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Coalition Challenges Zoning Ruling : Suit Filed to Trim Hughes Center

July 27, 1986|JAY GOLDMAN | Times Staff Writer

A coalition of Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhood groups has filed suit to reduce the size of the proposed 3.1-million-square-foot Howard Hughes Center west of the San Diego Freeway near Sepulveda Boulevard and 74th Street in Westchester.

The Coalition of Concerned Communities sued the city of Los Angeles in Superior Court earlier this month to challenge a zoning ruling that allows Howard Hughes Properties to build larger buildings than is otherwise allowable.

Residents fear that the height of hotel and office buildings on the 69 acres below their bluff-top homes will obstruct their views.

"The real reason for pursuing it (the suit) is we have appealed numerous times asking them not to exceed the level of the bluffs--about 140 feet," said Ray Liccini, coalition vice president. "But their lowest buildings are 140 feet. We have been persistent about trying to preserve the panoramic views for the Westchester area."

The suit contends that there was no legal basis for the zoning ruling that allowed Hughes to concentrate its development in a limited number of large buildings, and that the ruling should be invalidated.

The project includes at least eight buildings that could be 10 stories or taller, two of which could be as high as 21 stories. One 16-story building is under construction and due to be completed in December.

Under the formula used by planners, Hughes is allowed to build larger buildings than the zoning originally permitted if Hughes does not build on other lots in the project area. Coalition President Patrick McCartney said Hughes would have to redistribute 1.3 million square feet of office space within the project, possibly by building more, smaller buildings, if the courts rule in favor of his group.

James Leewong, chairman of the Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals, which last March ruled against the coalition in its appeal of the zoning ruling, said the board acted within its authority when it ruled in favor of Hughes.

He said it is the city's position that "it is proper" to transfer building rights from one lot to another within the same project and that the board acted within its legal powers to grant exceptions, called variances, to the zoning law.

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