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Homeowners Veto Paying for Sound Wall in Toluca Lake

Times Staff Writer

Toluca Lake residents who have been clamoring for a Ventura Freeway sound wall have resoundingly voted against paying for it themselves, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday.

The project had been viewed as a potential precedent-setter. Several other neighborhoods are considering paying for their own noise-deadening walls.

But City Councilman John Ferraro, who represents the area, said Tuesday that the mail vote of 104 to 78 against the resident-financed wall “is the end of it as far as I’m concerned.”

Residents along the north side of the freeway between Clybourn Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard would have been assessed from $4,000 to $24,000 each for the $2.1-million project. Assessments were based on distance from the freeway and the size of each parcel.

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Had they gone ahead with the project, the state Department of Transportation eventually would have reimbursed them.

Caltrans has designated the 3/4-mile-long stretch of freeway in Toluca Lake as qualifying for a sound wall paid for by the state, officials say.

But 220 other neighborhoods in the state also meet minimum standards for sound walls.

Neighborhoods are ranked according to the severity of the noise, the cost of building a particular wall, the projected noise decrease and the number of homes affected.

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At the present rate of construction, the Toluca Lake wall would be built in 15 to 20 years, according to Caltrans engineer William Minter.

State law requires that Caltrans reimburse cities or residents that build a wall once the project reaches the top of the state priority list.

Although the assessments could have been paid over 15 years, many residents complained at a recent neighborhood meeting that they lived on fixed incomes and could not afford the payments.

Gil Farias of the city Public Works Department, which conducted the poll, said some residents were concerned that the assessment lien would make it difficult to refinance their properties.

“But the main feeling I got is that they feel the state should pay for it,” Farias said.

Of the 206 residents who would have been within the assessment district, 182--or 88%--cast ballots.


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