Los Angeles County officials vowed Thursday to prevent the City of Agoura Hills from barricading streets leading to a newly built subdivision outside its city limits.
The city threatened the blockade nine days ago in a jurisdictional dispute over the subdivision. The barricades would prevent the streets in the subdivision from being linked to Agoura Hills streets, which provide the only path into the development.
Letter to Antonovich
As the dispute was intensifying Thursday, the first family in the 32-house Tiffany Hills Estates tract had moved into their new $196,000 house and the builders were preparing a grand opening for today.
Agoura Hills officials sent a letter to county Supervisor Michael Antonovich officially notifying him of their proposed action and of their "deep disappointment" that they will have no voice in developments at the edge of their eight-square-mile municipality.
City Planning Director Paul Williams said Agoura Hills council members will decide on Feb. 6 whether to erect the steel-beam barricades.
Council members endorsed the barricades Jan. 9, hours after county officials rejected the city's application to have 6,000 acres around its southern and eastern edges officially declared within Agoura Hills' "sphere of influence." Under state law, such a designation would define the presumed eventual boundaries of the city. And the city would have the right to be consulted on development within the area, its officials believe. County officials disagree, and the law is not clear.
The council also agreed to attempt to refuse runoff drainage and to prevent electric, sewage and water lines from crossing the city to serve new developments built in unincorporated county territory.
Agoura Hills officials unsuccessfully argued before the county's Local Agency Formation Commission that designating a large sphere of influence would help them tackle planning problems with streets, utilities and other services.
But commission members, led by Antonovich, granted only a 12-acre sphere--enough to cover only Tiffany Hills Estates outside the city at the southern end of Liberty Canyon Road.
Tiffany Hills project officials denounced the city's action. They accused the city of harassment and interference with their $6-million project. The development of single-family homes is scheduled to open at 11 a.m. today with tours and a catered reception for Valley-area real estate people.
"They're just a bunch of little nobody busybodies trying to be big politicians," said Jan Kiblinger, sales director for Tiffany Hills. "The Agoura Hills officials are big ducks in a little puddle."
Kiblinger charged that Agoura Hills officials had destroyed $1,000 worth of Tiffany Hills advertising signs. She said another $700 billboard was ruined by spray-painting vandals last week.
"One City Council member came here and threatened that, as fast as we put up signs, they'll take them down," Kiblinger said. "They should be here welcoming us, not making it miserable for us."
Agoura Hills' Williams acknowledged that city officials have yanked down advertising signs for the tract. He said they were illegally posted within the city limits.
"They're just another example of the kind of development in the county that we object to," he said.
Park, Walk Around Barriers
If the city erects barricades where newly paved Tarrytown Lane and Country Glen Road cross from the city into Tiffany Hills, its residents will be allowed to park their cars in the city "for up to 72 hours at a time" and walk around the barriers to their houses, Williams said.
Aides to Antonovich, who was out of town, bristled over the threat.
"I don't think you can cut off the access to people's homes," said Leeta Pistone, Antonovich's West Valley field deputy. "People moving into those homes can be assured they will have access and protection for their property."
Strategy Session Today
Jerry Crump, chief assistant Los Angeles County counsel, said county lawyers will meet with Antonovich's staff today to map strategy.
"I think there are ample grounds for Mike's office to take the stance that it has on this," Crump said.
The dispute made Tiffany Hills' first residents jittery, however.
"Our escrow closes tomorrow, but they let us move in early," said Ron Gilla, who moved his family into a four-bedroom house on Tarrytown Lane. "It seems to be a very late point for the city to be doing this. It seems grossly insensitive to me."