Mar Vista residents, alarmed by the possibility of having apartment buildings overlooking their backyards, have begun a drive to persuade city planners to reduce permitted density along a portion of Centinela Avenue.
Los Angeles Councilwoman Pat Russell, responding to a petition signed by 120 people, is seeking a building moratorium and eventual downzoning of property zoned for multiple-dwelling units on both sides of Centinela Avenue between National and Venice boulevards, according to Russell aide Yvette MacFrazier.
The motion, which was approved by the council and sent to the Planning and Environment Committee, asks for an 18-month moratorium. If the property is not rezoned within that time, the petition asks for an extension of up to another year.
The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the motion Dec. 4 at City Hall.
Gregory Thomas, spokesman for Homeowners Organized to Monitor Their Environment, said the petition was signed by residents of the area bounded by Palms Boulevard and Windward, Centinela and Stewart avenues.
Thomas said residents feel a sense of urgency because one multi-unit building has already gone up at 3615 Centinela Ave. and some homeowners have been approached by real estate brokers. Core samples have been taken on property that has already been sold and survey crews have been seen by neighbors, he added.
The petitioners listed several adverse effects that they fear will result if the area is not rezoned. They include increased traffic, crime and parking congestion, obstruction of airflow, wind currents and sunlight, lowered property values, increased air pollution and noise, and creation of a "transient" environment.
For example, Thomas said that the building at 3615 Centinela Ave. has destroyed the privacy of single-family homes a few feet behind it, because its apartments overlook the backyards of the homes.
MacFrazier said, "We are not looking at taking away multiple-family zoning, but we are looking at downzoning." The acceptable situation would be to build two-, four- or six-unit buildings, depending on the size of the lot, she added.
The portion of Centinela included in the moratorium request is now occupied by small stores, low-density apartment buildings, a firehouse, several new, high-density apartment and condominium buildings and single-family homes.