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Petitioners Deny Builder’s Claim That They Back Faire Site Plan

Times Staff Writer

Two petitions have been filed with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to counteract a developer’s remarks that the community “overwhelmingly endorses” his proposal to build 159 houses on the former Renaissance Pleasure Faire site in Agoura.

The residents, from Malibou Lake and Medea Valley, hope the petitions will prove that a statement to supervisors by a Medea Valley neighborhood leader was misleading. He said at a Dec. 15 public hearing that his homeowner association is “definitely in favor” of the project.

The site of the proposed residential construction project is in Medea Valley about a mile north of Malibou Lake. The site was used for the last time for the fair earlier this year.

Proponents say they favor the project over the fair because the event caused traffic problems and brought rowdy people into the area six weekends a year. They also say the project would be well planned.

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Opponents say the development would create fire and flooding hazards and cause the removal of oak trees. They mention that federal and state parks agencies have expressed interest in someday buying the site and making it parkland.

Brian Heller, who jointly owns the land with longtime Agoura businessman Arthur Whizin, is seeking county approval to build 56 more houses on the site than the 103 approved by county planners. The supervisors are expected to decide on that request Jan. 12.

The Malibou Lake Mountain Club and the Malibou Lakeside Property Owners Assn., two groups representing about 250 homeowners in that community, expressed their opposition to Heller’s proposal as early as August.

Mountain Club Petition

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One of the two petitions submitted Friday came from the area represented by the Mountain Club. Resident Patricia Luithly said that she and neighbors found that 98 of 124 households in the community are opposed to the Heller development. The 148 signatures on the petition are from those opposition households, she said.

Medea Valley resident Arlene Singh said 24 people signed the second petition. They are from 22 of 32 households polled, she said. There are about 45 households in the area, she said.

At the Dec. 15 public hearing before county supervisors, Heller argued that residents support his construction project.

“The truth is, in light of all this opposition and all this misinformation, the community overwhelmingly endorses this project,” Heller told the supervisors.

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Each side in the controversy was given more than half an hour to make their arguments at the hearing. But Serena Friedman, who lives near the site, dealt almost exclusively with environmental concerns during the opponents’ presentation.

After Heller finished his presentation, he introduced Richard C. Taylor, president of the Medea Valley Homeowners Assn.

Referring to a meeting of his organization earlier that week, Taylor said: “We polled each of those present and inquired of those as to their decision regarding this proposed project, and it was nearly unanimous that they were in favor of the project.

“I am definitely for it, and the homeowners . . . are definitely also in favor of this project.”

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Singh did not attend the meeting. But in the cover letter attached to the petition from her area, she wrote: “There was most definitely no official vote, door-to-door survey or even a telephone survey done on this issue.”

The Medea Valley Homeowners Assn. did meet Dec. 11, but the only person who mentioned the Heller project was Taylor, and no one was polled about it, said two residents who attended the meeting. They spoke with the understanding that their names would not be published, fearing recriminations from some of their neighbors.

“I don’t know why Mr. Taylor said what he did, because there was no vote . . . and it really was not discussed,” one of the residents said. The group talked about a proposed shopping center at Agoura and Kanan roads but not about the Heller proposal, the resident said.

“There was never any discussion about the Heller property,” said another resident who attended the Dec. 11 meeting. “Taylor may have mentioned it and said he’s not against it; he thinks it’s a good idea. But he never asked the members. . . . If he would have asked, I would have said no.”

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Taylor later admitted that he did not seek a vote or poll those present at the Dec. 11 meeting. But he defended his notion that the group was in favor of the development.

He said at least three people spoke in support of the development during the meeting, and no one spoke against it.

“The best way to say it is, nobody raised his hand and said, ‘No, we’re against it,’ ” Taylor said. “It was not a rubber-stamp deal. There was general discussion pro and con. . . . If somebody had a complaint about it, they should have raised it.”


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