After nearly four years, a group of homeowners can officially declare victory in their fight to stop a neighbor's remodeling project that would have blocked ocean and canyon views on scenic Adelaide Drive on the Santa Monica-Los Angeles border.
A Santa Monica Superior Court judge earlier this month released a $55,000 bond put up by the Adelaide Drive Homeowners Assn. in 1986, when it filed suit to stop Peter Olmstead from remodeling his home at 345 Adelaide Drive. The group was required to post the bond to cover damages in case it lost the suit.
The release of the money was the last legal step in the fight, which began Dec. 10, 1986.
Roger Jon Diamond, an attorney representing the homeowners, said the successful fight was significant because if Olmstead had been allowed to enlarge his house so as to block his neighbors' views, it may have opened the way for others to do it.
The house is next to a public stairway of nearly 200 steps connecting Adelaide Drive to Entrada Drive, and both the stairway and Adelaide Drive are used by many joggers in the area because of the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Canyon.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 6, 1991 Home Edition Los Angeles Times Magazine Page 4 Times Magazine Desk 2 inches; 53 words Type of Material: Correction
Several credits were omitted in the fashion feature, "Bright Nights" (Nov. 25): Pearl drop earrings by Isaac Maneritz for Ben-Amun, available at Neiman Marcus. Faux jewel earrings by Eric Beamon at Madeleine Gallay, Los Angeles. Stockings by DKNY and Calvin Klein Hosiery with Lycra. "Bright Nights" was photographed at the Dresden Restaurant, Los Angeles.
"The big worry was that if one house went up above what is now considered one of the most beautiful streets in Los Angeles--not only for residents but for visitors--this scenic drive would have turned into an alley," Diamond said. "Residents would have had to face the rear portions of people's houses, and it would have ruined the street."
Olmstead received building permits from the city of Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 1986. Neighbors complained when they realized that he planned to build above the street level, which they said was prohibited by a 1961 zoning ruling that limited the height of some hillside houses to no more than five feet below Adelaide Drive.
The frame of Olmstead's house is built into the hillside between Adelaide Drive and Entrada Drive. Although most of the wood frame is below Adelaide Drive, a steel girder rises about 20 feet above the street.
City officials issued a stop-work order on Oct. 21, 1986, but Olmstead ignored it. Residents filed suit, and the courts issued a temporary restraining order blocking construction until a city zoning adminstrator heard the case.
The hearing was held Dec. 16, 1986, and on Jan. 8, 1987, the administrator ruled that the height limit was valid. Olmstead appealed the decision to the city Board of Zoning Appeals, and the neighbors received a preliminary injunction to prevent Olmstead from going forward with the remodeling during his appeals, all of which he lost.
Olmstead, who could not be reached for comment, was also fighting a separate lawsuit filed by a couple who live next-door to the house. Terry Sanders and his wife, Freida Mock, had filed suit in August, 1986, charging Olmstead with encroaching on a driveway easement they needed to get to their home.
In 1987, the court ruled in favor of Sanders and Mock. Olmstead appealed the decision, but lost. Trial for damages was scheduled for October of this year, but a settlement was reached in September.
As part of the settlement, Olmstead agreed to sell his unfinished house to his neighbors. According to property records, the unfinished house sold for $900,000.
"I feel great," said Sanders. "This is like recovering from an affliction."
Sanders said he plans to finish the house and sell it, but has agreed not to build above street level.