Case against 24 Hour Fitness dismissed

Judge says argument against the planned Super Sport location 'grossly mischaracterizes' any actual findings.

December 22, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed a case that could have required more hoops for a planned 24 Hour Fitness on West Empire Avenue.

Burbank Athletic Club owner Greg Bedrossian and longtime city critic Mike Nolan sued in late June to block the city from allowing the 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport. They argued that the city failed to comply with its own review procedures and ignored potential parking problems related to the proposed gym.

But Superior Court Judge Ann Jones dismissed those claims, finding that the pair's argument "grossly mischaracterizes the actual findings in the case."


City spokesman Keith Sterling said the ruling was a vindication of the process.

"We are pleased the court recognized that the City Council acted properly within their jurisdiction and that their decisions to grant development review, a parking variance and a height conditional use permit were supported by substantial evidence," he said.

The City Council approved the final permits in May after reopening the public hearing. The need for a variance for the width of parking spaces, agreements to maintain a specific amount of space for retail and babysitting services, and prohibitions on who could use the rooftop basketball court were eliminated from the proposal.

During the public hearing in May, 24 Hour Fitness representative Jerry Newman indicated the location will now be converted to a Super Sport, which has a higher membership price point.

"It [will] have limited membership to those who are established within the specific facility, thereby reducing traffic," Newman said.

Bedrossian disagreed and argued that the location's poor design was not conducive to any type of sports club.

"As far as traffic mitigation measures, turning it to a Super Sport club versus a sports club, I think just the location intrinsically has an issue with traffic," Bedrossian said during the final public hearing for the project.

Expanding the size of the parking spaces to meet Burbank codes increased the shortage to 15 stalls for the location.

Despite the strongly worded court ruling, an attorney for Nolan and Bedrossian said they were considering filing an appeal.

"We think the court made several crucial errors in its judgment," the pair's attorney, Fred Gaines, said.

The decision to appeal will likely come after the final judgment from the court has been entered, which is expected Monday.

Gaines said he was confident the original complaint would hold water with an appellate judge.

Because no injunction was filed with the court, 24 Hour Fitness has continued construction on the property.

The rooftop basketball court has been completed, signs have been installed and tenant improvement work is underway, said City Planner Michael Forbes.

The Burbank City Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment, and a representative for 24 Hour Fitness said the company would not comment on pending litigation.

No official opening date has been filed with the city.

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