning deputy. "We're trying to keep a longtime business section alive and vital."

Local merchants support the plan, she said.

Bakers Square and Burger King outlets along Chatsworth Street have already been built in the Spanish colonial style. The owners voluntarily agreed to do so, aware that the Specific Plan being drafted for the area would later mandate it, Winger said.

Leaders of a burgeoning San Fernando Valley-based Islamic congregation also agreed in 1990 to build a mosque on property the congregation owns in Granada Hills in a Spanish colonial motif as a concession to community wishes and to the architectural guidelines being developed for the Specific Plan.

The mosque property--still vacant while the congregation raises construction funds--is not actually within any of the Granada Hills Specific Plan areas.

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