Paramount Gets Approval for Parking Garage

Times Staff Writer

Turning aside complaints from several nearby residents, a Los Angeles City Council panel voted Tuesday to allow Paramount Studios to build a parking garage in Hollywood on land zoned for apartments.

By a unanimous vote, the Board of Referred Powers overturned a zoning administrator's decision to block construction of the 5-story structure near the studio. The zoning official had ruled that the 953-space garage would "dramatically change" nearby residential areas and hurt property values.

An attorney for one property owner said after the vote that he will appeal the board's ruling to the full City Council. Charles T. Mathews said neighbors would prefer an apartment building to a parking garage.

"We are concerned about the decrease in value of adjoining properties because of this huge parking structure next to them," he said.

Code Variance

In approving the garage, the 5-member board granted Paramount a variance from the city's Zoning Code, which prohibits parking structures in residential zones. The studio wants to build the garage at the corner of Gower Street and Waring Avenue, where it has operated a surface parking lot for more than 50 years. The studio has a conditional-use permit from the city to run the 254-space lot.

Karen S. Blackwell, a consultant representing Paramount, told the board that the studio wants to build the garage because of a severe parking shortage in the area. Residents near the studio have long complained about employees, game show contestants and studio visitors parking in their neighborhoods.

"We believe this is a regional problem and a regional issue," Blackwell said. She urged the board to look beyond the objections of nearby residents and consider the needs of the entire neighborhood. She submitted a petition with the signatures of 90 residents in favor of the garage.

But several residents, including Genevieve Bard, who has lived in an apartment near the parking lot for 20 years, complained that the garage would block sunlight, impede air circulation, attract crime and increase traffic. Bard said Paramount should build the garage on its studio lot.

'Big Monster'

"This is residential," said Bard, who presented a petition with the signatures of 46 residents opposed to the project. "Why should I have to look at a big monster? I don't care how beautiful they make it. It is still a commercial building."

In an effort to address some of the residents' concerns, the board required Paramount to set the garage 5 feet back from an alley that separates the site from several apartments. The board also placed a 45-foot height limit on the garage, the same restriction that would apply if apartments were built on the site.

In addition, the board instructed Paramount to require studio employees to park in the garage, not on nearby streets, and also ordered the company to pay for the establishment of a permit parking district if residents decide they want one.

The Board of Zoning Appeals, which normally considers appeals of zoning decisions, did not hear the Paramount case because one of its members has ties to the studio. In such instances, five council members step in, acting as the Board of Referred Powers. Rulings on variance requests by either board can be overturned by a majority vote of the City Council.

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