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A Litmus Test for UCLA Credibility

February 11, 1990

UCLA has misrepresented its Hospital Hotel proposal in two recent letters to the editor. UCLA claims that it is abiding by the new plan for the community; it is not. Hotels are not permitted on this property. Calling it a guest house does not change what it is--a hotel. Furthermore, the density permitted on the land is 48 units, not the 88 units (with a total of 100 rooms) proposed.

It is not easy for me to disagree with UCLA. I have a double relationship with the university, as a faculty member of the School of Public Health, and through my husband, who is on the molecular biology faculty. But as president of Friends of Westwood, I along with all Westwood homeowner association leaders, spent five long years helping to plan Westwood's future through new Community and Specific plans. The bottom line is that this project is in flagrant violation of those plans, and UCLA is playing a semantic game by calling it a guest house.

These plans were designed to protect the adjacent residential community from commercial development in the Village, and to keep Tiverton Avenue traffic as free-flowing as possible, since Tiverton is the emergency access route to UCLA Hospital.

Clearly, there is a real need to find housing for patients and their families. UCLA has a choice: It can find another location where this use and density are permitted, or provide vouchers for below-market rates for the existing hotels right on Tiverton Avenue (the Tiverton Palace or the Claremont Hotel). Special patient services can be provided at these locations much as visiting nurses, occupational therapists and social workers are scheduled.

As is often the case, this dispute represents more than the immediate question of housing medical visitors. It is the litmus test for UCLA's credibility with the community, and the flagship for its Long Range Development Plan to build an additional 4.2 million square feet in Westwood. If Westwood is to survive as a residential community, UCLA must learn to co-exist with its neighbors and follow the rules set out for planned development.

LAURA LAKE

Friends of Westwood Inc.

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