The problems with the Lubavitch

Chabad of Pacific Palisades still litigates and litigates
September 11, 2008, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: , , ,
“Chabad Still Seeking Preschool Location”

September 03, 2008

Danielle Gillespie , Staff Writer

In August, Rabbi Zushe Cunin told the Palisadian-Post that he planned to start classes for the Chabad Palisades preschool at an undisclosed location by September 4 ‘ which is today.

Chabad’s attorney Benjamin Reznick, partner with Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro, told the Post Tuesday, ‘That’s not going to be possible, but hopefully soon.’

Chabad of Pacific Palisades has applied to the City of Los Angeles   and the California Coastal Commission for permits to install two modular classroom buildings on a vacant lot off Sunset Boulevard near the western end of Marquez Avenue. However, Chabad does not have a lease agreement with the property owner, Richard Jones (Jones Family Trust).

‘We’re in the process of getting a lease agreement,’ Reznick said.   ‘We have submitted a draft to be reviewed by their lawyer.’

For the past eight years, Chabad has operated its preschool, the   Palisades Jewish Early Childhood Center, in Temescal Gateway Park, but its lease with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy was not renewed and expired on June 23.

The 16990, 16996, 17000 Sunset location would be temporary because   Chabad hopes to secure permits for another site off Los Liones Drive, Reznick said. Earlier this year, Chabad signed a three-year lease agreement with Gene Gladden to use his storage building as a preschool. In July, Chabad applied for a conditional use permit and a coastal development permit, and the city is still reviewing those applications.

The preschool would operate at the Sunset location from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday and serve about 20 students. The 49,658 square foot property allows for 15 parking spaces and one handicapped spot, according to the approval-in-concept application submitted to the Coastal Commission and signed by Richard Jones and Alex DeGood, attorney with Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro. Chabad also applied for pre-inspection, building and certificate of occupancy permits.

Larry Larson, who owns Pacific Gardens Apartments on the east side of   the vacant lot on Sunset, said he does not want a childcare facility at that location.

‘Our residents are not going to want to look out their windows and   see these modular buildings,’ Larson said. ‘It’s not comparable to the area.’

Larson, who is general partner of Pacific Investment Company and has   owned the apartments for more than 37 years, is concerned about safety because the school would be located on the curve of a busy street. ‘If about 20 people are arriving at about the same time, they are going to block traffic in both lanes,’ he said.

Larson wrote a letter urging Councilman Bill Rosendahl to not allow the Chabad to install the temporary buildings.

Pacific Palisades Community Council chair Richard G. Cohen told the   Post, ‘I met with Rabbi Cunin and discussed with him their plans for the preschool and expressed concerns with respect to traffic and safety issues.’

The Council will discuss the situation at its next meeting on September 11.

Larson also expressed concern that the Chabad might stay longer if   the religious group can’t secure permits for the location in Los Liones Canyon.

The storage building off Los Liones sits on a hillside behind the   Mormon Church’s gated parking lot and along the Getty Villa’s service road. The church and Getty have denied the Chabad access, but Reznik examined city-planning files and discovered a public easement off Los Liones. According to Reznik, the road is located on part of the Getty’s service road and a portion of the Mormon Church’s property. Reznick said Chabad plans to pay for construction across the dedicated public easement, which only exists on paper right now.

Jeffrey Haber, attorney for the Getty, wrote a letter on August 11 to   the Los Angeles City Planning Department asking the city to reject the Chabad’s application.

‘The Getty is very concerned that the proposed use as a preschool is   not safe, particularly because small children would be entering and exiting the warehouse through a site with no legal access, with no parking or drop-off area, and in an area adjacent to the Getty’s private road, which serves as the service, truck and bus entrance to the Getty Villa,’ wrote Harber of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.

Additionally, Harber argued that Chabad’s application was incomplete   because ‘the warehouse is located in part on the Getty’s property, and the Getty does not consent to the proposed use of the warehouse.’

The city requires property owners to sign the application, and since   the warehouse is partially on Getty land, the Getty’s signature would be required to complete the application, wrote Harber who submitted maps to illustrate that the warehouse, which the Getty once rented from Gladden for storage, is partially on Getty property.

The city is in the process of reviewing the application, especially   the ingress-egress to the property, said Councilman Rosendahl.


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