A united front of Westwood homeowner and environmental groups has attacked new planning proposals reducing potential residential growth by about one-third, claiming they are inadequate to solve the community's traffic problems.
The downzoning proposals are being advocated by the city Planning Department as part of the first update of the Westwood Community Plan in 15 years.
Opposed to the proposals are the Friends of Westwood, Holmby Westwood Homeowners Assn., Westwood Hills Property Owners Assn, Westwood Homeowners Assn. and the North Westwood Village Residents Assn.
"We are pleased that there has been a rollback in zoning," said Laura M. Lake, president of Friends of Westwood. "But the basic problem is that the proposals do not include mechanisms to mitigate our already serious traffic problems.
"Our basic position is that there should be no more residential growth in Westwood until the traffic problems are solved. Right now, the traffic in the community is at gridlock. It does not make sense to us to have double gridlock."
The groups made their views known Monday at a public hearing held by the city Planning Department. Most of the 50 speakers at the meeting applauded the downzoning but contended that the restrictions on growth were not enough.
Vivian Rescalvo, city planner in charge of the Westside planning update, conceded that traffic in the community is a substantial problem, but said the problem will not be solved by totally eliminating residential growth in Westwood.
She said that traffic in Westwood is the result of development in Beverly Hills, Century City, West Los Angeles--in effect, "the entire Westside, not just in Westwood."
"We had to strike a balance between the needs of existing residents in Westwood and the demand for more housing in the area," Rescalvo said in an interview. "The new plan does reduce the potential growth in Westwood and it also gives the city more controls than it has now over any new residential development."
Rescalvo said the new proposals would enable the city to demand more open space, limitations on height of buildings, landscaping features and more parking spaces from apartment developers.
Additionally, she said, a design panel composed mostly of architects and planners who live in Westwood will review all multiple-dwelling projects.
'Broad City Input'
"Under existing city planning rules," Rescalvo said, "the city has virtually no say in new development as long as the developer meets the general zoning requirements. The new rules will be an important step forward in establishing broad city input in new development."
Dori Pye, president of the Los Angeles West Chamber of Commerce, which includes Westwood, said that her organization generally supports the new proposals, with one noteworthy exception.
She said the chamber is against downzoning in the commercial area of Wilshire Boulevard because it would be unfair to the developer of the former Ship's restaurant property on the northeast corner of Wilshire and Glendon Avenue.
The revised plan would reduce the density of building along Wilshire Boulevard by 40%. "Two years ago," Pye said, "the city tried to place a moratorium on developing this property and others--and we successfully defeated the moratorium.
"Now the city is trying to stop development of the property again, after the developer paid for the property based on the existing zoning. We view the proposals to reduce the zoning there as a planned vendetta against the developer."
Rescalvo said the city proposal for development on Wilshire represented good planning. "With the exception of downtown Los Angeles, existing zoning allows more density on Wilshire Boulevard than on any other street in the city."
The next hearing on the Westwood plan will be June 23 before the city Planning Commission.