A drive by Tarzana residents to prevent the extension of Reseda Boulevard into the Santa Monica Mountains, which appeared to be on the verge of success, Thursday encountered a few unexpected turns--and maybe a roadblock.
Homeowners and environmentalists want Los Angeles city officials to drop a requirement that the boulevard be extended past a proposed housing tract so that it provides an emergency route into the mountains south of the community.
After some of them chained themselves to a developer's bulldozers last month to make their point, City Councilman Marvin Braude pledged to support them--provided the Fire Department agreed that the roadway elimination would not create a safety hazard.
Three weeks ago, residents cheered when the city's Fire Commission indicated it would consider deleting the boulevard extension from city traffic master plan maps.
On Thursday, however, the fire commissioners backed away from the issue after they were advised by city lawyers that they have no jurisdiction over the matter.
Tarzana residents who came to City Hall were informed that the city Planning Department will have to decide whether to eliminate the road--if and when the housing tract developer asks that it be eliminated.
To complicate matters, the fire commissioners received a Fire Department memo indicating that the department is taking a tougher stand on the road issue.
Besides clinging to the recommendation that Reseda be extended and paved, the department has returned to its 1981 stand that a secondary road should be built between Reseda and Vanalden Avenue to "enhance fire protection of this development," Fire Chief Donald Manning told the commissioners.
Out of the Country
Braude was reported Thursday to be out of the country. Cindy Miscikowski, his chief deputy, declined to speculate what his reaction to the Fire Department position will be if developer Harlan Lee asks the Planning Department to modify the road plans.
There will be public hearings if such a request is filed, she said. "When there is a point to cast an opinion, Marvin will be there to cast."
Meantime, Lee's company was not helping to resolve the confusion.
Lee's partner Michael Dieden said late Thursday that his firm will not decide until next week whether to file the road-deletion request. "We are going to talk to a lot more people and discuss it with the council office," he said.
But company lawyer Chris Funk sent a letter Thursday to environmentalist Jill Swift that pledged that "Harlan Lee and Partners herewith commits to filing a timely application . . . for the vacation of Reseda Boulevard."
Swift, a leader of a Tarzana-based group called Friends of Caballero Canyon, said the letter leaves her "cautiously optimistic" that an unpaved, ungraded, 20-foot-wide gated fire road can be substituted for a 74-foot-wide asphalted boulevard extension past Lee's tract.
Joel Palmer, president of the Tarzana Property Owners Assn., said his organization supports the unpaved fire road concept--provided it doesn't mean that a secondary east-west roadway must be constructed to link Reseda with Vanalden.
"We don't want any further traffic burden on Vanalden," he said. "It can't be widened, it's hazardous at its S curve. It's terribly overtaxed now."