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L.A. Building Housing Reagan's Office Loses Bid to Add Helipad

December 15, 1988|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

When President Reagan leaves the White House for Los Angeles next month, he'll have to put up with monstrous traffic jams just like everybody else--even as he shuttles between his $2.5-million Bel-Air estate, his plush Century City office and the new Presidential library in Simi Valley.

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission, responding to complaints from several dozen Century City homeowners, voted last week to reject a request to erect a private heliport for the tenants and "invitees" of Fox Plaza, the skyscraper where Reagan will take up the business of his library after Jan. 20.

New Owners Uninvolved

Studio Property Co., which owned the salmon-colored, Moderne-style tower until 6 weeks ago, had asked the city for permission to build a 160-square-foot helipad on top of the skyscraper's 6-story parking garage. In making the proposal, a consultant for the company wrote that the heliport was necessary because "surface transportation is becoming increasingly more difficult in the basin."

The proposal went on to say that the heliport "will satisfy the need for expeditious movement of personnel and documents where time is an essential consideration"--prompting one Westside homeowner to characterize the facility as a plum for "executives who do not want to ride in the gridlock that they created."

Studio Property, an affiliate of 20th Century Fox, did not send a representative to the Planning Commission meeting, and an inquiry about the heliport last week was referred to the building's new owners, LaSalle Partners Ltd.

Gary Cunningham, LaSalle's general manager for Fox Plaza, said the new owners had nothing to do with the request and that they have no plans to build a heliport. Neither President Reagan nor the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, which is subletting the Fox Plaza office to Reagan, has asked LaSalle about a heliport, he said.

A White House spokesman also said the idea for the heliport did not come from the President.

"I don't know where he would be helicoptering from," said spokesman Mark Weinberg. "It would probably take you longer to fly from Bel-Air to Century City than to drive."

Signatures Collected

Nearby homeowners, who have blocked several other proposed heliports in Century City, collected about 70 signatures and organized a letter-writing campaign against the Studio Property proposal. At a public hearing Oct. 31, neighbors complained that there are already too many helicopters in Century City, and they said the proposed Fox Plaza heliport would be particularly annoying because the parking garage is only 6 stories tall.

"Now I know what it must have been like to be in Vietnam," one resident wrote to the hearing officer.

Two days after the hearing, Studio Property asked the city to withdraw the application, saying only that the company "no longer has a use" for the heliport. The planning commissioners rejected that request Thursday, voting instead to deny the application--just to make clear where they stand.

"It is a screwy place for a heliport," said Planning Commission President William G. Luddy.

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