Plans by a Chatsworth cemetery to turn an unused caretaker’s residence built in the 1880s into a retail floral shop and to add a new maintenance building were approved unanimously on Thursday by the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee.
Representatives of Oakwood Memorial Park, at the end of Lassen Street, said they would keep most of the existing features of the 1,590-square-foot adobe structure, known as the Miranda House, and would preserve and enhance the nearby wishing well with a pathway, landscaping and some seating.
The walls and most building features will be saved except for those that have deteriorated over the years, said architect Adam Wheeler of Los Angeles-based Adam Wheeler Design. Despite its age, the building does not qualify as a cultural landmark because the original structure was altered many years ago.
There are also plans to replace an old maintenance building and several small accessory structures with one larger building to house cemetery equipment, to widen a road used by employees and to add an employee parking lot.
The committee’s action must be ratified by the full Chatsworth Neighborhood Council (CNC) at its meeting April 6. The council acts as an advisory board to City Councilman Greig Smith. Land use recommendations become part of the official record at city Planning Department hearings.
In other action Thursday, there was a lively discussion after Chair Linda van der Valk suggested that the committee devote a majority of its annual budget to join an “Adopt-a-Street” program. Van der Valk said she had commitments from several of the other CNC committees to pool funds to clean up several major streets in Chatsworth.
The volunteer street cleanup program allows individuals or community groups to arrange for maintenance such as clearing trash, trimming trees and brush, removing graffiti and illegal signs and clearing storm drains. In exchange for agreeing to clean a specified area at least four times a year, a sign is posted acknowledging who has “adopted” the street.
After much back and forth discussion at the monthly meeting in the Chatsworth Train Depot, it was decided to spend up to $2,500 of the Land Use Committee budget for the cleanup.
Each of the approximately 100 neighborhood councils in the city gets $45,000 in tax money to spend within its community during the fiscal year. The Chatsworth Neighborhood Council divides most of its allocation among its six committees. All committee expenditures must be ratified by the full council.
Some Land Use members said the city departments responsible for cleaning streets and trimming trees should step up. However, the city’s budget crisis has resulted in severe cutbacks in such services.
Judith Daniels, president of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council and a member of the committee, objected to spending the money unless it was tied to a community education program. She said that another committee had a motion approved by the full board earlier this month to spend money to send letters to property owners telling them they have a legal obligation to maintain their property. Of special concern are properties that back up to major streets where there is a wall that separates the yard from a parkway strip. Although the homeowner may not have easy access to this strip, it is legally part of the property and is the owner’s responsibility for upkeep.
“This should be part of the entire package,” Daniels said.
One board member commented that by participating in the “Adopt-a-Street” campaign the council would be rewarding bad behavior by property owners who failed to maintain their parkway strips.
As a result of the discussion, Daniels will create an ad hoc committee to check details of the "Adopt-a-Street" program, determine the best streets to target, how much money to spend and to consider hiring a business to do the work.
Committee members voted to fund participation in one year’s cleaning and consider spending more to continue the program for a second year, if the other committees agree.
In other action, the committee discussed an application by a business owner dealing in classic, collectible, exotic, investment-grade and high-line used vehicles. The committee decided that it needed to invite the owner to the April meeting to ask about plans that would require a zoning variance at 20229 Nordhoff St.
They were especially concerned about potential impact of signage and business parking on residents living across the street.