Westside groups settle with developer

Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Four Westside homeowners groups have reached a settlement that will allow construction to proceed on two 47-story and one 12-story luxury condominium buildings in Century City.

The settlement calls for the developer of the Constellation Park project, Century City Realty LLC, a subsidiary of JMB Realty Corp., to pay $2.25 million to a mitigation fund overseen by four groups representing homeowners near Century City.

The groups, slated to announce the settlement today, said they would use the money to help local schools, libraries, parks and fire and police facilities near Century City, as a way to help cope with the project’s effects. The groups are Tract 7260, California Country Club Homes Assn., Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn. and Westwood Homeowners Assn.

The $2.25 million comes atop $5 million that JMB had already promised to pay, bringing the total mitigation fund to $7.25 million. The settlement puts to rest, at least for now, a contentious dispute between the homeowners and Councilman Jack Weiss, who represents the area. The conflict grew last spring when some members of the groups tried to organize a recall of Weiss but failed to gather enough signatures.

Initially, seven homeowners groups had tried to strike a deal with the developer and, according to Mike Eveloff, president of Tract 7260, won agreement from JMB to pay $5 million. But Weiss’ office “scuttled the deal,” Eveloff said. Weiss renegotiated on his own to have JMB pay $5 million in two equal payments as the project moved forward. That deal diminished the homeowners say in how the money would be spent, with Weiss saying he wanted to broaden oversight of money intended to help the community.

The homeowners groups sued, alleging city officials had vastly underestimated the amount of traffic the project would generate. City analyses showed the development, 483 units on 5.5 acres on Constellation Boulevard at Avenue of the Stars, would create less traffic than the small bank and nightclub on the site.

The dispute turned especially nasty after the recall attempt began. Eveloff said the groups “went through some real soul-searching before we decided to settle.” Ultimately, he said, they decided it would be impossible to win against a developer “who’s so well tied in to the city.”

Weiss’ office remained unswayed. “The bottom line is this was not about traffic, and the settlement proves it’s always been about the money,” said Lisa Hansen, Weiss’ deputy chief of staff.