By Sherman Farralone, Quilt staff
DATELINE: 'EXCLUSIVE' WEST HILLS
Retail Opportunity Investments Corporation, or ROIC, has finally announced one of the main initiatives of their June 2014 $210 million acquisition of the Fallbrook Shopping Center in West Hills — an ambitious project to be called the Fallbrook Speedway.
“Studies have shown that a public race track and retail stores and restaurants can exist hand in hand,” says ROIC Vice President in Charge of On-Site Development Amy McGrath. “We look forward to working with the West Hills Neighborhood Council to begin the project as soon as possible.”
A racetrack at the mall seems like a good fit, agrees Canoga Park resident Paolo “Slider” Cervasio, who stopped briefly to discuss the project outside Fallbrook’s 24-Hour Fitness location. “Speed is important to me,” says Cervasio, a freelance men’s locker room security breach analyst and bolt-cutter operator. “In my line of work, I often have to take off at a moment’s notice, especially whe— ...Sh_t, gotta go!” he adds as he throws two bulky backpacks in his car, hops in and zooms off across six lanes of mostly empty parking spaces as nearly a dozen men, some clad only in towels, run out of the gym toward the vehicle while yelling something about iPhones and wallets.
The track’s proposed five-mile route will take racers across the entire Fallbrook Center, starting at the mall’s northwest Van Owen Street entrance, around the abandoned tire shop, zig-zagging back and forth across countless parking lanes, and doubling back numerous times over other areas. Hairpin turns will challenge even the most experienced or distracted driver, and those with a need for speed will enjoy the parking lot-bisecting Stonefire Grill Hyperspeed Turnout, the Red Lobster Straightaway, and the Home Depot 1320. Pedestrians will be part of the fun, too, with the route running within feet of the always-busy recycling center outside Ralphs, right in front of the main entrance to Chuck E. Cheese, straight through the alley between Old Navy and the movie theater, and in fact, everywhere people walk on their way to and from any of the various businesses.
|Right On Track: The route for the proposed Fallbrook Speedway covers|
nearly five linear miles. Image courtesy West Valley Motorsport Engineering.
“Aw, sh_t, yo, that sounds awesome,” says Davtak ‘Davvy’ Barsamian, 23, as he deftly juggles a Marlboro Light and a foam-spewing brush while washing his black 1998 Nissan 240SX in a bay at Fiesta Car Wash on Saticoy. “Man, all those crazy-ass turns, though!” he shakes his head and lights another cigarette off the first one while being shown a copy of the proposed track map. “I ain’t used to that sh_t, yo. We got a straight shot up on Nordhoff between Eton & Independence where I usually race. Man, I definitely gotta step up my drifting skills for this sh_t. Definitely, yo. By the way, can I bum a smoke?”
Pierce College Winnetka professor of municipal engineering Dr. Morris Detzer thinks the proposed speedway is an idea whose time has come. “We’ve seen an uptick in dangerous, illegal racing across West Valley streets lately, and the creation of a dedicated speedway at Fallbrook Center would keep dangerous, illegal racing off public streets and isolated to an area where there’s already rampant speeding and incredibly bad driving. In fact, Fallbrook Center, especially the back end by Target and that gym, is quite well-known for it.”
|Dr. Morris Detzer|
Photo: Mimi Detzer
Capt. Reed Malloy, Cyber Support Bureau Officer of the West Valley Bureau of Traffic Counter-Illegal Street Racing Cyber Support Bureau agrees, albeit reluctantly. “We’ve reached out through social media, encouraging local residents to report illegal street racing when they see or hear it. But sadly, people aren’t all that interested in simply picking up a phone, dialing 1-877-ASK-LAPD, spending just fifteen minutes or so on hold until they’re connected to a dispatcher to report illegal street racing incidents so we can do our job and eventually send out a patrol car to the area in question where a half-hour prior there allegedly was a race. So, since residents don’t seem to be willing to help us help them, yeah, I guess creating a sanctioned track might work.”
|Artist's conception of "Whiplash Curve sponsored by Old Navy" at the 3.8 mile|
mark of the proposed Fallbrook Speedway. Image: Photo Manipulation For Less
Not everyone is on board, however: West Hills Neighborhood Council president Bob Rawlins doesn’t want to see it happen. “Christ almighty, when Walmart opened here in 2004, the property value on my house went down thirty grand!” he exclaims. “And don’t get me started on Chuck E. Cheese encouraging all those East-of-Shoup people with their many, many
children to visit. Now they want a racetrack bringing more
Canoga Park residents over here?!”
Other locals echoed his sentiments. “Sheesh, why do these Canoga Park people have to come here? We never go there,” says West Hills resident Gretchen Biery over the deafening roar of rushing traffic in the parking lot outside Kohls. “Well, except to go to Green Thumb and Follow Your Heart. Forget this speedway — there’s something we could get behind: Move those two businesses over here to West Hills. I think I speak for all of us when I say it's a nightmare to be seen on the other side of Topanga. We’re usually ‘racing’ to get back home before we bump into anyone we know, ha!”
Correction: ROIC is not considering turning the Fallbrook Center into the Fallbrook Speedway; and in fact, the property owner recently installed numerous speed bumps and stop signs which is estimated to cut down on at least 6% of the infamously terrible driving behavior of the Center’s visitors.
We regret the error.