Firm Has Designs on a New Look for Smokestacks

Times Staff Writer

Operators of a Woodland Hills boat-building company who three months ago raised neighbors' ire by building a trio of towering smokestacks said Wednesday the controversial fume-control vents are up to stay.

But Catalina Yachts is willing to decorate its metal chimneys to camouflage them and help control the community's fuming, company representatives told a Warner Center business group.

How? Perhaps, the company suggested, by making the three 130-foot-tall stacks look like palm trees, MX missiles or even king-sized designer jeans.

'We're Certainly Open'

"We're certainly open to ways of improving the aesthetics of the stacks," said Gerald Douglas, Catalina Yachts' vice president for engineering. "We feel it is a matter of aesthetics."

The decoration proposal came as a special Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce development and environment committee met to discuss complaints that followed the erection of the smokestacks in Warner Center in February.

Businessmen and homeowners contend that the guy wire-supported stacks are unsightly and out of place in the sleek, urbanized Warner Center residential and commercial area.

Los Angeles city officials have ruled that the chimneys are legal. The yacht company has operated its factory at a manufacturing-zoned site at 21200 Victory Blvd. for 12 years.

Douglas said the $200,000 smokestacks were built after neighbors objected to occasional fiberglass fumes wafting from the plant. He said air-quality laws require manufacturers to respond to such complaints.

Company-prepared sketches depicting the smokestacks as stately palm trees, "USA" embossed MX missiles and fanciful designer blue jeans were distributed to the chamber panel by Sharon Day, office and sales manager for Catalina Yachts.

Humorous Drawings

She said that the drawings were meant to be humorous, but that her firm was serious about wanting to improve the smokestacks' appearance.

"We don't like the looks of them, either," Day said. "The stacks looked a lot different on paper, before they were actually put up."

Committee chairman James Gary said that the attachment of crossbars to the smokestacks might give the boat factory a more nautical look. "We could make a square-rigger out of it," he said. "They've camouflaged oil derricks in Long Beach. There are probably things that can be done."

Gary appointed businesswoman Rose Goldwater to form a subcommittee to work with the yacht company on the matter.

Goldwater said she plans to waste little time starting. "There may be other things, pardon the expression, in the wind," she said, fingering the palm tree-missile-jeans sketch.

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