Rather like the Grinch who stole...

Rather like the Grinch who stole Christmas, Bob Tanabe of La

Canada Flintridge is working hard to spoil the gift that residents of

Glendale and the Crescenta Valley recently received, the deal to

preserve the Oakmont View V property as open space. ("Oakmont: Be

Careful What You Wish For," Community Forum, Dec. 21-22)

Unfortunately, Mr. Tanabe is sadly misinformed about the

situation. Either that, or, like the Grinch, his heart is just a few

sizes too small.

Let's have a look at what he claims to be the case:

* The developers of Oakmont are laughing all the way to the bank.

The developers of Oakmont have for years claimed their property

was worth $46 million. Their own appraisal in September 2000 valued

the land at $41 million. A settlement price of $25 million, with the

city paying a little more than half that amount, is hardly a bad deal

for the residents of Glendale.

Earlier this year, the American Land Conservancy independently

appraised the property at $22.5 million, an amount the developer

rejected. And the city evaluated appraisals and purchases for similar

properties in other hillside communities before reaching a decision.

As City Manager Jim Starbird indicated in his report to the City

Council, "Factoring in even conservative assumptions for costs and

exposure for litigation, it seemed that the proposed purchase price

was a very reasonable alternative to continued litigation."

* The Oakmont property is nothing but tumbleweeds and "fire

food."

Obviously, Mr. Tanabe has never set foot on the Oakmont property.

If he had, he would not have made such a statement. However, the best

evidence available to dispute his assertion is simply a photograph of

the canyon that runs through the center of the property.

* The Oakmont project would bring the city much-needed revenue.

There is absolutely no evidence that Oakmont would be built at a

profit to the city. The increased cost of city services -- police,

fire, schools, parks -- could and probably would offset the tax

revenue generated by the project. Reports from sources as diverse as

the Trust for Public Land and the Bank of America have repeatedly

indicated that residential land is the most expensive for local

government to support because it costs the public more money than it

pays in taxes and charges.

* The city's reserve funds have been "all used up."

Nowhere has it been written, or has it been stated, that the city

of Glendale has depleted its reserve funds in order to make the

Oakmont purchase. If Mr. Tanabe has facts to the contrary, he should

tell us where he obtained them.

The city's general reserve fund currently contains nearly $60

million. The city, even after the Oakmont deal is complete, will have

sizable funds remaining in reserve. As Starbird stated in his report,

"I am comfortable that the city's commitment for the balance of the

payment can be met without impacting operating programs and likely

without impacting other planned park acquisition efforts."

* The city will be unable to maintain the hillside.

Even if the city's reserve funds were gone, Glendale's obligation

for maintenance would be minimal, at best. The cost of brushing, for

example, is estimated to be $3,000 per year, and the city's park

rangers already patrol the Verdugos. When the deal is completed, the

property will become a Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy parkland,

and the cost of maintenance will be shared by the Mountains

Recreation and Conservation Authority and the city of Glendale.

* The preservation of Oakmont will lead to the development of

apartments and condos on what were once single-dwelling lots.

There is no conceivable connection between the elimination of

high-priced hillside homes and the potential increase of condos and

apartments in Montrose and La Crescenta. If there were, then the

building of expensive homes for Oakmont III and IV in the mid-1970s

and '80s would have prevented the proliferation of apartments and

condos in southern Glendale, which mysteriously sprang up at the same

time.

The developers of Oakmont have not suddenly started licking their

chops in anticipation of building condos in northern Glendale. And

other developers might be surprised to find that the people who

banded together to oppose Oakmont will be the same folks who band

together to preserve the charm and character of Montrose and La

Crescenta.

In summary, the residents of Glendale, La Crescenta, and even Mr.

Tanabe's hometown of La Canada Flintridge were very careful about

what they wished for this Christmas. They were careful about what

they spent the last 10 years fighting for, as well.

Sorry, Mr. Tanabe, but try as you might -- just like the Grinch --

you're not going to steal Christmas. Not this year, at least.

MARC STIRDIVANT

Glendale

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