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City's cure for pounding headaches

Contractors will have to post signs letting residents know whom to call if hammering or other noise begins earlier than allowed.

January 13, 2007|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

Hammering out a solution to early morning construction noise in residential neighborhoods could be as easy as nailing up a new notice at building sites, Los Angeles officials told homeowners Friday.

Starting next week, all residential construction projects will be required to post large placards describing the work being done and listing the building permit number, the names and phone numbers of the contractor and the property owner, and the toll-free number residents can call to report illegal building activity such as crack-of-dawn hammering and sawing.

The 11-by-17-inch signs will also spell out the hours that construction and demolition are permitted: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and national holidays.

No work is allowed on Sundays.

Homebuilders and remodelers will also be given a list of "good neighbor construction practices" for contractors to follow, such as keeping streets and sidewalks open and swept, and requiring carpenters and plumbers to park on the project site if possible.

"Until now, neighbors haven't known who to complain to," said City Councilman Jack Weiss, who introduced the placard law and visited a Sherman Oaks construction site last week for a news conference to announce its implementation.

"Now if they're doing something wrong you'll know who to contact."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was also at the Benedict Canyon Lane project site, where carpenters working on a sprawling new residence sat on sawhorses and watched the pair's news conference through an unfinished second-floor window.

Villaraigosa paused at one point to play with a toy chain saw that a 2 1/2 -year-old neighborhood boy, Luke McNulty, was carrying when he arrived with nanny Mimi Corrales to watch the politicians.

"It's important to have a thriving economy" with new home construction and home-improvement projects, Villaraigosa said. "But we want it done in a responsible way."

The placards will be issued with building permits starting next week. City inspectors will deliver them to projects already underway. "If it's not posted, that's a clue right off the bat something's wrong," the mayor said.

Builders who start work before 7 a.m. or violate other city laws at construction sites could have their building permit withdrawn and their project shut down, he said.

Jules Feir, vice president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., said the placard is a step in the right direction. "We've been waiting a long time for stronger enforcement of laws at building sites," he told Weiss and Villaraigosa.

Residents said construction at the southern dead-end of hillside Benedict Canyon Lane has disrupted their neighborhood for three years.

"We get mud on the street and water running down," said Ellen Patton. "The developer cleaned up the mud at first, but they haven't done it the last two years. So this 63-year-old gets out with a shovel and cleans it up."

Mimi Granat, who lives across the street from the partially built home that served as Friday's backdrop, said construction trucks sometimes awaken the neighborhood as early as 5:15 a.m.

"A lot of people here are in the entertainment industry and work late at night. Construction hours should be between 9 and 5, not starting at 7," she said.

Villaraigosa said imposing a later start time might prove difficult. "Getting them to start no earlier than 7 is a big deal," he said.

Contractor Ehud Feldman, who is building the Benedict Canyon Lane house, said he didn't mind that his carpenters had to sit idle during the nearly hourlong visit by city leaders. "We work with the neighborhood," he said.

A 9 a.m. start time would not be a problem for him, Feldman said. But it could cause headaches for subcontractors who try to time deliveries and travel to beat the morning rush hour, he said.

bob.pool@latimes.com

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