Warner Center Hilton Developer Sues L.A. to Get Permit Extended

Times Staff Writer

The developer of the proposed Warner Center Hilton Hotel has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn last Thursday’s Los Angeles Planning Commission denial of a one-year extension on the construction permit for the controversial project.

A hearing on the suit is scheduled May 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court, but discussions already are under way between attorneys for the city and the developer to settle the issue out of court.

The suit, filed by U.S. Hotel Properties Corp., challenges the commission’s authority to deny the extension. It cites a section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code that requires the commission to approve an extension of a previously approved conditional use permit if a developer can show that a delay in construction has been unavoidable.

U.S. Hotel Properties, seeking to build a 14-story, 340-room hotel, contends that the project has been delayed by the city’s requirement that the developer prepare a plan for easing traffic congestion.


Suit Served Tuesday

The developer’s suit, which was filed Friday and served on the city attorney Tuesday, argues: “The commission majority just plain ignored the provisions of the code . . . and decided to teach petitioner and the City Council a lesson.”

Commission President Dan Garcia said Thursday that he opposed the project because the developer “had relied on council from the very beginning to approve the project, no matter what the commission thought.” The commission last year denied a permit for the project, but U.S. Hotel Properties appealed the decision to the council and won.

The hotel project has been the subject of an intense lobbying battle between Norman Kravetz, a principal in the Hilton project, and a rival developer, Robert Voit, who sought to stop the project. Marriott Corp. recently opened a hotel on property owned by Voit near the Hilton site.

Voit said he had nothing to gain financially by blocking the Hilton’s construction but that he believes the project conflicts with the Warner Center development plan, which calls for the area’s commercial core to be west of Canoga Avenue. The Hilton site is on the east side of Canoga, just south of Victory Boulevard.