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Activists Fear Rebirth of Plan for ‘Reseda-to-Sea’ Road : Environment: Los Angeles city officials are criticized for failing to keep their pledge to kill the road proposal.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Called “Reseda-to-the-Sea,” it was to have been a cross-mountain highway linking the San Fernando Valley and Brentwood. Some opponents call it the road that wouldn’t die.

At a press conference Tuesday in Tarzana attended by 50 environmental and community activists, several speakers blasted Los Angeles city officials for failing to keep their pledge to kill the road plans. If built, the thoroughfare could spawn housing tracts or even trash dumps in virtual wilderness areas of the Santa Monica Mountains, opponents say.

For reasons not fully explained, city officials never vacated the road easement after the City Council voted in 1977 to kill the plan. The road was to have climbed from the end of Reseda Boulevard over the mountains and descend through Rustic Canyon to Sunset Boulevard. Along the way, it would cross Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts land identified as feasible landfill sites.

When the route appeared recently on official planning maps of the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades area, many Westside and valley activists were convinced that it was no mere oversight.

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“The fact that it is still on the maps is not accidental,” said Barbara Fine, vice president of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns., a coalition of more than 50 valley and Westside homeowner groups. “It’s been commented on too many times.”

After 14 years of waiting for the easement to be vacated, “I’m entitled to be paranoid about it,” said Carole Stevens, who chairs the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy board, but spoke as an individual.

City Councilman Marvin Braude, who represents the area, said he asked city planners in November to correct the maps. In an interview, Braude insisted that the road “has been effectively killed,” and “there is no risk whatever” of it being built.

“We’re never going to build the roadway,” agreed City Engineer Robert Horii, who said the easement was not vacated because that “wasn’t a high priority to us.” Horii said the job of vacating the easement--which includes identifying all adjacent property owners and holding a public hearing--is under way.

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Protesters also blasted the city for requiring a developer of homes in the hills above Tarzana to extend Reseda to Mulholland Drive to improve fire safety. Harlan Lee & Associates has been ordered to connect Reseda to Mulholland, although that means paving the road across state parkland. Work on the road has been temporarily halted because of objections from two state parks agencies.

Before the press conference, Braude’s office was picketed by about 20 people protesting the councilman’s support for the Reseda extension.

Some at the press conference sought to distance themselves from the picketers. “Be careful not to associate the Sierra Club” with attacks on Braude, one member of that group said.

“It’s a free country,” said Braude when asked about the picketers. But he called them “extremists who are intent on . . . limiting public access” to the mountains.

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