City Stops Hampden Place Construction

By Sue Pascoe

Construction on two houses along Hampden Place, a street on the edge of Potrero Canyon, was initially halted on January 17 for failing to have an erosion-control plan in place. Plastic sheeting and sandbags were placed on the property, but no further activity was noted.

Now, construction is stopped because according to a March 6 letter posted on the fence of 712 and 714 Hampden Place, permits were issued in error and there is an intent to revoke the building permit.

Located off Swarthmore, one-way Hampden loops from just south of Village School, overlooks Patterson Place homes and Potrero Canyon, and returns to Swarthmore.

Trees and vegetation were removed, leaving the slope prone to slides. Photo: Bart Bartholomew

According to the Department of Building and Safety, one home, at 712 Hampden Place, is permitted for 4,279 sq. ft with a 420-sq.-ft. attached garage, and the second at 724 is permitted for 7,485 sq. ft. with a 400-sq.-ft. garage. Both projects are permitted for swimming pools. Property owner Ali Pourmola was notified that his property, which is in the R1 zone, in a designated hillside area, is subject to the baseline hillside ordinance. The city had three issues with the plans:

1. LAMC Section 12.21.C10(a) a front yard setback of 20 feet or 20 percent of the lot depth is required for the main building. The prevailing front yard setback in the plans was incorrect.

2. LAMC Section 12.21.C.10.(a).(11).(ii) states that lots fronting on a substandard street—elevated stairways, porches, platforms and landing places shall not project into the front yard. This project had an elevated platform/fill area and parking area in the front yard, which is not allowed.

3. LAMC Section 91.7006.7.5 requires a haul route if more than 1,000 cubic yards of soil is removed from a grading site. “Based on accurate verification of the grading amounts, it appears that the actual export is more than 1,000 cubic yards and the projects require a Haul Route approval,” according to the notice to stop construction.

Last summer, neighbors had contacted the City of L.A. asking why there was no haul route hearing because the total dirt to be excavated was more than 1,000 cubic yards. Pourmola’s hired expediter, Steven Somers, told his client that the L.A. Department of Building and Safety determined that a haul route would be required. But a way to circumvent a hearing and haul route approval (which generally take about nine months) would be to sell the property. Subsequently, Pourmola gave one of the lots to Fahad Vakil.

At an October meeting arranged by Councilman Mike Bonin’s District Director Debbie Dyner-Harris, neighbors argued that there should have been a haul-route hearing. It appears the city now agrees.

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