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Against Sherman Oaks Building Moratorium

March 07, 1987

This letter is being written in opposition to City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky's request to impose a moratorium on building permits in the Sherman Oaks area. I am a property owner and a resident of Sherman Oaks for more than 20 years.

The new "over the hill" councilman (no pun intended) has taken little time to investigate the needs of the Sherman Oaks citizens. Rather, in undue haste without any public hearings, he has made a recommendation that is not in conformance with the public necessity, convenience, general welfare or good zoning practice.

The councilman's reasons for the moratorium were based upon the Sherman Oaks Homeowner's Assn. request for same, and further to aid in traffic circulation.

We have always believed that our representative is supposed to represent all of its citizens, not the few homeowners from the hills. Sherman Oaks has thousands of condominium homeowners, commercial interests, and many other property owners who are not in accord with this request, for the following reasons.

It is a well-established zoning principle that housing should be placed as close as possible to the commercial centers. We have three major commercial centers in Sherman Oaks.

1. The general area around Sepulveda and Ventura boulevards.

2. The area around the two shopping centers on Van Nuys Boulevard just north of Ventura Boulevard.

3. The commercial area on Ventura Boulevard extending from Sepulveda Boulevard all the way to the easterly line of the Sherman Oaks district.

Three office buildings were built in Sherman Oaks in 1986, and many more will be built over the next few years. The occupancy of an office building averages four persons per 1,000 square feet.

A minimum of 250,000 square feet of office space will be built within the immediate future, indicating at least 1,000 people will be added to the work force of Sherman Oaks. It is far better to house these people in close proximity to their work than to require them to travel from outlying areas and further congest traffic. Sherman Oaks has had almost a zero vacancy rate for housing for the last few years. There is still a need for housing that will be required in Sherman Oaks for the future.

A prime example of someone in government's having good intentions with bad results was the establishment of the Coastal Commission, whose basic objective was to obtain affordable housing in areas close to the beaches. The commission imposed severe restrictions limiting the property owner's right to build.

As a result, tract houses built between 1946 to 1950 which had previously sold for $40,000 jumped to $150,000. Houses which were priced at $100,000 jumped to $300,000 to $500,000. Rents which were in the $400 to $500 a month range increased from $1,200 to $1,500. All of the above had the opposite effect of what was intended. There was no affordable housing available in the areas close to the beaches. The proposed moratorium will have the same effect on affordable housing in Sherman Oaks.

Additionally, local merchants will be denied additional customers shopping in the local areas. Rather, these customers will be in outlying districts shopping in regional centers.

Further, one of the major employers in L.A. County is the construction industry. There would be hundreds of jobs lost and millions of dollars in employment income.

Last, but not least, hundreds of thousands of dollars in city real-estate tax income will be lost. An average 50-foot lot with multiple housing produces approximately $10,000 worth of real-estate taxes per annum. A moratorium for a few years could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxable income to the city. This means every person in Sherman Oaks and the rest of Los Angeles would face the burden of increased taxes required by the city.

The Planning Commission and the council have had many public hearings and have always concluded that Sherman Oaks' existing zoning is proper and appropriate for the area.

We urge the Planning Commission to deny this ill-conceived moratorium request.

HAL BARON

Sherman Oaks

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