Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Neighbors are Buzzing about Housing Projects

The neighborhood has been buzzing with conversations about two 100% affordable housing projects that are being fast-tracked through the city’s planning process. Both projects have been submitted under the new rules created by Mayor Karen Bass’s Executive Directive 1 and could be approved within 60 days, though as of this writing, no approvals have been issued.

Residents are lining up to see if changes can be made to both projects that will make them more compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.

800 South Lorraine Blvd. lies within the boundaries of the Windsor Village Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. Residents there are asking the city to require HPOZ review of the project. A decision to exempt 800 South Lorraine from review could have a significant impact on other projects in HPOZs across the city. Representatives for the development have been invited to attend the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee meeting tomorrow evening to answer questions about the project. Residents opposed to the project are planning to ask the committee not to support the project.

Also on the agenda for the GWNC Land Use Committee, on Tuesday evening is 507 N. Larchmont. As we reported, the proposed building is a 7-story, mixed-use building, containing a 100% affordable housing project, consisting of 52 units (inclusive of 1 market rate manager’s unit) as well as 845 SF of ground floor Commercial Retail use, according to the application filed on December 14, 2023. The approximate size of the studio units is under 400 square feet. The developer is requesting a reduction in the size of the setbacks in the back and on the side with no setback in the front bringing the edge of the building to the sidewalk.

The statewide coalition of neighborhood groups, United Neighbors, sent email to supporters saying they are working with the mayor’s office on modifications to ED 1.

“We are pushing for guidelines that protect our city from bad environmental policies (no setbacks, no trees, no articulation of buildings). We have heard from many of you on ED 1 projects in your area and have used those examples to talk with the city about what needs to be done to protect all of us. The city is currently working on a permanent ordinance for ED 1,” wrote Maria Pavlou Kalban in an email message today. United Neighbors advocates for adding density to commercial corridors and preserving single-family and multi-family neighborhoods.

Both of these projects reflect what the zoning permits, explained a developer we spoke to about why all the buildings tend to look the same. Developers are required to seek approvals from eighteen different City departments to get a permit to build, so tend to submit buildings they know will be permitted to save time and money.

“Our rules can force builders to build low-quality homes with limited air and light, or with windowless bedrooms. It’s not that they don’t care – it’s all they are allowed to build because of our rules. So let’s change the rules,” said Ed Mendoza, Policy Director of the LCI, which stands for Livable Communities Initiative, a locally-based effort to promote a return to historic building styles that were once permitted in LA.

Lindsay Sturman, a Windsor Square resident and co-founder of the LCI explained their effort over the past three years has been to change the conversation around housing so we get buildings that are embraced by the residents and the neighborhood and not shunned.

One way to do that is to reduce the approval process with standard plans, a common practice in other cities.

“Standard Plans are an opportunity for each neighborhood to decide what they want their particular architecture to look like. And with “pre-approved” Standard Plans, we can encourage property owners and developers to build better buildings at the scale, height and architectural styles that the community will embrace while making it easier and more profitable to use this “off-the-shelf” option,” said John Claflin, of Studio Claflin, an LA-based architecture firm working with LCI.

Local housing advocates told the Buzz it’s “time to build the much-needed affordable housing in all Neighborhoods. We cannot continue to push against it,” said Marilyn Wells, founder of Stories From The Frontline, a non-profit working to end homelessness.

Wells would like to see housing in every neighborhood, including the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area. Spreading out projects all over the city results in more housing overall and prevents concentrating projects in low-income areas that displace people and drive up housing prices.

Several neighborhood associations have sent out emails urging residents to learn more about these projects and get involved in the conversation since more projects are inevitably coming.

LCI is holding a Zoom meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. for anyone interested in learning more about their ideas. Click here to register for the Zoom.

The GWNC Land Use Committee meeting is in person tomorrow, Tuesday January 23rd @ 6:30 pm, at the Marlborough School, 250 S Rossmore Ave. in (Room C115). The parking lot entrance is on the north side of 3rd Street between Rossmore Ave. and Arden Blvd. Tell the guard that you are attending the Land Use Meeting.

We’ll be there to cover both so check back with Buzz for more information on this important debate.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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