Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

GWNC Land Use Committee Discusses Pawn Shop LA, All Season Brewing Co., and ED1 Project Listings

Members of the GWNC Land Use Committee at their May 28 meeting, held via Zoom.

The May 28 GWNC Land Use Committee meeting featured updated discussions of two issues previously heard by the committee (the proposed new Pawn Shop LA sports bar/restaurant on Melrose Ave., and community concerns about All Season Brewing Company on La Brea), and one new one: the city’s apparent removal of ED1 100% affordable housing projects from public notifications and databases. The meeting also included brief discussions of two other issues – affordable housing development on parcels owned by faith-based organizations, and new marketing of a vacant lot at Beverly and Wilton – that will likely turn up on next month’s agenda.

Pawn Shop LA Sports Bar/Restaurant – 5901 Melrose Ave.

This project, a remodeling of the old Brothers Collateral pawn shop into a new sports bar and restaurant called Pawn Shop LA, has been discussed several times by the Land Use Committee over the last few months.

In November 2023, owner Diego Torres-Palma made a presentation about the proposal to the committee, but at that meeting, based on concerns about the requested business hours (6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily), lack of a concrete parking plan, and other issues including noise, traffic, public safety, and historic preservation, the committee voted to recommend that the GWNC board oppose the project.

This month, the committee invited Torres-Palma to return for further discussions before a scheduled June 6 Zoning Administrator hearing…but Palma declined the invitation.

At the meeting, committee secretary Mark Alpers reported that Palma did meet recently with the Hancock Park Homeowners’ Association and representatives of City Council District 13, to see if they could reach compromises on any of the issues concerning the neighbors. But Alpers said no agreements were reached, and the HPHOA voted later to support the project only if Palma agrees to a daily closing time of 11 p.m. (to match other local restaurants), that no noise from the establishment will be audible from the street, and to meet annually with the HPHOA to discuss any concerns that might arise during the business’s operation.

After much discussion, in which Committee members expressed ongoing concerns about parking and other issues, they voted by a margin of eight votes in favor and one abstention to reiterate most of their previous position, not only suggesting the GWNC board oppose the project, but also moving “parking” up higher in their list of concerns, and mentioning the applicant’s turn-down of the committee’s invitation for further discussion as another reason for the continued opposition.

The Zoning Administrator hearing for this project will be held this Thursday, June 6, starting at 9:30 a.m. online. Alpers said a GWNC representative will attend the hearing and, as recommended by the Planning Department, will request that the case file be held open for 30 days after the hearing so the GWNC board can weigh in after its June 12 meeting.

[For an even more recent update on this issue, see our separate story at https://larchmontbuzz.com/larchmont-village-news/the-pawn-shop-modifies-requested-hours/]

All Season Brewing Company – 800 S. La Brea Ave.

At the last GWNC Land Use Committee and GWNC Board meetings, votes were taken to urge owners of All Season Brewing Company, at the SE corner of 8th & La Brea, to address neighbors’ ongoing complaints about noise from the business, encroachment of operations into the public right of way, and the advertising of alcoholic beverages at the site, all of which are prohibited by conditions of the business’s 2017 Conditional Use Permit.

At the May 28 meeting, however, Brian Lenzo, Director Of Operations, SoCal Breweries and Neighborhood Bars at Pouring with Heart, owner of All Seasons and a number of other bars in Los Angeles and San Diego, reported that – in response to the previous discussions – all outdoor music speakers have now been removed from the business, and extensions of outdoor seating areas (enlarged during the COVID-19 emergency era) have been pulled back within the property lines. Lenzo said he wasn’t aware of any outdoor advertising for alcoholic beverages, but when Committee Chair Brian Curran reminded him about umbrellas with logos of alcoholic beverage companies, Lenzo said they, too, would be removed. Finally, Lenzo also said the facility now has a new manager, who will be more responsive to neighborhood complaints, and said he, too, will be happy to talk to neighbors if any further problems arise. “One of the main values of the company is “respect,”” he said.

In the end, Curran thanked Lenzo for his efforts, and said the Committee will reach out if there are any further reports of problems.

Removal of ED1 Projects from Early Notification System

The seven-story affordable apartment building proposed for 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. under the Mayor’s Executive Directive 1 is one of the projects for which information no longer seems publicly accessible in the city’s online notifications and databases.

According to Curran, new applications for 100% affordable housing projects proposed under the Mayor’s ED1 directive were apparently removed from the Planning Department’s Early Notification System, and other City Planning websites, early this year. The ENS is the tool the city uses to inform other city bodies and employees, Neighborhood Councils, and members of the public about new development projects of all kinds throughout the city. So removing ED1 projects from the monthly ENS reports means residents and other local groups now have almost no way of finding out about those projects until they’re much further along in the planning process…or perhaps even fully approved.

Executive Directive 1 was specifically adopted to streamline the permitting process for 100% affordable housing projects, and to eliminate public review requirements as conditions for approval. But many community groups, including Neighborhood Councils and neighborhood associations, have continued to review new ED1 applications as they’re submitted, and to attempt to discuss project details with developers to provide input that can help the projects fit better into their local communities.

The removal of these projects from the city’s public notifications and websites was first noticed by Larchmont neighbor Sam Uretsky some time before the Land Use meeting. A few days before the meeting, he told the Buzz that documents for an ED1 project at 507 N. Larchmont Blvd., which were previously available on the Planning Department’s website, are no longer there…and that he also can’t find notifications for any new ED 1 projects filed since February 6, 2024.

“The Department of City Planning (DCP) has stopped being transparent about all ED1 projects!” wrote Uretsky in an email to residents that was shared with the Buzz. “It’s been 104 days since the last ED1 project was publicly listed on its Early Notification Report (ENR). DCP has disabled all publicly available links to known ED1 projects. In other words, if 507 N. Larchmont was proposed today, we would not know!”

At the Land Use Committee meeting last week, Uretsky said he was told by a city representative that ED1 applications have been moved to a separate system, but it doesn’t appear to be available online, and you have to make an in-person appointment to review documents (which used to be easily available online) for specific projects.

Committee member Daniela Prowizor-Lacayo suggested that members of the public make a request, under the Freedom of Information Act, for all documents relating to the city’s policy for public posting (or removal of postings) of ED1 applications…but several other committee members suggested it would be more effective to simply lobby the Mayor’s office to restore the public-facing information, and several meeting attendees spoke up to agree with this suggestion.

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to adopt a motion recommending that the GWNC board request:

(1) That Mayor Karen Bass instruct the Department of City Planning (DCP) that case files for ALL land use applications (including those – like ED1 projects – that can be approved without public review), be made publicly available on the DCP’s Document Imaging and Early Notification Systems, and that all case file information and documentation be available online.

(2) That City Council Members Katy Yaroslavsky (CD5) and Hugo Soto-Martinez (CD13) work to introduce a motion requiring the DCP to allow public access to and scrutiny of all DCP case files, and that all files include the information described above.

And (3) that this motion be circulated to the city’s other 98 Neighborhood Councils with the request that they make the same requests to the Mayor, DCP, and City Council.

City of LA Faith-Based Housing Ordinance

Alpers explained to the Committee that the City of Los Angeles is moving toward adopting a local version of state law SB 4, which allows faith-based organizations to develop new 100% affordable housing on land they own (including parcels in single-family and designated historic areas). But while the state law requires faith-based organizations to have owned the land before January 1, 2024 to qualify for SB 4 projects, the city is considering eliminating the purchase date requirement.

Committee member Jane Usher said the January qualification date was intended to help prevent developers from simply calling themselves faith-based organizations to reap SB 4 benefits on newly-purchased parcels, and that it would be “incredibly nefarious” and “a free-for-all” if the city removes that detail from the new local law.

At the moment, however, language for the new city-wide ordinance has not yet been crafted by the City Council, so while Committee members did express concerns while discussing the issue at last week’s meeting, they did not take any formal actions.

Upcoming Items

A current Zillow.com real estate listing for the vacant lot at 250 N. Wilton Pl. shows this rendering of a six-story apartment building. The parcel is zoned [Q]R3-1, and is eligible for TOC Tier 2 and/or ED1 development.

Finally, during the public comment section of the meeting, Ridgewood-Wilton resident Robert Reeves brought up a new sign that has appeared on a vacant lot at 250 S. Wilton Pl. (the SE corner of Wilton and Beverly), where a home that was a contributor to the local historic district was illegally demolished several years ago. According to Reeves, the sign seems to be promoting a new 6-story apartment building for the site, but residents can’t tell whether it’s an actual project announcement or just a real estate marketing tool showing what might be allowed if someone purchases the parcel. Land Use Committee members agreed to agendize the issue for next month’s meeting and to invite the property owner to provide an update.

Finally, other items discussed as likely agenda appearances for next month include a liquor permit application for the new Leopardo restaurant at 460 S. La Brea Ave. (the former La Brea Bakery building), and a proposal for a new 6-story apartment building at 6721 Melrose Ave., which would replace a small commercial building currently on the site.

The next meeting of the GWNC Land Use Committee will be held on Tuesday, June 25 at 6:30 pm, via Zoom.

The next meeting of the GWNC Board will be held on Wednesday, June 12, at 6:30 pm, also via Zoom.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Calendar

Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }