The Los Angeles Planning Commission voted 5 to 0 Thursday to reject a sweeping proposal to limit commercial and industrial growth in Chatsworth, a step hailed as a major victory by business interests.
The commission action was greeted quietly by Councilman Hal Bernson, who along with the city's planning staff advocated the proposed sharp reductions in allowable development on hundreds of acres of commercial- and industrial-zoned land in his district.
"I don't think it's a defeat at all," Bernson said. "I am still leaning toward some reductions . . . but I want to take a second look at this."
Bernson is chairman of the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which will next review the proposal.
Bernson first proposed slashing potential development in Chatsworth in the middle of his hard-fought 1991 reelection campaign, during which he was attacked as too pro-development.
Walter Prince, representing the Chatsworth and Northridge chambers of commerce, said the commission action was "very pleasing." Prince argued that the plan would have driven some businesses out of the area and caused a huge slide in property values and property tax revenue.
The proposal before the commission Thursday called for cutting development of industrial land from 1.5 square feet per square foot of buildable land to .6 square feet. For commercial property, development would have been cut from 1.5 to .85 square feet.
Unaffected by either the proposal or the commission action Thursday were development plans for the Devonshire-Topanga Plaza area and Porter Ranch.
Commission President Ted Stein led the attack against the proposal.
"In a time when this city is facing economic disaster we need to do everything we can to encourage, not discourage, development, particularly in areas like this that can accommodate more growth," Stein said.
"It sends the wrong message," added Commissioner Suzette Neiman. "This area is contributing to the jobs base."
But Fielding defended the plan, saying it was an attempt to focus major commercial development in certain areas such as Warner Center, the Devonshire-Topanga Plaza area and Porter Ranch. It also was meant to discourage growth elsewhere in the north and West Valley to promote the goals of the city's plan to focus major commercial, jobs-inducing development in areas served by mass transit. Transportation plans call for Warner Center and Devonshire-Topanga to be served eventually by rail systems.