June 5, 2008
Chabad, Getty and neighbors square off over Palisades school plan
(Page 2 - Previous Page)The Getty is disputing that right, and Fox's May 9 memo states, "The road is Getty property subject to, among other things, our conditional-use permit."
Another conflict involves whether or not Gladden's building -- the site of the new preschool -- sits on Getty-owned property. When Gladden constructed the building, according to Lacy, the Getty informed him that the boundary was "the fence." And an architectural drawing from that period shows Gladden's building 10 feet from "the fence."
However, a survey that the Getty conducted in 1999 as part of its expansion marks the boundary 13 feet inside what Gladden assumed was the property line, putting the building -- three feet along the building's entire length, on the side paralleling the service road -- on Getty property.
Still, whatever the case, the issue is resolvable, according to Reznik. "That building is a moveable, mobile building. What's the big deal?" he said.
Ideally, Cunin said, he would like to access the building through the parking lot of the Mormon Church, which is next door and which would entail merely creating a small gate in the already existing fence. Cunin's request, however, was turned down by church officials in Salt Lake City in an e-mail sent May 27, according to Keith Atkinson, West Coast spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"It is not our practice to encumber our property to enable our neighbors to obtain conditional-use permits. It puts our property at a certain liability. It doesn't serve our members well and doesn't serve the neighbors well," Atkinson said.
And while stating that the Mormon Church prized its relationship with the Jewish community, Atkinson cited "a multiplicity of sensitivities" in the neighborhood.
Cunin is appealing to "higher levels" within the church. He is also hopeful that Chabad can create a partnership with the Getty.
At the same time, Cunin has given assurances that students will not enter through Gladden's property on Bellino Drive. "That never was our intention," he said. Still, Chabad staff, parents and workers have used it, and will continue to use it, until the Los Liones Drive entrance is secured, according to Cunin.
Kim Clary, president of the Castellammare Mesa Home Owners Association, said that neighbors are "greatly relieved" that access will not be through Bellino Drive. Still, the homeowners are concerned about increased noise, which Clary describes as "like a megaphone coming up" for neighbors who live on the ridge above Gladden's building.
The residents say they are also worried about increased traffic, especially at the already dangerously congested intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Los Liones Drive, where the Westside Waldorf School, which relocated to the south side of Sunset Boulevard in fall 2006, agreed to erect a traffic light.
"We don't really want a school in this neighborhood at all. We're worried about the safety of the kids," Clary said.
Area City Councilman Rosendahl has met with Cunin. He has also met with community members, assuring them that he sent a group of building inspectors to the location and that thus far Cunin has not required permits for any work that has been done. He also said that Cunin has assured him that he intends -- and has always intended -- to go through proper licensing and permitting processes.
"This is basically a school looking for a home," Rosendahl said, making clear that he is not taking a position. He said he sees his role as that of an "honest broker," ensuring that all parties feel empowered and heard as Chabad proceeds along what Rosendahl calls "the public, open and transparent process" of seeking a conditional-use permit.
Meanwhile, Palisades Jewish Early Childhood Center will hold its final day at the Temescal Gateway Park location on June 19. The six-week summer session, beginning July 1, is slated to take place, as it has every summer, at Palisades Elementary School.
Chabad remains open for enrollment. If necessary, Cunin said, he will find a temporary site to begin the fall session on Sept. 4, but he is hoping to have the permit process completed in time to use the new facility.
Gladden, the non-Jewish property owner, told Cunin that when the Getty's lease ended, he had been looking to use his building for a spiritual purpose.
"I told God, whoever needs it will come knocking," Gladden told Cunin the day that Cunin actually came knocking on his door, trying to find the building's owner.
"Every problem we have is an opportunity for growth," Gladden said in an interview. "I know that right will prevail, that everything will work out for everybody's good."
Cunin and students at the current preschool at Temescal Gateway Park. Photo by Jane Ulman
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