Despite reservations about the design, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC Board support a new 4-story, mixed-use building at 531 N. Larchmont Blvd. The committee had reviewed the project several times, as had the GWNC’s Upper Larchmont working group, and the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association. The project will have 15 residential units on the top three floors, and more than 2,700 square feet of dental office space and 990 square feet of general office space on the ground floor.
Architect Shahab Ghods, Plus Architects, Inc. told the committee how he changed the project to address the concerns of the immediate neighbors. Mr. Ghods said he reduced the size of the roof deck, and lowered the height of the building, stair-stepping the building on the back side away from the neighbors on Lucerne. He said the architects are proposing to use composite wood to clad the building so it would be more suitable for the residential area. Ghods said the process of revising the building to remove balconies from the back of the building allowed him to use the space to add a bedroom to a unit, adding that working with the community made the project better. Ghods and his firm won an award from Sycamore Square neighbors for their work on The Mansfield, a six-story art deco apartment building in 2018.
While neighbors did not love the design of 531 N. Larchmont, they nevertheless appreciated Ghods’s accommodations to fit the building into the residential neighborhood as best he could given the size permitted by the Transit Oriented Communities ordinance, which generally allows by-right approvals for qualifying projects.
Charles D’Atri, President of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association, told the Buzz that on September 12, 2023, the LVNA met, heard a presentation from Ghods, and unanimously approved the following resolution regarding the proposed project:
“While disappointed that the architect’s design did not reflect the environment of the neighborhood, we, the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Assn., support the proposed project as presented by the architect for 531 N. Larchmont Blvd., including the agreed-upon changes as delineated to City Planning and the GWNC. Nothing in this approval is intended to concede the TOC designation.”
The GWNC Land Use Committee’s motion, also unanimously approved, had similar qualifying language:
Motion: to support the project 531 N. Larchmont with conditions. mixed-use bldg with 15 units, most recent presentation, that includes limiting hours of roof stage, development of a ROOFTOP barrier as proposed with 6 foot barrier, between THE common area and mechanical area, limited hours, 8:30 am to 10 pm, and other conditions as presented to landuse committee on 9-26-2023, from the presentation dates 8-23-2023, all changes and conditions will be sent to city planning in writing with copies to GWNC, all agreed-upon changes and conditions notwithstanding the land use committee’s recommendation to approve, nothing in this approval is intended to concede the TOC designation.
Finally, Ghods said his firm is consulting with the city on the future of the large ficus tree in front of the building site. If the city recommends root pruning, the tree will be pruned and remain in place. If not, the developer will remove the tree and repair the sidewalk. Ghods’s presentation included images of the current view of the street and the view of the proposed development. Click here to view the entire presentation.
Citrus Square Residents Ask For Assistance with Unauthorized Synagogue
Sixteen residents from Citrus Square, adjacent to Hancock Park, asked the committee to take up the issue of an unauthorized synagogue operating at 200-202 Orange Drive in their neighborhood. Six residents spoke at the meeting, asking the committee for its help to urge appropriate city departments to investigate what the neighbors consider to be the unauthorized use of a residential duplex as a synagogue. Neighbors said they were concerned about the safety of young children in what appeared to be a locked garage being used for childcare. They also expressed concern that the duplex was built to satisfy building codes for residential use but it is now being used as a commercial building with many more people coming and going. According to neighbors, more than 70 people attended a Rosh Hashanah service last month.
One neighbor, who has lived on the street for more than 20 years, told the Buzz that the duplex had served as an unofficial synagogue for the past several years during COVID, a use protected by the courts and a growing practice of locating temples in homes in the area.
In June, the family that owned the duplex moved out and shortly thereafter began demolition of the interior of the building, which falls under the RSO ordinance. Neighbors told the Land Use Committee they have filed complaints with various city agencies to inspect the building and the permits used to do the construction. According to a neighbor, a housing inspector was denied entrance by the owner, who said the building is no longer used for housing. They have also sent letters to Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky and her staff about the issue.
Members of the Land Use Committee agreed to take up the matter at their next meeting, which will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at the Marlborough School (Room C115), 250 S. Rossmore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004.
In other business last week, the committee voted unanimously to elect Mark Alpers to serve as secretary of the committee.
The committee also agreed to support a motion presented by Sam Uretsky on behalf of the North Plymouth Coalition of neighbors working to close down the party house at 300 N. Plymouth Blvd.
The motion requesting that the GWNC “request the temporary suspension of the issuance of all permits, including but not limited to planning, building, filming, and public works permits for this address, or associated addresses, for 120 days or such reasonable period of time as is required by affected City departments to fully investigate the illegal activities at 300 N. Plymouth and to determine whether the issuance of new permits is supported and warranted by the facts and the law,” was unanimously approved by the committee.