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Valleywide Focus

New Planning Rules Will Be Unveiled

September 21, 1993|SCOTT GLOVER

New, better-defined planning rules for merchants and developers are scheduled to be unveiled at a meeting tonight, planning officials said.

And if the new rules really change things, the public can thank the dozens of Ventura Boulevard merchants who are fighting fees intended to pay for enhancements to the San Fernando Valley's main business strip: There are so many of them that the city has decided to sharpen its guidelines and rules just to get things moving.

"It's going to give staff direction on how to assess new projects in the future," Allyn Rifkin, chief transportation planner for the city Department of Transportation, said of the new process.

Rifkin said he will discuss the changes at a 7 p.m. meeting of the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan Review Board, which oversees implementation of the plan to improve conditions on the boulevard.

Thirty-eight Ventura Boulevard property owners have fought about $8.5 million in so-called "trip fees" designed to help pay for the 20-year plan to curb unruly growth, ease traffic and enhance neighborhoods along the historic stretch. The fees are based on the amount of traffic that businesses are expected to generate.

Each of the property owners had earlier agreed to pay the fees in exchange for building permits while details of the plan were being developed. However, many say they would not have done so if they knew how much the fees--ranging from $2,000 to $800,000--would be.

The appeals are now being considered by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee.

Gerald A. Silver, president of a boulevard homeowners group, said the appeals are corrupting the entire plan.

"This is just a program to gut the plan on a case-by-case basis," Silver said.

But Jeff Brain, who chairs the 13-member Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan Review Board, disagreed.

"This has to be done on a case-by-case basis, because some mistakes have been made," Brain said.

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