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Race Relations in Ladera Heights

February 11, 1996

Your Jan. 28 headline, "Ladera Heights Grapples With Its Racial Harmony," is contradictory, implying that we've got a good thing but we're in conflict over it. Although we're grateful for your writer's acknowledgment of our model community, we're dismayed that other key portions of the article were distorted, slanted and generalized to perpetuate dissension among the races.

Regarding whites who leave, it's because they've lived here for 30-40 years. They're doing what many seniors do everywhere: move to smaller homes after the families they've raised leave.

Although you state that 90% of the students in the elementary schools are African Americans, you neglected to note that 70% are bused in from other communities.

Let us remind you of the positive elements you didn't mention: The Ladera Heights Civic Assn. Board of Directors meets monthly to address all issues that concern our community; the opening in 1991 of the Community Center in the Ladera Shopping Center; placement of one of our board members on Sheriff Sherman Block's Community Advisory Committee; our support and participation in Volunteers on Patrol, graffiti removal and Neighborhood Watch programs.

When you mention that Ladera was once "a jewel of race relations," you imply that it no longer is. We disagree. Residents partici- pate in block parties, watch out for the property of others on vacation, take pride in the upkeep of everyone's homes and participate in other community events without regard to race or color.

The many fine attributes of this community and the people who reside here continue to make Ladera a model community, a jewel of race relations.

RONNI COOPER, President

Ladera Heights Civic Assn.

*

Being depicted as the "white couple wistfully preparing to move out" because we expected more new arrivals of our own race was both misleading, as well as a misrepresentation of who we are as people. Although it can be said that no one feels comfortable being a minority, our choice to leave Ladera Heights has nothing to do with racial harmony or the lack of it.

Ladera Heights is a gem of a neighborhood. It is beautiful, safe, peaceful and prideful. When faced with needing a larger home as our family was growing, we bought up and stayed in the area. What we grapple with is universal to families in every community--providing a quality education for our children.

One thing that we have learned about living in a minority neighborhood is that there is a hesitation on the part of businesses to invest here, no matter how affluent the population. Our statement about wanting a Starbucks or a Barnes & Noble was meant to address this sensitive issue and was irrelevant to our feeling connected to our community.

Racial harmony is a given in Ladera Heights. Our experience here has been nothing short of positive.

PAULA C. LEONHAUSER

CHUCK KOGON

Los Angeles

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