Friday, May 20, 2011

Comments on update of the Hollywood Community Plan

My views are that the most immediate planning issue in Los Angeles is the inadequacy of the DEIR for the update of the Hollywoood Community plan since its comment period closes on June 3, 2011.

1) The plan's policy language is irrelevant. No decision makers ever look at it in making budget or land use decisions.

2) The focus should be opposition to sections of the DEIR which sanction broad increases in density through general plan amendments and zone changes because:

-- They will become a template for dramatic increases in permitted densities in the remaining 34 community plans.

-- There is no planning rationale for this up-planning and up-zoning based on the "growth neutrality" intent of the Genera Plan Framework Element. The city, according to the Framework, has enormous untapped potential for population and housing expansion based on established plan designations and zones.

-- In fact, in the Hollywood Community Plan's implementation program up-zoning and up-planning is proposed to encourage growth, an approach which turn LA's growth neutral General Plan on its head.

-- As far as we know, the city's infrastructure, which has not been monitored in over 11 years, cannot handle existing user demand, much less the demands of a larger population which result from up-planning and up-zoning. Without demonstrated unused infrastructure capacity, there should be no increases in permitted density.

-- The DEIR uses year 2000 census data, even though current 2010 census is available.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

McMansion Law Toothless, Scourage Continues Unabated

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LA NEIGHBORHOODS
Dick Platkin

The Mayor recently signed a new ordinance adopted by the Los Angeles City Council to
halt the construction of McMansions on small hillside lots. These elected officials vow
that this ordinance will stop the mansionization process in hillside areas. But will it?
If the Hillside McMansion ordinance is filled with loopholes similar to those of the
Baseline McMansion ordinance enacted several years ago for non-hillside areas, hillside
residents should be very wary. This is because the Baseline ordinance still allowed
McMansions to be constructed -- as long as they were less than about 4,500 square feet.
Since this pActive Imagerovision effectively green-lighted nearly all
McMansions, especially in the R1-1 zone, the
Mansionization process has continued unabated in Los
Angeles.


To begin, McMansions are those boxy, massively
oversized, suburban-style spec houses appearing in
older neighborhoods, such as Beverly Grove, where I
live.
They are all two stories and built by house flippers to
the maximum height limit of 33 feet. They are almost always fortified with tall hedges
and walls, painted bright white, and designed with an attached two car garage seldom
used for cars.


There are now two efforts in Council District 5 to finally pull the plug on the
mansionizers. One is an overlay zoning ordinance for Studio City, whose adoption is
stalled. The other is a similar ordinance proposed by the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Association (BWHA) for the Beverly Grove neighborhood. This is an area north of
Wilshire Boulevard, sandwiched between The Grove and Beverly Center shopping centers, which has been targeted by the mansionizers.


TheActive Image residents of the Beverly Grove area believe it is now time for
Council District 5 to support the BWHA proposal and finally side with
local residents, not the spec builders.


Unless the Baseline McMansion ordinance is tightened up, the entire
character of the Beverly Grove neighborhood, many other parts of
the Council District 5, and eventually all of LA’s older residential neighborhoods
will be permanently transformed by real estate speculators. They will continue to buy
and bulldoze smaller homes, in order to replace them with McMansions that are quickly
placed on the market and then flipped every two years.


Furthermore, during the nearly two years since the Beverly Wilshire proposal was first
presented to Council District 5, many more McMansions have been built despite the real
estate recession. Local residents assume this is because the mansionizers do not depend
on bank financing to quickly get their behemoths to market. Until the code amendments
presented to CD 5 in Studio City and Beverly Grove are adopted, these trends will
continue and will probably get worse. When the dust finally settles, few traditional
Spanish revival and Tudor homes will remain.


As a result, the tipping point for much of Los Angeles is at hand, and this is the time to
act, to share your views with Council District 5. It is better to do something now rather
than point fingers later.


(Dick Platkin is city planning consultant on the board of the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Association.
Please send questions or comments to: rhplatkin@yahoo.com)
-cw

CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 31
Pub: Apr 19, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Infrastructure Coalition

SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2011

Infrastructure Lawsuit Appeal Filed

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Infrastructure Lawsuit Appeal Filed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sabrina Venskus

April 14, 2011 (213) 482-4200

venskus@lawsv.com

Infrastructure Lawsuit Moves to Next Phase

An appeal was filed today by several Los Angeles community groups to overturn a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s denial of their landmark lawsuit to force the city to produce and implement its Annual Report on Growth and Infrastructure. Superior Court Judge John Torribio ruled the City of Los Angeles need not follow mandatory duties and mitigation measures set out in its General Plan Framework Element, the City’s “land use constitution”. The appeal requesting review of the decision was filed in the Second District Court by group attorneys Sabrina Venskus and Doug Carstens. The original complaint was filed in 2008, case number L.A.S.C. BS115435.

As part of its General Plan update, the City promised to monitor and report upon its infrastructure, including public services, and population growth, and further to put building controls in place if growth was found to outpace infrastructure availability. The City has not produced and implemented an Annual Report on Growth and Infrastructure since 2000.

“With fire services being cut, police hiring being frozen, roads deteriorating, libraries schedules being cut, park staff and hours being cut, traffic gridlock, water main breaks occurring and water rationing put into effect, there is little doubt that the infrastructure is more than threatened – it is collapsing,” said Lucille Saunders of the La Brea Willoughby-Coalition, one of the groups suing. “ Now we know why.

Many of the city’s community plans clearly describe the required monitoring and mitigation set forth in the General Plan. Those community plans state:

“…if this monitoring finds that population in the Plan area is occurring faster than projected; and, that infrastructure resource capacities are threatened, particularly critical ones such as water and sewerage; and, that there is not a clear commitment to at least begin the necessary improvements within twelve months; then building controls should be put into effect, for all or portions of the West Los Angeles Community, until land use designations for the Community Plan and corresponding zoning are revised to limit development.”

The City provided further clarity in their mitigation program for the General Plan. It states:

“Lastly, the policy requires that type, amount and location of development be correlated with the provision of adequate supporting infrastructure and services”

Unfortunately, the City has failed to implement its own mandated policy, resulting in the predictable: existing residents and businesses are dealing with an utterly dysfunctional government that fails to improve its infrastructure and provide adequate public safety services.

Jim O’Sullivan of Fix the City, another group involved in the suit, stated: “We will pursue this lawsuit as far as necessary to force the city to do its job as required by law. The city’s failure to ensure adequate infrastructure is costing us police and fire coverage and putting public safety at risk. We just are not going to let that happen.” ###