Theater of Shame

The dangers of new politicians getting involved in complicated projects was never more sharply pointed out than it was by Councilwoman Laura Chick's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) activity in the construction of a new Madrid Theatre in her Third Council District.

This theatre is located on an approximately 75-foot frontage lot on Sherman Way near Canoga Avenue in Canoga Park. It is in the heart of a run-down area and is squeezed in between two old buildings.

There is no readily available parking in the area, although Chick's staff claims they have discovered 140 spaces in nearby areas. I checked this area myself and can't imagine where these spaces can be found without condemning everyone's backyards.

This brings us to an interesting question: If Ms. Chick, with the help of CRA property tax increments, obtained $3.5 million to build a theatre, why didn't she select a bigger piece of property in a better location for a theatre showplace?

Any Realtor would have told her that the three prime requisites of any building are location, location and location. If $2.7 million is to be spent on the building alone, including the $173,000 spent on the land, why couldn't the local citizens have an edifice of which they could be proud in a place where there is plenty of easily available parking?

Somehow or other, some people got the attention of Councilwoman Chick to tell her that a lot of CRA money was available, a cheap lot was on the market and a load of property tax dollars was obtainable from the CRA. Laura fell for this story hook, line and sinker.

Now the building is well underway and ready to serve as the centerpiece of a revitalization of the entire area. There's an additional $800,000 that's available to be spent on fixing and lighting these hard-to-find parking lots, as well as more street improvements for the Valley's theater-goers.

Eventually, people have to discover that general plans have an important function in business and governmental life. With no general plan now, I firmly believe that this redevelopment project will fall flat on its face!

The public deserves better.

LEONARD SHAPIRO

Tarzana

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