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Building Compromise Ruffles Residents : Development: Neighborhood divided over agreement to limit the height and size of Wilshire Skyline offices.


LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles City Council committee has agreed to let a developer build an 11-story office building on Wilshire Boulevard east of Beverly Hills, in a compromise that splits the difference between the minimum and maximum allowed under zoning regulations.

The Wilshire Skyline development approved by the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee on Tuesday is a reduction from the 21-story, 212,000-square-foot office tower that developer Raphael Nissel originally proposed.

But the compromise--which is expected to gain final approval from the full City Council within two weeks--has divided neighborhood residents.

Some residents say the developer gave enough concessions that they were willing to go along with a building that exceeds the minimum. Others said that Nissel should have been forced to build the smallest structure possible.

"In order to get some of the mitigations, we were willing to give the developer a little more density," said Patrick Spillane, co-chairman of the Orange-La Jolla-6th Street Residents Coalition.

Diana Plotkin, president of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Assn., disagreed: "Even if you build to the minimum, it is already killing us (with traffic). We can't let them do any more than that."

Spillane's group has been negotiating with Nissel and City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky for the last year over the Wilshire Skyline proposal.

Zoning regulations on the property, west of Fairfax Boulevard, permit construction of offices of up to 108,000 square feet without approval from city planning officials. Members of the Residents Coalition said they agreed that Nissel could build up to 159,000 square feet, because he agreed to limit the height of the building and set it back far enough from the curb to limit the shadows cast on neighborhood homes.

Nissel also agreed to place the only vehicle entrance to the building on Wilshire Boulevard, open a meeting room to community groups, allow neighbors to park at night in the office parking structure, pay residents' fees for permit parking and plant trees on neighborhood streets.

All those improvements were welcome in a neighborhood of small apartments that often do not have garages of their own and often feel the brunt of overflow traffic from Wilshire Boulevard, said Spillane.

"A lot of these things are more important than if there is an additional 50,000 square feet of building," Yaroslavsky said.

But members of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Assn. said the only way to limit traffic, the area's main problem, is to reduce the size of buildings. Nissel should have been held to 108,000-square-foot maximum, said Caren Steinberg, another member of the group.

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