A group of Los Feliz residents will ask the Los Angeles City Planning Commission today to postpone a developer's plans to construct a condominium on their street while city planners develop a community plan which they hope will make the project smaller.
Homeowners on the 4400 block of Avocado Street are fighting to slow the developer--Hollywood-based Hartwood Development-- from getting approval for the proposed project until the revised Hollywood Community Plan, in the planning stages now, is adopted. The proposed eight-unit condominium on two lots is allowed under current zoning but not under the revised plan.
"The issue is the quality of life which in Los Angeles is a very difficult thing to hold on to," nearby resident Don Schroeder said. "Here is a developer who is trying to get in under the wire. All we're trying to do is hold onto a little patch of green."
Officials at Hartwood Development could not be reached for comment.
Blocked Tree Removal
Last month the residents prevented the same developer from removing eight avocado trees on the block by persuading the city to declare them historic landmarks. The developer had planned to cut down the trees after being ordered by the city to widen the street to build the condominiums. The city has since dropped the requirement.
The condominium plans, which would require the lot to be subdivided, must be approved by the Planning Commission, Los Angeles city planner Michael Davies said. If the commission approves the plan today, residents say they will then appeal to the planning and environment committee of the Los Angeles City Council to stop the project.
City planners say they expect battles similar to the one being waged on Avocado Street to take place in scattered neighborhoods throughout Los Feliz and Hollywood in the next six months, as developers seek permits to build on land which is slated for down-zoning.
Since early last year, city planners have been working on revisions to the Hollywood Community Plan. The revisions, which the City Council is likely to approve in September, will limit growth and development on 29,000 properties in a 16,000-acre area. Los Feliz is only a tiny part of that area.
Until the revisions are adopted, an interim control ordinance is in effect to protect areas currently zoned for higher-density development. But in a few areas, including the Avocado Street neighborhood, the interim ordinance was written to permit even a higher level of development than now exists.
"The bottom line is that despite the existence of that ordinance there are still projects in the works which neighborhoods are not legally protected from," Los Angeles planner Davies said. "Those projects are below the maximum permitted by that ordinance and there's some real question as to whether those projects can be stopped or modified."
The Hollywood Community Plan revisions are part of a citywide effort mandated by the state more than 10 years ago to make zoning consistent with the city's general plan.
The new zoning called for in the plan would cut the allowed density on the Avocado Street block in half, from four apartment units on a lot under the interim control ordinance to two units on a lot.
The average building on that block is 12 1/2 feet tall, Davies said. The proposed condominium is 30 feet tall, the maximum height allowed under the existing ordinance.
Donna Matson, who lives on the block, has organized residents and says 49 of 74 of them have signed a petition opposing the condominiums.
"These people in this area have lived here most of our lives," Matson said. "This is our neighborhood, we're not just passing through. To have all these flaky developers come in, try to make a quick buck and louse up our neighborhood is really upsetting."
FO Don Schroeder hopes a stroll down memory lane won't be the best way to enjoy "a little patch of green" along Avocado Street.