News & Notes

Fresh & Easy cleared their final hurdle earlier this week. They had one last hearing before the full LA City Council on Nov 1st regarding what is known as a PCN, or Public Convenience or Necessity Hearing.  The City Council needed to make a finding that an alcohol license at this location will serve the public convenience or necessity and will not cause a law enforcement problem.  This was their last hoop to jump through, and we are thrilled to announce that the LA City Council voted unanimously in favor of this business. Fresh & Easy is coming to Sunland-Tujunga! The store is expected to open in March or April of 2012!

We had breakfast with Councilman Krekorian’s Planning Director Karo Torossian the other day, and he mentioned that he is interested in a program called “Safe Routes to Schools“, a national effort to make the journey from home to a classroom as safe as possible for kids. He is beginning to collect information from our community on particular hazards, like lack of sidewalks, damaged sidewalks, unsafe street crossings, etc. Walk with your child to school and make notes on hazards that a kid could face in their daily journey. Note the street and cross-street , describe the danger in detail, and then send an email to Karo at .

We received an interesting email from LA Neighbors United that describes a potential problem for certain communities (probably not S-T), but it is an interesting read and insight into the politics and manipulation that occurs in LA City Planning:

Proposed New Ordinance Would Allow Bigger, Taller Buildings Without Variances or Public Notice
A new ordinance proposed by the Mayor’s Planning Department would enable buildings that are bigger and taller than underlying zoning allows to be approved without variances or public notice.
The innocuous-sounding “Planned Development Districts Ordinance” has the potential to be a useful tool. In its current form, however, it would enable a hodge-podge of developments across the city to flout Community Plans. The proposed ordinance would not apply to Specific Plan areas, but the vast majority of the city’s land area is not covered by Specific Plans.

“There’s nothing inherently bad, in the proper context, about bigger, taller buildings,” said LA Neighbors United Founder Cary Brazeman. “But the notion of allowing potentially incongruous buildings to be approved in violation of Community Plans without public notice is more than a little bit troubling.”
A framework already exists that allows applicants to seek entitlements for bigger, taller buildings through zoning variances and plan amendments. Also, the new Core Findings Ordinance makes it easier for the city to approve major development projects, and the new Multiple Approvals Ordinance expedites the process for reviewing batched entitlements.

“Combined with Community Plan updates, which we recommend on a regular basis, and some specific planning around transit and in other key areas, there’s no need for the proposed new ordinance. It seems to do nothing more than enable spot zoning on the QT,” Brazeman said.
The proposed ordinance would create “Planned Development Districts” that overlay Community Plan areas. Within these districts, which could be very small, underlying zoning could be overridden, with no limits. For example, current zoning may allow buildings on a site to be up to 60 feet tall, but within a Planned Development District the allowable height could be increased to 180 feet or more. Other elements of buildings’ mass and scale also could be enlarged, including the number of residential units or amount of commercial space, with the potential to impact traffic and other things.
Under the proposed ordinance, no public notice is required to establish a Planned Development District. Districts would be approved by ordinance, with only Planning Commission and City Council review. No meaningful findings would be required to approve districts.
LA Neighbors United will be submitting comments on the proposed ordinance. The text of the ordinance is posted on the LA Neighbors website on the Zoning Code Makeover page.
While LA Neighbors United opposes the ordinance in its current form, in the interest of being constructive the group offers the following recommendations to improve it:

  • Require a public hearing, with 500-foot community notice, before proposed districts can be considered by the Planning Commission
  • Apply the new Core Findings to this ordinance; require written findings before districts can be established
  • Increase minimum district size to 10 acres with either 500,000 gross square feet or 500 residential units (to encourage true district planning versus simply larger individual projects)
  • Disallow upzoning adjustments to district project plans; changes to district plans should require the establishing ordinance to be amended, triggering a new round of 500-foot notice and a public hearing

In its current form, the proposed ordinance could be applied to a host of projects across the city, including Bundy Village in West LA, Casden/Expo/Sepulveda in West LA and Casden/Ross/Third Street in Mid City. When revised project plans are submitted for these and other projects, applicants could seek district status, and thus avoid public hearings if the ordinance is enacted in its current form.

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