Thriller's Gone : Pop Superstar Michael Jackson Has Moved but the Quiet Plays Well With Former Encino Neighbors


It's more good than "Bad" these days on Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino. But the neighbors of Michael Jackson still don't want to talk about how good it is.

"Yeah, it's OK now. There are no problems and I think it will stay that way," said one man who lives on the street. "But it was chaos for a while. I don't even like to bring it up."

Another resident, who asked not to be identified, said, "I just don't want to get things stirred up again. Everything is calm, and I hope it stays that way."

But only a few years ago, several residents on Hayvenhurst and the surrounding streets had plenty to talk--and complain--about. They were the unwitting co-stars of a neighborhood drama that starred the San Fernando Valley's premier megastar.

At all hours, hordes of fans would descend on the quiet neighborhood, gathering at a dirt strip across the street from Jackson's gated estate, hoping for a glimpse or greeting from their gloved idol. Even more troublesome for some neighborhood residents were the odors and noises that emanated from Jackson's back-yard zoo.

The groups ranged from six or more on weekdays to more than 50 on some weekends, according to police and residents. The majority of the fans were orderly but some became disruptive, they said, and the results were off the wall, to quote another Jackson tune.

Some fans marched through nearby back yards to get a look at the Jackson house, threatened residents, broke into their houses and threw beer bottles in the street.

A few were arrested for disturbing the peace, trespassing or being under the influence of drugs. Security guards stood sentry in front of the spiked gate, and Los Angeles Police Department patrols cruised the area every couple of hours. Several residents gave police permission to arrest anyone on their property who was not a family member.

Officials said an average of more than five fans per week were arrested on various charges. Some of the fans came from as far as Canada and New York. In 1987, the invasion reached a peak.

Jackson had permits from the Department of Animal Regulation to keep a chimpanzee, a llama and a deer at the house. But neighbors got angry in 1987 when he applied to add a giraffe to the menagerie, so Jackson withdrew his request.

The hubbub in front of the house seems to have subsided. Although members of the Jackson family reportedly still live at the house, Michael Jackson has moved away, according to neighbors and Jackson's representatives. He bought an estate near Santa Barbara last year and moved his zoo to the new house.

The dirt area across the street where fans would stage their vigils is empty most of the time now, although a single fan may wander into the area from time to time.

"Very rarely, there will be one fan who won't go away," said Lt. Richard Blankenship of the Los Angeles Police Department. "But we haven't gotten complaints for some time. I have a personal friend who lives near there, and they haven't told me about any problems."

A large black shield covering the gate obstructs any view of the house or driveway from Hayvenhurst, and a camera on top of a tall pole allows occupants inside to observe what's going on at the gate.

"All I know is, the Jacksons are good neighbors now, and that's how I hope it will stay," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. "It's the way it should be."

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