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Friday, May 27, 2022

Hansen

When L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon walks along a jogging path overlooking Hansen Dam in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, he sees two deep gravel pits and an outdated steam plant.

But what he imagines is something else entirely a basketball stadium, a water park, a riverside walking trail, maybe even movie studios.

“It would be more fluid, and would really change the dynamic of the community,” said Alarcon, who grew up in the area.

“There are some people who want to change the name of Pacoima,” he said. “I’d rather change Pacoima.”

The vision could possibly come true. At Alarcon’s request, the Community Redevelopment Agency put out a request for proposals in May to create a strategy for developing the Hansen Dam area. By last month’s deadline, the CRA had received five proposals.

The group ultimately selected to develop the plan will get a $180,000 city contract to create a vision statement and design for development of the 600-acre area, which is bordered by Foothill Boulevard on the north, Van Nuys Boulevard on the west, Laurel Canyon on the south and Sheldon Street on the east.

It must also prepare a financial analysis that tests the feasibility of the vision statement and development design.

The primary component of the study will be a land use plan, which could include industrial, office, commercial, entertainment, sports and residential developments.

The study must also include guidelines for such things as building heights, streets and walkways, open areas, lighting, security, rehabilitation of existing buildings, and a marketing strategy for the area.

“It really is a vision statement and hopefully we’ll be able to make that statement and find companies that will be interested in a major proposal to construct,” Alarcon said.

One of the five proposals to develop a plan will be selected by an advisory committee formed by Alarcon, and then will go the CRA board for approval. The proposal must ultimately be approved by the City Council something that CRA officials hope will happen by the end of September.

Lillian Burkenheim-Silver, the CRA project manager for the Hansen Dam plan, said that her agency is following Alarcon’s lead on the project.

“We don’t have a preconceived vision here,” Burkenheim-Silver said. “Every council person knows their district in some ways better than anybody else.”

Bastion Capital Corp. Chairman Danny Villanueva, who has teamed with Wayne Ratkovich, a restorer of historical buildings, to propose developing a plan for the area, said that the Hansen Dam area is under-served in terms of social activities for local residents.

“This, I think, would go a long way to answering that weakness that little gap that exists in cultural and recreational activities there,” Villanueva said.

As for Alarcon, part of his motivation for improving the area is to make more attractive a neighborhood where his parents still live.

“I call my district a victim of piecemeal planning,” said Alarcon, as he walked along a path along the top of the dam. “If you create a scheme, then it makes it easier to sell to major investors.

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