Opposing View : After Failing to Halt Condo, Lawyer Fights for Place in Sun

Times Staff Writer

Santa Monica attorney David Ganezer said he may be down, but he isn’t out.

For the last year and a half, Ganezer, 28, has fought to prevent the construction of a three-story, four-unit condominium project that he says will block the sunlight and oceanic view of an apartment complex owned by his father.

He asked the Planning Commission to scale down the project, and he failed.

He appealed to the City Council and then the state Coastal Commission, but failed both times.


‘I Felt Whipped’

He asked a state Superior Court judge for a temporary restraining order to stop construction of the condominium complex, alleging that some council members violated the Brown Act by approving the project after a private meeting with its developers.

Again, he lost.

“I felt whipped, and defeated,” said Ganezer, as he watched the sun plunge into the Pacific Ocean from the top balcony of his father’s five-story, 17-unit apartment complex at 3rd and Hollister streets. “I knew the developers did not care about this neighborhood. All they want is money. Then, I got an idea. What if I gave them a dose of their own medicine?”

In what may be his final stand against the condominium project, Ganezer is about to acquire the plot of land west of the proposed project. He has begun plans to build an 18- by 30-foot house on the land, which would block the sunlight and oceanic view of the proposed condominium.

Bid on Land

“I am going to build a ‘mongo’ house,” he said. “It’s going to be the size of Tibet.”

Ganezer’s eldest brother bid on the land, and escrow was expected to close Friday.

To help design his house, the attorney has also garnered the help of a former foe.

City Councilman Herb Katz, who voted to approve the condominium project and defeated Ganezer in last November’s elections, said he would be delighted to design the house.

Katz said that when he received Ganezer’s call, “I was taken aback. I mean we are certainly strange bedfellows.

But, he added, “I am an architect first, and a city councilman second. It would be a neat challenge to design a house like that.”

In fact, Katz said that if a debate on the proposed structure goes before the City Council, he would abstain from voting but would not surrender the project.

It may come to that, said Kevin Herst, one of the developers of the proposed condominium project.

“If it were any other developer who wanted to build that house, I’d support them as long as the project met building codes,” he said. “But I know that Ganezer’s motive is pure hostility. He sees an opportunity to get even, and I would fight that.”

However, Ganezer said, “I’m not out for retaliation. I want to make money, just like they do.”

The attorney said he has become obsessed with stopping the construction of the condominium complex because its developers “never showed any concern for the neighbors.”

Between 25 and 30 people live in his father’s complex of 17, one-bedroom apartments. Many are low-income tenants who have lived there more than a decade, he said.

“We asked them time and time again to compromise and build a two-story project, but they refused because all they care about is profits,” he said. “Well, now the shoe is on the other foot. Let’s see how they feel.”