Tasked with complying with the state’s demand that the City of Los Angeles create more than 450,000 new housing units by 2029, the City Planning Department’s 2021-2029 Housing Element has proposed effectively rezoning most of the city’s neighborhoods creating a capacity for over 1 million new housing units, Hancock Park HOA President Cindy Chvatal-Keane and La Brea-Hancock HOA President Cathy Roberts told members of the GWNC Land Use Committee at their meeting last week.
Chvatal-Keane and Roberts, representing United Neighbors, a coalition of neighborhoods across the working to protect multi-family and single-family neighborhoods while supporting affordable housing, urged the committee to educate our local neighborhoods before it’s too late.
Chvatal-Keane and Roberts told the committee the current version of the Department of City Planning’s Housing Element calls for zoning to allow over 1 million units by creating increased density on multi-family lots and expanding the city’s Transit Oriented Community (TOC) program allowing in 4 to 6 story buildings in single-family neighborhoods. The plan also calls for the creation of Opportunity Residential Corridors (OPP RC) on streets currently under-used for housing, like Melrose Avenue or Beverly Blvd, which have “important lifestyle amenities” such as services, transit access, and jobs also allowing 4 to 6-story apartment buildings in single-family neighborhoods.
Considering declining population growth and existing zoning that accommodates 230,000 units, the city’s goal should be closer to 255,000 units, which includes a 7% cushion the department had planned, explained Chvatal-Keane.
“But these zoning plans would double the amount of housing throughout the city,” she said. “And, the recently approved Downtown and Hollywood community plans have 259,500 units, so the city has already met the RHNA numbers!”
Cathy Roberts, President of La Brea Hancock said the city should be looking to add housing on Melrose and La Brea avenues but not on the residential streets showing maps of how the new zoning would affect local neighborhoods.
“Sycamore Square is being upzoned, instead the density should be on La Brea,” said Roberts. “Brookside with the unique urban Brookside stream running along Longwood Avenue is one of the streets Planning is proposing to upzone. This steam, which connects to Ballona Creek, is protected by the state and therefore creates a sensitive land use for our area as it is a unique environmental resource that needs to be protected.”
“This should be done with community-based planning,” said Chvatal-Keane. “We should be part of the discussion that puts the density on our commercial corridors, and stops developer giveaways but City Planning is not engaging communities. It was nearly impossible to find these maps on the city’s website and there is no City Council file where we can submit comments and engage in the discussion.”
Roberts said there are more appropriate locations throughout the city for upzoning, such as areas that already permit multi-family uses. Instead of breaking zoning in established neighborhoods, the City should focus on implementing adaptive reuse of existing commercial buildings for housing, as implemented in other major cities, such as Montreal, said Roberts.
Chvatal-Keane and Roberts urged the committee to go on the record opposing the current Housing Element. They asked the committee to send the following motion to the GWNC Board for consideration at the next meeting.
Motion: Whereas, the Housing Element and Community plan updates have sufficient zoning opportunities in commercial corridors, on public lands, and through adaptive reuse to meet state mandates. There is no need to further rezone through overlays and other zoning devices R1 zones or sensitive, rent-stabilized multi-family housing dividing and destroying communities and neighborhoods. The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council LUC recommends the GWNC opposes the Housing Elment’s proposed rezoning and densification of R1 and multi-family neighborhoods beyond what SB9 and ADU laws currently allow.