Kahan Defuses Most Opposition to Tramonto Condos

Inspired by hillside homes found in Italy, the Palisades Landmark project will include 82 residences off Tramonto Drive overlooking Santa Monica Bay. This is a rendering of the project as seen from Gladstoneýs parking lot.            Photo Enhancement:  JBZ Architecture + Planning
Inspired by hillside homes found in Italy, the Palisades Landmark project will include 82 residences off Tramonto Drive overlooking Santa Monica Bay. This is a rendering of the project as seen from Gladstoneýs parking lot. Photo Enhancement: JBZ Architecture + Planning

By LINDA RENAUD and BILL BRUNS What a difference six weeks can make. Developer Ken Kahan’s appearance before the Pacific Palisades Community Council last Thursday was a lot less contentious than on January 22, when he was confronted by angry Castellammare residents, who accused him of being insensitive to their concerns about ocean views, hillside stability, construction, traffic and health issues. Since then, Kahan has made an effort to meet with them, attending a dozen or so meetings with adjacent homeowners, neighbors, and renters who will have to be relocated if his Palisades Landmark project, now five years in the planning, gets final approval from the city of L.A. (see editor’s note). ‘We listened to all the community’s concerns,’ Kahan said in his opening remarks at last week’s meeting, where he presented his modified plans for the proposed development of an 82-unit condominium/townhouse complex at 17331-17333 Tramonto Drive, which will be nestled into the hillside and resemble an Italian hillside town. The property, which Kahan purchased in 1999, occupies 3.98 acres of hillside terrain overlooking Santa Monica Bay, above the Sunset/PCH intersection. It is zoned RD2-1 (multiple family), and while Kahan could build up to 87 units, only 82 are proposed, 11 of which are townhomes. The project, which will require the demolition of an existing apartment building and fixing an adjacent landslide that occurred in 1965, has been redesigned with one main objective in mind: to preserve the ocean views not only from the 36-unit condo building just above the proposed site, but those from half-dozen neighboring homes. ‘Everyone will keep their ocean view,’ Kahan said. ‘And some will have a better view than they have now.’ To appease residents concerned about the noise and traffic that will result from at least two years of hillside excavation, recompaction and actual construction of the project, Kahan suggested that in certain phases of the project, ‘work could begin at 8 a.m. instead of 7,’ in which case the job would take longer to complete, he pointed out. He said flagmen would be provided throughout the project, as well as a hotline for community input and complaints. To allay health concerns, Kahan said he would provide household air filters ‘that clean the air up to 3,000 sq.ft.’ to all affected residents to help control dust contamination. On Fridays, all affected balconies would be swept and hosed off, and car-wash vouchers and window-cleaning services would be provided ‘upon request.’ He also agreed to resurface potholes caused by trucks on Tramonto during construction and, upon completion, to repave the already deteriorating street from the project down to Los Liones Drive. And as part of his effort to be more ‘responsive to the community,’ Kahan announced that because residents have told him ‘that if there’s damage to their home, they don’t want to sue us, knowing the time and expense involved,’ he will arrange for them to deal directly with his insurer, to facilitate claim processing and avoid possible litiga- ?tion himself and the residents. On Thursday night Kahan appeared before the council accompanied by four members of his firm, plus chief architect Eric Zubiak, geologist John Irvine of the J. Byer Group, landscape architect Dan Weedon, and Ben Resnick, a land-use attorney. When Resnick requested that the council support the project, board member Barbara Kohn, who represents Area 1 (Pacific View Estates, Castellammare, Paseo Miramar) indicated her opposition. Although no motion to support the project was made, as there is still some concern regarding the risk the construction might pose to existing hillside homes in a known landslide area, one citizen did thank Kahan for his recent willingness to meet with residents and respond to their concerns. ‘He really did listen to us, and he responded in a positive way,’ said John Williams, president of the Castellammare Homeowners Association. ‘A lot of the issues have been solved, although there’s a lot more work to do.’ (Editor’s note: A public hearing was held yesterday on the Tramonto condo project. The results were not known at press time Wednesday. If the project was approved, it will now have to go before the Coastal Commission, if there are no appeals.)