Land Use Committee Recommends GWNC Support BMO and Home Sharing Ordinances

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The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee voted last night to recommend that the full board of the GWNC support the current drafts of both the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) and the new Home Sharing and Short-term Rental ordinance, which are currently going through the city approval process.

In its brief discussion, the committee recommended re-stating its support for the BMO revisions, even though the latest draft of the ordinance has drawn criticism from community groups – largely for reversing an earlier provision that would have required inclusion of the square footage of attached garages in a home’s overall square footage calculation. Critics of the latest draft, including the NoMoreMcMansionsinLosAngeles group, say the latest draft is also more complicated and doesn’t go as far as the previous draft to encourage developers to build homes that fit into older neighborhoods.

Last night, committee member John Perfitt, from the Citrus Square neighborhood, noted that the attached garage issue has long been a sticking point for preservationists seeking to avoid big, box-like homes with attached garages, and encouraging construction of detached garages at the back of the lot like most older homes in the area.

The committee also recommended support of the current draft of a proposed Home Sharing and Short-term Rental ordinance , even though that measure also has several controversial points.  The two most controversial, among people who rent spaces in their own homes, are a restriction on the number of days a home could be rented to 90 days…and the prohibition of short-term rentals any unit in rent-stabilized buildings (those built before 1978). Since most of the buildings in our Greater Wilshire neighborhood were built before 1978, the ordinance would prohibit almost all short-term rentals in this area, even in homes occupied by the owners. Comments on the new ordinance must be filed by June 6, after which it will go to the City Planning Commission for further review.

LUC Chairman James Wolf told the Buzz after the meeting that because the GWNC board meeting, where the two recommendations above will be considered, is on June 8 (after the comment deadline for the home-sharing ordinance), the “Board letter will arrive at the City after the hearing.  [But] sometimes the hearing officer will allow the file to remain open for some prescribed duration after the hearing.” 

Wolf said the Land Use Committee will notify the City Planning Department of its recommendation to the board before the comment deadline. 

Site Plan from Paramount Pictures Masterpan
Site Plan from Paramount Pictures Masterplan

In other LUC business last night, Larchmont Village resident Mary Ann Biewener presented concerns about the Paramount Pictures Master Plan currently going through the city’s planning process. Biewener, the owner-occupant of duplex in the 600 Block of North Plymouth, just South of Melrose, has been following the project since 2001, when it was first announced. She expressed her frustration that Paramount was only required to send notifications to owners and occupants within a 500-Foot radius of the project despite the fact that the scope of project and the area affected is much larger, requiring volunteers to work much harder to spread the word and gather public comment.

Biewener said she and her neighbors were most concerned about the proposed digital billboards that would run 20 hours a day, with images changing every 8 seconds, and which would be located just 150 feet across the street from a residential neighborhood. She also opposed the scrolling digital billboard that would measure 20×30 feet and the super graphics proposed on the 240 foot office building planned at Plymouth and Melrose. Biewener said the digital billboards and the proposed office building were completely out of context with the neighborhood; the only other tall buildings in the area are the Larchmont Medical building, built in 1964 and the El Royale apartments built in 1926. She said she and her neighbors had completed an historic survey of the neighborhood in preparation for an application for an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) and found that 80% of the structures remain intact. Finally, she express concern about the traffic impact of the office at Plymouth and Melrose and urged the committee to join her neighborhood in opposing these aspects of the plan.

Another resident, Maggie Peña of Larchmont Village spoke to the committee about her opposition to the proposed on the two lots south of Melrose. A former employee of Paramount, Peña said the current parking structures in the neighborhood were ugly and asked why Paramount couldn’t design better garages  with deeper setbacks, similar to those built by Warner Brothers in Burbank.

Oakwood18unitKennethRee

In other matters, the committee voted to support an 18 unit multi-family housing project at 4807-4813 Oakwood Avenue. Developer Kenneth Ree presented revisions to the facade of his project that he believed responded to comments made by the committee the last time he presented the project. Ree said he was trying to differentiate his design from the others and respond to the market demands for open floor plan units with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“I am trying to make the best building I can,” said Mr. Ree, who is not an architect. He cited his decision to use higher quality custom doors as an example.  The committee still expressed reservations about the design and its lack of reference to any of the neighborhood historic architecture but voted to recommend support of the project with five votes in favor, three opposed and one abstention.

The committee also voted to seat new committee member Rory Cunnigham, a resident of St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association. The full board of the GWNC will take up the LUC recommendations at its next meeting on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

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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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