Group Organizes to Clean Up Sepulveda Area, Fight Crime

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

About 40 Sepulveda-area homeowners and representatives of businesses, schools and community organizations met Tuesday night to discuss ways to clean up the community and combat crime.

The group, which gathered for an organizational meeting of the Sepulveda Community Coordinating Council, also talked about the need to create alternatives for youths who might otherwise become involved in crime.

The council will work under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Federation of Community Coordinating Councils, which has organized 58 similar groups, including five others in the San Fernando Valley.

Many people at Tuesday's meeting expressed frustration with conditions in the area.

"It's a community that has had it up to here," Jeff Smith, owner of Edifice Construction Co. on Tupper Street, said as he held his hand next to his eyes.

Los Angeles Police Capt. Jim Whitley said that although crime has decreased 8% in the area since 1987 and police patrols have increased, "there are limitations on what we can do. You can become the eyes and the ears of the Police Department."

Smith and Phyllis DeObaldia, personnel director of Penny Lane, a halfway house for wards of the court, volunteered to co-chair the organization. The group agreed to meet in two weeks to begin setting goals.

Community members have said they want to broaden the campaign against drug use by establishing programs for area youths that will provide constructive alternatives.

"They want to take a more comprehensive approach to this rather than just setting up barricades," Arline DeSanctis, chief field deputy for City Councilman Joel Wachs, said in an interview earlier Tuesday.

DeObaldia said one purpose of the council "is to deal with young people, to become involved with them." She said the council will be able to apply for grants from Los Angeles County and private foundations to fund its work.

Community councils are formed to deal with a variety of problems, but most have made crime a high priority.

"It's not only the money things, but things that they can do that wouldn't cost anybody anything," said Lauraine Barber, executive director of the federation. "For example, maybe some retired people can tutor young people."

The Sepulveda council will handle a six-square-mile area--with about 40,000 residents--bounded by Balboa Boulevard, the Pacoima Wash, Lassen Street and Roscoe Boulevard.

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