Petting Zoo, Pony Rides Get Support from Chatsworth Neighborhood Council

'The Reseda Farm' has moved from Tampa Avenue to Chatsworth Street and is seeking a Conditional Use Permit.

A longtime petting zoo and pony ride operation has moved from Tampa Avenue on the edge of Northridge to Chatsworth.

The operators of “The Reseda Farm” were forced off the land they occupied for decades when the property was sold, and are relocating to horse-friendly Chatsworth.

The Chatsworth Neighborhood Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to support the business coming to town but anticipated asking for several operational limits once the owners apply for a Conditional Use Permit from the city.

The owners wanted to get a feel for the community’s support before they spent $20,000 for city permits, said Linda van der Valk, chair of the Council’s Land Use Committee.

The vote took place at the Council’s monthly meeting at Lawrence Middle School. About 20 people attended. The issue will return to the Land Use Committee to set up conditions and satisfy neighbor concerns. For example, one neighbor asked for a crowing rooster to be removed. Operators agreed.

About 10 ponies and two donkeys, along with alpacas, pigs, goats and sheep are part of the proposed petting zoo set for 2.42 acres. The zoo is expected to only operate on the weekends and Monday holidays.

Most of the comments made at the meeting were in favor of the move, but one adjacent neighbor opposed. Others expressed concerns.

The owners of the business, who outlined their plans at the April Land Use meeting, did not attend the Council meeting.

Chatsworth resident, Jennifer Borow, said she thought the petting zoo and pony rides were a great idea and fine addition to the community.

“I want to be sure it is legal. It will (help) preserve our equestrian lifestyle, but it must be done by the book,” Borow said.

Susan Brown, a neighbor adjacent to the operation at 21910 Chatsworth St., said the property “is a mess. I’m just concerned.”

Another resident, Susan Eskander, said the owners were proposing to use handicapped children to clean up the area and take care of the animals. Operators have had an arrangement with LAUSD's Miller Career and Transition Center.

“Do (they) even know how to care for the animals?" Eskander said.

Some of the Council members, Scott Munson in particular, said he was uneasy with the vote at first because he didn’t know how the surrounding neighbors felt.

Plastic Bag Ban

The Council also voted unanimously to send a letter to Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents District 12 which includes Northridge, Chatsworth and Porter Ranch, telling him the body does not support the city's proposed  single-use, shopping bag ordinance.

Board members back banning only plastic bags, with merchants continuing to provide free paper bags, according to the letter.

“While plastic bags are frequently reused by residents to collect trash, line waste baskets and pick up dog and cat droppings, they also and up wind-blown from poorly designed city trash cans and ultimately are caught in trees, rivers, beaches and the ocean,” the letter stated. “These same issues are not evident with paper bags, which are recycled in blue bins like newspapers and large cardboard carryout boxes.”

Other Action

The Council:

  • Voted to hold a retreat from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June 2, at the Radisson Hotel on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, where they will hash out future goals and a plan of action. The retreat will be open to the public.
  • Voted to spend $250 to support the annual Congress of Neighborhood Councils to be held Sept. 22 at City Hall where all 95 Los Angeles neighborhood councils gather for workshops.
  • Voted to spend $2,500 for a public address system to be used at community events, including the recent successful “Day of the Horse.”
  • Allocated up to $900 for the library at Rancho San Antonio Boys Home, a residential campus serving court-ordered adolescent boys, to buy e-readers. Meanwhile, a motion to spend up to $500 to buy an iPad and an e-reader for the head librarian at Chatsworth Public Library failed. These motions precipitated a discussion of how, under city rules, the board can't be assured that organizations will spend the money as proposed.
  • Voted to provide $2,460 to the Los Angeles Fire Department Station 107 to buy a portable air condition unit.
  • Voted to allocate $2,000 for a grant to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Santa Susana Mountains for educational purposes. A previous request for $2,000 to buy graffiti removal equipment was rescinded because plans to close the park this summer have been averted and state-owned equipment will continue to be available.
  • Pushed forward to secure Wendy Moore as a webmaster, who will redesign the Council's website. Bids were sought from 10 internet businesses to compete for the contract. Moore was the lowest of three bidders. She has experience with other neighborhood councils including Porter Ranch. The board has previously approved $3,500 for the project.

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