Gaps in Courthouse Argument

This letter is in reply to a letter to The Times from Jon M. Mayeda, presiding judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Of course, no one disputes that the Los Angeles Municipal Court provides an essential service. We support a courthouse in Chatsworth, if the court determines that is the best location. We have offered to work with the court to find a suitable site that does not impact a residential neighborhood. Our only objection is that a courthouse should not be across the street from a residential community because the activities of the home and the court are incompatible.

The judge has concerns about misconceptions and inaccuracies. Then why does the court tell the Board of Supervisors the following:

* That there will be minimal impact on peak-hour traffic on one site. The community was told just the opposite regarding another site.

* That this will be a full-service courthouse, with night court one night a week. The community was given "no guarantee on any night court."

* That there will be no jail at the facility. The community was not told where prisoners will be released if that is the case.

* That the local community has been taken into consideration, when the court refused to meet in an open forum sponsored by the Chatsworth Chamber of Commerce. In meeting with the Chatsworth Homeowners Committee, the court wanted attendance limited to just the Committee of 13.

* That Plummer Street is a six-lane thoroughfare when in fact it has only four lanes.

* That felony matters and preliminary hearings constitute only 2% of the court caseload. Percentages are like polls and can be used to minimize or maximize. The community would like to know the actual number. It is like saying to a mother, "no need to worry, we only handle 2 to 3 child molestation cases a month."

* That delays are costing the public $375,000 per month. We in the community wonder why there is any cost at all. The county has not bought any property and has not been given authority to finalize any agreement by the Board of Supervisors. Real estate is very soft, building permits are down, our economy is sluggish, unemployment is up, so why these costs?

Is it possible that the authority of the Board of Supervisors has been usurped and a commitment made that is now being questioned, and interest costs on land purchased are mounting, resulting in these costs? The public has a right to know.

When I asked Robert Quist, deputy court administrator, about these figures, he said it represented a 5% increase in building costs because of inflation. What a farce!

Another question is why the court has to pay $12 million for a piece of property that was sold for $10.5 million a few months ago. The courts have not been given authority to negotiate with the landowner, yet the increased price of the land is now public knowledge. What is going on here?



Godley is chairman of the Chatsworth Homeowners Committee

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