The Playa del Rey Stables has lost its 3-year battle to avoid eviction.
A spokesman for the Summa Corp., which owns the property, said last week that Summa will take over the facility Aug. 1.
But the end of one controversy is likely to lead to another. Nearby residents, with the support of City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, are opposing Summa's plan to build up to six stories of housing for the elderly on the 8-acre stables site.
Stables owner Bob Harvey confirmed that he has failed to get a reprieve from Summa and will have to leave the 77-year-old stables, located off Culver Boulevard near Vista del Mar.
'Bitter End Is Coming'
"I'm afraid the bitter end is coming," said Harvey, 43, who has operated the stables for 20 years.
Harvey had won five reprieves in three years from Summa. But a letter-writing campaign and the support of many local politicians was not enough to gain another lease extension from the corporation.
As Summa moves to close the stables, the well-organized Playa del Rey neighborhood is opposing plans for 225 units of housing for low-income senior citizens on the site.
"People don't want the senior housing because of the height and density of the project," said Julie Inouye, president of the Playa del Rey Network.
Inouye also said the largely residential area, which is bordered on three sides by large tracts of open land and the ocean, does not have the nearby shopping and medical facilities that senior citizens need.
A 6-story building in Playa del Rey "would be a monolith" in an area where few buildings exceed three stories, said Rick Ruiz, Galanter's press deputy.
"We love senior housing, but there are better places to put it," he said. "Why does Summa insist on tearing down the stables some years in advance of construction of the seniors project when in fact it is not even a good spot for it?"
But Summa spokeswoman Christine Henry said, "We consider it the optimum location for senior citizens."
The California Coastal Commission has given Summa permission to build up to six stories of housing at the stables site as part of the corporation's proposed massive Playa Vista development. But Summa has not received several city approvals it needs before it can begin building Playa Vista.
Playa Vista, planned for a sprawling piece of open land extending from the ocean to the San Diego Freeway and from Marina del Rey south to the Westchester-Playa del Rey Bluffs, would contain 5 million square feet of office space, 700 to 900 boat slips and housing for about 20,000 people.
"It will not be a community in isolation," Henry said of the senior citizen housing. "Playa Vista will be built along with it, and that will be a full-service community."
Henry said a shuttle bus will connect the project for the elderly to the rest of Playa Vista. Henry predicted that construction of the senior citizens building could begin in about a year, which is when Summa expects to receive city approval for Playa Vista.
However, most observers expect it to be at least several years before the city will decide whether to approve the project, which Galanter promised to oppose during her election run last year.
Facing the Fact
While the battle brews over the stables site, local horse owners are facing the fact that their fight is over and their horses must be moved.
Summa will operate the stables for several months to allow time for horse owners to move the remaining horses from the site, Henry said.
"We hope to shut it down in a very few months, as soon as possible," Henry said.
Summa will offer an as-yet-undetermined amount of money to horse owners to compensate for the costs of moving their horses and to offset temporarily the higher boarding costs charged at most other stables, Henry said.
Compensation will also be available to those who have moved their horses from Playa del Rey since February, Henry said.
About 60 horses are living in the stables, Harvey said. The stables housed up to 110 horses before owners, anticipating that the stables would close, began to move their animals last spring, he said.