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Village For 10,000 Homeless Proposed Near LA’s Griffith Park

May 25, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A private developer’s proposal to house 10,000 homeless people in a privately funded community near the biggest public park in the nation’s second-largest city is being backed by Mayor Tom Bradley.

But other public officials are opposed to the idea.

The proposed $234 million community would include 35 buildings and be built on 26 acres of mostly barren city-owned land near the northern edge of Griffith Park in the San Fernando Valley.

″I am interested in giving people hope and self-respect. I want to turn a dump site like this into a beautiful place where people can be trained to work,″ said Don Pettit, a developer from suburban Thousand Oaks who proposed the project.

The proposal includes a hospital, restaurant and homes for men, women and families. Money would be raised from major business and industrial firms and would not come from the city or county, Pettit said.

The plan is seen as an alternative to problems of one of the nation’s largest homeless populations. About 30,000 people are believed to be concentrated in downtown Skid Row.

During a cold spell last winter, four homelesss people died of exposure, and the City Council allowed the homeless to take refuge in council chambers and another city building.

Bradley wrote in a letter to Pettit: ″I wholeheartedly support your project and look forward to working with you.″

But Glendale City Councilman Larry Zarian, whose community adjoins the proposed Griffith Park site, said he fears it would invite homeless people to come to Los Angeles.

″It would be strongly opposed by the community and it could just bring a lot more homeless people wandering around the park,″ said Sheldon Jensen, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department.

″To artificially congregate the homeless in a community close to Griffith Park is questionable,″ said Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman.

″It is isolated from transportation and plumbing, and I don’t think it is a good idea,″ said Tom LaBonge, an aide to City Councilman John Ferraro, who represents the area.

Two other San Fernando Valley sites at Hansen Dam and Sepulveda Dam also are under consideration.

The developer has been working with the mayor’s Homeless Task Force and the Community Redevelopment Agency, a quasi-independent city agency that focuses on urban problems like homelessness.

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