17000 Sunset Boulevard Pacific Palisades Project Is Not Dead

By Sue Pascoe

Just when Save the Bluffs advocates thought the battle was over and developer M & A Gabaee LP would not be allowed to build a five-story condominium building at 17000 Sunset Blvd., they found Gabaee had appealed the city decision to the Coastal Commission.

A hearing was held on Friday, Oct. 6, in Ukiah (about an 8-hour drive from the Palisades) to determine if the Commission Coastal will overturn the denial for the proposed 49-unit/98,900-sq.- ft. building at Sunset and western Marquez Avenue, on the hillside above the Malibu Village Mobile Home condominium park.

This project first came to the community’s attention in January 2012, when a Coastal Development permit application was filed and the required notices were delivered to neighbors. Developer Arman Gabaee presented the project to the Pacific Palisades Community Council land use committee in April 2012 and to the full council in March 2013.

The area outlined in red is where the proposed 17000 Sunset project would go.
The area outlined in red is where the proposed 17000 Sunset project would go.

At that time, the PPCC sent a letter to the L.A. City Zoning Administrator, requesting a focused EIR (environmental impact report) because of concerns about the stability of the land, the traffic conditions at that location on Sunset and the loss of a remaining view to the ocean. The EIR was never conducted.

In June 2013, Palisades Preservation Association President Jack Allen wrote a lengthy letter to Zoning Administrator Charlie Rausch, arguing the need for an EIR.

A March 2014 L.A. Times story noted that “One of the M & A Gabaee partners, Arman Gabay, has personally given a total of more than $5,000 in campaign donations since 2006 to council members, including City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmen Jose Huizar, Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin, according to city campaign records. His wife, Elenor Beroukhim-Gabay, has also donated a total of more than $5,000 to Wesson, Huizar, Bonin, Koretz and Councilman Paul Krekorian during that time.”

In Oct. 2014, a coastal development permit was approved by the City Zoning Administrator and the project moved forward. Palisades residents sprang to action and a group called Save Our Bluffs was formed that December.

Allen sent a letter to the West L.A. Planning Commission, stating “The Board of Directors of the Palisades Preservation Assn. voted unanimously to oppose the issuance of a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) and a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) to M&A Gabaee LP for the construction of a new 99,000 square foot, 49 unit multi-family development at 16990-17000 Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades and to support the ten appeals filed from the decision of the Zoning Administrator to approve the CDP and MND.”

Almost a year later, in Dec. 2015, a West L.A. Area Planning Commission hearing was scheduled and more than 2,700 online and paper petitions signatures were gathered from residents who opposed the project.

At that hearing, because of overwhelming community and expert opposition, the Area Planning Commission overturned the city’s approval of the project on the steeply sloping coastal bluff.

Seemingly the project was dead. But, no.

Resident Sarah Conner, who represents the Pacific Palisades Residents Association on the Community Council, told the council at its Sept. 22 meeting that the Gabaee project was scheduled for Coastal Commission action last Friday, Oct. 6.

“Gabaee is asking the Coastal Commission to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of their Coastal Development Permit,” Connor said. “The Coastal Commission will determine whether or not the City Planning decision raises a substantial issue under the Coastal Act.

“If the Coastal Commission finds there is a substantial Coastal Act issue raised, they will hold a de novo hearing at a later date as to whether or not a Coastal Development Permit should be issued,” Connor said.

She explained that in an earlier case, the proposed Coaloa development (a similar hillside project a short distance away on Sunset), the Coastal Commission felt that since the City Planning decision was a denial of a Coastal Development Permit, no coastal resources were at risk, so they found that no substantial issues were raised under the Coastal Act. The developer’s appeal was denied and the City Planning decision was deemed final.

“We see no reason why the Coastal Com- mission should rule any differently than they did in Coaloa, since the projects are just a few lots away from one another on the same coastal bluff, [involve]the same number of units, and the City Planning decision in both cases was a denial,” Connor said.

“In addition, the 17000 Sunset project is riskier since the Malibu Village community sits directly below the 16990-17000 lots.”

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