By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
Highlands residents opposing the city-approved eldercare facility on Palisades Drive scored a rare victory on Thursday, Feb. 23, after the town’s Land Use Committee voted to reopen discussions to determine if the project meets the requirements of the Coastal Act.
LUC is expected to look again at the project in April and pass any recommendations up to the Pacific Palisades Community Council—which could amend its original approval at a critical time when blueprints are being appealed at the West Los Angeles Planning Commission.
At a crowded and often-noisy community meeting, it came down to a split vote, forcing PPCC Chair Maryam Zar to cast a deciding vote in favor of further consideration.
Howard Robinson, LUC chair, read a letter sent by Zar to Councilmember Mike Bonin in hopes of clarifying PPCC’s findings on the proposed project.
“The board voted to support a motion stating that ‘the PPCC finds that the proposed eldercare facility is in appropriate use,’” Zar wrote in her letter to Bonin. “The board intended by this motion to indicate that we thought that an eldercare facility was an appropriate land use at the proposed site.
“The emphasis here is the use, not the building. The motion was not intended to imply support for this specific design of the building. The board made no statement in support or opposition to whether the proposed building was in conformity of the Coastal Act.”
This is now the very question in front of them—and city planners.
Local attorney Jonathan Klar—who has submitted an elaborate appeal to the West Los Angeles Planning Commission—read aloud some arguments refuting the project during the public comments and was satisfied when the board voted to reassess the issue.
“We’re happy with [the vote] because it’s the first step for PPCC to acknowledge that mistakes were made,” Klar told the Palisadian-Post. “You never know when a group like that will acknowledge mistakes, although it’s clear there are some influential people on the PPCC who knew that the error was made.”
Standing in the back of the room—his hands in the air with bewilderment at LUC’s visible hesitation to reopen discussions—attorney Robert Flick, who has also submitted a formal appeal against The Highlands project, was already planning his next move.
“I plan to ask them when it’s reopen to take a step back,” Flick said to the Post.
“There are a dozen of other issues that are beyond the competence of this group to consider … my request would be to just say, ‘Look, you know what, let’s let the city do their job.’ We’re not a shadow government here. What we should do is represent the community.”
Robinson remained confident in his board’s original decision and voted against taking another look at the project through a “coastal lens.”
“The purpose of the PPCC is to advise the city decision makers, to give them a recommendation on development [projects] like this,” Robinson told the Post after the meeting. “So, if you’re just going to always be neutral, what’s the purpose of a community organization?”
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