A little history of SHGA

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A little history of SHGA

Post by WingNutz » Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:25 am

I ran across this article on the early history of SGHA. It is a good summary of the politics involved in the formation of SHGA, and the reasons the Club needs to be mindful of its role in the community.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm ... story.html
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Larry Chamblee

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Re: A little history of SHGA

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:33 am

Thanks Larry. Katherine Yardly is mentioned prominently in your link:

Pilots Join Civic Groups

“They’ve been joining the social and service clubs in Sylmar,” said Jean Booth, past president of the Sylmar Women’s Club and also a director of the civic association.

“They volunteer to do all sorts of things. They helped distribute Christmas baskets to the poor this year for a group of social and service clubs. When one of the foundations gave a Christmas party for spastic children, they had Santa Claus fly into the party on a hang glider. The children were just delighted.”

While soaring toward the landing zone in Sylmar one day last August, she said, “A group of them saw a brush fire starting in the hills, and they flew down and put out the fire before it could spread to any houses. People in the community are aware of these things.”

The result of their campaign was that the sky-riders, targeted outsiders in 1983, were knocking at the door of the establishment by 1986. Far from expelling them, the city instead pressured the owner of their landing site to give it to them, free.

A member who is “experienced in dealing with the city government, who knows how these things work,” was chosen to act as a lobbyist, said Katherine Yardley of Sunland, president of the Sylmar Hang Gliders Assn.

Lobbying the City Council

“We had a very productive relationship with Councilman Finn, and we’re working very closely with Councilman Bernardi,” she said.

Hang-glider pilots had used other landing sites in Sylmar since 1970, but were displaced by development. In 1977, they began landing next to the Pacoima Wash, with the approval of the owner of the undeveloped land.

In 1983, a 460-acre tract, including their landing site, was bought by the Santiago Corp. of Corona, to be developed into a mobile home park.

The city planning commission, in return for granting a permit to build the 800-space mobile home park, required the company to donate about 35 acres to three organizations for community use, said Richard Simonian, president of Santiago Corp.

When the hang gliders heard of this, “We asked them for it and they gave it to us,” Yardley said. The other two organizations specified were: the Sylmar Independent Baseball League, a sports program for children; and Mission College, the homeless northeast Valley community college that wants land for a sports field.

Land Exchange for Permit

“We were required to give up in excess of $2 million worth of land in exchange for the permit,” Simonian said.

The hang-gliding club is in line to receive 4.3 acres, about an eighth of the total, Yardley said, but is faced with a new problem.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which has authority over flood-control work in the wash, has announced intentions to claim a 50-foot wide easement along its west bank, to be enclosed by a chain-link fence topped with concertina wire, she said.

“It would be dangerous for us even to get close to such a thing,” she said, and the easement would cut the club’s land to about 2.8 acres, not enough for a safe landing zone.

The club is looking for ways to preserve the site. It is determined to remain in Sylmar, where hang gliders were once regarded as a nuisance. Now, the Sylmar Chamber of Commerce, in a pamphlet describing the area’s best qualities, notes proudly:

“Sylmar is one of the most perfect places in the United States to hang glide. . . .”
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