At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 24, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee recommended that the GWNC support a new small lot subdivision project on N. Las Palmas Ave., and that the board ask our local City Council District 5 office to request a stop work order for 812 S. Citrus Ave., where a home was recently demolished without a demolition permit on file. The committee also discussed the city’s proposed new Permanent Al Fresco Dining ordinance, and a potential return to in-person meetings.
833-835 N. Las Palmas Ave.
According to a presentation by developer representative Larry Mondragon, the owners of this property are planning to replace the existing 1,800 square foot single family dwelling with a new 4-unit small lot subdivision development. Committee members asked whether the developers have spoken with neighbors about the plans, and Debra Rosenbaum, from the South Hollywood Neighborhood Association, confirmed there was a meeting, though the residents’ major concerns were more about design choices than whether or not the project meets other kinds of zoning requirements. Land Use committee members also asked about colors (which will be neutral off-whites, according to Mondragon), whether the garage openings are wide enough (Mondragon says they meet code requirements), and whether there are any drawings showing the new buildings in context with their neighbors (Mondragon said there are not, and there would be an additional expense to commission one from the architects). For the most part, however, the discussion was fairly short, and the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC board support the project.
812 S. Citrus Ave.
This item was placed on the agenda after a committee member noticed that the single family home at this address was demolished recently, but there doesn’t seem to be a demolition permit on file with the city. (The most recent permits issued by the Department of Building and Safety are for a remodeling project that would add an addition and second floor to the existing building, lot grading, and some revisions to the submitted plans, all issued in late 2022). According to the LADBS website, a complaint about the demolition was filed on January 5, but so far the site says only that the complaint was referred to department inspectors.
Land Use Committee members, several of whom noted that there have been several similar demolitions masquerading as “remodels” in our general area, asked if the owners could be invited to make a presentation about their plans at a future committee meeting…but GWNC administrator Julia Christiansen said there does not seem to be any contact information available on the city’s websites. In the end, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the GWNC contact City Council District 5 staff to ask them to request a stop work order for the property until more can be known about the owners’ plans, and whether or not the demolition was legal.
Permanent Al Fresco Dining Ordinance
This new ordinance, currently under development by the city, would help restaurants that created outdoor dining spaces on private property (including their own parking lots and other adjacent spaces) during the COVID-19 pandemic to legalize those spaces permanently. (The ordinance does NOT cover legalization of outdoor dining spaces created in public right of way areas, such as streets and sidewalks. That kind of dining space – currently in use by most of our local Larchmont Blvd. restaurants – is being handled in a separate legalization process involving different city departments.)
The proposed ordinance is still in its early stages , however (an FAQ is available here, and the city will hold its first public hearing about it on February 8 – sign up here), so while many committee members said they love and would like to protect all our new outdoor dining options, several also said that not enough details about this specific ordinance are available yet, and it would be better to wait until the city is further along in the process to weigh in. As a possible alternative approach, a motion was made to oppose the ordinance on the grounds that there should be a more cohesive effort by the city to legalize al fresco dining on both private and public property at the same time (with a single path for restaurants to navigate either kind of situation), but the motion failed to find a second. There were no further motions, and no votes were taken at this meeting.
Return to In-Person Meetings
As it was at the meeting of the full GWNC board earlier in January, the issue of whether or not the Council and its committees should be required to return to in-person meetings after the city’s COVID-19 emergency order expires at the end of this month was raised again at this meeting. The state-level Brown Act, which governs public meetings, requires all such groups to meet in person, and that rule will kick in again after January 31. GWNC President Conrad Starr reported that Marlborough School, where the committee held its meetings before the pandemic shutdowns, has once agreed to provide space for Land Use meetings, though only until 8:50 p.m.
As happened when the topic of returning to in-person meetings came up at the board meeting, however, several Land Use Committee members said they, too, would prefer to keep meeting remotely if possible after the emergency order expires. And after some discussion of the pros and cons of virtual vs. in-person meetings, the committee voted unanimously to recommend communicating to the GWNC board that Land Use Committee members would prefer to keep their meetings virtual, but if the law compels them to meet in person, the space at Marlborough School seems to be the best option.
[Note – after the January 12 GWNC meeting where the return to in-person meetings was first discussed at length, the Buzz conducted a public poll on the subject. Among the responses so far, sentiments run strongly in favor of either keeping meetings virtual or allowing both board members and other attendees the option of participating/voting either virtually or in person, depending on personal preference. The poll is still open at the link above if you’d like to weigh in.]