The residents at the Sunset and Gordon tower in Hollywood are packing their bags and moving out for good after the city invalidated the building’s permits and temporary certificate of occupancy on Sept. 9. The California 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of a 2014 order requiring all occupants of the 22-story apartment building to vacate, drawing a three-year lawsuit to a close.
The La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the building owners, CIM Group, for razing the façade of the Old Spaghetti Factory. CIM Group was supposed to maintain and preserve the façade of the building, La Mirada alleges, but instead tore it down without the proper permits.
In 2014, the Los Angeles Board of Building and Safety Commissioners invalidated occupancy permits for the building, ordering it to be vacated. An appellate court then issued a stay, allowing tenants to remain in their apartments while the court issued a ruling.
Following the court’s decision to uphold the original decision last week, CIM Group issued eviction notices to its 51 tenants over the weekend. Previous orders to comply from the department of building and safety allowed tenants seven days to vacate the premises, so the newly evicted tenants may be out of the building by this weekend, according to David Lara, assistant inspection bureau chief and public information officer for the department of building and safety.
“Just like any order, though, they do have the right to appeal,” Lara added.
CIM Group maintains that it met all conditions from the city and its agencies including permits, inspections and approvals from the building and safety department.
“We are disappointed with the appeal court ruling on Sept. 9 because we believe it creates an unfounded legal precedent and bad policy that usurps the authority of the responsible city agencies. In light of the ruling, CIM has made a difficult decision, requesting our residents to relocate, shuttering the building and closing the new public park,” CIM Group said in a statement.
CIM Group said the closing of the building and accompanying park adversely affects residents and the community. They had no comment on future plans for the building.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said the Sunset and Gordon building is a glaring example of the problem when large businesses or residential buildings sit empty in Hollywood.
“What I focus on is making sure the developer gets the building permitted legally and moves forward without this cloud of uncertainty for all future tenants. The silver lining is that the only way they’ll be able to title that building is to title it with an affordable housing bonus. At the end of the day, we may end up with units that are available to low and moderate income families,” O’Farrell said.
If the company were to come up with an alternate proposal for the space, it would have to be presented and approved through the court, according to Lara. In addition, they would have to go through the entire permit approval and environmental impact report process again.
Doug Haines, of the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association, said he is not confident the city will be effective in enforcing codes moving forward with this or other developments.
“I don’t know that this is going to provide an example for other instances, as we had hoped,” Haines said. “The city doesn’t seem to have an effective understanding of enforcing the laws or punishing those who break them.”
A similar scenario played out last year when a judge ordered a stop on construction on a Target store that takes up an entire block in Hollywood. The project sits unfinished at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue after the permits for the project were overturned. Currently, the Target project is in litigation in the court of appeal.
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