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Glendale home battle to go to court

Property owner has been seeking city approval for the project since 2007.

August 05, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Adel Luzuriaga's proposed dream home is a nightmare for her neighbors.

Since 2007, Luzuriaga has been trying to make that dream a reality on a piece of prime hillside property in Glendale that she's owned for 20 years. But time and again, her proposals have been shot down by city officials amid stiff opposition from neighbors concerned about the amount of grading and earth moving that would be required to build into the steep slope.

Her proposed two-story home on an undeveloped knoll between Hazbeth Lane and Glenmont Drive has become one of the most contentious hillside development proposals in years, sparking discontent between property rights advocates and neighbors who fear the development will scar the hillside and cause geological issues.

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Not helping matters is that the 66% slope of the hillside is more than the 50% permitted for development under city rules. And at 4,760 cubic yards, the amount of grading would involve more than the 1,500 cubic yards of material allowed before triggering special review, which means she must get a conditional-use permit.

Planning and zoning officials have approved her differing designs in the past, but their rulings have been repeatedly overturned by the City Council on appeal.

It happened again in March with Luzuriaga's latest design, which inclluded a 3,278-square-foot house, a roughly 900-square-foot garage, 510-foot roadway and a 100-foot tram on a granite bedrock slope.

The decision was 2 to 1, with Councilman Dave Weaver dissenting and two others not voting.

Now, Luzuriaga is taking the city to court.

In a lawsuit filed in June, Christopher Sutton, Luzuriaga's attorney, argues that the latest City Council vote shouldn't count because state law requires a minimum three-vote majority.

Last month, the city filed court documents claiming that three City Council members don't have to concur in an administrative appeal — a requirement that's reserved for “resolutions, orders for the payment of money and all ordinances,” according to state law.

But Sutton said not calling the appeal decision a resolution is word play.

“We believe the court will see through that,” Sutton said.

The case is set to go before a judge in October.

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