LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Thirty-five charges for building and safety violations were filed against the developers of five partially built homes on Woodstock Road in Laurel Canyon for allegedly resuming construction despite an order by the city of Los Angeles to demolish the structures.
The original owners were planning to create a 21-home development and had built five initial structures -- at 2505, 2509, 2513, 2521 and 2529 Woodstock Road -- in the late 1990s, according to City Attorney Mike Feuer.
In 2002, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an L.A. City Planning Commission's decision to place the development on hold for six months and order the original owners to conduct an appropriate environmental impact assessment. The city ordered the homes be torn down in 2003 after the environmental impact report was not conducted.
The properties were sold and subsequent owners have attempted to restart the project, but none demolished the properties and restarted the project in accordance with the law, according to the city attorney's office.
Laurel Canyon residents reported in the last year that construction allegedly began again at the homes. Following the reports, the city inspected the sites and determined that the newer owners had planned construction for all five homes. The city ordered the developers, Shahram and Ester Ghalili, to comply with the already-in-effect order to demolish the structures.
After the developers allegedly failed to comply, Feuer filed misdemeanor charges against the Ghalilis for alleged failure to obtain permits before resuming construction, alleged failure to obey the city's subsequent order to comply and alleged failure to remove the vacant unfinished structures, according to the City Attorney's office.
“We have not done anything against the law. We've been complying with the Department of Business and Safety's notices and requirements and cooperating with them,'' Shahram Ghalili told City News Service. He said he wasn't aware of the charges.
Feuer said in his announcement about the charges Thursday morning:
“Developers must follow the city's rules, just like everybody else. These unpermitted structures in the Santa Monica Mountains were supposed to be demolished nearly 20 years ago, and yet we allege the current developers have been ignoring the city's order and continuing to work on structures that should no longer be there. The rules have to mean something, and we're taking action.''
The city attorney's office seeks to have the developers stop construction and safely demolish the homes without causing harm to the surrounding hillside and neighborhood.
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