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Planners OK Building Ban for Mid-City : Pleas From Holden, Residents Succeed

September 10, 1989|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has approved a temporary moratorium on issuing building and demolition permits in two Mid-City neighborhoods, despite the commissioners' concern that an emergency had not been shown to justify it legally.

"I don't think we should grant any more rights to these people who want to come in and raid our neighborhoods," Councilman Nate Holden told the commissioners Thursday in his successful effort to get them to pass the temporary ban.

The moratorium, which covers the Pico-Fairfax area and part of the Wilshire-Crenshaw area, will take effect as soon as the City Council ratifies it, most likely at its meeting Tuesday.

Stopgap Measure

Holden was impatient with commission members who said they sympathized but questioned the legal validity of the request. "We have to find a way to do what is right, for a change," he said.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 14, 1989 Home Edition Westside Part 9 Page 4 Column 1 Zones Desk 2 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
William Luddy--Los Angeles Planning Commission President William Luddy was incorrectly reported in last Sunday's Westside section as having acceded to City Councilman Nate Holden's request to change his vote against a moratorium on development. It was Commission Vice President Theodore Stein who changed his vote to break a tie that would have stalled the measure.

Holden introduced the moratorium to the City Council on Tuesday as a stopgap measure until an interim control ordinance can be passed to manage development for his district.

Because a part of the Pico-Fairfax neighborhood of single-family Spanish-style homes is already zoned for apartments, developers have being buying up the houses and replacing them.

Residents of the middle-class, racially integrated area have formed the Pico-Fairfax Good Neighbors Assn. and are trying to change the zoning to prohibit the apartments. About 100 of them attended Tuesday's City Council session, and several of their leaders were at City Hall again for the commission meeting Thursday.

The residents' protest was persuasive to Commissioner Fernando Torres-Gil, who voted for the moratorium. "It's unusual to have a racially mixed group come in to preserve their area," Torres-Gil said. Commissioner Suzette Neiman cast a second "yes" vote.

Tie Vote Broken

Initially, the two other commissioners in attendance voted against the ordinance, but commission President William Luddy agreed to a request by Holden to change his vote to break the tie. The fifth commissioner was absent.

Even if the commission had rejected the measure, it could be enacted by the City Council if 12 members vote for it Tuesday, according to Deputy City Atty. Claudia Culling.

Thirteen council members voted earlier this week to order the city Building and Safety Department to stop issuing building and demolition permits in the two neighborhoods for one week until the Planning Commission could address the matter.

It took considerable persistence on Holden's part to get the commission to approve the moratorium Thursday. When the commissioners noted that critical documents to justify the emergency measure were missing, Holden demanded that city Planning Department workers draft the documents on the spot.

Permits Still Issued

Holden said he was misled into believing that once the interim control ordinance was proposed in June, apartment building permits would be stopped.

On the contrary, he said, four such permits were issued in July and August. One house was demolished in late August, and five other demolition permits have been issued, all of them on Hi Point Street.

If developers have their projects substantially under way when an interim control ordinance is passed, they can finish construction.

"It's a race against time," Holden said.

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