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Time Urgent: Camerford Lofts

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  • jeusher@aol.com
    Dear Charlie, Vince, and Rob (and your neighbors) -- The following email exchange comes on the heels of literally dozens of emails that I have received in this
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2008
      Dear Charlie, Vince, and Rob (and your neighbors) --

      The following email exchange comes on the heels of literally dozens of
      emails that I have received in this case. I write because I don't want your
      community to wake up one morning to a huge development and ask "who let that
      happen?" Here are my essential points:

      1. The Process. This matter has left the jurisdiction of the CPC and the
      Planning Department. We no longer have any influence over the outcome as this is
      now a City Council appeal. NONE of your letters and petitions to Planning
      will be placed before the Council members. You must prepare fresh copies, bind
      them into an impressive booklet, and deliver these to each Council member

      2. Personal Appearances. There is no substitute for a large public audience
      at the hearings. If you believe that you can deputize one or two speakers, you
      are considerably mistaken. It may be the case that only a few will be
      permitted to take the microphone under the time limitations, but every single
      person MUST submit a speaker card so that it is crystal clear that you are all in

      3. The Substance. My email at the bottom of this correspondence is a fair
      summary of the issues. Let me distill them further: the City has NEVER upzoned
      an R-3 parcel to RAS 4, as is effectively being requested in this case.
      Further, the C-4 parcels at issue are currently zoned to mass out at 1:1, which is
      the most restrictive C-4 zoning possible. Such C-4 parcels have NEVER been
      upzoned to RAS 4. The request by this applicant, if granted, would be
      UNPRECEDENTED. Surely this domino should not fall without extraordinary land use REAL
      PLANNING justification.

      4. The Council President. His office will control everything that happens
      from this point forward in this case. I do wonder whether his planning deputies
      understand the substance. I have routinely heard it said that the applicant
      already has C-4 zoning and so his request is quite similar to his current
      entitlements. If one were to probe the facts just a tiny bit further, it would
      be evident that nothing could be further from the truth. The properties in
      question are either C-4 with a 1:1 mass restriction or R-3 with a 30 foot height
      limit. The zoning restrictions carry the same weight of law as do the zoning
      letter classifications.

      Jane Usher


      Email to Ed Hunt dated 4/17/2008 8:05 A.M.

      Dear Ed -- Forgive my bluntness, but you are unwise to stand on ceremony. I
      cannot say whether the process will proceed in an orderly and useful way, nor
      do I know whether the applicant will ever show the community his project.
      Why wait for him since he has identified himself as uncooperative? You should
      be barraging the Council President with an email and phone call campaign of
      unforgettable proportions -- the community must turn out en masse. I am certain
      that you realize that when only one person shows up to represent the
      community (namely yourself), the community voice is materially discounted. There is
      NO SUBSTITUTE for hundreds of emails, phone calls, and in person appearances
      at public hearing. Jane

      In a message dated 4/16/2008 10:59:52 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
      edvhunt@... writes:
      Planning Commission President Usher,

      Wonderful arguments and clarifications. Thank you.

      Again, our major problem is that we still have no project, plans, or staff
      report to critique or recommend other than some conflicting rumors and some
      cryptic comments from Cerrell Associates that the Architects are redesigning
      the project per a deal they have with Council President Garcetti for his
      support in return for a large cash contribution to a Garcetti project in another
      neighborhood and that they have nothing to show us.

      So far, Eric’s planning staff says they know nothing about the deal or the
      project. Eric has so far refused to meet with the affected NC’s or
      neighborhood groups. Yet the public hearing has already been scheduled. Does this
      make any sense to you?

      We believe it would be logical to not schedule the public hearing until
      there is a project to review, discuss and evaluate. There is no way our NC can
      involve our stake holders if the developer’s team waits until the last minute
      to reveal the project. We think this should be reevaluated. Cheers, Ed Hunt

      From: JEUsher@... [mailto:JEUsher@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 5:19 PM
      To: edvhunt@...; cdatri@...
      Cc: JEUsher@...; renee.weitzer@...; mahdu.kumar@...
      Subject: Camerford Lofts Project / Melrose at Larchmont

      Dear Mr. Hunt and Mr. D'Atri --

      Please excuse my intrusion into your email exchange.

      1. Plan Compliance. All too often, the Planning Commission faces a project
      that does not conform to either the City's General Plan or to the local
      Community Plan. Yet, the law demands that projects conform and we must make legal
      findings of conformity. The planning conversation in this City has shifted to
      a topic that planning law does not support: the developer has in mind
      something quite large and out of scale with the community because, in the
      applicant's words, this is what will pencil out. Suddenly, the debate ignores the
      essential questions of compliance with the General Plan and the applicable
      Community Plan and revolves instead around what is economically desired by the

      2. Sidewalks/Street Widths. You already know this, but here goes. If you
      sacrifice sidewalk width for street width, you will gain faster moving cars and
      a greater number of them. You will undermine the pedestrian experience. You
      should not be forced to give up either if they are both essential to
      responsible planning.

      3. Mass. If the lofts project were to be developed as an RAS 4 project, this
      would be an unprecedented use of the RAS 4 zone. This Planning Commission
      has never introduced RAS 4 zoning onto an R-3 lot. I have heard the argument
      bandied about that this project should be RAS 4 because it is currently zoned
      C-4. Please note that this argument is tantamount to a falsehood. Only the 4
      lots fronting on Melrose are currently zoned C-4 and they contain a D
      limitation that restricts their allowable mass (floor area) to 1:1; RAS 4 offers 3:1
      (three times the current mass). Further, the 4 lots behind Melrose are
      currently zoned R-3, but they too are highly restricted to a height limit of 30
      feet. The applicant is seeking an unprecedented upzoning of highly restricted
      C-4 lots and to introduce that mass over the entire 8 parcels.

      4. Height. Please confirm this with Councilman LaBonge's office. I
      understand that the Councilman is seeking a 45 foot height maximum for the commercial
      stretches of Larchmont Boulevard (both north and south of Beverly).
      Councilman LaBonge's effort is absolutely right-headed if one wants to upgrade/upzone
      while still enabling some of the walkable charm to remain. The Camerford
      project is one of a tiny handful of commercial parcels of Larchmont Village that
      fall within Council President Garcetti's jurisdiction; by contrast, dozens
      and dozens of companion Larchmont Village commercial parcels are under
      Councilman LaBonge's jurisdiction. It makes NO SENSE for the end piece to be taller
      than all of the remaining lots; there is no planning justification for this

      Jane Usher

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