A group of residents who spent weeks fighting a proposed trade school
near their homes in Burbank and North Hollywood are breathing a
collective sigh of relief.
A zoning administrator for the city of Los Angeles has denied
parking and zoning variances requested by developer Christopher
Knight so that he could open a school for recording engineers on the
former Kaiser Permanente site at 10407 Magnolia Blvd., near the
corner of Clybourn Avenue.
"It was a victory for small-town America," said Gregory J. Zedlar,
a Burbank resident who helped lead the effort against the school. "It
is nice that the little guy's voice can still be heard and make an
Zoning Administrator Jon Perica ruled Oct. 1 that not enough of a
hardship was placed on Knight in the current zoning of the site.
Knight had argued that he needed a parking variance that would allow
him to reduce the number of parking spaces on the site from 180 to 90
in order to erect two more buildings. He also sought a variance that
would allow him to operate as a trade school -- a use not permitted
in the area.
Perica took Knight to task for not knowing the zoning restrictions
before he bought the property.
"This use restriction has been in effect since 1989, so anyone who
wanted to verify what the zoning permitted had plenty of time to do
their homework," Perica wrote. "The fact that the applicant didn't
check to see if his use was allowed under the current zoning is not
the city's fault."
Knight, who came under fire from residents who argued the project
would create traffic and parking problems, seemed to take the ruling
"We respect the zoning administrator's ruling," he said. "We will
not appeal. We've placed the building up for sale, and we welcome the
neighbors' input on what we should do next."
Knight, who was forced to move out of his Lankershim Boulevard
location to make way for redevelopment, said he has found a
33,000-square-foot building in Hollywood that is a good fit for the
school. He is working out a lease agreement, and stressed that he
made sure it was zoned for a trade school.
The ruling was cheered by leaders of the neighborhood, who were
worried that if the variances were granted, a precedent would have
been set to build anything from hotels to museums in an area not
zoned for them.
"As an organizer, I couldn't be happier," Burbank resident Mark
Stebbeds said. "We were never against the trade school. We were
against the zoning variance that would have allowed it to happen."
Knight tried to put it in perspective.
"I understand the neighbors' reaction," he said. "I think it was
somewhat irrational, but I can't say I wouldn't have had the same
reaction. I think we would have been good neighbors."