Plans for a new multi-family residence slated for the 800 block of South Lucerne Blvd has Windsor Village (WV) residents organized once again, urging the developer of the R3-zoned property to make the planned structure less dense and in keeping with the historic nature of the area, which became a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in 2010.
The developer, Morumbila, LLC, is seeking to build a 5 story, 15 unit condo on the empty lot at 859 S. Lucerne, formerly occupied by a single family home that was razed prior to the HPOZ adoption. The new condominium building would be attached to, and also contain additional parking for, a condo conversion at 853 S. Lucerne Bl, the James Terrace, that sits just to the north of the empty lot and is also owned by the developer. Just to the south is a preserved 1920’s duplex while across the street are numerous fine examples of intact Spanish Colonial multi-family dwellings, also built in the 1920s.
When WV residents saw the plans for the proposed condo they quickly organized appeals to their HPOZ Board, the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) and the Planning Department. WV residents asked the developer to reconsider their plans for building to the minimum setbacks, dwarfing the two-story home to its south and presenting the tallest façade on the street front. The community also opposed removing one of the oldest and tallest trees on the block located at the front of the lot, and the fact that a total of three driveways would access the two structures, cutting into street parking space and valuable parkway green space.
On July 3rd, the City Planning’s Deputy Advisory Agency held a hearing regarding the modification of a previously approved Tentative Tract map for 853-859 S. Lucerne Blvd. The modification would increase the number of units in the new construction from 14 to 15, in addition to the 18 units in the existing structure at 853 S. Lucerne.
The developers, represented by their architect, Peter Wilson, argued that they were “within rights” to request the additional density for the proposed development according to the zoning laws. The opposition was represented by a coalition of Windsor Village Association board members, concerned neighbors from both Windsor Village and Fremont Place, and legal counsel who expressed their concerns regarding the impact of the proposed Lucerne development on traffic, historic compatibility, property values, density and neighboring properties. Additionally, Rene Weitzer, the Deputy for Land Use Planning for Council District 4, expressed her and Council Member LaBonge’s support of the neighborhood’s concerns regarding the project as currently proposed.
The Hearing Officer took the matter under submission stating that he felt a decision from the HPOZ Board should come before any decision by city planning. Windsor Village Association Board Member Joe Hoffman told the Buzz, “Right now we’re in a waiting game. The entire planning process in the City of LA is such a patchwork of processes – with some agencies having specific numbers and guidelines and others not.” No matter, the Windsor Village community is organized to soldier on.