The board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) reviewed several land use requests at its November meeting last week, and set up two new ad hoc committees.
First, among the land use issues, the board voted down a recommendation by the its Land Use Committee to support a conditional use permit for a public parking lot at 946 S. Norton Avenue in the R1-1 zone, which would be used as parking for an adjacent commercial business (case numbers ZA-2017-3955-CU and ENV-2017- 3956-CE). The Committee had voted 7-0-0 to recommend that the Board support the project.
John Gresham, the board member from Wilshire Park, where the property in question is located, explained that the neighborhood years ago had opposed the demotion of a house that previously occupied the residential-zoned property, along with creation of the parking lot. He noted that although he sits on the Land Use Committee, he was out of town and could not attend its meeting last month, or he would have spoken up at that time against the application. According to Gresham, the parking lot – adjacent to the Olympic Spa – has been used illegally for years and there are longstanding concerns from the neighborhood about the original demolition. The applicant is the daughter of the owner of Olympic Spa. She was not present at last week’s meeting, but a representative said the owner now wants to legalize the lot, which has been in use since the single family home was demolished more than 20 years ago.
The motion to support the application failed, with 8 board members opposed, 4 in favor and 3 abstentions.
In another land use case, the GWNC board voted to support an application for a new elder care facility at 3377 W. Olympic Blvd. The facility would have 146 residential units, including 24 memory care rooms, medical professional offices and/or retail and restaurant spaces. The applicant is requesting a site plan review and the removal of an outdated building line on Gramercy Drive. (Case numbers APCC-2017-569 and ENV-2017-570-EAF.) The Land Use Committee had recommended unanimously that the Board support the project.
After previous consultations about the project with neighborhood residents and earlier hearings with the GWNC Land Use Committee, the applicant had revised plans to adjust the height of the building’s north facing façade, as well as other street-level improvements. Several residents who attended those previous meetings of the Land Use Committee spoke out against the height of the project and expressed concerns about the loss of sunlight. They will continue to meet with the project developers. A board motion to support the project passed with 11 members in favor, 3 opposed and 0 abstentions.
In other business, John Darnell, from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, reported that neighborhood council elections have been pushed back to 2019. He also announced that DONE is forming a working group to examine the allocation of funds for each neighborhood council. Currently, each council receives $42,000 for each fiscal year, regardless of the council’s size. Darnell invited interested board members to join the working group or to consider drafting a Community Impact Statement reflecting the views of the GWNC.
After hearing about the elections, Board member Caroline Moser suggested, and the board approved, forming an ad hoc committee to review the current GWNC bylaws, which is often done to conform old and new city election language before an election cycle. Moser volunteered to chair the ad hoc committee. (Note: while neighborhood council standing committees can contain both board members and non-elected volunteer stakeholders, ad hoc committees can only contain current board members.)
Finally, a spokesman from the grassroots movement Divest LA asked the board to formally support its effort to compel the City to divest its funds from Wells Fargo bank, and the creation of a public bank that would save the city paying fees to commercial banks. After some discussion, the board voted to form a second ad hoc committee to learn more about both issues. Board member Philip Farha volunteered to chair that committee.
The next meeting of the GWNC will be held on Wednesday, December 3, 2017 at 7pm at the Ebell of Los Angeles. All GWNC stakeholders are welcome to attend.