Reseda Renewal Proposed : Plan Hopes to Lure Shoppers From Malls

Times Staff Writer

Trying to bring back some of Reseda's lost luster, a citizens committee on Monday proposed a plan to revitalize the area's aging central business district with new office development and "pedestrian-oriented" retail stores.

"The goal is . . . hopefully to bring the shoppers back that we've lost to the malls," said the Rev. Lyle Gordon, pastor at the First Baptist Church of Reseda. Gordon is chairman of a 14-member Citizens' dvisory Committee appointed by Los Angeles Councilwoman Joy Picus.

The plan, which will be submitted to the City Council, would prohibit new thrift stores, pawnshops, pornographic bookstores and automotive businesses. The committee unveiled the plan Monday night after nearly two years of deliberations.

The committee's plan is similar to others being proposed or prepared in Van Nuys, Granada Hills and Chatsworth. The advent of shopping malls has hurt the central business districts of those places as well, but Reseda--as the shopping hub of the West San Fernando Valley in the 1950s--was particularly hard hit.

Reseda's commercial area slowly declined in the 1960s and 1970s as the malls lured shoppers away. Now, few who come to the area shop at more than one store or browse, and most are just passing through, Reseda merchants say.

'Lacks Identity'

"The community at large lacks identity," said Steve Aufhauser, co-owner of a Reseda art supply store and a member of the committee. "A lot of people who shop here have no idea they are in Reseda."

About 12% of the downtown's businesses are automobile-related, city planner Deuk Perrin said. The plan's prohibitions on certain land uses would apply only to new development and not to existing businesses, he said.

The committee's ambitious plan would cover the two main strips of downtown Reseda: Sherman Way from Wilbur Avenue to Hesperia Avenue, and Reseda Boulevard from Saticoy Street to Kittridge Street.

It calls for improved lighting, parking, sign regulation and sidewalk landscaping to give the area the visual and physical characteristics of a pedestrian mall.

The plan, if approved by the City Council, would provide the zoning necessary for those changes. But many of the changes probably will not happen unless the owners of those properties sell their land to a developer, Gordon said.

The citizens committee included Reseda residents, developers, business people and clergy, he said.

A year ago, about 20 property owners met with Picus to protest a set of building restrictions that have been imposed in the area as a prelude to adoption of the plan announced Monday.

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