Follow the Facts! Another Ridgeline Project Proposed in Calabasas. City Shrouds Developer’s Identity…

FOLLOW THE FACTS with LVHF…. !  (Originally posted July 9, 2013) 

Why is Calabasas’ Community Development Department continuing to shroud the identity of the applicant/owner of the latest project to come before the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC) and Architectural Review Panel (ARP)?

The developer is requesting a site plan review to construct a 7,470 square foot residence, with a 661 foot garage, and a 1,691 square foot basement, in the heart of the city’s rural community which is zoned Hillside/Mountainous (H/M). Access is from Old Topanga Canyon Road at the hairpin turn.

The City Council recently denied an appeal that challenged the approval of Calabasas Architectural Review Board Member, Mark Handel’s three mansion development project, on the Mulholland Highway Scenic Corridor.

This developer is asking for a Variance to build on a SIGNIFICANT ridgeline. Kudos to the original city planners as there are a few significant ridgeline designations in the city. Ms. Tamuri was directed by a unanimous City Council several years ago to develop criteria for designating others, but, thus far she has neglected to do so. Why?

Why has Council not enforced their own directive either?

This developer is also asking for an Oak Tree Permit to encroach into the protected zone of 25 oak trees; and a Scenic Corridor Permit for development within a designated scenic corridor.

According to the architect – Robbin Hayne Architects of Malibu – their client  has purchased two lots and is in negotiation for the third…yet, they are pitching “a single family residence”. According to the city, the developer is not interested in tieing the lots together.

Surrounding community homes in the Overlay Districts of Old Topanga and the Calabasas Highlands are limited to a max of 3,500 square feet – and that’s if two or more lots have been combined in the Highlands. The majority of homes are much smaller – under 2,500 square feet. So, this approximate 10,000 square foot residence is 3 to 4 times as large as the surrounding homes – and even more impactful, it will loom over the neighborhoods on the significant ridgeline. Clearly it will be highly visible from both scenic corridors and its size is inconsistent with surrounding neighborhood homes. Development project, cumulative, biological impacts etc. will all need to be addressed.

The same project came before the Development Review Committee (DRC) last year and the city required an EIR, a size reduction, and, several other stipulations. The applicant then was Suro Barchyan and the applicant’s representative was Brad Rosenheim and Joseph Bernstein, of Rosenheim and Associates, Inc. The city of Calabasas had no problem publishing the applicant’s information then, so why the refusal to do so now?

The Calabasas planning department has also listed this proposed project under a different address than the previous applicant’s. Is there going to be an attempt to convince the public that it is a different project – despite having the same impacts? Will there be an attempt to try and justify bypassing CEQA and the city’s own previous project requirements?

And yet, another twist in the unfolding tale, the Community Development Director told residents they needed to file a “PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST” to obtain applicant/owner information. Ms. Tamuri apparently also indicated “this would enable the city to track the residents getting the information.”

Tom Bartlett, the City Planner, refused to divulge the developer’s identity at the DRC hearing on July 2, and the developer’s architect would not identify his client either when queried by a member of the public. Mr. Bartlett referred to the use of LLC’s and celebrity seemingly justifiably.

Divulging the true identify of parcel ownership is an issue the California Coastal Commission (CCC) took up and won along with other stakeholders, including the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation. The Edge project in Malibu, is an example of a recent project where the developer and his representative attempted to hide the true ownership of their parcels and proposed homes under LLC’s. The CCC staff investigated and prevailed, proving that the parcels had common interest, and therefore applicable and cumulative impacts needed to be considered for a unified project..

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UPDATE :  The Federation has subsequently obtained preliminary information of ownership on its own. The property was purchased by Broadway Trust and Anthony Caroll is the name thus far associated with it. We hope to publish more details on this shortly.