No Historic Status for Apartments The city Cultural Heritage Commission was unable to reach a conclusion on a bid to designate the Chase Knolls Apartments in Sherman Oaks as a historic cultural monument. The issue will now go before the L.A. City Council without a recommendation. The panel listened to two hours of public testimony before voting 2 to 1 to support the historic designation. Because two of the panel members were absent, the committee did not get the three votes it needed for a recommendation to the council. If the structure were deemed a monument, developer Legacy Partners would be blocked, at least temporarily, from demolishing the building and replacing it with luxury apartments. Tenants in the mostly rent-controlled complex have fought the proposal, saying the 1940s-era structure is a historically significant building. Councilman Mike Feuer sponsored the designation application and told the commission that the 260 apartments built in 1949 are part of the Garden City movement of design, which provided working-class families with affordable housing surrounding large courtyards of green lawns and trees. Redevelopment Panel Disbands Members of a Northeast Valley redevelopment advisory panel voted 12-4 to disband, saying they were hopelessly deadlocked. After the vote, a fistfight broke out at the hearing and police had to handcuff three audience speakers. No one was arrested. Critics and members of the city Project Advisory Committee said the group has been unable to make progress on redevelopment plans in the Northeast Valley for the six months it has been in existence. Some argued that the panel is powerless in the redevelopment process because Councilman Alex Padilla proposed barring the group from using eminent domain power to evict property owners in redevelopment zones. Some critics are questioning whether Padilla purposely sought to disband the panel so he could appoint a more agreeable group. With the current committee gone, Padilla has the authority to appoint replacements. The City Council must still approve the panel’s vote to disband. The Price of Secession The Los Angeles City Council approved a legal finding that new cities formed by the secession of the San Fernando Valley or Harbor areas might have to make payments to Los Angeles as the price of breaking away. The city voted 10-4 to give the City Attorney’s Office permission to submit the opinion to the Local Agency Formation Committee, the agency setting the rules for a potential city breakup. Council members who opposed the measure said it would force residents of areas seceding from Los Angeles to pay for services that they don’t receive. But members who approved the decision said it simply upholds a principle under state law that a section of a city or county cannot break off without compensating residents of what’s left behind for any losses. LAFCO will review the city’s opinion as it studies secession. The agency can put a secession proposal before voters only if it concludes that it wouldn’t harm residents in either jurisdiction. Judge Halts Newhall Ranch A Kern County judge blocked development of the giant Newhall Ranch project until developer Newhall Land and Farming Co. addresses concerns about the project having an adequate water supply. Newhall Ranch is the largest residential development ever proposed in L.A. County, with 21,615 homes planned for the Santa Clarita area along the Ventura County border. Ventura County, the Sierra Club and others have filed a number of lawsuits against L.A. County’s approval of the development, asserting that traffic and environmental impacts would be excessive, and the project’s water supply would be insufficient. The judge ruled that Newhall Land’s environmental impact report didn’t adequately address water issues and that the development could negatively impact the Santa Clara River. The judge also ruled that the EIR did not adequately address the potential traffic impacts on Ventura County roadways. Newhall Land officials said the company will take about a year to address the issues and it would push development back to 2003. Shortly after the ruling, Newhall Land officials announced they had discovered the San Fernando Valley Spineflower, thought to be extinct, and an endangered toad on the project site, which could also push back the project’s timetable.