Development Fever Explodes on LA’s Westside … Inspired by Hush-Hush Permitting and 50% Less Parking

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--The feverish pace of development in LA has reared its head in the rash of high-density apartment buildings that will be sprouting west of the 405, along Santa Monica Boulevard and Ohio Avenue in West LA, with multiple sites cleared from Barry to Westgate. The city planning department appears to be tapping into Assembly Bill 744 in the hush-hush granting of building permits in the neighborhood. Signed by Governor Brown in October 2015, AB 744, which goes into effect in January, allows developers seeking a density bonus to reduce the minimum parking requirements by half when building affordable housing near qualifying transit. 

Anyone who has attempted to find a parking spot on the Westside knows parking is at a premium, even with permit-only parking for residents. Now, multiply the number of residents (and probably cars.) Nevertheless, residents and property owners near the development sites are only notified when they live or own property within a hundred-foot radius. Yes, one-hundred feet. 

Robert W. Logue of West LA says, “Sometimes, no notice is required so there are no hearings and nobody in the neighborhood even knows this feverish building activity is going on.” Logue suspects the push to approve projects seems to be “done in coordination with elements pushing for new transit lines” and may be “afforded special treatment because of the hopeful development of nearby rapid transit.” The absence of half the number of parking spaces in the new buildings might encourage residents to forgo owning a car in favor of public transportation but that’s a pretty strong “might.” 

“At a hearing I attended in connection with a building proposed for construction at 12444 Venice Blvd (Rendering above), part of the objective of the density combined with few parking spots would force an outcry in support of immediate implementation of rail transit,” says Logue. “At this hearing I was only afforded 120 seconds to state my views about the project.  There were no audio or video recordings made at the meeting nor any reports about it that will be made available to the public.” Logue adds that for most of these projects, the financing sources seem “cloaked in mystery.” 

Pushing through a large scale addition of high-density apartment projects without adequate public transit to increase the need (and acceptance) of public transit on LA’s Westside is a chicken/egg proposition or perhaps, there will be substantial growth in Uber and Lyft. 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)