Extension granted for input on Verdugo Hills Golf Course plan

TUJUNGA — Opponents of a controversial redevelopment plan for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course cheered a 30-day extension of a public comment period, saying it would give them more time to present their case.

Dale Thursh , planning director for Los Angeles Council District 2 made the announcement Tuesday night to hundreds of area residents who had not expected the extension for public comment on the draft Environmental Impact Report.

“It was an excellent meeting,” said Karen Zimmerman, member of the Save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course committee.

Originally, activists opposed to a planned development of the golf course had been told the Los Angeles Department of Planning had denied their request for an extension beyond the July 20 deadline. The comments pertain to an Draft Environmental Impact Report released on May 21. Members of the public now have until Aug. 19 to make their comments.

“[Former Councilwoman] Wendy Greuel had written two letters requesting an extension as did Supervisor Michael Antonovich and the city of Glendale. Dale said that Wendy had spoken with [Los Angeles Planning Director] Gail Goldberg and the extension had been granted,” Zimmerman said.

Greuel vacated her City Council post July 1 to take her newly elected position as city controller. At Tuesday’s meeting, a representative from Assemblyman Paul Krekorian’s office read a letter supporting the effort to save the golf course, calling the parcel “an important and popular oasis of open space and recreational activity in our community.”

The meeting was standing room only, with representatives from several organizations including Save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, Sunland-Tujunga Alliance and Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment, or VOICE.

The developer and his representatives did not speak at the meeting.

Cindy Cleghorn, secretary of Sunland/Tujunga Neighborhood Council who serves on the land use committee, called Tuesday’s meeting “very helpful in informing the community.”

The purposed plan by MWH Development is to construct 229 homes on the 58-acre site where Verdugo Hills Golf Course now stands. A recent draft Environmental Impact Report for the project determined it would negatively impact the area with increased traffic and noise, but neighbors and environmental groups took up the cause to protect the course from over development about three years ago when the residential plan was revealed.

The report assesses the impact of the proposed plan plus three alternate plans that include 336 town homes with a retention of the existing golf course and mixed use residential and retail, with 334 units and residential/retail/office, both with a community open space park.

The developer has said in the past that he was willing to sell the property for $12 million.

Community organizations, surrounding cities, Antonovich’s office and the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy have since been working to buy the property back in an effort to develop it as a recreational area.

“But with the current economy it is not easy,” Cleghorn said. “We will probably need someone from the private sector.”

Comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report must be received by Aug. 19. They should be mailed to David J. Somers, Project Coordinator, Room 750, City Hall, Department of Los Angeles City Planning, 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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