Residents of the South Carthay neighborhood are up in arms that CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz has asked the LA City Council to overturn the decisions of the South Carthay HPOZ, the Area Planning Commission and the City Planning Department’s Office of Historic Resources to greenlight a second-story addition to a home in the South Carthay HPOZ at 6500 Olympic Place.
“The South Carthay Neighborhood Association (SCNA) is deeply disappointed that Councilmember Paul Koretz, after written notification of our opposition, has not taken the time to meet with stakeholders,” SCNA President Brad Kane told the Buzz. “He has taken a very unusual action to overturn the unanimous decision of the Area Planning Commission, as well as the unanimous decision of the South Carthay HPOZ.”
Kane told the Buzz he was surprised that Koretz was opposing the findings of the HPOZ since he has always been a supporter of historic preservation. The South Carthay HPOZ was adopted by City Council in 1985, one of the earliest HPOZs in the city.
Neighbors in South Carthay were notified last week that Koretz was now supporting the project proposed by homeowner Jennifer Quinn Gowey, who has tried unsuccessfully since 2016 to secure a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) that is required to add a second floor and other additions to her home at 6500 Olympic Place. Koretz wrote in a letter to members of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) that the project has been revised and gained support of the immediate neighbors.
Once the neighbors learned of the review by PLUM, they gathered over 103 letters of opposition from the neighborhood of approximately 350 homes, in just three days. But to no avail, PLUM voted to support the project at its meeting yesterday and sent the matter to the full council for consideration today, where it is also likely to be approved, according to neighbors who spoke to the Buzz. If the project wins approval, neighbors have 90 days to file an appeal.
“We are waiting to hear from the council office,” Kane told the Buzz last night.
Yesterday the council office provided us with a copy of the letter Koretz sent to PLUM when we inquired about why he was now supporting the project, but we are still waiting to hear back to our follow-up questions.
After this story was posted Councilmember Koretz’s Communications Director told the Buzz that Mr. Koretz decided to support the project because there was also lots of support from the neighborhood.
“[The] Councilmember believed between the HPPOZ, former, current board members and planning people, this applicant had a plan for a path forward and [had] made so many revisions that now this is a better project,” said Alison Simard, Communications Director, in a text message to the Buzz.
The South Carthay HPOZ seeks to preserve the character of the neighborhood which is almost entirely one-story homes, built from 1932 to 1939 in the Spanish Revival style, with low-pitched red tile roofs, arched doors and windows, and smooth stucco exterior finishes that provide visual continuity and cohesiveness to the neighborhood. South Carthay residences are considered exceptional for their quality construction, skilled craftsmanship, decorative detailing and individuality, according the LA City Planning Department.
The Planning Department found that Gowey’s proposed project did not meet preservation plan guidelines for several reasons, including adding a second story and removing historic features visible on the corner property. No new additions including a second floor have been adopted by the HPOZ since 2010. Residents say they are planning to file a lawsuit to prevent this project from setting a precedent that undermines their neighborhood HPOZ and the efforts of the Planning Department to preserve neighborhoods.
The photos below are from the application filed with the City Planning Department.
This story has been updated.