Hollywood Local News

Council reverses action on Cahuenga apartment project

LOS ANGELES — The City Council voted May 13 to reverse an earlier decision to consider allowing hundreds of multi-family housing units to be built on part of a 20-acre plot near Cahuenga Boulevard and Lake Hollywood that is now zoned for single-family homes.

The council voted 11-0 to approve a motion by Councilman David Ryu to rescind the request made by his predecessor, Tom LaBonge, and adopted in March 2015 by the council to seek a general plan amendment and zoning change on the property.

The developer and owner of the land, Ben Forat, is planning to build a 250-unit apartment and condominium complex at the site, and has proposed that 10 acres of the property be set aside for the city to preserve as open space.

But surrounding residents complained that they were not given enough of a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes.

Forat has filed a claim with the city seeking $30 million in damages due to Ryu’s efforts to rescind the previous decision. Forat’s attorney, Fred Gaines, said that his client “is very disappointed with the City Council’s action.”

When the council voted unanimously last year to begin the project application process, Forat says he spent $400,000 on architects, engineers and consultants.

“Now the City Council votes to rescind its prior action and leave the property owner holding the bag,” Gaines said. “Someone has to pay for these damages. My client will be pursuing all available legal remedies against the city.”

Ryu has argued that the process was “flawed from the beginning” and residents should be given more notice and opportunity to review the proposed zoning changes.

Ryu noted that the land is “at the center of an ecologically significant wildlife corridor” and is next to “a two-lane Cahuenga Boulevard.”

He contends that there would have been more public input if the developer had gone to the Planning Department to apply for the changes, instead of directly asking the City Council office to make a motion asking for the adjustments.

“The developer could have filed an application for the general plan amendment and zone change without a motion and proceed to get input from the community, but that is not [the course] he chose to take,” Ryu said.

“The course the developer and the previous council office chose to take was to introduce a motion, without input from the affected communities,” to request a change from single-family to medium residential designation, Ryu said.

The City Council motion by LaBonge that was approved in March 2015 asked that the Planning Department consider changing the zoning for the parcels from single-family to multi-family. The area has yet to be rezoned, with the developer also seeking approval for its project proposal.


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