Active settlement negotiations are under way among the Lincoln Place Tenants Association, landlord AIMCO, and the other parties to the consolidated Lincoln Place Litigation Cases pending in Los Angeles Superior Court. Court records indicate that AIMCO lawyers on March 23 filed a stipulation and order regarding the filing, under seal, of a document entitled “Settlement/Main Deal Points with the Tenants” dated March 20. A court hearing is scheduled next Thursday, May 7, to report on settlement progress, and the many-faceted litigation is being abated pending the settlement talks.The parties have been negotiating since February pursuant to a Mandatory Settlement Conference ordered by the court. Tenants’ lawyer John Murdock declined comment on the confidential discussions, but a tenants’ association bulletin referred to its ongoing “effort to craft a settlement that will bring fairness, peace, and closure after many years of conflict.” A knowledgeable source said that “things are moving forward” and the tenants group is “optimistic.”Neighborhood Council MeetsThe subjects that generated the most heat at the April 21 meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) were three “discussion only” items on which the Council took no action but which will remain hot topics in the community: the proliferation of medical marijuana clinics in Venice; the expansion of qualified stakeholders to include “factual basis” voters; and the consideration of “mass, scale, and character” limitations on building projects.Challis Macpherson, who chairs the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC), requested the Council to deliberate upon the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood, which are not only numerous but are also located close to schools and residences. Since the City of Los Angeles imposed a moratorium on new clinics effective September 2007, it has been reported that “hundreds” of illegal dispensaries have sprung up.Many Venetians are concerned about the concentration of such illegal clinics in their community. Macpherson noted that most clinics open in locations that were previously retail, and so there is no “change of use” that would bring the event within LUPC jurisdiction, and thus she brought the matter to the whole Council. The L.A. moratorium is due to expire on September 14, by which time the City intends to have new permanent regulations in place to govern medical marijuana.At one point, Council Secretary Joe Murphy asked for a show of hands from those who favored outright legalization of marijuana, and a substantial majority of the roughly 40 in the audience raised their hands, causing Murphy to observe – at least partly in jest – “Are we asking the right question?”Stakeholders entitled to vote in Neighborhood Council elections and serve on the Council have been limited to “everyone who lives, works or owns property in the area (stakeholders)” according to the Los Angeles City Charter and the bylaws of the VNC and other neighborhood councils. Then, on February 20, the L.A. City Council amended that requirement to also include “those who declare a stake in the neighborhood and affirm the factual basis for it.”The VNC on April 21 discussed taking action to urge the repeal of this amendment, citing ambiguity as to a working definition of such “factual basis” stakeholders. It was reported that the VNC has not been flooded with input requests from “factual basis” stakeholders, and there was some sentiment for making one seat on the 21-member Council available to “factual basis” stakeholders.The final item on the agenda was a proposal from stakeholder Jed Pauker “on behalf of neighbors” to direct LUPC to consider “mass, scale, and character” compatibility of building projects. Council members noted that the introduction of such subjective standards, often discussed before, might open a veritable can of worms, and there seemed to be a consensus among the Council and Pauker that the subject should receive community-wide consideration.The matter was referred to Macpherson, Murphy, and Pauker to craft a more defined proposal to be considered at the May 19 Council meeting.
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