Charges filed in razing of Johnie's
Northridge resident charged with partial destruction of landmark restaurant.
By Samantha Gonzaga, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
DOWNEY - Police on Wednesday released the findings of the investigation into the illegal bulldozing on the former Johnie's Broiler site.
Five misdemeanor criminal charges were filed against Northridge resident Ardas Yanik, all stemming from the Jan. 7 razing of the 90,000-square-foot parcel of land on 447 Firestone Blvd., said city prosecutor James Eckart.
Johnie's Broiler - originally called Harvey's Broiler by founder Harvey Ortner - was a Googie-style diner considered a hot spot for car clubs in the 1960s. In 1965, the property was sold to current owner Christos Smyrniotis, who gave it its present name.
Yanik is due for arraignment at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Downey on April 4. Each of the five counts carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines and court-imposed penalty assessments.
A call for comment to a Northridge address listed as Yanik's home was not returned Wednesday night.
According to Eckart, Yanik had entered into a private leasing agreement with Smyrniotis and was subletting the property to Car Outlet Inc., a used-car dealership that began operating in 2002.
As for Smyrniotis, "he has indicated he was unaware of" the plans to bulldoze, Eckart said.
The criminal charges Yanik faces all stem from the demolition and include four for public safety and nuisance, said Downey Police Capt. Jim McCulloch.
Yanik had been a person of interest since the beginning of the investigation, he continued.
Yanik didn't file the permit for demolition, and police records and witness accounts said that the demolition had been a dangerous one - gas and utilities were left on. Car Outlet, Inc.'s cars had been moved off the lot.
City records showed that Yanik in November filed a preliminary application to the Planning Department. It was rejected after it was deemed "incomplete" by city staff because of missing documents such as traffic and environmental impact reports.
Yanik had requested development of the lot into a commercial center, said Downey City Planner John Godlewski.
The City Council on Feb. 26 voted to extend until the end of the year a moratorium on development of the property to give city staff additional time to research the possibility of a historical preservation ordinance.
Samantha Gonzaga can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (562) 499-1284.