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Homeowners Claim Picus Reneged on Reseda Zoning Vow

Times Staff Writer

Leaders of a Reseda homeowners group Friday accused City Councilwoman Joy Picus of reneging on a promise to help keep apartments out of two neighborhoods.

They suggested that Picus did so because the group’s president, Peter Ireland, had tried to unseat her in this year’s election.

Picus aides responded that the Los Angeles councilwoman stands by most of a community plan change that she proposed before the April election.

The aides, Susan Pasternak and Jim Dawson, said Ireland’s charges of political skulduggery are themselves related to political motives.

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In June, 1988, Picus proposed restricting two Reseda neighborhoods to single-family homes. Multifamily homes are allowed there now.

The first is on Darby Avenue between Saticoy and Cantlay streets and Darby Place between Cantlay and Valerio streets. The second is on Keswick Street between Etiwanda Avenue and Reseda Boulevard and parts of Reseda Boulevard and Etiwanda Avenue between Keswick and Saticoy streets.

‘Support Homeowners’

“I strongly support the homeowners. . . . They don’t want properties in their neighborhood to become targets of speculative land purchases and over-building,” a statement by Picus said at the time.

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But when the case went before the city’s Planning Commission in May, a month after Picus was reelected, the councilwoman went along with a less-restrictive package recommended by the Planning Department. It conforms with Picus’ proposal in the Darby neighborhood but would allow some scaled-back multifamily housing in the Keswick-Etiwanda neighborhood.

“She reversed her support and supported a partial rollback,” Ireland said. “It could well be that she is viewing this as a vendetta or a vindictive action directed against one of the leaders in the Reseda Community Assn. who did not support her reelection.”

Ireland said he was referring to the group’s past president, Milena Miller. Miller said she suspected it was the Ireland campaign along with her own recent criticisms of Picus that prompted the councilwoman to compromise on the Keswick-Etiwanda changes.

Dawson, the councilwoman’s planning aide, said the zoning package actually contains most of what Picus promised. The Darby neighborhood would be changed from multifamily to single-family, and the density of multifamily housing on Keswick Street and Etiwanda Avenue would be limited, he said. The package is to be heard Tuesday by a City Council committee.

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“We got two-thirds of what we wanted,” Dawson said. The Planning Department persuaded Picus to drop her proposal to limit Keswick Street to single-family homes mainly because apartments had already been built in the area, he said.

“They said it was too late” for Picus’ proposed changes, Dawson said.

Picus, who was attending a conference in Kansas City, was unavailable for comment Friday.

Ireland and Miller “are the ones who are being overly political about it,” Dawson said. He said Ireland might be looking for an issue on which to criticize a political foe.

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“All we’re saying is we didn’t do too bad,” Dawson said.


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