Sat04252015

Last updateThu, 23 Apr 2015 9pm

LOS ANGELES Saturday, April 25th 2015 3:58

  • Issue: Bathing topless at Venice Beach

    Martha Groves

    Date: Apr 24, 2015

    Forty years ago, a cadre of Venice Beach sunbathers routinely basked in the altogether. 

    The Venice Neighborhood Council thinks the time is ripe to take a half-step back to that time of physical freedom. In a 12-2 vote Tuesday, the council said it "supports women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless." 

    There are so many more important things to be concerned about in Venice...this makes us look foolish. 

    The city and county of Los Angeles prohibit nude or topless sunbathing. But Melissa Diner, the Venice council community officer who sponsored the resolution, said the panel would draft letters to Councilman Mike Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which has jurisdiction over the beach, calling for Venice to be exempted.  (Read the rest.)  


Thu Apr 30, 2015 @11:30AM -
Town Hall: Raising the Minimum Wage
Fri May 01, 2015 @11:00AM - 02:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles Luncheon
Fri May 01, 2015 @12:00PM - 05:00PM
Women for a New Los Angeles
Fri May 08, 2015 @ 8:00AM - 08:00PM
Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit in L.A. May 8
Wed May 13, 2015 @11:30AM -
Reflections on Leadership in the Museum World from an Outsider


Dr Oz digs in. I will not be silenced!

Puppy high for the day: Puppy battles doorstopper

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


Passing the Buck

The Buck Stops Here

Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck Knife Company.  When playing poker, it was common to place one of these Buck Knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was.  When it was time for a new dealer, the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer.  If this person didn't want to deal, he would "Pass the Buck" to the next player.  If that player accepted, then "the Buck stops here".

 


 

 

Not a Tuscan Villa: The “Encino Surprise” Can Happen to You


MORE ANGST IN THE ‘HOOD – I always chuckle a little when I read Christopher Hawthorne, the LA Times’ architecture writer, critiquing the design of a proposed development in Los Angeles.  I chuckle not because Hawthorne is funny (though sometimes he is), but because so often the initial building designs we see from developers are no more likely to resemble what’s actually built than I am to win the lottery this weekend.  In LA, the promise of a project design is no guarantee that it will be.

Unlike the mass and scale of developments, which are dictated by the zoning code, design is generally not regulated by the city.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the unpredictability that sometimes results is one of the prime causes of angst in our neighborhoods … the notion that you can go to sleep at night feeling secure about your neighborhood aesthetic, but wake up the next morning and risk a conniption at the sight of something so totally unexpected it sends you over the edge.

It’s particularly galling when the building was approved to be bigger or taller than the zoning code allows, and when the developer promised a particular design but then changed it without informing the community.

There’s no better example of this phenomenon than the “Encino Surprise,” a mixed-use commercial and residential building that opened last year on Ventura Boulevard.  The “Gold Mountain Project” (perhaps so called because a mountain had to be leveled for the developer to extract the gold) was approved with a zoning variance and a Specific Plan exception that enabled a bigger building with more units.

The project was met with stiff opposition from homeowners and businesses concerned about a variety of issues.

Through the entitlement process, the developer stood by a design proposal that showed residential units stepping down, in tiers, as if built into the hillside.  The Tuscan villa façade was a modern play on a classic … you could imagine the Mediterranean out the front door!  On some days, when the neighbors fighting the project felt like nothing was going their way, they at least could find some consolation in the design.  It was the project’s saving grace.  Or so they thought.

Fast-forward five years, and the project is finally under construction.  As it takes shape, neighbors notice that the building’s frame doesn’t reflect the contours of the rendered image.  As the façade is constructed, they realize the look is different, too, with no relation whatsoever to the Tuscan villa with which they had felt comfortable.

Said one nearby resident of the emerging building: “[It’s] a disgrace to architecture and a shame and a slap on the face to all people that had anything to do with its development.  What happened to the Mediterranean design we were expecting?”

“Who ok’d this?” asked another neighbor.

Well, the fact is no one ok’d the design modification because no approval was required.  The building is in an area with no design standards (typical of most of the city).  The developer, be it the original applicant or some other builder who may come along, can alter the look as he sees fit.

In this case, despite the implied promise from the developer, no meaningful design conditions were made mandatory as part of the project’s approval.  Yet everyone associated with the project knew full well the community’s expectation, and project design was considered one of the trade-offs as the discretionary entitlements were hammered out.

Clearly, the city councilman whose office was involved in negotiating project conditions failed the community by not binding the developer to the design given its relative importance.  And the developer failed the community by not voluntarily sharing the new design with the neighborhood council or homeowners associations, not even with key individual stakeholders who were involved initially.

This story isn’t about what constitutes acceptable design; that’s in the eye of the beholder.  Nor is it a plea for one-size-fits-all design standards; they would not work in Los Angeles.

No, this story is about being surprised, and not in a good way.  When there are discretionary entitlements and design is a critical concern, there should be no surprises.  It’s very reasonable to bake mandatory design conditions into the mix, and to ask the developer to come back to the community if he proposes a significant change.

In the interest of predictability and respect for neighborhoods, many other cities consider this operating procedure standard.  To their credit, some community-minded LA developers do it as a matter of course.  But they are the exception, not the norm.  In a city where the Encino Surprise can happen to you, any day, it’s no wonder development remains a continual source of angst in the ‘hood.

(Cary Brazeman, a CityWatch contributor, is a neighborhood council board member and founder of LA Neighbors United.  Contact him at cary@LAneighbors.org or through www.LAneighbors.org .) -cw

Tags: Tuscan Surprise, Encino, developer, councilman, Zoning Code, Los Angeles

CityWatch

Vol 9 Issue 54

Pub: July 8, 2011

Share