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WEST HILLS : Change in Park's Closing Time Delayed

August 25, 1993|JILL LEOVY

It's been six months since neighbors first began petitioning for the city to tighten security at Chase Park in West Hills. And thanks to a bureaucratic snafu, it's likely to be at least a month more before anything changes at the park, which was the site of a rape and robbery June 16, officials discovered Tuesday.

Following complaints from neighbors, and submission of a petition with about 100 signatures, City Councilman Hal Bernson last month introduced a motion to close the small, hillside park and playground at sunset instead of 10:30 p.m.

The motion was passed July 23, and was to be reviewed by the city attorney before returning to the City Council for final approval. However, when asked about the ordinance Tuesday, Greig Smith, a Bernson aide, said the file containing it had mistakenly been placed in a vault of completed ordinances.

"It got sent to the finished pile and it wasn't finished," he said. Smith said city staff would hasten to excavate the ordinance and forward it to the city attorney's office. It could return to the City Council for final approval within a month, he said.

In the meantime, neighbors say they've endured a summer of occasional drinking parties and brawls at the park.

Lynn Green, a neighbor of the park who helped circulate the petition, said the neighbors never asked that the park be closed early, but had requested additional police patrols there. Now, Green said, she is far from satisfied with the city's response to the problem and foresees few changes whether the hours change or not.

"To me, it doesn't make any difference one way or another. If the hours are not enforced, it won't work," she said.

Recently, Green said the park has been home to a new brand of late-night visitor, by "groups of people all dressed the same way drinking, throwing knives and screaming," she said. "It's not the same any more."

Police say the park has its problems, but "we've had problems at just about every park in the city," said Lt. Bernie Larralde of the Devonshire Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Larralde said the park is being "monitored closely."

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