GWNC Candidate Forum and Neighborhood Council Meeting

Candidate Charlie Rosenberg speaks at the GWNC Candidate Forum, held just before the GWNC monthly board meeting last Wednesday.

GWNC Candidate Forum and Election Info

Candidates for election to the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Board spoke to a sparse group of residents Wednesday night at a candidate forum that took place before the monthly GWNC board meeting. Each candidate was afforded time to speak about their qualifications and why they are seeking a seat on the board.

Elections for the board will take place on March 31st. Though the board is advisory, there’s a great deal of work that is done by these citizen volunteers, admittedly not all that glamorous, but the work does have an impact on the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Click here for more information on how to vote in the election on March 31.

GWNC Board Meeting

Last night’s board meeting was more lengthy than usual because there were a number of reports and guests speaking to the council.

City Reports

First up, CD4 Field Deputy Rob Fisher said his office is now accepting nominations for Council office’s annual Wonder Women of the Fourth awards. This year’s lunch will be held on March 14th. Any woman who lives, works or has done exceptional service work for the district is eligible. Applications are due by March 5th.  The four winners will be notified prior to the lunch.

Next, LAPD Senior Lead Officer Hebel Rodriquez reminded everyone to be certain to take your belongings out of your car, to help deter break-ins.  Rodriquez said the number of property thefts in our area are up, though most of the increase can be attributed to an incident at Planet Fitness at Midtown Crossing, in which property was stolen from the locker rooms and there were also reports of items stolen from grocery carts at the nearby Ralphs market. Rodriquez said that in all those incidents, individuals were not paying attention to their surroundings, and he urged everyone to be vigilant when they’re out and about.

Ned Racine, from Metro reported that there will be another art and naming contest for the two new Purple Line Extension Section 2 Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), which will be digging the two parallel tunnels between Beverly Hills and Century City. The winning artwork will be chosen by a panel of judges and LA County voters. Polls will open on March 25, 2019 and will close April 30, 2019. Visit the Metro website to cast your votes.

Metro photo of an older TBM in action

Racine also reported the progress of the The Purple Line Extension Section 1 TBMs, Elsie and Soyeon, which are currently digging the twin tunnels that will connect the three new stations between Koreatown and Beverly Hills. These amazing machines both dig out the earth and then build the tunnel as they go. Racine said the 450-foot-long TBMs move about four inches per minute, or approximately 130 feet per day. They work about 80-90 feet underground, 20 hours a day, 5 days a week, and are about 30% done with their route toward Western Ave. which should be completed in July. The machines, which started drilling at La Brea Ave., are currently at Muirfield Road. 

Andrew Jorgensen and Patricia Diefenderfer, from the LA City Planning Department, invited residents to attend two Department of City Planning workshops on the proposed Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan, which are planned for Saturday, February 23 at 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Pan Pacific Park, and Wednesday, February 27 at from 5-8 p.m. at Temple Beth Am. The TNP program is “seeking input on ways to encourage vibrant communities and employment hubs around the region’s growing transit network.” And the Purple Line TNP planning effort looks out to the year 2040 and considers how new land use, urban design and zoning regulations for areas around Purple Line stations can promote active, walkable places and satisfy City and State objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by planning for growth near transit.

According to the Planning Department, participants at the two open-house-style workshops will have an opportunity to:

  • Help plan the future of your neighborhood
  • Share your preferences for building design and scale and the design of public spaces
  • Consider ways to improve mobility and connectivity through urban design
  • Share your priorities for the types of public amenities that should be incorporated in new development
  • Give input on design strategies that can help reinforce the character of key multifamily areas

Both of the scheduled meetings will follow the same format – an open house followed by break out discussion groups covering land use, urban design, mobility and connectivity, and parking. Interested residents can visit the TNP website and sign up for updates and learn more information about the program.

Board and Committee Reports

GWNC Secretary Max Kirkham read a letter of resignation from Country Club Heights representative Frances McFall, who has served on the board since its inception in 2001. Kirkham noted that, from the earliest days, McFall was known for insisting the board meetings be run with respect and decorum.  She was also instrumental in making sure an American Flag is present at each meeting, and that the meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. Kirkham said McFall has always been a vocal representative of her neighborhood, and she will be greatly missed on the council.

GWNC Homeless liaison Tammy Rosato reported on the successful effort to coordinate the Greater Wilshire homeless count. She thanked her co-chair Max Kirkham, along with board members Patti Carroll and Conrad Starr, CD4 Field Rep Rob Fisher, and this reporter, who also participated in the count.

Transportation Committee Chair Conrad Starr reported on that committee’s recent successful panel discussion on neighborhood traffic issues, which drew 35 neighbors. The next meeting of the Transportation Committee is April 15.

Julie Stromberg, Sustainability Committee chair, presented a motion for the GWNC Board to write a Community Impact Statement supporting CD4 Councilmember David Ryu’s package of three tree-related motions, following the board’s earlier letter of support for city efforts to support its tree canopy. The motion passed unanimously by a vote of 15-0-0.  The next meeting of the Sustainability Committee is Tuesday, April 9.

Land Use Issues

During the Public Comment period on Land Use issues, Wilshire Park resident Douglas Choi asked the board to opposed an application by 7-Eleven to receive an alcohol license and increase its hours of operation to 24 hours at its store at Olympic and Wilton, in direct contradiction to an earlier promise to operate without alcohol. (The GWNC Land Use committee has also voted to oppose the application.) Mr. Choi said there are significant problems with homeless people living in the alley next door to the store, and that approval of an alcohol license and an increase in hours would only worsen the situation.

CD4 Deputy Rob Fisher said his office would be participating in the upcoming hearing on the 7-Eleven application this Wednesday, February 20 ,at 10:10 a.m., and he said the council office is concerned about the store reneging on its earlier  promise not to have alcohol. Fisher said the city has already conducted several clean ups at the property, and will do another soon. He also noted that there is now another application in the works to operate a 7-Eleven at Melrose and Rossmore, with a similar promise not to serve alcohol.

Moving on to other land use projects, the Board voted to support the following recommendations from the Land Use Committee:

  • Oppose a proposed 7-Eleven convenience store with 24/7 hours of operation at 5784 Melrose Ave. (at Rossmore), by a unanimous vote.
  • Oppose the current use of the property at 300 N. Plymouth as presented, because neighbors assert the parking on the 300 block of Plymouth Blvd. has become impossible because of corporate operator “Mansion Mates” subletting rooms and dorm style beds at the property, advertising it as “off-campus housing” on websites such as Hot Pads, Trulia and others. The owners of the property have attended the Land Use Committee meetings, but have not fully explained their use of the property. The motion passed by 14-0-2, with two board member abstaining until the owners of the property appear before the Larchmont Village neighborhood association to discuss the activity.
  • Oppose a project at 845 S. St Andrews Place as presented, because more outreach to the neighborhood is needed. The applicant plans to demolish a vacant school and construct a 6-story 25-unit apartment building.  The GWNC board allso previously voted on November 14, 2018 to oppose the project as currently presented.  The vote on the current motion was unanimous.
  • Oppose a project at 985-991 3rd Avenue, in the Wilshire Park neighborhood, because the applicant did not appear before the committee when invited to do so. This project calls for the demolition of an existing single family home, and the construction of a 6-story, 51-unit apartment building with 11 units set aside for low income tenants. The project would use new Transit-Oriented Communities guidelines to receive increases in floor-area ratio, density, parking reductions, a greater height allowance, and reduced yard setbacks.  The motion passed unanimously.
  • Oppose a project at 724 S. Gramercy Drive, also because the applicant did not appear before the committee when invited. The project calls for the construction of a new 10-unit apartment building, over one level of on-grade parking, with TOC-guideline incentives of up to 50% increase in floor area ratio, and a reduction in parking requirements to 0.5/unit. Additional incentives would include a 25% reduction in open space, and up to a 30% reduction in one side yard and one rear setback. The motion passed unanimously.

Also by unanimous vote, the board voted to opposed the following projects because the applicants did not appear before the committee. (Applicants are not required to appear before the neighborhood council, which is entirely advisory, but many developers do bring their applications for discussion, to help build community support and consensus for their plans.)

  • 180 S. La Brea Ave:  A request to allow the sale and dispensing of beer and wine for on-site consumption at a 1,458 square foot restaurant (the current tenant is Sweetgreen), with 44 indoor and 21 outdoor seats. Hours of operation are 7:00am to 11:00pm daily.
  • 930 S. Mansfield Ave: Construction of a new 19-unit apartment building, six stories high, with four one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments, over one story of below-grade parking.

The Land Use Committee also recommended opposition to several permits for demolition.

“This is new thing we are looking at,” explained LUC Committee Chair Caroline Labiner Moser. “We began to notice that there were projects were being separated, first demolition and then construction. Formerly, developers would propose a project and then get a demolition permit, so you could look at the building being replaced. But now we are seeing demolition and then permit requests for new projects, so we thought we might be able to get ahead by looking at demolition permits.

In the case of these projects, none of the property owners or developers came to the last Land Use meeting to discuss their projects.  Moser said that now that the recession is over, more building going on, and that building is unusual in scale – especially with new density incentives provided by transit planning – so she believes the impact of the building projects will have more significant impacts on the neighborhood, and she hopes the council can review these proposed projects whenever possible.

“It feels like we are handing over an extra three or four stories for a building and not asking for anything in return,” said Moser.

The following demolition permits were opposed by unanimous vote ,16-0-0.

  • 726 S. Wilton Place:  Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No. 18019-10000-06366
  • 5147 La Vista Court: Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No. 18019-20000-05843/B18VN20329.
  • 517 N. St. Andrews Pl.: Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No.18019-70000-06047
  • 726 S. Wilton Place: Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No.18019-10000-06366
  • 920 S. Gramercy Place: Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No.18019-10000-05481.
  • 921 – 925 St. Andrews Pl.: Demolition Pre- Inspection Application No. 18019-20000-05984-05987/B18VHN2086769.
  • 946 S Gramercy Drive: Demolition Pre-Inspection Application No.18019-20000-04882/B18VN17022

The next GWNC Land Use Committee Meeting will be held at 6:30pm on February 26, 2019 at Marlborough School, 250 S. Rossmore Ave, the Collins Room, 200-D, Los Angeles, CA 90004.

The next GWNC Board meeting will be held at 7:00pm on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at the Ebell of Los Angeles. All are welcome to attend.

 

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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