A local Palisadian building contractor, using 10-12 workers, illegally removed a city barrier and cut LADOT signs off a closed portion of Paseo Miramar on February 1.
The company then used two excavators to illegally clear and grade a closed portion of the public road. Paseo Miramar, in the 600 block, is not in use, but still considered a viable roadway by the city.
The private company, hired by developer Ryan Kavanaugh, was asked by residents if they had permits.
Workers replied they were simply doing brush clearance.
But the machinery appeared to be widening the road and cutting into the hillside and the toe of property of residents living above the road. Trucks hauled out two loads of dirt. One of the residents lost internet when the company doing the grading, cut a Spectrum line.
Workers also cut into plants in California State Park Land, which borders the other side of the road.
Residents tried unsuccessfully to get inspectors from L.A. City Street Services code enforcement division to come to the site.
Finally, on February 6, a group of residents stood in a line in front of a car, truck and grader to prevent the vehicles from entering the closed portion of Paseo Miramar, while waiting for police and City Street Services.
The residents refused to move or be intimidated.
Eventually, inspectors from the Bureau of Street Services did come to the site and confirmed that the sign should not have been removed. It was put back up.
CTN visited the site on February 7, because Pacific Palisades Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin had told Kavanaugh, over the phone, that he could bring permits to him, and he would personally go with Kavanaugh to the site to show them to residents. Neither man showed between 11 and noon.
CTN contacted Espin who said, “He has not shown me any documents as of now.”
Kavanaugh, who built 815 Paseo Miramar, owned by Kwahi Leonard, also owns six additional lots on Paseo Miramar.
This street has not been vacated and is still considered open to the public. It has not been used by vehicles since the late 1940s when a landslide buried a portion of the road.
The city then built a temporary substandard road, at the end of Resolano Drive cutting through and connecting to the residents above the landslide. (That road has a street grade of D and was last inspected in November 2011.)
Kavanaugh initially tried to have Paseo Miramar vacated, so that he could develop a gated community for lots 646-701, which he owns.
Residents on this hill are a tight-knit group and look out for each other and the land.
They explained the reason they did not want Paseo Miramar vacated was because if there should ever be a problem with Resolano Drive, the street could be made accessible for the people who would be trapped at the top if the hill.
In February 2016, Kavanaugh signed an agreement to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in connection with the development of a single-family home, which Leonard eventually purchased for $17.1 million.
In that agreement, Kavanaugh withdrew an application for the street vacation of Paseo Miramar, and the City Council approved a haul route for development of the single family home.
After the most recent excavation and grading attempts, the Miramar Homeowners Association sent a February 3 letter to the City asked if there were permits issued and if there had been a CEQA study. According to the Bureau of Engineering, no applications for any permits had been submitted as of February 7.
For Kavanaugh to move forward with developing the lots, he would need to abide by the contract he signed in 2016, which would require him to obtain an initial study per CEQA and apply for all permits.
Members of the Miramar Homeowners Association told CTN, “We’re not NIMBYS. We do not oppose any building on private property. But we would like the city to enforce their own laws on developers to ensure safety of life and property in a beautiful, but fragile landscape, as they do to all of us home owners.”
PASEO MIRAMAR’S ESPERA AVENUE:
There is another oddity in the Los Angeles Street system.
A line is drawn on city maps for Espera Avenue, off Paseo Miramar. Most likely that was done in the 1920s, but Espera is a “paper” street. It only exists on paper and was never built.
When a Paseo Miramar homeowner sold a home, which also had a large expanse of hillside below it, the new owner claimed that he was planning on planting lavender on it. He said he did not plan to build, but intended to be a steward for the land, just as the couple, who had lived there for decades, had done.
The area, which this CTN editor had walked about five years ago, was a beautiful respite that abutted State Park Land, and a meditative site filled with wildlife and birds.
The homeowner/developer now has plans for three homes to be put in the hillside below the purchased house and above the “paper” street.
Residents on the hill above, looked down and saw illegal grading and tree cutting in the public right of way on the Espera trail several weeks ago.
The contractor was stopped by the city because there was no permit for grading.
Now a permit has been procured for soils boring in the public right of way. The architect is Daryl Olesinski. Drills will be on the trail next few weeks, residents were told. As CTN stood with residents, two potential investors and a realtor stopped by to speak with the architect.
If work continues, residents just want developers/contractors to play by the rules and have the proper permits.
Adjacent to State Parkland, with views of the Pacific Ocean, residents also want to make sure the development has Coastal Commission approval.
Way to go residents! Stand up for your rights and make sure that developers don’t do what they want illegally. Love the physical bodies blocking the equipment!
Before starting any project, builders know they have to contact the city utilities to spot any utility lines that could be impacted by digging. It was a Spectrum line- bad enough, but what if it had been a gas line? Good for the neighbors for making sure the speculators have all their proper permits.
Good for these people.
Speculators/developers get away with whatever they can in Pacific Palisades. We have to watch them like hawks. They have no compunction about telling residents they’re doing one thing only to turn right around and do another — typically without a permit. They know the building inspectors are stretched thin and take shameless advantage of that fact.
From past experience with a developer who told lies, and put up construction over a weekend that was beyond the allowed height limits I am sure that vigilance is essential. In our neighborhoods case – all that happened was a slight slap on the wrist to the developer. Because the courts were closed until Monday morning we could not get an order to stop construction. The Judge who then heard the case said, oh yes too bad – you must give all the neighbors a few dollars but since the building is already up and finished he gets to keep it. So I hope that neighborhood fares better.