St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association Discusses New Developments

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The St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association (SASNA), which represents residents in the area bordered by Western Ave., Third Street, Wilton Pl. and Beverly Blvd., welcomed City Council Member David Ryu to a neighborhood meeting last week, where he spoke about his first year in office, his work in CD4 neighborhoods, and specific issues in St. Andrews Square.  Among those issues were Single Lot Subdivision developments (which are coming to several neighborhood locations), a specific new SLS project at 117 N. Manhattan Pl., and preservation of the neighborhood’s historic character.  SASNA President Deborah Willis provide this account of the meeting for the Buzz:

Many of the neighbors came to the meeting out of concern about a planned Small Lot Subdivision project at 117 N. Manhattan, so that was the first neighborhood issue under discussion. The project will replace an old craftsman house with 8 townhouse-style units. As planned, the units be four stories tall, and will fill the lot to the current 5′ setbacks of on the sides and back, and 15′ from the property line in the front. A driveway will run down the center. The block of Manhattan Place where the project is located has more craftsman houses than anything else, and nothing over two stories. Neighbors are concerned about the design and whether it’s in keeping with the character and style of the neighborhood. They feel it is out of scale with the other houses and buildings on the block. A hearing on the subdivision on the lot is scheduled for on September 14, and we plan to attend.

We also had an update on the amended Small Lot Subdivision ordinance.  I attended the City Planning Commission hearing on the ordinance earlier that morning, and understood at the hearing that the design standards of the new ordinance will begin to be applied to new projects almost immediately as test cases. We think this means that the tighter standards will be used at the hearing on 117 N. Manhattan, coming up on September 14. If that is the case, the project at 117 N. Manhattan may not be approved with its current design. We’ll be going to the hearing and we’ll see what happens.

SASNA has been working for 20 years to preserve the character and quality of life of our 100-year-old neighborhood. We also discussed our inability to protect old houses, especially on blocks zoned higher than R-1, but even when properties are zoned for single family homes: 115 S. St. Andrews has been torn down and is being replaced by what looks like an apartment building. Houses at 112 N. Gramercy and 211 S. Gramercy were torn down to be replaced with new ones. We suggested that applying for an HPOZ for all or part of Saint Andrews Square might be the best way to protect the old houses that remain, even though it’s a long process and not easy to negotiate. We asked for Councilmember Ryu’s support if we do go head, and he agreed.

Council member Ryu also talked about the Great Streets initiative and the plans for Western Avenue. Two of the ideas we were most interested in were steam cleaning the sidewalks and planting trees. We also talked about trash in the neighborhood and planning a Community Cleanup Day. Our next meeting September 22.

Deborah Willis, President, St. Andrews Square Neighborhood Association

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