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Area Votes for Gates as Crime Deterrent

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A proposal to turn the Baldwin Hills Estates into a gated community was given overwhelming support in a community election that attracted slightly more than half of the residents.

The Baldwin Hills Estates Homeowners Assn. proposed the gates as a means of deterring vandals, burglars and the curious who have taken to wandering into the isolated hillside community since a fire devastated much of the area five years ago.

The plan was approved by a vote of 423 to 121 last week. The vote represented slightly more than 50% of the 957 households in the community.

“It means that the community is concerned about our security, our lifestyle and the value of our homes,” said Joseph Gardner, the association’s president. “It is a very positive vote.”

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Approval from the Los Angeles City Council is needed for the plan, however, and that could prove a problem. Ruth Galanter, the council member who represents the area, said she does not support the proposal in its present form.

Under the plan, seven electronic gates will be used to cut off vehicle and pedestrian access to the community. Residents will be able to operate the gates with a device similar to a garage-door opener and by phone from their homes to let in visitors. Police, fire and other city services will be given secret codes to open the gates.

It is expected to cost an estimated $225,000 to install the gates, about $225 per household, Gardner said. Annual maintenance costs have not yet been determined.

“We are obviously going to need the participation of the residents for the gates to be built, but the vote is a strong indication that we will get it,” Gardner said.

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The proposal to install the gates has been under discussion since the community was hit by an arson fire on June 2, 1985, which destroyed 53 homes, damaged 13 others and killed three people.

Galanter questioned the plan, saying that communities seeking to become gated should be prepared to assume responsibility for maintaining other city services.

“If it is owned by the public and maintained by the public, then the public should be able to use it,” she said. “The question really is how much financial burden can the city be expected to shoulder for an area that is not available to all city residents.”

Gardner said the association plans to meet with Galanter to work out any differences. If that cannot be done, he added, the association will go elsewhere for support. “We certainly hope to have her support but if we have to, we will go directly to the City Council for approval,” he said.

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Galanter said the council will not support the plan.

“If they are asking for the public to maintain private streets, no one on the council will swallow that,” she said.

The association’s plans call for two gates at the intersection of Don Miguel and Don Lorenzo drives. Other gates will be located at Don Lorenzo near Don Porfirio Place; Don Quixote Drive near Don Tomaso Drive; Don Miguel near Don Tomaso; Don Felipe Drive near Marlton Avenue, and Hillcrest Drive near Don Ricardo Drive.


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