Residents Win Round in Venice Zoning Battle

Times Staff Writer

A tiny block on North Venice Boulevard came a step closer to keeping what neighbors describe as its residential quality when a Los Angeles City Council committee last week refused to allow the owner of part of the property to change the zoning from residential to commercial.

Clothing manufacturer Werner Scharff is seeking the zoning change on the North Venice Boulevard property between Pacific Avenue and the beachfront. His application was denied by the Planning Commission in 1983. He appealed it to the council committee, and it will go before the full council within a month.

Preservation Cited

Jim Bickhart, legislative deputy to Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who is a member of the planning committee, said the appeal was denied because the city wants to preserve residential housing in the district.

"There is no reason why the (City Council) won't accept the decision of the Environment and Planning Committee," Bickhart said

Residents oppose the zone change from multiple dwelling to limited commercial, saying that it would increase traffic congestion in the area and pollute their streets. A petition expressing their opposition was signed by 37 residents and sent to the planning committee.

Ruth Forrest, a retired art teacher, said she and her husband purchased a home at 35 N. Venice Blvd. the year before their retirement in 1974. The block was lively then, she said, but the recent addition of two popular restaurants has changed the neighborhood.

'Game of Monopoly'

"When they close at 2 a.m., the streets are full of people," said Forrest, who testified at the zone change hearing. "In a way, it's a kind of cheerful, happy noise when they're all standing in the street waiting for their cars, yelling and saying goodby to each other. But it drives people crazy."

She said Scharff is "playing a big game of Monopoly" in the area but added, "I'm not going to be moved."

Scharff could not be reached for comment.

Scharff, who owns the Lanz clothing firm and has extensive real estate interests, was denied a zone change in 1983 after a city examiner concluded that commercial zoning for the block "could aggravate an already serious traffic problem in the area."

The block was zoned commercial until 1973, when it was rezoned by the city in response to traffic congestion created by beachgoers on weekends and during the summer months.

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