How it works in Sunland Tujunga
Residents allege that ordinary community checks and balances are skirted in Sunland Tujunga, where the Neighborhood Council shares many officers with the Chamber of Commerce (overlap). The Sunland Tujunga Alliance has also co-signed a document calling for revisiting the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan with members of the Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Council. Neither the Neighborhood Council nor the Chamber of Commerce receive the bulk of their finance money from ordinary residents; the Alliance's funding sources are unknown.* The voices of community residents are squeezed out, many allege.
As residents of the community of Sunland Tujunga scrutinize relationships taken for granted among local organization officials, they are increasingly coming to one conclusion: the residents themselves aren't being represented by the key organizations.
"The facts are clear: Sunland-Tujunga is a bedroom community of over 60,000 inhabitants and approximately 300 business owners ," Kathleen Travers, a resident of Sunland Tujunga since 2002, told me earlier this week.
"Businesses shouldn't have the grossly unequal representation they've been accorded, on this issue [Foothill Boulevard planning and zoning] or any other," Travers insists. "We're so tired of neighborhood council reps, councilmembers, the mayor and city planning all stacked up against us, the only voices that should matter."
Travers believes that the interests of ordinary residents are being sacrificed for the interests of a small handful of merchants who hope to grow business development along Foothill Boulevard.
How effective the various organizations are at squeezing out and even harassing ordinary community residents, or at conducting meaningful dialog with the allied groups was on display earlier this week, when the Neighborhood Council's Executive Committee met in a hastily called session purportedly to discuss the matter of volunteer recruitment.
Chamber of Commerce president Sonia Tatulian and others from the Chamber were on hand to watch the Neighborhood Council execs levy accusations of failure to perform against a Specific Plan dissenter, David Cain, and a volunteer from the community named Terre Ashmore. Neighborhood Council Secretary Cindy Cleghorn, who has held leadership positions in both groups, led the charges.
The Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council, the Alliance, and the Chamber of Commerce all signed documents in June requesting Councilman Krekorian's office to revisit the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan. The groups claim that they notified the community in a duly diligent way, but community residents insist that due notification did not occur.
This week, co-director of the organization Sunland Tujunga Alliance, Joe Barrett, posted to a community forum his intention to "educate the public" regarding the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan. He also called for the meeting to be "drama-free," indicating another hope to squash community dissent from the three-pronged alliance.
Earlier this year, Barrett approached Sunland Tujunga businesses that advertised in a local publication hostile to Barrett, admonishing them to pull their advertising in the publication, a Foothill Boulevard business manager confirmed to me yesterday. Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Council members also purportedly called for a boycott of businesses that advertised in the paper; they would not respond to street-hassle's inquiries yesterday.
[*UPDATE 8/1: This post, which originally appeared on 7/15, originally called the Sunland Tujunga Alliance a "closed-books organization" and said that its books "were closed to the public." On 8/1, Joe Barrett of the Sunland Tujunga Alliance contended that this was wrong; at a new blog, he claimed that the organization's books "are always open and always have been."]
Aggressive camera tactics prove thorny for NCs, DONE
Sunland Tujunga responds
Sunland Tujunga clamor turns trenchant
Getting down to specifics in Sunland Tujunga
Reversal of field in Sunland Tujunga
Krekorian's office: No change of legal status if FBC Specific Plan is opened
Sunland Tujunga Specific Plan dispute turns clamorous
Elaine Brown's forbidden comments
The Sunland Tujunga NC/Alliance letter