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Airport Cool to Fair Site Idea

Times Staff Writer

Moving the San Fernando Valley Fair to a portion of the Van Nuys Airport now occupied by the California Air National Guard, as a homeowner group has proposed, would conflict with future plans for the property, an airport spokesman said Tuesday.

The suggestion by members of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization, which is battling plans to locate the fair at Pierce College, has yet to be made to airport officials, Van Nuys Airport spokesman Bob Hayes said.

But Hayes said: “An airport is designed for aviation business. Can you imagine having a fair site at LAX? It’s the same here.”

Members of the homeowner group object to allowing the fair at Pierce because they say it would lead to unwanted commercialization of the Woodland Hills school’s open space. A public hearing on using Pierce College land for the fair will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in the school’s Campus Center Lounge, college officials said.

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Robert Gross, vice president of the homeowner group, said Saturday that the fair should be relocated this year to a portion of the 65 acres leased from the Van Nuys Airport by the 146th Tactical Airlift Wing, which is moving to Point Mugu in Ventura County.

But a spokesman for the Air National Guard in Van Nuys said Tuesday that it has already relinquished nearly half of its property to the Los Angeles Department of Airports. The remaining property, which will be used by the wing until its lease expires in December, is not likely to be approved as a fair site, spokesman Riley Black said.

Adjacent to Runway

“I don’t think we’d be real receptive,” Black said. “Our property is adjacent to the runway, so we’d be concerned about people wandering around with the airplanes.”

Hayes said a decision on the homeowner group’s suggestion would have to be made by the Board of Airport Commissioners. The board already has plans to begin public hearings in the next year to decide on future development of property occupied by the Air National Guard, he said, adding that the site is targeted for commercial and airport uses.

Fair officials have been seeking to put the fair on 30 acres at Pierce College. The fair traditionally operates for 4 1/2 days in July, but no dates have been set for this year’s event. The fair was evicted from its former home at Devonshire Downs to make room for expansion of Cal State Northridge.

Fair officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday on whether they favor an airport site.

The Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees voted in September to postpone any development plans at Pierce until a long-range master plan is completed. But a campus committee later agreed to recommend allowing the fair at Pierce this summer to test the arrangement.

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Donald G. Phelps, chancellor of the college district, said he will decide after Thursday’s public hearing whether to send the committee’s recommendation to the district board.


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