At its monthly meeting last night, the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council voted to recommend that the GWNC board oppose each of the eight land use projects on its agenda. But the votes, in every case, were more preliminary and procedural than definitive, being dictated by a couple of committee policies. The first of those policies suggests a motion of opposition if a project’s representatives have not yet presented the details of their project to the committee…and the second recommends a vote of opposition to a project “as currently presented” if committee members feel there is more work to be done on either the project’s design or other details, or if the applicant has not yet sought and received a significant amount of community input on the project. Opposition votes in both of those circumstances are generally understood to leave the door open for further discussions with the developers and neighbors, and the projects are often put up for a more definitive vote at a future meeting if the committee’s requests are later met. That said, here were the major items on last night’s agenda:
5784 Melrose Ave. (at Rossmore) – Application for a Conditional Use Permit for 24-hour operations at a proposed 7-Eleven store with no alcohol sales. The storefront, next to the popular Mario’s Peruvian Seafood restaurant, used to be a Radio Shack store. Project representative Adan Madrid noted that although the owners have been doing exploratory and outreach work on the project for several months, as requested by the Land Use Committee in a previous discussion, the actual CUP application was just filed yesterday, so a city hearing on the matter is still probably several months away. Madrid said he has reached out to the church across the street, and to the Hancock Park Homeowners’ Association, for their input, but he has yet to connect with the nearby Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (as the LUC had also previously requested). Committee Chair Caroline Labiner Moser asked Madrid to return to the committee with a more detailed presentation of the project’s details (store layout, square footage, security measures, etc.), as well as feedback from the LVNA…and the committee voted, by a margin of 8 votes in favor and one abstention, to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the application until the fuller details of the project are known and the neighbors’ responses are more formally presented.
300 N. Plymouth Blvd. – Neighbors have complained about parking issues at this address since a company called Mansion Mates recently began renting out dormitory-style housing in the single-family home. The committee, which has previously discussed the issue, invited a company representative to continue the discussion at this meeting, but the representative was out of town this month and did not attend. The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the current use of the property, pending further discussions.
845 S. St. Andrews Pl. – Application to demolish a vacant school and construct a six-story, 25-unit apartment building. (DIR-2018-3524-TOC, ENV-2018-3525-EAF) In response to the Land Use Committee’s concerns about the neighborhood compatibility of an earlier proposed design, at a previous meeting, project representative Sa Har Khazani presented a new design in what she said is a more traditional style. In general, committee members expressed greater satisfaction with the new design, but Moser requested further details on landscaping, as well as further efforts to meet with neighbors to get their input on the project. In the end, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the project as currently presented, pending further neighborhood outreach and documentation of neighbors’ feedback.
985-991 3rd Ave. – Demolition of an existing single-family residence and construction of a six-story, 51-unit apartment building on a two-lot parcel including one currently vacant lot, with 11 units set aside for low income tenants. Although the committee has previously discussed the project, which has drawn criticism from neighbors, no project representative attended this meeting, so the committee voted to recommend that the GWNC board continue to oppose the project until further presentations and discussions take place.
117 N. Manhattan Pl. – An 8-unit Small Lot Subdivision project was recently constructed at this address, but neighbors noticed after construction that the development’s details were those originally opposed by the GWNC when it first reviewed the design in 2016, and not details of revised plans later supported by the board. Moser reported that Emma Howard, Planning Deputy for City Council District 4, is looking into the matter, and she will report back to the GWNC. Further discussion was tabled until after more is learned from Howard.
724 S. Gramercy Dr. – An application for the construction of a 10-unit apartment building over one level of on-grade parking. Although project representatives were invited to attend the meeting, they did not respond to the invitation, and the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the project until its details are presented to the committee.
180 S. La Brea – Application for a Conditional Use Permit to allow the sale and dispensing of beer and wine for onsite consumption at an existing restaurant (Sweet Green) from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. (ZA-2018-5968-CUB). A restaurant representative was invited to the meeting, but did not attend. The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the application until a presentation can be made to the committee.
930 S. Mansfield Ave. – Application to construct a new six-story, 19-unit apartment building with one story of below-grade parking. (DZR-2018-7019-TOC, ENV-2018-7020-EAF) A representative for the project was invited to make a presentation to the committee, but did not respond to the invitation. Although the representative did not attend, however, three stakeholders did speak about it. Conrad Starr, president of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association and the GWNC Renters’ representative, noted that his group has also not yet met with the developer, and is also still seeking more details about the project. Jasmine Plummer, who lives on the 800 block of S. Citrus Ave. in Sycamore Square, said she and her neighbors are not opposed to densification on the busier neighborhood border streets (such as Wilshire and Olympic, which have already seen large new developments built in recent years), but this project would inject a large new development in the middle of a much quieter and lower-density multi-family block (where most of the other buildings are two-story, 1920s duplexes and four-plexes). Plummer also said the project would not be compatible with the neighborhood’s historic context, and would likely exacerbate existing traffic and infrastructure issues. Finally, Israel Jacquez, who lives in the nearby Mid-Wilshire/La Brea neighborhood, said he supports increased density and transit-oriented development in the area, but said, he too, was disappointed that the developer did not attend, and declined to comment further until he could learn more about the specific details of the planned project. In the end, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the application until a presentation can be made to the committee.
In other business last night, the committee heard comments from two members of the public. The first, Scott Goldstein, was concerned about the coming proliferation of “5G” cell phone antennas and utility boxes on the Windsor Square streetscape (and in other historic areas). At the committee’s request, Goldstein said he would continue to track new applications for the installation of such equipment, and will continue to report to the committee about what he learns.
The second commenter, Allison Schallert, expressed fervent concern about issues with construction in her Oakwood-Maplewood-St. Andrews neighborhood – noting that there are currently 10 different developments underway in a six-block area – and her frustration that the GWNC has not been responsive so far to her pleas for help with issues like construction traffic, parking, noise, equipment staging areas and more. Moser requested that Schallert document her specific concerns, and also that she also contact our city council office and other agencies, such as DWP, directly.
Finally, several other agendized discussions were tabled last night. First was consideration of the city’s new Administrative Provisions for planning (formerly known as the Policies and Procedures Ordinance), which would streamline a number of administrative procedures in the city’s zoning code. The issue has been much discussed in the community recently, with some stakeholders afraid the changes are more extensive (and less friendly to public input) than the city has disclosed. But Moser said she attended a recent meeting on the subject, with CD4 officials and others, and needs some time to digest the information provided there before leading a fuller discussion.
Second, organizers of the weekend farmers’ market that has been operating at 2nd and La Brea notified the committee that the market was recently closed due to low attendance, and that they are seeking community input on possible alternate days and times for future operation. A representative for the market did not attend the meeting, however, so the discussion was tabled.
Finally, Moser noted that the Committee has recently begun receiving notices of new demolition permit applications in the area (there were 13 listed on last night’s agenda), but committee members had many questions about whether or not there were also going to be applications for new construction projects at the addresses, and if there was any information available besides the basic address listed on the notices. Several committee members offered to research the topic more generally, and/or to look into the specific applications in their own neighborhoods…so further discussion of the applications was tabled until more details are known.
The next meeting of the full GWNC board will be held on Wednesday, February 13, at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd., and the next meeting of the GWNC Land Use Committee will be held on Tuesday, February 26, at 6:30 p.m., at Marlborough School, 250 S. Rossomore Ave.