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Some Flaws Overlooked in Canyon Oaks Project

July 18, 1993

* Your correspondents supporting the Canyon Oaks development (Letters to the Valley Edition, July 11) missed a couple of telling points.

First, the houses to be built around the golf course are mini-mansions to be erected on pads, not sited individually. Therefore, the pads will be built first, and the "mansions" will be built later as they are sold--perhaps only over a period of years. Most residents of Topanga would not object to 97 more homes in the Canyon, even very expensive ones, if they were sited with some sensibility.

Second, the notion of building a golf course in an arid region such as Topanga is an unjustifiable use of scarce water. One wonders if the project would be at all viable if the course were required to pay the full cost of the water it will pour on the ground. The desert courses of Arizona, Palm Springs, etc. are no example. Soon enough, the depletion of the aquifers they depend on will tell.

Third, at their best, golf courses are heavy users of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides--at least three times as much per acre as intensive agriculture.

Fourth, one is led to suspect that a developer who would buy a project from a near-bankrupt predecessor after a failing 10-year struggle to win county approval may not be solely interested in building the project. Suspicion is increased by the fact that the developer is willing to sell the land, but only at a greatly inflated price.

More to the point, a Japanese group of investors showed some interest in acquiring the property before Canyon Oaks. They demurred when they learned of community opposition, saying they would not invest where they could not be accepted as a good neighbor. Industrial lessons may not be the only, or even the best, lessons we might learn from the Japanese.



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