On August 27, the Department of City Planning issued a Letter of Determination approving the 5-story apartment building proposed for 500 N. Larchmont Blvd.
The project will be five stories tall, with 21 residential units (seven one-bedroom units and 14 with two bedrooms), two of which would be reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) guidelines.
The project was first presented to Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee in January of this year, with revisions (as shown above) presented in February. At both of those meetings, there was strong opposition to the project voiced by neighbors, who argued that the building would be much taller than anything else in the area and would loom over the backyards of single-family residences just behind the building. Neighbors and committee members also commented that the ultra modern design does not blend well with the neighborhood’s more historic architecture, and that use of the ground floor for parking (instead of more residential units, or retail space that would help connect the building to pedestrian traffic and the local streetscape) was a poor design choice.
At the February GWNC board meeting (which took place between the two Land Use Committee meetings where the project was discussed), board members voted, on the recommendation of the Land Use Committee, to oppose the project pending recommended design changes. Developers did return to the February Land Use Committee meeting with design revisions, but the committee did not take any votes on the revised project at the February LUC meeting because the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association had not yet weighed in. And the matter did not come back to the GWNC in any way since then.
But even though residents had plenty to say about the building, public comments and Neighborhood Council votes on Transit Oriented Communities projects don’t really play into the approval process for those projects, as the TOC ordinance was designed to streamline and allow faster approvals for developers. If a project meets all the requirements set by the city for a TOC project in a specific location, it is approved without any sort of official public hearing or public input process. (Neighborhood Councils are notified of TOC projects that request more than the base-level construction incentives, as this one did, and the city does often suggest that developers make presentations to the local neighborhood councils and/or neighborhood associations…but these are technically just a courtesy, and not officially required. For more on how Transit Oriented Communities projects work, see our coverage of the GWNC’s July Town Hall meeting on the subject.)
The Letter of Determination for 500 N. Larchmont (case number DIR-2021-559-TOC-HCA), and the city’s approval to go ahead with the project, can be appealed, via either an online or in-person application, until September 13…but only property owners and occupants directly adjacent to the project site are eligible to appeal.