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SHERMAN OAKS : Residents Urge City to Buy Land

April 08, 1993|SCOTT GLOVER

For 15 years, a Sherman Oaks neighborhood group has battled with developers anxious to build on land along a pristine ridge behind their Longridge Terrace homes.

With the most recent project planned for the site involved in a bankruptcy and the site's commercial potential at an all-time low, neighbors now say they see a chance to win the war.

"We want the city to buy it," said Turnley Walker, chairman of the Longridge/Alomar Neighborhood Committee, the group that has spearheaded the anti-development effort.

"That would put an end to this."

The plan, Walker said, is for the city to use money made available under Proposition A to purchase the land and turn it over to the state-run Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, thus ensuring its future as open space.

No price has been set for the sale of the 55-acre parcel wedged between Longridge Terrace and Dixie Canyon Avenue, and running from the head of Alomar Drive in the north to Mulholland Drive in the south. But when the last developer, Griffin Homes, abandoned the project in March, 1992, the land was listed as a $2-million asset.

Walker is optimistic that the plan will work.

"I think it's got a good shot," he said.

Under Proposition A, passed by voters in November, 1992, $25 million was earmarked for the city to purchase land to be designated as open space or to be developed.

Walker also spoke candidly about the group's strategy for getting things done.

"What we are going to do is clearly and openly pressure Zev Yaroslavsky," he said.

Yaroslavsky, a Los Angeles city councilman from District 5, said Wednesday that while he is committed to acquiring the land, Walker's plan might not be the best way to go about it.

"There is intense competition for money," Yaroslavsky said, adding that about 10% of Proposition A funds, or $2.5 million, would be available for District 5, and that there are at least two other parcels under consideration.

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