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SHERMAN OAKS : Residents Wary of Redevelopment Plan

A proposal to redevelop parts of Sherman Oaks has angered some residents in this upscale hamlet.

At the center of the conflict is how much decision-making power residents will have to determine the priority and nature of the activities under a redevelopment project that would divert some of their taxes to repair quake-damaged buildings.

At a meeting of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. on Wednesday night, Vivian Rescalvo, an aide to City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, said there isn’t enough time to form a citizens advisory committee to help the Community Redevelopment Agency develop a preliminary project plan. This angered residents in attendance.

Residents eventually won a promise from Rescalvo that a citizens committee will be allowed to help shape the plan, which will likely go before the City Council for approval some time in October. Under state law, Los Angeles must act by Oct. 17 if it wants to designate Sherman Oaks an emergency redevelopment area.

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Under a redevelopment project, local property taxes would be used to rebuild quake-damaged buildings. The money could also be used to construct new buildings and make public improvements such as sidewalks and streets.

The CRA has identified a preliminary project area that encompasses 570 acres of Sherman Oaks, including Ventura Boulevard from the San Diego Freeway to Coldwater Canyon Avenue. Also included are Willis, Van Nuys and Hazeltine avenues roughly from Ventura Boulevard to the Ventura Freeway, and Riverside Drive approximately from Hazeltine Avenue to Whitsett Avenue. At the meeting, which was attended by 100 people, homeowners expressed frustration with government officials who they say appear to be speeding forward with a plan without consulting residents.

“I’m getting the distinct impression that this is a done deal,” said resident Ellen Vukovich.

But Rescalvo said Yaroslavsky would not support the creation of a redevelopment area in Sherman Oaks if residents did not want it. She said that the councilman sees the proposal as an opportunity for Sherman Oaks to get rebuilding funds. The primary purpose of the project, she stressed, is to reconstruct what was already in Sherman Oaks, not make wholesale changes to the community.

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Proposed Redevelopment Area The Community Redevelopment Agency wants to create a 570-acre redevelopment zone in Sherman Oaks, one of the hardest-hit areas in the quake. A portion of local property taxes will be diverted to pay for reconstruction, new construction and public improvements. Source: Community Redevelopment Agency


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