Members of the GWNC Land Use committee heard a presentation at their meeting Tuesday evening for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the “Historic Melrose Bungalow,” a project that would convert a 7 unit bungalow court into an 18 unit hotel by adding a four-story building at the back of the lot at 5212 Melrose Avenue between Van Ness Avenue and Wilton Place. In addition to the CUP for allowing a hotel in that zone, they are seeking a zone variance to use the existing driveway which is narrower than is required by city codes and permission to allow parking stackers within the required rear yard setback. (ZA-2017-3165-CU-ZV-ZAA)
The developer’s representative, attorney Todd Elliott said his client is very committed to preserving the historic bungalows and re-using them as a hotel suites for extended stays, though they would tear down one unit located in the back in order to make space for the four-story hotel behind the bungalows. He also said his client was an art patron who hoped to have an art installation on the billboard currently located at the front of the property.
According to the LADBS historic records, architect A.E. Wright designed the Spanish Revival style bungalow court. There are permits for construction of a private dwelling on the lot in 1921, followed by the 6 unit bungalow court built in 1922 with another unit added in the rear, shortly thereafter. The bungalows are not protected by a historic designation but they were identified as significant by the City’s Office of Historic Resources’ Survey LA according to representatives for the developer.
Alexei Hong, a tenant at 5212 Melrose Avenue and a tenant’s rights attorney told the committee the new owners should not be granted the CUP because of their mistreatment of the current tenants, most of whom are elderly and not native English speakers. According to Hong, the building is in sub standard condition and one tenant has been without hot water for over 9 months. Hong also said the buildings owners have been collecting fees from the tenants but are not passing them along to the City’s Housing department and the building is currently in REAP (Rent Escrow Account Program) for failing to pay the nominal fess
Susan Hunter, a case worker for the building also urged the committee not to approve the CUP because it would displace the elderly tenants many of whom have lived in the building for decades.
LUC committee member Philip Farha said the committee would consider impact on the community and would have to factor evictions into their decision making.
Mr. Elliot said he had advised his client not to evict the tenants but that he had not yet had time to meet with the tenants some, he said are behind on the rent. He said the was not trying to expedite the project and asked the committee to hold the project over until he could investigate and find out what is going on at the building.
LUC committee member Karen Gilman, who represents the Larchmont Village neighborhood association where the project is located, invited Mr. Elliott to present the project the neighborhood at one of their monthly meeting or their upcoming annual meeting.
The committee voted unanimously (10-0) to recommend the GWNC Board oppose the project as presented but invited Mr. Elliot to present the project again after speaking with the tenants and the neighbors.
In other items, the committee voted unanimously (10-0) to recommend the GWNC Board support the renewal for sales of beer and wine – type 41 ABC license for Chipotle restaurant at Larchmont and Beverly. The renewal would also permit them to change their operating hours to 9am – 11pm from 10:30am – 10pm with the proviso that the CUP be reviewed if there is a change of operator.
The committee also voted unanimously (10-0) to recommend the GWNC Board oppose the project at 4749 W. Elmwood Avenue as presented and specifically the waiver for 12 foot setback in lieu of 15 feet. The developer’s representative was invited back to present the project again if the developer agrees to make some of the changes discussed. The developer is planning to demolish a single family home and construct a 14 unit apartment building with 1 unit dedicated for a very low-income tenant. They were seeking support to reduce the set back and use compact parking stalls instead of standard stalls. (CPC-2017-2121-DB)
The committee voted unanimously (10-0) to recommend the GWNC Board support the Zone Variance to allow a 370-sq. ft. spray booth within an existing auto body repair facility at 5226 W.Melrose. The variance is needed to satisfy City codes that normally prohibit a spray booth within 500 feet of residential property. The business has been operating since 1985 with no violations and has approval from the Southern California Air Quality Management District.
Owners of The Edmon, a bar and restaurant inside the Hollywood Historic Hotel at 5162-5168 Melrose Avenue, won unanimous (10-0) support for their application to expansion their existing restaurant in the proposed front and add a rear enclosed patio space with a total 196 seats. They also requested continued approval hours of operation from 10AM – 2AM daily for the restaurant use. ZA-2017-3029-CUB. The committee expressed their support for owners’ efforts to try to create a more lively use of the front of the building on Melrose with planters that would be moveable enclosing a patio dining space. Committee member Dick Herman said applicant has an opportunity to create a better pedestrian experience on that block of Melrose.
The next meeting of the Land Use Committee is Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm at the Eastern Presbyterian Church at 4270 W 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 in the Multi-purpose Room All are welcome to attend.