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El Sereno Village Commercialization Plan : July 26 Update

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  • Arroyo Seco NC
    Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:47 am on nelalist@yahoogroups.com Posted by: Christopher Howard christo90065 Just circling back to you following last night s special
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2013
      Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:47 am on nelalist@yahoogroups.com
      Posted by: "Christopher Howard" christo90065

      Just circling back to you following last night's special meeting of the LA32 NC to address the proposed hillside development at Eastern Avenue and Lombardy Blvd in El Sereno. Over 80 members of the community attended with an overwhelming majority speaking against the proposed project.

      As you may know, the special meeting of the LA32 Board was called at the request of the community, the majority of whom had not been aware of the project until receiving Public Hearing notices from the City of Los Angeles Planning Department last month.

      Al Banagas, owner of Bancomer Development, described the project while projecting slides of project renderings on the wall of the Barrio Action gymnasium on Huntington Drive in El Sereno.

      With the first image -- a graphic depicting the hilltop development from the approximate view point of Eastern Avenue at Klamath -- an audible gasp was heard from the audience. Despite pouring over the city documents related to the project, and working to understand the plan-view diagram and two graphic depictions of building facades in the brochure distributed by Bancomer this month, the audience was clearly shocked by the immensity of the buildings as shown.

      Mr. Banegas quickly criticized the graphics, saying it wasn't as bad as it looked, and flipped through the remainder of the slides, coming to rest on a slightly less impactful aerial view of the proposed structure while he completed his review.

      One point of contention was Mr. Banegas' insistence that the 20 unit housing is proposed to be owner-occupied townhomes, not rental apartments. Documents obtained from the Department of Planning http://90032.org/docs/bancomer-mitigated-negative%20declaration.pdf describe the residential component as "20 unit live work residential townhome-style apartments." A member of the audience pointed to the recently distributed marketing brochure http://90032.org/docs/bancomer-eastern-lombardy-brochure.pdf produced and distributed by Bancomer Development that describes the 2-story housing units as "available for rent at market rate" and provides a site plan on which the housing is labeled as "20 Units Apartment Complex"

      Despite being granted only 60 seconds each, every community member who stood to speak communicated intelligently, thoughtfully and passionately. Concerns included the number of existing empty commercial and residential structures already in the community, the unsuitability of a project that relies on so many significant variances to existing policy, increased traffic, and issues of safety both during the multi-year construction period and in the future given the stretched resources of area fire and police staff. One speaker expressed anger at having to fight development off of El Sereno's hillsides saying that NE LA's more affluent communities of Mt. Washington and Silverlake are not targeted in the same way. Most often cited was the developer's failure to comply with the area's protective Northeast LA Hillsides Ordinance and his requests for variance to key elements of the Ordinance.

      Many community members had hoped the LA32 Board would vote at this meeting on whether to revoke approval of the project issued by a previous Board in 2012. However, a quorum of Board members was not present. The LA32 Board's Executive Committee will meet next week, Wednesday 7/ 24 at 6 p.m. in the Barrio Action gymnasium, 4927 Huntington Drive North. Members of the community are invited to attend.

      Staffers from the CD14 office of Jose Huizar, an active proponent of hillside preservation and key in the development of the Northeast LA Hillsides Ordinance, were in attendance to hear the community's concerns and direct requests to deny re-zoning of this El Sereno hillside. Kevin Ocubillo, the Councilman's Planning Deputy, outlined next steps saying that the policy decision to grant or deny a re-zoning request is made by the City Council. The project will be reviewed by the City's Planning Commission on August 8, the City's Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee (date TBA), and finally the City Council (date also TBA). The public is welcome to attend each of the meetings.

      As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, and many thanks for your time and interest.

      Melisa Kellogg
      El Sereno Resident
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