The Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday let stand a city order calling for the revocation of building permits for six apartment projects in Studio City and North Hollywood.
But the developer vowed to appeal to the city's Building and Safety Department the revocation of his right to put up the projects along the 4100 and 4200 blocks of Tujunga Avenue.
"You bet I'm going to fight this," said Ami Dabach, owner of Encino-based Condor Wescorp. "It isn't fair that the city can slap me with a stop-work order after I've started work."
Homeowners from the neighborhood, who packed the commission meeting Thursday, were equally ardent about stopping construction of apartment buildings in their area. Jack Easton of Studio City said homeowners want to protect their quiet neighborhood from multiple-story complexes that increase traffic and invade privacy.
Although there are numerous apartment buildings in the area, Easton and other residents contend that more apartments will adversely affect their neighborhood's quality of life.
In a related matter, the Planning Commission postponed until next week a vote on a building moratorium in the area, which was sparked by Dabach's projects. The proposal would impose tough new controls on apartment and condominium construction throughout the southern San Fernando Valley.
Studio City homeowners, seeing single-family homes being demolished to make way for apartments, complained about Debach's projects to Councilman John Ferraro, who represents the area. Ferraro then asked the city Planning Department and the Planning Commission to review all six of Dabach's projects.
In a report to the Planning Commission, city Planning Director Kenneth C. Topping said his department erroneously issued the developer an exemption to a 1985 law that requires new construction to conform to community plans. Before the law went into effect, construction was governed by the city's zoning ordinances.
Inconsistencies in Plans
The Tujunga Avenue area in question is zoned for apartment buildings up to three stories high. But the community plan designates that the neighborhood have only single-family homes. Such inconsistencies in the Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Toluca Lake community plan are now being worked out, planning officials said.
Because it is not yet clear what the zoning will be along Tujunga Avenue, Dabach's projects should not have been granted the exemption, the city's planning staff told commissioners at the meeting Thursday.
The commissioners refused to vote on the matter, stating that they did not have the authority to overrule Topping's decision.
More than 100 residents, most of whom had come to protest the projects, were not allowed to speak.
Planning Commission President Daniel P. Garcia said that as a result of the dispute, the commission will review the procedures for granting such exemptions.
Meanwhile, the Planning Department, since it erred in issuing the exemption, has told the Building and Safety Department to revoke the building permits for Debach's projects.
Last Friday, Building and Safety officials said they asked the developer to stop construction until the dispute is settled. But work continued over the weekend, which led to a fistfight between a homeowner and construction worker.
Tim Taylor, manager of the Building and Safety Department's Valley office, said the project's permits will be revoked, probably by today, making it a misdemeanor for the developer to continue work.
Debach is technically required to pull up stakes and moldings for concrete and restore the land to its natural state. But, Taylor said, if Dabach promptly files his appeal, he will be allowed to keep the sites as they are.
Inspectors will, however, require Dabach to fence off the areas and remove potential hazards. Dabach is prohibited from continuing construction, Taylor said.