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

GWNC Land Use Committee Forwards Support Recommendations for BMO and SLS Revisions…and Wilton Development

New rendering of an 88-unit apartment building planned for 501-543 N. Wilton Pl., presented at last night’s GWNC LUC meeting.

At its monthly meeting last night, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee voted to recommend that the full GWNC Board support proposed revisions to the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, submit specific comments on proposed revisions to the city’s Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance, and support a new ordinance to provide seasonal emergency shelter for the homeless. The committee also voted to support a density bonus application for a new apartment building project at 501-543 N. Wilton Place, and the renewal of a liquor permit at Osteria La Buca restaurant.

Ordinances Reviewed:  Baseline Mansionization, Small Lot Subdivisions, Seasonal Homeless Shelters

A few months ago, the GWNC Board, at its Land Use Committee’s recommendation, voted to oppose the proposed Baseline Mansionization Ordinance revisions, on the grounds that the revisions do not take differences in individual neighborhoods into consideration.  At the same time, however, board members sent the issue back to the Committee for further analysis and discussion, saying a more detailed response – which comments on the specific changes proposed – might be more appropriate.  At last month’s GWNC Land Use Committee meeting, where the issue was given lengthy discussion and several community activists, including NoMoreMcMansionsInLosAngeles‘ Shelley Wagers, spoke in favor of the city’s proposed revisions, the Committee appointed a subcommittee to draft a more nuanced response for the GWNC.

gwnclogoThat response, in the form of a draft letter for the GWNC Board to send to City officials, was presented at last night’s meeting, and the Committee voted 7-2 to recommend that it be sent to the full GWNC Board for approval.  The letter recommends support  for several of the proposed BMO revisions, including:

– reducing the overall allowed Floor Area Ratio for single family homes
– including attached garages when calculating floor area (except where hillside topography is an issue)
– counting uncovered patios, breezeways and balconies as floor space
– basing “proportional stories” calculations on the net footprint of the first floor
– eliminating “green building” bonuses
– opposing the ability of Zoning Administrators to award discretionary 10% floor area bonuses

The letter also includes a request that the City add language to the ordinance that would take into account the specific needs of specific neighborhoods.

There was some discussion of whether to amend the letter to remove the statements regarding attached garages and uncovered outdoor space, but motions for those amendments failed and the draft letter was supported as originally presented.

In other business last night, the LUC voted to recommend that the full GWNC board submit a set of specific comments to the City on proposed revisions to the Small Lot Subdivision ordinance.  The recommended comments include:

– recommendations on adequate time and provisions for public review and input before the City Council votes on the matter
– a recommendation that front yard setbacks conform to “prevailing” setbacks for the neighborhood
– side yard setbacks be set at 6 feet or more for buildings of 2 or more stories
– 15′ rear yard setbacks for projects that abut any residential zone (not just R-1 single family properties)
– working with community groups such as the Lookout Mountain Alliance for advice on setbacks in hillside areas
– that mainteance upkeep agreements be required for common areas like driveways
– that SLS projects should require on-site trash pickup from an independent vendor (to prevent large numbers of individual city trash bins from cluttering streets)
– that incremental street widening be opposed as a required measure and studied further
– that side yard and tandem parking be prohibited and projects larger than 4 units require 2.25 parking spaces per bedroom, to provide for guest parking
– that rooftop decks be eliminated unless there is equal or greater open space in the development
– that first floor bonus rooms should not have an adjoining bathroom
that building heights should correspond to the surrounding properties, with a transition in height for any increase from the heights of surrounding structures
– express concern that SLS projects that might replace larger buildings will displace rent control tenants and undermine the city’s ability to provide affordable housing
– that SLS designs should be required to consider the prevailing architectural context of the neighborhood, including things like front-facing front doors, etc.

Later, in consideration of a third City Ordinance up for community review, the Committee voted to recommend that the GWNC Board support a proposed new ordinance that would provide emergency seasonal shelter for the homeless in certain types of public and private spaces.

Land Use Applications Reviewed:  501-543 N. Wilton Apartments, 5210 Melrose (Osteria La Buca Restaurant)


Moving on to specific land use cases, another major agenda item at last night’s meeting was the Committee’s third look at plans for an 88-unit apartment complex proposed for 501-543 N. Wilton Pl.  In a previous review, in December, Land Use Committee members suggested more varied articulation of the building’s facade, to better reflect its neighborhood context, and the addition of a turn pocket to address potential access and traffic issues.  Representative John Reed and the project architect presented a new design at last night’s meeting, which attempts to address those specific concerns.  Charlie D’Atri, president of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, which has also been providing input to the developers, said “It’s not a perfect building…but it’s very good, and the LVNA is prepared to support it.”  The GWNC committee voted, with just one abstention, to do the same, and recommend that the full GWNC Board also support the project.

Finally, in its last major action of the night, the LUC also voted to recommend that the full GWNC Board support the renewal of a permit to sell a full line of alcoholic beverages at the Osteria La Buca restaurant at 5210 W. Melrose Ave., along with permission to convert a mezzanine-level room in the restaurant to additional overflow seating, and to support a new variance that would reduce the restaurant’s required parking from 25 to 18 spaces.  (The restaurant does have leased space nearby for valet parking, and has a lot of customers who arrive on foot from nearby Paramount Studios.)

The next GWNC Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 9, and all of the items above will be on the agenda for discussion and board action.


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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.

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