On July 14, an appeal was filed in Superior Court regarding construction of an eldercare facility on Palisades Drive in the Highlands. The appeal is based in part upon objections that the proposed building is larger than allowed by code.
“This Appeal challenges the rulings by the Superior Court Judge that we firmly believe are contrary to law or are incomplete,” said Sarah Conner, president of Pacific Palisades Residents Association (PPRA). “The Judge closed the trial in March with the understanding that he would issue a new tentative ruling and call the parties back for a continuation of the trial, but he never did so.
“PPRA and residents of the Palisades strongly believe that clear violations of the City’s Planning and Zoning Code and the California Coastal Act have never been fairly or fully addressed,” Conner said in a press release sent to Circling the News.
The appeal is being funded through individuals who oppose the structure, which they say is oversized.
“We are gratified that so many people, not just those in the Highlands, but individuals living throughout the Palisades and even in Topanga, have dug deep and contributed!” said Conner, who noted that those wishing to donate can visit: gofundme.com/f/protect-california-coastal-act or by mailing a check to PPRA, 15000 McKendree Ave., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
CONSTRUCTION TO START:
Shram Development, with principals Rony and father Moshe Shram, received building, retaining wall, excavation, grading and shoring permits for the eldercare project on July 9.
Per the initial Zoning Administrator’s January 2018 Letter of Determination, the following was required:
“The applicant or operator shall designate a minimum one person to serve as a neighborhood/community liaison to respond to any concerns raised by the different neighborhood groups of the Palisades Highlands community. A contact name, telephone number and email address shall be provided to the immediate homeowner groups/associations adjacent to the project site.
“Prior to the commencement of site excavation and construction activities, construction schedule and contact information for any inquiries regarding construction activities shall be provided to residents and property owners within a 100-foot radius of the project site. The contact information shall include a construction manager and a telephone number and shall be posted on the site in a manner, which is readily visible to any interested party.”
That means that the Miller Property and the owners and residents of condos in the Highlands Villas, the Michael Lane Villas and HOA #3 should be given the construction schedule.
Circling the News asked PPRA lawyers if construction can start in spite of the impending appeal. The answer is yes, with one resident saying that the only person who could stop the process other than the developer is L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin.
Highlands resident Harris Leven posted an interview on Nextdoor that Sam Catazaro, the executive editor for the Mirror Media Group in Santa Monica, did with Bonin on May 15, 2020. At about 29 minutes and 30 seconds into the interview, Bonin states, “I do not think we should be adding more housing to High Fire Severity Zones because it’s inviting disaster.” The Palisades Highlands is in a High Fire Severity Zone.
Leven noted that Bonin lobbied for this development despite the fact that 96 seniors would be housed there and would have to be transported out if there’s a brush fire. “And Mike personally lobbied a Coastal Commissioner to vote for the facility despite the fact that the same Commissioner clearly stated on the Coastal Commission’s website that she did not want such lobbying.”
Leven writes, “As the lead editorial in the May 15, 2020 L.A. Times stated, ‘The unwritten understanding in Los Angeles is that council districts are fiefdoms over which council members have sole discretion to make real estate development decisions, including whether a project gets a tax break or an exemption from land-use rules.’”
Leven told CTN, “That last phrase pretty much explains why the City has ignored the fact that the proposed facility in the Highlands is as much as 20 percent larger than the Planning and Zoning Code allows and has outdoor areas that are not allowed under the law.”
Joe Cirillo, the property manager for Miller Properties, the mini-shopping area on 1515 Palisades Drive, below the proposed eldercare facility, sent tenants a July 14 letter.
“Shram Development, the owners of the lot above Miller Properties, just got final approval to build an assisted living project on their lot.
“There will be approximately 82 suites with underground parking. All employees, visitors and services will enter through the underground parking, which will eliminate them from parking on the street where many of you park now.
“I met with Rony Shram and his contractor this morning. They will start Thursday and Friday (July 16, 17) by replacing the existing fence with a more attractive fence, removing the brush and scraping off the top layer of soil.
“Each week I will be provided with a construction schedule of what we can expect in terms of noise throughout the different construction stages, over a two-year period.
“I will inform everyone by email each week of the type of noise and the approximate time of day. The loudest noises will be in the first six months.”
Cirillo wrote that the noise will consist of 1) trucks, 2) pile drilling, which will cause some vibrations, 3) excavating equipment for underground parking, 4) standard construction equipment and 5) hammering, saws and drills.
“There should be very little dirt/dust as they will spray water consistently to prevent that. As for truck noise from excavation, the trucks will be parked down Palisades Drive. They will limit the amount of truck traffic as much as possible until the excavation is complete,” Cirillo said.
“We will work closely with Shram Development to keep you all informed as much as possible.”