Panel OKs Extending High-Rise Freeze

Times Staff Writer

One week after deadlocking on the issue, the city Planning Commission on Thursday approved a one-year moratorium on construction of high-rise buildings on traffic-congested Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.

The moratorium, passed on a 3-1 vote, still must be approved by the City Council’s Planning and Environment Committee and, eventually, by the full council.

Its chances appear favorable, however, since the council on Oct. 1 overwhelmingly voted to impose a nearly identical moratorium on buildings taller than three stories along the fashionable thoroughfare between Valley Circle Boulevard in Woodland Hills and Coldwater Canyon Avenue in the western part of Studio City.


Besides banning buildings taller than three stories, the Studio City moratorium ordinance would cut in half the permitted floor space and require more parking spaces per square foot for most types of developments than do existing zoning laws. The ordinance would apply to commercially zoned property from Coldwater Canyon Avenue to Lankershim Boulevard. It would also apply to buildings along Cahuenga Boulevard from Lankershim to Mulholland Drive.

Time to Draft Ordinances

The moratoriums are aimed at giving city planners time to draft new ordinances requiring more parking and smaller buildings and to prepare traffic management plans for communities along Ventura Boulevard.

Planners say such plans could include requiring developers to pay for street widenings or to provide shuttle buses for employees or customers.

The Studio City measure unexpectedly stalled before the Planning Commission last week when Commissioner Robert J. Abernathy joined Commissioner William G. Luddy in voting against it.

With Commission President Daniel P. Garcia on vacation, the vote was 2 to 2 and the issue could not be forwarded to the council.

Abernathy agreed to vote for the ordinance Thursday after it was amended to give the commission a vote on whether to extend it for two six-month periods, rather than leaving it up to the council, and after commission members agreed that the measure would not take effect immediately upon passage by the council.


‘Incentive to the Staff’

Abernathy, who had voted in favor of the earlier moratorium, said making the Studio City measure effective immediately was unfair to builders.

He also said requiring the ordinance to be returned to the commission for a vote on any extensions “will provide an incentive to the staff to get things going on traffic and other plans.”

Los Angeles ordinances, unless they contain a clause making them effective on passage, take effect 30 days after final approval by the council.

Daniel Shapiro, president of the Studio City Residents Assn., expressed satisfaction with the commission’s action, saying his group was familiar with the status of all major projects proposed for Ventura Boulevard “and we don’t foresee any slipping through the cracks because of the extra 30 days.”

The Studio City measure has the support of Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents the community. It was handled separately from the moratorium ordinance applying to Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills because leaders of Studio City homeowners had asked not to be included until they could view a first draft of the ordinance.