It was a victory for Rabbi Abend and his Chabad congregation Wednesday, as the City Council voted 10 to 0 to reapprove the Chabad project, allowing the construction on Chandler Blvd. to proceed.
Some 70 congregants and supporters of Chabad, who came to attend the Council meeting at City Hall, burst into cheers and applause when the outcome was anounced.
Many neighbors who have united in opposition to this development were also in attendance. They were disappointed, but not surprised.
On Tuesday, , the city's Planning and Land Use Management [PLUM] Committee voted to allow Chabad of North Hollywood to continue construction of the 12,000-square-foot synagogue that they are in the midst of constructing at 13079 Chandler Boulevard, at Ethel Street.
That decision came swiftly after Councilman Koretz, through his field deputy Shawn Bayliss, had reviewed all pertinent documents, and announced that he had no objections to the project going forward.
"We don't feel that there's been any new evidence in this case (to warrant overturning the permits)," said Bayliss.
Wednesday's council meeting unfolded in a similar way: After public comments from people on both sides of the issue, with Koretz stating that upon review of all documents and considerations, and in light of much public support in favor of this development, he felt it should proceed.
A vote was taken after Koretz spoke, with every Councilman quickly voting 10-0 in favor of Chabad.
This reapproval was necessitated by a judge's ruling that the City Council - then led by former Councilman Jack Weiss - made an error when they approved the project in 2009.
That required the city to review the project again, this time led on the council by Paul Koretz, who followed Weiss as the councilman for this district.
Although Koretz told the community, , that he was sensitive to the concerns of residents who felt this land use was inappropriate, he ultimately sided with Chabad.
"I am quite pleased with the decision today, it was unanimous," Dovid Ptalis, a member of Chabad, wrote afterwards in an email.
"How many more verdicts, decisions approvals do these people need to realize these arguments are frivolous?"
Mr. Ptalis, 34, runs his own social media company, and has been a part of this temple for five years. He's one of many congregants who have responded in comments to counter what they perceived as a prevalent anti-Chabad sentiment on these pages.
Asked how he felt about neighbors who opposed this development, he again stressed that he spoke only for himself, and said, "I do not feel ill will towards the neighbors.
"I do however think they are 100% anti-religious, not anti-Semitic but anti-religious."
Many neighbors who have opposed this development said there's no truth in the justification for a lack of any parking, which is that all the congregants walk to temple and don't drive.
"They drive their cars in before sundown on Shabos," said Mitch Ramin. "And leave their cars parked overnight. They deny this but we see it every week."
"I am not aware of this charge," Ptalis responded. "Let me ask you a question: Where is the outrage when the college kids park up & down Chandler every day?"
"Our congregants are God-fearing positive people," he wrote. "We don't enjoy this controversy. We were positive, we are positive and we will always be positive. That is our nature as Jews."
I asked him if Chabad would do anything to try to heal the discord caused by this controversy. He rejected the question:
"I'm certain the question you are asking is: Will the anti-religious neighbors reach out to Chabad and apologize for all the hurt they have caused their fellow neighbors?"
Jeff Gantman, who with Ramin and Tess Jones have led the opposition by founding the West Chandler Boulevard Neighborhood Association, was not surprised by today's ruling:
"The fix was in; this thing was already decided.[Councilman] Weiss got this thing through right before leaving office, and now Koretz is doing the same thing.
"It's important to fight this. Because it can happen anywhere. When the City Council doesn't represent the people, and instead gives in to special interests, this is what you get."
Asked about charges several Patch readers leveled against their group that it didn't represent all the neighbors, and neglected to invite many neighbors, Gantman said, "We personally knocked on every door of every resident who lives in this neighborhood. There was nobody who lives here who we excluded.
Mitch Ramin said that it was impossible for Koretz to have done a full review.
"[His field deputy] Shawn Bayliss said Koretz reviewed all the documents we provided. But that is simply not true. Koretz never had all the documents. That was an outright lie."
Mr. Bayliss could not be reached for a comment.
Dee Tungkavet, who lives in the house next to Chabad, across Ethel Ave., said this project should have been disallowed because, despite what Koretz said, it has a detrimental impact on the neighborhood.
"I don't have any privacy anymore," she said outside of the council chamber after the hearing. "With that big synagogue, they look down now right into my home. My life will never be the same."
Rabbi Aharon Abend, leaving court, smiled and received congratulations from his congregants.
His attorney, Benjamin Reznik, smiled and said he was glad about the outcome.
"They did the right thing," he said. "This is a legal project, and now it can be finished."