On Thursday evening, at Memorial Branch Library, the new board members of the Brookside Homeowners Association held their first meeting since they were elected last fall. Danny Gibson, a resident of Keniston Ave., presided over the meeting and called on the other board members (Loren Dunsworth, Tremaine Avenue resident and Communications Director; Emily Levin, Rimpau resident and Secretary-Treasurer; Luke Trester, Tremaine Avenue resident who is heading up the public safety committee; Dana Peterson, Mullen Avenue resident; and Ann Hazel Pascual, Mullen Avenue resident) to talk about the six standing committees of the association and invite residents to get involved. Susan Watanabe, who was elected President at the last meeting in October, has resigned from the board due to health reasons.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Hebel Rodriguez also talked to residents about the 24 recent burglaries and 8 robberies that have occurred in the area since the first of the year. He urged residents to “keep your head on swivel” alert to everything that’s happening around you, since people who are distracted and not paying attention are much easier victims. If residents see something, they should report it to LAPD using the non-emergency phone number (1-877-ASK-LAPD).
Rodriguez gave an example of the recent robbery near 9th and Lucerne, in which the victim noticed a car following him, but decided to ignore it. When the victim got out of his car to open his garage door (which wasn’t working remotely because of a recent power outage), three men from the following car confronted him with a weapon. The victim gave them his wallet and the criminals left in a grey or black BMW.
Rodriguez also advised residents to avoid constructing high walls and growing tall hedges that enclose their front yards. “They make a perfect place to someone to hide,” he said. “Once criminals get over the wall or hedge, they can do whatever they want because no one can see them,” explained Rodriguez. Instead, it’s better to have an open front and side yard that allows everyone, and most importantly you, to see what’s going on close to your house.
A fatal shooting that occurred last December in Memorial Park remains unsolved, said Rodriguez, but police have learned the victim lived in nearby Koreatown and frequently came to the park in the early morning hours. At this point, the police believe he was approached by someone and shot in the chest. The victim was able to use his own cell phone to call for police but was unconscious when police arrived and died at a nearby hospital. Rodriquez urged residents not to be out after midnight.
“Don’t be out late,” warned Rodriguez. “Crime occurs when there’s an opportunity; don’t become a victim.”
Rodriguez also told residents that a new city law makes it illegal for people living in their vehicles to park overnight on residential streets. Living in a vehicle (vehicle dwelling) is prohibited at all times within one block (500 feet) of licensed schools, pre-schools, daycare facilities, or parks.
According to the LAMC Section 85.02 effective January 7, 2017, persons may live in a vehicle at the following times and locations:
- Daytime Hours – between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. – more than one block (500 feet) away from licensed schools, pre-schools, daycare facilities, or parks;
- Nighttime Hours – between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. – in non-residentially zoned areas which are more than one block (500 feet) away from licensed schools, pre-schools or daycare facilities or parks.
This map shows the parking restrictions on streets in the Wilshire Division.
Next, board member Ann Hazel Pascual, a Mullen Avenue resident, introduced the new neighborhood website brooksideLACA.com, where residents can get information about the neighborhood, sign up for the six association committees, and contact the board with suggestions and concerns.
Emily Levin, a Rimpau resident and Secretary-Treasurer, gave an update on the process of drafting bylaws for the association, including election procedures. She said that each of the board’s committees is chaired by a board member, and invited residents to join a committee.
Levin also confirmed that the board has not taken a position on an ongoing effort to secure an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) to cover the 400 homes in Brookside. Instead, the board will help facilitate the education process necessary to gather community consensus, an essential requirement before moving forward with an HPOZ.
In response to several questions about the status of the HPOZ effort, which began before the current board was elected, Levin introduced resident Jan Wieringa, chair of the HPOZ committee, to provide an update.
Wieringa explained that two years ago, she volunteered to chair a committee to explore an HPOZ in Brookside. At that time, she circulated a petition to all residents, asking them to sign if they supported investigating an HPOZ. According to Wieringa, 298 homeowners have signed the petition so far.
Once it was established that 75 percent of the residents support investigating an HPOZ, Wieringa said she forwarded the petitions to CD4 Land Use Deputy Julia Duncan for verification.
The next step will be to begin an historic survey of the homes in Brookside, explained Wieringa. The estimated cost of the survey is $20-24,000. To date, $10,000 has been raised, with direct donations sent to Architectural Resources Group, the firm selected to do the survey, and which has done most of the surveys in the city’s 34 HPOZs. Wieringa said survey is required by the city as the first step in the process of developing the ordinance. The survey will verify whether most of the homes are historic and therefore appropriate to be included in an HPOZ.
One resident said she signed the petition not to support the HPOZ, but rather to get more information, and said she wants to make sure her signature was not counted as one firmly in support of the HPOZ. Wieringa said her signature was not counted, since the resident has moved since signing…but the new owners of the house have signed.
Another resident said she supports the HPOZ and asked if the community would be able to weigh on the details of the draft ordinance. Wieringa said yes, the ordinance would be drafted to reflect the preferences of the residents of Brookside, adding “if we don’t like it, it’s won’t go through.”
Another asked if there was another mechanism available, besides an HPOZ, to preserve the neighborhood, and Wieringa said there are some new ordinances – the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance and new R-1 zones – that will help preserve the overall scale and size of houses in the area…but those will not preserve the architectural character of the neighborhood, as an HPOZ would do.
One resident asked how HPOZ governing board members are selected. Weiringa pointed people to the guidelines spelled out by the City’s Office of Historic Resources, which manages the HPOZ program:
Each HPOZ Board consists of five members, at least three of whom must be renters or owners of property within an HPOZ. All members should have knowledge of and interest in the culture, structures, sites, history and architecture of the HPOZ area, and if possible, experience in historic preservation.
One member is appointed by the Mayor and must have extensive real estate or construction experience. One member who must be an owner or renter of property in the HPOZ is appointed by the City Councilmember representing the area. Two members, one of whom must be a licensed architect, are appointed by the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission. The final member is selected at large by a majority vote of the initial four members, with input from the Certified Neighborhood Council representing the neighborhood. Board members normally serve a term of four years, although the initial terms are staggered to prevent a complete turnover of the Board at any one time. Appointed members may be removed or replaced by the appointing authority prior to the expiration or their term.
Former Brookside president Owen Smith said he is not opposed to having an HPOZ. He said once there is a show of interest, the board should gather information so there can be a vote among the neighbors. He also urged residents to look at the proposed Miracle Mile HPOZ Preservation Plan as an example of a flexible plan that would accommodate some of the garages that need to be grandfathered into the ordinance. He also said landscaping should be addressed as well. But he also cautioned that “the devil is in the details,” and urged everyone to “know where you are going.”
Brent Gold, a resident who opposes the HPOZ, was also invited to speak. Gold said he has been studying the HPOZ process and has concluded “what the city says and what happens are two radically different things.” He noted that the Miracle Mile neighborhood is currently very divided about a proposed HPOZ there, and that despite assurances that he’d listen to the neighborhood, CD4 Council member David Ryu said at an HPOZ meeting the night before that he is going to support the HPOZ no matter what. [Editor’s note: according to the Buzz’s account of that meeting, at the link above, Gold’s statement is not accurate – Council Member Ryu told the meeting attendees that he will make his decision about supporting the proposed HPOZ in the next two weeks. We stand by that report.]
“The city wants everyone to have these HPOZs, so they are pushing everyone into an HPOZ,” said Gold, who also introduced two other speakers, Jay Schoenfeldt and Henry van Moyland, leaders of the “SayNoHPOZ” effort in Miracle Mile.
Schoenfeldt said he opposes the HPOZ because it would not allow him to enlarge his house without restriction. He said everyone should be aware of how the HPOZ would effect all the houses, not just large homes like those in Brookside. He said the divisions among neighbors in Miracle Mile have resulted from people not being well informed. “Not everyone can come to a meeting in the evening,” said Schoenfeldt.
Van Moyland agreed with Smith that the “devil was in the details,” and said there were lots of problems with Miracle Mile’s HPOZ preservation plan. “It was poorly drafted and residents would need to hire lawyers,” he contended. He also urged everyone to watch land use litigator Ben Resnick’s YouTube video of his presentation to Holmby Hills residents…who later voted down an HPOZ in their area.
Finally, Brookside board member Danny Gibson ended the meeting on time, saying there would be more information available on the Brookside HPOZ effort on the association’s website. He also invited people to take home materials on historic preservation from the LA Conservancy, which were available at the back of the room,