A controversial zoning ordinance designed to curb the trend toward high-density apartment construction across vast parts of Los Feliz and Hollywood was defeated in the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday.
However, its sponsor, 13th District Councilman Michael Woo, vowed to bring it back for reconsideration Friday.
Realizing he did not have the votes needed for passage, Woo himself wound up voting against his own ordinance so he could bring it back. Only a council member who voted on the prevailing side of an issue can do so. The ordinance failed on a 4-7 vote, even though it had won a preliminary 10-4 vote last week. To be approved, an ordinance needs eight votes on the 15-member council.
'May Make Concessions'
Woo said he will lobby other council members for their votes but added: "I may have to make some concessions."
Those concessions will probably involve exemptions for builders who have already submitted plans for development in the area. Woo's original proposal allowed for no such exemptions. An amendment proposed by Councilman Ernani Bernardi, which failed 7 to 6, would have exempted any project filed before May 8, when the Planning Commission approved the ordinance.
Woo said his original measure was intended to preserve single-family homes and duplexes in areas where existing zoning laws are allowing new high-density development. Under the proposed ordinance, apartment developers would be required to seek Planning Commission approval for work that previously could be undertaken without city review.
The measure would have affected more than half of Hollywood and Los Feliz in an area bounded roughly by Laurel Canyon Boulevard on the west, Hyperion Avenue on the east, Santa Monica Boulevard on the south and the Hollywood Hills on the north.
Would Exclude Two Regions
Two of Hollywood's major planning regions--the 1,100-acre Hollywood Redevelopment District and the 155-acre Highland-Cahuenga Corridor Plan area--would have been excluded from the target area.
Developers challenged the ordinance because of its effect on 24 projects for which city building permits already are pending. Rather than receive automatic approval for construction, those projects, representing more than 1,000 apartment units, would have been reviewed by planning commissioners as to their effect on surrounding homes and streets.
Projects that failed to win support from the commissioners could have been scaled down to duplexes, triplexes or relatively small multi-unit buildings.
Woo, who was elected last year on a platform of controlled development, said the ordinance is designed as a tool for regulating growth until the city can complete a new community zoning plan for Hollywood and Los Feliz. In those areas, escalating property values and efforts to revitalize the business community have created an unprecedented interest in apartment construction, Woo said.
Many neighborhoods now contain a mixture of single-family homes, duplexes and apartment buildings. Homeowners are under pressure from developers who want to buy property for more construction, Woo said, and many residents have complained about increasing traffic and the proliferation of large buildings.
Woo said a new community plan is expected to reconcile the forces of new growth and neighborhood preservation. He said the interim ordinance would be in effect for two to three years until a community plan is adopted.
"We can't predict what the revisions in the community plan will be, but I think it's safe to assume there will be lower densities than currently allowed" in the area, Woo said.