Sylmar residents are still waiting for their much needed L.A. City Fire Station 31. They are constantly reminded of their need for their promised station having gone through the Sayer, Marek, Station, and most recent Sand Canyon, Tuna Canyon and Creek fires in the northeast valley. Diane Valencia, Safety Chairman of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council, says that coverage in Sylmar by the Fire Department is not acceptable. Many calls in their community must be answered by neighboring Fire Stations from as far away as Sunland-Tujunga.
According to Ms. Valencia, Sylmar has 92 thousand people living in 13 sq. miles, with one fire station and an extra fast response vehicle (FRV) which is supposed to take the place of the full service Fire Station 31, which was promised to the Sylmar Community when the Fire Department broke ground for it in 2006, due to the new community development of a 550 residential housing project called the Legends at Cascade, a golf course and an industrial business park.
During a packed Town Hall Meeting held by the Sylmar Neighborhood Council Safety committee, at the beginning of this year, Ms. Valencia presented a comparison chart showing that the community of Sylmar was not getting their fair share of fire services. She pointed out the number of Fire Stations per capita among some of the local cities:
Burbank, population 104,447. 6 stations, 1 per 17,408 citizens
Santa Monica, population 92,000, 4 stations, 1 per 23,000 citizens Downey, population 113,000, 3 stations, 1 per 37.000 citizens
Sylmar, population, 91, 245, l station, 1 per 91,245 citizens. Sylmar also has the largest area to cover (13 sq. miles) in the City of Los Angeles,
The number of large fires that have taken place in the Northeast Valley area in the city of Los Angeles during the last 10 years, prove that it is the most volatile fire zone in the city, due to the mountains of the Angeles National Forest. Because of their natural wind tunnel, Sylmar has the reputation of having the hardest blowing winds.They have suffered the worst destruction of property by fires in the City of Los Angeles during the the last 50 years, as well as many deaths by fire and other disasters. They also have a very large number of non- emergency calls.
The development of the above mentioned projects that were to help fund Fire Station 31, were scaled back, in 2005 and 2007, due to the decline in the housing market and the developer’s finances. However, the taxes levied to Sylmar community homeowners, under the Mello Roos Community Facilities Act, that was created to build infrastructure and Fire Station 31, is still being charged to the homeowners. This tax is paid directly to the County Assessor’s office and is included in their property tax payment. Over $3,000,000,00 has been collected to date and continues to rise… still no Fire Station 31,
Monies allocated for the new station have not been located to date. The Sylmar Neighborhood Council and their Safety Committee called upon former Council Representative Felipe Fuentes and the County Assessor’s Office for information and did not get a satisfactory response. They are calling on newly elected District 7 Council Representative, Monica Rodriguez, to acknowledge the seriousness of their plight, help resolve this issue. and finally build their much needed Fire Station 31.