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SHERMAN OAKS : Councilman Wants Vacant Buildings Razed

Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky has asked the city Department of Building and Safety to order the demolition of a string of vacant buildings on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.

The buildings, Yaroslavsky said in a letter to Building and Safety chief Warren O’Brien, are “infested with rats” and have become a refuge for vagrants and a target for graffiti.

“It is imperative that the property owners demolish the buildings as soon as possible,” Yaroslavsky wrote. If the owners don’t tear down the buildings soon, he said, the city should do it.

Three months ago, Yaroslavsky asked the man who is seeking to redevelop the site, Oved Ovadia, to demolish the buildings himself. But when that didn’t work, Yaroslavsky said, he turned to the city.

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The site--which includes buildings in the 13600 block of Ventura Boulevard between Woodman and Ventura Canyon Avenues--houses the old Scene of the Crime bookstore development, the subject of a 1991 lawsuit against the city in a which a developer contended that the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan unfairly halted his project. The site is now slated for redevelopment as 10,000 square feet of retail space and a 100-unit senior housing project.

In the meantime, it has become a well-known neighborhood eyesore and the subject of repeated complaints by nearby residents.

“We’ve been urging this action for a while,” Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn., said of the councilman’s recent action.

“It’s about time,” Close added. “We’re glad to see it looks like it’s finally coming down.”

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But an attorney for Ovadia said his client would demolish the buildings as soon as financing is secured for the new project, but not before.

“We will cooperate the best we can,” said Fred Gaines, an attorney with the law firm Reznik and Reznik. “We are in the process of finalizing details of the new project and part of that is the demolition of the existing buildings.”


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