Sherman Oaks residents and Councilman Michael Woo are to be congratulated for their forceful attack (Feb. 3) on a proposed development that would remove the tops of two mountains and fill canyons with 1 million cubic yards of dirt to provide pads for 31 homes at the top of Alomar Drive near Longridge Avenue.
Councilman Woo stated in a press release: "No permits will be given without the knowledge of my office." Woo's office has already asked the Building and Safety Department to "red-flag" the project, according to the release.
Unfortunately, Councilman Woo was not our representative when another, unprecedented, 42-acre hillside development, characterized as the "great walls of China," proceeded through City Hall apparently without the intervention of our former councilman. Unless Councilman Woo has another red flag for Building and Safety, this disastrous development of 26 home sites, also known as the "Fabian" property above Fryman Road in Studio City, will become a reality.
These development plans require that an overwhelming number of 12- to 18-foot front-yard retaining walls will be built to contain "unstable" soil. Also required are highly visible buttress slopings of two mountainsides, removal of between 300 to 400 oak trees, reduced front-yard setbacks and the creation of two monumental debris basins that will be seen from our premier scenic overlook on Mulholland Drive.
These plans were approved even after the developer's several misrepresentations were brought to the attention of the assistant zoning administrator, Gary Morris, such as a grading plan that greatly overstated the number of acres in the tract, an understatement of the number of oak trees to be removed and the omission of front-wall heights on various plans.
Fortunately for the Sherman Oaks residents, the new revisions to city law could dramatically reduce the number of 31 Alomar home sites to three, according to Eric Roth, an aide to Woo. However, the new law does not apply to the Studio City hillside development because the tract was approved and, therefore, the safety factor cannot be applied.
Our hillside community, including the Briarcliff Improvement Assn., the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns. and homeowners in the adjoining Laurelwood development, represented by a land-use attorney, vigorously protested the size and the highly engineered plans of the Fabian development.
The Board of Zoning Appeals was our final stop in the planning process. However, they could not act because of an abstention of one board member after a 2-2 vote deadlock. Next, the project goes before the Building and Safety Department, which does not hold public hearings on matters before it.
So good luck to the community of Sherman Oaks. Your fight has just begun. Studio City neighbors share in your vigorous attack against developers' greed and welcome the support of Councilman Woo, who I hope has another red flag for the Building and Safety Department.
WALTER M. McINTYRE
McIntyre is president of the Briarcliff Improvement Assn .