Long-awaited new building rules that would shape development along Eagle Rock's main commercial street moved past their last major hurdle Tuesday, winning tentative approval from a key Los Angeles City Council committee.
Councilman Hal Bernson, chairman of the Planning and Land Use Committee, ordered the city attorney's office to make only a few changes before returning with a final draft of the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan.
"It would be our goal to get it back to the committee for final approval within two or three weeks, then get it scheduled with the full City Council a week later," Jeanmarie Hance-Murphy, an aide to Councilman Richard Alatorre, who represents Eagle Rock, said Wednesday. "We're guessing that in a month it could be approved by the council."
Hance-Murphy said she foresees no difficulty getting council approval.
"A lot of the controversy and questions were taken care of in the drafting of the plan with the citizens advisory committee," she said. "So we're not expecting much controversy before the City Council."
That 11-member advisory panel, made up of Eagle Rock residents and business owners, has been working with city officials on the plan for three years.
If approved, the proposal would limit the type of businesses that can be built along Colorado Boulevard, encourage the preservation of historic buildings and impose design rules on new projects.
It would affect new development along the strip, primarily between the Glendale Freeway and Eagle Vista Drive. Along much of the street, it would outlaw new motels, auto repair shops, storage yards, convalescent homes and manufacturing businesses.
The plan includes height limits and provisions covering landscaping, signs, setbacks and parking. In the central section of Colorado Boulevard, pedestrian traffic would be encouraged.
The proposal also provides financial incentives to developers who renovate older buildings along the street.
Some Eagle Rock residents who opposed Alatorre's recent reelection bid tried to turn the city's slow handling of the Colorado Boulevard plan into a campaign issue. The councilman was easily reelected, but community leaders are still anxious to see the plan adopted.
"We've been working at this for several years," Robert De Pietro, co-chairman of the Colorado Boulevard plan's advisory committee, said Tuesday. "We'd like to see it move along as quickly as possible. It's a non-controversial document. Why not get on with it?"
A few Eagle Rock residents have complained that until the new plan is in place, a new Colorado Boulevard project does not have to follow the committee's design rules.
"That would be one more proposal in the wrong direction, instead of the right direction," said De Pietro, an Eagle Rock developer.
Some of the changes ordered by Bernson on Tuesday were to correct errors introduced into the plan during its processing at City Hall.
The Colorado Boulevard rules were approved late last year by the Planning Commission, then were sent to the city attorney's office for review. De Pietro received a copy of the most recent version of the plan during Tuesday's meeting and spotted several errors.
He said the document omitted drive-through fast-food restaurants from the committee-approved list of businesses that would be prohibited along Colorado Boulevard, roughly between Windermere Avenue and Eagle Vista Drive.
"There was no reason to delete that," he said. "Fast-food places are open late and they generate traffic. We're trying to create a pedestrian- and community-oriented commercial area."
Cynthia Place Reiners, the committee's co-chairwoman, said the fast-food prohibition was inadvertently omitted when city staff converted the committee's recommendations into a proposed law. She said it will be restored.
The advisory committee will review the latest draft at a meeting tentatively scheduled May 9.
"In general, it looks like an excellent translator of the committee's work," Reiners said. "We're all eager to see it enacted. There continues to be development on the boulevard, and the plan is not in force."
She said delays have occurred because so many Los Angeles neighborhoods have pressed city officials for development restrictions such as the Colorado Boulevard plan.
"Everyone would have preferred to get it done sooner," Reiners said. "But there are only so many city staff members."
Reiners, a health care manager, became concerned about Colorado Boulevard several years ago when a developer proposed a motel with a parking structure that would have encroached into her neighborhood. She said the project was halted after community members complained.
She and other Eagle Rock activists also called for new building guidelines after several historic structures were threatened or demolished and mini-malls began to appear on Colorado Boulevard.
"It certainly is a beginning," Reiners said. But, she added, "it's certainly not the only thing that's needed to revitalize Colorado Boulevard."
She said area merchants and community leaders must help beautify the commercial strip and stimulate economic development.