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New Sherman Oaks Councilmember LaBonge Talks Neighborhood Character

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Recent shake-ups with the Los Angeles City Council district map have moved representation of the Valley neighborhood known as Sherman Oaks to Council District 4 (but surely Council District 4 remains one of the weirdest of all LA council districts). Under the new arrangement, Council District 4 council representative Tom LaBonge has inherited no shortage of hot button controversies, some of which he was kind enough to address in a recent Q&A with the Sherman Oaks Patch. The discussion touched on the "Chabad situation" on Chandler Boulevard, the 399 unit Il Villagio Toscano, an under-construction Ralphs between Ventura Boulevard and Moorpark Street, and potential density modeled via a plan modeled on the recently-approved Hollywood Community Plan.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Q&A:

-- LaBonge thinks that some of the issues regarding Chabad, especially "RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) and religious freedom and Land Use are ultimately probably going to be challenged by the United States Supreme Court."
-- LaBonge uses the Chabad controversy to twice profess his support for "local zoning," and references a problem at Third and Highland (this controversy, perhaps?) to support his claims.
-- LaBonge admits that he'd only recently been briefed on the details of Il Villagio Toscano, but he wants to hear from city planners, "The professionals," as he describes them, before he makes a decision.
-- With regard to the Ralphs under construction on Ventura Boulevard, LaBonge cited Valley Vista as an example where the need to develop density near major streets might conflict with nearby neighborhoods: "in the Valley, you have this one backbone street. So the planners have to be very cautious, how it impacts the neighborhood, how it impacts the community."

For the record, even Councilmember LaBonge seems aware of CD 4's non sequitur neighborhoods, even using the word "gerrymander" in reference to the historic development of the district: "John Ferraro was a good friend of Peter O'Malley, who gerrymandered Dodger Stadium into the old 4th district."
· Q&A With Councilman Tom LaBonge [Sherman Oaks Patch]
· Nabe Ok With Sherman Oaks Mixed-Use's 1,206 Parking Spots [Curbed LA]
· 10 Changes on the New City Council District Map [Curbed LA]