A property owner's request for a zone change that would allow construction of a 60,000-square-foot office complex on Ventura Boulevard between Laurel Grove and Vantage avenues met with opposition Monday at a public hearing before a city planner.
Vivian Rescalvo, planning deputy for City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky and a representative of the Studio City Residents Assn., spoke against the change, saying it could lead to overdevelopment of the property, which now houses a Bank of America branch.
F.O.K. Partnership, which owns the lot and bank building, is seeking city approval to change to commercial zoning the portion of the parcel that serves as the bank's parking lot. Under local zoning ordinances, such a change would allow for additional development.
Bank officials oppose the change, saying that it opens up the possibility that new development on the lot could impact the branch, which has an option to renew its lease for up to 30 years.
But a spokesman for the family-owned partnership said it intends to honor the bank's lease and has no immediate plans to demolish the building or further develop the site.
"We just want to have the zone change so that we're prepared," said architect Phil Terhorst. "Today the bank is saying they want to stay, but things in the banking industry are changing all the time."
Rescalvo said that since there is no specific plan for development, there is no need for a zone change.
"This is just too premature," Rescalvo said of the request that will be considered by the city Planning Commission Monday. "We don't have a plan. We don't have a building. We have nothing."
Residents association Vice President Polly Ward said even though there are no specific plans for the site, she is concerned about the size of the project that would be allowed.
"Who knows what they're going to build?" Ward said. "We oppose it because the increased density would lead to more traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood."