Back in the summer of 2016, the city Planning Department held a series of workshops on proposed new Transit Neighborhood Plans, which would help guide and encourage development near the three new Purple Line subway stops at Wilshire and La Brea, Wilshire and Fairfax, and Wilshire and La Cienega (comments collected at those meetings were published a few weeks later). For the past year, the city has been considering what it learned during the workshop phase, and last week, on November 16, it held an open house to introduce the now more evolved concepts to residents, and to provide another opportunity for community input.
The session was not a formal presentation or hearing, but instead a more informal open house at which various aspects of the plans were illustrated and posted on boards for neighbors to peruse, with planning department staff available to discuss the information presented and answer questions.
The key items in the presentation were new maps of the proposed TNP area. While maps at last year’s workshops showed only general half-mile radius areas around the three new Purple Line station areas at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega, the new maps draw much more specific lines along all of Wilshire, from Highland to La Cienega, and both north and south from Wilshire, particularly along La Brea and Fairfax. New proposed zoning designations were also proposed for those areas:
In general, said city planner David Olivo at the event, the goal of the effort is to create more housing, and more attractive, more walkable neighborhoods along the newly enhanced transit corridors. “You would get [more] density,” he said, “but hopefully you’ll get a nicer designed building.” (Guidelines for building patterns and massing were also provided.) The goal of last week’s session, Olivo said, is to gauge what people think of the efforts so far, and then continue working to create new design guidelines for the area, within the city framework for Transit Oriented Communities.
Many of the 50+ attendees at the session seemed to think the plans are on the right track so far. Stakeholders were invited to submit comment cards, and also to write comments and ideas directly on the project boards. And many of those board notes clearly favored greater freedom for new construction, with fewer development restrictions on potentially historic areas, and less required parking in new construction.
According to Olivo, the next step in the TNP process will be environmental studies for the new Plan. There will be scoping meetings for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in early 2018. The EIR process will probably take 10-11 months, and then a formal draft of the new TNP should be available in early 2019. The Planning Department’s goal, said Olivo, is to send the draft plan to the City Planning Commission before June 30, 2019. And there will be more opportunities for public input, as well as public hearings, at each step of the process.
Presentation materials from last week’s open house, along with comments collected at the session, will be posted online in a few weeks.