He likes to call himself the “Z-man” and even “Super-Z” — a
That view of Dennis Zine comes to the surface in an article in the LA Times today by Bob Pool about Zine’s leadership in the destruction of the quality of life in Woodland Hills.
It is a story focused on efforts to build a
And it’s more than that — a window into City Hall’s war against the city’s neighborhoods in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs no matter how much harm is done to people’s lives and the credibility of our elected leaders.
“Zine was in a defensive mood when he
walked into the crowded Woodland Hills middle school auditorium,” Pool starts his story recalling a mid-September community meeting.
“Half a dozen police officers stood at the ready outside the door. Inside, a standing-room-only crowd of 300 waited.”
It was an angry crowd, the kind you see at so many community meetings where the rights and interests of residents are being trampled.
But cops? In Woodland Hills? Did Zine expect to be gunned down or beaten to death by his constituents in one of the city’s most affluent areas?
He might have had good reason.
A big box store with its back wall running for an entire block right along Victory was nothing like what was envisioned at any time during the decades of controversy and broken promises that have occurred since movie mogul Jack Warner sold his ranch.
The vision for Warner Center, articulated in the 1993 specific plan, always was for a pedestrian friendly area with condos and apartments woven between high-rise office buildings and retail centers, a satellite center where people live and work..
This last big open property in Warner Center was supposed to be called
Westfield is no Rick Caruso. They got away with a monstrous $1.25 billion expansion of the Topanga Mall that brought luxury shopping at Neiman-Marcus and Cartier to the heartland of LA’s middle class, stores that are noticeable mostly for their lack of customers and failing restaurants.
Fueling residents discontent was that half a dozen community meetings had been held to refine
“It’s a done deal — I stand by that comment,” Zine told the crowd. “That
meant I support them coming to this community. I’m trying to bring in
jobs … tax revenue. I’m not telling Costco to go away.”
“It offends me when people criticize me” for trying to improve the
community, said Zine, dismissing threats of a recall: “I think it’s absurd when you
have a councilman trying to bring in jobs.”
Jobs, good-paying jobs at Costco? Who’s he kidding? A good-paying job is what Zine has with a $180,000 salary and $100,000 police pension with luxury health benefits and perks.
As far as City Hall is concerned, it’s all about jobs, mostly low-end service and retail jobs, and the revenue increased property, business and sales taxes bring to the city treasury to fend off bankruptcy a few more months.
It’s got nothing to do with what the people want or what’s good for the city as a whole.
The business of City Hall is business, the public be damned. That’s the policy of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and the entire City Council. They are giving away the public’s land rights and the public’s money to feed the special interests that fund their political ambitions.
That’s no small matter with Beutner eying the mayor’s office, Zine hungering to be City Controller and the mayor needing all the friends he can buy to stay out of jail.
It’s not the view of the city’s residents.
“This is the last great superblock left in Woodland Hills,” resident Peter Fletcher
told Villaraigosa at a homeowner’s association meeting last week. “This should be our town center — an area we could
stroll through and meet our neighbors and have a true center to this
“We’re not against Costco. We just want them to respect our community, to see the value of our community.”.
The mayor heard all kinds of complaints and offered little reassurance even to questions about Costco closing its store at Canoga (corrrected not Topanga) and Roscoe.
“They’re going to get me riled” if they close it and simply transfer
Canoga Park’s operations to Warner Center, the mayor said. “I would not
be for them closing that other one down. They’d have to do something
with it. This was always an addition game, not a subtraction one.”
Riled up? Scary thought.
Understand that the policies of neighborhood destruction didn’t start with Villaraigosa’s failed administration and City Hall’s desperation to save itself.
They go back 20 years in Warner Center alone.
Fearing the voter backlash that did throw her out of office two years later, then Councilwoman Joy Picus tried to scale back development in Warner Center, according to a 1991 LA Business Journal article that began: “Warner Center growth again thrown into turmoil by dispute over
The specific plan written in 1993 supposedly limited density but LA planning rules are made to be broken — something Beutner is about to make dramatically easier by short-circuiting the process to speed development with little or no meaningful public input.
Three years ago, the city began the process of rewriting the Warner Center specific plan for the benefit of Westfield and other developers — interests Daily News writer Kerry Cavanaugh described as “drooling” at the prospect in a 2007 article.
She noted how Warner Center was “once hailed as a jewel of development” but now “finds itself at a crossroads — torn between its urban ambition and suburban legacy.”
“On the drawing board in the 1970s, Warner Center was envisioned as a modern mini-city surrounded by suburban single- family neighborhoods. It would be larger than Century City but connected by mass transit and without the
“While some worry
At the time, Zine postured as his constituents’ defender.
“I don’t want another Century City. I wanted to slow things down so we could catch up,” Zine declared. “”We were going to lose that jobs-housing balance. We were going to end up with more gridlock.”
Does a Costco gas station at the congested Topanga-Victory intersection and a big box store fit into Zine’s commitment to the interests of his constituents?
Or is the “Super Z” man talking out of both sides of his mouth, again?