A planned 41-home development in the hills of Tujunga should be rejected, a Los Angeles Planning Commission advisory panel recommended Thursday.
Members of the panel noted that only nine homes could be built on the site under the city's 1991 hillside development law.
"The primary issue is the density ordinance that indicates the council has such a strong position to preserve the area," said Darryl Fisher, head of the advisory panel called the Deputy Advisory Agency. "That's why we deny the requested zone change."
Fisher added that the committee would not be opposed to the construction of nine houses on the land.
But the developer, Duke Development of Glendale, has said it is not feasible to develop the 55 1/2-acre site for just nine homes.
"If they tell me I can build nine homes, then they're telling me don't build anything. They know they're killing the project," Souren Shorvoghlian, Duke's co-owner, said earlier this week. He refused comment after Thursday's decision.
About 40 nearby residents attended Thursday's hearing, all in opposition to the project.
Steve Crouch, who helped organize residents in an aggressive campaign against the development, said he was relieved that the city is enforcing its own regulations.
"We fully expected the developer to do what he's allowed to do under the law," Crouch said. "That is, build nine homes, which is what the area is zoned for."
City Councilman Joel Wachs, whose district includes Tujunga, also opposed the 41-home project, said his field deputy, Arline DeSanctis.
The project is planned on natural open-space acreage off La Tuna Canyon Road north of the Foothill Freeway.
The plan calls for nearly 40 acres to be graded for construction and about 640,000 cubic yards of earth to be moved.