If developers get their way, 600-plus new apartments and a new supermarket will rise in Sherman Oaks over the next few years, but their visions have sparked backlashes from residents who believe the projects will degrade rather than improve their communities.

The drama is playing out in other San Fernando Valley neighborhoods as well, now that the economy is strong, home prices continue rising, interest rates remain low and Los Angeles has a housing shortage – all factors that make new construction profitable for developers.

But standing in their way are community-wide homeowners’ associations, which have become increasingly vocal on projects they oppose – and often reduce the size and height of buildings. They also sue and delay projects for years.

One of the most outspoken and reportedly influential homeowners’ groups says three large projects envisioned for Sherman Oaks – the redevelopment of the former Sunkist Growers Inc. headquarters building, the Il Villaggio Toscano apartment complex near the Sherman Oaks Galleria and a new Whole Foods Market – would potentially bring the most development in decades to the area.

“I think the combination of low interest rates and high demand for residential has created a lot of development pressures on Sherman Oaks and other areas,” said Richard Close, president for 41 years of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and a local attorney. “Traffic has gotten so bad over the years, it has created animosity and ill will against big projects.”

Read the full story in the May 1 issue of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.