Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, besieged by developers and property owners fighting proposed restrictions on building in Venice, has agreed to delete a controversial parking provision from the measure.
But even with that concession and several others, opposition to the temporary restrictions persists, with critics saying they will appeal directly to Galanter's colleagues to kill the measure when the City Council considers it on Friday.
"This whole thing has been put together in a backdoor and underhanded way," said Kelly Doyle, owner of Sail Realty and a critic of the controls. "People feel they have been left out."
Galanter, who was making last-minute alterations on her proposal this week, has been reluctant to predict whether she will prevail on Friday. Last month, temporary building controls proposed by Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky for high-rises along the Wilshire Corridor in his district were rejected by the council.
"I know (the council members) have been lobbied by the Realtors," Galanter said Tuesday. "So I sent them an explanation of what we have done. . . . We can just hope it gets in the hands of their planning deputies."
The restrictions, which would be implemented in the form of a one-year interim-control ordinance, reduce height and density limits and increase the number of parking spaces required for new developments in the area bounded by Marine Street on the north, Washington Street and Via Marina on the south, Lincoln Boulevard and Via Dolce on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west.
They are intended to put a cap on construction while the city of Los Angeles develops permanent building guidelines, known as a local coastal program, for the Venice area. Shortly after her election last summer, Galanter promised to begin work on the program, which is mandated by state law but languished for years under former Councilwoman Pat Russell.
Developments in most of Venice must now be approved by both the city and the state because the community falls within the state's coastal zone. Once the city completes the local coastal program and it is certified by the state Coastal Commission, the state will no longer need to review projects. In the meantime, developers have been caught in what Galanter calls a "double-bind of inconsistent permitting practices"--meaning the state and the city have been following different guidelines in approving or disapproving projects.
The interim-control ordinance, Galanter said, has been crafted to create city regulations that roughly match guidelines used by the state, in a move to reduce conflicts between the two governments.
But while Galanter's critics applaud her resolve to develop a local coastal program for Venice, they have mounted a determined effort to undermine the interim controls, which they regard as excessive, arbitrary and in some cases more restrictive than the state guidelines.
Flyers urging residents to oppose the controls have been distributed in Venice by real estate agents, and several opponents of the controls met last week with the city's planning director, whose department drafted the ordinance, to detail their objections. This week, Galanter met with about 10 of her critics.
"What we need is more architectural review as opposed to arbitrary guidelines," said Michael Dieden, founder and past president of the Venice Action Committee, an organization of businessmen, residents and artists. Dieden said height restrictions, parking requirements and prohibitions on combining lots included in the interim control ordinance "damper the creativity" of architects in designing buildings in Venice.
In a concession to her critics, Galanter agreed last week to exempt duplexes from a provision that requires builders in the so-called beach impact zone--an area that extends several blocks east along the entire length of the beach--to provide an extra parking space for each 500 square feet of ground-floor development. Builders of duplexes are already required to provide a total of five parking spaces for the two units.
"Those parking requirements, when applied to duplexes, essentially constitute a complete moratorium," said Jim Bickhart, Galanter's planning deputy. "They are so restrictive that you can't meet them on a single lot. The intent of the requirements was not to prevent people from building duplexes, it was to provide parking spaces."
The controversial parking requirement, which would still apply to larger residential developments, has been a rallying point for opponents of the restrictions. A more restrictive variation of the requirement also applies to commercial developments.
The city's Planning Commission refused to include the parking requirement in a version of controls it approved in January, but Galanter added it to a version later approved by the City Council's Planning and Environment Committee.