Planning Commission Supports New R1 Zone Options for Brookside and Sycamore Square

Homes on Orange Drive in Sycamore Square, which would be covered by the proposed new R1 zone options.

On Thursday, February 8, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted unanimously to support the Planning Department’s recommendations for new R1 single-family zoning options for the Brookside and Sycamore Square neighborhoods.

For the last couple of years, both local neighborhoods have been covered by an Interim Control Ordinance that sets special rules, designed to help preserve neighborhood character, for new construction in the areas.  The ICOs will expire in March, however, so – as in other areas that have been covered by similar temporary regulations – the city has offered the neighborhoods a choice of either selecting one of several new R1 zone options, or reverting to the slightly more permissive guidelines set in the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance.

Since November, the neighborhoods have been reviewing and discussing the options, which would specify rules for floor area ratios, encroachment plane heights, building massing patterns and garage locations.  The two new zone options offered by the city were the R1-R3-RG zone (requiring both the bulk of building mass and garages toward the rear of the property) and  the R1-V3-RG zone (allowing variable massing patterns, but still requiring garages at the rear of the property).  Note that the zones would only cover single family properties in the neighborhoods, so they would not affect the R2 and R3-zoned multi-family properties in Sycamore Square.

After three months of discussions and input from neighbors,  the Planning Department officially recommended support of  the R1-V3-RG zone for Sycamore Square, the R1-V3-RG zone for the mostly western half of Brookside (where homes tend to be larger and of more varied styles), and the R1-R3-RG zone for the more easterly portion of Brookside, where homes tend to be smaller and of more similar massing. (Both the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association and the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council have also voted to support the R1-V3-RG option for Sycamore Square…but the Brookside Homeowners’ Association has apparently not yet taken an official position on the options for that neighborhood.)

In general, both city council planning deputy Julia Duncan and several neighbors who spoke during the public comment section of the hearing praised the Planning Department for its work on this issue and for creating a “context-sensitive solution” for the neighborhoods.  Among the eight neighbors speaking at the hearing, three also spoke strongly in favor of the recommended zones.  The other five spoke in opposition, saying either that regulations stricter than the BMO are both unnecessary and unwanted, and/or that neighbors were not given adequate notice or enough time to fully discuss the options.

In the end, however, the Commission agreed with the groups supporting the proposals, and voted unanimously to support the Planning Department’s recommendations.  The recommendations will now move on to discussions and a vote at the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, before a final vote at the full City Council.

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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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