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

GWNC Land Use Committee Hears Neighbors’ Concerns on Larchmont Squatter & ED1 Amendments

Neighbors would like to see consideration of a seven-story 50 unit apartment building of 100% affordable housing for 507 N. Larchmont paused until after the building currently at the site is secured to prevent squatters.

Although there were no new land use projects on the agenda for last night’s monthly meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee, there were several lengthy discussions about specific properties and issues of concern to neighbors, nearly 30 of whom attended the online session.

Requests for Future Agenda Items and Actions

At the beginning of the meeting, a public comment period yielded two requests from stakeholders, neither of which appeared on this month’s agenda (so no actions could be taken), but both of which the committee indicated could be dealt with at future meetings.

First was a request from Sycamore Square resident Conrad Starr, who is also the GWNC president but made clear that he was speaking as an individual at this meeting. Starr raised concerns that the All-Season Brewing Company, at 800 S. La Brea, is not abiding by several operating conditions negotiated with the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association during its 2017 Conditional Use Permit application process.  The items include noise, alcohol-related signage, private parties, and encroachment into the public right of way, most of which were specifically listed in the city’s Letter of Determination granting the business’s liquor permit. Committee members voted unanimously to agendize the issue for discussion and possible action at a future meeting.

Current view of 507 N. Larchmont Blvd., where a squatter has apparently been living for several months.

Next, ten Larchmont Village-area neighbors spoke passionately about safety concerns regarding the man who was arrested earlier this week after apparently occupying the vacant house at 507 N. Larchmont Blvd. for several months.  According to the neighbors, the man engaged in numerous illegal and criminal activities during that time, including break-ins and “terrorizing” several neighbors who live on the adjacent block of Arden Blvd. Many of the neighbors said last night that they lived in fear during this time, and were forced into the role of “vigilantes,” until two of them finally helped to restrain the man before his recent arrest.

Several of the neighbors also recounted multiple interactions with the owner of 507 during the months the squatter was present, saying the owner promised to secure the property but never did. The neighbors asked if the GWNC could request that city pause consideration of a current proposal to build a 7-story, 52-unit 100% affordable apartment project on the site until the owner properly securies the property. As with the previous request, this issue was not formally agendized for action at the Land Use Committee meeting, so no actions could be taken at the meeting. But committee members suggested that due to the urgency of the situation, neighbors should request that the item be added to the agenda for the April 10 GWNC Board meeting, where it could be acted on, and urged them to attend that session.

Amendment to Recommended ED1 Amendments

The other big discussion at last night’s meeting focused on a potential amendment to the GWNC’s previous statement of support for a set of amendments to the proposed ordinance making the Mayor’s Executive Directive 1 guidelines for 100% affordable housing permanent in the city.

At its March 13 board meeting, the GWNC voted to support amendments proposed by the statewide advocacy group United Neighbors, which asked that the proposed ED1 ordinance be revised to:

  • Limit the number of waivers and off-menu incentives developers can claim
  • Require 15′ rear setbacks to allow space for trees and stormwater capture
  • Prevent post-development conversion of non-residential spaces to market rate units
  • Protect R1 zones, HPOZs and identified historic districts
  • Ensure that substandard streets/high-fire zones do not qualify for qualifications
  • And require that all projects that do not meet ED1 requirements (including those in the proposed amendments) go through discretionary approvals.

Last night, Larchmont Village resident Sam Uretsky asked the committee to support a new amendment to the Community Impact Statment submitted by the GWNC board last month, adding an additional request that ED1 projects be limited to a maximum of four stories (instead of the city’s recommended six stories) on sections of Neighborhood Commercial streets, such as Larchmont Blvd., that are immediately adjacent to streets or parcels zoned for single-family use.

In the lengthy discussion that followed, several board members raised questions about whether the additional request might have too-far-reaching consequences throughout the city (depending on the number of Neighborhood Commercial streets that would be affected), whether or not the limitation would conflict with existing state density bonus and affordable housing laws, and whether it might be a push too far that could cause city officials to reject not only that specific request, but the package of other amendments that the GWNC, United Neighbors, and numerous other neighborhood groups have been promoting.

During the discussion, however, many neighbors spoke up to support Uretsky’s request, urging committee members to be bold in their attempts to preserve the neighborhood’s character and to not give up without trying. In the end, Uretsky summed up their sentiments by saying, “There’s no reason to give up until you’re dead…and we’re not dead.” The committee then voted by a margin of 6-1 to recommend that the GWNC board support Uretsky’s request to amend its previous Community Impact Statement to ask that ED1 projects on Neighborhood Commercial streets adjacent to R-1 areas be limited to a maximum of four stories.

Updates on Other Projects

In other business last night, committee secretary Mark Alpers provided updates on three previously-discussed projects, noting briefly that:

  • Hancock Park Homeowners Association block captains met recently with CD13’s planning deputy Ted Walker to discuss their concerns (including late-night hours and parking issues) with the proposed Pawn Shop sports bar at 5901 W. Melrose Ave.  Alpers said Walker offered to set up a meeting with the developer, but since a city hearing on the project appears to be several months away, it may be a while before the meeting is scheduled.
  • Alpers said the GWNC received an email recently from the expiditer for a 6-story, 70-unit, 100% affordable apartment project proposed for 800 S. Lorraine Blvd., clarifying plans for trash removal, laundry, and accessibility in the building, which had been among a number of concerns expressed by the GWNC and neighbors.  Alpers said the developers had originally planned to have two chutes for trash and recyclables, but they have now agreed to add extra dumpsters for organic waste recycling, and trash from all bins will be collected twice a week. Also, he reported that each unit in the building will have washer/dryer hookups, and there will also be nine washers and dryers in the building’s laundry room.  Finally, he confirmed that all units in the building will be ADA accessible.
  • A Letter of Determination was issued recently for a 4-story mixed-use building at 531 N. Larchmont Blvd., which the GWNC voted last year to support.  Alpers noted that the LoD cited the Larchmont Blvd. location as being eligible for Transit Oriented Communities incentives, a determination some board members had disagreed with during previous discussions. Committee member Jane Usher said the TOC mention is consistent with the developers’ application, however, and the city will likely continue to specify TOC status when describing and considering future projects on Larchmont.

The next GWNC Land Use Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.  (Note:  the April meeting was originally scheduled to be in person, but a schedule conflict with Marlborough School, where the committee holds in-person meetings, means the April meeting will now be held virtually, and the May meeting will be held in person instead.)

The next GWNC Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ebell of Los Angeles.

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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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