Homeowners from Sherman Oaks and Studio City reacted angrily Tuesday night to plans to replace a 40-year-old landmark restaurant with a $14-million, high-tech shopping center.
Developer Herbert M. Piken said he hopes to quickly obtain a pair of Los Angeles city building permits to start work on a 70,000-square-foot retail complex on the southwest corner of Ventura Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Studio City.
The three-story, marble- and chrome-sided shopping center has been proposed for the 2.3-acre site of the Tail O' the Cock restaurant, which closed 2 1/2 weeks ago.
More than 275 homeowners crowded into the Dixie Canyon Elementary School auditorium in Sherman Oaks to hear the plans discussed, and many complained that the development will clog residential streets with traffic.
They urged City Councilman Michael Woo, who called the meeting with homeowners, to force Piken to shield their neighborhoods from the type of traffic that has accompanied other shopping centers along Ventura Boulevard.
Aides to Woo said the project meets zoning for the site and does not require any City Council approval. But Woo pledged to work with Piken to head off potential problems with traffic.
"He is hearing loud and clear that people are concerned, and I will certainly be talking about the same things with him," the 13th District councilman said.
In an at-times heated exchange with Piken, residents complained that the 340 parking stalls proposed for the site will not be sufficient.
Marion Brooks, who said she has lived for 45 years on Dickens Street, behind the project site, was applauded by the crowd when she told Piken that workers and shoppers at the 40 stores he hopes to build would end up parking on nearby residential streets.
"You live far enough away from this project. We don't," Brooks said.
Henry Schulz, representing the Studio City Residents Assn., urged Piken to provide for free parking in ground-level and underground lots instead of valet parking, as he has proposed. To avoid the valet parking, many people would park on side streets, he said.
Piken, who said he has lived about a mile from the project site for about 15 years, defended his parking arrangement, but promised to consider his neighbors' ideas.
"We're not coming in from Chicago to build a center," Piken said. "We're building one we can be proud of. We feel the San Fernando Valley is ready for something like what is offered in some of the stores in Beverly Hills."
Piken said he offered to build a new Tail O' the Cock in the shopping center. But the restaurant's owner, Sheldon A. McHenry, did not want to continue the restaurant, which was one of the San Fernando Valley's first upscale eateries and once was a hangout for Hollywood celebrities.
Piken said he paid $4 million for the property.
The debate turned heated when one homeowner called Piken "arrogant and pompous." From her seat in the crowd, Piken's wife, Marilyn, yelled out, "I find you repulsive."
Replied a man from the rear of the room: "He is not building it next to your house."