This story has been updated Tuesday, August 18, 2015 to remove a reference to the Windsor Square Association:
The Windsor Square Association has never opposed the 4th Street bike lane in Windsor Square, nor requested Councilmember Ryu to promote its removal. To the contrary, the Association explicitly supported the proposed construction of a roundabout at the intersection of 4th Street and Norton Avenue to facilitate bicycling in Windsor Square.
Windsor Square Association
Land use and transportation issues, as well as a motion regarding management of the Greek Theater, took center stage at last night’s meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.
Before the meeting’s main business, however, Nikki Ezhari – a former City Council field deputy for both Tom La Bonge and Paul Krekorian – introduced herself as the new Senior Field Deputy for 4th District City Council Member David Ryu. Ms. Ezhari, who has been on the job for 7 days, said Mr. Ryu “has three senior deputies and two junior deputies and is thinking of hiring more. This is a very field heavy staff.” She also confirmed that Renee Weitzer is Mr. Ryu’s Chief Deputy for Land Use and Julia Duncan is the assistant Land Use deputy. Stakeholders are welcome to contact Ms. Ezrahi at email@example.com or by phone at 213-473-7004.
In agendized business, the GWNC’s Board voted unanimously to support the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council’s public statement on future management of the Greek Theatre. The statement calls out the City of Los Angeles for opting out of contracted management of the landmark concert and event venue, in favor of management by the City’s own Department of Recreation and Parks, without providing full information about the financial realities of that choice. The statement goes on to request that, before approval of the management plan, the Department provide all available information about income and expenses, specific financial and infrastructure benchmarks (with regular reporting on progress toward those goals), and a list of all personnel and consultants used in evaluation of RFPs and contracts with entities such as promoters, management companies, parking companies, food and beverage companies, ticketing agencies, and sound management companies, etc. The statement also requests that the City reject any management proposals that place a compulsory parking fee on any ticket, that there be public presentations (at a time reasonably accessible to concerned constituents) of the entire management plan by someone fully knowledgeable of all its aspects, and that any facility renovations or upgrades be fully scoped with costs and potential effects.
In other business, GWNC Transportation Committee member Julie Stromberg reported that the Los Angeles City Council is reviewing recommendations to the Mobility Element of the City’s General Plan, and that 4th District City Council Member David Ryu offered two motions at a recent City Council meeting to alter the plan.
Mr. Ryu’s first motion recommended removal of the protected bike lanes along Melrose, between Highland Avenue and N. Western Ave., as well as proposed lanes on Lankershim Blvd. between the 134 Freeway and Cahuenga Blvd. It would also close the 4th Street bike lane between Highland and Western Avenue. The motion was in response to requests from the Hancock Park Homeowners Association which opposes the bike lanes, citing safety and traffic tie-ups as riders cross Rossmore Blvd. If the measure passes, bike riders would be re-directed to 6th Street at Highland, and then up to Western, where the bike lane resumes along 4th street. This motion was tabled for the time being, but Council Member Ryu’s second motion, amending the Mobility Plan’s instruction language to seek “considerable community input before any Mobility Plan projects” was passed. This provision should provide more opportunity for comments and community involvement in the transportation planning process.
In Land Use matters, the GWNC voted to support an application for a CUB that would allow 24-hour operations and the sale of beer and wine at a new 7-Eleven Store at 5273 W. Olympic Blvd. (the NE corner of Olympic and La Brea), with a property renovation plan and lengthy list of conditions negotiated and supported by the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association. SSNA Board Member Elizabeth Fuller spoke on behalf of that group, crediting 7-Eleven representative Tara Devine for her cooperation and for working closely with neighbors to address their strong initial concerns.
Later, the GWNC board voted unanimously to support the designation of the Whitley Mansion, 634 S. Crenshaw Blvd., as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument…and to support the inclusion of R-1 properties along Orange Drive and Citrus Ave. in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and the west side of Highland Ave., in the Brookside neighborhood, in the Interim Control Ordinance recently adopted by the City Council to control teardowns in residential areas while it considers modifications to the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. (Both Brookside and Sycamore Square are also currently working towards HPOZ status for their neighborhoods, to provide more comprehensive protections for those historic neighborhoods.)
Finally, in the most contentious issue of the evening, residents of the apartment building at 407 S Gramercy expressed their dismay that the GWNC Board recently voted to support an application to allow the installation of several cell phone towers on the roof of their historic building. The matter had been discussed at several open meetings of both the GWNC’s Land Use Committee and full Board before the vote was taken, but the building residents said they did not know about the negotiations until just a few days before a city hearing that took place after the GWNC’s vote. The residents said when they attended that meeting to protest the installation, the City planner hearing the case decided to leave the file open for two weeks, so they could bring their concerns back to the GWNC.
The residents noted that the cell towers (despite being masked by architecturally-compatible screens) would compromise the appearance of the classic brick building, that Council Member David Ryu’s staff supports their opposition, that Verizion (the company installing the towers) already has seven other towers in the geographic area, and that the GWNC’s own cell phone tower policy recommends that cell equipment not be installed at residential sites unless all possible commercial locations have been ruled out. They also expressed concerns about possible health issues, and the possible lack of structural support on the roof of the nearly-100-year-old building.
GWNC Board Member Greg Wittmann, who represents the neighborhood in question and who (along with the rest of the Land Use Committee) had originally voted to support the application, urged the Board – after listening to the neighbors’ concerns – to reconsider its support. Alternate Board Member Karen Gilman agreed with Mr. Wittmann, and agreed that Verizon should have been pressed to present more information about alternative commercial locations. After much discussion, the Board voted to rescind its previous vote to support the application, and sent the issue back to the Land Use Committee for further discussion.
Finally, there was discussion of a new GWNC Environmental and Sustainability Committee, which will work to unite and organize stakeholders concerned about environmental issues, promote education and awareness on environmental and sustainability issues with local and global impacts, and perform community outreach on ways to use local resources to promote a sustainable lifestyle. Committee Chair Julie Stromberg said, “The Committee will focus on working with stakeholders, environmental organizations, neighborhood council groups and related committees, local neighborhood associations, local businesses, and public agencies to further and promote our mission and benefit our local community.” Members of the community are invited to participate. The first meeting is schedule for September 8 at 7 pm, at the Wilshire United Methodist Church (4350 Wilshire Blvd.).
End-of-meeting announcements included the annual Taste of Larchmont event, coming up on August 24…and a September 19 walking tour of the Windsor Village neighborhood (the free tour will start at 10 a.m. at the pergola in Harold Henry Park). Both events are open to the public.