A zoning ordinance designed to curb a growing trend to convert single-family housing areas in Hollywood into high-density apartment complexes will be considered Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
Dubbed the Hollywood Interim Zoning Control Ordinance, the measure would require public hearings and specific approval by the city Planning Commission of all plans to replace single-unit housing and duplexes with apartments.
The ordinance would apply only in Councilman Michael Woo's district (more than 65% of Hollywood) and exclude housing areas located within the 1,100-acre Hollywood Redevelopment District and the 155-acre Highland-Cahuenga Corridor Plan area.
Michael Davies, Hollywood planner for the Los Angeles Planning Department, said that the Woo-sponsored ordinance grew out of protests from several residential groups that real estate agents are "combing the streets" to replace homes with apartments.
"Many older people living in bungalow-style housing have been scared by the intensity of the sales pitches," Davies said. "They live in rather stable housing areas and do not want to move."
Davies said that developer interest is fueled by the end of permissive zoning in neighboring West Hollywood and unreasonably dense apartment zoning in single-family residential areas in Hollywood.
Because of what Davies described as "civic boosterism," most housing areas in Hollywood are zoned for apartments (as much as 25 units per lot), while most existing lots include only one to four units.
"The basic idea, going back to the 1940s, was that Hollywood would take off if the zoning was 'the sky is the limit,' " Davies said. "Obviously, that did not happen, either in the residential or commercial areas."
Real Estate Speculation
The housing areas have remained low-density despite the high-density zoning, Davies said, until real estate speculation began to intensify about 18 months ago.
"The real estate people are rushing in to capitalize on the opportunity to change the neighborhoods," he said. "They have been stopped in West Hollywood because of down-zoning and in the redevelopment area because of the vagaries of dealing with the Community Redevelopment Agency.
"There are several problems with converting the areas into high-density apartments. The housing areas are stable and well-maintained. The streets are not designed to handle high-density development. Most of the residents do not want high-density apartments." The Planning Department has begun a two- to three-year process of reworking the Hollywood Zoning Plan, with the thrust clearly toward down-zoning in low-scale housing areas, Davies said.
Neighbors May Testify
If the interim ordinance is adopted, neighbors of proposed apartment developments will be allowed to testify at public hearings and developers will have to prove that their projects are compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.
While the Planning Commission will have the authority to approve the plans, Davies said that the commission generally opposes intrusion of apartments into single-unit and duplex areas. "Certainly," Davies said, "the commission will be tougher on new plans than what exists now, basically applying for and getting a building permit."
He said that the interim ordinance lasts two years, with a one-year extension available on request of the area councilman. "That should give us enough time to rework the Hollywood Zoning Plan, which is virtually unchanged from 1970," Davies said.
Councilman Woo said that the current plan "relies on data and assumptions available in the late 1960s that are no longer pertinent to the present conditions in Hollywood."