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Warner Ridge : May Pack Hill With Condos, Builder Warns

Times Staff Writer

A developer vowed Tuesday to turn a controversy-plagued, 22-acre Woodland Hills site into a high-density condominium project if Los Angeles officials deny permission to build a $150-million office complex there.

The threat came as a Los Angeles City Council committee moved to block construction of the high-rise Warner Ridge office project on a hilly site at the eastern edge of Warner Center.

Members of the council’s Planning and Environment Committee endorsed a request by Councilwoman Joy Picus to change the city’s master plan to require single-family homes instead of commercial development on the site.

Picus said she requested the change because she is convinced that is what the majority of Woodland Hills residents want. The council is expected to be asked Tuesday to instruct city planners to hold a Feb. 6 public hearing on the land-use designation change.

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The committee’s action was opposed by developer Jack Spound, who complained that such a zoning rollback would be both illegal and illogical.

“If a residential development goes in, it will be high-density, multifamily,” Spound said. “We’d put as many units on it as we could. We would do what we could to put the highest density on it.”

City Officials Warned

Spound said he doubts that anyone would buy expensive single-family houses overlooking Warner Center industrial roofs across De Soto Avenue from his property. He said his lawyers have warned city officials that such a forced rezoning would be an unconstitutional violation of property rights.

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Picus, meantime, said she is not worried by Spound’s threat. A previous plan to build condominiums on the site was strenuously opposed in the early 1980s by neighboring homeowners and administrators of Pierce College, who feared that odors from their adjoining campus farm would draw complaints from people living on the Warner Ridge property.

“I don’t think he can do that because he would have to get the city to approve high-density zoning,” Picus said, predicting that it would probably be denied.

“I am totally and completely committed” to single-family homes on the site, Picus told the committee.

Spound’s proposal to build a nine-building office complex up to seven floors high was supported at Tuesday’s meeting by Keith Anderson, Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce president, and Mick Sears, head of the Pierce College agriculture department.

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Picus’ position was supported by Shirley Blessing of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization, and longtime Woodland Hills resident Sy Spalter.


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