By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Pacific Palisades community members have expressed concern over the construction of a single-family dwelling located at Marquez Avenue and Ida Street, prompting officials to review the project, and ensure adherence to regulations and guidelines.
The project demolished an existing 1,521-square-foot, one-story, single-family residence at 16796 Marquez Ave. for the construction of a 5,559-square-foot, three-story, single-family residence with a 391-square-foot roof deck over a 630-square-foot basement and an attached two-car garage, according to Senior Planning Deputy for Councilmember Mike Bonin’s Office Jason Douglas.
Palisadian Steven Dersh first wrote to Los Angeles city officials in February with information that the development of the home has blocked ocean views from residents’ homes due to its size and alleged illegal elements of its construction, including violations of the Coastal Act.
“More and more neighborhood residents are voicing their anger that this illegal and outrageous house … was approved and allowed to move forward with construction,” Dersh wrote on February 18. “It is the city of Los Angeles’ job to protect our community and enforce the zoning, Coastal, and building and safety laws.”
Dozens of neighbors have expressed through emails and discussions during organizational meetings they don’t wish to see a project they feel contradicts the mass, scale and character of their community.
Douglas said the plans were approved on May 5, 2017, by the Department of City Planning. A public hearing was conducted on December 19, 2016, which would have notified all owners and occupants within a 100-foot radius of the site.
Douglas explained the case requested a Coastal Development Permit that was not appealed to the West LA Area Planning Commission or Coastal Commission. The site was granted permits on February 28, 2020.
Longtime Palisadian and current and past President of the Marquez Knolls Property Owners Association Haldis Toppel recalled that neighbors attended the hearing but did not object. She said they weren’t aware they could.
“Neighbors are not architects or contractors that know how to read plans and have a true visual perception of what something will look like in reality,” Toppel said to the Palisadian-Post. “They didn’t realize what the result was until the sticks went up and one story after the other went up … that’s when the reality set in.”
A notice to stop construction and a notice of intent to revoke the building permit was issued on March 3 by the Department of Building and Safety.
Through a re-review of the project, LADBS identified potential issues that range from balconies and under cantilevered floors, to trellises that exceed the permitted square footage of the site, noncompliance with the LA Municipal Code’s definition of a basement and unpermitted projections into the side yard, Douglas said to the Post.
The order did not indicate that the building height constituted a code violation. Toppel and Douglas explained the builder did build within their right.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council Land Use Committee reported Palisades residential neighborhoods fall into different zoning categories: non-hillside, Coastal or non-Coastal Zones, and hillside, Coastal or non-Coastal Zones. The Marquez home falls within the non-hillside, Coastal Zone.
Residential developments in the non-hillside, Coastal Zones are governed by older provisions. Section 12.21.1 of the LA Municipal Code limits the height of residential dwelling to 45 feet—this provision has been in place since 1977.
“This is not a zoning loophole, a variance or a result of corruption as it has been characterized,” Douglas wrote in an email to community members dated February 26. “This is simply the result of an antiquated by-right zoning allowance that can be fully addressed through a rezoning program in the community plans.”
The builder submitted plans on March 17 addressing the issues. Those plans are projected to be under review for the next several weeks. Emails to the builder had been unanswered as the Post went to print Tuesday.
In response to community concerns about developments in Council District 11 Coastal Areas, Bonin introduced a motion to City Council to apply stricter Baseline Mansionization Ordinance development standards to non-hillside, Coastal areas, which include the Palisades, Venice and Playa Del Rey, in January 2020.
The LUC reported there has been no action on the motion since then. The committee is reportedly continuing to research applicable height and other relevant zoning restrictions in all areas of the Palisades. A final report with conclusions and recommendations is anticipated in the near future.
“We’re going to follow it, we’re going to see what happens in terms of … compliance with the stop work order,” PPCC Secretary Chris Spitz concluded. “So far it seems to be occurring … we’re going to monitor it and keep tabs on that.”
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