The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on May 22, 1981 · 93
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 93

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Friday, May 22, 1981
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VIEW BooksSociety Friday, May 22, 1981 Cos Alleles race Part V :---.- 4 S.' " " ., A 3 vV"W lv 4 A 1IARY FRAMPTON Lot Angela Timet Marian Blake, left, is one of the citizens fighting to gess, above, of college's agriculture department, preserve the Pierce College farm. Lindsay Bog- says the farm had 20,000 visitors last year. The Fight to Save Pierce College Farm From Developers By SAM KAPLAN, Times Urban Affairs Critic While housing tracts, shopping centers and office complexes continue their inexorable march west in the San Fernando Valley, the Pierce College Farm perseveres. The 200-acre spread of rolling fields and rustic barns is an anomaly Will Cows and Condominiums Mix in San Fernando Valley? amid the urban sprawl; the last vestige of the valley's agricultural past, where cows can be seen grazing and pigs heard squealing. But the college's administrators, faculty, students and friends are worried that the days of the farm may soon end if a general plan for the area proposed by the city Planning Department is approved. It would allow condominiums to be built adjoining the farm. "Cows and Condos Don't Mix!" proclaim the thousands of bumper stickers being circulated in the community by the Friends of the Pierce College Farm, a local group that has rallied to the defense of the farm. The group and its varied supporters want the development of the adjoining 18-acre parcel limited to single-family houses, which they think would be more compatible with the farm. "We feel as do the Friends that condo owners would not be receptive to the problems of the farm, such as the dust, flies and the smell, This Must Be the Place A Little Bit of Hype for Los Angeles' Bicentennial By BEVERLY BEYETTE, Times Staff Writer L.A.'s the Place, all right the place where vendors hawk baby-blue Fernando baseball caps alongside sequined sombreros on Olvera. Street, close by the birthplace of the city. L.A.'s the Place the place where Midas sells mufflers across the street from the city's only brownstone Victorian mansion and McDonald's sells McNuggets practically in the shadow of Aimee Sem-ple McPherson's temple. But, then, as tour guide Marvey Chapman noted, "When the Yanquis came, things were forever changed." In California, where it never rains, the skies were gray and threatening, naturally, as guests gathered at the bandstand at Main and Olvera streets Tuesday morning for a "VIP Picnic Tour of Historic Los Angeles." A Modest Turnout May is, by proclamation of the mayor, Tourism and Convention Month in Los Angeles, and the Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau had put together the tour (by Mailgram invitation only) as a little Bicentennial hype. The turnout was modest, less than a busload, and certifiable celebrities scarce, but the Chablis and Rose served up in plastic cups was abundant and so was the enthusiasm of Altovise Davis (Mrs. Sammy Davis Jr. ) , the official hostess. (Davis, a New Yorker by birth but an Angelino by adoption, is the Visitors and Convention Bureau's unsalaried goodwill ambassador, who travels across the countrycoming up in June: Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis telling anyone who'll listen why L. A's the Place. ) But this day she, too, was a tourist, just as much as the gaggles of high-spirited schoolchildren spilling out of yellow buses and romping across the Plaza's cobblestones. The Plaza. Where they sell musical bananas and handwriting analysis in the shadow of the site of the tiny pueblo settled by 11 families from Mexico in 1781. "People in other cities think we're just a little bit pretentious, celebrating 200 years," acknowledged tour guide Chapman, "but in 200 years we've come farther and faster than any city in the history of man." The VIP Picnic Tour group paused in front of the partially restored Pico House, the hotel (three stories, an L.A. first) built by Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California. "He figured, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," observed Chapman. There was time for a passing nod to the Plaza Church (circa 1818), where early Angelinos worshiped before the Sunday bullfights in the Plaza until the Yankee came and the bullfights were replaced by Sunday baseball games. The Adult Version' Soon, the bus was tootling down Fig-ueroa Street which, noted Chapman, was a dirt road only 150 years ago, the route later taken by enterprising young Phi-neas Banning's stagecoaches carrying city folk to San Pedro, where they did their shopping aboard the Boston merchant ships that had come around the Horn. It was the mid- 1830s and Los Angeles had a population of about 2,500, about 20 of whom were ladies of the night, professionally so designated by the initials M.V. Please see THE PLACE, Page 2 v.. S0 MARTHA HARTNETT Lm Angeles Time Marvey Chapman, outside a Carroll Avenue Victorian, leads VIP tour of historic Los Angeles for Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau. and eventually would band together to have the farm closed, explains Pierce College president Herbert Ravetch. "The confrontation would be inevitable." In contrast, Marian Blake of the Friends says single-family homeowners with children and animals of their own would be much more accepting of a farm as a neighbor. The farm is now bordered on the north and south by single-family homes and on the east by the college's 250-acre campus. The parcel in contention lies beyond a wire fence west of the farm over a hill that slopes down to De Soto Avenue and the fringe of the Warner Center, a growing commercial and residential hub in the area. The parcel is owned by the Mayer Group Inc. of Downey. Zoned RA-1 Actually, the parcel at present is zoned RA-1, which allows only one to three residences per acre, in effect single-family homes on comfortable lots. But the city Planning Department has proposed in its so-called district plan that the parcel be designated RD-2, which would allow 7 to 12 units an acre. This would open the way for condominiums. The decision to redesignate the parcel in the preliminary district plan now being circulated in the community was made by city Planning Director Calvin Hamilton. He said he did so because any less density on the site overlooking the growing Warner Center "doesn't make any sense." Hamilton added that the purpose of the plan is to promote growth, noting there is a need for higher density housing in the area, especially next to such an employment intensive development as the Warner Center. An Anachronism As for the possibility that once they move in, condominium owners may object to the farm as a public nuisance and ask the city to close it, Hamilton replied that perhaps the use of the land there for agriculture is an anachronism. The higher density designation is in opposition to recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by City Council members Joy Picus and Marvin Braude to participate in the drafting of the district plan. Both Picus and Braude have supported the lower density. Also in opposition were Planning Department staff assigned to work with the community. They also rec-Please see FIGHT, Page 14 ,11-- ';' "- i iM Do-It-Yourself Home Builders Families Make 'Down Payment' by Hard Labor GEORGE OLSON Wilbert Lee, executive director of Oakland housing service, sponsors unique inner-city project. By HARRIET STK OAKLAND-Denise Sumtter kneels before a bedroom door and slowly applies stain to it. Lameana, 6, and Tee-Se, 3, play quietly nearby, uninterested in whatever it is that smells so awful. They are used to watching their mother work with tools and materials. For almost a year, Denise and Willie Sumtter have spent just about every spare moment, after work and on weekends, building this house and working on their neighbor's new homes. The Sumtters and 13 other families are making weekly "down payments" of 40 hours of work apiece for three-bedroom, two-bath houses that will cost them a little more than half the estimated $80, 000 value. The difference their own hard labor. Wilbert Lee, executive director of Oakland Neighborhood Housing Services, the nonprofit housing rehabilitation organization that is sponsoring the innovative coopera tive project, calls it family labor equity; some of the families call it sweat equity. But by whatever name, it represents a unique solution to the problem of finding a house in today's inflated market. Lee says that this is the first time that the owner-built group-construction process, using conventional financing, has been tried in a major inner-city neighborhood, although in the mid 70s there was a similar project for migrant farm workers financed by the government near San Luis Obispo. It won't be the last Neighborhood Housing Services is planning to develop nine more homes nearby already 90 people have expressed interest and is fielding requests for information on financing and construction techniques from around the state. Most of the families involved in the do-part-of-it-yourself project had been house-hunting, fruitlessly, for some time, and, Lee says, "They were discouraged. Every-time you think you have the down payment, the interest rate changes." The Sumtters, for example, had been shopping for about a year. Pauline and Jake Evans were prepared to put down $5,000 or $6,-000 on an older house they could fix up he is a carpenter but fixer-uppers are practically an endangered species. The most common experiences were voiced by Yolan-da Byrd: "Most of the time we couldn't qualify, or we couldn't come up with the down payment." Yet in every case, these are households with two incomes. In fact, to qualify, the couples had to have incomes of between $21,000 and $31,000. Other requirements were that they had been residents of Oakland for a year, would be first-time homeowners and could meet the income-debt ratio See DO IT YOURSELF, Page 8 I

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