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WINDSOR HILLS : Affordable-Housing Project Rejected

August 08, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

After a battle that lasted more than two years, homeowners are claiming victory in their fight to block an affordable-housing development that they insisted was inappropriate for the commercially zoned area.

After county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke announced that the board would uphold the Regional Planning Commission's decision last year to deny the project at Slauson Avenue and Overhill Drive, cheers erupted from the scores of homeowners who attended the appeal hearing at the Hall of Administration.

"This is a real triumph for the community," said Tony Nicholas, president of the United Homeowners Assn., an umbrella group of block clubs in Windsor Hills and View Park. "The development being proposed just wasn't appropriate for that corner. It was trying to be too many things."

The clash came to a head in February, 1992, when Queue-Up, a nonprofit affordable-housing developer based in West Hollywood, lost a bid for a conditional-use permit to build on the site. Queue-Up proposed to restore the Wich Stand, a quintessential 50s-style Googie coffee shop that was given historical landmark status by the county in 1989 but has been vacant and fallen into disrepair over the past five years.

The agency also wanted to build 12 housing units for low-income families and senior citizens at the one-acre site, which required it to apply for a special permit for the commercially zoned area. The county Regional Planning Commission decided not to grant Queue-Up the permit, but the executive director, Shirley Quarmyne, appealed the decision, bringing the case before the Board of Supervisors last week.

"We thought it was a perfect marriage of business and residential," she said. "The only reason we wanted to do a mixed-use situation was to preserve the restaurant."

Quarmyne's project called for restoring the restaurant and using it as a job-training site for residents of the family units. A day care co-op was also proposed for one level of the housing structure.

Residents argued, among other things, that the site was too small for the project, but Quarmyne pointed out that a lot across the street from the Wich Stand was recently granted a conditional-use permit for a senior-citizen affordable-housing complex that will begin construction this year. The real problem, said Quarmyne, lay in the perception that families with children would introduce an element of crime and drive down property values.

"With the current affordable-housing crisis the county is going through, it's unconscionable not to give this the go-ahead," she said.

Community members denied the charge, saying that Queue-Up jumped the gun in assuming it could build its project without first consulting residents.

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