Los Angeles city officials on Wednesday halted efforts by a real estate developer to build a luxury resort on the side of a mountain in Benedict Canyon.
Planning Director Vincent Bertoni informed developer Gary Safady that the city was revoking its approval allowing Safady to build a 58-room hotel.
The move marks a dramatic end to Safady’s efforts to build the Bulgari Resort Los Angeles, a project that divided Benedict Canyon residents but enjoyed strong corporate and labor support.
Safady’s attorney, Mike Gatto, said his client had invested millions of dollars in the hotel project, which has been in the works for six years. The decision to halt the project “sends a message to anyone looking to invest in Los Angeles: the city cannot be trusted to follow its own rules,” Gatto said.
Safady’s hotel was undergoing an environmental assessment after overcoming an initial urban planning hurdle several years ago. The developer envisioned dozens of bungalows, a sushi restaurant, a spa and a screening room for hotel guests. He also wanted to build eight houses on the property ranging from 12,000 to 48,000 square feet each.
The 50 to 70 employees who would work at the hotel would be transported down the canyon road through an employee carpool program, Safady said.
Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Benedict Canyon, argued a hotel was not appropriate for the sensitive Santa Monica Mountains region, especially amid the growing threat of hillside fires . During her campaign for city council last year, she spoke out on development.
After initially failing to convince his colleagues to try to close the hotel earlier this year, Yaroslavsky got enough votes last month. Council voted 8 to 6 to ask the city’s planning director to intervene.
In a letter sent to Safady on Wednesday, Bertoni wrote that a hillside hotel “would be inappropriate” for the project site, which includes “areas of sensitive habitats and areas that may harbor protected or endangered species.” disappearance “.
“Although the Department of Planning anticipated some impacts to the area, the extent of the impacts revealed by the initial study and further identified through technical reports and in consultation with the California Department of Fisheries and of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, is far greater than originally anticipated,” Bertoni wrote, adding that the hotel would also conflict with other urban planning goals.
Yaroslavsky, in a statement, thanked Bertoni for his action.
“This is a monumental victory for our mountains and sends a clear message that our hills are worth defending,” Yaroslavsky said.
The proposed luxury hotel had enemies and fans, including Save Our Canyons, which opposed the project, and Enhance Our Canyon, which defended it.
“This is great news,” Mark Levin, a Benedict Canyon resident and founder of Save Our Canyons, said Wednesday. “It restores all of our collective trust in local government.”
The decision of the town hall to stop a project while it is still in the examination phase is rare but not unprecedented. In 2016, the city blocked a developer from implementing a project to install hundreds of apartments along the Cahuenga Pass.
Yaraoslavsky said she expects Safady to take legal action.
The leader of a group representing construction workers criticized the city’s decision in a statement.
“This action kills jobs. Plain and simple,” Ernesto Medrano, executive secretary of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Los Angeles/Orange Counties, said in a statement.
Gatto, the former state deputy who represents Safady, said Wednesday that “the planning director’s decision is a direct response to a politician’s campaign promise. It is legally unprecedented.
California Daily Newspapers