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Impromptu Parking Lots Contribute to Dispute

Times Staff Writer

Although Ventura Boulevard’s alley helps separate homes from commercial businesses in most places, it is starting to have the opposite effect in one Woodland Hills neighborhood.

Two boulevard businessmen have converted a pair of Leonora Drive backyards into paved parking lots accessible from the alley to customers and office workers.

Neighboring residents say the parking lots are outrageous. Los Angeles city officials say they are illegal.

Officials of the city’s Building and Safety Department investigated the backyard conversions on Friday. An administrator for the department said citations will be issued ordering removal of the blacktop lots.

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No Permit on File

“That is a residential zone, and there is no permit and no zoning variance for them on file,” said Lou Robins, assistant manager of the Building and Safety Department’s San Fernando Valley office.

The investigation was prompted by complaints from homeowners who said the small parking lots were starting to proliferate along their short stretch of alley.

Residents said the first one was built two years ago by the developer of an office building across the alley from their homes. They said the developer bought a 34-year-old single-family house behind his two-story building and fenced off a 20-foot-deep section of its backyard. Then he paved eight parking stalls and posted them as “reserved” parking.

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Last year, a neighbor who operates a small family business on the boulevard behind his home did the same thing in his backyard.

“I reported it to the city Planning Commission the day he started work on the first one,” said one neighbor, Larene Taylor. “The city said, ‘He can’t do that.’ But he did.”

Oscar Viasbort, owner of the office building, was reported by business associates to be out of the country and unavailable for comment.

At the second house, Dorothy Brown said her family installed the lot there for personal parking. It is across the alley from the family’s plumbing business.

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Friday’s investigation was started by Jim Dawson, chief planning deputy for West Valley-area City Councilwoman Joy Picus, after he was asked about the backyard parking.

“It’s an intrusion into a residential area,” Dawson said. “The community plan specifies that area as single-family residential zoning.”

City officials said similar residential parking lots have cropped up elsewhere along Ventura Boulevard’s alley.

Brad Rosenheim, an aide to Tarzana-area Councilman Marvin Braude, said his office has closed two such lots in Encino in the past two years.

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“We depend a great deal on neighbors keeping us informed,” Rosenheim said.


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