L.A. City Council backs effort to block Bulgari development

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday moved to try to block a developer’s planned luxury hotel in Benedict Canyon amid opposition from environmental groups and the council member who represents the hillside neighborhood.

On a 8-6 vote, the council backed Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky’s motion asking the city’s planning director to intervene and consider stopping the proposed Bulgari Resort Los Angeles.

Developer Gary Safady’s planned 58-room hotel is already going through the city’s environmental review process after clearing an initial city planning hurdle several years ago. However, the resort hasn’t been approved by the City Council and would need another vote once its environmental review is done.

Yaroslavsky argues that the hotel is inappropriate for the Santa Monica Mountains, particularly amid the growing threat of hillside fires. She has spent the last several months trying to halt the project from continuing through the review phase.

“The last thing we should be doing is putting a hotel smack in the middle of a high-fire-severity zone,” Yaroslavsky said. “Simply put, it is the wrong project in the wrong location and shouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place.”

The council’s action Wednesday doesn’t stop the development but instead asks city Planning Director Vince Bertoni to intervene and rescind the initiation of a General Plan amendment.

Shortly after Wednesday’s vote, the Planning Department said in a statement it “will carefully consider” the council’s request.

“The department will review a number of factors, including those cited in the City Council motion and during council deliberation, and render a decision,” the statement said.

Yaroslavsky previously brought her motion to the council this spring, but her colleagues deadlocked, so another vote was needed. Some members had expressed concern about intervening during a project’s environmental review.

Councilmember Traci Park, who represents the Westside, voted for the motion Wednesday after voting against it in May.

Park told the council that she’d spoken to “constituents from across the hillsides, including many from my own district — residents who care deeply about our natural resources and who worry about the precedent that this project sets for the health of our Santa Monica Mountains.”

Safady, the developer of the planned resort, and dozens of construction workers who came to Wednesday’s meeting in support of the project gathered outside the council chambers after the vote. Safady said the fight wasn’t over and “now it’s on the mayor’s office.”

Anne-Marie Otey, communications and editorial director of the Los Angeles /Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, also spoke to the workers and told them to reach out to the council members, including Councilmember Tim McOsker.

She told the workers that McOsker, a harbor-area council member who won election last year, is “supposed to be one of ours.”

“We’re looking to him to continue to be a supporter of organized labor,” Otey told The Times in a brief interview. “We supported him strongly in his efforts to be elected.”

A representative of Mayor Karen Bass’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Bass opposed the proposed resort last year on the campaign trail, as did Yaroslavsky.