Residents Consider Suit Over Proposed Calif. Station

June 25--A group of Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks residents are weighing a lawsuit against the city following Wednesday's Los Angeles City Council approval of a new Los Angeles Fire Department station on Oxnard Street, which critics contend will bring blaring siren noise to the area.

The council unanimously approved an 18,500-square-foot station at Oxnard and Vesper Avenue in Van Nuys, drawing immediate criticism from residents fighting the project.

Standing outside City Council chambers, Jeff Lynn of Sherman Oaks, whose bedroom window is about 50 feet from the site of the fire station, said his group will look into legal options. "This would make our properties unlivable," he said.

Backers, including area Councilwoman Nury Martinez, said Wednesday sound studies were conducted and that a new station is needed to replace the Valley's oldest, the 1930s-era Fire Station 39 on Sylmar Avenue.

While conceding that some homes' backyards abut the proposed site, Martinez suggested the new station would be a "better location to serve the community" and could improve LAFD response times.

City Councilman Mitch Englander also defended the project, arguing that living near a fire station could save one's life. "When it comes to a fire station, it's just shocking to me that anyone would not want it in their community," he said.

The new station is supported by the United Firefighters of Los Angeles, the union representing city firefighters. At a hearing earlier this month, union President Frank Lima called the fire station a "state-of-the-art facility" that was needed.

A February study of the impact of the station found "the brief noise of the sirens would not be considered a significant impact.

"Fire department personnel are required by state law to sound the siren when exiting the station to respond to emergency calls; however, emergency responders make every effort to minimize use of the siren if the station is located in a residential setting."

It's expected there will be least 100 emergency trips a day from the station, the report states.

Neighbors in Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks had organized about 500 signatures. In addition to noise concerns, they have said the site is polluted and that the city should have done a more detailed analysis.

Lynn said the city's decision not to perform an environmental impact report may aid opponents' case.

Some locals did voice support for the new firehouse at Wednesday's hearing. Van Nuys resident Monica Alexenko urged approval of the station and accused opponents of spreading "distorted" facts about the project.

Copyright 2014 - Daily News, Los Angeles

Loading