The Canyonback Gate
In July 2004, the City of
The Crown HOA was given permission by the City to prohibit public access from dawn-to-dusk and, during daylight hours, members of the public seeking access to the trail would have to beg permission from a remotely-located gatekeeper, employed by and therefore beholden to the HOA not the public. The dawn-to-dusk time restrictions would prevent trails users from enjoying the trail loop that connects Westridge and Canyonback Ridge, which offers many scenic views. The time limits would also strand trail users who have historically enjoyed the trails at night and during the pre-dawn hours. Public use of the public parkland trails would be further impaired by the plan to screen all prospective public trail users by forcing them to request access by phone from a remote gatekeeper with video surveillance.
The plan to privatize and gate
the Canyonback Trail/Road generated wide-spread
public opposition. On
On August 23, 2004, the City Attorney’s Office put a halt to the tremendously unpopular Canyonback Gate. But now, the City Attorney has quietly decided to let the Canyonback Gate construction proceed. While the gates may not be installed yet, the electrical, landscaping and aesthetic work may be completed. By allowing this work to proceed, the April 8, 2005 letter implies that it is just a matter of time before the gates are hung and locked. Why else would the City allow construction to proceed after the six month hiatus?
The April 8 letter raises this
question: What has changed between
What public benefit would be conferred by the Canyonback Gate? None. The Crown HOA’s Application for Street Vacation indicates that it is necessary for security. But the Crown has never provided any data to support the notion that gating is needed for security purposes. And in August 2002, when LAPD Senior Lead Officer for the area Dennis Hinman spoke to the Crown’s Neighborhood Watch group, he informed the group that “Mountaingate is almost void of crime.” There were only four reported incidents from August 2001 to August 2003 and two or three of the incidents were questionable.
When the audience responded with
audible skepticism, Mr. Zien candidly admitted that crime was not an issue for
Crown residents. The real problem was
traffic related. According to Mr. Zien, commuters taking
Another Mountaingate resident, who is a member of the community’s association responsible for the area’s private security patrols and was therefore privy to information about the crime reports, flatly contradicted the notion that there is any crime or security problem in the area: “The facts and records do not support any such criminal activity. There are no police reports of any such incidents . . . there is no crime. No felony has ever been reported to the police.”
We filed a Public Records Act
request with the LAPD, seeking documents concerning
crime reports for
Finally, the Crown’s complaints about cut-through traffic have never been supported by
any data, and is inherently incredible.
First, DOT measured the
street’s traffic flows at 24 vehicles during the peak morning hour and only
about 20 vehicles during the evening peak hour.
And the road is abnormally wide – sixty feet across – because it was
originally designed as a scenic highway providing access to a massive hillside
development that was never built. By any
The real motivation for
privatizing and gating
The anticipated increase in
property values cannot arise from any purported enhancement of security on
Now is the time for the City to assume responsibility to protect public access to public parkland. The Crown should be required to remove the Canyonback Gate structure from the public street immediately. The pillars now standing send a message that the Canyonback Trail is not for public recreational use. The structure inhibits public use of the parklands bought with public funds. This type of “fake” security structure misleadingly implies that the Canyonback Trail is a “private enclave.” It sends a foreboding “Do Not Enter” message that has no place on a public parkland trail.
BILL ROSENDAHL: “GOODBYE CANYONBACK
Promise Made. Promise Kept!
During my campaign for City
Council earlier this year, I took a strong and definitive stand in favor of
protecting and preserving the right of public access to
Since taking office, my staff and I have heard from all parties concerned and reviewed the issue thoroughly. My position remains firm and unchanged. Public access must be preserved, and the gate facade must be removed.
To make good on my campaign commitment to public access, I am taking the following immediate steps:
immediate posting of prominent signage at the intersection of
the City of Los Angeles Planning Department staff recommendation to deny the
application of the Crown HOA to downgrade
the Department of Public Works to promptly issue a ruling of final
determination, opposing vacation of
• Urging the relevant city agencies to rescind the revocable permit for the existing gate structure and direct that it be promptly removed.
As I wrote in January, “it would be unjust to block or impede public access to that refuge. A gate and a security guard at Canyonback will surely intimidate visitors and effectively deny many their right to access a shared public space. I join with Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association, Brentwood Hills Homeowners Association, Citizens for a Safe Sepulveda, Center for Law in the Public Interest, International Mountain Bicycling Association, LA Leggers, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Mandeville Canyon Association, Sierra Club Santa Monica Mountains Task Force, Trail Runners Club and Upper Mandeville Canyon Association in opposing the gate.”
Councilman, 11th District