The Pacific Palisades Residents Association has asked the Second Court of Appeals to overturn a Superior Court Order denying PPRA’s appeal of the City’s approval of the eldercare project on Palisades Drive and Vereda de la Montana. On August 18, two additional appeals were filed with the L.A. Department of Building and Safety challenging the issuance of permits for the building and a huge retaining wall.
These latest appeals state that the community was never told about, and hearings never held for, a 280-ft. long, 10-ft. high retaining wall and a public bistro. The retaining wall was first revealed some nine months after all City and Coastal Commission hearings had concluded. Residents first learned about the bistro in a legal brief submitted to the Superior Court in February 2020. The City did not review those two items.
One of the issues in PPRA’s appeal to the Second Court of Appeals is about the size of the building. At the April 18 West L.A. Area Planning Commission hearing, Commissioners were told by the developers’ attorney that a City “plan checker” would verify all measurements before a building permit was issued. (The morning of that hearing, Associate Zoning Administrator Henry Chu discovered the building was too large per city regulations—exceeding square footage by 10,793 sq. ft.)
At the March 2020 Superior Court hearing, Judge Torribio, before issuing his decision, was told the same thing by the City’s attorney, i.e. that the Department of Building and Safety would ensure the building was in compliance.
“That was not the process the City used,” said Harris Leven, a co-appellant with PPRA on the two recent appeals. “City emails and documents obtained through a Public Records Act request show the decision was taken out of the hands of the ‘plan checker’ at Building and Safety, and given back to Associate Zoning Administrator Henry Chu at the Department of City Planning, who in turn deferred to a written analysis from the developer’s attorney.”
Parking and Other Issues
On August 22, an alert Highlands resident called the L.A. City Towing Department to confirm that the parking permit, obtained by eldercare developers Moyse and Rony Shram would expire the next day. The Shrams had originally applied for and received “no parking/tow away” signs for both Palisades Drive and Vereda de la Montana. The signs meant that residents could not park there — only construction vehicles were allowed.
The permit did expire, and the signs were removed on Saturday by 8:30 a.m. Neighbors started parking on the street, only to be yelled at by workers.
“Shram employees tried to intimidate me,” a resident told Circling the News. He had moved cones from the road to the sidewalk so he could park on the street. “They recorded license plates and yelled at me.”
He said that two ACS patrol cars (a private security company) stopped to see about the ruckus after the Shram contractor called to claim a resident was intimidating site workers. An Incident Report was never filed.
“I’d expect that the Shram group will apply for, and succeed in getting, another Permit for Tow-Away zoning, like before,” the resident said, noting that the City must redo the posting of new signs. “Meanwhile, anyone can park hassle-free in the former Tow-Away zones surrounding the property.”
He didn’t know how long it would take to get another permit but warned, “These signs can be bought from Amazon and could be posted without verification as to the authenticity as coming from the City.”
Why did ACS show up over a parking dispute? A Highlands resident wrote in an August 25 email: “As for the ACS, a couple of months ago David Dwyer, the long-time Chair of the Palisades Highlands Presidents Committee [PHPC], revealed that Palisades Drive LP, technically the company that is building the eldercare facility, joined the PHPC.”
He said that meant that the Shrams are “entitled to call upon ACS security just as any HOA that is part of the PHPC can. I have no idea whether Palisades Drive LP is paying a ‘fair share’ for the services they will receive (I suspect only Dwyer knows that), but I have to believe that Mr. Silas (ACS) and his crew now realize that they have been put into the most uncomfortable position of possibly having to referee disputes among their clients.”