GWNC Votes on Land Use Projects, Tree Motions…and More

John Darnell, from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, provides an update from that agency at the GWNC meeting last Wednesday.

The main attraction at last Wednesday night’s Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council board meeting was the Town Hall meeting on Invasive Aedes Mosquitoes, but after that session there was still plenty of business on the Council’s main agenda.  Those items included:

• A moment of silence  for those affected by the recent Camp and Woolsey fires.

• An update from LAPD Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova, who reminded residents that the winter holiday season always brings an increase in the activity of “porch pirates” who steal packages delivered to residential locations.  Cordova advised that anyone purchasing things remotely have them delivered to an Amazon locker or to a business address, where they won’t have to sit out on a stoop, unattended, for several hours until the recipient returns home.

• Kate Walsh, a representative of Via Transportation, a New York company that provides shared ride services, made a brief presentation on her company, noting that it has targeted a section of central LA, which includes part of the Greater Wilshire area, as having good business potential for the company.  Walsh said Via is now seeking input from area residents on their transportation needs, and invited people to contact her at kate@ridewithvia.com.

• Several representatives of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) made a brief presentation on the L.A. Homeless Outreach Portalla-hop.org – a new resource that works much like MyLA311, but to report people on the street who may be in need of shelter or other services related to homelessness.  GWNC Alternate Board Member Tammy Rosato said the new service provides a great opportunity to help our homeless residents get the city services they need.

• Oakwood-Maplewood-St. Andrews resident Allison Schallert reported seeing signs on several construction sites in her neighborhood, detailing rules of conduct the project promises to abide by. She urged the Council, and especially its Land Use Committee, to encourage all developers to adopt such policies at their construction sites.  Schallert said her neighborhood is being severely “taxed” by at least 10 current construction projects, and she never sees the developers reach out to neighbors about their projects or activities.

• The Board established an Ad Hc Steering committee for the Greater Wilshire Resilience Plan, which will be tasked with creating such a plan to address emergency preparedness, community organizing, crime and safety in the Greater Wilshire Area.

• The Board nominated former GWNC member Joe Hoffman, who resigned recently due to illness (and who passed away just a few days later, on Saturday, November 17) to receive its Citizen Recognition Award for his many years of service to the community.

• The Board voted to spend up to $2,500 on outreach efforts for its upcoming elections, which will take place in the spring of 2019.

Later, among various land use issues, the Board voted:

• To reconsider and amend a motion about the removal of parkway trees, originally passed at last month’s board meeting.  The new version reads:

In view of the continued unpermitted taking of mature City parkway trees, the GWNC respectfully requests that the City Attorney’s Office and the City Administrative Officer, after appropriate analyses, prepare a set of actions for the City to take that would effectively:

i. Establish an integrated process for any submissions for plan and permit approval that includes the documentation of existing parkway trees and that all parkway trees are preserved unless a determination is made by BOE that that relocation and/or replacement is absolutely necessary;
ii. Notify the cognizant Neighborhood Council of all permits pending approval of City parkway or other protected trees and allow at least 45 days for the public comment;
iii. Establish financial and other penalties for the unapproved or unpermitted taking of City parkway trees that are demonstrably sufficient to both deter these actions as well as to support the costs of enforcement, prosecution, and full restitution; iv. Establish a staff unit in the City Attorney’s Office charged with the swift and effective prosecution of illegal taking or damaging of City tree assets and the recovery of restitution;
v. Establish one or more immediate reporting and response mechanisms whereby those that discover the potentially unpermitted destruction of a City tree in progress might be able to intervene and possibly deter the further immediate destruction of City assets;
vi. Provide for an ensured funding resource for the establishment and operation of the above measures and the adoption of appropriate budget actions.

• To reaffirm its April, 2018 support for the existing height and setback of the fences at 946-957 S. Norton Ave.

• To support applications for two new projects (a 95-unit apartment building and a 114-unit mixed use building) at 3323 W. Olympic Blvd./975-987 S. Manhattan Pl., and 3323 W. Olympic Blvd./970-996 S. Manhattan Pl.

• To oppose, as currently presented, a project that would demolish a vacant school and construct a six-story, 25-unit apartment building at 845 S. St. Andrews Pl.

• To refer a request for a demolition pre-inspection application at 512 S. Van Ness to the Windsor Square HPOZ Committee.

• To support an application for a Conditional Use Permit for a child day care center at 850 S. Gramercy Pl.

• To oppose an application for the construction of a new five-story, 14-unit apartment building at 611 N. Manhattan Pl. because the applicant did not respond to an invitation to present details of the project to the GWNC Land Use Committee.

• To oppose an application for a CUB to allow the sale of beer and wine for off-site consumption at a 7-Eleven at 3477 W. Olympic Blvd.  (Note: the Board had supported the previous conversion of a gas station to the current use as a 7-Eleven in October, 2012, on the condition that it remain a “dry” store, as the owners promised at the time.)

• To support the reinstatement of a Conditional Use Permit to allow the sale of beer and wine for on-site consumption at the Cafe Gratitude restaurant at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd., with the condition that the business maintain the 35 parking stalls that were part of the original conditions of approval.

• To officially support a letter to the city, from the La Brea-Hancock Homeowners’ Association, opposing the drafting of the new Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan before scheduled updates of the Wilshire Community Plan are completed.  The letter also requests that 10 parcels along the west side of the 400 block of S. Sycamore Ave., which are currently zoned [Q]C2-1, be re-zoned to match the R1R3-RG single family designation of the rest of the neighborhood, and that any new zoning under Transit Oriented Communities guidelines or the Purple Line TNP retain the existing Floor Area Ratios along Wilshire and La Brea along the La Brea-Hancock neighborhood borders, and limit heights on Wilshire Blvd. between La Brea and Highland to five stories, and to four stories on La Brea between Wilshire and Third St. The letter also requests that the current Miracle Mile Community Design Overlay Zone be extended from its current eastern end at Sycamore Ave. to Highland Ave., to help preserve the historic characteristics of the neighborhood.

And finally, before adjourning, the Board passed one more motion regarding trees, this time supporting the concerns and recommendations of the Encino Neighborhood Council on preserving and improving the City’s protections for its urban forest and tree resources.

The next meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council will be held on Wednesday, December 12, at 7 p.m. at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd.  The next meeting of the GWNC’s Land Use Committee will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, at Marlborough School, 250 S. Rossmore.

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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