The Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council met for almost three hours Tuesday evening with much of the time dedicated to discussion over a motion to recommend the GWNC board oppose the small lot subdivision proposed at 250 N. Wilton Place.
The committee has met several times on the matter and after much more discussion with the neighborhood (developer Fred Maidenberg who has proposed building a small lot subdivision on the site with 5 townhomes did not attend the meeting) the committee voted unanimously to oppose the project in a motion that requested several actions from the City Planning Department including referring the Urban Design Studio, part of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning for redesign counsel to develop additional small lot units with a massing and character that blends into the historic district. The motion also requested that any new project should assume the footprint, massing, character and setbacks of the prior contributing single family historic structure, using a drive off of Wilton Place in the space remaining on the rear of the lot, facing Beverly Boulevard, where a historic garage existed.
In addition, the motion requested the Planning Department investigate the circumstances of the demolition of the single family home formerly on the lot. Neighbors contend the demolition permit was improperly issued and that the developer may have failed to provide all the required reviews. Illegal demolition of the residence in a historic district could throw the project into further uncertainty, if it was found that the developer provided false information on the application. Finally, the motion requested the department not provide a categorical exemption but instead determine if an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should have been required since the project is situated in the North Wilton Historic District in a prominent location at the entry to the district. Finally, the motion requested that 15 ft wide sidewalks be provided along Beverly Blvd, consistent with Mobility Element requirements for Avenue 1. The actual language of the motion will be available for presentation to the GWNC board at their next meeting on Wednesday, October 10.
The committee also agreed unanimously to support 14 appeals filed by residents of 5050 Maplewood Avenue who live next door to a proposed 13-unit apartment building at 5058 Maplewood Avenue.
Jason Peers, a resident at 5050 Maplewood told the committee that his street has been particularly hard hit and the owners of single family homes are losing sunlight and being crowded out by large apartment buildings.
“Twenty-five single family homes have been destroyed, said Peers, “over 230 units have been built and none of them have been occupied.” He and his neighbors told the Buzz they know it’s a lost cause to oppose the project but they are compelled to put their issues on the record.
“We realize this is a battle that isn’t going anywhere but we all felt it was important to hear our voices heard,” wrote Peers in an email to the Buzz. “We aren’t anti-development but are concerned with the quality of life changes that will happen now that 25 single family homes have been torn down and replaced with 235 units… parking… traffic… how can they judge any of it until some of the buildings “open?”
The project won the support of the Land Use Committee in August after the developer agreed to make design changes. Neighbors told the committee that no one had talked to the neighborhood and they didn’t know anything about plans to replace a single family residence with a giant building now permitted by state legislation, SB 1818 Density Bonus law, which allows a 32 percent increase in density that is dramatically altering single family neighborhoods.
In other business, the committee recommended support for a motion to request the City Attorney to address the illegal destruction of parkway trees. Residents, Jeffrey Carpenter, Julie Stromberg and Greg Wittmann drafted language for a motion that would direct the City Attorney’s office and the City Administrative Officer to establish an integrated process for approval of permits to remove parkways and enforce regulations against illegal removal of trees with fines and other penalties. The motion will refined and presented to the GWNC board for approval at their October 10th meeting.
Finally, the committee has a practice of recommending opposition to projects that fall to present to the committee or fail to gain support as presented. The following projects were recommend for opposition: 850 S. Gramercy; the applicant will return for a full presentation; and 639 N Larchmont Blvd for failing to present at the meeting.
A project to convert and improperly permitted garage to an accessory dwelling unit at 628 S. Orange was recommended for approval.
The next meeting of the Land Use Committee is October 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm at Marlborough School at 250 South Rossmore Avenue. All are welcome to attend.