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MISSION HILLS : City Restrictions on Outdoor Mall Eased

October 05, 1994|JEFF SCHNAUFER

La Rinda Plaza in Mission Hills, which has prompted complaints about a cruising problem for months, won a reprieve Tuesday from a city crackdown because of the shopping center management's efforts to correct the problem.

Sunwest Property Management, which runs the outdoor mall in the 14700 block of Rinaldi Street, successfully appealed some city-imposed restrictions on the mall's operation at a hearing before the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.

"We had a good hearing," said Stephen Chan, director of Sunwest.

The board allowed mall stores to stay open past 9:30 p.m. and compromised with mall management on the removal of public telephones and the hiring of three armed security guards.

Chan has complied with most of the several conditions the city imposed on the mall in July, including the adding of gates at five of the eight entrances and asking mall tenants to close early on Sundays. In addition, he has given the Los Angeles Police Department a rent-free substation at the mall.

The result, police and neighbors said Tuesday, is a reduction in the cruisers who frequented the mall for years each Sunday night, disturbing neighbors with traffic and noise.

"It looks like Mr. Chan is really trying to work with us," said Hilda Ramirez, a member of a neighborhood watch group formed in February to deal with the cruising issue. "We're very happy with the progress."

Instead of hiring three armed guards, as instructed earlier by the city, the Board of Zoning Appeals allowed Chan to employ two uniformed, unarmed guards to patrol the plaza.

Chan argued that an armed guard would raise insurance costs for the plaza if a shooting occurred and was unnecessary with the addition of the police substation.

Chan also reached a compromise with the board to allow merchants to stay open until 10 p.m., past the 9:30 p.m. curfew demanded by the city.

And the board agreed to allow the mall to keep the five public pay phones, which Chan argued were needed for emergencies. But the phones must be altered so that they are unable to take incoming calls, limit callers' time on the phone to 15 minutes and, if that does not discourage drug dealing, to add surveillance cameras.

Finally, Chan must work out an improved lighting plan for the parking lot with city officials by next week.

City officials will review the impact of the conditions at the mall in 90 days. Meanwhile, officials in the city of San Fernando, where part of the mall is located, will hold a public hearing on Oct. 17 to consider whether to adopt the conditions imposed by the city of Los Angeles.

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