Wed, Jun

Reader Says CityWatch Article Got It Wrong … ‘Key and Vital Info Missing’


VOICES--(Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to John Schwada’s recent CityWatch column, “LA Activists Score Big: Reverse a ‘Backroom Deal’ at City Hall …”) “Dear Mr. Schwada. I read your article in CityWatch LA and as a well-established and seasoned Investigative Reporter I would like to ask if you can meet and or we can speak. The article written was missing key and vital information and facts as follows:


1) Tom LaBonge DID NOT grant or provide a zone change and general plan amendment. He only initiated and granted a request for the General Plan to be amended. What that does is it only allows you to file your application with City Planning. You are NOT exempt from the entire process of public hearings, EIR, City Planning processing your case and a final decision. The only action Tom did was initiate the General Plan Amendment to allow an application to be filed and to go through the process. There was no granting of any zone change and or a decision rendered by the Council to change the zone! 

2) What Tom LaBonge did do is ask for not only local but City Wide Benefits:

He asked for and received (but only after the entire process was done and the final decision was an approval of the project) the following community benefits: 

3) 450,000 square feet of privately owned land zoned for large estate homes on 40,000 sq. ft. lots to be donated to the City FREE and CLEAR for permanent Open Space and emergency access for DWP. The dirt road you see on the site is a heavy equipment road cut by the City for DWP access. Research the Landslide Issues and lack of any access to get to the homes on Lakeridge Drive backing to Lake Hollywood (see attached);

4) The site is approx. 1,200 linear feet fronting Cahuenga. The required dedication to widen Cahuenga is 3 feet, he asked for an additional 30 foot dedication from the landowner to widen Cahuenga from its current 28 feet to 60 feet wide. Refer to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Traffic Report for the Site and the study of how this additional 30 foot widening will have a positive impact on Cahuenga, the 101 Freeway and how it opens up the ability for future off ramp improvements. 

5) The site is +/-805,000 square feet of privately owned land. There is NO Open Space zone on the site. It is NOT a wildlife crossing. The current zone is RE40.  The site can be developed with +/- 14,000 sf ft. mansions on 40, 000 +/- sq. ft. estate lots. The only public benefit if the allowed development is built is a 3 foot dedication on Cahuenga. 

6) The $300,000 noted in attorney Fred Gaines letter is the cost for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) that has been prepared over the past year.

The Public Scoping meetings and Notice of Preparation (NOP) were at a point that they could be circulated to the Community to commence the EIR Public Hearings.  

7) There were 4 Public Hearings prior to Tom LaBonge’s Motion to INITIATE A GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT TO ALLOW US TO FILE OUR APPLICATION TO COMMENCE THE PROCESS.  If dates and times are needed of these hearings please let me know. 

8) The Owner and his brother did contribute $700 each to Carolyn Ramsay. In all fairness that was noted in your article but the above public contributions did not make it to print... Nor the fact that he received a certificate of appreciation from the City when the pathway around Lake Hollywood was closed due to a landslide and the Owner allowed the City to use his property for access to reopen the public pathway. Also not noted is the many times he has opened his property for DWP to make repairs and for upkeep of the shoring behind the homes on Lakeridge Drive. 

Summary, I appreciate any and all reporters and respect greatly what you do. But the facts must be written for fairness, your readers deserve nothing less. I would like to meet with you to provide you with any supporting documents for the above facts and information. Furthermore, I would like to respectfully request that the above be printed as a rebuttal.

(Athena Novak owns AHN & Associates, a real estate and land use firm in the Valley.)


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