When a handful of Newhall residents learned that a 510-unit apartment complex was planned near their neighborhood, they collected more than 100 signatures of protest and marched down to the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission this week to state their case.
The residents discovered, however, that the battle was already over. In fact, it ended two years ago.
The issue before planning commissioners Wednesday was not whether to let a developer build the 510 apartments. The plans were approved in May, 1987. The issue was whether to approve a conditional-use permit to change the project's design, but not its size.
"What really bothers me is that none of us knew that," homeowner Eric J. Parde said Thursday.
"It was a total surprise," said Victoria Maw, one of Parde's neighbors.
Commissioners, saying it was too late to make major changes in the development, approved a conditional-use permit for the project by Saunders Development Co. of Santa Monica. It will include a 267-room hotel, offices and a shopping center near Pico Canyon Road.
Residents did not accuse the county or Saunders of keeping the development a secret. They even praised the design approved Wednesday, saying it provided more open space.
The homeowners said afterward they were victims of poor timing. The project had been approved just before many of the residents moved to the area. When they received public notices about the project recently, they assumed it was starting from scratch, they said.
Two years ago, the project faced no opposition. "I was really dismayed when I found out that nobody had fought it before," Parde said.