In an unusual end to a yearlong feud, the developer of the Ma Maison Sofitel Hotel and three Westside homeowner groups signed a settlement in excess of $1 million Friday that includes a $250,000 payment to the homeowners in exchange for their support of the hotel’s liquor license.
The confidential agreement, which both sides would describe only in general terms, also sets aside $800,000 for additional “permanent parking” for the hotel. The $800,000 will be administered jointly by the developer, the Sheldon M. Gordon Co., and the homeowner organizations.
Nearby homeowners have been fighting the hotel because they feared that hundreds of patrons’ cars would spill over onto their streets. They tried to block the liquor license to get the hotel to provide more parking.
“It is important that the public know that the community and the hotel are now allies and will continue to work in a joint fashion to address areas of mutual concern,” Ronald J. Silverman, an attorney for the developer, said in an interview.
Dec. 1 Opening
The $50-million luxury hotel, located across the street from the Beverly Center shopping mall, is scheduled to open Dec. 1.
As part of the settlement, the homeowners have agreed to give up efforts to block the hotel’s state license for alcoholic beverages. The two sides were scheduled to meet in two weeks before a state appeals board on the license issue.
The $250,000 payment will be deposited in a fund to be administered by a nonprofit foundation run by the homeowner organizations. Representatives from the three groups--Beverly Wilshire Homes Assn., South of Burton Way Homeowners Assn. and Friends of Westwood--said the money will be used to pay for everything from hiring expert witnesses in other disputes to conducting environmental studies.
“It is some sort of assurance to the community that we can protect ourselves,” said Harald Hahn of the South of Burton Way group.
The agreement comes after several attempts by Los Angeles city officials to resolve the dispute. Diana Plotkin, president of the Beverly Wilshire group, said the homeowners deserve credit for achieving something the city did not.
“Can Be Successful’
“It is important that other communities realize that they can go forward and they can be successful when the city turns its back on residents and allows developers to do whatever they feel like doing,” she said.
But Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the area, said it was Plotkin and Hahn who stood in the way of an agreement in April that his office tried to negotiate with Gordon. Yaroslavsky said Gordon had agreed to pay $1 million to the city for additional parking, but the homeowners balked.
Gordon and nearby homeowners had been at odds since August, 1987, when the hotel filed for a conditional-use permit from the city to serve alcoholic beverages. A city permit as well as a state license are required to sell liquor in Los Angeles.
Several homeowner organizations opposed the hotel’s permit request and demanded that Gordon build a second parking garage.
The City Council issued Gordon the permit in July, but it also required him to lease 117 additional parking spaces within 18 months and to reduce by 40% the combined occupancy of the hotel’s two restaurants, meeting rooms and banquet facilities.
The two sides squared off again in August, when the homeowner groups challenged Gordon’s application for a state liquor license. After a lengthy hearing before an administrative law judge, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued the license effective Oct. 31, but it also imposed conditions. The state banned liquor in the ballroom and meeting rooms until the hotel provided the 117 parking spaces--a condition the homeowners now say they do not support.