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Studio City Dispute Brings Call for Strict Building Code

December 10, 1987|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

A neighborhood fight over an apartment project in a quiet Studio City residential area has led to a proposal for tough new controls on apartment and condominium construction throughout the southern San Fernando Valley, city planners said Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission today will consider a moratorium on building that does not conform to the Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Toluca Lake community plan.

The moratorium would take in an area bounded on the south by Mulholland Drive, on the west by the San Diego Freeway, on the north by the Ventura Freeway and on the east by the Burbank city border and Barham Boulevard.

The moratorium, which will require the approval of the City Council and Mayor Tom Bradley, was proposed by the Planning Department in response to a dispute over construction of six apartment buildings in the 4100 and 4200 blocks of Tujunga Avenue.

Homeowners in the area have been seeking to stop the projects, which they contend will destroy their single-family residential neighborhood.

The dispute stems from exemptions granted by the city to a 1985 law requiring new construction to conform to community plans. Before the law went into effect, building was governed by the city's zoning laws.

An undetermined number of properties in the Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Toluca Lake area were exempted from the law. The properties were exempted after the City Council and Planning Commission determined that they should be developed under the more liberal zoning ordinances rather than under the community plan.

Housing Shortage Noted

City planner Robert Sutton speculated that the council and commission allowed for more intense development in some areas because of the city's housing shortage.

The projects on Tujunga Avenue were among those granted exemptions. However, Sutton said Wednesday that the Planning Department will ask the commission today to determine that the exemptions for the Tujunga Avenue projects were granted erroneously.

There are an undetermined number of other properties throughout the Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Toluca Lake area that are exempt from the 1985 law and could be developed under the more liberal zoning ordinances, Sutton said.

Sutton said the moratorium is needed because conditions in the neighborhoods have changed since the exemptions were granted. Many homeowners complain about traffic and parking problems, loss of privacy and views that have been blocked by the proliferation of apartment buildings of up to five stories in their single-family residential neighborhoods.

"It was never the intent of such an exception process to approve projects that would alter the character of any neighborhood," the Planning Department said in a report to the commission recommending the moratorium.

The moratorium would remain in effect until the City Council completes its review of the community plan, which is expected to be in February.

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