Sun07052015

Last updateThu, 02 Jul 2015 6pm

LOS ANGELES Sunday, July 5th 2015 8:01

 OUR 4TH OF JULY DIFFERENCES

The Declaration of Independence Meant Something Different to America’s Not So Independent Slaves

Amy Goodman
WHO WE ARE-“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” asked Frederick Douglass (photo above) of the crowd gathered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, NY, on July 5, 1852. “I answer,” he continued, “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him,…

Trumping Trump: Shun the Donald, Boycott His Palos Verdes Golf Course

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-I believe that it's really Donald Trump's hair. I seem to be unique in this belief. It's nice to be unique in some way, but what bothers me is that I have also been nearly unique, until now, in arguing that Trump should be shunned and boycotted. But times change. It's been a traumatic week both for Donald Trump and for the…

LA’s Sidewalks: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is expected to spend $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to repair our sidewalks pursuant to a Settlement Agreement involving the Willits class action lawsuit that alleged that the City was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the yet to be disclosed Settlement Agreement appears to…

Is It Really a Golden State or Is It Just One of Those Hollywood Illusions?

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-Is Los Angeles really part of a Golden State or is it a place to remember as you move to greener pastures? I pose this question following my recent visit to Chicago and other cities east of the Rockies. My travels to the east coast were part of my reserve LAPD duty. I was part of the group of LAPD Reserve Officers escorting the…

Want to Save The Bullet Train, Governor … Get Better Bullet Points!

Ken Alpern
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-George W. Bush had Iraq. Barack Obama has ObamaCare. And Jerry Brown has HIS bullet train. Not OUR bullet train, mind you, but HIS bullet train. And like Iraq, and like ObamaCare, the bullet train that was meant to help all of us, and which was promoted with great fanfare and wonderful intentions, has to survive the test of…

LA: Hit-and-Run Capital of the World May Be Getting an Alert System

Damien Newton
LA’S STREETS - After last week’s warning that CA Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s legislation to create a “Yellow Alert” system was imperiled by Senate Transportation and Housing Committee staff and the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) objections, there was a feeling of a looming showdown before today’s committee hearing. Assembly Bill 8 would create…

LA’s Citywide Sign Ordinance: By, For and Of Special Interests

Barbara Broide
IRATE PRIVATE CITIZEN’S OPEN LETTER-I write this letter not as a representative of my local homeowners association or neighborhood council, both of which have come out in support of the sign ordinance that limits new signage to sign districts in specified commercially zoned areas and who seek enforcement of and the issuance of citations to signs…

Now Is the Time For True Courage

Abby Zimet
FURTHER-Britanny 'Bree' Newsome - the filmmaker, organizer, activist and aspiring Super-Woman who memorably, determinedly climbed the flagpole at South Carolina's capitol to remove the Confederate flag - has spoken out for the first time about her feat, which she views "both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power…

When Did the American Civil War Really End and … Did Shenandoah Really Save the Whales?

Paul Hatfield
PERSPECTIVE - When did the American Civil War end? Could it really have been late June or early November of 1865? April 9, 1865 is the date widely accepted, and for good reason: it marked the surrender of General Lee’s army at Appomattox, Virginia. It was a foregone conclusion that other field commands would quickly follow suit. In fact, they did,…

 

  • Costco: Free Range Liars!

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS POLITICS-Eight years ago grocery retailer Costco (COST) pledged to transition out of using eggs from chickens in small cages to cage free…
  • 10 Things Over-Thinkers Are Tired Of Over-Thinking

    Lindsay Holmes
    WELLNESS-While writing this intro, I deleted the first paragraph approximately six times. My thoughts ranged from "Just get to the point already" to…
  • Can Procrastination Give You a Heart Attack?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-A study posted in the journal of behavioral medicine linked procrastination with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Specifically…



Sun Jul 05, 2015 @ 5:00PM - 09:00PM
Twilight in the Garden: Little Tokyo Concert Series
Thu Jul 16, 2015 @12:00AM
LA Equality Awards RSVP
Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth


Fail! Fail! Americans don’t know why we celebrate the 4th of July

Awwww! Tornado separates dog and owner … dog waits!

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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