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L.A. Votes to Lower Apartment Heights in Mar Vista Areas

September 29, 1988|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to lower height limits on future apartment buildings along a congested section of Centinela Boulevard in Mar Vista, ending a 2-year battle by nearby homeowners who complain that apartments are ruining their single-family neighborhoods.

By a 10-0 vote, the council also reduced zoning on several blocks of the one-mile stretch, which runs roughly from Venice Boulevard north to Stanwood Drive. A small section of Bundy Drive, which is an extension of Centinela, near National Boulevard was also included in the action.

"After two years, I feel relieved," said Gregory Thomas, who lives about half a block from Centinela. "We came out of nowhere and made some changes. It is definitely a show of community action."

Building Moratorium

Most building along the strip was halted early last year when homeowners petitioned then-Councilwoman Pat Russell for a building moratorium. The City Council imposed the moratorium to give the Planning Department time to draft the new restrictions approved Wednesday.

The restrictions were endorsed by Mar Vista-area Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who was out of town Wednesday, and Councilman Marvin Braude, who represents the northeast side of Centinela.

Thomas, a spokesman for Homeowners Organized to Monitor the Environment, said residents are concerned that new apartment buildings bring parking, crime and traffic problems to the neighborhood. He said the buildings also overwhelm it by creating a towering wall of glass and concrete.

"We are not against buildings; we just want to make sure they are compatible with the neighborhood," Thomas said.

The new height restrictions are designed to protect the single-family neighborhoods by placing a 33-foot cap on buildings along Centinela. In addition, any part of a new building within 50 feet of a single-family home can be no taller than 25 feet. City officials said the rules will encourage "tiered" developments, with the highest parts of buildings away from the neighborhoods.

Before the changes, developers could build as high as 45 feet and there were no requirements for lower structures near single-family homes.

The zoning reductions affect residential properties on the northeast side of Centinela between Venice and Charnock Road and on the southeast side between Windward Avenue and Woodgreen Street. The new zoning allows one unit per 1,500 square feet of property, about half the density permitted under the previous zoning. New developments in those areas would fall within the 33-foot height restriction and the 25-foot "tiered" requirement.

The homeowners were unable to get a 33-foot height limit on a small stretch of Centinela on the northeast side of the street near Palms Boulevard. Because lots in that area are deeper than others along Centinela, the City Council voted to allow structures fronting on the boulevard to be as high as 45 feet. Portions of the buildings near single-family homes, however, fall within the restrictions affecting the rest of the boulevard.

Cindy Miscikowski, Braude's chief deputy, said the councilman rejected demands for an across-the-board 33-foot height limit on those lots because the area has a steep slope. Buildings that are 45 feet high along Centinela, she said, will not affect single-family homes northeast of the boulevard because the homes are at a higher elevation.

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