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Upgrades to La Cañada home must come down

After losing appeal, local couple must demolish improvements to their home.

March 06, 2014|By Sara Cardine, sara.cardine@latimes.com
  • A local couple will have to demolish several costly building upgrades made to their Greenridge Drive home without permits from the citys Planning Commission, after losing an appeal before the La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Monday, March 3, 2014.
A local couple will have to demolish several costly building… (City of La Cañada…)

A local couple will have to demolish several costly building upgrades made to their Greenridge Drive home without permits from the city’s Planning Commission, after losing an appeal before the La Cañada Flintridge City Council Monday night.

The Planning Commission reported Shaker and Shatha Eissa increased the area of their house by more than 1,500 square feet, enclosing a patio and adding second-story footage that broached city rules about maintaining a roof line angle of 45 degrees or less.

They also built a 15-foot retaining wall, multiple decks, a sport court and several outdoor recreation areas in and along their backyard.

Planning officials said large parts of the project would never have been approved even if appropriate permits had been sought. They also said construction continued despite three “stop work” orders issued in 2008 and 2009.

A report presented by city assistant planner Harriet Harris said that over the course of the last two years, "staff worked with the applicant and his architect to determine what was done without permits and to complete drawings that reflected all the improvements that were done on the site.”

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After three public hearings to sort things out, the Planning Commission determined on Nov. 12 the project could only be partially approved. The housing additions and the sport court, built partially on filled soil, were denied.

On Dec. 9, the Eissas appealed the denials, opting instead for a ruling from the City Council.

Members of the Eissa family were present at Monday’s meeting but did not speak, allowing attorney Kevin McDonnell, of the law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell, to speak for them.

“(My client) is not a developer. He is not a builder — he’s inexperienced in these things, and clearly that inexperience led to things getting out of hand,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said the house was originally zoned as “existing nonconforming,” meaning it had never met zoning parameters. He said neighbors approved the project and were against demolition, challenged the Planning Commission’s determination of the additional square footage and said the changes were not visible from the street.

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