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Hillside house is up to council

Neighbors have loudly protested Hazbeth Lane project because of its impact on the environment.

March 03, 2008|By Jason Wells

CITY HALL— A hillside protectionist movement that has swept through City Hall since the 2007 election will take center stage Tuesday when the City Council considers an appeal to one of the most contentious residential hilltop development proposals in years.

The proposed two-story, 5,114-square-foot home at 1650 Hazbeth Lane would displace 19 vertical feet of earth atop a prominent hill at the foot of North Brand Boulevard at a time when homeowner sentiment to protect open space and views along the hillsides is at an arguably all-time high.

Over the past few months, the protectionist sentiment has driven the City Council to overhaul the design review process for all single-family homes as a way to facilitate more neighborhood compatibility among new projects, and has pushed ahead a comprehensive set of restrictive hillside development codes.


“A year ago, it may have not been quite the eyebrow-raiser that it has become,” Councilman John Drayman said. “In recent years, certain segments of the public view those hillsides as being part of a protected public amenity.”

In that sense, property owner Adel Luzuriaga said the timing for taking her hilltop plan before the City Council could be better. But Luzuriaga said she will be prepared.

The proposed project is well within all code requirements, with the floor area covering just 2% of the 6.8-acre site — far below the allowed 30%. It would also provide 50% more landscaped area than required and is 5 feet shorter than the maximum allowable height, according to city reports.

Luzuriaga, a Realtor, also reduced the amount of grading needed for the driveway by nearly 2,200 cubic feet, and on Friday said she would introduce another design compromise at the council meeting.

“I’m willing to compromise, I want to compromise. I’m gong to be waving to them, and I want them to wave to me,” she said. “I just want one house on a piece of land I’ve owned all this time.”

But opposition to the project — which needs a conditional-use permit because the amount of grading exceeds 1,500 cubic yards and the average current slope is more than 50% — has coalesced since applications for permits were first filed February 2007.

A group of residents has consistently tried to block the issuance of the conditional-use permit that would allow the project to move forward, but twice they have failed.

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