Public Hearing Scheduled Tonight on $2-Billion Porter Ranch Plan

Times Staff Writer

Northwest San Fernando Valley residents will get their first chance tonight to tell city officials what they think of a proposed $2-billion residential and commercial development in the Porter Ranch area of Chatsworth.

The Porter Ranch Development Co., which is run by Beverly Hills builder Nathan Shapell, is proposing 2,195 single-family houses, 800 condominiums and about 7.7 million square feet of commercial space on 1,300 undeveloped acres north of the Simi Valley Freeway and west of Tampa Avenue.

Because of the proposed development's size, Los Angeles planners have worked with the developer and a 15-member citizens committee appointed by City Councilman Hal Bernson to prepare a plan on how the area would be developed over the proposed 20- to 30-year construction period.

Chatsworth High

The Department of City Planning has scheduled a public hearing on the plan at 7 p.m. today at Chatsworth High School, 10025 Lurline Avenue.

If the plan, which conforms roughly to the developer's proposal, is approved later this year by the city Planning Commission and the City Council, office buildings in the center of the commercial area could be 15 stories.

The project would include a 1.5-million-square-foot regional shopping mall, a neighborhood shopping center and the already approved new home of the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys.

Porter Ranch Development has maintained that the proposal would place needed housing and jobs close together, minimizing traffic congestion, and would produce $400 million in tax revenue for the city during the construction period and $38 million annually after completion.

But some community members are worried about the project's effect on traffic.

"There's way, way too much commercial development," said Faires Ruddell, a member of the advisory committee and president of the Chatsworth Chamber of Commerce. "That office space is overkill, and it's going to result in monumental gridlock."

Concern About Businesses

The Chatsworth chamber has not taken a position on the proposal, but the Granada Hills chamber said last week it is worried about traffic as well as the commercial area's effect on existing small businesses.

An environmental impact report commissioned by the developer noted that such a project would generate 164,840 daily traffic trips. But the report said that the added traffic would be handled largely by the developer's completion of several unfinished roads.

The developer plans to build a bridge over Aliso Creek to complete Sesnon Boulevard. Some Porter Ranch residents are worried that their neighborhood could become a shortcut for commuters trying to avoid the crowded Simi Valley Freeway, said Paul Chipello, who lives in the already developed Porter Ranch area in Northridge.

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