Res­i­dents of tower get a legal re­prieve

Ten­ants of Hol­ly­wood’s Sun­set and Gor­don devel­op­ment can stay — for now.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By David Zahniser david.zahniser @la­times.com

Dozens of ten­ants threat­ened with hav­ing to move out of a newly built res­i­den­tial tower in Hol­ly­wood will get to stay in their apart­ments — at least for now.

The 2nd Dis­trict Court of Ap­peal is­sued a stay last week bar­ring the Los An­ge­les Depart­ment of Build­ing and Safety from en­forc­ing a re­cent or­der to empty out the 22-story build­ing. The court’s de­ci­sion will re­main in ef­fect un­til a rul­ing is reached in a law­suit chal­leng­ing the City Coun­cil’s ap­proval of the partly oc­cu­pied tower.

The re­prieve came too late for some ten­ants, who said last month that they had al­ready de­cided to move out. “It’s just caused too much stress in my life — the back and forth, the un­cer­tainty,” ten­ant Alexander Ali said. “I run a busi­ness, and this is not con­ducive to run­ning a busi­ness.”

The court or­der is the lat­est turn in a three-year legal battle over the 299-unit Sun- set and Gor­don devel­op­ment. Neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists con­tend the city’s ap­proval of the project is in­valid be­cause de­vel­oper CIM Group failed to com­ply with a key con­di­tion of the project: par­tial preser­va­tion of a one-story restau­rant build­ing on the site.

CIM Group says it se­cured a proper de­mo­li­tion per­mit and, with sup­port from preser­va­tion­ists, built a replica of the build­ing, which once housed an Old Spaghetti Fac­tory restau­rant.

A Su­pe­rior Court judge sided with the neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists last fall, is­su­ing a rul­ing in­val­i­dat­ing the project’s per­mits. CIM Group filed an ap­peal. But in March, city in­spec­tors or­dered CIM Group to empty the build­ing. The three­judge ap­peals court is­sued a tem­po­rary stay block­ing that or­der in early May, fol- lowed by a more long-term one last week.

Amid the legal un­cer­tainty, CIM Group agreed to pro­vide re­lo­ca­tion pay­ments of at least $7,700 to each house­hold that sought to move out, com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives said.

As of last week, the build­ing had 54 apart­ments rented, down from 88 at its peak, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“I think we are be­ing hurt fi­nan­cially,” said Shaul Kuba, prin­ci­pal and co-founder of CIM Group. “I don’t think the city’s in­ten­tion­ally do­ing that. I think the city was com­ply­ing with what the judge’s or­der was, and they felt this was the right way to go.”

Sun­set and Gor­don’s renters had grown in­creas­ingly frus­trated with the legal battle and CIM Group’s han­dling of it.

One ten­ant said in April that he and other renters had been treated like “can­non fod­der.” Oth­ers voiced alarm that a short-term rental com­pany was leas­ing por­tions of the build­ing to va­ca­tion­ing tourists.

At­tor­ney Robert P. Sil­ver­stein, who filed a law­suit on be­half of neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists, said his clients un­der­stood the court’s de­ci­sion. How­ever, he ac­cused CIM Group of al­low­ing “a tran­sient ho­tel and other abuses” on the prop­erty.

Two months ago, city in­spec­tors in­structed CIM Group to stop let­ting the build­ing be used as an un­per­mit­ted ho­tel.

Kuba said his firm has been work­ing to evict the short-term rental com­pany that al­lowed such ac­tiv­i­ties. “We don’t tol­er­ate that type of be­hav­ior,” he said.

Mel Mel­con Los An­ge­les Times

AC­TIVISTS say the city’s ap­proval of the Sun­set and Gor­don res­i­den­tial tower is in­valid be­cause the de­vel­oper failed to pre­serve a build­ing on the site.

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