L.A. Says Builder Can Rent Condos in Warner Center

Times Staff Writer

Much to the disappointment of homeowners and a Los Angeles City Council member, officials said Wednesday that they have determined that units in what was advertised as a luxury condominium complex under construction in Warner Center can legally be rented instead of sold.

Officials from the city's planning and transportation departments said in findings released Wednesday that changing the status of the 760-unit Summit project from condominiums to apartments does not mean that the project can be halted or delayed by city officials.

Councilwoman Joy Picus last month had asked the departments to examine the Summit project, saying the change in status raised questions about whether its approval should be withdrawn. Homeowners in Woodland Hills had opposed changing the condominiums to apartments, saying rental units would bring additional noise and traffic and would lower the area's property values.

Assessing Impact

In launching the inquiry, Picus questioned whether the developer, G. H. Palmer, had addressed the environmental impact of the change, as well as the effect on traffic and parking that apartment dwellers would have on the area.

Picus lamented the findings. "I wish I had some tool to get them to sell the units instead of renting them, but it does not appear that I have," she said.

The city's Building and Safety Department, which Picus also asked to examine the Summit project, had not yet rendered a final decision on the project. But a department official said last week that a preliminary examination showed that the developer apparently could alter the project from condominiums to apartments.

Homeowner leader Gordon Murley said he was angered by the rulings. "Technically, they're right, but Palmer had said in all the documents that those units would be sold," he said. "We take great issue with this."

Palmer executives announced last month that economics and an analysis of real estate conditions indicated that it was impractical to sell the units, even though they had been advertised for sale as luxury townhouses. Palmer spokesmen said the firm never promised to sell the units.

Neither the developer nor his representatives could be reached for comment Wednesday.

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