SCOTTISH RITE RULING CURBS OCCUPANCY; 25-YEAR BATTLE ENDS
September 29, 2006
After months of delays and appeals, the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Center, 4357 Wilshire Blvd., received an order on Sept. 20 forbidding the leasee to lease the building for commercial use.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien signed a judgment which revokes the building’s certificate of occupancy.
Windsor Square Association president Michael Genewick said, “at last the long-awaited enforcement of the zoning laws is taking place. Some neighbors have been enduring these violations for more than 25 years, so enforcement is long overdue.”
Genewick praised efforts by the city, especially the city attorney’s office, for its efforts to “thwart the Scottish Rite tenant’s ceaseless attempts to delay the final judgment day.”
Genewick added, “City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and his lawyers in the Land Use Division are to be thanked for resisting the delaying tactics of the Scottish Rite and its lawyers.
“There are many allowable uses for this Park Mile property, and the surrounding communities hope the Scottish Rite will work with the city and other to use its property in one of the many allowable legal ways,” he added.
O’Brien signed a judgment in each of two Scottish Rite cases pending since 2004 and 2005.
In the first case, Los Angeles Scottish Rite Center LLC had challenged the conditions by the city to cease holding public events because the building was not being operated in compliance with the zoning restrictions.
Complaints about these zoning violations date back to the early 1980s, and the building’s owners previously were issued corrective conditions by the city in 1993.
Rather than comply in 1993, the owners closed the building and continued to conduct Scottish Rite activities in West Los Angeles. In 2002, the empty building was leased to the for-profit Scottish Rite Center entity, which rented out the building for commercial events in violation of the zoning law as well as the 1993 conditions.
These problems led to numerous city citations and extensive public hearings, followed by the imposition by the city of the revised conditions in April, 2004.
In the second case, the same Scottish Rite lessee challenged the city’s 2005 revocation action.
The city’s 2005 revocation order was issued, again after extensive public hearings, because the owners had failed to comply with the city’s 2004 corrective conditions and because the nuisance activities continued.
Enforcement of the 2005 revocation had been delayed for the past year while the lawsuits were pending.
The city’s Department of Building and Safety is expected to seek compliance with the city’s original revocation order, which means that no further activities can be undertaken within the building without a certificate of occupancy.