Crackdown on Ventura Blvd. Unloading and Parking Asked

Times Staff Writer

A ban on parking and daytime deliveries along Ventura Boulevard is being sought by Encino residents who fear that "monumental gridlock" is coming to the San Fernando Valley's 20-mile main street.

The parking and unloading restrictions are among eight far-reaching recommendations to be made today to a Los Angeles advisory committee hunting for a long-range remedy to congestion on the boulevard.

The 21-member panel, created four months ago by the City Council, is examining traffic and land-use problems along the boulevard between Studio City and Woodland Hills.

Today's proposal, to be made by the 1,000-member Homeowners of Encino, will be the first detailed plan received by the committee. The panel is also working with consultants hired by the city.

Could Trigger Debate

The recommendations are likely to trigger heated debate between now and the end of the year, when the advisory panel begins voting on its own proposals to the city Planning Commission and City Council.

Along with the parking and delivery ban, homeowners are asking the city to install fenced median strips on the boulevard to prevent U-turns.

They also want the city to begin assessing boulevard business owners to help pay for traffic improvements. Other demands include a prohibition against daytime lane closures by utility crews on the boulevard.

The Encino recommendations already have been criticized as far-fetched and premature by some committee members.

Not so, said Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino and a committee appointee of Councilman Marvin Braude. Silver wrote the group's proposal.

"It's bitter, painful medicine, but it has to be done," he said. "If you want to give aspirin instead of a tough antibiotic or surgery, the patient won't get well."

Residents of the five communities crossed by the boulevard have complained that new high-rise office buildings and commercial developments have caused traffic and parking congestion that spill into residential neighborhoods.

They have protested delivery trucks that double-park, squeezing traffic flows into one lane. They have charged that some commercial strips do not have enough parking for shoppers or workers.

Median Strips

The Encino group's proposal calls for the removal of curb-side parking meters and the installation of raised median strips along the busiest portions of the boulevard, which the proposal does not define.

"Plants, hedges or fences should be installed to stop jaywalkers, U-turns, illegal left turns out of buildings and trucks, which now use the median as a loading dock," the proposal states.

It also asks that commercial buildings be required to offer free parking to customers and employees. It contends that private parking structures now charging by the hour are only about half full.

Silver said his group's proposal is the result of several years of study and analysis of 1985 city transportation statistics for the Encino area. But such congestion is not unique to his community, he said.

The committee's members were appointed by the six council members who represent the south Valley. The committee is about equally divided between homeowner and business interests. It has adopted rules that require a two-thirds vote of panel members before its recommendations can be forwarded to the Planning Commission.

Michael Zugsmith, president of a Studio City realty firm and an appointee of Councilman John Ferraro, said Silver is "grandstanding" by releasing the proposal without waiting for information and ideas from the committee's paid consultants. Such material is expected within a few months.

"If they don't have a hidden or private agenda, how can they speak out before they have any raw data?" Zugsmith asked Tuesday. "No parking may be a good idea for the boulevard. But how can you evaluate it before you get data?"

Nelson E. Brestoff, a Woodland Hills lawyer who is a board member of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. and a committee appointee of Councilwoman Joy Picus, said some of the Encino ideas "sound off the wall."

"We've only had one meeting with the consultant. It is ridiculously premature to propose anything," Brestoff said. "It's irresponsible, especially when we haven't begun to see what the dimension of the problem is."

Brestoff said that, in response to the Encino recommendations, he plans to offer his own list of proposals to the committee at today's 7:30 p.m. session at the Encino Community Center, 4935 Balboa Blvd. He declined Tuesday to reveal what his suggestions will cover, although he has previously proposed construction of city parking lots on side streets off the boulevard.

Ron Ziff, an executive of a Sherman Oaks supermarket company, questioned the proposed elimination of boulevard parking meters and curb-side parking.

"It sounds to me like they'd be turning the boulevard into another Ventura Freeway," said Ziff, a committee appointee of Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. "You'd be driving. But to where? Where would you park the car?"

Situation Called Dangerous

Bill Hirsty, a former Studio City Chamber of Commerce president who operates an automotive dealership, said the concept of after-hours deliveries might be one that boulevard businessmen could live with because "we're living in an over-congested, dangerous situation with traffic now. "

"As far as removing parking, that seems a little far-fetched. It would be suicidal now. There's nowhere to go to park," said Hirsty, an appointee of Councilman Joel Wachs.

Interest in the Encino proposal has been expressed, however, by some committee appointees who represent residential interests along the boulevard.

"Somebody has to have enough guts to say they want a solution to the problem," said Gordon Murley, president of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization and another Braude appointee.

"They will give us a focal point and a point of reference to work from. Some of the people appointed to the committee are very parochial, very narrow-minded."

Irma Dobbyn, another Braude appointee who represents the Tarzana Property Owners Assn., predicted that her group will be "in total agreement" with some of the Encino recommendations.

"If you reach for the stars, you may get something that's good."

Dolly Wageman, a Wachs appointee representing the Studio City Residents Assn., said she believes it is too early to tell whether the Encino proposals would solve the boulevard's problems.

"Something is going to have to be done, though," she said. "You're looking at the future of the Valley."

Committee moderator Marc Woersching, a city planning staff member, said he plans to stay neutral as the panel reviews the Encino proposals and others.

"Most of these appear to be reasonable concepts worthy of consideration," Woersching said of the Encino list. "Some of these have been proposed and even enacted in other city specific plans.

"If the private sector is required to provide employee parking, it could be a loss of income. If street parking is prohibited, it would have to be provided somewhere else . . . it could get quite controversial."

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