More than a decade ago, developers sought to build on the Revello landslide in the lower Castellammare area. The spectacular views of the ocean on the site near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway make this a prime location.
The two projects, when first proposed, were met with massive resident opposition because this property is the site of active and historic landslides. A 1965 landslide at that area destroyed 12 units of an apartment building.
The Landmark (Harridge Development) at 17331-17333 Tramonto Drive is now approved for 53 townhouses with individually attached two-car garages per unit and guest parking (133 parking spaces) with no increase in height, massing or grading. The project was approved initially in 2005 by the California Coastal Commission with 14 pages of conditions that had to be met before, during and after construction.
The Seaview condominium project at 17325 Castellammare will consist of 29 units on 1.06 acres. It is being built by developer G.H. Palmer Associates (Da Vinci developer) and was approved by the Coastal Commission in January 2006 with almost as many conditions.
On page 24 of the 41-page Landmark report is this statement: “The applicant and the City acknowledge that the excavation could reactivate the slide.
“The applicant has been required to a) excavate during the dry season when the level of the saturation of the slide is low, b) de-water the slide during construction, and c) install solder piles and lagging between the excavation and the upper portion of the slide before removing the materials.”
With construction underway and dirt being removed from the hillside, Jeff Napier, principal inspector, with L.A. City Building and Safety was contacted on January 7 to see if conditions laid out in the Coastal Commission approval were being followed. “Any questions regarding Coastal applications are for Department of City Planning,” Napier wrote in a January 8 e-mail. “As far as the Inspection questions and issues, I will have to check with my district inspector and get back to you.” At press time, this reporter still had not heard back and may not.
There is not a monitoring department in place for L.A. City Planning or resources for oversight, which has led Councilman Mike Bonin to introduce a motion to correct the oversight (see story below). Bonin was first alerted to the problem through a January 6 L.A. Times story “In L.A. Conditions Placed on Developers Go Unheeded.”
The Times story reported, “In the Fairfax area, the Grove was supposed to include a 500-square-foot employment office, but last year—more than a decade after the mall opened–the planning department found that there was no evidence of the jobs program and recruiting office that had been promised.
“Associate Zoning Administrator David Weintraub said that since then, the developer had created a jobs web site and provided space at its concierge desk for job seekers, to meet the requirements. Caruso Affiliated sent a statement to the Times saying it was confident that it was ‘satisfying the hundreds of conditions outlined … for the property.’”
The L.A. Times also reported there was a provision for a 3,000-square-foot senior center promised at the Grove, but the City Planning Department said an existing community room on the second floor of the Historic Farmer’s Market met that requirement. (It is up a flight of stairs and inaccessible for people in wheelchairs).
Additionally, The Times reported on developer G.H. Palmer, who was required to install a ventilation system of higher-strength of air filters at the 526-unit Da Vinci apartment building (the site of the recent fire) along the 110 freeway. The developer did not install the equipment until after the newspaper began asking city officials about the requirement.
According to the Times story, more than five years ago, then-Controller Laura Chick wondered who made sure developers adhered to restrictions. Her finding was “No one.”