Isn't it nice to know that there are celebrities who are still willing to stick up for the safety of their neighbors? The Planning and Land Use Committee of the City Council today spent two hours discussing (but not deciding on) the curious case of Joe and Orit Picker, neighbors of American Cinema's Shia LeBeouf. The pair built a 120 foot long wall around their property on the 3900 block of Deervale Drive in Sherman Oaks to prevent what has become a constant stream of LaBeouf-seeking paparazzi from entering the property. LaBeouf says he supports the wall. But someone call the mayor, because the seven foot wall exceeds city building codes, which only allow walls up to three and a half feet, or as Councilmember Paul Krekorian put it in the PLUM hearing today, "We don't simply allow people to build fences for privacy reasons."
After the wall was built, the zoning administrator denied an application for the Pickers to keep using it and eventually Councilmember Paul Koretz got involved, using a "245" charter rule to allow the City Council to assume quasi-judicial powers in lieu of the Area Planning Commission. Still with us?
The Pickers and their lawyer spent this afternoon's hearing making a case that the zoning administrator did not consider right of way, compatibility with the neighborhood, uniqueness of the property, or the additional nuisance inherent with the property when denying the use of the fence. LeBeouf, for his part, made it clear that there are substantial nuisances inherent to being his neighbor by sending a letter to the PLUM Committee supporting the Pickers. According to the letter, "There are also occasional potentially violent stalkers" who attempt to view LaBeouf's backyard and photograph him.
According the Sherman Oaks Patch, Elke Heitmeyer of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association has more of a problem with the effect of the wall on the neighborhood: "It looks like the Great Wall of China." The Pickers, however, have signed documents from all of the neighbors around their property saying they're fine with the wall.
After the marathon session today, the committee punted the vote to the full City Council without making a recommendation in order to allow time for Koretz to work out a deal for his constituents. The full Council will have to hear the case by next Tuesday, so expect this little drama to continue this Friday or on Tuesday next week.
· Shia LaBeouf Defends Neighbors' Wall as Protection Against 'Stalkers' [Sherman Oaks Patch]
· Mayor's Fence Watch [Curbed LA]