City Halts Controversial ‘Remodel’ on Bollinger

By Sue Pascoe

Case #DIR-2016-1307-CDP. How did the of City of Los Angeles not notice that the plans posted for a remodel on a house in the Marquez Knolls area did not match the ensuing construction? Good question.

The house at 16815 Bollinger sold in June 2015 for $2.15 million to Helios Distressed R.E. Ventures LLC of Portland, Maine. Christopher Rhoades and Andrew Preston are principals.

The purchase was made from Palisades resident Tony Ramsey, who also sold Helios the plans for the proposed remodel of the 2,062-sq.-ft. 4-bedroom house, situated on 7,887 sq. ft.

Construction on 16815 Bollinger was stopped for lack of proper permit.
Construction on 16815 Bollinger was stopped for lack of proper permit.

On September 8, 2015, a demolition permit was issued for the garage on the property. Instead, the entire house, including the garage, was torn down.

Neighbors went to L.A. city inspectors and told them the posted notice said it was a remodel and that according to the zoning code, a remodel is defined as “the alteration of an existing building or structure, provided that at least 50 percent of the perimeter length of the contiguous exterior walls and 50 percent of the roof are retained.” Neighbors told the Palisades News that the inspector dismissed their concerns and said a building was a remodel even if one stud wall was left.

Framing started on the new house/garage and neighbors watched as the structure soon towered over existing homes. Residents contacted the city with concerns via a website in late December, but there was no response.

Three weeks later, neighbors saw on the website that their complaints had been dismissed and the case closed.

Neighbors continued to reach out to the city and went to Councilman Mike Bonin’s office. In April, construction stopped with the notice that it was being done without permits or inspections.

Bonin’s office was contacted and spokesperson David Graham-Caso told the News: “Our planning team looked into the work at the address you sent. The project was originally given a Coastal Exemption because it was considered a remodel, but as you note, the work was more extensive than that and the site’s developers were asked to file for a Coastal Development Permit (which they did last month). The next step is a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.”

Graham-Caso was asked by the News how the project could have gone forward when the permit did not match the construction. He responded,“From what I can tell through conversations with colleagues about the project, this situation was the result of confusion between city departments and the multiple owners of the property.

“When the contractor started doing work on the property, they discovered that it needed some foundation work to provide additional support, which required more extensive work, and thus more thorough permits than had originally been issued. The Planning Department wasn’t notified of the more extensive work, however, until after construction had already began.

“The owner who originally sought permits for the site sold the property, so I’m not sure if the owner did not tell the Planning Department about the more extensive work on purpose, or if it was simple confusion by the new owner who assumed the permits granted for the site were adequate, or if the Planning Department and Building and Safety Department didn’t communicate effectively about the new work at the site (or if it was some combination of the above). Alan Como has been assigned the case in the Planning Department.”

The News spoke to Ramsey, who said the plans the city had were for a remodel.

The News contacted Como to ask what recourse do residents have if the posted permit does not match what is being done? And how could such a mistake happen that a city inspector didn’t have the plans in hand while at a site?

He did not respond by presstime.

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