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Former Reseda Petting Zoo on Tampa to become Chinese Language Academy Private School

Image courtesy

Above images courtesy
The former Reseda Petting Zoo on Tampa is set to become a Chinese Language Academy private school with a hearing scheduled for May 18, 2015 described in the notice at the bottom of this post. The Reseda Petting Zoo was owned and operated by Linda Menary (more on Menary later in the post) which will have the following changes: 
  1. Existing single family residence will be demolished with several structures built.
  2. 12 classrooms totaling 7,392 sqft for a maximum enrollment of 180 students.
  3. 1,600 sqft multiple purpose room.
  4. 1,960 sqft for administrative offices.
  5. 2 Tennis courts, golf putting green, handball court, and 1/2 basketball court. 
  6. Parking for 20 vehicles
  7. Hours of operation will be M-F 8 - 5 and Sat and Sun 10 - 4.
  8. Existing 52 foot high cellphone towers will remain. 
The property was purchased by Wentar and Lynn Kuo on May 31, 2012 for $650,000 from the late Linda Menary Estate which had distribution issues with heirs that was resolved on December 6, 2011. The Menary estate also included a Chatsworth home on Shoup that was sold for $515K on February 22, 2008 that measured 3 Beds/3 Baths on 2,005 sqft  built in 1944.

Image courtesy Bing Maps
The Petting Zoo property is located at 19323 Lanark Street which measures 2 beds/1 Baths on 800 sqft on a total lot size of 65,008 sqft spread over three parcels. The listing description states:
It consists of 3 RA zoned lots with 3 APN numbers, totalling 1.48 acres which must be sold together. The city of LA has issued a conditional use permit for a CELL PHONE TOWER which occupies a portion of the the property. There is a Cell Phone Tower with 18 years remaining on it's lease, currently paying approx $2,450 per month rent with 3% annual increases. The lease terms and balance of the lease are binding on any buyer. Once the lease is over, the 3 lots will be untied and can be developed. Master plan says R1 is possible. There is a single family fixer house on lot 2105-020-007. The two additional lots are 2105-020-005 and 2105-020-006. Buyer's responsibility is to investigate present, future use and current value of the cell tower lease. ALL CASH BUYERS ONLY!!!
The Kuo's also own and operate the Woodland Hills Private School located on two campuses at 22555 Oxnard St and 22321 Collins St. The Kuo's purchased the Oxnard property on June 30, 2000 for $2.1 million and the Collins property on July 14, 2000 for $925K. The Kuo's are Chatsworth residents in the "tennis estates" neighborhood who also happen to be avid tennis players.

The Reseda Petting Zoo was a longtime favorite among locals to enjoy the variety of animals on the site consisting of ponies, goats, chickens, burros, llamas, ducks, turkeys, parrots, and a cockatoo. According to an LA Times article from February 20, 1986, Trail of Fun Leads to Reseda Arena by Debra Sorrentino Larson, this site had historical significance as part of a 200 acres alfalafa farm owned by the Zelzah family. In the 20's the land was sold to General Moses Hazeltine Sherman who would later on develop vast tracts of the SFV. The property was also once home to walnut groves during the 40's and 50's that was processed in a barn next door from 1915 that was blown up for the CSI: Miami TV show in 2003 (you can see images here). I believe Menary owned the barn property and sold sometime in the late 90's/early 2000's but I cannot confirm so dont quote me.

1947 image showing large walnut grove operation. The Menary Petting Zoo would be located slighly under the center left area. Image courtesy
The Reseda Petting Zoo was also popular with Hollywood as Film and TV production would use Menary's various pets for shows like Solid Gold, MASH, Mork and Minday, The A-Team, and Silver Spoons.  Even celebrities would rent the pets for house parties like Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, and Robert Wagner. And one could spot a celebrity riding bareback like Goldie Hawn, Ron Howard, and Henry Winkler. 

But the good times would stop in the 90's as Menary dealt with a deluge of complaints starting in 1993 as neighbors complained about odors, noise, and chickens causing havoc as described in a December 9, 1993 LA Times article by Hugo Martin, Council Rejects Petting Zoo's Appeal: The Owner of The Farm in Reseda Vows to Sue the City. Menary later sued the city in a January 28, 1995 LA Times article, Reseda: L.A. Proceed in Suit by Pony-Ride Farm. 

Then on March 3, 1994, an LA Times article by Jill Leovy, Farm Owner Accused of Animal Cruelty, was arrested for not trimming her ponies' hoofs at her Chatsworth property. Menary later sued the City of LA, two animal regulation officers, and an animal rights advocate who accused her of animal cruelty in a August 4, 1994 LA Times arcticle by Frank Manning titled Reseda: Petting Zoo Operator Sues Over March Raid.

Menary would also expand the rural lifestyle in 1996 by opening Menary Farms along with Joe Cicero who lost his petting zoo and farm stand at Pierce College (doesnt this sound familiar with the Pierce Farm Center shutting down operated by the McBroom family) and start another petting zoo and farm at the corner of Winnetka and Parthenia as described in a August 6, 1996 LA Times article by Eric Slater titled, Five Green Acres: A Pair of Agrarian Holdouts Try to Keep the Valley's Rural Roots Alive.

Not surprisingly, Menary was met with complaints again about odor and flies by the next door neighbor, Cornerstone Christian Church, as described in a November 25, 2000 LA Times article by Grace Jang titled, Farm Owner Digs in While Neighbors Hold Their Noses. This site would eventually close down I believe in 2006 as a result of Menary's death who passed away from a heart attack on May 1, 2006 at the age of 61 while visiting Bakersfield for a horse auction. The LA Times and Daily News both covered her passing. Menary was buried at Oakwood Memorial Park. Believe it or not, the former Menary Farms is now being developed into 68 two story residences as discussed on this blog.

This brings us back to the Reseda Petting Zoo which would continue operating after Menary's death into 2011 where it was moved to Menary's Chatsworth property (the same property where Menary was accused of animal cruelty in 1994) located at 21910 Chatsworth St which is still owned by the Menary family but not sure if they operate the Petting Zoo.

I wonder if the uprising in complaints during the 90's was related to an overall decline in the city of LA morale as this was the period when the LA Riots took place and crime was significantly higher. It seems that Menary might have been an easy target for others to take their frustrations out on Menary as people didnt understand the rural life and the surrounding areas were quickly becoming urbanized.
Linda Menary was one of a kind who was adamant about the keeping the rural lifestyle when everyone else was trying to go urban. She told the LA Times on November 25, 2000:
Years ago, the northwest Valley was horse country, said Menary, who has lived in the Valley since 1961. People expected their neighbors to have animals. Equestrians used to tie their horses to parking meters.
What it boils down to is this: I've hung in there. Most of the people with stables have left. They couldn't deal with the complaints, so they just closed down and moved--they may have been smarter than me, she said.
People figure they can just run you out of town. But I just won't go. I've been a thorn in their side. And I'm not going to go.
Still, Menary has thought about quitting. Sometimes I'm tempted . . . but once it's gone, it's gone,  she said. Right now, we should leave it a farm. It's something for the children. Children would miss out on a chance to experience a taste of the old rural life, she said. The Valley used to be country," said Menary.
This farm's the last of it. I'm the holdout.
Unfortunately the "holdout" has ended as this property will now be developed along with the Menary Farms on Winnetka and Parthenia and just recently discussed, the Sherman Way Farm. So the urbanites have declared victory.

You can view more SFV Architecture and R.E. here.

Above images courtesy Re/max Olsen
Chinese Academy School at the former Reseda Petting Zoo

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

1 comment to ''Former Reseda Petting Zoo on Tampa to become Chinese Language Academy Private School"

  1. We’ve lived in the Valley (Northridge) since 1962. I remember when the northwest part of the Valley was full of horse ranches, stables and orange orchards. Used to be you could go to one of many horse stables and rent a horse for $5 a DAY, and go horseback riding. By yourself. Just bring the horse back when you’re done.

    Now, these same areas are strip malls, condominiums, apartments and housing developments.

    As for the Petting Zoo on Winnetka, the really sad part is not only that it’s gone and we’ll never see another like it in this area, but it’s being replaced by… what? … a Chinese-language private school? Not that it, in itself, is a bad thing, but are there that many families living in the Valley who want to send their children to such a school? I though that whole point of moving to this country was to be a part of it and to integrate fully into our society.

    For this, we’re losing a great place to take our kids.


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