On the Brink of Disaster--Again : Newhall: Supervisor seeks help for establishments that survived the quake only to face failure due to a detour's impact.


There are a handful of Newhall business owners who thought they had escaped the worst, only to discover it waiting for them around the corner.

Their establishments survived the Northridge earthquake, but they are finding themselves unable to endure its aftermath.

Pet owners can no longer board their dogs at Calgrove Kennels, and only half as many customers walk through the doors of Carrows Restaurant and the Oak Tree Gun Club since the Jan. 17 quake struck.

It all started when The Old Road was transformed into a bypass to keep the Golden State Freeway open, making it nearly impossible to reach the businesses that sit off the road or off nearby Calgrove Boulevard.

It is a case in which creating road access for the masses has come at the cost of annihilating access for a few businesses, who can't even get emergency aid since they are not considered to be direct victims of the quake. In an effort to help the proprietors, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich presented a motion before the Board of Supervisors this week seeking emergency state or federal legislation to compensate them before they go broke. The board is expected to vote on the motion Tuesday.

"This is a unique problem to this particular earthquake," said Jo Anne Darcy, senior field deputy for Antonovich. "These businesses have been put into near bankruptcy because of a necessary change by CalTrans to benefit a greater need for mobility to and from Los Angeles."

It is a remedy that for some has been a tough pill to swallow.

Suzanne Lovingood stared out her kitchen window at the source of her discontent: the cars that whiz by her home and the dog kennel she operated with her husband, Mike. The rerouting put a freeway in front of their property, making it more than difficult for the Lovingoods to get in or out.

"The earthquake was an act of God, but this was not. . . . It's man made," Lovingood said as she watched the endless stream of cars and trucks zoom by on what used to be a country back road.

The speeding traffic has polluted the air with noise and fumes that would have scared visiting dogs and threatened their health the same way it is effecting the Lovingood's own pets.

"The dogs are all stressed out and you can smell and taste the exhaust fumes," Mike Lovingood said.

To get to the kennel, customers would have had to employ the same stunt-driver tactics that the Lovingoods now risk when they pull into and out of racing traffic to enter and exit their narrow driveway.

They are risks that the local mail carrier and the couple's dog-food and propane suppliers consider too great to take. They are no longer willing to make deliveries to the kennel.

"I'm losing everything I've worked for," Lovingood said. "I'm really angry right now."

The Lovingoods said the latest word they received from CalTrans is that the The Old Road detour will remain in place until at least June 8, when freeway construction near their home is scheduled to be completed.

In the meantime, the couple has been living off their savings, and they are estimating it may take them as long as a year and half to get back on their feet even if they are compensated for their losses.

But, Mike Lovingood said, "The question now is: Is it worth staying here?"

Just south of the kennel, business at the shooting range that Judy Schuelke manages has dropped 50% after access and traffic problems on The Old Road forced the owners of the Oak Tree Gun Club to close during the evenings, which slashed operating hours in half and prompted the layoff of four part-time workers.

"I have to say that CalTrans did a great job of putting the detour in," Schuelke said. "It's just not helping us at all."

Trying to spot the entrance to the driveway that leads to the range has proved to be a tough task for first-time customers in freeway traffic.

"You've got to be quick and it's dangerous," Schuelke said. "If customers don't know where we are--then goodby, the business is gone."

Schuelke said that CalTrans officials have also sought aid to compensate the owners of the shooting range for their losses, but so far they have been unsuccessful.

"We're not wiped out yet," Schuelke said. "But we will never recover without help."

To the north of the shooting range, workers at the Carrows Restaurant, which is located off the now closed Calgrove Boulevard exit of the Golden State Freeway, face a similar scenario.

A bad situation has become worse at Carrows, where nearly 30 workers have been laid off since the Calgrove exit was shut down as a result of the detour. Patrons must now drive a few extra miles to reach the restaurant by taking the Lyons Avenue exit off the freeway and then heading south on Wiley Canyon Road.

Waiting lines to get a table at the restaurant during the lunch rush vanished after the quake, and in the evenings workers watch as long lines of cars and trucks sit stranded on the nearby freeway, unable to exit for a bite to eat while they wait out the traffic.

"It was so convenient for people to come in here and eat and then go to work, but now who wants to come all the way in and then drive all the way out back onto a packed freeway?" asked Mario Asencio, the restaurant's general manager. "I wish they'd find a way to work this out."

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