February 28, 1989 - From the February, 1989 issue

Insider Planning February 1989

The citywide study to increase parking standards is finally appearing before the Planning Commission on February 28. The ordinance provides enabling legislation for the Planning Commission to establish districts in order to raise or lower parking standards. The current requirement is 1 space per 500 square feet of gross floor area. The ordinance would increase office space requirements to 3 parking spaces/1000 sq. ft., retail to 4/1000, and restaurants and bars to 10/1000. There can be a reduction in the requirements if the project is located within 1000 feet of a transit station.

The Planning Commission, at the behest of Commissioner Ted Stein, is reconsidering an Open Space Condition, whereby a developer is required on multi-family units of 5 or more to provide 100 square feet of usable open space. Stein has often vocalized his concerns about affordable housing, and he feels the condition is not workable because of what it means for affordability. To get around the requirement, developers either build fewer or smaller units. Planning Department staff is studying the issue and will come back with a report in mid-April.

Although the Planning Commission has survived the fire safety crisis for the Hollywood Hills, there continue to be concerns about inadequate Hillside infrastructure. The Bureau of Engineers is currently in the process of surveying a 2-3 square mile area near Laurel Canyon.

One reason that there is a crisis of affordable housing is because 4,000 units of housing are demolished each year, and 2/3 of that housing is affordable housing. One of the housing initiatives to emerge from the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee is a regulatory attempt to provide incentives not to demolish affordable housing. For instance, if you replace affordable housing which you are demolishing, you go straight to the front of the line at Building and Safety. However, if you don't replace the housing with affordable stock, don’t expect to move so quickly.

Other incentives to come out of the report: developers who agree to dedicate 20% of units in a completed project to very low income occupancy will receive a density bonus of 50% over maximum. The city will also provide tax exempt bond financing to reduce mortgage interest rates for developers who commit 20% of the units to be rented at 50% of median income. Another incentive is tax credits, which the City hopes will produce 1500 more units of affordable housing each year. And if a linkage program is created, developers might be afforded a construction option instead of paying a fee. These incentives have not be acted upon yet.

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What happens when word hits the street that a Specific Plan in the making will be far stricter than the current ICO? A rush for building permits perhaps? A Citizens Advisory Committee for Ventura Boulevard was concerned that the current ICO restrictions were too permissive, and it was imperative to speed up the adoption of the Specific Plan for the commercial strip. Councilman Marvin Braude, who represents the largest percentage of the strip, is the logical candidate to carry a motion to severely limit the F.A.R. from its current 1.5:1, before the Specific Plan being written becomes out-of-date.

Councilman Hal Bernson recently introduced a motion to Council which instructs the City to start making studies to see to what degree the City can decentralize some of its planning operations so that people don't have to come to City Hall for various functions, such as building permits. Imagine, going to Building and Safety and not have to worry about parking. The motion also intends for decentralization to force better use of computers in planning and zoning updates.

The Council recently adopted an ordinance initiated by Councilman Nate Holden which requires a conditional use permit for new auto repair facilities if they are within 300 feet of a residential zone. The ordinance also provides the mechanism for a conditional use hearing for an existing auto repair facility if it is not following current requirements.

The new head of Code Study in the Planning Department is Lourdes Green.

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