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Communities Split Over Reseda Boulevard Plan

Times Staff Writer

A dispute over alternate routes for San Fernando Valley commuters has made road warriors of homeowners in Tarzana and their neighbors in Encino.

Encino residents are demanding that Tarzana homeowners cease their campaign to prevent Reseda Boulevard from being extended southward past a new housing tract into the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Encino homeowners say the boulevard extension is urgently needed to relieve heavy freeway-bypass traffic that clogs Encino’s Hayvenhurst Avenue and adjoining streets every weekday morning and evening.

Neighborhood leaders in Encino charged Wednesday that Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude has reneged on a promise he made to them 10 years ago that Reseda Boulevard would eventually be connected with Mulholland Drive to serve commuters seeking a shortcut across the mountains.

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Braude reversed his position on the road extension and agreed to support Tarzana’s cause two months ago after residents and environmentalists chained themselves to bulldozers at the point where Reseda Boulevard ends. Braude is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

But Encino residents said they plan to confront him Aug. 17 at a community meeting to complain that Tarzana homeowners are not shouldering their share of the responsibility for cross-mountain traffic. Tarzana is the only community on the Valley’s southern edge that is not bisected by a cross-mountain route.

Borrowing a lesson from Tarzana, the Encino homeowners said they plan to take to the streets to demonstrate their unhappiness.

“I don’t know if we’ll chain ourselves across the street to get attention, but we’ll probably do something at 7:30 some morning to demonstrate gridlock on a street like Hayvenhurst,” Rob Glushon, president of the Encino Property Owners Assn., said Wednesday.

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“We’ve worked hand-in-hand on issues with Tarzana in the past. There’s no question we are in a potential conflict on this one.”

Madeline DeAntonio, head of the 10-year-old Encino Hillside Traffic Safety Organization, said neighborhood safety is in jeopardy because of increasing numbers of commuters seeking alternate routes to the Westside.

“People are fearful of taking walks. They won’t let their children play in their front yards,” she said.

DeAntonio said she thinks Tarzana residents are being “very selfish” about Reseda Boulevard. “Encino will no longer be the dumping ground for traffic from the West Valley. We will fight it to the bitter end.”

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Tarzana neighborhood leaders pledged Wednesday to stand firm, however.

Joel Palmer, president of the Tarzana Property Owners Assn., said Encino residents are mistaken if they think Reseda Boulevard’s extension will benefit them. Even if the boulevard were connected to Mulholland Drive, it would be of no use to commuters because that part of Mulholland is unpaved and there are no plans to pave it, he said.

“Hayvenhurst is packed between 7:30 and 9 in the morning, but the city has done everything to help that Encino has asked,” Palmer said, explaining that he travels the route daily. “They’ve even put up stop signs where they aren’t really needed to slow drivers down.”

Caught in the middle of the growing dispute is developer Harlan Lee, who on Friday agreed to side with Tarzana residents and ask the city for permission to delete the Reseda Boulevard extension from plans for his proposed 178-home Caballero Canyon tract.

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On Wednesday, company officials said Lee has decided against asking for permission to delete the roadway until after Braude’s Aug. 17 meeting with Encino residents.

“We’re somewhat surprised by the deep and broad concern from Encino that all of a sudden we’ve seen,” said Christopher Funk, Lee’s lawyer.


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