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Northside Homeowners Form Action Group : Government: The new association's first priority is to urge the City Council to let voters make decisions on monorail and Metro Rail stops.

April 01, 1993|G. JEANETTE AVENT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BEVERLY HILLS — A new homeowners group, formed to represent the powerful, well-heeled north side of Beverly Hills, plans to flex its collective muscle during a presentation to the City Council this month.

First on the agenda of the Beverly Hills North Homeowners' Assn., which had its first formal meeting last Thursday, are plans to urge the council to get voter approval before it commits the city to becoming a route stop for the proposed Westside monorail system and the Metro Rail Orange Line.

That topic was one of seven issues that drew an overflow crowd of more than 300 residents to the Hawthorne elementary school auditorium in a pouring rain last week.

All of the association's concerns will be presented to the council April 13, but the main issue driving the presentation will be the need to put the elevated train and Metro Rail proposals on the ballot, spokesman Ely Blumenfeld said on Tuesday.

The homeowners group wants the city to avoid "another Civic Center debacle," Blumenfeld said. The Civic Center project has had a major impact on the city because of cost overruns, but it was approved by a vote of only five residents--the City Council--he said.

The decision whether to allow station stops for regional monorail and Metro Rail systems will also have an irrevocable effect on the city, he said. "It will affect Beverly Hills for all time."

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the development of the Metro Rail system throughout Greater Los Angeles, is still exploring what route the Orange Line should take to link downtown Los Angeles to Westwood. A decision, which will be made with input from Beverly Hills, is not expected before December, 1994, and the Orange Line is not expected to be operational through Beverly Hills until the year 2008.

With Metro Rail at least 15 years away, the cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are planning to use state transportation monies to study the feasibility of a monorail system, which could be constructed in two to five years with a combination of federal, state, city and private funds. The study, which will also be paid for by other Westside public and private contributors, is expected to begin by early summer.

The monorail or elevated train is envisioned as following a 13-mile route from the San Diego Freeway to Hollywood. The route would probably follow Santa Monica Boulevard and connect with the Metro Rail Red Line at Highland Avenue. The monorail line would serve Westwood, Century City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

The new homeowners association was founded by longtime civic activist and philanthropist George Konheim and Blumenfeld because there is no association representing the interests of residents north of Santa Monica Boulevard with the exception of the Trousdale Estates Homeowners Assn., said Blumenfeld, an attorney.

"We decided we needed some representation to the council, the Planning Commission and other governmental bodies," he said, adding that the group is interested in many issues affecting the neighborhood and the city.

Resident Maxx Comack said she came to the meeting because of concerns over public safety and the way the city has changed. As a child, she attended Hawthorne elementary, where the association's first meeting was being held, and she has lived in the city for 22 years.

"Beverly Hills has changed a lot from when I was little," Comack said, describing it now as "a big, bustling city."

Nancy Casden, who has lived in Beverly Hills for about 12 years, said she came to the meeting because of concerns about crime and safety.

"I'm very concerned about the vagrant problem," Casden said, referring to an increase in homeless people and panhandling in the city.

"I don't think we should shuffle them off to another city," she said. But "it's hard to explain to children who they are, why they're here and why aren't we doing something" to help them, she said.

She came to the association meeting because "people have to get involved in their community," Casden said.

The association will take in about 2,500 homes not represented by the Trousdale Estates association in an area bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard to the south, Lexington Road to the north, Doheny Drive on the east and the Beverly Hills boundary line on the west. An additional area north of Lexington Road that is not represented by an association may also be included in the near future.

Last week, the group established a board of directors that includes Konheim, Blumenfeld and 11 other residents. Officers will be elected soon, Blumenfeld said.

The group plans to establish committees to study various issues and provide a forum to educate members on issues that affect the neighborhood and the larger community, he said.

Besides taking a stand in favor of a citywide vote on regional transportation, the group will also consider such issues as the number of police patrolling residential streets and alleys, what use should be made of the Crescent Station Post Office on Santa Monica Boulevard if the federal government decides to make a portion of the historic building available to the city, and whether use of Beverly Gardens Park, which borders the neighborhood, should be restricted to park activities excluding organized public events.

Other issues include earthquake preparedness, enforcement of laws dealing with vagrants and panhandlers, and the traffic impact on residential neighborhoods of commercial development in the industrial area.

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