June 30, 1989 - From the June, 1989 issue

Insider Planning June 1989

By David Kramer, Editor

Councilman Nate Holden is on the warpath. In a motion that will be introduced to the Planning & Environment Committee on June 6, the Councilman has proposed a moratorium on all building permits in the tenth district except for single family dwellings or multi-family dwellings up to four units. Apparently as a result of several land-use problems in his district, Holden wants to implement a moratorium until the four community plans are revised, a process that could take at least several years.

The ordinance for the motion is already being written by Holden's staff. Therefore, the ICO will appear before the Planning Commission and the City Council probably in the next two months. This will be a true test to see if the development community is organized or whether the City Council will allow Holden his prerogative in his district.

Another motion before the City Council in June is an ICO by Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores which prohibits the demolition of existing single-family dwelling units for the construction of multi-family where 50% or more of the existing housing stock on both sides of the street is developed as single family.

In the motion, the replacement of existing residential structures is allowed as long as the number of units in the new structure does not exceed the number of units in the old structure and the number of units permitted in the zone.

The final stages of Assembly Bill 283 are now underway to ensure that all zoning in the city complies with the general plan. The Planning Commission recently discussed downzoning South Central, which along with Van Nuys are the last two areas to comply with the plans. Some community activists felt that the downzoning in South Central did not go far enough, fearing that higher density residential development is often the site of crime and drug trafficking. I guess we now know how to end the drug war.

Similarly, AB 283 has led the Planning Department to establish new zones that never existed yet were part of the general plan: open space zones and public facilities zones. Until now, public parks have been zoned every possible way except as open space. New enabling legislation will create an Open Space Zone for parks and recreation areas, and natural resource areas. A Public Facilities Zone would cover municipal civic centers, schools, and large public libraries.

If nobody has faith or confidence in either the general plan or the community plans, nowhere is this more evident than in the number of specific plans and interim control ordinances being written until the community plans are revised. In the coming fiscal year, 19 specific plans will come forward for adoption by the Planning Commission.

On the same subject: a recent motion by Councilman Ferraro was at P& E to prepare two specific plans for Universal City and the North Hollywood transit station area to incorporate revised land-use patterns for a metro rail station. Either of the Metro Rail route scenarios would pass through Universal City and Lankershim, and no specific plans currently exist for the determined route.

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The draft replacement ordinance and draft EIR for the interim sewer hookup ordinance is due in late summer. The replacement ordinance was supposed to be published by August, so the current interim ordinance will be extended. The replacement ordinance is expected to be adopted in November, and several studies have already established the range for priority projects set asides, at 5-50%; the residential/non-residential split at 45%: 55%-80% : 20%; and the total cap on sewage flow from 4-5 million gallons per day.

The Site Plan Ordinance might eventually arrive at the Planning & Environment Committee in June once the parking requirements are resolved. Councilman Bernson had introduced a motion that any expansion of a commercial or industrial project in the city needed a conditional use permit. As a result of the motion, the Planning Department has extended the parameters of the site plan so that all projects under 40,000 square feet must also undergo a site plan review.

Laura Lake recently resurfaced at the Planning Commission to argue that transitional height limits were not restrictive enough. The ordinance would restrict single family dwellings to heights ranging from 30 feet to 45 feet, depending on the size of the lot, and would protect these dwellings by restricting the height of adjoining multiple residential buildings from 30 to 66 feet. The Commission wanted to divide these issues into two ordinances, one for single-family and one for multi-family, and it was continued until July 20.

At the request of Councilman Hal Bernson, the Planning Department is in the preliminary stages of a study to make some discretionary actions of the zoning code appealable to the City Council. Currently these appeals stop at either the Board of Zoning Appeals or the Planning Commission.

In an attempt to finance $3.4 billion in sewer improvements, the City Council increased monthly sewer fees as well as hookup charges. For new homes, the fee increased from $1,728 to $2,003.

Most amazing decision of the month: to the Santa Monica Planning Commission for rejecting a residential project because it was not “child friendly” since the units' living rooms and bedrooms were on separate floors.

The Planning Department is presently pondering AB3180, a bill to enforce the environmental conditions that the City requires. Whether these requirements are for sound proofing or parking, the department is considering a self-policing program for neighbors to keep an eye on and enforce environmental requirements.

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