Establishment of a controversial synagogue and school in a Woodland Hills house was approved by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday before an audience packed with supporters and detractors.
Opponents claimed that Councilwoman Joy Picus, who asked her colleagues to support the congregation at Califa Street and Fallbrook Avenue, was prejudiced in favor of Beit Hamidrash, the Orthodox Jewish group behind the proposal.
Operators of the synagogue and 56-student school said that agreeing to a list of 26 city-imposed conditions should address the community's concerns about traffic, noise and parking.
Those conditions include a requirement that 75% of the worshipers use car pools, a limit on hours of school operation from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., a ban on outdoor public address systems and a requirement that all employees park on the site.
"We have set forth conditions that will protect the neighbors as much as possible," Picus said.
The vote was 10 to 2 with Councilman Ernani Bernardi and Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores dissenting.
Flores said she thought the conditions were not restrictive enough and wanted to send the issue back to a council committee for further analysis. Bernardi did not speak during the council discussion.
Neighbors had asked for even stricter conditions, including more parking and restrictions on when services could be held.
They said they doubted Beit Hamidrash would comply with any conditions. Louise Nixon, who lives about 300 feet from the site, said the organization had started a school and temple nearby two years ago without city permits. After the congregation was cited by the city, she said, it continued to operate the temple without permits.
"We, as members of the community, are very concerned about . . . their history of disregard for the rules and laws," Nixon said.
After the vote, Rabbi Dov Aharoni acknowledged that the organization had opened a school and synagogue without proper permits, which he attributed to ignorance.
"We are a brand-new institution--3 years old," he said. "None of us ever took college courses in opening up a synagogue. We thought we could start with any house and pray there."
Of the new conditions, Aharoni said, "We'll abide by all of them."