The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) Land Use committee reviewed three new proposed construction projects at its meeting on Tuesday evening.
Developer representative Dana Sayles reported back to the committee on the project at 5570 N. Melrose Avenue/647 N. Beachwood Avenue, as requested at the last LUC meeting. Sayles reviewed the provisions the developer agreed to include as part of the application, including the hours of operation for the outdoor areas (a rooftop sun deck would be open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. -10 p.m., and extended to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). He also confirmed that the tenants would not be eligible for preferential parking stickers, and no short term rentals of units would be permitted.
The project is scheduled for a hearing before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the LA City Council on August 8, as some Larchmont Village residents have filed an appeal against the project’s previous approval.
Next, an 8-story elder care facility at 3377 Olympic Blvd. was presented by Neill Brower, a land use attorney representing the developer. According to Brower, the City’s elder care ordinance allows the developer to build the 146-unit facility with no height restrictions, to address the shortages expected in elder housing. The project will have 24 memory care rooms. The ground floor will be commercial use, with community-serving retail and some medical office space. Representative Kate Hennigan said she conducted community outreach for the project, and encountered no objections from nearby residents.
However, at Tuesday’s meeting, two residents spoke against the project saying it would be too large. Elsbeth Kuang, who lives on St. Andrews Place in the Country Club Heights neighborhood, said she objects because the building will take away the light from the adjacent houses. Ms. Kuang said she lives in a 1911 arts and crafts home, which has no natural light on the southwest side. She said developers are taking away all the small buildings to put in the condos.
Frances McFall, also a resident of Country Club Heights and a member of the GWNC board, also objected to the project, saying it would be the “final nail in the coffin of our community.” “We don’t want it,” said McFall.
“Our neighborhood is coming back after corrupt politicians sold us out, allowing two homes to become a parking lot. I vehemently oppose,” added McFall. She suggested that the building be lowered and a buffer zone added between Olympic Blvd. and the resident neighborhood. McFall said she would also be contacting City Council member David Ryu to ask for his help to oppose the project. Ms. Hennigan offered to meet with McFall and Kuang to discuss ways to reduce the impact of the building on the nearest neighbors.
Though committee members noted the project’s architecture has improved since previous presentations, and appreciated that the applicants have come before the committee three times, the committee, in the end, supported a motion 9-0-0 to continue to oppose the project.
The final project reviewed on Tuesday evening was 5058 Maplewood Avenue, presented by architect Hamid Dehghan. The developer proposes to demolish a single family residence to build a 13-unit apartment building with one very low income affordable unit. Mr. Dehghan explained that they’re permitted to build up to 56 feet tall and decrease side yard setbacks, because the project qualifies for a density bonus, due to the inclusion of the one very low income affordable unit. He explained that he could have also elected to increase floor area, but decided against it. The density bonus will allow him to increase the building from 8 units, the by-right calculation, to 13 units under the density bonus provision. There will only be 9 subterranean parking spaces.
Members of the committee struggled with the proposed building design for this project, specifically the use of glass balconies that can become an eyesore for the neighborhood…as well as the wall surrounding the first floor of the building, which they said seems hostile to pedestrians. Committee members also expressed concern about not having at least one parking space for each unit.
Mr. Mr. Dehghan was very interested in the suggestions and comments. He said could try to address the parking by adding one tandem spot, and would come back with a revised design as he wanted to get the support of the committee.
In other business, Susan Hunter appeared before the committee again, requesting that the GWNC board send a letter requesting open meetings on the City’s efforts to update its General Plans. Several committee members expressed support for the idea of open meetings, but no consensus was reached on the motion Hunter presented. Instead, committee members Joe Hoffman and John Gresham agreed to re-draft the motion for the next Land Use Committee meeting.