Members of the general public are provided time to speak at each monthly meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. At last week’s meeting, Windsor Square residents Suzanne Buhai and Meredith Quill used their public comment time to ask for help with filming issues in the Windsor Square neighborhood.
Buhai and Quill, block captains in Windsor Square, said the neighborhood’s voluntary guidelines for filming are not being followed by film companies, in particular the limits on filming hours. The guidelines permit filming from 7 am – 10 pm week days only. But there are often shoots until the early hours of the morning, as well as on weekends.
They also asserted the survey process to assess neighbors’ approval is flawed and misrepresents actual results. According to Buhai, the survey only counts an actual “no” response as “no,” if there’s no answer, it’s considered a “yes.” She asked for transparency in process and the ability to see the actual surveys. Lastly, Buhai said there should be equitable compensation provided to all neighbors, to avoid pitting neighbors against each other.
Buhai suggested the following as possible solutions:
- Formation of an ad hoc committee that can reaffirm the guidelines and draft an ordinance that will resemble construction and noise ordinances, since the current guidelines are currently unenforceable.
- Make the survey process transparent. Work with Film LA and a committee to make sure the surveys are accurate.
- If filming does take place outside legal guidelines, compensate neighbors equitably based on their proximity to production.
The GWNC did not take any action, but Windsor Square representative Caroline Moser asked the issue be placed on the agenda for a future meeting. After the meeting, Buhai told the Buzz that she and Quill had requested a meeting with CD4 staff and FilmLA staff to discuss the matter.
Also in the public comment period, Larchmont Village resident Tracey Clarke advised the board that she and a group of residents have filed an appeal to the approval granted by the City Planning Department for a mixed use project at 5570 Melrose Avenue – 647 Beachwood Drive. Clarke said she would be attending the GWNC’s Land Use Committee meeting on June 27 to ask the committee to rescind its recommendation to the GWNC to support the project, and that she would return to the GWNC board at its July meeting to ask the GWNC to vote to rescind the council’s support of the project.
As reported in the Buzz, Clark said she and other residents have filed the appeal because they believe the building is to too large for the neighborhood and is not providing the required number of affordable housing units in exchange for the additional height permitted. Most buildings in the neighborhood are two and three stories tall, and one of the parcels that compose the project has a 45 foot height limit. The proposed project would be a new five-story, 43,078 square-foot mixed use complex containing 52 residential dwelling units and 5,500 square feet of commercial uses.
Several other residents also spoke on Wednesday to urge the GWNC board to reconsider its position of support.
Kevin Marsh, a representative of the developer Crescent Capital Partners, said the statement that the project was not complying with the law was inaccurate. He said that extensive community outreach was conducted on the project and it was presented publicly several times. Marsh said the developers listened to the community and redesigned the facade to fit more closely with the architecture in the neighborhood, and they have added parking and design details to screen the balconies to provide more privacy for residents. He added that the project has always included 5 affordable housing units and they have never promised more.
Following the pubic comment period of the agenda, the GWNC board heard reports from various representatives.
John Darnell from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) invited everyone to participate in a free workshop on Civic Engagement and City Services, Wednesday, June 21, 7:30 pm at Young Israel of Hancock Park (upstairs), 225 South La Brea Avenue.
Julie Stromberg, chair of the Transportation committee urged everyone to attend the next committee meeting on Monday, June 19, where Gayle Greenberg, Murakawa Communications, will make a presentation about LA’s sidewalk repair program. An important component of the sidewalk repair program, is the removal and replacement of the street trees. Stromberg noted that while the committee generally supports the program to repair the sidewalks, there hasn’t been enough discussion about the environmental impact of removing large numbers of mature trees that are being replaced with much smaller trees. She invited everyone to attend the meeting on on Monday, June 19, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., at Marlborough School, Collins Room – D200, 250 South Rossmore Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004.
Stromberg also presented a report on the Environmental & Sustainability Committee, which met earlier in the week. The committee is talking with the Larchmont Boulevard Association about having at least one electric car charging station on the street. They are also working with the City’s Bureau of Sanitation to do a pilot program on food waste and backyard composting. The program would bring composters to the neighborhood to encourage residents to reduce the amount of food waste that goes into the City’s collection bins, and to create compost that could be made available locally. Currently 20% of the waste collected is food trimmings. Stromberg also said the committee is planing to do another drought-tolerant garden tour. The next meeting of the Environmental & Sustainability Committee Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at Marlborough School, Collins Room – D200, 250 South Rossmore Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004.
In other business, GWNC board member Philip Farhar proposed that the GWNC draft a letter reminding the LADBS to uphold its commitment to enforce all codes pertaining to residential zones The GWNC also voted to send a letter to LADBS to enforce the ordinances to protect and preserve the residential zone.
The GWNC also voted to follow recommendation by the Land Use Committee in the following matters:
The board voted 19 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstentions to oppose the following projects because the developer failed to appear before the Land Use Committee to provide information about the project.
- 3377 W. Olympic Blvd: Application for an Elder Care Facility, Medical Building – 146 Bed Units and 24 Memory Care
Rooms APPC-2017-569, ENV-21017-570.
- 3607 W. Olympic Blvd. Applicant requests a Vesting Tentative Tract for 6 single- family lots in accordance with the Small Lot Subdivision
Ordinance No. 176,354 on a 7,982.3 square foot parcel of land in the C2.1 zone. Applicant attended
the Jan. 2016 Meeting but did not present and has since completely revised the plans. VTT-73951-SL, ENV-2015-4443-EA
After much discussion, the board also voted to oppose a Small Lot Subdivision Parcel Map at 836 N. McCadden Place. The project would demolish an existing single family residence to be replaced with four (4) small lot homes. AA-2017-328-PMLA-SL, ENV-2017-329-CE. The board and the Land Use committee supported the position of the South Hollywood Neighborhood Association representative Don Hunt, who said residents are concerned the building is too tall. He said most homes on the street are just two stories tall, and the neighborhood is working to secure a qualified zoning area that would restrict the height to two stories. He asked the board for support to hold the height at 2 stories. The vote was 11-1-4.
The board also voted to support an application to convert an existing 5-unit apartment building to condominiums at 838 N. Mansfield Ave., with the caveat that the approval be revoked if any changes are made. The motion carried by a vote of 17-1-0.
Similarly, the board voted to support a change of use from residential/commercial to residential/joint living and work quarters at 902 S. Norton Avenue. The proposed project would convert and an existing 4 story, approximately 28,564 square-foot structure that is a designated contributor within the Wilshire Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). No exterior work is being proposed. (ZA-2017-1316-CU), ZA-2017-1316-ZAD, ENV-2017-1317- CE. The motion carried unanimously 18-0-0.
Finally, Board member Frances McFall asked the board to consider allowing time on the agenda for neighborhood reports. McFall noted that much of the board’s time is spent listening to others presenting reports and hoped there might be time to allow board members to share information about each of their neighborhoods.