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Preliminary Approval Voted for Plan to Cut Westwood Congestion

December 10, 1987|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to planning guidelines for congested Westwood Village and its surrounding neighborhoods that would cut in half potential development in the village and impose strict architectural design standards on new construction.

The guidelines, intended to replace less stringent controls in force since 1972, are part of a revised Westwood Community Plan, which governs development in the area. The council voted 13 to 0 to tentatively approve the revised plan, which must now be reviewed by the city's Planning Commission and by Mayor Tom Bradley.

The final plan, along with a series of ordinances and so-called specific plans that implement the guidelines, is expected to return to the council for final approval the middle of next month.

Westwood-area Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who first called for the new controls three years ago in response to residents' complaints and a surge in development, praised the guidelines as the beginning of a new era in planning. Yaroslavsky, who has championed efforts to curb growth throughout the city, said the Westwood plan should serve as a basis for revising the city's 34 other community plans.

"This shows the direction that planning is going to take in this city," said Virginia Kruger, Yaroslavsky's planning deputy. "The levels of development permitted in the 1970s just aren't acceptable today."

Critics of the plan, however, complained that it is too little, too late. Laura Lake, president of the Friends of Westwood, described the guidelines as a "theoretical exercise in planning" because most of the Westwood area has been developed.

"The place is already built," said Lake, who hopes to succeed Yaroslavsky if he resigns in 1989 to run for mayor. "We are thankful for what we are getting, but that is in the context of damage control."

Lake and other residents have complained that the plan does not adequately deal with traffic congestion caused by new development. They had proposed provisions that would have placed a limit on new development in areas where average traffic speeds fall below 7 m.p.h. The plan instead calls on developers to pay for road improvements and other so-called mitigation measures designed to offset the effects of increased traffic. City officials have agreed to study the residents' proposal.

If the plan, the accompanying ordinances and specific plans are approved by the Planning Commission and adopted by the council, they would, among other things:

- Reduce potential development in Westwood Village from 2.4-million square feet to 1.2-million square feet.

- Establish a design review board that will review and approve new developments in the village before building permits are issued.

- Restrict hotel development to a total of 350 rooms.

- Place height limits on multifamily projects constructed next to single-family homes.

- Encourage the construction of housing for UCLA students and faculty in the northern part of the village.

- Limit heights in the village to about three stories in most areas.

- Encourage the preservation of historical and architecturally significant buildings in Westwood.

Kruger, Yaroslavsky's planning deputy, said that if the Planning Commission objects to any portion of the proposal--in an earlier version of the guidelines, for example, the commission had approved a limit of 480 hotel rooms in Westwood Village--the council can override the commission with 10 or more votes.

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