City tells actress to take illegal gate down

CITY HALL — “CSI: Miami” actress Eva La Rue must remove an illegal frontyard gate that was built to protect her and her daughter from an alleged stalker after the City Council on Tuesday voted to uphold a Planning Commission decision.

The decision ended weeks of heated debate at City Hall and media coverage of her appeals for a zoning exception based on public safety needs.

The controversy centered on a wood gate La Rue constructed in 2007 without permits at the front of her Cordova Avenue home in north Glendale, which she said she built to guard her and her daughter against an alleged stalker.

After La Rue was cited by city code enforcement officials for the gate, which was built too close to the public right-of-way, a zoning administrator granted the actress a variance.

That move generated discontent from neighbors and homeowner’s groups and, after an inquiry from Planning Director Hassan Haghani, the case made its way to the Planning Commission, which overturned the zoning administrator’s decision. La Rue and her attorneys appealed the ruling, pushing the issue to the City Council, where it became embroiled in deadlock and heated debate.

La Rue has since moved out of her home after her address was made public in city records associated with the appeal.

“It caused her to have to move out of the property because after the initial council meeting, her address was made public,” said her attorney, Allen Lohse. “Her stalker then sent further correspondence saying that he knew her address.”

Still, the City Council voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision, with members arguing that they could not turn a blind eye to blatantly illegal construction. They also said they were barred from considering public safety concerns in reviewing the land-use case.

“She had knowledge of what she was supposed to do,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, who reversed his initial vote on the issue after confirming La Rue had defied known stop work orders from a city inspector. “She was supposed to stop and seek remedy, and the work continued and was completed.”

Councilman John Drayman repeatedly focused on Lohse’s public safety concerns, arguing that there were a number of discrepancies in the attorney’s argument, which he said did not support the public safety defense.

Councilman Ara Najarian, who has repeatedly pointed to La Rue’s appeal as a misapplication of a city law regarding Planning Commission appeals, cast the sole dissenting vote.

“It’s only a gate, the city manager told me,” Najarian said. “But it’s not only a gate. It’s about our process, and about our laws. Don’t look past this issue.”

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World