VOICES - The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council was very disappointed to read the Op-Ed piece by Christopher Thornberg that was replete with distortions and untruths with no understanding of neighborhood councils and citizen participation.
Thornberg paints with a broad brush, confusing neighborhood councils with homeowner associations, two organizations with far different missions. He chooses to label all citizen groups as NIMBYs. Our neighborhood council, now in its eleventh year, is NOT against development; we want development that is good for the community and makes it a better place.
The Il Villagio Toscana (IVT) project was submitted to our neighborhood council at the end of 2010. It started out as massive and at one of the worst traffic intersections in the City, on Sepulveda Blvd. at the 405 and the 101.
Thornberg accuses the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council of holding up the project and working against it. We would like to set the record straight. Thornberg could easily have checked the facts with a simple phone call.
The neighborhood council took this project seriously, as we do all development projects, and we worked on this thoroughly and extensively for eighteen months. The Land Use Committee (LUC) working group met with the developer numerous times to go over various aspects of the design. During that time the developer made changes to improve the project and reduced it to 399 units.
The LUC approved the project and reported its findings to the Neighborhood Council Board, which also approved it at its next meeting, May 2012. The decision was not unanimous, but it was made on a timely basis. The time, work, and discussions were productive and resulted in a far better project and one that will be an enhancement to the community.
Thornberg says, “Some members of the council are moving to have it shrunk even more.” This is not true. Since the neighborhood council approved the project, it’s been with the City. The City Planning Department reduced IVT to 329 units with the concurrence of our City Councilman LaBonge, and the Planning Commission has approved it. Currently, there are appeals of the Planning Commission’s decision by two homeowners’ associations. But, these are private groups that have no relationship with the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, which is an entity of the City and an elected body.
(Jill Banks Barad is President and Ron Ziff is Land Use Committee Chair of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.)
Vol 11 Issue 58
Pub: July 19, 2013