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Sunland Tujunga clamor turns trenchant

News Analysis: Councilman Paul Krekorian's office may have alienated many, not few, in asking reps from various "smart-growth" stakeholder groups to "show us what you have in mind" regarding the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan.


"Joel Wachs's old deputy Arlene de Sanctis once said that she wouldn't visit Sunland Tujunga because the people out there were a bunch of animals," Terry Hake-Church told me two Sundays ago, just days before David Cain's letter of condemnation of a controversial plan to revisit the community Planning code appeared in The Foothills Paper.

Hake-Church drily added: "Sometimes I think she was being far too kind."

Indeed, what passes for political discourse in Sunland Tujunga these days drives home Hake-Church's point.

Longtime players have within the past year called each other--these are all direct quotes--"a liar and a thief," "a reformed junkie," "a dangerous criminal," "Krekorian's goon," and even "the community Madame LaFarge."

Thousands of expletives have been hurled--often by surly drunks standing right in an opponent's face. Face-to-face confrontations are typical; police have been called out on a few occasions.

Despite the acrimonious and sharply divided history, Paul Krekorian's office only invited [it did not invite anyone--see UPDATE below] select groups--groups friendly to the kind of transit-hub based "smart growth" that has generally failed in other parts of Los Angeles--to an April 6 closed-door meeting discussing the revisiting of the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specifc Plan.

Krekorian's office invited [ibid.--see UPDATE below] to this special meeting no groups or individuals who oppose opening up Foothill Boulevard to new kinds of development. It even later began decrying opponents to revisiting the Specific Plan as "naysayers."

Krekorian himself commences his first full term in office as one of the city's most popular Councilmembers. But given the community's legacy of aspiring to be different from "the rest of LA," this could become a big problem for for Krekorian's office in Sunland Tujunga going forward. The vitriol of the various players in the dispute appears to be equally distributed throughout the community among proponents and opponents of revisiting the Specific Plan.

"Has the community been alerted? Was there outreach to the community? Was this done with transparency? The answer is no, no, no," community activist Elaine Brown wrote at the STA's website on June 6.

While the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council--one of the groups Krekorian invited to the meeting [UPDATE ibid.--it was Krekorian's office that was invited]--has had problems of its own (an early Treasurer was accused of incompetence, resigned her post, and yet remains a community player today), the STNC was the only City Charter agency present at the meeting with Krekorian's office.

All parties present agree that Krekorian's office told the April 6 group to "show us what you have in mind." But by shutting out opponents to revisiting the present Specific Plan, the Councilman's office esteemed all proponent organizations present as a common front, rather than as select interest groups.

This has not sat well with those in the community who remain averse to revisiting the Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan.

The Council office could have clarified things considerably if it had either recognized the Neighborhood Council exclusively or invited a broader range of stakeholders to the April 6 meeting regarding the future of Foothill Boulevard. It can also work to remedy the trenchant clamor by taking a meeting with representatives of opponents of revisiting the Specific Plan.

[UPDATE: Krekorian's office informs us that the Councilman's office was invited to the meeting, and issued no invitations to it].


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