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Reseda Building Limits Criticized : 1-Year Plan Could Hurt Property Values, Landowners Say

Times Staff Writer

Development restrictions in Reseda are drawing fire from a group of property owners, some of whom said Tuesday they fear the limits could lower the value of their land.

Members of the Friends of Reseda said the limits are unnecessary for a run-down area where virtually any development should be welcome.

The restrictions are contained in a 1-year interim control ordinance before the Los Angeles City Council and supported by Councilwoman Joy Picus. They would limit new buildings in Reseda’s central business district to three stories and would keep out what the ordinance calls undesirable businesses, such as automotive shops, pawnshops and stores dealing in sexually explicit material.

On Monday, about 20 property owners met with Picus, who invited them to participate in future public meetings and hearings. But Picus would not abandon the temporary restrictions, which would be in effect while a Picus-appointed citizens committee formulates a long-term plan to draw more upscale businesses to Reseda.

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“I stand by the interim control ordinance,” Picus said Tuesday. “The whole point of this is to be certain that we get high-quality development.”

Because so little development has been proposed for Reseda, Picus said, she expects the interim control ordinance to have little impact on property owners.

400 Lots Affected

The restrictions, if passed by the City Council later this year, would apply to more than 400 lots in Reseda’s central business district, roughly along Reseda Boulevard between Saticoy and Kittridge streets and along Sherman Way between Wilbur and Lindley avenues.

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“I guess Reseda is going to become a ghost town,” said Lee Ambers, a zoning consultant. Ambers said he represents a property owner whose proposal for an apartment building was turned down by the city Planning Commission after Picus wrote the commission saying the project would be incompatible with the planned restrictions.

The 3-story height restriction discourages office development, making commercial property potentially less valuable, Ambers said.

Picus said the interim control ordinance would be a safeguard against developers who might hastily try to gain approval for their projects before the Reseda plan is in effect.

That plan would call for high-quality development, Picus said. But she said the type of development to be allowed has not been precisely defined.

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“Reseda needs to find its own identity,” Picus said.

Lew Bickerton, a Reseda homeowner and member of the citizens committee, said the new development would not try to compete with malls but would encourage upscale stores and restaurants.

But the Friends of Reseda said the committee’s plan would have Reseda compete with malls in Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills and Northridge.


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