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CALABASAS : County Dismissed as Landscape Overseer

November 05, 1994|FRANK MANNING

The city of Calabasas, dissatisfied with the county's performance in overseeing landscaping operations for four special districts in the city, plans to take over the function, city officials said.

The city has created a position for a full-time staff person who will oversee maintenance of medians, parkways, trees, Lake Calabasas and various creeks and slopes within the city boundaries, they said.

The maintenance is currently overseen by the county Department of Parks and Recreation, which hires private contractors to do the work.

The maintenance is funded through special districts, which assess property owners.

"The homeowners have come to us and asked us to take it over," said City Manager Charles Cate. "The homeowners have been unhappy with the level of service, and they feel certain things have been neglected."

Said Jack Hakim, president of the Vista Pointe Owners Assn.: "With the bureaucracy, it takes forever to get something done."

For example, he said, irrigation systems have been allowed to fall into disrepair.

Hakim hastened to add that he is not blaming Dale Hall, special districts administrator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, who works regularly with property owners in the districts.

"Dale Hall has done a splendid job with what he's had to do, but he has still had to deal with the county bureaucracy," said Hakim. "He has communicated with all the homeowners, but I think his hands are tied."

Hall said there are no hard feelings.

"A lot of cities feel like they are better off having local control over those functions, and I have no problem with that," he said.

Calabasas residents in District 22, which covers about half the city, pay about $621 a year per parcel to a special assessment district, according to city officials.

The other three districts are assessed $120, $90 and $3,000, the latter for 29 commercial properties.

That assessment amount will not change after the city takes over, city officials say.

The landscape district maintenance manager, as the position is called, will report to the city engineer. The ideal candidate will have detailed knowledge of landscaping policies and practices, as well as the ability to prepare budgets, according to the job description.

The manager must know how to administer contracts and conduct inspections.

The manager will hire contractors to do the work and will serve as a liaison to property owners, handling their complaints.

The job will pay $50,000 to $60,000 a year, city officials said.

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