At the January meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee, held last night at Hope Lutheran Church on Melrose Ave., committee members discussed nine new and continuing local land use projects, and made recommendations on four of them.
First among the items voted on was an application for a change of use at a two-story duplex in an R4-2 multi-family residential zone at 545 S. Gramercy Pl.. The property received a variance a number of years ago, allowing it to be used as a business instead of as a residence, but the owner is currently petitioning for another variance, to allow a “mixed use” of the property, so she can live in the upstairs unit and run a business in the downstairs unit. The full GWNC board had considered a motion to support the application in April, 2017, but the motion failed after neighbors at the meeting complained about the business activity at the property and its negative effects on the surrounding residential area. No further motions were made at that time.
There was a Zoning Administrator hearing on the case in November, however, and after further neighbor complaints at that meeting, the matter was held open for further review. The committee heard last night from next door neighbor Terry Sorenson, who said the business nusiances have continued at the property, and the owners have not been responsive to neighborhood complaints. GWNC Board Member Greg Wittmann, who represents the area in question, also spoke to remind the committee members that the Board has maintained a strong line against business uses in other local residential zones. In the end, the committee voted to recommend that the full GWNC board now oppose the application, as it would allow continued business use of the downstairs unit of the property.
The second item voted on last night was an application to approve the continued use of a liquor license for a new restaurant at 6703-6709 W. Melrose (where Hatfield’s restaurant was formerly located). While liquor licenses are granted to the property, rather than a specific business at the site, renewed approval is often required when a new business moves into a licensed property…which is the case here. The new restaurant’s representative, Tina Choi, noted that some construction is currently taking place at the site, to reconfigure the dining space and move some former patio seating indoors, but she said the overall seat count will actually be lower at the new restaurant, and there will be no other changes in the business’s configuration or conditions of operation. The Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board support the application for the new business’ continuing use of the existing liquor permit.
The third item that won an LUC recommendation for the support of the GWNC board last night was an application for a new permit to allow the sale of beer and wine at the Sushi Eyaki restaurant at 5040 W. Wilshire Blvd. The restaurant has had a beer and wine permit since 2013, but it recently expired. The restaurant missed the deadline for a simple renewal of the old permit, so was required to file the current application for a new permit. There are no changes in the physical or operating conditions being requested. The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board support the permit request.
And finally, the fourth item voted on at last night’s meeting was an application to demolish a single family residence and construct a new 4-unit Small Lot Subdivision project at 4827 W. Oakwood Ave. This was the first time the project has been presented to the committee, and commitee members had several questions about details of the initial architectural renderings (which still lack specificity about doors, windows and other materials), as well as whether the local neighbors have weighed in yet on the project. In the end, the committee voted to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the project as currently presented…but they also encouraged the developers to return for further consideration after reaching out to the local neighborhood association for input, developing project details further, and providing more detailed renderings that would better show the project in the context of its immediate surroundings.
In other business, the committee considered five other projects, but did not take votes or make final recommendations on any of them. They included:
A proposal to construct an eldercare and Alzheimer’s memory care residential facility, with medical office and restaurant space on the ground floor, at 3377 W. Olympic Blvd. The full GWNC board had voted in November, 2017 (after several discussions at Land Use Committee meetings in previous months) to support the application. But there was a Zoning Administrator hearing on the project earlier this month, and the case was held open so the developers could discuss the project further with neighbors and continue to work toward addressing their concerns. The Committee listened last night to concerns from several neighbors, as well as to project representatives’ claims that they have done as much outreach and reconsideration as they can at this point. Committee members then briefly discussed a motion to reconsider the earlier vote of support…but after another committee member noted that nothing has changed in the project proposal since the GWNC board last considered it, the previous motion of support was allowed to stand.
The second item without a vote on last night’s agenda concerned an application for a new 5-until Small Lot Subdivison project at 250 N. Wilton Place. The project architects presented a few changes in the buildings’ configuration, but said they have not yet presented the project to the local neighborhood association for its input. Land Use Committee Chair Caroline Labiner Moser said the LUC would like to have more input from the Ridgewood-Wilton Neighborhood Association before making any decisions, and asked the project representatives to return to the LUC after they had done that outreach.
The third item discussed but not yet voted on last night was a proposal to legalize two parking lots, which were built many years ago on residential lots at 946 and 947 S. Norton Ave. Land Use Committee member John Gresham, who represents the Wilshire Park neighborhood where the lots are located, noted that the local HPOZ board for that area should weigh in on the matter before the GWNC does so, and the project representatives agreed to discuss it with that body before returning to the GWNC Land Use Committee.
The fourth item which had a first-time, preliminary notice on last night’s agenda was a proposal to remove a duplex at 643 N. Rossmore Ave., and replace it with a 32-room boutique hotel. Property owner Yong No requested that a more detailed presentation be postponed to a later date (no plans have been filed with the city yet, so no hearing dates are imminent). Hancock Park Homeowners Association President Cindy Chvatal noted that her group met with No earlier this month to discuss the proposal, but voted to oppose it because of concerns about traffic, parking and density in the area. The Committee agreed to postpone further discussion until a future meeting.
The final item presented briefly last night, but receiving no recommendation vote yet, was a proposal to demolish a single family residence and duplex at 5122 W. Maplewood Ave., and replace them with a 5-story, 24-unit apartment building. The project would receive a Density Bonus in exchange for including two Extremely Low Income units, and would also take advantage of new Transit-Oriented Community rules that would increase the allowed height and allow decreases in open space and side yard setbacks. Committee members commented briefly on the preliminary drawings presented by the developers, and seemed most concerned at the moment by the apparent lack of a clearly delineated public entrance to the building. They also offered to help put the developers in touch with the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, which has not yet weighed in on the project, and asked the developers to return as their plans develop and more neighborhood outreach has been accomplished.
The Land Use Committee’s recommendations to the GWNC board will be considered at the next GWNC board meeting on February 14…and the Land Use Committee’s next meeting will be held on February 27, 2018.
[Note this story has been edited to correct the name of the neighborhood association for the area where the 250 N. Wilton project is located.]