Council OKs Development Guidelines : Reseda Plan Keeps Zoning for Horses

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved new development guidelines for the Reseda-West Van Nuys area, preserving the few residential neighborhoods that allow horses.

Councilwoman Joy Picus requested approval of the revised Reseda-West Van Nuys plan and the council complied by a unanimous vote under a custom of deferring to council members on issues that affect their areas.

The plan was adopted over the objections of a small group of property owners who sought to open up some large lots, which are in areas zoned to allow horses, to more intense residential development. They argued that development is necessary to eliminate unsightly conditions such as the storage of junked autos on the parcels.

The plan updates a document adopted in 1974 to serve as a guide for development of a 13-square-mile, largely residential area bounded by Roscoe Boulevard on the north, Oxnard Boulevard on the south, Corbin Avenue on the west and the Van Nuys Airport on the east. Community plans are routinely updated every 10 years.

The plan itself does not at this time have the force of law. The city, however, is in the process of complying with a state law to change its zoning to conform with the land-use plans adopted for various communities.

The plan basically preserves the single-family residential life style of Reseda-West Van Nuys, while providing for more construction of apartments and condominiums along the existing densely developed areas of Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way.

The plan allows for a population of 113,000 in the area, which was listed in the 1980 U.S. Census as having 77,000 residents. But the population growth called for in the plan is still considerably less than that allowed by existing zoning.

The most controversial element of the plan has been whether to preserve the areas in which the keeping of horses is permitted or to allow more residential development in those areas, which are concentrated near Cleveland High School and Sequoia Junior High School.

Several property owners testified at Tuesday's council hearing that new development would clean up the unsightly conditions that they say plague the neighborhoods.

Michael Nelson of Ingomar Street told council members his neighborhood is so run-down that it is commonly known as "the sewer of Reseda."

"We're not trying to change all horse keeping," he said. "We're talking about two crummy blocks."

Virginia Lampkin of Keswick Street urged council members to preserve "one of the few areas left where we can have animals."

Other supporters of current zoning alleged that neighbors opposing the plan want to allow for more intense residential development in order to make more money from sale of their property.

Picus said she supported preserving the areas with horses because that is favored by the majority of residents.

"I've counted the petitions," she said.

Picus said the way to deal with problems in neighborhoods, such as run-down buildings, is through stepped-up enforcement of zoning laws.

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