“Developers Find Peace at a Price” which appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times (Feb. 26) dismayed me. The recent practice of extracting tribute from a developer as the price for settlement of a zoning matter has apparently been initiated by Friends of Westwood. This surprises me since the other co-founder is Laura Lake, a respected UCLA professor of urban planning and a candidate for the City Council.
I have served on the board of directors of the Tract 7260 Homeowner Assn. for 33 years. We have been involved in sometimes bitter confrontations: 20th Century Fox--proliferation of helistops; Century City Inc.--Century City Specific Plan; Watt Industries--Century City parking structure; Ring Brothers--condominium height; Days Inn--design and routing of Orton Stairway; Days Inn--safety of retaining wall, Century City Shopping Center--noise abatement; and Homestead Associates--neighborhood protection ordinance. We have never sought one cent of tribute.
It has been assumed that those representing homeowner associations were unpaid volunteers. In the David-Goliath struggles, we have appeared before boards and commissions with clean hands to protect the sanctity of our homes. In the Homestead matter, we were forced to hire an attorney. We are asking to be reimbursed for legal expenses, not tribute.
Homeowner associations are normally nonprofit corporations. The IRS and the state Franchise Tax Board might look askance on the large payoffs given to Friends of Westwood.
I urge Laura Lake, Sandy Brown, Harald Hahn, and Diana Plotkin to examine their priorities and to ensure that money and prestige have not diverted them from their primary purpose.
JOHN H. FRENCH