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Brentwood Gate Plan Is Blocked

The city attorney tells a residents' group to keep the road to their hilltop enclave open.

August 25, 2004|Martha Groves | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles city attorney's office has slammed the door -- at least for now -- on a plan to gate off a hilltop community in Brentwood.

"As of now, having the road open is our top priority," Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo's office, said Tuesday.

Residents of "the Crown," a ridge top overlooking the Sepulveda Pass, had been scurrying in recent weeks to complete a gate across Canyonback Road at Mountaingate Drive.

The residents' goal: improve security and control nuisance traffic in their 71-home enclave, which leads to popular parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains, just west of the San Diego Freeway.

After hikers, bicyclists and runners complained to City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski and the city attorney, construction was halted, just as the Crown Homeowners Assn. was poised to hang metal gates to block off the quarter-mile-long street.

"No further improvements and no further action regarding the gates will be permitted at this time," Deputy City Atty. Christy Numano-Hiura told an attorney for the gate opponents in a letter dated Monday.

Eric Edmunds, a wilderness trail runner who frequents the area, said the city attorney's stance "was a helpful step forward but was certainly not the end of the game."

As long as the brick-and-concrete posts remain, he said, "there is always the potential for mischief."

Opponents contended that the homeowners' plan to erect electronically controlled gates would limit public access to the well-used parkland, part of a 20,000-acre area known as the Big Wild.

They said the street had not yet been officially removed from public use, as state law requires before a gate can go up.

Under the homeowners' plan, which the city approved and Miscikowski endorsed, cyclists and hikers seeking entry would have to ring to get the attention of a guard stationed half a mile down Mountaingate Drive.

Access would have been limited to sunrise to sunset.

Gary Morris, a spokesman for the homeowners, said the group was considering alternatives, such as leaving entrances for pedestrians and bicyclists so they could enter the area at any time.

Another possibility, he said, was proposed by the Sierra Club's Santa Monica Mountains Task Force.

Mary Ann Webster, the task force's chairwoman, said that a trail could be built to connect two fire roads and eliminate the need for hikers to use Canyonback Road.

Even with such a trail, however, she said the task force would continue to support keeping the road open.

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