Draft Of 'Clean Hands' Law Approved
Posted by Daniel Antolin on Jan 10, 2012 - 5:44:57 PM
L.A. City Hall. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Tuesday, January 10, the Los Angeles City Council voted 10-0 to direct the city attorney and Department of Building and
Safety to draft a "clean hands" ordinance modeled after an L.A. County
law requiring that construction permits be denied to applicants who
have not resolved outstanding zoning code violations.
with multiple violations have been allowed to obtain grading, building
and other permits without first bringing their properties into
compliance with zoning and other-land use requirements," states the
motion introduced by Third District Councilmember Dennis P. Zine in June
2011. "This is a major loophole in the land-use regulation enforcement
process which allows for constant abuse."
According to the Code Enforcement Bureau, the major loophole is an informal interpretation of the city's building code whereby a developer disguises construction of a new structure as a remodel by keeping as little as a 10-foot section of a wall of an old structure, which is eventually torn down anyway. In fact, 50 percent of perimeter walls must be retained. They utilize this informal interpretation because a new structure entails a more rigorous approval process and higher fees than would a remodel.
Zine introduced the
motion for the ordinance in response to two L.A. city building
inspectors having in May 2011 pleaded guilty to soliciting and accepting
bribes for approving building permits. They were both subsequently
fired from their positions.
Neighborhood associations from Canyon News's coverage areas such as Mandeville Canyon in Brentwood, Holmby Hills in Westwood,
Laurel Canyon, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Studio City, Sherman Oaks
and Franklin Hills in Los Feliz have since voiced support for the
ordinance. They want the draft shaped after the L.A. County law because
of how it withstood several legal defenses from the Sahag-Mesrob
Armenian Christian School in Altadena, which in 2008 was found
operating without a permit and ordered to cease operations.
Similar to the county law, the Brentwood Residents Coalition (BRC) suggests that the
city's ordinance weigh a number of factors in deciding whether to
grant a waiver to permit applicants who unlawfully use their property.
The coalition proposes granting applicants waivers if their property is
used in a way that is not detrimental to the surrounding community.
They would further have to prove that a disproportionate hardship would
be created if they were not granted a waiver or that they are
cooperating with the city to bring their property into compliance with
But the BRC
has suggested that the city ordinance be drafted so
that the language is simpler than the L.A. County law. Instead of
specifying that no permit will be issued to applicants whose land
operates in violation of an already issued permit or of zoning codes,
the BRC suggests the city law require that applicants be denied a permit
if they are "not in
Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.