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Museum of Tolerance expansion plan OKd

March 27, 2009|Martha Groves

The Museum of Tolerance won approval Thursday from the Los Angeles Planning Commission to proceed with an expansion that would add multistory banquet and reception space for private parties.

By voting 8 to 0 for the project, the panel, which met in Van Nuys, snubbed the opinion of senior city planner Jim Tokunaga, who said that allowing hundreds of guests at receptions or banquets was not appropriate because of the potential ill effects on the adjoining neighborhood of single-family homes.

Instead of the two events per month that Tokunaga had suggested, the Pico Boulevard museum won the right to hold 18 "third-party" events each month. Museum officials have said the revenue would allow them to expand on their mission of educating about racial and religious tolerance.

Neighborhood opponents, who contend that the private events will add to noise and traffic, did win some concessions. The museum agreed to Tokunaga's suggested 30-foot, rather than 20-foot, setback at the rear of its property. The museum also agreed to cap attendance at private events at 500, rather than the 800 it had wanted.

In addition, events must end by 10 p.m. rather than midnight, as the museum had originally proposed. Museum patrons will be able to view exhibits until 6:30 p.m., whereas Tokunaga had recommended a 5 p.m. limit.

Susan Gans, an opposition leader who lives in the neighborhood, said her group was dismayed by the vote and planned to appeal to the City Council. The next step would be to file suit to try to stop the project.

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martha.groves@latimes.com

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