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False Premise on Board

March 24, 1991

City Planning Commissioner Ted Stein's oral encyclical that the Westwood Community Design Review Board's requesting developers to agree not to be fraudulent is a "no-no" (Times, March 10) is based on a false premise, which, of course, leads to a conclusion that is wrong-wrong.

The current Design Review Board covenant form does not come close to requiring a developer to obtain board "approval" as Mr. Stein says. It does require a developer to file a new application if he tries to pull the old switcheroo after the project has been represented to the public and the board. Likewise, it seeks to preclude the Planning Department's approving such switches without public hearing.

The city attorney opines that "design review boards and their individual members do not have the authority to make agreements with developers on behalf of the city." In fact, none of the board members has ever purported to act on behalf of anyone but himself or herself in even requesting anti-fraud agreements.

The Planning Department's refusal to enforce developers' agreements to present project changes for board and public review verifies the wisdom of the board's request that local residents also be entitled to enforce those agreements.

The Planning Department's and Planning Commission's steadfast obstruction of the Design Review Board's attempt to require the developers to build as they represented enables the Planning Department to continue to conduct back-room deals with the developers' lobbyists. This circumvents and violates the ordinance-granted right of the citizens to challenge projects approved by the department.

That violation is what the board is attempting to prevent. That violation is what Mr. Stein and his commission are after. That violation is what the Planning Department wants, and that is where today Hamlet's words would miss the target: What is rotten is not in the state of Denmark--it's in City Hall.

RICHARD D. AGAY

Beverly Hills

Editor's note: Agay is a member of the Westwood Community Design Review Board .

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