CD4 City Councilmember David Ryu met with residents of the La Brea Hancock Homeowners Association at their annual meeting last Sunday. Ryu spoke at length about his efforts to address the neighborhood’s concerns about housing, both the lack of affordable housing that is adding more homeless people to the area and the rules permitting greater density of housing that is altering the neighborhood character and creating more congestion. Specifically, Ryu focused on Measure JJJ, which was passed by the voters in 2016, and the Planning Department’s Transit Oriented Communities program, which allows increased density near transit corridors and extra density if low and moderate income units are included in the projects.
Critical of the formulas that allow that extra density, Ryu told residents, “we are giving away the farm; we are allowing way to much luxury with not enough affordable housing.”
(Just a few days later, this week, Ryu acted on that statement and introduced a motion instructing the City’s Planning Department to revise the guidelines for its Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) development program, to require a higher percentage of affordable units in TOC projects in “high and mid-market areas.”)
Residents also heard from Erin Seinfeld, Field Deputy for LA County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl, on the new voting system for LA County, which will offer voters more than 1,000 new Vote Centers, and the ability to vote for 11 days up to the official election date.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Hector Marquez gave an update on recent crime trends in the neighborhood. Crime stats show that most crimes are down around the city, but Marquez said thefts from motor vehicles are the biggest issue in the La Brea Hancock neighborhood. He reminded residents to “lock it, hide it, keep it.” He also told residents about a new cell phone app – Neighbors by Ring – that posts surveillance video from Ring cameras installed in homes…though he noted that law enforcement doesn’t monitor any of the apps. Residents talked about the inaccuracies in reporting of the apps. Officers told residents that much of the information on these apps and platforms like Nextdoor.com are just gossip. They recommended that residents contact the police directly if they have something to report or if they see something suspicious, especially in the event of an emergency.
Tammy Rosato, La Brea Hancock Homeowners Association President, told residents about gangs coming from outside the city to vandalize or steal cars. Rosato said it happened to her, when thieves stole the wheel off her husband’s car, leaving it parked on a rack.
“If you can park in your garage, you should,” advised Rosato. “Avoid parking on the street at all costs, if you can. And, it’s really important to be looking out for each other. If you see someone lurking around cars that doesn’t look like they belong in the neighborhood, call 911.”
Rosato invited residents to join her at the monthly Community-Police Advisory Board (CPAB) meetings that happen on the third Thursday of every month at the LAPD Station on Venice Blvd., to learn more about what’s happening the community andto meet the senior leadership at LAPD.
Rosato reviewed the volunteers who serve as block captains for the neighborhood watch, and noted that some blocks still need some volunteers. She also reported that Hornburg Jaguar will open its showroom at 400 N. La Brea by the end of the year. Target is also expected to open in the former Orchard Supply space by the end of the year.
Resident Cathy Roberts, who also serves on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee, reported on several items including a bike greenway planned for 4th Street, which was scheduled for consideration at the GWNC’s meeting this week. Roberts also reported that she recently attended Plan Check NC, a monthly meeting of neighborhood council volunteers who work on city-wide land use issues like SB 50 and SB 330.
Resident Diana Eisele told residents about her experience reporting an unpleasant asphalt smell that she noticed in her backyard. Eisele explained how she followed her nose around the neighborhood thinking it was a resident repairing their roof. She ended up at the Metro yard, and learned the smell was coming from tar sands being excavated by the Metro construction. She contacted the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which came out and investigated the smell. She also contacted Metro, which referred her to their construction materials.
“During the excavation and tunneling, odors found in asphalt and tar sands may enter the air. People who live and work near the Tar Pits may be familiar with these smells,” according to Metro. “Additionally, some of the construction activity may produce dust which you might visibly see. Some of the compounds that are part of naturally-occurring asphalt and tar sands have a chemical-like odor.”
After testing the compounds, Metro concluded that even though residents may see dust from the trucks taking out dirt from the tunnels, or smell odors, there doesn’t appeal to be any danger to residents, children, or the elderly.
Eisele concluded after her extensive research that most experts consider it an “unpleasant annoyance versus the value of the greater good of our public transit.” She added that the intensity of the smell varies depending on the weather, but said that, personally, she isn’t going to work in her yard when she smells the smell. In closing, she encouraged residents to contact SCAQMD anytime they have concerns about the air quality, noting the agency will come out and investigate. SCAQMD can be reached at 1-800 Cut Smog or 1-800-288-7664. Mobile callers can simply dial # SMOG or #7664.
The group also elected the following board members for the coming year: Jill Brown, Bob Eisele, Phil Messina, Michelle Owen, Jane Prentiss, Genia Quinn, Cathy Roberts and Tammy Rosato. Officers will be elected at their March Board meeting. Visit La Brea Hancock for more information on the association’s activities.