\o7 The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a proposal to allow a developer to build a golf course in the Big Tujunga Wash, one of the city's last remaining wilderness areas and the last place in the city where a major river runs freely.
Residents, environmentalists, unions and city officials were deeply divided over the plan by Foothills Golf Development Group to build a course on 160 acres.
KARIMA A. HAYNES asked an area business advocate and a wilderness preservationist whether the golf course would be a boost or a boondoggle for the community.\f7
BARBARA HUGHES /\o7 President, Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce\f7
Considering that a chamber's first consideration is business, for the most part, the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce feels that a golf course would be a boost to the business community.
When a golf course [is built] it brings in nice restaurants and more people. We need more people to shop locally. On a more elaborate scale, look at what Magic Mountain did for Santa Clarita.
A golf course is beautiful and pristine. It enhances any area that it is in. It is an environmentally compatible project that will bring us the best of both worlds. And a beautiful country club to go with it isn't going to hurt anything.
If the golf course didn't go in, then something worse could go in, like a rock quarry. Even though there is a moratorium on rock quarries at the site, it will be up in 2025. My grandparents worked with the people to keep the wash from becoming a gravel pit back in the 1930s.
The environmentalists . . . are very extreme. They don't want to change anything. The Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy oversees beautiful mountains, but they don't want us to have anything beautiful up here.
Other preservationist groups were opposed to the project. They were concerned about endangered plants, which shouldn't be an issue at all because the developers scaled back the original size of the project to protect the plants.
Big Tujunga Wash has been an eyesore for years. There are transients, trash, diapers, food wrappers and all kinds of garbage in it. The owners would have to clean it up to put in a golf course.
I hope it is not too late for [the developers] to go ahead with their plans. This last year of stalling has cost them a great deal of money in attorneys' fees. The golf course could have been finished by now. I hope we get the same quality golf course as originally planned.
BILL EICK /\o7 Volunteer attorney, Small Wilderness Area Preservation\f7
A golf course in Big Tujunga Wash is a bad idea for two reasons: the environment and flood control.
There is very little of the endangered plants that are there left in Southern California. There are over 100 golf courses in Los Angeles County. We just don't need another golf course. The area needs to be preserved for its ecological importance.
From a floodplain management point of view, the 1969 flood wiped out Foothill Boulevard and another washed out a bridge in 1978. Portions of the area will wash away in a mild to moderate storm event. The area is subject to several periodic floods. Putting off-site fill material in a floodplain is like putting a rock in a glass of water--the water has to go somewhere and the city will be held liable for allowing fill material in a floodplain.
The people who have owned the property have done so for 10 years. What makes anyone think they are going to clean it up in the next 10 years?
The City Council decision was dictated in large part by the erroneous opinion of the Los Angeles city attorney's office. Their opinions were without legal merit.
There are several options we can take. We can sue the city for lack of an environmental impact report. We can allow the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers to do its job and see what happens with the re-delineation of water--if it's significant, [the issue] will come back to the City Council anyway.
If a golf course were going to draw businesses, they already would have been drawn to the course at Hansen Dam. People who spend $75 for a golf game arrive by freeway and leave by freeway. They are never going to stop in Sunland-Tujunga.
The last time I checked, I didn't see anyone teeing off in Big Tujunga Wash. I don't think a golf course will ever be built there. And if one is, Mother Nature will have her say.