Before the City Land Use and Planning Management meeting on December 3 regarding the Jack-in-the-Box development, Circling the News sent an email to Councilman Mike Bonin.
The proposed development for that site, at 17346 Sunset, would be a five-story, 60-ft.-high, 32,225-sq.ft. mixed-use building with 39 dwelling units. (The recommendation and report can be found at: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/67679.)
Almost every group in the Palisades opposes the project based on several criteria including density, not following the specific plan and no setback — and that the five-story project is incompatible with the single-story buildings on either side. Those groups include the Pacific Palisades Community Council, the PPCC Land Use Committee, the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board, the Self-Realization Center, the Pacific Palisades Residents Association, the Edgewater Towers Condominium HOA and other residents.
Circling the News asked if CD 11 Councilman Bonin planned to support the community or if he planned to support the developer. No one from the Councilman’s office responded to CTN’s query.
During the hearing, held Tuesday, the committee asked if CD 11 wanted to comment. Neither Bonin nor anyone from his office was available.
The PLUM Committee proceeded to deny the appeal and approved the project with the five members voting unanimously.
During public comment for this project, one resident said that they had listened to numerous PLUM meetings and had heard them approve every project, but had never heard them approve a project where the applicant’s attorney admitted that the project violated the law.
The resident said that in a December 7 letter that applicant’s attorney Michael Gonzalez sent to the PLUM Committee, “He admits that the law ‘does state that residential development on existing commercially zoned parcels will not be allowed.”
The resident added that Gonzalez tries to avoid this law by saying it’s almost 40 years old and the City has grown, and things have changed. He than asked councilmembers to follow City law, because “this project is by far and away a residential project that is within a quarter-mile of the beach and is prohibited by law.”
(Editor’s note: Here is the text the resident referred to: “Appellants also assert that the Regional Interpretive Guidelines [RIG] somehow controls the Property’s permissible density. The Property’s permissible density is regulated by the LAMC, which allows one dwelling unit for every 400 square feet of lot area. Neither the Coastal Act nor the RIG supersede the LAMC’s density provisions. The 4 decade old RIG does, however, state that the “density of new residential development should be limited to 24 dwelling units per acre…” (emphasis added). The key word in this language is should, which is a permissive word. As noted above, the RIG expresses an intent that it be flexibly applied, and in this specific instance goes a step further by using a permissive word. Given that over 40 years have passed with a commensurate increase of approximately 1 million people living within the City, the RIG must be interpreted flexibly and expansively, and its residential density language cannot be read as mandatory.”)
One resident told the committee during public comment, “Pacific Palisades isn’t against development. We’re against bad development.”
Pacific Palisades Community Council President David Card said that the building is too high, too dense and that there’s no setback. “It is visually not compatible with the surrounding area.”
Another resident objected to a five-story building in such a congested area, pointing out that there are only three ways in and out of the Palisades for its residents and that most of the town is in a very high fire severity zone.
Edgewater lawyer Thomas Donovan, who appealed the initial approval from the Building Commission, asked for a continuance. He argued that the applicant had sent a December 7 letter to the committee, rebutting the appeal, but the letter had not been made available to Donovan.(https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=20-1302)
Lawyer/city lobbyist Michael Gonzalez, who represented Michael Aminopour, California Food Managers, LLC and Heavenly Tiger, LLC, said: “It’s clear that the community hates this project” and then added the developer was prepared to add an additional four moderate-income units, in addition to the four very-low-income units.
It was explained at the PLUM hearing that at the Planning Commission meeting, Gonzalez had said there was no covenanted low-income housing in Pacific Palisades, which led commissioners to scold residents, and perhaps led them to vote in favor of the project.
A resident, during public comment, noted that the PLUM Commissioners — Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Bob Blumenfield, Curren Price, Jr. and John Lee — seemed to automatically approve everything developers put before them. He suggested that these hearings should be more like a court, when a judge actually has to see the evidence. “Make these hearings more judicial,” he said, adding that after hearing this particular agenda item, “This will make a great class action lawsuit.”
(Editor’s note: Circling the News has filed a Brown Act violation regarding the hearing. The public was unable to hear anything until more than an hour after the meeting started. If you tried to get on, but were unable, please inform Leyla Campos, the legislative assistant firstname.lastname@example.org and cc Circling the News.)