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Renovated Health Club to Reopen Despite Objections From Residents

January 15, 1987|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

An exclusive health club will reopen as planned over the objections of Cheviot Hills residents who say the club's members will create traffic, parking and noise problems in the neighborhood.

A Superior Court judge last week rejected a suit by members of the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn., who charged that the City of Los Angeles failed to consider the impact of the $10-million renovation of the 60-year-old Beverly Hills Country Club.

Judge Ricardo A. Torres said Los Angeles zoning officials acted properly in allowing the Hawaii-based Knight Development Co. to rebuild the club without imposing requirements to reduce traffic and noise.

Don Roth, a member of the association, said residents want the four-acre club to restrict its hours of operation from about 9 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. He said homeowners, who have complained for years about club members parking on residential streets, also want more on-site parking.

The court's decision came a year after the homeowners' suit was filed.

The Zoning Administration Division decided in 1985 to allow the renovation without imposing the conditions because plans for the club did not include expansion.

In the suit, the 500-member homeowners group charged that Frank B. Eberhard, the city's chief zoning administrator, acted wrongly.

"Basically, my position was that there were no problems on the site now and that since (the club's owners) were rebuilding and not expanding it, there was nothing that needed to be done," Eberhard said.

Eberhard said he understood the residents' concerns. "I certainly hope they are wrong. If they are not, we will take the appropriate action. But I think they are trying to get us to anticipate the problems."

Reconstruction began in late 1985 and is nearly complete, said Victoria E. Bonde, executive director of the club. The facility, which has had limited operations during renovation, will officially reopen in mid-February.

Knight Development, which bought the club two years ago, has remodeled the clubhouse and resurfaced 10 tennis courts. The swimming pool, exercise, dining and cocktail rooms also have been renovated, Bonde said. There is no golf course.

The facility will offer valet parking and have space for about 150 cars. Bonde said the club has not set its hours of operation.

Charles Heitzman, vice president of Knight Development, said in a prepared statement that he was "delighted by the outcome and I wish to assure the Cheviot Hills homeowners that we will continue our efforts to be good neighbors. I am confident that the newly renovated club will come to be regarded as an asset to the neighborhood."

Formerly the Westside Racquet Club, the facility was built in 1926 for employees of nearby 20th Century Fox Studios. Members included Johnny Weissmuller, Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn.

Celebrities and business leaders, invited by the club's board of governors, are among several hundred members who have paid up to $10,000 to join, Bonde said.

Actor Tom Selleck, socialite Catherine Hearst, industrialist Dr. Armand Hammer, ballet director Robert Joffrey, tennis star Martina Navratilova, former Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and former U.S. Sen. John V. Tunney serve on the club's board of governors, she said.

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