Koretz backs reapproval of Sherman Oaks synagogue
L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz told a land-use committee Tuesday that he had no objection to moving forward with expansion of a Sherman Oaks synagogue that is taking a second lap through City Hall for approval and has sparked bitter debate.
Based on that opinion, members of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted 2-0 to move the project to the full council for a vote Wednesday. Committee member Mitchell Englander was absent.
Koretz, through his planning deputy Shawn Bayliss, told Councilmen Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes that changes to the project approved by the full council in June 2009 were not significant enough to warrant sending it back to a zoning administrator for further review.
The council in 2009 approved a 12,000-square-foot expansion for Chabad of North Hollywood, slightly larger than the 10,300-square-foot design approved by a zoning official. Neighbors opposed to the project's size sued and eventually won a Court of Appeal decision ordering the council to reconsider its approval.
At Tuesday's hearing, residents living near the Chandler Boulevard property argued for and against the project.
Julia Granovitz said the bigger building is necessary to accommodate a growing congregation. In recent years, her daughter refused to go to Sabbath because she had to stand in the back, Granovitz said.
"Families should be able to sit together to pray,'' she told committee members.
Opponents said they had no problem with a growing Orthodox presence in their community. But the size of the temple, which is half-built, is just too big for the residential neighborhood, they said.
"I welcome them to my neighborhood,'' said Rudy Nunez, who has lived on Chandler Boulevard for 37 years. "But I oppose the size."
Jubilant chabad members clapped after the vote. Neighbors who are against it said they would continue the fight at tomorrow's council hearing.
-- Catherine Saillant
Photo: Neighbors of an expansion of Chabad sued the city over the size of the 12,000-square-foot, 28-foot-tall building at the corner of Chandler Boulevard and Ethel Avenue. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times