San Fernando Voters Will Rule on Civic Center Land

Times Staff Writer

The San Fernando City Council agreed Monday to let the city's voters choose who should make future land-use decisions about a parcel of civic center property--the council or the voters.

The 3-2 vote, with council members Carmillis M. Noltemeyer and James B. Hansen dissenting, came in response to a petition filed last month to prevent the sale, lease or exchange of police station land without voter approval.

The council majority wants to demolish the existing police station after a new one is finished in two years, leaving the land at 120 MacNeil St. vacant.

The new station will be on a bigger lot half a block away.

Because the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters verified that more than 15% of the city's 5,820 voters signed the petition, the council was required by state law to either adopt the terms of the petition or call a special election between 88 to 103 days of its verification.

The police station initiative will be added to the June 3 primary election ballot, a move that council members agreed will save the city the estimated $10,000 cost of holding a special election.

Noltemeyer had wanted the council to simply agree to submit any proposals about the property to voters. But Mayor Doude Wysbeek wanted voters to determine whether they should be asked to decide, because he doubted that the petition represented the wishes of most of the city's voters.

The petition drive was Noltemeyer's second attempt to reverse City Council decisions on the construction and location of the $2-million police facility. The four other council members believe the facility is needed because the existing station is obsolete.

In December, Noltemeyer led her first petition drive, calling for the city to either revoke or put before voters a measure that allowed for a land exchange with the county to acquire the new site for the station.

She contended at the time that the city had not thoroughly studied renovating the existing building, and claimed the land swap was a "bad deal." The council was forced by the petition to revoke its decision, but then immediately voted to pay $275,520 for the land it would have received in the swap.

Noltemeyer and City Council candidate Beverly Di Tomaso then led the second petition drive, saying it is their intention to protect the MacNeil Street property. "We would hate to see it tossed away in another bad decision," Noltemeyer has said.

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