Thursday, October 29, 1998
By Teresa Jimenez
Daily News Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES -- SCOPE activist Lynne Plambeck said Wednesday that victories such as an increase in library fees paid by developers - a hike approved Tuesday by Los Angeles County supervisors - make the battles worth it.
The board unanimously supported a recommendation to increase developer fees to $570 per housing unit in the Santa Clarita Valley to build libraries or expand existing ones. It also set per-home fees at $572 in the Antelope Valley, $593 in the west San Gabriel Valley and $569 in the east San Gabriel Valley.
"I was just elated after working so hard on this issue," said Plambeck, who praised all five of the board members for the action. "We were hoping we could get operational fees, but at least having impact fees is wonderful."
The Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment sued The Newhall Land and Farming Company and the county when the Westridge project was approved in 1992. The suit alleged that enough compensation would not be provided to libraries and schools for the number of new residents that would occupy the 1.880 homes.
A Superior Court judge agreed and, in 1993, the project was halted and sent back into the planning stages. Newhall Land this year has resubmitted a modified proposal that includes a golf course and 1,712 homes.
In February 1995, Newhall Land and county library officials agreed to an interim fee of $336 per new housing unit, but library officials made it clear in subsequent reports that the amount fell far short of what was required to build new facilities.
As a result, the developer agreed to pay for a study that would evaluate the per-unit cost for I libraries. Tuesday's approved proposal was a result of the study.
"This action will ensure that new development will pay for libraries at the time development occurs," said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
Carol Maglioni, spokeswoman for Newhall Land, said company representatives had anticipated the fee and are prepared to pay it.
"It was clearly an expected action," Maglioni said. "We said that if the board adopted a fee, we, were ready to pay that."
The collected library fees will be held in a separate account to provide future residents of the developments with a new library or an expanded existing one. The fees, by law, cannot be used to cover staffing and running of new libraries.
Following the vote Tuesday, Plambeck approached Antonovich's aide Dave Vannatta for details. Mark Subbotin, senior vice president of Newhall Ranch Co., a division of Newhall Land, followed Plambeck to the front of the boardroom and gave her a hug.
"He said, No more lawsuits," Plambeck said, laughing.
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