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Conservation Corps to Leave Chatsworth in Economy Move : Cutbacks: Closure of the Oat Mountain center would not affect jobs or local service levels, officials insist.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a cost-cutting move, the California Conservation Corps has announced that it will close its center on Oat Mountain in Chatsworth in early October and will transfer corps members and staff to other centers.

The decision was blasted Wednesday by State Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana), who steered a resolution through the Senate Rules Committee urging that the closure plan be abandoned. Even if it passes the full Senate and Assembly, the resolution is purely advisory. A CCC official Wednesday expressed doubt that the decision will be reversed.

CCC officials said that none of the 12 staff and 57 corps members at Oat Mountain will lose their jobs and that service to the area will not be reduced.

They said work now performed by the Chatsworth center will be distributed among the CCC’s Camarillo, San Pedro and Pomona centers.

Statewide, the CCC has about 2,000 members and 400 field and administrative staff.

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The corps members are men and women, ages 18 to 23, who work on natural resource and emergency assistance projects throughout the state.

Officials said the move will help them survive a $1.25-million, or 3%, cut in their budget, and the need to cover $1.26 million in cost-of-living increases and other program needs.

They said closure of the Chatsworth center will save about $600,000, or about one-fourth of the savings they must find.

Of the 18 CCC centers, Oat Mountain is the only one slated for closure in the cost-cutting effort, said Susanne Levitsky, a CCC information officer in Sacramento.

She cited several reasons for the choice of Oat Mountain.

Some widely scattered rural centers could not be closed without eliminating service in those regions, Levitsky said.

In addition, she said, the Chatsworth camp was more expensive to operate than some others, and its work could be done by other centers in the Los Angeles region.

But Robbins disputed assertions that the closure would not affect projects in the San Fernando Valley.

In his resolution, which passed the rules committee by a 4-0 vote, Robbins said it was absurd to suggest that the same service will be performed by corps members based at least an hour away.

A Robbins aide credited the CCC with “beautifying the community” through tree-planting and trail-building projects.

It is “not realistic to expect” no reduction in service, she said.

But Levitsky said CCC officials “feel pretty secure” that service won’t go down. “Otherwise, I don’t think this would be considered at all,” she said.

She said agency officials would consider Robbins’ plea, but added that the decision was made after “very careful study.”

“At this time, we still have to go ahead and make plans for the consolidation,” she said.

The Oat Mountain base camp is part of an old Nike missile site.

The CCC has leased it from the city of Los Angeles since 1978.


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