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Civic Leaders Propose Group to Attack Blight : North Hills: Social services, government and police would try to put a stop to gangs, drugs and decaying apartments, initially on Orion Avenue.

September 02, 1993|JEFF SCHNAUFER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hoping to follow the success of similar organizations on Blythe and Delano streets, North Hills civic leaders have proposed setting up a coalition of social service agencies, city government and police to restore a blighted neighborhood.

The group hopes to target problems such as gangs, drug dealers and decaying apartments.

"What we want to do is establish a neighborhood where these people can walk down the street safely," said Harry Coleman, one of the group's members. "Without having to reinvent the wheel, we decided to go after the model of the Blythe Street and Delano Community Impact Teams."

Community impact teams on Blythe and Delano streets in Panorama City work with city departments, property owners and police. The teams focus on gangs, building code violations, recreation and other issues.

"What makes this unique is it focuses on getting past the bureaucratic restraints that stop us from dealing with the problems," said Officer Steve Margolis of the Los Angeles Police Department's Van Nuys Division. "Basically, it is taking and developing a team around what we understand the problem to be."

Margolis, who works with the Blythe and Delano street projects, is advising Coleman and other group members on how to proceed with the idea.

The initial target area is Orion Avenue from Nordhoff to Rayen streets. Margolis said the main problem there appears to be gangs and drugs.

The North Hills group is seeking support from City Council members Joel Wachs, Richard Alarcon and Hal Bernson, as well as Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Willie Williams.

Although the group hopes to work with police "to restore law and order," Coleman said, the group also wants to help residents prevent problems from recurring.

"It is a matter of education, both of apartment tenants and owners, and we're all working along those lines," said Tony Swan, president of the North Hills Community Coordinating Council and a member of the fledgling effort. "A lot of people are quietly meeting, one on one, to make sure we don't have any differences and can be working together."

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