Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Court of Appeal:
Production Studio Properly Approved for ‘Open Space’ Area
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has spurned the bid of a group of local residents who are seeking to block the construction of a 10-acre movie and television production studio in the community of Sun Valley in the City of Los Angeles, rejecting the contention that such a use is inconsistent with the “open space” designation on the community plan map.
Div. Three on Monday affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin Jr.’s denial of a petition for a writ of mandate filed by 18 homeowners who contested the Los Angeles City Council’s approval of the project. The group is bucking efforts of Sixth District Council Member Nury Martinez, who represents the area and is promoting the development, as well as the push by Mayor Eric Garcetti to keep the entertainment industry from further drifting from the city.
Planning Commission’s View
Prior to action by the city council, the city’s planning commission gave its approval, finding:
“Motion picture production is known to be the City of Los Angeles’ trademark throughout the world. Permitting the use will be proper with the city and local support industries. Television and film production is a vital industry for the Los Angeles region....The studio use will provide employment, security, community activity, and new positive image to the Sun Valley Community.”
The residents’ writ petition sets forth that unless relief is granted, “when residents of this quiet neighborhood look up, they will see a towering 54- and 74-foot film and television production studio facility and party/event rental warehouse building.”
On appeal, the residents argued that “open space” means the land must remain “essentially free of structures or buildings.”
Writing for the panel, Presiding Justice Lee Edmon declared that “development of a film and television studio on land designated as ‘open space’ is not inconsistent with the Community Plan.”
She explained that “open space” on a community plan map is “a term of art that refers to land that may be zoned either ‘open space’ or ‘agricultural’ and on which specific categories of development are permitted.”
The project in issue, Edmon said, is planned for a parcel that is the site of a former quarry which is zoned for “agricultural” uses.
“Among the categories of development permitted on parcels designated as ‘open space’ and zoned ‘agricultural’ are ‘motion picture and television studios and related incidental uses,’ if approved by the City Planning Commission or the City Council,” jurist said, citing a municipal code section, and adding:
“Because the City thus had discretion to approve the film and television studio project, and because it made the findings required by the Community Plan and the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the trial court did not err in denying the petition for writ of mandate.”
Former Actor’s Company
The company that wants to build the production facility is Line 204, of which former actor Alton Butler II is founder/chief executive. The Daily News has quoted him as saying of the project:
“This would be bringing jobs back to Los Angeles, which doesn’t just help the film industry but helps local businesses.”
Sun Valley is located north of North Hollywood and northeast of Van Nuys.
The case is Munyan v. City of Los Angeles, B279972.
Noel Weiss was the attorney on appeal for the residents; representing the city were Deputy Los Angeles City Attorneys Amy Brothers and Donna Wong, joined by Amrit S. Kulkarni and Julia L. Bond of Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson; Edward J. Casey and Andrea Warren of Alston & Bird LLP put forth the position of Line 204, LLC, and Butler.
Copyright 2018, Metropolitan News Company