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Let's Look This Gift Horse in the Mouth

August 28, 1994

Everyone in Sherman Oaks should appreciate Zev Yaroslavsky's parting gift to the community: It's $2,400,000, to the would-be builder of the low-income apartment tract that has been planned for the Woodman Avenue/Ventura Canyon area, on Ventura Boulevard.

The money is to be used by the builder to buy the derelict property, so he can start building. In his kindness, Yaroslavsky has also included $200,000 of that money to tear down the structures, clean up any toxic earth beneath it, etc.

He obviously has the council votes for this project or he wouldn't have been so open in his recent announcement.

But it is a shame that when so many apartment houses remain victims of the earthquake, and so many businesses can't open up due to the lack of funds for repair, that the money isn't being disbursed to aid them, rather than going to a single individual with good City Hall connections.

As for the low-income seniors, how much better to let them have part of those funds as subsidies to help apartment house owners fill those hundreds of empty apartments. At least then the seniors will have a comfortable dwelling, not a shoe-box size apartment that the builder plans to stuff them into.

Oh, another thing: While the agreement suggests that the city will be reimbursed for that money, you can bet your last dollar it won't happen. The city has listed itself the last to be paid--after everyone else, including the builder, takes a share of your tax dollars.

Another example of politicians working for the good of the community.

ALFRED E. STERN

Sherman Oaks

*

As residents of Sherman Oaks and members of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., my wife and I read the story in the Aug. 2 Los Angeles Times about our "blighted block" at Ventura Boulevard and Woodman Avenue with very mixed emotions.

At last our instant slum may be finally cleaned up, but at what a price! The very man who created this eyesore is on the verge of being rewarded with exactly what he wanted, a three-story building. And what he did for developers who come after him is create precedent for breaking the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan.

We were warned a year ago by Tom Hayden that this tactic would be used and he was right. Jacky Gamliel and his attorney, Ben Reznik, bypassed the public and managed to create a situation, with the cooperation of the city attorney and I assume Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, where once again a developer thumbs his nose at the residents of the community.

The settlement of this lawsuit was not in the best interest of Sherman Oaks. Nor is it in the best interest of home values in the neighborhood.

The handling of this matter shows very little courage at best and at worst actions by the city attorney's office and by the councilman that deserve more scrutiny than they've been given by the press.

We cannot believe that the L.A. Times makes Yaroslavsky sound like a hero.

ARTHUR B. LEWIS

Sherman Oaks

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