Condo Owners on Albright Complain to Caruso
George Orwell’s allegorical “Animal Farm,” first published in 1945, was a satire of the Russian revolution, but the novella still addresses the problems of class stratification and the threats to democracy when people are not treated equally.
In Pacific Palisades, condominium owners at 15330 Albright Street, adjacent to Caruso’s Palisades Village, believe their voices are not being heard.
In the beginning of Orwell’s story, there are seven “commandments,” the last of which is “All animals are equal.” By the end of the story, the seven commandments have been replaced by “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Condo owners have presented Caruso executives with a number of complaints. They have tried to gain a resolution, including a meeting on October 11 with Caruso’s people, but to no avail.
They then brought their story to Circling the News.
The condo building is closest to the Caruso project, with one side of the building adjacent to the Bay Theater. The condos are located between Albright and the alleyway (between Swarthmore and Via de la Paz).
When construction first started on Palisades Village, I wrote a story about a telephone pole that had been placed in front of three balconies. Located in the middle of the windows, the pole blocks the view.
Frontier Communications moved the pole because condo resident Michael Branch was told, “The pole is not strong enough because they [DWP] are taking out all the poles in the alley for the Caruso project.”
Condo owners were told at the time by a Caruso spokesperson that the pole was temporary. At the time, Branch asked, “Temporary for how long? I know you’re just trying to do your job, but there would be no reason for Caruso to shell out money to fix it once the project is done.”
Then residents were subjected to nonstop construction noise. In order to make Caruso’s self-imposed opening date of September 22, workers started ignoring the City’s daily start and finishing times. A condo resident called Circling the News, and I visited the site at 6 a.m. one weekday morning. Indeed, construction, which was not supposed to start before 7 a.m., was already underway.
A construction worker in Starbucks told CTN that they were onsite as early as 4:30 a.m. to avoid the traffic. The City’s enforcement bureau was notified by residents who were told that LAPD is responsible for enforcement.
On August 19, the Caruso site was shut down, because according to City rules, construction is not allowed on Sundays.
A resident reported, “Hi Sue, Thanks for keeping the community informed about the Palisades Village project. At 5:45 a.m. this morning, I called (877)-ASK-LAPD and reported noise from the site.
“At 6:27, I received a message from (818) 734-2372 (verbatim) ‘Good morning, this is the police department calling you back in regards to the loud construction you have reported earlier today.
“The officers responded to the scene and the crew working has a 24-hour special city permit, so if you have any further questions in regards to it, you can call us back at 877-ASK-LAPD, but they do have a 24-hour permit from the City.’”
Caruso’s people had received a 24/7 construction permit which meant noise needed to be kept to a minimum and was supposed to takes place indoors. Often that was not the case, according to condo owners.
As late as October 23, condo owners were still having issues with noise. One resident wrote, “I was awakened again this morning at 5:30 a.m. by a very loud sharp noise that also shook our building and caused vibration. I suspect it is from construction work being done now on the movie theater
“I wrote you on October 18, when I was awakened at 6:30 a.m. by the sound of a power saw that I also suspected was coming from the ongoing construction on the movie theater.”
The writer then reminds Caruso, “As you know, your development is NOT supposed to start construction work until 7 a.m. This is set forth in the L.A. Municipal Code and reiterated in the Conditions of Use that your company signed onto before approval of your development.”
Another source of contention was the alleyway between Via de la Paz and Swarthmore, which served as a major thoroughfare for construction vehicles and food trucks when Swarthmore was closed to traffic. Some residents reported they couldn’t get out of the garage that faces the alleyway because of construction traffic.
One resident wrote Caruso’s office, “No one on your staff is doing anything about the illegal parking of vendor vehicles on the alley that are blocking and obstructing resident vehicles that use the alley for ingress and egress.”
Condo residents say the heavy truck use on the alleyway damaged it and it needs to be repaved. They asked Caruso to do that, but at a Community Council meeting, Caruso VP Rick Lemmo, who is the Chamber of Commerce representative on the board, said that this wasn’t going to happen.
At the front of the Albright condo building, a cement- mixer operator hooked up his hose to the building’s water tap, and residents have asked Caruso to pay them back.
Now it appears as if the boundary wall between the Bay Theater and the condo building has been damaged. Condo owners would like their wall repaired.
Additionally, workers and vendor staff have been smoking (cigarettes and weed) and discarding the butts, not only in the alleyway by the condo, but also on Albright. One resident wrote Caruso, “Smoking is not permitted by law within 200 feet of our building. We have children and elderly and we don’t want them to breath the smoke.”
Just like in “Animal Farm,” some people occupying Pacific Palisades seem to have more rights than others.