Fog swirled around Calabasas’ highest hilltop Wednesday as Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich climbed up to try to dissipate controversy swirling around his reelection campaign.
Antonovich denied charges that he has allowed overdevelopment in his 5th District, announcing his opposition to 1,500 new homes and 60 acres of stores planned at the base of the hill.
The supervisor will instead support Calabasas Park residents who are demanding that developer James Baldwin be allowed to build only 350 houses and 15 acres of shops on a hilly, 1,300-acre site south of the Ventura Freeway and east of Las Virgenes Road.
Baxter Ward, challenging Antonovich’s bid for a third term Nov. 8, has also sided with residents.
Antonovich has refused in the past to take sides in development disputes until the cases have come before the Board of Supervisors. The Baldwin application is expected to face a board vote next year.
This time, however, he said he decided to make his feelings on the project known during a Sept. 16 debate with Ward.
Leaders of the Calabasas Park Homeowners Assn. said they are not endorsing Antonovich or Ward. But they said they arranged for Wednesday’s hilltop news conference to get Antonovich’s position on the public record.
‘Very Defined Statement’
“We wanted a very defined statement made,” said Myra Turek, president of the association. “We wanted it real clear and precise.”
Baldwin, whose efforts to keep his project out of a proposed city of Calabasas led to the February defeat of a 2 1/2-year incorporation effort, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Since 1987, the Baldwin Co. has donated $6,350 to Antonovich, campaign records show.
Baldwin Co. project manager Bob Burns said the development “will undoubtedly proceed,” however.
Several slow-growth advocates stood on the hill and heckled as Antonovich spoke. “Antonovich’s ‘Election Posturing,’ ” read one of their banners.
Antonovich denied being loose with development permits during his 8 years on the board.
“If development were detrimental to a community, it would be reflected in property values,” he said. “Property values out here have appreciated.”
Calabasas is “an ideal place to live,” Antonovich said. “It sure beats New York City.”