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West Hills Neighborhood Council Vies to Control Chatsworth Nature Preserve

Members of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council learned about the proposed move, and strongly voiced their objections at Thursday's Land Use Committee meeting.

Members of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council's Land Use Committee met Thursday at the Chatsworth Train Depot with one high-priority topic: Make it clear to the West Hills Neighborhood Council and the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commision that they will fight to keep the community's crown jewel, the Chatsworth Nature Preserve.

Based on the fiery comments made by CNC members during the meeting, and by the reading of several letters addressed to the redistricting commission, the West Hills council touched a deep nerve here with its stated desire to have the entire Chatsworth Nature Preserve reside in Council District 3.

Commenters spoke passionately about how Chatsworth residents and city council members for Council District 12 have protected and nurtured the beautiful, pristine property for more than 30 years, and how they want to keep it that way.

What really riled the Land Use Committee was how one West Hills Neighborhood Council member stated at a Feb. 1 meeting that he was "interested in the highest and best use of the property." Linda van der Valk, land use committee chairwoman, said, "In Chatsworth, those words usually mean development."

In a Feb. 12 letter to the Redistricting Committee, the Chatsworth Historical Society mentioned similar "threats" to the nature preserve that have arisen from time to time—such as one reported in a July 1999 Daily News article: "... in 1999, when Rick Caruso had suggested that the reservoir could be used for housing or a sports field." (Caruso is the real estate developer of popular multi-use shopping complexes like "The Grove" in the Fairfax District and "Americana at Brand" in Glendale.) 

But even with such threats, it was the stewardship of city council members such as Hal Bernson, said the Historical Society letter, that protected what he called "the last piece of property that we have that is a wildlife refuge, that is open and needs to be preserved." (From a Daily News article dated January 25, 1995)

Said Judith Daniels, CNC vice president, "The Chatsworth Nature Preserve is the only nature preserve in the entire city of Los Angeles, and we believe it should stay in the state that it is in now, which is, undeveloped and left alone for nature."

Van der Valk stated that "Council District 12 has brought up the property from reservoir status to a nature preserve. From Councilman Bernson to Councilman Smith and now Mitchell Englander, they have all promised to keep it a nature preserve."

And the CNC has heard many offers for the land, she said. "We've had places looking to make it into golf courses, condos, hotels, this and that," van der Valk said. "Oh yeah... soccer fields."

In other business, the committee addressed such items as: replacing the dilapidated shades inside the train depot's meeting room, contacting the owner of an "eyesore property," and deciding on the type of camouflage design for a cellular antenna tower that would be appropriate on a Chatsworth neighborhood street.

The committee highly preferred the "clock tower design" over any "fake palm trees." 

Van der Valk offered to let West Hills claim the cellular antenna tower "for CD [Council District] 3." She dead-panned, "We'll keep the nature preserve, they can have the clock tower."

Daniel Brin February 22, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Actually, with references to the bylaws of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council and the West Hills Neighborhood Council, as well as the official maps of the City of Los Angeles. Thank you for the welcome and good night!
ardyne March 16, 2012 at 04:56 PM
you know what would be so nice for the area and everyone is missing some points here, have the army of engineering fix the dikes, fill the lake back up, have a park for boating day camping, bird watching etc..., since DWP ownes the land on the far east side of the lake wind mills would be great for power comsuption for the surrounding neighbor hood, since we do have a lot wind up here. Make the land work not just sit there..I think if everyone put their heads together and made this wonderful piece of land a real place for everyone to enjoy. Not to mention if it was filled with water, what it could do for us during the fires.
Daniel Brin March 16, 2012 at 05:51 PM
After the City Council votes today on new district boundaries, the issue probably will be moot, but for the record I'd like to report on the West Hills Neighborhood Council's first -- and only -- official vote on the subject of City Council boundaries. At its monthly meeting on March 7, the Board of Directors of the West Hills Neighborhood Council endorsed a motion to keep the boundaries AS THEY ARE, with Roscoe Boulevard serving as the borderline between Council Districts 3 and 12. As I said before, there was NO policy or desire by the WHNC, "stated" or otherwise, to move the entire Nature Preserve into CD 3. Such a thing was never even considered. The above article isn't just wrong. It is reckless. It is defamatory. It is destructive to the relationship between two communities.
Sophie L March 17, 2012 at 04:12 AM
ardyne & Dan Brin, 12 acres+114 acres+384 acres=510 acres, the amount of surface area within the Rocketdyne boundary that impacts the Chatsworth Reservoir, one way or another. Known as Woosley Canyon Drainage, Eastern Drainage, and Happy Valley Drainage, respectfully, stormwater and subsurface flows from them are tainted with BOD5, Chloride, Cu, CN, Fe, Mn, (NO2 + NO3) as N, Pb, TCDD, TDS, TSS ... and more. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board repeatedly fines the Rocketdyne polluter for effluent limit exceedances to the tune hundreds of thousands of dollars. Monitoring wells perch above the reservoir in Woosley Canyon with something like a 50,000 year TCE cleanup effort this community currently faces. Inside the unsightly razor wire you see while cruising Valley Circle is shallow water table and sediment of Chatsworth Reservoir that retain Rocketdyne contaminants such as Hexavalent Chromium, Dioxin, Thorium from the thorium reactors, Di-n-Butylphthalate, Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, Carbon disulfide, Acetone, Toluene, m & p-Xylene, Uranium from nuclear fuel, Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Antimony, Cadmium, Vanadium, Barium, Beryllium, Molybdenum...to name but a few. The place is a repository for Rocketdyne wastes, much still left either undiscovered or deceptively undisclosed. Years of illegal dumping of radioactive wastes were a common occurrence at Rocketdyne, as we today witness the aftermath as it makes its way to the Chatsworth Reservoir.
Dan L. Huffman March 17, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Does anyone around CHATSWORTH Lake have any idea what ever happened to the very large herd of deer that used to reside within the DWP fences ? There must have been 150 plus....though they are excellent jumpers, a ten foot high fence with topwire and locked gates would have proved impossible for the elderly. Did DWP unlock the gates and let them meander out ? Were the herded out ? How many years ( 15 ? ) has it been since they were seen grazing and sleeping under the oaks ?


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