Headlines from Around the Westside
by Joe Fasbinder
By Brentwood News February 2013 | February 17, 2013
Police in Brentwood are urging the public to be on the lookout for a burglar who poses as a worker for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, distracting homeowners while his accomplice searches the targeted home for valuables. The duo made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and silverware from a residence in the 600 Block of South Bundy Drive on Jan. 7, and police fear they may be targeting other homes in the area. The phony DWP worker was described as a white man with brown hair, about 40 years old and wearing a blue work uniform.
Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Jon B. Platt has sold the Frank Gehry-designed Schnabel House in Brentwood for $9.5 million. The expansive property includes a main house with a 40-foot-tall entryway, an office, a guesthouse and a garage-and-gym structure with a breezeway. Built in 1989, Platt restored and made improvements to the home, including advanced technology air conditioning, installed in seven different places on the property.
The community councils of Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Mar Vista have joined together to voice support for a controversial citywide ordinance that seeks to regulate group homes and boarding houses. But opponents of the measure include powerful figures like Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and people who live near those group homes, many of whom marched in protest outside the City Council chambers while the measure was being debated. Concerns were made over violence and drug use that has plagued many of the facilities, which exist mainly in residential areas. A final decision on the issue won’t be made until April.
It took 32 Los Angeles firefighters to get a tree trimmer out of a eucalyptus tree, after he got stuck outside a Brentwood home. The identity of the man was not released, though he was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He was also said to be toting a half-full bottle of tequila when he was lowered to the ground after a delicate operation that was complicated by the fact that the tree was on a hillside – making it hard for firefighters to use ladders get to the man. The tree trimmer apparently became entangled in a safety harness while working in the tree.
The Bel-Air Homeowner’s Association is urging residents to be on heightened alert following two burglaries in recent weeks. In one case, the potential robber was scared off by the presence of a housekeeper. In that case, the burglar beat a hasty retreat, empty-handed. The other homeowner, who also has her residence in the 1000 block of Moraga Drive, was not so lucky. She was walking her dog and had failed to lock up her house, allowing a burglar to enter and make off with a substantial amount of jewelry. Both incidents took place in early January.
Construction, always a topic of heated discussion in Southern California, is on the front burner in Pacific Palisades. The West L.A. Planning Commission has failed to reach a decision, despite three hours of debate, on whether to approve or deny an appeal of a Coastal Development Permit for a new, 49-unit apartment complex in Pacific Palisades. The Commission is composed of five members, though only four were on hand for the debate over the future of the Sunset Canyon development at 17030 Sunset Blvd. The vote on the measure was 2-2, meaning that for now, builders have a green light to go ahead with construction on the new housing project.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has mounted an investigation into the death of Patrick O’Dell, who broadsided a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus while driving his motorcycle on Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades on Nov. 20. The decision to investigate the death of the 25-year-old aspiring actor was made on the last day of January, with a safety probe focusing on the western intersection of Marquez Ave. and Sunset. Unlike other vehicles, buses traveling westbound on Sunset are allowed to turn right on Marquez to avoid a triangular traffic divider.
The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club has endorsed City Councilman Eric Garcetti in his bid to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. Club members also considered giving their backing to City Controller Wendy Greuel, 9th District Councilmember Jan Perry and community activist Emanuel Pelitez, but only Garcetti won the 60 percent support needed to seal the endorsement. About 300 people gathered at the Woman’s Club to hear speeches by each of the candidates before members cast their ballots.
New rules have been proposed to govern fitness trainers who use the picturesque parks in Santa Monica as staging grounds for exercise classes. The big worry is that those exercise instructors may be putting the city at a liability risk because they don’t carry insurance that covers classes taking part on city land. The City Council is considering legislation that would compel fitness trainers who use parks and beaches pay a $100 annual fee and turn over 15 percent of their gross revenues to the city. Exercise groups would also have to buy liability insurance.
Twenty-one past, present and future construction projects were on the docket at the most recent meeting of the Santa Monica City Council. Members were told that roughly half of the development projects are in full compliance with directives dealing with how and when construction should take place. Nine other project that have Development Agreements with the city are either under construction, or waiting for the first shovelful of earth to be moved. Parking issues were standing in the way of construction of another project.
Federal prosecutors have charged the owners of a now-closed Santa Monica sushi restaurant and two chefs with serving dishes prepared with the meat of endangered Sei whales. The nine-count indictment that was unsealed in Santa Monica says The Hump restaurant, which is owned by Typhoon Restaurants, Inc., conspired to import and sell meat from Sei whales, which are listed as an endangered species and are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Federal officials were tipped off to the availability of the whale meat by the makers of an Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove,” which mounted an undercover investigation at the restaurant.
After an investigation that lasted nearly two years, Patrick David Salmon is jailed in connection with the slaying of a 16-year-old boy that occurred more than 30 years ago during a home invasion robbery in Santa Monica. Detectives say advances in electronic evidence gathering allowed them to center their investigation on the 53-year-old man, who was taken into custody at his home in Shaker Township, Pennsylvania. He is being held in the Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail, with bail set at $1,050,000.
UCLA researchers have published what amounts to a new excuse for all of us who carry a few extra pounds around our waistlines. Excess body weight might not be entirely the fault of the amount and calorie count of the food you consume. Findings published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism indicate that the way your body reacts to a typical fast-food diet is determined, in a large degree, by your genetic makeup. Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine have even identified several genes they say may control those responses.
Ground has been broken for new facilities in West Los Angeles that will provide therapeutic and supportive housing for chronically homeless veterans. The project will feature 55 new housing units, 45 of which will be single-occupancy. The remaining 10 will give shelter to two persons each. The site of the new construction is on the grounds of the Veterans Administration’s West L.A. Medical Center.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield had a special treat for Southern Californians during the early days of his current mission aboard the International Space Station. Hadfield has been using Twitter to send back photos of the earth from his position in orbit, including a nice, clear view of Westwood, and other parts of the Los Angeles Basin. In the words of a tweet that accompanied the photograph, "Los Angeles, CA. The grey of pavement and dense population is visible from Earth orbit."
The Los Angeles City Council has voted 14-0 to give the go-ahead to a $2 billion makeover of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, in the heart of Century City. The decision came after more than two years of debate on the impact the project would have on surrounding neighborhoods, and what construction might do to traffic in the heavily congested area. Council members voted unanimously to certify the project’s Environmental Impact Report and to give approval to construction that is expected to stretch out over 15 years. The site encompasses six acres and development will cover 1.5 million square feet of mixed use development.
Police have arrested a vendor on the scenic Ocean Front Walk in Venice, for allegedly hitting an officer in the mouth after the seller became belligerent over signing a citation. Police say the vendor was selling commercially made hats and key chains when a Pacific Division police officer approached him to issue a citation – the vendor apparently didn’t have proper permits and permission to sell his products on the narrow strip of pavement that separates building projects from the sand at the oceanfront. Police didn’t reveal the name of the suspect, but said he had been cited numerous times in the past for similar infractions.
Police are looking for whoever planted a powerful pipe bomb in a self-service news stand outside a Jack n’ the Box on Overland Ave. at Venice Blvd. The improvised explosive device tore the metal stand to shreds and sent shrapnel flying over a wide area, but caused no injuries because the blast occurred so early in the morning. An employee of the fast-food restaurant was arriving at the start of his shift at about 6:30 a.m. Dec. 12 when he heard the explosion, but did not see anyone fleeing the scene.
The captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Malibu/Lost Hills station is facing serious sexual misconduct charges. Capt. Joseph Stephan has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of an inquiry into charges by a deputy that he made unwanted sexual advances. The name of the complainant is being withheld because the charges deal with sexual conduct while officers were on duty.
MARINA DEL REY
Medical marijuana is legal in California, right? Not right. It is still a violation of federal law to possess or use cannabis, even for people with a legitimate medical need. That was the lesson that was introduced by a knock at the door of Ironworks dispensary in Marina del Rey, where an undisclosed amount of marijuana was seized, in a raid that netted no arrests. The crackdown by agents of the national government in early January also saw search warrants exercised at several other medical marijuana facilities in and around Los Angeles.
Members of the West Hollywood City Council have grudgingly agreed to put a measure on the city’s March ballot that, if approved by voters, would limit council members to three, four-year terms in office. Activists have been canvassing neighborhoods to seek support for the measure, which is aimed primarily at unseating city leaders who have allowed extensive housing development in the city. All but one of the City Council members has been in office for more than a decade.
The celebrity-centric real estate firm known as The Agency has been named as the seller for baseball legend Barry Bonds’ Beverly Hills home. The faux Italian Villa sprawls over 17,100 square feet, and includes seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and a two-story guest house. Patios and verandas abound, and the property even includes an outdoor kitchen with a full wet bar and a pizza oven. The asking price for the home and property is $25 million.
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