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Council Votes 60-Day Ban on Mini-Malls in Woo's District

May 21, 1987|KENNETH J. FANUCCHI | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday placed a two-month moratorium on the building of mini-malls in Councilman Michael Woo's 13th District, which includes Hollywood, Silver Lake and parts of Los Feliz and Studio City.

Mayor Tom Bradley is sponsoring a six-month, citywide moratorium on mini-malls. That measure will be considered by the council Tuesday.

Woo's moratorium is stronger because it bans all mini-mall construction. Under Bradley's proposal, developers would be able to build mini-malls by obtaining a conditional-use permit.

Woo said his moratorium was needed to give the city Planning Department time to set up new standards to eliminate what he considers a blight on his district.

When he proposed the moratorium last month, Woo characterized mini-malls as a "quick and cheap" way for developers to make money. He objected to their design and the traffic congestion they generate.

Woo wants to change development standards to encourage pedestrian traffic by building stores near sidewalks and putting parking spaces in back.

His moratorium was supported by Studio City Residents Assn., the Hollywood Western Neighborhood Assn., the Silver Lake Merchants Assn. and the Silver Lake Residents Assn.

"I couldn't be happier," Larry Lloyd, president of the Silver Lake Merchants Assn., said of the passage of Woo's proposal. "I just wish it were for 60 years instead of 60 days."

'Concrete Wastelands'

Edward V. Hunt of the Hollywood Western Neighborhood Assn. described mini-malls as concrete wastelands that have become centers for pimps, prostitutes and dope peddlers.

"The mini-malls are genuinely ugly, of poor design and are paved from end to end," Hunt said. "They have done great damage to our community."

Mary Hoffenburg, representing the Studio City Residents Assn., said mini-malls are a "blight on our community."

"They are negative to pedestrians and create traffic and parking problems," she said.

Tim Riley, executive director of the Southern California Commercial Property Owners Assn., said in an interview that his group opposed the moratorium but decided not to speak against it because the ban will only last two months.

Riley, who said the association will oppose the mayor's plan, defended mini-malls as popular with consumers.

"The malls are convenient, they reduce crime by placing parking in front and they are one of the best ways for small-business people to get started in business," Riley said.

Councilman Ernani Bernardi voted against the moratorium, saying two months is not long enough to solve the problems created by mini-malls. "I have no confidence that the Planning Commission will come up with new rules to eliminate problems in that time," Bernardi said.

Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky supported the moratorium but said it was "too little, too late" in trying to eliminate mini-malls from the city. "We had a chance to do something more than a year ago, and we didn't do it," Yaroslavsky said.

Woo disagreed with Yaroslavsky's comments.

"There was a time when gas stations became economic dinosaurs," Woo said. "There will come a time when mini-malls will become economic dinosaurs as well. What we are trying to do is anticipate the problems before they develop."

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