Homeowners Vote to Sue in Garage Fight

Times Staff Writer

A group of Brentwood homeowners has decided to go to court in an attempt to force Deputy Dist. Atty. Gilbert I. Garcetti to chop 22 feet off his garage.

The board of directors of the Brentwood Park Property Owners Assn. voted Monday night to file suit against the city over the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision last week to grant Garcetti a zoning variance that allows him to keep an oversized garage.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Mar. 19, 1989 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 19, 1989 Home Edition Westside Part 9 Page 3 Column 1 Zones Desk 2 inches; 67 words Type of Material: Correction
A Westside story Thursday on a continuing fight between the Brentwood Park Property Owners Assn. and Deputy Dist. Atty. Gilbert I. Garcetti about his oversized garage said members of the association believed Garcetti used his influence to get a building permit for his project. While some of Garcetti’s neighbors who are association members reportedly stated that in the past, neither the association nor its official representatives have expressed an opinion in that regard.

The association’s attorney, Anthony Barash, said he did not know whether Garcetti would also be named in the suit. Barash said he expects to file suit within 30 days in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Garcetti had asked for the variance in December, 1987, after the Board of Zoning Appeals in September ordered him to tear down about 11 feet of his garage because it violated a setback requirement.


18-Foot Setback

In 1985, Garcetti built a 4,500-square-foot, multimillion-dollar home with four bedrooms and a three-car garage set back 43 feet from the North Cliffwood Avenue curb. But because the city owns the first 25 feet along each side of the street, the garage is actually only 18 feet from his property line.

Zoning ordinances for the area require structures to be 40 feet from the front property line. In Garcetti’s case, that meant the garage should have been 65 feet from the curb.

Garcetti has said that he was not aware of the 25-foot easement, and that city officials approved his plans and issued a building permit knowing that the garage was only 18 feet from his property line.


Members of the association said that they warned Garcetti about the property line, but that he went ahead with his plans and that his position in the district attorney’s office helped him get his permit.

Association members complained, and in October, 1985, the city Department of Building and Safety ordered Garcetti to remove the part of the garage that extends into the required setback. A series of appeals led to the September, 1987, decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals forcing Garcetti to remove 11 feet of the garage. The homeowners group had wanted 22 feet of the garage removed.

In February, 1988, Garcetti’s request for a variance was denied, and Garcetti again appealed. The Board of Zoning Appeals, on a 3-2 vote, granted his variance.

“I am pleased and relieved, but certainly not joyful,” Garcetti said this week. “The struggle has been too long and too emotionally costly to give me any elation. This has been all an honest mistake.”

“The association is disappointed with the board’s decision,” said William Poms, president of the homeowners group. “It is more than an issue over 22 feet. There are a lot of principles involved.”

Barash said the suit will challenge the board’s legal basis for granting the variance, which can only be granted if a “hardship” can be established. “It was a self-imposed hardship,” he said.

Barash said that if Garcetti has to tear down part of his garage and faces financial hardship, he has already been compensated with a $90,000 settlement of a suit he filed against his architect for designing his house without proper setbacks.